Running Man
By Lyn


Blair didn't know how long he'd been running; it seemed like forever. His lungs burned with the effort and his calves were cramping from the prolonged, frantic exercise. Past the stomping of his feet on the railroad tracks, he strained to hear anything that might indicate Parkman was following him, but his heart beat so loudly in his ears, he could discern nothing else. He yelped in frightened surprise, as he tripped on some ballast between the tracks and stumbled, slamming to his knees with a jolt, his hands stretched out to break his fall. One wrist buckled painfully beneath his weight and fire shredded up his arm. Exhausted, in pain and scared out of his wits, he struggled to get back on his feet but all his adrenaline appeared to be spent and his trembling body collapsed back onto the ground.

Wheezing, he tried to slow his breathing and suck in a couple of slow lungfuls of air but his chest only tightened further and he realized he was on the verge of a panic attack. His fingers began to tingle and he realized he would be in real trouble soon if he didn't pull it together. He could imagine Parkman, gun in hand, finding him passed out on the tracks, making the drug dealer's job of eliminating him a piece of cake. One bullet to the head, and Blair would be incapable of stopping him.

Shuddering, he managed to sit up and rested his aching head on his pulled up, trembling knees. He'd truly believed Parkman would have had no qualms about shooting him back at the rest stop. Once Parkman had realized he couldn't use Blair as a negotiating chip, Blair was convinced Artie had only re-entered the bathroom in order to silence him once and for all. The memory of the gun pressed to his throat made Blair suddenly nauseous and he staggered to his knees before retching dryly. There was nothing in his stomach to throw up. His throat was dry, his mouth parched; he couldn't remember the last time he'd had something to drink. Most of his memories were spotty as though his dazed mind refused to put them together.

Lifting his head, he wiped his mouth on the hem of his shirt and gazed around. Now that he'd rested a moment, his heart rate had at least slowed and he listened carefully for any sound of pursuit but there was none. A notion of where exactly he was finally filtered into his brain and he stood quickly if shakily. The railroad track looked somewhat unkempt, but Blair knew it was still in use. Shading his eyes against the afternoon sun, he squinted into the distance. Nothing. He needed to get to a road, to get to help. Jim would be looking for him, he hoped, but Blair knew he had a better chance of escaping and getting back to Cascade in one piece if he could get to the road. His eyes scanned his surroundings. Which way? His sense of direction had never been great but coupled with almost overwhelming fear for his life, exhaustion and shock, he couldn't even seem to get a handle on which way was up.

A scrabbling in the bushes and the snap of a twig made his decision for him and he was off again, almost sprawling several times when his legs seemed determined not to hold him up, his eyes searching for the road, not bothering to watch where he was going. He almost missed it. A strip of sun-grayed bitumen almost hidden by a stand of straggly bushes. With a hoarse yip of success, Blair staggered off the railroad line and ran for the road. His hopes rose as a semi came barreling straight at him, its horn blaring deafeningly. Blair held up both hands in the universal gesture for stop and only just barely managed to jump to one side when the rig rumbled past him, the driver raising a hand in a one-fingered salute.

"Whoa! No! No!" Blair stood in the middle of the road, staring dejectedly at his rapidly disappearing salvation. He scuffed the bitumen with the toe of one battered sneaker. Where the fuck are you, Jim? Are you looking for me? Do you even know how much shit I'm in this time?

Blair turned, determined that the next vehicle would not pass him by, even if it had to run over him. Green. Before he had time to react, the vehicle slowed then stopped and the man behind the steering wheel of Blair's beloved Volvo smiled up at him. "Great car, dude." Blair looked up over the roof of the car to see Iris. Gripped in her unshaking hand was a large handgun. "Get in the car, Blair."

Blair closed his eyes briefly, feeling despair rise up to choke him.