One time in high school, I got lost running a marathon. A half-marathon. A really long way. It was some charity thing, AIDS, maybe cancer, and you could walk or you could run, or you could even bring your bike. I’d lost my bike, so I ran.
It was okay at first. I used to be good at endurance-type stuff. Once, I walked forty miles in a day, Fonthill to Grimsby by some circuitous route. I was lost that time, too. I found a graveyard….
The marathon, though, I’m not sure how I managed it. I was jogging along, and I wanted ginger ale. There was a sign by the road, GAS & SNAX 2 KM, and I thought, hey, that’s handy—a quick detour, who’d know? So I went, and they were out of ginger ale, but there was Faygo’s Redpop, which was almost as good. I got a two-litre and drank it as I ran.
It took me a while to realise I was lost. The route went through farmland, just endless fields and orchards, and I stopped to steal fruit, and to shake a stone from my shoe. I thought about how bad Tylenol tastes, and then I took one. I’d been listening to Tosca a lot, and I had that bit in the Castel Sant’Angelo in my head, y’know, where Scarpia’s at the window listening to the cantata. I was picturing that, I think, wondering how the light on the rooftops of Rome might compare to the haze over the fields. I thought about other stuff too, train trips, tube socks, why sweatshirts are called sweatshirts. I found some blackberries and ate them. I drank more pop. I saw a forest path and wondered where it led, and I think that’s when it occurred to me I hadn’t seen a mile marker in a while.
I looked back over my shoulder, but the road was deserted. It wasn’t even a road, so much as a dirt track, full of hollows where puddles had been. I slowed to a walk, and I walked and I walked, and I didn’t see anyone. I saw a house in the distance, bright white and empty-looking. I saw a horse in a field, and I thought about taking it. It gave me a look like it knew what I was thinking. I trudged on and left it alone.
The run started at dawn. Seven, I think, maybe eight. I bought my Redpop around noon, passed the horse toward evening. I walked some more, and it got dark. I stepped in a dead raccoon. I took off my shoes and threw them in the ditch.
I ended up in, like…Nowhereville, somewhere between Welland and Port Colborne, only off to the side, maybe around Wainfleet. I don’t know. I was trippling along in a daze, thinking about how much trouble I’d be in when I got home, and some farmer stopped and picked me up. I made him drive me to the finish line so I could still collect my pledges, but no-one was there.
The funny part is, I didn’t get in trouble. There was this party, see, after the marathon, a picnic for the runners, and nobody noticed I wasn’t there. I got home around nineish, and Mother was all “where are your shoes?”, and I said I lost them. She made a face like “seriously?”, and I got away with the whole thing, except I had to buy new shoes.
It wasn’t a bad day, getting lost on the marathon. Really, I kind of liked it. The sun was up, I drank loads of Redpop, and nothing bad happened, besides the dead raccoon.
Y’know, that’s kind of how I picture the z-pocalypse, once the zombies dry up. ‘Cause they would, wouldn’t they? They’d be too rotten to move in a week or two, and I could just walk and walk, and no-one would bother me….
The z-pocalypse is heaven. ❤