300 Seconds (Day 18)

Jack glanced down at the timer wrapped around his wrist: 4:59 and dropping fast. “Shit.” He was in a full on sprint down the trail, leaping from rock to rock while bracing against the scattered trees along the sides of the path. His hands were covered in sap and dirt and a few small cuts from the dried bark of the trees, but Jack was ignoring the pain and focusing on staying upright as he descended.

The changing light as he transitioned from the canopy of leaves into the open sunlight made his vision wash out for a moment, enough for him to lose his footing and crash onto the rough dirt below. He slammed into the ground, shoulder first, unable to get his hands in front of him in time. His shoulder hit the ground and slowed his body before his right cheek met with with the dirt. Jack cursed under his breath, groaning as he stood back up again. He glanced back at his wrist only to find a dirty bloody mess. He could only read the last digit: 8. As long as it didn’t hit zero and stay there, he could still make it.

Jack got to his feet and started to run again, but his knee had landed on a sharp rock opening a gash that made it hard to bare much of his weight on that side. His run turned into a jog with a clear limp, as he continued charging down the path. Once Jack got out of the park, he knew that his rented apartment was only a block and a half away, but without the timer, he had no idea how close he was to succeeding; or worse, failing. He checked his wrist again as he reached the street: 4. He looked left to check for cars and seeing none, stepped into the road before he switched his gaze to the right.

A car was coming down the road, but it was still far enough away that Jack didn’t hesitate to continue forward. He limped and skipped across the road, reaching the sidewalk only two seconds before the car came whizzing past him. He let out a deep breath and inhaled again before he started running again, ignoring the pain in his knee.

Jack arrived at the front door in record time, despite the injury. He turned the knob and pushed open the unlocked door as he looked at his wrist one more time: 0. Just then, the repetitive beeping of the oven timer rang loudly throughout the apartment. He moved to the kitchen, grabbed the pot holders, and yanked out the ramekins of crème brûlée, baked to perfection.

This is part of a 30 day series of 2-3 minute short stories written for the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2011. You can view all the stories in the Short Story A Day category.

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