The Runner, a 500 word or less flash fiction story by Mark Tompkins.
Phillip crouched in the bushes, the back of his pants wet from the morning dew on the leaves. He spied the cheating bastard running along the path towards him and readied himself for the attack. No one was going to get away with sleeping with his wife. He’d left the house this morning before she awoke and briefly thought about strangling her in her sleep, but he would be the prime suspect with no alibi and life in jail seemed much more trouble than the divorce he would initiate later today.
Kevin, however, would be stabbed by a mugger while jogging in the early morning darkness and it would be seen as bad judgment in a city known for its occasional violent tendencies. Just another tragic accident.
The slap of the runner’s tennis shoes on the dry asphalt signaled he was close and Phillip tensed, his muscles tight and ready. His hand ached from nervously gripping the large knife’s handle, and his rubber surgical gloves crackled quietly as he flexed his fingers before reaffirming his grip. The jogging path meandered through this little stand of trees and the overgrowth provided good cover for an ambush. He’d busted the light on the side of the path, which gave him the darkness to hide that ambush from anyone within eyesight.
The runner’s legs appeared in front of him as he ran by and Phillip leapt from hiding and wrapped his arm around the runner’s throat. He jammed the knife into the back of the black hoodie again and again, gritting his teeth in anger and asking Kevin if sleeping with his wife was worth it now. He could feel the warmth and slickness of the blood through this rubber gloves as he let Kevin fall to the ground writhing in pain.
Kevin’s voice was high pitched as he screamed, giving Phillip the satisfaction of hearing the man sound like a woman. The screaming continued; he had to shut Kevin up. He dropped the knife and knelt down, pulling the hood from Kevin’s head and slapping his hand over Kevin’s mouth. It wasn’t Kevin’s mouth and it wasn’t Kevin’s close cropped hair and square jaw. It was a cascade of blonde hair and a beautiful young woman’s face, undoubtedly one of the coeds from the university on the hill behind them.
Horrified, he held his hand over her mouth, muffling the screams until they stopped. What had he done? He had to get out of there, he couldn’t breathe. He stood and turned and ran, pulling the black bandana from his face.
Kevin stepped out of the way of the sobbing man in the black hoodie with his head down and let him run by. He stared after him, something about his gait looked familiar, but he couldn’t put a finger on it. Shrugging, he continued his run, thinking about his secret rendezvous later that day.