It was cold. The sun was dropping below the horizon, leaving the cloudless sky slightly pink in hue. I laced up my running shoes and closed the back door. Easing down the steps, out of the gate, letting it close gently behind me. To my back, the fading light. In front of me, half a mile of pavement, then trail. Darkness closed in slowly.
I run gently, warming slowly.
I take a deep breathe and rn past the neighbor's houses into the trail. I exhale and can see my breathe, faintly frozen in the cold night air.
I listen to the crunch of leaves under my feet. The noise falls silent when I come upon a rocky section of trail, hopping from rock to rock, before stepping onto the crunchy leaves again.
It was great to be out. After a long day of work and taking care of the family, it was nice to be alone. Not really thinking about anything in particular. Just being right here, right now. Deep breath, exhale, step, step, step.
I enjoy running. Its good to switch gears and do something different, set different goals. I enjoy seeing things that I miss while on the bike. The pace is so much slower.... what's that? I stop and listen. I hear something near the trail. Silence. I start running again. Thinking back on the meeting earlier, it was good. Good people doing great things..... another noise.... a deer? I take a couple of steps as if I'm going to start running. I stop suddenly. There is definitely something out there.
I start running again. The beam of my headlamp piercing the darkness, lighting the trail. I sense something large, making it's way through the woods beside me. Silently moving along. Something large, yet gentle. Only an occasional crackle from a leaf, or the subtle snap of a twig. I glance sideways, trying to catch a glimpse but see nothing.
I continue running. I'm not afraid. I don't sense danger. I sense curiosity, maybe a touch of loneliness. Whatever it is, if it wanted to do me harm, has had the chance. My curiosity is peaked. I continue to run. My adrenaline spikes each time I hear the subtlety of the creature running beside me.
As I run into a contour and take a sharp turn, its seems I surprise it, I can feel the heat from it's body, close enough to reach out and touch it. I refrain, and continue running, saying nothing.
I stop suddenly. It stops in unison. I stand still and listen. I hear a slight breathing, just one short half breathe... then silence. It is cold, and quiet.
I turn to head back home. As I begin the return journey, I sense the being still running, no, not running. Moving beside me. I make the turn down the access trail back towards the neighborhood and suddenly know that I am alone again. I'm content, and curious. Unsure of exactly what I just experienced, but thrilled to have experienced it.
There is something out there....
(I decided to give a go at some fiction. This story came to me over the past couple of trail runs. I hope you enjoy).