Friday, August 11, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

We are made for the chase. We are not falcons or leopards or snakes. We are warm blooded, but toothless. No talons. No claws. What we do have is a body made for running. A cheetah will always win in a sprint, but we can outrun them. Chase them down. Get organized. Stay limber and moving. We have sweat glands to aid our efforts. We have long legs with strong muscles, and we can go for miles and miles. 

We are smart enough to sharpen sticks. We can pick up a rock and throw it. Not like a monkey with its offhand tossing. We can throw with accuracy and velocity. But more importantly, we can invent. We can make things harder than rocks and throw them clear across the world. We try not to, but we can. 

Go ahead and start running. You’ll feel exhilarated for a few minutes as the slow bipeds lope behind you, turning into barely visible specks. When the prey stops to rest, we will gain ground. Then, you will begin to feel panic - you will make poor decisions under stress. You will realize what every animal realizes eventually. You may beat humans in the short run, but we’ll keep coming, and we won’t stop until all your kind are dead.


  1. Ouch. JD, that last sentence is a killer.

    1. I love the way that Dan often throws us in at the deep end, leaving us wondering what his angle’s going to be. This week, he’s dropping us into the wilds of Africa, pitting us against the world’s most specialised killers. There’s no doubting how efficient a cheetah is and how well equipped they are. And then he switches it about and shows us how they can be overcome by a little nous and a few other minor adaptations that give us an edge. But of course, he doesn’t leave it there, because he shows us how terrible we are. Fear Men: they are deadly, a theme that Dan often comes back to.

      As usual, Dan’s made this look easy. It’s engaging and he always makes you think.

  2. My mother’s dead eyes glowered at us from the corner. She was dressed in a full-length blue dress with white piping, completing the look with a hat resembling those worn by air hostesses when people still travelled. She was not welcoming or even remotely benevolent; she was a package of spite and venom, made worse by the fact I couldn't exorcise her from my home.

    “Good morning, horse lips,” I said, greeting her with my customary morning welcome. “I see you’re still with us. You’ve not had a change of mind while we’ve been sleeping?”

    “Just leave her alone.” Tanya sat up beside me and yawned, her hair a mess and her face blurred where makeup had slid down her cheeks. “You know that it only encourages her. I’m sure she only persists because she’s getting a reaction. There’s no other reason for her to remain here now.”

    Tanya and Beatrice (now currently also known as the electronic harpy from another realm) had never seen eye-to-eye. We’d got married the next day, following her funeral, hoping we could begin our lives together, satisfied we’d followed the comprehensive list of requirements she’d imposed upon us. But the will had yet another set of clauses, equally as restrictive as the ones imposed on us before she'd died. A family with money could either be a blessing or a curse, the evidence tipping our current situation toward the latter.

    “Someone’s woken up with a sore head,” my mother said, scowling from over in her corner. “But you’ve only yourself to blame. If only you’d listened when I told you to end it with that woman, there would never have been any need for this.”

    That woman was Tanya, of course. Beatrice never referred to her by her given name, preferring to anonymise her, thinking that to do otherwise might give hope she would one day relent on her disapproval of her. There’d never been a chance of that; my mother could hold a grudge until her last dying breath and even beyond.

    And now she was like a poltergeist with a ten-figure account balance in one of the best city banks in the country.

    “Tell her I only drink because she’s still here,” I said, ineptly trying to follow Tanya’s suggestion that I ignore her. “She’s the source of everything that plagues me. If it wasn’t for her refusal to leave us both alone, I’d be working to perpetuate the Holbeck family name selling sanitary towels, instead of waking at eleven each morning in the single-bed bedroom I grew up in.”

    “You’re wasting your time,” Tanya said, shaking her head. “She never had any emotions when she was alive. There’s no use trying to appeal to a hologram with remote access to the mansion's hard drive.”

    And so, it would always continue, or so it seemed. The dead have abundant patience, but even more so when they happened to be my mother.

    1. This is a cool piece. Didn't see the end coming. I love writers who start with visuals - Steinbeck is the master at this for me. You did a great job of it here. Right out of the gate, that first paragraph is awesome and vivid. - JD


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