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Midnight Runner

Pablo Amarna


Copyright 2017 Paul W. Daley

Published by Paul W. Daley at Smashwords




Smashwords Edition License Notes

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Disclaimer: The persons, places, things, and otherwise animate or inanimate objects mentioned in the novel are figments of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to anything or anyone living (or dead) is unintentional. The author humbly begs your pardon.





Table of Contents

Title Page

Acknowledgements

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Epilogue

About Pablo Amarna

Connect with Pablo Amarna








Acknowledgements

I would like to express my gratitude to those people who helped with this book; my editor James Phillips and to all those who provided support, talked things over, read, wrote, offered comments, assisted in the editing, proofreading and design.

Above all I want to thank Mackie and the rest of my family, who supported and encouraged me.




Prologue

There is a man who runs past my window when the streets are dark and empty and the neighbourhood sleeps. His shoes sound on the road most nights - slap slap clap slap clap. The sound is of someone either not well, or maybe in distress. Indeed, upon the first time, I thought it was the distinct sound of someone running from a pursuer.

My night runner does not pass every night, but each time he does I am made to feel numb, for he reminds me of the fear of my existence.

I have only glimpsed him once, his sweat drenched shirt flapping in the distance. I often wonder why he runs so hard at night. What compels him to leave the comfort of his own bed to burn his lungs in the humid city air? If I were to know such answers, maybe they might serve my own questions.

Some nights I rise to rush out and confront him. “Why?” I would demand to know. But each time I get only to my threshold. The door never swings open, as I am trapped as always by my own fear to engage with the world outside.



Chapter 1

Although it had been with me for as long as I could recall, my condition wasn’t always so acute. Despite my pain I managed to keep my job at Yoshino Ginko, working on their foreign accounts section using proprietary Shimada software. The job paid well and initially maintained my interest, until the novelty wore off. It wasn’t my chosen field which bored me, more so the way in which we were forced to work. Everything was proprietary or closed systems. In Nippon there was no room for open standards, or open source software. Innovation and free thinking were such taboo concepts that my attempts at introducing new and efficient methods through more elegant code had finally earned me total contempt from all my colleagues. Old Adachi san, our section chief, was the only one who afforded me any kind of acknowledgement. Actually, I really think my peculiarities amused him in some way.

“Imagawa!” he would call. “What are we dreaming up today? I wish you’d write something to fix the air conditioning in East section. It’s hotter than a rat’s arse over there!”

I would nod and sometimes laugh, for luckily his chides never went beyond gentle teasing. That plus the occasional drink at the local bar was the sum of our relationship. Home invitations for beer with the section chief would have been pushing it, but you could say Adachi san was the only person I could call a friend since moving to Osaka. Sometimes I would catch him looking at me in a strange way. Something akin to pity, or even compassion. Adachi had two younger brothers. One of which was a rising star in the Liberal Democratic Party, the other he never spoke of. I had a strong feeling I reminded him of that other brother.

Whatever the case, I was a complete oddball to Adachi and the rest of the team. And the fact was I felt the same about them. Not only my colleagues, but virtually everyone I came across in my brief life seemed weird. At first I thought there was something seriously wrong with me, as indeed did my parents. They felt they were doing what was right and best. But after endless visits to the Doctor and assorted specialists, they gave up trying to figure me out and left me to my own devices. I would spend countless hours alone, sometimes reading in my room, or perched high up in a tree somewhere in the woods near my home.

Each morning in junior high, I’d knock on the staffroom door, collect the key to that room in a disused part of the school and take myself up and lock myself in. Once there my imagination would roam wild as I looked out towards the rail tracks and the ever present crows. I’d sometimes get a rare visit from a teacher to see all was well. That was my life for most of those early school years. Collect my key, go to that room and sit all day alone. Poor mother would sometimes visit to collect me and check in with my form tutor. They could only provide her with general and cursory updates. “He is doing his best. Always diligent. We have to wait and see. These things take time.” After all, they were no experts on such cases themselves. Later, in my teens, I would ride the trains, criss-crossing the rail networks and making short stops at obscure and forgotten places. My favourites were the seaside towns, places like Zushi where I imagined people sometimes felt the same as me, and time would become immaterial as you sat and watched the sun go down.


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