A run in the desert usually purged Allen’s mind. The brain-
boiling Arizona heat rippled through his body in hazy
synchronization with his stride and cleared away thoughts.
It was spring. Peak temperatures were a month off , but it was
still 108 degrees.
He liked to run without a shirt. He stayed cooler if he
exposed as much body surface as possible to the humidity-
Allen glanced down to check a tricky stretch of terrain and
noticed wild strands of gray hair on his chest, mixed in with the
When the hell did they pop up? They weren’t there yesterday.
He felt the first twinges of pain in his once tireless legs.
Pretty early in the run for that, stud, he thought.
Shit. He had gray hair, his legs hurt, and his first pair of glasses
lay on his desk, the ultimate insult to an ex-combat marksman.
Things change, he knew, but this fast?
He decided mortality sucks, and kept running, determined not to
ruin a perfectly good run by contemplating anything deeper than
the prairie dog holes he dodged.
Allen, something is changing out here.
This isn’t the same desert.
Something is out of balance.
Despite his efforts, the words of his dad’s last letter rolled up in
his consciousness and interrupted his zen-like focus.
Was his dad perplexed, haunted? He had been dying when he
The air did feel different today, and even looked odd. It seemed
to shimmer at a strange frequency, and the hawks overhead
circled in a different direction than normal.
They say when a man loses one of his senses, the other senses
become more perceptive. Maybe when a man’s time is up, he starts
noticing other things, other sensations that the living world overpowers
and drowns out.
There are too many strange feelings in the air.
Maybe they’ve been there my whole life—maybe I’m just now
noticing, but the world
him—teaching, always teaching. His mind’s inner eye winced at
whose heart no longer allowed him to explore.
Allen shook his head to clear his mind.