The world was a blur.
Even at his fastest, he had always felt like he was the one standing still. The wind was nothing more than a gentle breeze on his face, and streets passed by with crystal clarity in a moment.
Red Racer shouldn’t be out right now. Mitchell Chase should be just waking up, counting down the days until he has to return to school. But they could not stand the thought of staying still.
For the second time in his life, Red Racer had lost somebody to a supervillain. This time he had powers. This time he should have been able to help. But it hadn’t made a difference.
They hadn’t been particularly close, true. In fact, they’d barely talked at all. But they’d fought together. They worked to save a friend together. After that, she was his friend. And now he might never see her again.
He paused to keep an old woman from tripping. He wasn’t still long enough to hear her say thank you to an empty street.
Dropped wallets, runaway pets, and one almost car crash. Red Racer never stopped for long. Anyone he helped was lucky to catch a glimpse of the crimson wings on his chest before he was gone.
His sister wanted to talk. Their dinner last night had been a long drawn out attempt to get him to talk about his feelings.
He was 13, almost 14. What feelings he had he could barely understand. Trying to talk about them to his sister was as impossible as anything he’d ever tried.
So he didn’t talk. One word answers and half-hearted shrugs said exactly what he felt.
It would help if he could remember the fight. They told him he hit Frankenstein harder than anyone else could have. They said he sent him flying and bought them the time they needed to get Mach out of there.
All he remembered was seeing Frankenstein fire into the hole they saw Mach disappear into. And then he was flying backwards with no way of catching himself. Something had caught him and then he passed out.
Hawthorne had told him that that was wrong. She said that they’re hadn’t been anyone to catch him. She thought his power had kicked in and slowed him down so he hadn’t been hurt.
But he knew that was wrong. No matter how powerfully his power had grabbed him, he had never felt it. His power didn’t felt like anything; it was just the way he moved. That day, he’d been caught, held by something or someone. Hawthorne shrugged it off, but it never left his mind.
He needed to think, but even before he got his powers, he could never think while standing still. So now he was running. He wasn’t going anywhere, he didn’t need to run for anything. He wasn’t running with a purpose; running had become his purpose.
Someone had caught him. Someone he couldn’t see. Someone that Hawthorne couldn’t see and Allspades couldn’t see and Burnout couldn’t’ see.
A thought stirred in his mind, a memory. He hadn’t been there when they found Burnout lying in the cave. He had been waiting for them outside.
He began to slow; the memory began to fade. In a moment between recollection and oblivion, he paused. His feet kept moving, but his brain froze, trying to understand the state his mind was in.
Another blur crossed in front of him. His mind jerked free and he sped back up. He made a sharp turn and raced to catch up to the other runner.
It was Zero.
She caught sight of him out of the corner of her eye and slowed down just enough to let him catch up.
“Mirror’s brother, right?”
Red Racer nodded silently.
“Does she know you’re out here?”
He shrugged. “She’s at work.”
“Hmm.” She nodded. “You should go home. Tell Will’s group that something’s happening, your sister too. A slider’s been leaving massive trails all around the city. Anyone who knows what to look for is on alert.”
If it had been anyone else, Red would have turned away. But Zero was a runner, a runner who had helped found the second Council.
He spoke deliberately. He’d mostly lost the echo, but he didn’t want it to show up now. “What does it mean?”
“It means nothing, until it means war.”
Red Racer didn’t stumble. He was a runner and everyone knew that Runners didn’t stumble. There was obviously a rock in the road that he had to hop over to keep up with Zero.
“Go home. Warn everyone. Tell your sister the moment you see anyone who doesn’t belong.”
Red Racer nodded. He was about to turn away, but a thought struck his mind.
She didn’t say anything but her head cocked to the side.
“Have you ever been able to remember something differently when you’re running?”
She paused. Like him, her legs didn’t stop. Unlike him, she brought herself out of it.
“You’re a runner. You see things faster, you see more. Your brain works differently when you move faster than you can see. If something hit your wiring when you were slow, it might not work as well when you’re fast.”
“So even if I remember, I’ll forget when I slow down.”
She shook her head. “If you pull up something strong enough and hold onto it, you won’t forget. I’ve gotten around a few mental attacks that way. Go home. But go home fast. You might remember something.”
With that she started running faster. Not faster than he could go, but faster than he could go that fast.
He sped up, but he didn’t follow her. Right now, more than anything he needed to remember.
He focused on the cave. Why had he stayed behind?
And he ran. He ran as fast as he’d ever run and then faster.
A person clicked into place and he grabbed it. He followed it to the gas bombs, he followed it to the bullet wound in the man’s arm, he followed it until he arrived at a name. A name that seemed to hard to forget.
He stopped at his house and quickly changed into his normal clothes. He ran as fast as looked natural to his sister’s work.
She met him at the door, eyes wide with worry.
“What is it? What happened?”
“I need to talk to Will. Somethings wrong.”
The look on her face didn’t ease. “What is it? Is someone hurt?”
“He’s gone. We don’t remember and he’s gone.”