Reservoir RunDiane Strong / Thrillers & Crime
(The Running Suspense Collection)
By Diane Strong
Copyright 2013 Diane Strong
Copyright 2013 by Diane Strong
All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
About Reservoir Run
About the Author
Other Books by the Author
Reservoir Run: (This is a 10,000 word short story/ approx. 34 pages) (This is a stand-alone story)
Alison lays unconscious in a hospital bed after a long-distance training run leaves her half-dead at the bottom of a deep ravine. While Rick is a faithful husband, Alison gave him many reasons to attempt to kill her. The question of who tried to kill Alison hangs in the air while Rick waits impatiently for her to awake and assu
They stand on the edge of a deep ravine, him towering over her. The ground drops with an abrupt edge then doesn’t start again for forty feet. With the translucent sky behind him and his sweaty black hair wild about his face, he yells at her and tells her how much he hates her. He hates her coldness toward him and the way she never touches him anymore and the way she folds his laundry and the way she chews her food.
She stares back at him with her icy blue eyes, not moving. She wears an evening gown smeared with mud and high heels that sink into the earth below her. Her voluptuous red lips curve into a disgusted grin.
He continues to list off all the things he hates about her: how unappreciative she is, how she never wants to have sex, how she never listens, how selfish she is. Then he asks, “Don’t you care?” She says nothing and continues to give him the same disgusted expression.
“Don’t you care?” He yells, his eyes searching hers.
Still no response. Each time he asks his body quakes with anger.
“You don’t do you? You don’t care!” Staring into her eyes, he searches for an ounce of warmth. He now realizes that she truly doesn’t care about their relationship or the words he says to her. Gritting his teeth, he releases a growl that develops into a roar of pure emotion. As the last decibel leaves his mouth he brings his hands up to her chest and shoves her with the power of a thousand angry elephants. Her body gives easily and without sound. He watches in frozen horror as she falls out of sight over the cliff.
Rick opens his eyes slowly allowing the view of the hospital room to sink in. His sweaty body shivers in his damp sheets. The morning sun bleeds a cool blue light through the slats on the window.
Glancing over he sees his wife’s broken body lying unconscious in a hospital bed, tubes attached to her arms and nose, a beep beep beep relentlessly playing from the machine at her side. The dream is still vivid in his head like a movie reel playing over and over, he shakes himself into reality. The dream was different this time, another version with the same ending.
Ten days have passed. Ten long days of searching, crying and consoling the kids then the frantic call when they found her body and now the waiting. The endless waiting and wondering. Will she ever wake up? Will she be normal? What will she remember? Does he want her to remember? The wait has flattened him, greyed his face and weakened his being.
It had happened on a Saturday. They had all headed out to the reservoir for a long training run. Alison would run thirty-five miles. He would join her for the first thirteen then drop off the trail and meet back with the kids, leaving her to finish the remaining miles herself.
They brought the bikes and fishing poles for the kids. Rick packed a picnic lunch and brought some cold beer for after their runs. They planned for the kids to ride their bikes on the old road bed for a couple of hours then meet up with Rick at the creek after his thirteen mile run.
“Jake is in charge okay, Eli? You follow him and stay with him. No separating! Do you hear me?” The kids biked alongside Rick and Alison on the roadbed before they jumped off and onto the trailhead.
“We know dad, don’t worry. We’ll meet you back at the creek at our spot at eleven o’clock okay. Just go have fun with mom on the trail.” Their son spoke with the directness and confidence of an adult despite only being twelve years old. “Eli will stick with me, won’t you Eli?”
Eli nodded and smiled.
The trail run started off quietly as they both worked hard to find a pace that would sustain them for the miles to come. When Rick finally attempted polite conversation she snapped at him and told him she needed silence. He could run ahead if he wanted to, she snarled, but she needed to concentrate.
Alison has been this for like years now, ever since her sister died of breast cancer and she decided to change her life. It began with some simple dietary changes and then she started running. Now, three years later she was straining though 35-mile training runs to prepare for the 50-mile trail run at Land Between the Lakes, a qualifier for the hardest ultra-marathon in the United States: The Western States 100.
The Western States 100, a grueling one hundred mile trail race, winds its way from Squaw Valley, California, climbing nearly 20,000 feet then descending even more until it ends in Auburn California. In order to receive an award the runners have to complete the entire race in thirty hours or less. That means running up and down mountains non-stop for thirty hours without sleep. Those who don’t finish usually experience a failure of the body, and if the body doesn’t fail, the mind usually does. Runners become so disoriented during the last half of the race they require an escort to help them find their way to the finish.
Alison got the idea of doing an ultra-marathon after finishing her first marathon, just eight months after she started running. Since then, running has consumed her life. In order for Rick to be a part of her life he had to run too.
“My life is incomplete.” Alison announced just two short days after her sister’s death. She submitted her resignation as a drug representative the following week. She no longer believed in the drugs she was selling. Their income plummeted but they managed to make it work by downsizing the house and changing their spending habits.
“I don’t need to spend $120 on my hair every six weeks and I don’t need manicures anymore. They’re not what I’m about. They don’t make me who I am.” She spoke the words as if blaming him for thinking that was ‘who she was’. In reality, the hair and the nails and the clothes were who she was for their entire marriage. So she let her hair grow out and allowed it to return to its natural sandy blonde. Rick felt at a loss. He didn’t recognize this new woman standing in front of him.
After quitting her job Alison started reading voraciously. She read about history and natural health and alternative medicine. She altered between non-fiction and fiction, devouring a stack of paperbacks she had collected over the years. When she picked up the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, she read it cover to cover in one sitting. She went for her first run the next day and hadn’t stopped since. She continually added miles to her long runs and new races to her goals.
Though she had never been overweight, Alison used to starve herself to maintain the image of success. Once she started running, her body turned from pale and unhealthy to firm and colorful. In time her arms grew taut and her muscles gnarly like twisted ropes. As she tested her body the constant training taxed her patience. Never allowing herself to recover made her irritable and eventually the person she became was unrecognizable both visually and emotionally.
Rick struggled to keep up with her ever-changing personality and appearance. He worked overtime on their relationship while trying to understand her and where all the changes were coming from. She kept her focus straight and never allowed her head to turn toward him or their children. When Rick considered giving up on them and their marriage he would remember his own childhood and refuse to give up.
His parents divorced when he was eight years old. His life went from seamless and ordinary to flipped-over and wounded in a matter of a day. His parents tried so hard not to fight in front of him before the divorce but released their rage toward each other the second they signed the papers. They fought about everything and every time they fought it inevitably came down to him. Who deserved him? Who worked harder for his love? Who did he like better? Who could provide a better home for him?
After a stay at one parent’s house there would be an argument over what he had done or the bad habits he had presumably picked up. They ripped him from one house then tore him from the other, ensuring he never felt at home in either of them. He eventually developed resentments and ultimately despised both of his parents.
Neither of his parents fully lived after the divorce. Their happiness and optimism melted away with their marriage. Never again did they smile or plan trips or get excited about anything. They consumed themselves with making each other miserable and blaming the world for their misery. Rick would not allow this to happen to his sons or to himself and his wife. He had to make his marriage work.
The trail run was supposed to be fun. They had looked forward to it since they both planned to run farther than they ever had before. On the way to the reservoir they drove to a point on the trail accessible by