The Runner

“All in favour of passing the motion, say aye”
“Aye!” said the crowd, almost unanimously.
“Then it’s been settled. Project Humanity will commence as of now. Dr. Freeman?”
“You will be the head of the research department. Start finding the best and brightest immediately.”
“Yes, sir. Right away”
“Alright people. Let’s do this. We have a lot to do in the next two years if we’re going to save the world.”

The year is 2014, and I’ve been on the run for the past two years, since Project Humanity was first enacted by The Corporation, funded by the governments of the world. Project Humanity was an aim to put an end to the booming population of the planet, stop the spread of disease, end hunger and give the planet another fighting chance for survival. The proposed way of accomplishing this herculean feat on a global scale was to simply pick one billion of the best and brightest of the human race, and destroy the rest of the “inferiors” who would only serve to be detrimental to the superior gene pool. The moment I knew that I was next on the list of people about to be killed off for the greater good, I ran. I left everything behind; my friends, my family, my entire life. I needed to cut all connections and get away from everyone and everything. I remember the start of it all; the panic, the utter chaos of it all. It made my escape so much easier. People were taken to places reminiscent of World War II concentration camps en mass, and then slowly erased from existence by those in control. Some gladly accepted their fate when their time came, as they saw it as a tremendous step forward in the history of the planet, and others like me, ran as far and as fast as they could. I guess I’m one of the fortunate few who managed to escape the 501st, an elite group of individuals trained to capture Runners.

“Dr. Freeman, I’d like you to meet the 501st Legion.”
“Yes, Freeman?”
“What are they?”
“Hunters? Do we need really need them? We already have a list compiled. Isn’t this…isn’t this a bit excessive?”
“Well, you see, this isn’t a perfect plan by any stretch of the imagination. And in implementing this, we’re going to have some Runners who object to the role that they have to play in saving this planet. The 501st are here to make sure we don’t have any runners and that the plan goes according to plan. It’s our failsafe, in case something goes wrong”
“I see…”

The world around me has changed. The land is scarred from the riots and small wars that had broken out in the midst of all the pandemonium. I barely recognize where I am anymore; it all looks the same. Barren, except for the few metropolitan areas scattered across the globe to make sure that Runners aren’t far away.

The 501st Legion, they’re absolutely brutal. I’ve seen them in action. They will kill rather than bring back alive sometimes, just for fun. To them, it’s all nothing but a game. But they’re time is almost up. The Corporation has almost reached their goal of eliminating 5 billion people. They have no ethics, no morals. They can’t be reasoned with; they’re…they’re monsters. They’ve been hunting me from the moment I became a Runner, and they won’t stop hunting me until I’m dead. They were supposed to have only been used in case things went wrong, but halfway through the first year of Project Humanity’s implementation, they became something that The Corporation saw as a necessity.

The world has changed from the very moment that Project Humanity was first put into action. We stopped caring for one another. It was all about survival, and not everyone could survive. Rather than giving the world another fighting chance to rejuvenate itself, we ravaged it through our hopes and dreams. How…ironic. We try to save, yet we destroy.

“Sir? Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“What is it Freeman?
“I…I’m not sure I am entirely comfortable in going through with this initiative of ours. It seems like it’s not the best or most well thought out solution.”
“Freeman, in order to save the world, we need to make some sacrifices. We need to make sure that the little girl out there on her tricycle doesn’t face the total apocalypse. We need to assure that that little girl has a future she can look forward too. We need to do this for that little girl. We need to assure the future of the planet and the future of the human race. This, this is what we are fighting for Freeman.”
“Yes, I understand, but killing off 5 billion people? Couldn’t we re-locate them to another area while we let another area revitalize itself? A rotary kind of thing?”
“No. This is the best solution that was voted for by the majority of The Corporation. Now get back to work. If I recall, you have another billion people to sort through.”
“Yes sir.”

My last encounter with the 501st ended badly. I still have the limp. That’s going to really slow me down when I have to move around constantly. How I detest it. I can’t remember what it’s like to have been anchored to one place. To have that familiar sense of what a home is…or rather, what it was. I don’t think I can anymore, not since I became a Runner. I don’t have that feeling anymore. Everywhere I go, it all looks the same. It all feels the same. Ravaged. Destroyed. Obliterated. But nothing feels like home. Not to me. Not anymore. Seeing the war scarred land, that is something that no matter how many times I see it and think of it, I won’t get used to. Maybe I lived in the suburbs for too long, you know, before all of this. Before hell broke loose. Before I became a Runner.

It’s funny, how things almost never work out exactly the way it’s supposed to, isn’t it? Project Humanity was meant to save the planet, and the rest of humankind, but instead, we’re killing ourselves and destroying the planet faster than we ever could have without this initiative.

 I find this funny, don’t you?

“Thomas Freeman?”
“Yes?” I said, looking up.
“Let’s go. It’s time to make your contribution towards humanity.”