Ryan flicked his wrist in front of his eyes. He glanced quickly at the display of his watch, which was in countdown mode. Seventeen-minutes and forty-two seconds, it read. Just as swiftly, he pulled his arm away and continued running. The people around him blurred as he propelled himself through the crowds of the high street. Hundreds of people just living their lives as if nothing was wrong. They were nothing but obstacles to him now. The burn in his legs rose to the upper-thighs, every step felt like emptying a kettle of boiling water over them. Ryan didn’t slow down. He couldn’t. He had gained nearly a second on his previous time. Maybe it was enough.
It was all like a well-choreographed dance to him now. Man in grey suit with blue pinstripes exits the newsagents, rushes straight into the street, his briefcase swinging in front of him. Ryan propelled himself to the left of the pavement, weaving between two old ladies pushing their shopping trolleys and dodging the suited man. He crossed the road which was jammed with traffic. There was a lorry parked farther up the street outside the hardware store. The tail-lift had malfunctioned, grounding the lorry, forcing the busy rush hour congestion to use a single lane between them. He slipped between a white van and a red estate car whose occupant was pushing his horn repeatedly, as if one more blast of sound was going to make the problem go away, to make it all disappear, to get him home to his wife.