26 June, Yūsuke Miyauchi

文字数 3,293文字

Hurdle the Enclosures


The starter pistol cracked.
  John exploded off the first step and accelerated toward the opening hurdle. Good, he assured himself. Feeling good. Calm and staying focused. First, he cleared the opening hurdle, then the second.
  It was the qualifying race of the 400-meter hurdles for the Olympic Games, which would be held in two months’ time. If he wanted to make the Olympics, it was essential that he put down a good result today.
  So much had happened leading up to the day.
  First and foremost was the plague that had spread all over the world. The nightmarish third wave had swept in last fall. The disease persisted around the world, even now, and anyone would be hard put to say that it was over.
  The previous Olympics had been cancelled.
  John had turned twenty-seven this year. Given his age, this might be his last chance to compete on sports’ biggest stage. The last chance that he might have to leave his mark on the world as an athlete.
  He cleared the fifth hurdle, then the sixth.
  His heart was already close to bursting.
  Four hundred meters was the maximum distance at which a human might be able to sustain top speed. In a manner of speaking, it was the ultimate anaerobic exercise. The 400-meter hurdles was the most grueling and most exhilarating of events.
  John felt his pace slowing.
  The hurdles seemed higher to him now. And then—a switch inside his body was flipped. Pain turned into ease. Everything was quiet. As if he were the only man running.
  The seventh hurdle. Then, the eighth.
  A hurdle refers to a wall or a fence. Early incarnations of hurdling had spaced apart pens, used for confining sheep, as hurdles. Jump, he willed himself. That’s it, jump. Hurdle the enclosures that now confine us.
  He cleared the ninth hurdle, and then the tenth and last hurdle.
  The finish line lay ahead. John already knew. He had run a clean race. All he had to do was run through the finish line. He had become the world’s fastest man.

  John Kelley Norton:
  Born in 1893, later a professor at Columbia University. In the midst of the global Spanish flu pandemic, on June 26, 1920, at the qualifying trials for the Antwerp Olympics, Norton set the world record of 54.2 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles.


Translated by Takami Nieda/Arranged by TranNet KK

Yūsuke Miyauchi
Born in Tokyo, 1979. Graduated from Waseda University’s School of Literature. Made his debut in 2010 with “Banjō no yoru” (Night on top of the board) which won the Masaki Yamada Award at the 1st Sogen SF Short Story Prize. He later won the 33rd Nihon SF Taishō Award for

Banjō

no

yoru

, Special Prize at the 34th Nihon SF Taishō Awards for

Yohanesuburugu

no

tenshi-tachi

(The angels of Johannesburg), the 38th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers for

Kanojo

ga

esupā

datta

koro

(The time she was a practitioner of ESP), the 30th Mishima Yukio Prize for

Kabūru

no

sono

(The garden of Kabul), and the 49th Seiun Award for

Ato

wa

no

to

nare

Yamato

Nadeshiko

(After me, the flood, Yamato Nadeshiko). His recent works include

Tōi

takoku

de

hyonto

shinuruya

(You can die by chance in a far-off country), and

Kiiroi

yoru

(Yellow night), among others.

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