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2.4 MPH

2.4 mph


Estimated reading time — 14 minutes

I know Death. I know Death very well. I’ve known Death for eleven years and three months now. Ever since the car accident in 2006 I’ve been on the run from Death. I’m convinced it’s a mistake, a mix up somehow. I am alive, I survived the accident but yet Death, or as I refer to it as Mr. Grim, has been following me in an unrelenting effort to touch me so he can take me. I’ve had time to hypothesize that death is a process designed by God or Mother Nature or Aliens; I don’t fucking know. This process has been tried and true for thousands of years. A person on Earth dies; Death or The Grim Reaper or The Angel of Death comes down to touch that dead or dying person. The soul or life force of that person is released. This soul or life force is a brilliant shine of light glowing warmth. This light, just like in the movies, floats up as the person passes. I’ve seen this light. It is beautiful. This is the process that happens over and over again in war, on death beds, at hospitals, house fires, drownings, terrorist attacks, suicides and of course car accidents.

My name is Jason Turner. I’ve been on the run for over eleven years. This is my story. I was in a fatal car accident eleven years and three months ago. I died there in the wreckage along with three old college buddies from my days at Fitchburg State University. Paramedics revived me after determining that I did not have a heartbeat for approximately six minutes. Once resuscitated, they loaded me onto a stretcher and wheeled me to an awaiting EMS van. I remember it was a dark and rainy night. I was conscious and barely lucid but I saw what I saw. Death came for my three old college friends, two of which were not wearing seatbelts and were jettisoned 50 feet from the crash site, another was a bloody pulp glued to his passenger seat. I watched and saw a dark, blurry translucent figure, not float or fly, but walk to each of my friends and touch them, releasing their life force, their soul. I saw the golden bright orbs of light radiating upwards from each of my friends as the paramedics loaded me in the back of the ambulance. As the back doors of the ambulance closed, I saw through the back windows of the van, the dark and dreary apparition turn and start walking toward the ambulance. As far as I could see, this ghostly figure was not visible to the police or the paramedics on the scene. I thought I was dreaming so I laid my head down and closed my eyes. The ambulance pulled out on the road moments later heading to Baystate Hospital 25 miles away. I don’t recall much more after that.

According to my parents, they got me to Baystate for x-rays and MRI scans. I was then helicoptered to UMass Memorial to a special wing for trauma patients. This hospital was a little over 100 miles away. I became conscious the next day with my parents by my side. My recovery was miraculous. I had cracked ribs, a concussion, broken wrist and a number of deep lacerations. The good news was no brain trauma or internal organ damage. All things considered I felt pretty good for being dead for six minutes and I was fairly lucid even after the sedatives and pain killers were administered. I can remember my Mom spoon-feeding me some applesauce and raising me up so I could sip on a straw. My Dad sat on my left side giving me updates on the Red Sox. They were kind enough to go to my apartment and bring me a change of clothes. That’s when I found out from my parents that a drunk driver was the cause of our accident.

The next day they raised up my bed so I can look out the window and check out the beautiful spring day below. My room was on the 6th floor of the hospital. The view showed me the backdrop of the city of Worcester, Massachusetts. I saw busy streets in the background with a nice park sprawling with green grass, playscapes for the kids and picnic tables. It was a beautiful day, so many people were in the park. Down below my window was the hospital courtyard where many hospital workers along with some patients with family, were out eating their lunches and soaking up the warm May sun.

Across the street I saw that same blurry apparition that I thought I dreamt about. This time its noon on a sunny and clear day. There was no mistaking what I saw. The figure took on a human form though its height had to be well over eight feet tall as it towered over the other people in the park; people who went on playing and socializing as this thing lumbered right by them. Nobody noticed anything!! The pace of this ghostly figure (Mr. Grim) was eerie. He certainly took his time, patiently maintaining the pace of a little more than a stroll but definitely not a brisk power walk. Mr. Grim did have legs though I did not see actual feet as his legs blurred to a foggy mist where his feet would’ve hit the ground. Its face had no definition, no features just a whirling dust storm for a head. It was constantly changing and always swirling around never taking on a static shape. There was no noticeable hood or shroud over its head as noted in ancient folklore. And Mr. Grim, based on movies and myths, did not carry a scythe. Its arms hung down well below the knees tapering off to one long protrusion; call it a single finger, at the end of each hand.

I remember I got off my bed and wheeled my IV stand closer to the window allowing myself to get a better view and to clear the fog of any medication I might’ve been on. Mr. Grim walked past the park into busy street traffic buzzing left and right. The cars plowed right through him as if he were invisible. Mr. Grim walked onto the hospital grounds approaching the hospital workers lazing on the grass or sitting on picnic tables eating their lunch. I watched with morbid fascination. Nobody took notice! A voice in my head reminded me the importance of self-preservation. Something told me that I really do not want to die again. I NEEDED TO GET MOVING! Not giving a flying fuck about my condition, I removed my IV, found the bag of clothes my Mom brought and got dressed. Mr. Grim reached the hospital courtyard entrance doors. I looked out the window one last time as he glided through the doors without opening them. All my primal warning lights were going off; this was no dream! I laced up my boots and threw on a hoodie over my tee shirt, put on my Red Sox hat, grabbed my wallet, cellphone and walked into the hallway of the trauma wing of UMass Memorial. I pulled down the sleeve of my hoodie to cover my hospital wrist tag. I found the elevators and pressed L for lobby. Exiting the elevator I looked left and right for the exits. Left was the rear of the hospital where the courtyard was.

I felt nauseous and grabbed a wall rail for a good 30 seconds. I was sweating and I felt sick. The main hospital entrance was to the right. I regained some energy and starting walking toward the main doors but something made me stop in my tracks and look behind me. Emerging through the double doors of the east wing of the hospital was Death himself using that same slow methodical walk; almost casually. I stood there in between the two sets of sliding glass doors as he continued walking right toward me, passing by hospital workers in the hallway going about their business. I saw Mr. Grim blend with and then walk through a man in a wheelchair. Nobody saw anything, nobody said anything!

I walked outside and powered up my cellphone. I called my father to pick me up knowing it’s going to take him 45 minutes to arrive. I had to keep moving. I was in no condition to run so I briskly walked down the main street in front of UMass Memorial. I looked back to find Mr. Grim a hundred yards away outside the front of the hospital main doors. He maintained slow pursuit. I found out that if I could keep up a pace faster than him I can increase my distance between him. So that’s what I did for 45 minutes; walked the streets of Worcester phone in hand directing my Dad to where my location was. At last my Dad showed up and I hopped into his Buick. I buckled up and spun my head to the rear. Mr. Grim was nowhere to be seen. After answering a barrage of questions from my Dad, I managed to close my eyes and dozed off for the 50 mile drive to my parents’ house on Belmont Street in Sturbridge.

I tried to get much-needed rest at my parent’s house, but my head was whirling from what was supposedly chasing me. My pain meds were wearing off so my body was achy and sore. I did manage to get some intermittent sleep during the night, but I swore I must’ve woke up every hour looking out the bedroom window. Waiting. Waiting for what? I tried to explain what I saw to my parents, but they pretty much shushed me and told me that I needed rest. They reminded me of the crushing loss and trauma that came with the accident; losing three close friends and nearly dying myself. They both urged me to lay down and rest. Maybe I was imagining things because of my concussion. But all those rational reassurances flew out the window when my creeping friend returned to my parent’s street that next morning. After breakfast I gazed out the living room window to check the weather conditions. It was there when I saw him. Mr. Grim was two hundred yards away down the end of Belmont Ave. I walked outside and stood on the lawn looking down the street. Yes, there he was…shuffling his feet taking his God damn time!! I called for my Dad and he came outside and stood on the front lawn with me looking down the street.
“Dad, look down the street and tell what you see!!, I asked.
“What?” he paused to look at me then moved his gaze down the direction I was looking. “Okay, I see kids on bikes, Mrs. Flannigan walking her dog on the sidewalk, a car?” answered my Dad. I watched as the three kids on bikes zigged and zagged around Mr. Grim unknowing that Death was in their path.
”Dad…LOOK!! You don’t see that large …thing…a dark figure walking down the middle of the fuckin’ street??”, I asked.
“Jason, let’s go inside and get some rest.” he said in a consoling ‘there-there’ fashion.
“Can you bring me to my apartment? Like RIGHT NOW?”, I pleaded.
“I don’t know Jason…maybe that’s not a good idea right now”, answered my Dad.
After hearing me start to freak out, my Dad relented and agreed to bring me to my apartment in Newton…55 miles away. As we pulled out of the driveway I looked back to see Death just three houses away. Still walking steadily in the middle of the road.

When I got to my apartment I felt I had some time. I felt safe for the moment. Until Mr. Grim tracks my location. Crazy at the time but that’s what was going on in my head. I grabbed three Advil and a late morning beer and sat down at my kitchen table. I grabbed a pad of lined paper, a pen and a calculator. I need to get this down on paper to better understand it.

That’s when I worked out the math. This thing, this Angel of Death can only walk when he’s after a soul to release. Can’t fly or float, take the subway or teleport. Mr. Grim walks. He walks a little slower than a typical brisk walk which is an average of 3.2 mph, so I estimated Grim walks probably close to 2.4 mph. The distance from the accident site to Baystate Hospital is about 25 miles. Which takes 10.4 hours to walk at a pace of 2.4 mph. I was in Baystate only about 6 hours before they Life Flighted me out of there to UMass Memorial. I didn’t see Grim at that time but I bet he was close. Now the distance between Baystate and Memorial is 103 miles which would take about 43 hours to walk. On my 2nd day of recovery at UMass Memorial, I saw him across the street walking through the park. My total time at Memorial could’ve been a total of 36 to 40 hours, I couldn’t recall exactly at that time. Then I calculated the distance from Memorial, where my Dad picked me up, to my parents’ house in Sturbridge; it is approximately 50 miles which equates to 20.8 hours of walk time. I saw Grim on Belmont Street the next morning around 9:30am while at my parents; which kinda made sense because my Dad brought me back to his house at 1:30pm. About a 20-hour time span. Now from my parent’s street to my apartment in Newton is about 55 miles; which would take 23 hours to walk. So, if my theory is correct, my personal Angel of Death, Mr. Grim, would be arriving on my street approximately 4am tomorrow morning. I needed to prepare.

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That was over eleven years ago. I can still remember packing clothes, filling up the gas tank of my SUV and withdrawing money from my savings. It was time to go on a road trip. I called my manager to tell him I needed time to recover from the accident and attend services for my college buddies. After all the preparing, I set my alarm to allow time for a good late afternoon nap. I needed the rest if I was to stay up until 4am to wait and see if my friend arrives. Then and only then would my theory be correct. It was risky, but I had to know exactly how to play this game.

I woke from my nap probably around 6pm. I had dinner and started tanking up on coffee as I needed to stay awake through the night. At 2am, not taking any chances, I went out to my SUV, parking it at the end of the parking lot with good views in all directions. Street lights and overhead parking lot lights gave way to good visibility. I made it a point to watch the street in the northeast direction which would be the direction of my parents’ house. Sure enough at 4:17am here comes Mr. Slowpoke plodding along. My theory is correct, this shit is happening!! I can recall saying, “Catch me if you can Motherfucker!!” as I started my car and pulled out in the opposite direction.

So I hit the road running and I haven’t stopped since.

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That seemed so long ago. This is my life now. Traveling, making calculations, staying in motels, B&B’s, and camping. Sometimes driving, mostly flying. I find that flying to far destinations allows me more time at that place. Sometimes up to four weeks. I also decided to do this; keep a journal on my laptop.

How do I do this financially? Well, I had to quit my job. My parents think I work as an IT consultant who travels the world. (I do stay with them for a week fully aware of knowing how far Mr. Grim is from me at that time). Anyways, there was a sizable settlement from the accident that I received a few years back. Also, during this freakish game of hide & seek, my grandfather passed and left me enough to afford all my traveling expenditures these past six plus years. The numbers don’t lie; this Reaper dude covers 57.6 miles a day, 403.2 miles in a week and 1613 miles in a month. I then subtract my exact travel time getting to my destination and from that I’ll know approximately when to pack up and move again. As a safeguard, I generally hit the road two to three days before, just in case my calculations are off. This system, though exhausting, works. It keeps me alive. I have not seen Mr. Grim since outside my apartment in Newton over eleven years ago. I do not miss him.

If I can borrow the lyrics of a popular Blue Oyster Cult song: Don’t Fear the Reaper. I really don’t fear the reaper anymore. I don’t. I have it all figured out. This is now my life until I’m too old to travel or I run out of money. Somehow, I am not scared anymore; I’ve accepted this cat & mouse game. Okay, I guess I need to mention my weight gain. I ballooned up to 240 pounds. I was a fit 190 pounds eleven years ago when I was 26 years old. Now at 37 years old and frighteningly out of shape, I’m a traveling slug. Living on the road is a killer on the waistline.

Relationships? Chicks? Hah…now that’s funny!! I’ll hook up with a girl in a bar for a one-night stand occasionally but having a girlfriend, building a relationship, falling in love, marriage, having children? I’ve accepted it, never gonna happen.

Let’s talk about traveling. I am a globetrotter. I am the most frequent of all flyers. I’ve realized I need to maximize my distance from Grim; which means maximizing my travel miles. No more driving 50 miles, resting for 15.6 hours, then moving again. That’s just not sustainable. I now either drive or fly long distance. This leaves me anywhere from one to four weeks to settle, relax and not worry about Mr. Grim feeling me up. When flying, I usually start by going coast to coast. So say I go from D.C. to California, then I start my X pattern. From California I jet to Portland, Maine. From Maine I go diagonal to El Paso, Texas. El Paso to Myrtle Beach, S.C. then from Myrtle I bounce to Seattle, WA.; then Seattle straight diagonal to Miami. This crisscross country pattern allows me to stay at each destination for almost a month.

That’s just for the United States. I do travel overseas. I have stayed in all of Europe, South America, Shanghai and Australia. All of those very expensive overseas trips give me peace of mind for a full four weeks. I’ll also pop in for a week to stay and visit my parents when my planned travel pattern allows it. I always carry a wall calendar to hang from a wall or fridge wherever I’m staying. I mark my day of arrival and departure and X out each day in between. This calendar is key to keeping me focused and organized. I can’t afford to become complacent or sloppy because I will lose my soul if I do. I also carry a folded map of the U.S.A. that I mark up to document my travels. I try to approximate where exactly Grim is on this map but it’s hard to do without an actual visual sighting. No way I’m doing that again.

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Driving has its benefits and its negatives. Obviously, it’s cheaper than flying. With driving I get to travel alone, listening to my own music. I have control and flexibility in a car unlike a plane. I also enjoy meeting people on both coasts, in the heartland and in the deep south of America. These are some great Americans, really good people. I try to meet as many people as possible when I’m running. I’d be too lonely if I didn’t. But the wear and tear on the automobile is a bitch. I trade in my car for a “newer” car every three years because of the mileage I put on the vehicle. I need new rubber on the wheels every six months and an oil change every month. I try to cover at least 500 miles a full day of driving. I’ll stay in a motel or go camping for a few days then hit the road to drive another 500 miles. Each of the 500 mile legs give me about 5 days of leisure after subtracting my actual drive time (remember I’m going 70mph, but he’s going 2.4 mph). I do like camping, it’s fairly cheap. I’ve camped at most national parks in America and I’ve met so many nice, generous fellow campers, some of who have had me over to their camp site for cookouts and drinks on many occasions. How I yearn to tell them my story while sitting around a campfire sipping on Jack Daniels Honey. But I know that I can’t. My life is a lonely life.

As for Mr. Grim, do I believe he’s still shuffling his nonexistent feet in pursuit of me? Yes, I do. I can’t just let myself believe that maybe he called it quits; Game Over? Nope, I truly believe he’s still out there, honed into my signal. No mountains, oceans, valleys, rivers or forests can slow him down. 2.4 mph. Always. I question why this is happening to me all the time. Why me? I’m alive, doesn’t he know that??? Why can’t Mr. Grim get recalled? Abort the mission dude! I’m tired.

Okay so let’s get back to financing this permanent vacation. As I mentioned before, I pulled in some cash from the insurance settlement from the accident; $250,000. That came my 2nd year of running. In my 5th year of running, my grandfather passed leaving me with the title to his cottage in Falmouth, Cape Cod. I sold it and garnered another $350,000. Pretty good haul so far right? Well, here’s what I’m burning through each month; $1500 for motels/camping, $500 in gas, $1500 for food, an average of $1000/month for airfare. That Grim motherfucker is costing me $4500-5000 a month. What’s his problem anyways?? Nevertheless, that equates to almost $60,000 a year to run from him!! Oh by the way, did I mention I’m on my 11th year! Do the math. Never mind, I’ve done it already. Spending $5000 a month for eleven years comes to approximately $660,000!! So I had, at one time, a total of $600,000 from the insurance settlement and my grandfather’s estate, where did I get the rest? Well, I took out a bank loan last year for $60,000 that I never intended to pay back. I also borrowed $10,000 from my parents two years ago. All those totals help finance me for nearly ten years. I’m into my 11th year and I now have a total of $5,755 in my savings. I don’t know what I’m gonna do! What do I do when the money runs? Where can I go? Nobody will believe me. Do I just toss in the flag? Mr. Grim, you win?

I recently discovered something that brings me hope and optimism. I now feel that I have a purpose. I am not giving up! I stumbled upon it quite by accident. I can’t describe the wonderful feeling that has come over me. This, if it’s true, will keep me going.

I found out there are others like me.

Credit: G.H. Appleby

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