He was out for a walk.
The sun was nearly set, casting the western horizon in deep hues of red and purple. Stars crept across the sky from the east and a cool summer breeze kissed his skin. All around him the people of his neighborhood were enjoying the evening. Children ran about, frantically playing the last of their games before darkness called them home to bed. Young lovers walked arm in arm and older folks sat on their porches and lawns, watching the world around them.
He chuckled to look at them. Chronologically speaking, he had about 10 years on those older folks, though to look at him, one would swear he wasn't a day over 40. In fact, people were talking about how "well-preserved" he was, and their remarks were beginning to take on a tone of suspicion. He knew he'd likely soon have to leave this neighborhood, and the house he lived in, though he'd grown quite attached to both since he and his wife had moved here years ago, full of youth and the promise of family.
Sadly, that family had never come. Another side effect of the speed. That strange energy that allowed him to race a flashlight beam to its target and kept him young had also rendered him sterile.
He sighed. They had been disappointed, but not devastated. She'd had a promising career in investigative journalism, and the life of a superhero kept him away from home more often than not, so at times his sterility seemed a blessing. They had sponsored many needy children around the world, and they had many nieces and nephews on which to lavish their affection. So, though there had been no children, their lives had been full.
But then age, which seemed to all but ignore him, had finally had its way with her. She died in their bed just a few short months ago, with him by her side, holding her hand until the end. She passed without regret, having lived a life she would never have thought possible. In that last year before she died, when she knew her time was nigh, she put to paper all the many adventures of her life; both the fantastic ones shared with her husband and the grounded, yet no less exciting, adventures her work had led her to. She'd made him promise one day to publish them, when he no longer cared to keep his identity secret.
His pace increased as he moved out of his neighborhood, his surroundings beginning to blur as he moved beyond human speeds. He'd already made plans with his lawyer to publish his wife's memoirs within the next year. The proceeds would be divided between a journalism scholarship and a foundation set up to aid less fortunate children.
The world around him became a wash of color and he felt every molecule in his body begin to vibrate in unison. He'd been cautious about moving at the speeds he was approaching. He'd done a great deal of analysis of himself in his lab in the years since the accident had given him this speed, and he knew what could happen to him as he approached luminal velocity.
It didn't matter now, he thought with a smile. This leg of his race had been run. The slow life of a human man was behind him, along with that of a scarlet-clad hero. There were plenty others to carry on the crusade for justice. And with his wife gone, he was free to explore the limits, if there were any, of his power.
He felt his atoms begin to sing, and lightning crackled around him. His world was filled with blessed silence; he'd left the sound barrier far behind. Looking ahead of him, he saw the light begin to shift in hue, and he knew the moment was approaching.
Then he reached the point where there were no moments, where time itself stopped. In a final brilliant flash, he felt his body transcend its flesh, becoming of the same stuff as his soul. He became light, became energy, became speed itself...
And he ran, fast as he could, into the glorious unknown.