Usually Frank had a giggle at signs in suburban neighborhoods that warned “Slow Children At Play.” Naturally the signs were meant to mean “slow down because children are playing and might dash out in front of your car,” but the semantic ambiguity was always mild amusement for an Usway distributor who spent a lot of time in cookie-cutter suburbs. It was the only use his moldy old English Literature degree got, at any rate.

Upon entering one neighborhood in East Hopewell, Frank saw a sign that seemed like a model of linguistic efficiency and purity: “20 MPH Children.” Clear an succinct, it warned of children and set a 20 MPH speed limit rather than using the relative term “slow.”

Partway to his destination, though, Frank was accosted by…something…darting in front of his car. He couldn’t for the life of him make it out, as it was moving fast enough to be but a blur in his slightly rheumy vision. Craning his neck and stutter-stopping his car through the area, Frank’s knuckles were white on the dashboard and his eyes were wide as saucers in fear of hitting one of the…whatever-they-weres…before he had a chance to unload his Usway merch and get the money he needed to make rent (and cover any repairs or insurance rate hikes).

Eventually he eased his way past the obstructions. Arriving at his destination, Frank asked about the mysterious blurs. “Oh, that’s just Bryan’s kids,” said his local distributor, as if that explained everything.

A few blocks back, the McClintock kids had just wrapped up their game of tag. “Dad! Hey Dad! Did you see that guy come through here? He looked pretty scared!”

Bryan McClintock, once known as Lightning Runner before he’d retired the cape and leotard, shrugged. “I put up the sign warning people that the children here run at 20 miles per hour; I guess that gentleman just didn’t know how to read.”

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