Friday, April 15, 2016

Free Fiction: The Long Ride Down

I've been mulling over "Flight" because of the Flash Fiction contest over at
so this Friday's story has a little bit to do with flight, although this particular ficlet doesn't have anything to do with scifi.


The huffing and puffing was done.

Jayce and Mike had pedaled their way up High Street all the way to the top and then beyond. High Street turned into Meadow Lane and snaked up for several miles through farm land with a lot of cow pasture on both sides.

The first half of the trip took the longest because biking uphill was hard, thigh-burning work, but the reward would make the effort worth it.

"This is it. The top." Mike unclipped his bike helmet and ran his hand through his sweaty hair. The short brown strands stuck up in little spikes. "It's all downhill from here."

"About damn time," Jayce said. He grabbed the water bottle from the holder and swished his mouth out. The fine particular dust on the road coated his throat. Everything tasted gritty, and everything felt gritty too. "This better be worth it."

"It will be. Are you ready?"

"Yeah." Jayce pushed the water bottle back into the holder. He looked down the road. It started mostly flat, but it would become steeper. Having just pumped his way up the impressive incline, Jayce knew the route intimately.

Mike clipped his helmet back on. "Three miles. All downhill. Be careful with your brakes. Keep 'em feathered."

"Don't forget to switch leader position halfway down," Jayce replied.

Mike rolled his eyes and hopped on his bike. He pushed off and wobbled down the road for two revolutions of his pedals and then his speed picked up and he moved like a rocket with a destination.

Jayce followed behind. He'd already done all the work, now there was only enjoyment.

The wheels on his bike made a zipping noise as he sped down the incline. The wind pushed over his face and whistled through the vents in his helmet. Faster and faster, he flew down the road.

Mike whooped and shouted with glee in front of him, but they were traveling too fast, and other than the sound of delight, Jayce couldn't tell what he said.

The road curved sharply, with a guardrail skimming the outer edge and a steep drop off tumbling out of sight on the other side. Jayce feathered his brakes.

Mike slowed and Jayce took the lead. They were halfway down. The trip took only a few minutes, compared with the long haul up, but it felt like a sliver of forever to Jayce. The road changed in composition and now the bike's tires hummed. The sweat he'd built from the climb up had been breezed away by the moving air and Jayce actually felt a chill. Still, his bike sped on, getting faster with every rotation of his wheels. His heart sang with the speed and his blood spiked with adrenaline. Everything was amazing. The speed, the freedom to ride, the danger of going too fast.

They passed an automatic, solar-powered speed counter designed to remind speeders in cars to slow down, and they actually triggered the sensor. 20 mph, it flashed. 21 mph, it flashed again, and Jayce grinned to know he was still picking up speed.

Less than ten minutes from the start of their downhill journey, he coasted to a stop at the very bottom of the long, long ride.

Jayce waited for Mike to pull up alongside him.

"Won't be dark yet for at least another hour," Mike said. "Want to do it again?"

Jayce gazed up High Street. It was a long ride back to the top, full of huffing and puffing. "Yes," he said, desperately craving that sensation of flying again. "Let's go."

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