Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Blowout (04/28/11)
TITLE: The Ride of My Life
By Ennis Smith
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I’m pushing my motorcycle at 120 mph down a darkened one lane straight-away. Though my bike’s headlamp functions properly, I can’t see beyond five feet ahead of me. A quick glance at my tachometer reveals the needle flirting dangerously close to 16, 000 rpm. She’s gonna redline, if I don’t back off. But I can’t. This adrenaline run is pure suicide and I know, deep in my heart, I should pull off the pitch black road.
Instead, I twist the throttle wider. The foreign-engine screams in violent protest, but rockets faster, speeding me toward an inevitable doom I am reluctant to turn away from. My body stiffens against the cold relentless wind blowing past my helmet. As my head bobs from side to side, my vision obscures. Still, I twist wider. The engine screams horrendously at 127 mph. Despite the padding inside my helmet, I can barely hear a coherent thought formulate within my mind.
“FASTER,” the black-painted bike seems to beckon.
I twist wider, and the tach-needle jumps pass the redline mark, into the 17, 000 rpm range. My muscles begin to falter against the friction of the wind at these speeds. And then…it happens.
A bone-jerking blowout underneath the gas tank, sends the rancid smell of burnt engine oil and smoke through the air. The whining engine hollers a high-pitched curse and then dies, as the bike continues to coast. The headlamp winks out, and I’m left gliding at 120 plus mph, with no light, save for the illuminated instrument panel. I clamp down on the hand grips and flatten my body against the bike’s frame, riding out the darkness, praying the road remains straight and true.
Just as the speedometer drops down to five mph, the front tire touches gravel. I coast the bike onto the roadway shoulder, prop the kick-stand, and dismount in the pitch black. There’s nothing to see. I’m stranded in the darkness. As I slowly remove my helmet with shaky hands, I speak into the night.
“Man…I could sure use a little help here.”
Suddenly, I see a light in the distant darkness, up the road. As it steadily approaches, I hear the pleasant hum of a cruiser bike. The stranger parks along-side my motorcycle; his cruiser facing in the opposite direction of my sportbike. He dismounts, smiling at me. I’m amazed at how bright his headlamp shines. It seems to illuminate everything within a ten-foot radius of us.
“Looks like she just couldn’t take anymore, eh brother?” the stranger asks.
“Yeah…blew something a ways back and she died on me,” I reply. I can’t get over the soothing radiance of his light. It invites me, somehow.
The stranger kneels down into the engine compartment of my bike, then absently asks, “You mind if I take a look at her?”
My eyes are transfixed on the headlamp of his bike. I turn my back on the stranger to face the lamp and casually respond, “Sure. Go right ahead.”
“Now don’t be alarmed,” he says. “I’m just gonna move a few things around, take out a few broken pieces, and replace them with my own stuff.”
As I stare into the awesome and radiant headlamp of the stranger’s cruiser, I hear the twisting of metal, stretching of rubber, and the clanking of hollow parts resonating behind me. I hear discarded parts rebound off the pavement around me, as the stranger continues his repair work. As I continue staring at the soothing headlamp, I barely notice my old muffler fly across the narrow roadway, landing in the ditch on the other side.
“There! That should do it,” the stranger says.
Behind me, I hear my keys jangle as the stranger shoves into the ignition and depresses the starter button. My sportbike’s engine purrs. It’s guttural hum somehow different than before. I’m awakened from my trance at the sound of my engine’s peaceful idle.
“What did you do to it?” I ask.
“I gave it new life,” the stranger replies. “Say…why don’t you follow me, and I’ll show you how to keep it running?”
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“Well if you follow me slowly, I’ll take you to my father’s house.” he says.
We cruise up the road at 35 mph, and the stranger’s lamp illuminates the entire roadway ahead of us.
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