Mitch sat on his bike, looking over the outcropping of rock, where he had stopped. The early morning light fog crept slowly, and eerily through the trees below, giving Mitch his favorite view. He loved this spot, especially this time of day. Just him and the mist. No houses, no car alarms, no barking dogs, and no deputy Harris to ruin everything.
He looked over the drop… No new undergrowth, or fallen rocks, and the trail down looked clear as far as he could see, before being lost in the mist.
Mitch zipped up his riding jacket, and pulled the knit cap over his ears, and kicked his offroad bike into life. He turned around, and went back about thirty feet, then turned his bike around again… He loved this.
The young man settled into his seat, and gunned the throttle, spinning his rear tire, until it caught good traction, and thrusting forward, onto the rock ledge, and into the air, allowing the bike to come away from his body, a few inches before impacting with the ground.
He kept the throttle pegged, letting it up, only to hit the clutch, and change gears, as he raced down the trail, through the mist and between trees and rocks, at all the speed he could coax out of his bike.
Mitch could think of no better way to start a day, than an adrenaline rush that came from this sort of ride, at breakneck speeds down a thin trail in thickening fog.
The high pitched whine of the bike’s engine cut like a knife through the still of the mountain morning, startling sleeping animals into short frightened flights.
Mitch kept the throttle pegged, taking short jumps, and sliding turns in the trail, as fast as he was able.
He was coming to his favorite part of the bike trail, the nice wide creek that he would jump, due to the natural bank on either side of it. The sound of the engine and the wind the only things he could hear, he started on the straightaway leading to the creek.
Hunched over, to reduce his wind resistance, and get just a tad more speed out of his bike, he could see the bank… and…. what?
A child … climbing up onto the bank!
Mitch let go of the throttle, and grabbed the brakes, trying to turn the bike away from the path of the child. He couldn’t hold it. The bike hit the ground, and Mitch along with it, rolling, and then straightening into a slide… he saw the frightened look on the child’s face, as the kid fell off the bank, then he felt the ground go away, beneath him…
Mitch felt the cold shock of the water, just before he felt something hit his head, and then something relatively heavy and hard landed on top of him…
Two days later
Mitch could smell the antiseptic in the air, and felt the bed beneath him…
He tried to ask where he was, “Mmmmf… uhh…” was all he could manage… Didn’t know why he was asking anyway, he knew he was in the hospital. He was immediately glad that he wasn’t able to get his question out, he felt that would sound stupid.
Deputy Harris walked in, after hearing the sound coming from Mitch’s room.
“How ya feelin’, man?” Robert asked him.
Mitch looked over, groaned, and then looked again. Harris wasn’t in uniform. “What, man? What do you want?”
Robert chuckled, “Just wanted to know how you’re feeling. Simple question, really.”
Mitch eyed him, warily, noting with a grunt, that only one of his eyes would open, “Tip top, man. Why? You gonna arrest me?”
Harris shook his head, “Look, kid, I’m not even on duty, alright? Lighten up. Thought you might want to know… You missed the kid… he fell back into the creek. His dad pulled the bike off the top of you, and kept you from drowning. I don’t know where you get your luck, man, but some day it’s going to run out… I’d quit pushing it if I were you.”
“Yeah?” Mitch snapped… “Well… I’d shave that weasel off my lip if I were you… Go away man… my head hurts.”
Robert shook his head, and walked out…
Mitch closed his eyes, silently happy that he didn’t hurt anyone but himself… a single tear finding its way down his face, and into his hair…