Pursue or Pursued.
I was chosen as a winner of this Dark Globe short story by readers choice. That was a surprise in it self.By Gerry A/C 30th March 2012
Hope you like, it is not a masterpiece but it is a start…..His legs were pedaling with all his might, sweat beading down his forehead, dripping into his eyes, stinging and blurring his vision. He kept looking back, over his shoulder, he could not see any sign of his pursuers, but he could hear them. The rumble of wheels running over the damp stony track. The voices shouting out after him. This made his legs go even faster. His aching muscles beginning to tell. The noise of them beginning to get louder, he knew they were closing in. He could not give in, he could not slacken off. He knew he had to keep going. His breathing was very deep, he was panting hard, he felt his heart beat crashing against his rib cage. He did not know how much longer he could carry on. But he knew he must. Again he looked behind, over his shoulder and again no sign. He was quickly brought around because this minor distraction made him catch the edge of a pothole in this forest track. A silly mistake, he should know better, potholes and puddles were everywhere. The recent damp weather made them worse, they became soggy, his front wheel had caught an edge and slid, making him swerve and loose balance temporarily. Weaving along the track a few yards, legs pushing to the ground to regain his balance and momentum. Slowing slightly, panic in his eyes, because now he saw his pursuers turn the bend a few hundred yards behind him. ‘Shit, they are gaining” he cursed to himself.A further few yards along, he was re-gaining full control of his machine, his legs pushing full momentum on the pedals again, this jolt made him more aware, as he had to gain full concentration of what was in front of him.
Standing now, full body effort now being used to overcome the long bend and raising incline, sapping all his efforts and energy. The feel he was hurting, the burning in his chest and thinking that his muscles are going to explode. He kept telling himself, ‘Cannot slow up, cannot let them catch me’ The only consolation he could think of was that those behind would be feeling the same. He hoped!
Pushing hard, speeding along the now leveled out track, dodging potholes, ducking from low over hanging branches. Weaving and dodging like a real professional. He turned another bend, the bright sun shone straight into his eyes, blinding him, he lost control and tumbled to the side of the track. ‘Shit, come on’ he shouted at himself.
He gained his composure, and quickly jump back onto his machine and headed off again. He tilted his hat, hoping it would shade his eyes, it did, but he still had to keep his head lowered.
Need not bother looking behind, he knew they were close, he knew they had gained, it was negative actions that he could no longer afford to do. Every negative movement he knew they would gain a few yards on him. But in his mind he knew they were feeling the same hurt as him. That minor accident did give time for his chest to ease a little and relaxing his breathing.
The leader of the chasing group was trying to encourage his comrades to pedal harder and faster, “ Come on, guys, we can almost touch him, harder, harder come on!” sounding like an order he shouted. It was the speaker of this chasing group that was now pulling away from the rest. He could feel himself closing in on his target. It was now time for him go, he could not risk waiting by staying with the group. He knew it was time to go it alone, the rest were holding him back. The advantage of riding in a group was now exhausted. He pedaled faster and harder, he pulled away from the group, yard by yard, he could see he was slowly gaining on his target. He did not have much farther to go, getting him was imperative, if he failed then all would be lost. Every thing would have been a waste of time. He would be a nobody. He knew his life would be finished. Last chance saloon. All these thoughts swirling in his head made him pedal even harder. Was it going to be enough?
“Oh man, I got to catch him” like his prey he was starting to panic. The perspiration pouring from body, forehead dripping, arm pits and chest were soaked. Legs getting sore, dampness and friction causing him discomfort.
On the same bend where he saw his prey fall, he approached with more caution, the sun had moved slightly, was not so dazzlingly bright. He did not falter, he pedaled even more now knowing he had gained a small distance, no hindrance he was closing in. The forest track would end soon, it would open out into open ground then onto easier track way. If he hadn’t caught him by this time he knew he would have to pay. Catching him was not an option.
Weaving around the potholes and puddles and keeping away from the soft muddy edges, he was traversing the track with confidence. Looking ahead he could see the break from the forest to open ground. It was here he knew he had to make time, maintain the distance between himself and his pursuer. He braved a quick glance behind, he could now see his pursuer, but he was alone, his comrades no longer visible. The lone pursuer was gaining on him, he knew that he would catch him at this rate of speed. Slowing slightly was giving his chaser an incentive, he could see the distance between them lessening, and knowing this, he had to press even harder.
The sun caused him to wince as he broke from the woodland, he knew now that he was within safety, in fact he could see people, in the distance, but they were there. This was his safe haven, got to get there first, so close, he thought yet so far. His heart still challenging his rib cage, muscles tensing, leg muscles tightening, arm muscles aching and hurting from all the jolts. The track now drier, making his traverse a little easier, but it was more demanding on his muscles and energy.
Another look back, his chaser was closer, ‘Shit, what is he doing, flying?’ he groaned, as he saw his chaser not only closer, but was gaining with every thrust.
Panic settling in made him tense up and mistakes were making him swerve to avoid larger stones and loose gravel. All this costing him time, he knew the pursuer was almost upon him. Not much further, nearly safe, keep going, faster. All being shouted inside his head. Energy and strength being found, but did not seem to be enough. Instinct now telling him that his chaser was almost on his rear wheel.
He stood up on the pedals, demanding strength from his legs, pedaling faster and moving faster, his chaser came in line of his vision, riding side by side. His front wheel was slightly ahead, the chaser, grimacing in pain, effort was hurting.
People shouting, chanting, inaudible, but sounds could be heard..
Arms and elbows almost touching each other every time their swaying movement in the strain of pedaling so fast, trying to gain what each could. Hundred yards, legs bursting with pain, fifty yards, faces contorted with all their effort, twenty-five yards, the chaser was falling back, a yard maybe, but it was an advantage. Ten yards and both upright and pushing hard on the pedals, five yards, four yards, three, two one Finish. He had done it, a wheel in it but victory was his.
Gerry A C/A 29th March 2012