Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Top to Bottom

Whistler spread before him, waiting with virgin snows. The thin air was sharp in his nostrils. The wind whistled a little, giving a sound to the place. It fluttered through the sprigs of hair peaking out here and there from beneath his stocking cap.

He stood at the edge of the run on his board. The anticipation of the decent made him shiver. The cold of the air only made the shiver stronger.

Fear began to creep into his thoughts. At first, it was the slight thought of pain, that minor little nagging idea of falling, badly, and breaking a limb. The fear began to grow into larger injuries and obstacles: trees, boulders, beginners. He tried to suppress the fear, but it needed to be let out.

His breath grew ragged as he tried to pull in more air. This only added to the fear. There was only one way to get more air, and he knew it.


He leaned forward.


He bent his knees.


He spoke to the fear.

See you at the bottom of the mountain.

He leapt out into space. The wind now howled in his ears, muffled only by his hat. The powder rushed up to meet him. A thrill was all the coursed through his body. The thrill melted away all thought and emotion. All that was consisted of the mountain. He was just another stone hurtling down it.

A shock shook him as he hit the powered, twenty feet below. The bent knees absorbed the majority of the impact. Still he saw the shock in the back of his brain, all reds and blacks exploding.

He shook his head as he leaned back into his run. Now the obstacles that he had feared were in his path. Lean left and avoid a rock, lean right and miss a tree. Muscles took over the duties of maneuvering, as the brain merely pointed out what the mountain threw up in his way.

A lane opened before him and he leaned forward once more. The wind screamed now, as he gained speed. He followed the curves of the trail like as a snake follows dunes. Banking hard, he headed back towards the populated side of the mountain.

He shot past his first stray boarder, out away from the crowds to find her own fresh powder. He flew past a pair of skiers looking to avoid the packed snow of the board-heavy lower runs. He sailed through the air startling, and then wowing, a group of teens who had found a place to smoke up before there own rush down the mountain.

The obstacles grew more plentiful and mobile. Dodging beginners snowplowing their way down the steep parts, arcing around a couple holding hands, and slicing through a family of boarders, lined up like ducks in a row. The father’s cries of "watch out, asshole" faded quickly into the howl in his ears.

He spied smoke rising from the distant warming lodge. He needed now to get there as fast as possible, as if icy devils chased for his very soul. He was all speed now, flying towards that smoke, still dodging and swerving. The slalom of people grew thick, more than trees, more than rocks, just people, all moving. He was a fighter pilot through flak, a starship through an asteroid field, a feather in a swarm of leaves.

The lodge approached like a train, growing huge in his view. He needed to stop. He spied an open path that was as close to the door as he could get. He ignored all the signs of the slow zone and the stares of apathy as he raced to his arbitrary finish line.

Needing one last little thrill he waited to the last possible moment before digging in the side of his board. He plowed snow in front of him and sprayed the wall of the lodge in his on little storm. He stopped a few feet from the thick logs that made up the building.

He stood for a moment, breathing ragged again. He was drained. The adreinaline was spent. He paused for a moment, looked around, and gave his brain time to return to the stationary world.

He leaned over and threw up.

His stomach wanted nothing to do with this business and left itself at the top of the mountain. It wasn’t alone. It had the fear to keep it company.

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