RIDE 2 is one in a trilogy of short fiction centered around the miracle that is bicycle. Bicycles long have a literary association, and these contemporary collections brought together independent authors with a passion for people-powered transportation. I was featured in the second installment, with a piece about triumphing over the darkness of night.
Beat the Devil Home
It doesn’t seem the seasons matter much to the devil; he comes when he’s called. He comes when you think you can run. When you think your goodness is fuel that can burn faster than his hate for that purity.
He comes on a winter’s early night; he’s behind you in the heat of the sun in the center of summer. The breeze that uplifts the leaves in fall is him, as is the rain welling in your eyes in spring.
The heat of his stench on your neck warms your legs as they push down, the pedals moving faster and faster and faster. The land is an obstacle and an ally. She wants you to win. Hide in the hills, for it’s hard for him to see through the trees; stray fast from the fields for he hunts well in sad plains.
He doesn’t always chase you. It’s only on the days when you think you’re invincible, that life is a thing you have rather than a mystery unfolding about how you die. And it is in those moments of youth and joy he tries to cut you down.
The wind is a cape you wear but cannot see. It blinds him as you push harder, it warms you as it reminds that your end is not so easy as that of those in the machines.
There is an edge and it is the steel frame, welded well for such a day, when the sun is low and the trees want to fall, the kind of day when death seems as simple as an old friend that will never come to call again.
Devils, like gods, tire of the tiny parts we play when we do them too well. They do not want their entertainment easy. But be not fearful of success, for surely if we can amaze them, we can easily outrun them.
Beat the devil home, on a dull diamond frosted with the cold. Beat him when you know you can, so that you can remind yourself that you once did when you lose faith, for you will. But above all, beat the devil home and when you reach the door, stop and listen. As the wind settles still around your neck and your chest burns with chaste heat, there will in the distance be the faint sound of clapping.