Rider
Chapter 12

Copyright© 2013 by JOHNNY SACHU

The metallic red Firenze was humming with speed. The downhill was getting even steeper as Shannon tucked low over the bars for less wind resistance. The spokes made their spinning 'Hiss'ing noise along with the frame flowing through the air with a thicker 'Wooshing' sound and Shannon felt she was probably topping forty miles per hour or more and still accelerating.

She was in an all out sprint to the bottom of the cement city road for the mere exhilaration of the downhill and with 96 inch gearing, these days, she was definitely flying on her bicycle when the car pulled out across the back-street intersection.

There was no way she was going to avoid hitting it but she had to try, twisting instantly to the left and leaning hard. She thought for certain she was going to high side, after colliding, or loose traction with the street's concrete and slide hard beneath the rear wheel of the car, or slide head on into the cement curb. She was mindful enough to put her right side pedal down, leaving room for the left one for greater clearance. For a few micro seconds she almost felt like a grand-pre motorcycle racer on a closed circuit as she swooped past the car, lying almost horizontal, the top of the left pedal just off the ground, her knee scraping the level surface as she cornered past the rear of the car and down the opposite street in a perfect ninety degree maneuver. It both startled and delightfully surprised Shannon.

Okay, don't straighten up too quickly, she told herself, realizing the inertia she was feeling would throw her like a stone off the back of the bike.

Shannon righted herself and the bike not slowly, but not in a reckless whipping motion, either. Before she knew it, she was riding straight and fast down the newly acquired side street, houses flowing past her in the wind as she coasted through the next length of block.

"Whew!" she exhaled, realizing the bike had done as much as she in avoiding the crash. Her metallic red Firenze had it's own talents and if not for it, she would have endoed over the handlebars or slid beneath the car. Combined, they had probably saved her life, even though Shannon didn't think she would die, if the bike was near, or if she had the forethought to think, 'heal', before an impact. The blue lightning would take care of the rest.

Shannon looked back at the ancient woman in the car. She was still driving away as if nothing had occurred. Shannon didn't think the lady even knew what had nearly happened, much less seen her. Sigh ... She couldn't blame her, though, it was entirely Shannon's irresponsibility for bombing down the hill as she had. Besides. Everyone gets old if you keep on breathing.

Shannon came to the end of the block, still traveling too fast to make the turn at the intersection but she turned all the same. She leaned into it but certainly not as dramatically and as she had previously, then righted herself and began to pedal once more.

She kept filling her chest with oxygen, making sure she was catching her breath. That was some experience, she summoned up enough thought, and patted the handlebar stem, almost caressing it. "Thank you boy. I couldn't have survived that without you," she spoke to her bicycle. "You sure gotta a good grip there buddy." She paused, feeling the adrenalin slipping away and now feeling the fatigue. "I guess we better get home and give you a good cleaning."

Shannon aimed her bike back to her street, a couple of miles away, and eventually rolled into the yard. It was a nice day and she laid her bike in the freshly cut grass then went inside for cleaning-rags and polishes.

It took Shannon almost an hour to go over the entire machine, cleaning every little piece, nook, and cranny of the frame and wheels, using an old tooth brush for the really difficult places, and then standing back to admire how beautiful the bike looked in the morning sun. The metallic red shimmered as if it had an inner light and she couldn't help but let her eye come back again and again to inspect the beauty of it and the sparkling chrome and polished aluminum pieces. She loved her bike.

Shannon had found the Firenze discarded in a dumpster, two and a half years ago. It was originally a low end, 15 speed touring bike. She could have fixed it up like original, but she wanted a light weight, simple, stripped down bicycle to go to school on and ride around town, where she and her mother used to live. She took off every thing unneeded for a light quick ride and now it was perfectly suited to her. It was the ideal get around, back then, but now, like herself, endowed with the powers of the blue lightning that were magical and mysterious, she could do almost anything with it. Out race motorcycles, if she wanted to, with the aid of the blue lightning in the Firenze.

Shannon was athletic and poor growing up, scrounging for parts and money, but the bike had eventually brought her to Scottsbluff, Nebraska that was her new home, now, thankfully. She had run away and being one in ten million, had done well for herself. That was after and due mainly to the eerie blue lightning.

Shannon cleaned the tires with her bare hands, running them over the rubber before rolling the bike into the house, where she stored it in the back room with the old Schwinn ballooner bike she had fixed up, for around town stuff, too, only with the added fun of doing wild jumps, hopping curbs, and doing wheelies with that ride alongside buddy, of hers -- with what's his name -- her first friend she'd made in Scottsbluff? What is his name for crying out loud? Why can't I remember his it? she questioned. What? Am I loosing it? Is this blue lightning burning my brain cells out?

Then it dawned on her ... She was hungry. Really hungry. Shannon had been riding hard for three hours or so on an empty stomach. She didn't own a watch, but when she walked into the kitchen, she confirmed it by the clock on the stove and microwave that it was the amount of time she'd been away. Her blood sugar was probably way low, she figured.

Terry! Yeah! Terry, her good buddies name finally came to her.

Some eggs were fried, bacon was micro-waved, bread was sliced thick and toasted, smeared heavy with butter and jam, and all things were prepared, and then Shannon ate. She drank more than quart of skim milk and when finished, let loose with an unladylike burp. Several of them.

She washed and cleaned the dishes in her obsessive way and went to her room to shower. She stripped down and as usual, reached into the flow to feel the shower's water temperature, her eyes turned away from it and caught sight of her face and figure in the mirrored wall, opposite her. The view startled Shannon, somewhat. She withdrew her arm from the falling water and gazed upon herself. It was her face as well as her exquisite body, her eyes, ears, nose, mouth, but it was, what? Too different? Too perfected?

With the blue lightning, Shannon had been removing moles and slight blemishes from her skin by sheer will of thought, thinking about her looks and being somewhat critical of the rest of her appearance and it had changed her, yes, she'd noticed, but this was dramatic. Unbeknownst to her she had already been a gorgeous woman when she'd been going to high school. A teenager, yes, as she still was, but a woman that was voluptuous in all the right places and thin in all the places where it was an attribute. But now? Now she was without parallel, she was thinking, and without anyone to compare herself to. She actually considered and thought she was pretty, now. Lovely, even, and it almost surprised her the way her charms were so exquisitely shaped, so symmetrically formed, so exquisitely peaked and smoothed, so deliciously hers. It was no wonder wherever she went, men and women stared.

She turned side to side, back and forward, made herself jiggle, understanding and exploring her body and herself and how she needed to be careful what she said to others, what she did, and how she dressed and acted. Men, especially, could easily get the wrong impression. She was about to step into the hot shower but took one last long look, letting herself move slowly into the heated water. Then it only felt so good and she stayed under the wonderful flow for almost twenty minutes.

Refreshed and clean, Shannon ended up on her favorite sofa, under the arched reading lamp and cozy comforter, lying there in her underwear and a tank top, reading her latest seven hundred page book. She could never get enough of reading and at the pace she could read at, often went through more than one book a day. She slipped in deep to the book's story line for another fifteen minutes or so but soon realized with drooping eyelids, she could use some more sleep time and marked her page, turned off the light, and rolled over.

It was mid afternoon when she awoke. The light was filtering in through the separation in the front room curtains and she knew the sun was on the other side of the house already. She flipped the warm comforter off her legs and sat up, hands over her face, rubbing the sleep off her eyes and face.

In her room she dressed casually, as she always did, and left home. She strolled down the fairly even sidewalk in the ritzy part of town, her part of town, thinking of going to Terry's store. She had helped Terry get the store going and she was unashamedly, very wealthy, now.

But she was a thief. Yet Shannon almost never thought of her activities in acquiring money in those terms. The money was all insured. Nobody got hurt and nobody questioned her, anymore about living alone, looking as young as she did. She could control minds, matter, things, situations, create temporary holes in walls, plus heal people of almost any illness but she couldn't change the fact that it had all been because of the blue lightning and that she stole all that money from banks. And. Shannon could teleport herself almost anywhere, which had helped considerably. There were so many things she didn't understand but she knew she could do them and exercised her will quite often with those blue lightning powers. They didn't make her especially happy but they didn't make her sad, either. She was comfortable. That's all there was to it. A way to be comfortable and because she needed a good friend, she had helped Terry out, buying the building, fixing it up, and letting him have the place lease free and rent free. Plus she paid all the utilities.

As a student in high school, Shannon had been a scrapper. She fought with women, boys, teachers, she didn't care, but she was also brilliant. An almost four-oh student, if it hadn't been for her anger.

There was just her mother and herself, her alcoholic mother, and she never had enough to eat and her mom's weakness made her furious all the time. She took no lip, dirty looks, or whispers behind her back. She'd fight at the drop of a hat, but things had changed for her, here. She liked Scottsbluff. Shannon was some kind of a super human, these days, yes, she knew, 'with powers far beyond those of mortal men', and she smiled, thinking of that old Superman intro quote from the '50s TV show that mom used to watch, but it was true. She was powerful and could do so many, many things that would have frightened her if it wasn't such an accepted norm for herself. It had changed her, made her calm and she used her mind more to solve situations rather than her fists. But she needed her friend. Terry was a perfect companion. Gay, so he wouldn't bother her, intellectually challenging, and brilliant in his own right, and -- fun to be with.

Shannon looked up into the thunderheads of the deep blue sky over Nebraska's rippling green land. There would be rain, somewhere today, but it looked like those Cumulonimbus clouds she was looking at would pass north-east of the town. She'd like to be up there, she thought, stopping and staring at the cauliflower tops as they billowed up even higher and bigger. It was a beautiful sight. An awe inspiring one.

And then Shannon had a notion. She 'could' see the tops. Why not teleport herself to the tops of those things, get a first hand look at them building. But, I'll fall, she thought. So? Readjust, move around it. It's thousands of feet high. It's not going anywhere fast and neither will you, that quick.

And so, she got the notion. First, she had to find a place out of sight from most people. It wouldn't do to disappear in the middle of the day in front of these many unbelievers, these ordinary people. The only thing that she ever showed others, concerning her powers was, she didn't show them anything. The blue lightning was her secret and all the talents it gave her. Not even her bosom buddy Terry knew anything about them. She loved Terry like a brother but she couldn't trust anyone to keep her secrets, secret.

Up there, she looked ahead along the sidewalk, there's some tall willow brush on the edge of that property. I can hide myself in there. That'll make a nice launching point. If someone comes around, seeing me walk into them, they're going to be disappointed if the come looking for me.

Unknown to Shannon was the scar she left behind her, when she teleported. The air sucked into the void left by her body at near gunshot speed and the action left a black, almost cobwebish, scar in the air. It quickly dissipated though and nothing was ever damaged or hurt by it. When she appeared somewhere else, there was usually a gust of air, but that was all.

She looked skyward, and zipped up her jacket, concentrating on the highest billowing buttress of cloud. They had to be thirty-thousand feet high or more, she knew. And then, like the click of a machine, she was gone. The willows around the space she had been standing in, caved inward and swayed suddenly, and then relaxed again as the dark scar disappeared around their dancing arms.

Her first impression was cold. It was like being tossed into a sub zero freezer. This was a dumb idea, she thought, looking at the almost scary building of the enormous whiteness billowing upward, below her. The second thing was she couldn't breathe. She could inhale but it almost seemed like there wasn't any air, and it too, was not only thin but awfully cold going down her throat. It was frightening. Winds were blowing, too. Hard, fierce winds and she could hear a very distinct roar, almost like deep thunder, but different, emanating from the cloud itself. It was still below her but coming up fast.

It was an uncomfortable place to be until her mind got off the subject of being so miserable and realized, she wasn't falling. Shannon thought she would just readjust her place as she fell down past the columns of clouds and teleport herself, here and there, but no, she was defying gravity, hovering. But then the reality of the cold came back to her and she quickly thought of the back of Terry's building just as the mushroom of cloud reached up and grabbed her, enveloping her body and began tossing her violently this way and that. That was when she teleported herself, out of it, to the back of Terry's store.

The painted brick building reflected heat and Shannon fell into it, getting her footing, but hugging it's warm surface. With eyes closed, she could hear the comforting noise of the city: the street traffic; someone cutting their lawn; kids yelling as they played, an airplane flying overhead. She opened her eyes and saw her hands were covered with a frost on all the hairs. Her long hair, too, she noticed, looked frosted and she was shivering. Her clothes crackled when she moved. It took a minute or two and then she felt better. Warmer. She moved, walking, and then jogged around in broad circles in the parking lot, behind the building and also ran in place. When she thought she had stopped shivering, Shannon went inside through the back door. She knew where he kept the key even though she had her own set. She was never so happy to be in that store. It was comfortable and smelled warm and the buzz of people sounded good to her. She walked to the counter where Terry kept free snacks for his customers and filled a plastic glass with milk, noticing her hands were shaking, and grabbed a couple of chocolate covered donuts. One with coconut sprinkles. The place was busy and no one noticed her come in. She went and sat on one of the three sofas while people tried out new games, ignoring their stares, they being young men, mostly, and ate the donuts in big bites and went back for a couple of more pastries. She refilled her glass with milk and returned to the sofa area.

A guy came and sat next to her, a high schooler, she thought, trying to get her to talk to him but she ignored his advances, finishing her donuts, then went out the back door again, catching Terry's attention, pointing with a finger at herself and then upstairs. He understood and waved with a smile.

She went to a closet where she knew Terry kept extra blankets, in his upstairs apartment, and grabbed the thickest one. Shannon sat heavily on his sofa, still shivering a little. She didn't know if it was the cold, still, or the fright. The trembling had come back to her and she was feeling very tired and cold, again. Yeah. That was a dumb idea, she thought. Climbing clouds. It's freaking cold as a witches boob up there. But the thing about hovering, that was new to her experience. The blue lightning had never expressed itself to her like that before. She could stay stationary, up in the air. Weird. But no weirder than making holes in bank vaults to steal money or teleport herself from place to place, or heal any sickness on earth. Okay. That was accepted, it was new, but no big thing. It was kinda fun and kinda scary, too. If I try that again, I'm sure going to dress warmer. I don't care how pretty the clouds are.

Shannon took her shoes off and curled up on Terry's sofa, covering herself with the soft thick blanket, and resting her head on the pillows at hand. The extreme conditions had gotten to her. She was asleep in minutes.

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