by john rakes
The story is about a young man who wants more that he is given in life.
|Terry had been working on his Rocket ten-speed for the last ten weeks. He was hoping he would get picked to represent his class in the district race. Last year his best friend Monty got picked and won.
Freedom Race was the big cross country race in old Phoenix and Monty got his citizenship. He came back for his family and moved to the Contamination Free Zone.
Terry's dad drove up in the drive stopping a few feet from the door. Terry had the parts of the bike spread out on the driveway floor working hard. His dad went inside and changed his clothes and came out to help his son. He could see Terry’s hard work. Every piece was checked and cleaned.
Terry’s dad saw the driver Teri used as he tightens each spoke of the tire. The frame of the bike was old, but the rest came from the New Thunder Crest Bike Company.
Terry had been studying bikes since the lost of the last race. He needed to win, his dad needed help. He was coming home in pain. His mother was growing old and needed to retire. In fact they were all were going to die if they did get out of the Contamination Zone into the Contamination Free Zone. There were more viruses and people getting sick.
This would be his last race; he had been in the allotted amount set by the District. If he didn't win they will be stuck there the rest of their lives. Terry couldn’t let that happen and to prevent it he would have to have a bike that was made for him. It had to be measure to every part of his body, his weight and size became important.
His mom and dad were proud of him, using his overtime to pay for the parts his son needed. Terry's mom would work part time to also help.
Before helping his dad stepped to the trunk of his car and reached in. He pulled out a wrapped package. He walked over to his son and handed it to him.
“I have been working on a project for the last six months and this is what I came up with. I need you to open it and tell me what you think.”
Terry took the wrapped box over to his work bench to open. He became extremely surprise as he grabbed the object and pulled it out. It was a hand. He took off the hook he had as his hand and replaced it with the new hand his dad gave him. His arm started to tingle. The tingling stops as he moves the hand around to check its texure. He could move the finger. He wondered how he could do it.
"Its power comes from your brain and the synthetic nerves in the hand. When you think it, it hears you and will do what you want. Did you see the other prize in the box?” Terry reached in with his new hand and pulled out an object wrapped in a protective cloth. He looked in with the knowledge he knew what it was. It was a new leg. He took off the old metal leg and attached the new one. It reacted to his nerves and brain like the arm did. He smile and ran up to hug his dad. This is why he was working overtime. He was helping him to win the race and most of all play with his friends. He could hang at their house and began to dream of the Contamination Free Zone.
Terry’s mom watched from the door leading into the house, tears began to drop from her eyes. She wiped her face and nodded her head informing to her husband she was please. He actually had a chance to win the race and survive if he loses.
Terry started to go back working on the bike, but his mother informed him it was dinner time. The bike would have to wait until after dinner and his homework. After he showed his mom he finished his homework and she checked the time, he would have two hours to work on the bike. The two hours he worked on it was well planned and every minute was calculated to finish the bike on time.
He learned to use the artificial hand and leg quick. He could squeeze the fingers and make a fist, walk and move the leg. The kids at school noticed at school. He showed off the leg and the hand. He was the talk of the school.
There was one of the racers his name was Weasel McClintock. He had been suspended from the last two races. This was the year the suspension was lifted and he was looking to win. He claimed no one could compete with him and chased off a lot of the racers he thought could. The only one that would not be frightened was Terry. Terry friends respected him standing up to Weasel, but they were afraid Weasel would hurt him.
It turned around when Weasel tried to do what he did every day trip him and verbally abused him. Terry was walking down the hall when Weasel jumped out at him. This time he went to push him and Terry stood his ground. Weasel was surprised. The next thing Weasel remembered he was knocked to the ground. He got up quick ready to fight, but one of the teachers came down the hallway and broke up the fight, sending them to class.
Terry knows Weasel would continue to try to discourage him to race. Terry never took his threats seriously and wouldn’t be intimidated by him. The school knew what Weasel was doing and kept a close watch on him because of his reputation. This kept Weasel in check until race day.
Terry picked to old frame from the research of the races. The frame was the best for this type of raceing it was Switzer frame, but the wheel width was Terry's concern. He went to a smaller diamenter with a larger chain to give him the ablity for speed. The climb though the mountains the sprocket and larger chain would make peddling less and climbing faster and down hill he could pick up speed when needed.
The weekend before the race Terry finished his bike. He took it on a trial run with his dad and his friends. The bike was working great and no breakdowns. Weasel was hiding watching Terry's new bike. He thought it looked wierd and wouldn't work in the race. He wouldn't have a problem with him. The bike is too small and won't be able to keep up with his. He will get back at him during race.
Weasel was at the corner of Harper Street when a land rover drove up and blocked his way. He watched the passenger side window roll down. The window was dark so Weasel couldn't tell who it was until the window was completely down.
It was Mr. Harper his science teacher. "Put you biked in the back and get in."
Weasel did as he was told. Fought to get the bike in the back and got in on the passenger side of the land rover.
"Where have you been," asked Mr. Harper.
"Looking at the competition."
"Don't get smart boy. I worked hard to get you in this race. You are to stay away from him until the race. I can't afford to have you suspended before you get started. If you don't I will look for someone else."
Mr. Harper stopped in front of Weasel's house and let him out. Weasel was always scared of Mr. Harper. He had a temper and the last race when he blew it Mr. Harper had someone beat his dad so bad he had to miss work and they almost starved to death' but because Mr. Harper was proven a point Weasel knew he was serious.
Terry came home and did his homework and tried to get some sleep. He tossed and turned until he had to get up and went straight to the garage to work on the bike. When he turned on the light he found his friends in sleeping bags waiting for his return.
Stella woke as soon as he had turned on the light. "We have been waiting for you. We want to help you with the bike."
"Why now, you never wanted to help me before."
"We have been wrong. I have been watching you stand up to Weasel and respect you have for everyone else. You accept us the way we are and we don't have to be someone we are not. We want to help you win."
They worked on the bike with the leadership of Terry. Some worked on the wheel base, others the peddle rotation and others the computer design Terry's dad came up with. They worked on it until dawn. Terry's friends went home to do their chores and get ready for school. Terry took a shower and left for school.
Stella came over after school. She stayed with him and help finished his homework and tune the bike. Terry and Stella started to become good friends in the next week.
The day of the race Terry was lifting the bike in the back of his dad's pickup he had borrowed from work. Stella was inside helping Terry's mom putting together the next three days of food and camping equipment. Stella had gotten permission from her parents to go.
They finished packing the pickup and headed off to the starting line. Terry was so excited he couldn't sit still the whole ride. Stella and his mom kept trying to get him to direct his attention to something else away from the race, but nothing worked until his dad asked him about the bike.
He open up what he put on the bike and why. He explained every little detail, of course it bored the girls, but his dad talked to him with the same interest. They talked all the way to the races.
The whole city was there to see the race. The riders had special parking. The city council didn't want any bribes going on or fixing the race. Security was assign to each of the riders to protect them from any outside influence Terry's guard was an older man. He had grey hair and a stern strong face. He had been at this for the last twenty years. He had announced his retirement and asked to be assigned to Terry. Terry like him he made him feels safe. Terry called the guard Jake and the name took. The family grew to him and began to like as much as Terry did.
Terry unloaded his bike and rolled it into the tent where they were to stay in until the day of the race. The tent was sectioned off like the house back home.
The announcement for the evening dinner to go over the rules and regulation was schedule at 6pm. The only ones invited were the racers and their team with the security guard. There were enchiladas and tacos with shredded beef. Terry never had beef; it was always fish and chicken from the lakes or farms when the radiations levels were good.
He started with a small plate first. He didn’t want the others to think he was a pig and ate a lot. Jake met him at the table with an extra plate. “You need to eat to win this race. If you don’t you will lose before you get started. Eat as much as you can without getting sick, that’s the key.”
Terry ate his plate and the one Jake gave to him. He even put some in his pocket to give to his family and Stella. They would be hungry and it was his responsibility to make sure they would eat. Jake saw what he did, but knew it was necessary.
Jake escorted Terry back to his tent and waited outside while the family ate the food Teri had bought back with him. When he figured they were done he went inside. Once inside he instructed Terry he needed to get to bed the race will start early and had a lot of rough terrain to cover.
The morning came quick. Terry didn’t get any sleep at all. He step out into the main room of the tent and smelled the breakfast his mom had made. It was pancakes, sausages, along with the coffee and the juice given to him for energy.
Terry looked around the table at his biggest fans giving him strength and incentive to win the race. He didn’t think about Weasel or anyone else that would cloud his mind with negativity. He sat there and ate until he felt full and asked to be excused to work on the last preparations for his bike.
Given permission he went straight for the bike. He checked every inch, the chain, tires, spokes, and the frame for cracks. After the bike he checked his hand and leg. They all check out and he started towards his room to get dress.
After he was dressed he walked out of his room to find everyone standing there waiting to escort him to the race. They said nothing to him all the way to pit row.
Pit Row was hustling back and forth getting the riders ready and checking their bikes, making the needed repairs for the race. The Race Monitor was going around introducing himself and he informed the riders of the rules and regulations for the last time.
The Monitor left and his dad was the first to speak. “How are the hand and the leg?”
“It’s fine. I checked them out this morning. I made a few adjustments.”
“Good. I want you to know no matter what happens I will always be proud of you”
“Thanks Dad,” said Terry as he gave him the hug they long to give to each other as father and son.
“We have to go; it’s time to move to the starting line.”
Terry gave the rest a hug and left with Jake to the starting line. "Weasel got the early call, but only by 15 minutes. All you have to do is stay to your plan. If you lose going up, you will gain it when you start to go down the other side. Remember you don't have to pass anyone just beat their time."
Terry felt it was weird coming from a security guard. Maybe he had raced before. He knew a lot about bikes and knew just what to say.
Terry drew the outside lot. He was the smallest of the four in his pack. They line up on the line painted across the highway.They waited for the firing of the race pistol.
It fired and the first was out of the starting gate was a kid named Donnie. This was his first race and being from the school across town. He could practice in the hills where he lived. It showed by the way he got started.
Terry started at a dead stop and was the second out of the gate he held the best time, but was losing it fast because Donnie was leaving the pack at a quick pace, with Terry 50 feet behind him. When he reached the upward trek. He realized what Jake had said. Donnie had started to get a little tired when Terry reached him.
There was sweat beading down Donnie's forehead. Terry looked over at him and saw he was about ready to pass out. Terry focused on his leg to make it work harder. As soon as he did it the bike started to move faster than those behind and ahead. He knew then he could make a race of it and may even win.
Terry reached halfway up the mountain when he realized he wasn't tired. The sprocket and longer chain was working. He would gain more ground with one stroke of the chain than two strokes the other racers would use.
The judges and security didn't see the land rover southeast away from the race. In the rover was a school teacher with a sniper rifle. He had a map of the area and had marked it to find the area he could finish his assignment.
His communicator signaled trying to connect with him. "I have it here. I can't get a good shot until they move to the finish line. It doesn't matter he won't win, He'll be dead."
Jake escorted Terry's family to the first check points. The fastest was by hovercraft. Jake was the pilot, it made it easier for him to keep them safe.
They arrived at the first check point just about two minutes before the first set of riders passed. This meant Terry wouldn't pass for another half hour. Dallas and Jo settled in a spot and waited. Jason and Stella walked up ahead to check out the leader board to see the leaders. When they arrived at the board it showed Weasel leading Terry by 2 minutes, but Terry was closing fast. Terry didn't pass him' but his time was getting better each mile. The other racer's time became further out by the minute.
Jake and Stella returned to Dallas and Jo to tell them the news. Everyone became excited and cheered Terry as he went by. Jake could tell he hadn't even broken a sweat. At this rate Terry can get a command time lead during his ascending down the other side of the mountain.
Terry heard his name. He didn't smile. He was afraid he would lose his concentration. Terry knew it was his family and they would cheer no matter how good he was doing. He didn't check on the leader board. Terry felt if he did he would jinx himself.
The man in the land rover made it to his destination. He looked for the best stop for the line of fire. From where he stood none could see him or detect the direction of fire from the echo sound in the canyon.
He found the spot he needed and pulled out small radio. He gave his connection the seats in the stands where he could see. His accomplice walked over to the seating until the gunman told him to stop. He had the accomplice sit in the chairs until he zeroed in the sites of his sniper rifle.
It will be easy he thought.
He picked up the communicator and told his accomplice he was ready. He put the rifle in the case and laid it in the bushes out of the way. He walked up to his campsite and found a man sitting on the bumper of the Land Rover waiting for him.
“Well your choice of racers isn’t working out well. The rider you are suppose to stop not only went ahead, but since they reached the top and started their decent. He has taken the time by a good twenty minutes.”
“I have told you they are not going to win the race or leave the zone.”
“I hope so professor,” said the guest. “If he does we will spend a long time in prison.”
“You gave me the assignment, now let me finish it. I haven’t failed you yet and I won’t now. You can be the lucky one and inform Command it’s done.”
The visitor got up from the bumper he was sitting on and looked into the Professors’ eyes. “Let hope so. I would hate to see what happens to you if you fail.”
The visitor got onto his bike and took off. The Professor watched with hatred. He was already planning to take care of the visitor and he hoped it would be soon.
Terry had left the other three riders he started with behind since he started to descend down the mountain. He had passed several riders, causing them to be automatic elimination from the race. His legs still had the strength he needed and the bike was still holding up from the conditions of the road. The tires weren’t going low when he had them check at the last checkpoint. He still hasn’t seen Weasel. He knows he could stay ahead, but the time was the factor for winning. He hoped he was still head, but the last pit stop could give the time back to Weasel.
Terry decided to skip the next check point and move on to get back the time he lost at the last check point. The next check point is coming up at the mid-point of the downward trek of the mountain. He got to see the leader board as he rode by and saw he had a lead by 45 minutes. He couldn’t believe he had that much of a lead. He thought Weasel was making it a close race or would have some try to stop him from getting to the finish line.
He saw a rider turned the corner a hundred years ahead of him. The rider didn’t look like it was Weasel, he was smaller. The rider could be a rider who had started with him. Terry wasn’t sure. He kept his pace and started to gain on the rider. He caught up with him an hour later.
Terry saw it was the smallest boy. He had left with Weasel and gotten behind on his time with his team. Terry increased his speed past the rider and it caused the immediate disqualification. Terry kept gaining speed on the other riders ahead of him. He passed them and kept looking ahead for Weasel. He knew once he caught up with Weasel the race would be finished.
Weasel decided it was time to do what the Professor had said. He would be rewarded as winner of the race if he stopped Terry. Weasel came to a clearing where no cameras or security was and pulls into a dirt road. He found a place to hide behind some rocks and pulled out a sling shot from inside his pants and waited.
The professor heard the starting of the crowd gathering at the concession stand in the canyon. He got up and took his rife out from where he had hid it and got to the spot he had picked to do his deed. He looked into the spy glass and saw the concession stand starting to fill up. He didn’t see his target nor could he find them in the crowd. He decided to stay where he was at and get comfortable. The way the crowd is getting larger they will be there soon.
Weasel watch as riders passed until he saw Terry. Weasel checked to see if any other riders were close, there was not. He had commanding lead and his time was climbing. Weasel loaded the sling shot and prepared for Terry to get close. The Professor told him it had to be a headshot to make sure he would not survive.
Terry got closer and closer to his doom. Weasel bought the sling shot up to his nose for the aim. He waited for Terry to come straight on. He had 10 second to react and get the killing shot. Weasel had him and pulled back the sling. He was ready to let go when he froze. Blood began to drip from his nose. He eased down the sling to his side and watch Terry ride by. There was no sound from him. His last thought was the whisper he wasn’t going to kill her friend.
Professor saw the hovercraft arrive at the concession stand. He watched through his spy glass and watched as they climbed into the concession stand to wait for the son that will not return. He had gotten the information on the son twenty minutes ago by radio.
He watched them sit down and sited them in. He eyed the site and began to squeeze the trigger. He pulled back slowly until he felt the recoil of the rifle. His face started to burn. He started to scream, he couldn’t see anything. The upper clothing was on fire. The heat was too much and the only water was 50 yards back towards the road. He ran in the direction, but only out of reflex. He was burned to death by the time he got to the water.
“They are both dead,” said Jake. “The family will be transferred right after the race. The arm and the leg took and he is learning more from them every day. I will make sure they are at the rendezvous point. Terry and his parents are only hope for freedom.