The vivid green canopy hung over her like a blanket protecting a child from hidden monsters. As she biked along the concrete path, Emma’s mind was clear of all the stress from the outside world. School, drama, and sadness were at the back of her mind; she was focused only on the brilliant nature surrounding her. She was overcome with a sense of pure bliss and serenity, something otherwise foreign to her. Birds were chirping to her left and right, chipmunks darted in front of her bicycle just far enough so they wouldn’t get hit. Every once in a while, the trail would cross over a brook; this made the most poetic sound as the water fell across the rocks smoothed by constant moisture. The only word she could think of to describe this sense of gratitude and calm was fulfillment. Fulfillment was hers at this moment in time.
Four and a half miles down the road, there was a cafe where bikers not unlike herself would stop to restore their energy for the remaining miles ahead. Emma parked her bicycle and went in, ordered a chicken salad, and sat down to eat. Even the cafe was perfect. Families gathered for a late lunch, groups of friends came to catch up on life in a busy schedule, and there were people like her. People who needed some time to get away from the outside world and de-stress in an atmosphere that didn’t quite seem real. These picturesque qualities were what drew Emma to this trail whenever she needed to get her creative juices flowing, or whenever she needed to make a decision. That is why this trail was so perfect, for it existed only in this world of nature and serenity that was uncommon anywhere else.
After finishing her salad, Emma got back on her bike and continued along the trail. She promised her mom that she would be back before the sun set which, in the early autumn, was around 7 pm. She still had a few hours left to enjoy herself.
Emma soon realized she was biking a new part of the trail that she had never seen before. She was both wary and curious, but the explorer inside got the better of her. As she continued on, the scenery became different. What was once a world of beauty was now tarnished with an indescribable sense of discomfort, one that Emma had never felt before. Still, she ventured on, for there was no way that her bike trail that had produced so many good decisions and writing pieces would ever do her wrong. She passed another brook, this one more sinister than the rest. The rocks jutted out above the water almost dangerously, daring anyone who was stupid enough to come in and swim. Emma would never, for it very well may be her last.
As she continued cycling, Emma passed a man on the side of that same brook. He was picking something up with a faded brown plastic bag, maybe litter? Something dangerous to the wildlife living in the water? He seemed to be nearing 70, his hair white and mostly thinned, his frail body barely holding up his weight. Emma gave him a slight nod and continued to cycle, this time just a fraction quicker.
Emma felt weirdly uncomfortable on this new bike path. It’s just a mile down from the usual one, she kept telling herself. If I really don’t like this one, I can turn back. Emma decided that she would ride for five more minutes, or until she saw anyone else on the trail. So far it was just her and the old man on the side of the road. With this new compromise, Emma continued cycling.
She heard a noise come up from behind her, another bicycle on the same path as her. ThankGod, she thought. She was beginning to feel anxious at the new sights, but did not want to turn around out of curiosity of what was up ahead. The cyclist passed her, and Emma realized it was the same old man she had seen a few minutes back. He was handling the cycle much better than she would have thought his delicate body capable of. He did not cycle with the same fluidity that she did; his legs jerked up and down each time they pedaled as opposed to the fluidity common among most cyclists. Emma’s sense of unease heightened, but she did not know why. She assumed that she would be able to go faster than the man, and if worse came to worst she could turn around. She did not notice him slow down so that they were directly side by side. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. He gave her a toothy grin that sent chills down her spine, and she knew something terrible was coming.
Suddenly the world went black. She lost all sense of sight but her sense of touch was amplified. She felt the concrete on her back and her elbows, the sensation as they began to bleed. She felt excruciating pain in her wrists, her legs, her lower abdomen. Her sense of hearing was also increased, and she could hear what sounded like a bear grunting as it devoured its last meal. She imagined she was being eaten by a bear, for it was surely a more noble way to go than this. A terrible shot of pure pain came over her, followed by the numbing of her entire body. She felt betrayed by her bike trail, the one place where she was safe and could think clearly. As she cursed the beautiful leaves, the babbling brook, the sprinting chipmunks, and the entirety of her former haven, her sense of touch was lost. All that was left was her mind. What would her mom think? Her dad? Would they be mad at her for staying out too late by herself? Would they even know? The world slipped away from her as she had once known it, leaving nothing but a corrupted female corpse in her place, her life completely and utterly interrupted.
While Emma could tell something was wrong, she had kept cycling, for she wanted to conquer her fear of the unfamiliar. Thus, after she felt discomfort, should she have turned back and headed home? If so, would the same unfortunate events have taken place? It is difficult to imagine an Emma after this torture, so maybe it was always her fate to meet her demise at the hands of her most sacred possession. What strange circumstance it is that the thing she trusts the most is what kills our heroine in the worst way imaginable.