Adventure Fiction Holiday

The wind blew, frigid and sharp. My sweat-stained shirt took the brunt of the chill but a cold shiver still electrified down my skin. The sensation was oddly calming. I took in the cool air and opened my eyes. Small wispy clouds drifted high above, casting their shadows onto the forested landscape below. Mountains bulged from the rolling terrain. A mix of fall colors blanketed the horizon, filling my mind with a nostalgic peace as I thought of all the joy the holidays used to bring.   

“Just a little farther,” I rasped and then licked my dry lips. 

Part of me regretted not bringing any water on such a steep hike, especially when I knew that not many others would be on the trail this time of year, but this was also a one-way expedition. 

I stared out over the massive rock protruding from the cliff’s edge before me, its granite features contrasted by a sea of trees 3000 feet below. I took a few steps forward. A nervous pulse spiked in my veins. 

This is what I want. 

I had the dream job for the past ten years, or so I was told. Being a front-end computer engineer, I had the luxury of working from the home, and, as long as I met deadlines, I got to make my schedule. The pay was good. I was able to afford a medium-sized condo outside downtown and rarely had to go anywhere since everything I needed, I had delivered. 

On my couch I would sit, toiling away at the computer, for hours on end - day turning to night and night to day. Clickity. Clackity. Click. Code. Code. Code.

I took a few steps forward. My knees wobbled as I neared the drop as if they disagreed with what I asked of them to do, but the trees swayed below, beckoning me to them. 

I actually have been here many times before, though never in person. I first saw it pictured in some article a few years ago and something about it then spoke to me, though I did not know why. All I knew was that I felt this sudden urge to do something whenever I looked at it. I kept finding myself seeking it out when I was stuck on a piece of code, hoping it would reveal the answer I needed. But the longer I stared at it, the sadder I got and would soon return to Clickity. Clackity. Click. Code. Code. Code. 

I was a foot away from the edge now. A sinking feeling strengthened in my stomach, turning my feet to stone and legs to jelly. Slowly, I lowered myself to my butt and scooted forward.

The ability to interface with computers is a most wondrous discovery, capable of creating art, tools, or entertainment with just a few lines of code. But such enjoyment comes at a price. The coding goes both ways. The more I learned to speak computer language, the more my mind caged into a binary framework of yes or no, true or false. Imagination ceases to exist in such an environment. All that is left is just what is and what isn’t. 

My family would visit me now and then but, being the only coder in the family and the only one to move across the country, we don’t have much in common. I went downtown once to meet new people but, after sitting in the corner of a bar, sipping an overpriced beer, and having my eardrums blown out by pounding subwoofers, I thought it a mistake. I never had much success with dating or social apps either as I couldn’t think of anything interesting about myself to promote online. So instead I just continued with Clickity. Clackity. Click. Code. Code. Code.

I dip my feet over the edge. The feeling in my stomach twists and tightens. If I had eaten anything that day, I would have most certainly thrown it up then and there. Instead, I feel sick as I stare over my knees at the pile of broken boulders below.

Would I even feel the impact? 

I looked up and out over the horizon. An eagle soared over the peak of a neighboring mountain. I watched it bank and turn, its large, brown wings holding it aloft with effortless strokes. For a moment I wondered what it would be like to be able to fly but then, without warning, the eagle screeched, turned sharply, and hurtled toward me like an arrow loosed from a bow. My heart beat fast in my chest. It quickly covered the distance between us, circled above a few times, and then perched itself at the top of a nearby tree. I stared at it, amazed and bewildered as it cocked its head at me and screeched. 

“What do you want?” I asked. 

It was a question I yelled at my computer screen many times before when troubleshooting code. Though the computer never gave me an answer, the eagle screeched and beat its wings. 

“I don’t understand!”

The eagle leaped from the tree, and did a lap in the air above me, banking and rolling as if conveying meaning through an intricate dance before returning to its perch. It adjusted itself and then cocked its head at me curiously.

“You want me to jump?” I shouted and turned to face the eagle when I suddenly felt myself slip. In a brief moment of panic, I grabbed a handhold in the rock. The snap decision proved to save my life as in the next moment, my entire body was dangling off the side of the cliff. 

“Help! Help!” I shouted.

The eagle screeched. I kicked my legs and miraculously found a suitable foothold just before my grip gave out. I stayed there for a moment, breathing frantically as I realized I did not have the strength or bravery to hoist myself to safety. I looked down, my heart feeling like it would burst from my chest. I visualized the fall and the size of the splatter I would leave behind on the rocks below. Would anyone look for me? The company I worked for might but after two weeks they would just fill my position with another generic coder. No one would expect to look for me here. Was I that expendable? Was that the legacy I wanted to leave behind?

“Oh, God! Save me!” I shouted, “I’m not ready to die!”

At that exact moment, something strong gripped my forearm and yanked me back onto the rock and I quickly crawled to a safe position well away from the edge of the cliff. I turned to see who my savior was but, to my astonishment, no one was there. All I saw was the eagle flying overhead. I stared at it, confused, as it did a couple of laps. 

No. . . it couldn’t be the eagle. That’s impossible.

The eagle screeched and then departed out toward the western horizon. I stood up and watched it go, heart still beating fast in my chest. My mind wandered, wondering where it would go. The trees around me swayed with a sudden breeze. 

It was then that I had the irresistible urge to tell someone of the miracle I just experienced and I rushed back down the trail, a smile widening on my face as I picked up speed. My legs burned as I felt the impact of each step. Never had I felt more alive as I listened to the leaves crunch beneath my feet. 

Crickity. Crackity. Crunch. Move. Move. Move. 

November 10, 2022 20:09

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Tanya Humphreys
23:29 Nov 17, 2022

Nice writing Kevin. Your mastery of grammar is refreshing and makes for a story that flows well. The repetition of the keyboard keys evokes a poignant feeling and at first, I felt like 'oh no, another profound 'return to nature story'...I was thankfully wrong and enjoyed the excitement of a near death experience. I love that the introverted and jaded protagonist literally rushes back to society with an urge to seek someone to share with. The last sentence is brilliant.


Kevin Alphatooni
01:01 Nov 18, 2022

Thanks for that! I can't take all the credit for good grammar...without my wife and Grammerly double-checking my work, it would be a mess!


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Tricia Shulist
02:47 Nov 16, 2022

Good story. The fact that he was given the opportunity to realize that he didn’t really want to jump was telling. Thanks for this.


Kevin Alphatooni
13:31 Nov 16, 2022

Thanks for the comment!


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