The view was Epic. Not Homer style epic, but an appreciation of the natural awe, that could be adequately described as being Epic. With the capital E. Before him the grandiose view of the mountain spread out beneath his board. The perfect terrain for going off piste. With all the jumps, drops, etc for him to play in.
“Screw the snow resorts; this is the only way to board!”
Not that anyone could hear him, but his ego appreciated the sentiment and instantly rewarded him with a tiny release of endorphins. Off in the distance the helicopter rounded a peak and slipped out of sight, heading towards the helipad at the local airport. All around him the majesty of the snow covered mountains stood, like the greatest playground in the world. His playground to enjoy and only his.
“Ready to play world?”
Taking a quick sip from his Camelbak he checked his bindings, swallowed half, gurgled the rest and spat the excess onto the snow, which promptly rippled underneath his board.
“Whoa…. What the f…?!”
And yes, the story teller just censured the story. Shut up and keep reading.
The ripple seemed to push up the board and a huge shape tore down the mountain side in a blur of cascading snow. He could have sworn there was a shape underneath the snow.
He stared. This was somewhat new, even to a seasoned boarder like himself. Suddenly this place wasn’t so epic anymore. Fighting his rising panic, he swallowed hard and pulled his radio from his pack. And immediately put it back in its pouch as one bulge, then two, pushed around a cliff and up towards his peak.
What the hell was that? Snow can be unpredictable, no doubt, but stuff moving under it was definitely outside the box. They stopped and the snow appeared to settle around them.
Was he hallucinating? He took his glove off and felt his neck. Normalish pulse, strong and regular. Then his forehead. Cool to the touch and not clammy. Was he hungry then? Looking at the bulges again he felt his doubts creep in. Did they move as in really move? He looked down. The snow under his board looked fine if a little messy. Much like you would expect from a boarder just sitting around on a bit of snow and not boarding down the mountain. He shook his head, grabbed a chocolate bar from his pocket and devoured it. Low blood sugar probably, had to be.
A few minutes went by. Nothing happened.
A few more strolled past and even less happened.
Another one chose to rear its boring head aaaaand… nothing… zip… zero… nada… happened.
He stood up, vowed to never drink before a ride, and eyed the area where he thought the bulges had been. No… It had to be a trick, a trick on his perception, an invention of his mind. The snow just slipped under his board and moved a little strangely. No biggie. No problem.
He stood up and angled his board down slope, being careful not to go too near the bulges. Just in case the snow was covering some hole or something. Completely rational and safety oriented, and not motivated by fear at all. He made certain that was true by still going in the same general direction. And off he went downhill, picking up speed as he went and aiming just far enough away from the bulge to not bruise his ego too much. This turned out to be the move that didn’t ruin his day just then.
As he passed the first bulge a massive shape roared out the snow, all white and silver flesh, snapping a set of massive multifaceted (and very shiny) teeth at him, just narrowly missing his face. He blinked, his brain recording the instant in full colour, smell and sound. The disbelief smacked against his rational mind and it went to huddle in a corner making gibbering noises, while he closed on the second bulge.
The part of his brain that cared more about survival, and not reality as such, took over and forced a hard turn away from the shape that burst from the second bulge. He ducked as a fin, the size of a car door, carved the air where his head had just been. Giving reality the finger he pressed for more speed and barrelled down the mountain. Behind him the two things plunged back into the snow in pursuit.
Inside his skull his mind briefly put the outside world on hold and started a detailed and painstaking accurate analysis of what had just happened. This is totally cool and smart people refer to this as your life “flashing” before your eyes. This is not true. It’s just the brain trying to, in an extremely short period of time, analyse the what, where and how and come up with a survivable solution to a problem.
“Ok…” the brain said, or it would have if it had had lips, “so I’m boarding down a mountain being chased by a…. what?” It pulled up the image of the thing that had leaped from the snow. The mind stood there for what seemed like a few seconds and then stated, with painful calm and clarity, “I am being attacked by snow sharks”. This didn’t really phase it much. After all… This was the brain talking with itself, so being attacked by snow sharks wasn’t that big of a stretch.
In a spray of powder he rounded one corner, noted to himself that he wasn’t screwed and that he could still get away, rounded another with little new and a third. This was the one that ruined his day.
As he barrelled past, he saw a huge figure sitting on the rock with a massive fishing pole. His brain supplied promptly (as it was moving in high gear) “Yes… It’s a Yeti. Accept it and pay attention to the trees ahead!” but his attention fought off that very wholesome and potentially lifesaving advice and made him look back anyway. Indeed there was a Yeti sitting there. As he watched, it hooked one of the snow sharks on its pole, but alas to no help.
With body busting speed he smashed into a massive tree. As he slumped into the snow the last snow shark caught up with him.
Learning points: Think fast, look alive and don’t go snowboarding in the Yeti fishing grounds.
Authors note: This story was largely inspired by Tremors, the horrible movie with Kevin Bacon, and written in a hour while bored at a local cafe (Nosh) here in Cork. But, as a rule, I do think we have a lot to discover on our wonderful planet (not necessarily Snow Sharks and Yetis), but tons of other stuff just waiting beyond the next corner. But what do you think? Have we made our world too familiar and easily accessible via technology and popular culture, or is the world filled with wonders and adventures just waiting happen? You tell me.