Ghost Rider: Stories by Jonathan Lowe
Click on image to enlarge.
by Jonathan Lowe
Description: In one story, a man rides an offroad motorcycle among the ghost towns of Southern Arizona, searching for clues to his grandfather's legacy. In another, a wimp buys a Harley to spite his mother-in-law, then rides to meet his destiny at an abandoned Titan missile base in the desert. Next, a former playboy faces a woman's revenge at his class reunion, and a bachelor living near the Mexican border acquires a family he never expected, thanks to a portal that opens--not to Mexico--but to another world! These previously published mystery & science fiction stories, plus novel excerpts from Fame Island, Awakening Storm, and Postmarked for Death are here offered as a FREE download, so hop on for a free ride as a passenger of the "Ghost Rider" today!
eBook Publisher: Fictionwise.com, 2007
Filament eBookStore Release Date: February 2007
419 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [201 KB]
Reading time: 115-162 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
A HELPING HAND
(originally published in Easyrider magazine)
It happened fast. Josh Alford's new Heritage Softtail had just topped 60 MPH on the Old Sonoita Highway south of Tucson when a stray cow decided to cross the road fifty yards ahead. Hearing the intermittent slide of wheels on dirt, the huge spotted heifer stopped in the middle of the narrow span and turned toward the approaching motorcycle. With a look of terror it tried to bolt forward, but not fast enough to prevent the left crash bar of the Harley from swiping its rear flank. Braying in pain, its muscle pulled and gashed, the animal hobbled headlong into the low thickets of creosote which had been its destination.
For the motorcycle's part, the encounter had destroyed any final attempt at tracking, causing a total loss of stability. So at the end of a forty yard stretch of tire tracks--and after two distinct slidings and corrections--the tracks became a swath of dirt, as if a plow had gone through. A furrow dug by the protruding chrome along the center of the disturbance pointed like an arrow toward the wreck at the base of a palo verde tree beyond. There, beside the twisted front end of the bike, lay Josh, face down, unmoving. The Harley's engine grunted twice more and died as silence returned to the desert.
After a moment there was a twitch in Josh's left hand. Fingers fingered the air. Finally his head turned and his eyes opened to stare back at the place where the cow had vanished.
Not a sign of movement, or even a solitary moo of protest or pain. The only clue to the incident was that fishtailing track he'd made in braking down to thirty, and the sick wobble and slide as he went down after contact. The damned beast had appeared suddenly, and just as suddenly disappeared, probably to lick its leg wound or chew its cud. Maybe Josh was already forgotten.
He sat up, and felt himself. Nothing seemed broken. Yet if he'd gone forward another five feet, and hadn't braked, the story might have been different. The palo verde might have ended him. As it was, he was lucky. A sandy side wash balanced a ledger that his foolhardy recklessness weighted on the other side.
He cursed and stood to his feet, surveying his downed bike at last. Only four hours ago it had been in the showroom as pretty as a magazine layout. Now, with just under a hundred miles on the odometer, and heaps of dirt glutting its once shiny engine fins, it had a twisted fender, a collapsed crash bar, and a bent clutch lever. What would Alison say? he wondered. Probably the same things she already had, except this time she'd have her mother join in the chorus ... a dirge or ditty of I-told-you-sos. What a fool to ride it down a dirt road at such speed.
He knelt beside the bike and tried to lift it, but couldn't. He strained, this time succeeding in lifting it two inches off the ground. Suddenly he remembered something the salesman had muttered about its weight versus his own: "One thing, partner," the man had almost whispered after the deal was done. "You ain't big, and this bike, it's, well, heavy. So if God forbid you drop it out in the yard or somethin', you may need some help gettin' it up."
Heavy? He had sensed that, especially at low speed. It was, after all, a big bike for a little guy. But it was a beauty, and could hit a hundred twenty on the highway with a ride that bellowed freedom like an iron stallion. Enough power to stay ahead of those tailgaters who'd ridden the bumper of his smoking Honda all the way to his retail job selling evaporative coolers while his wife pecked and his mother-in-law plain old henpecked. Enough power to weave around those Zeros, as he called them ... those impatient fools with zero tolerance on their way to some single's bar or ball game.