Challenge: Vanilla #17 - Stranded
Word Count: 1128
Summary: Simon's bike dies in a dark side street and a stranger provides unexpected help.
Notes: I started writing something in third person, but it was so stilted and awkward I decided to let Simon do whatever he wanted - which currently appears to be first person present. Sorry if it reads oddly; I felt so oddly inspired, though, that I didn't want to let it get away from me.
You know, I want to kick this thing over. And then kick it again, and again, and again... But even before I can move my foot to give it a hefty punt, the damn thing’s sidestand gives out and crash, over it goes into the road before I can even lay a finger - or toe - on it.
In a fit of pique, I huff and sit down on the kerb beside it and my abandoned helmet, reaching out one foot and rocking it slightly. Damn bike wasn’t even second-hand, more like eighth-hand, but there are better places to die than in a dark alley in the middle of the night. The garage, for instance, would have at least been convenient. But no, it’s got to be in a tiny side street in the middle of an inhospitable city on the day before the big match, where no doubt the drunken football thugs would love to string an alfa up by his ears and give him the same treatment my bike was about to get from me. Sodding Sod’s Law.
I wouldn’t mind, but I was only here to deliver a package. In and out, no problems, but it seems that whilst in went fine, there might be some small problems with the out, unless I feel like walking - and I don’t. One mile, fine. Five miles, fine. Ten, even, at a pinch, but not fifty, no way.
And yet... I let out this huge sigh, staring at the toppled bike; it looks like it’s gonna have to be a fifty mile hike.
Abruptly, there’s a clatter of footsteps to my left and - you know that shiver that runs from the base of your spine to your neck, and makes all your little hairs stand on end? Well, the sound of those footsteps did that to me and near-on froze me to the spot, both hands gripping my knees like some demonic force is going to prise them off. I daren’t move as those footsteps got louder, and louder until they were right by me and then - as you’d naturally expect - they pass me by and start to get a little quieter. That’s when I finally get the nerve to slowly turn my head and look at the person passing by.
They’re nothing to be scared of, I realise with a jolt that makes me feel like a complete fool. Slender body, hair short in the back and long at the sides and in an ill-advised shade of pink, and with no ears visible I assume she’s human - I find myself wondering what her face looks like, with a body as long and slim as she’s got. And I’ve got to do something to shake this ridiculous feeling, so I call out “hey, darlin’, you any good at fixing motorbikes?”
I think right now you can imagine my reaction when the pretty pink-haired passer-by turns around and frowns down at me, scratching the back of his head as though he’s trying to work out whether what I just said was directed at him. “‘Darling’?”
I try to summon the ljusalfa nonchalance my ancestry is supposed to afford me, but I think that I only succeed in looking as mightily embarrassed as I feel. “Uh...”
The pink haired man - Christ, how wrong can you get?! - stares down at me, then shakes his head slightly. “You’re not the first to get it wrong. What’s wrong with your bike?”
I can only shrug helplessly, and it takes a few moments before I can trust my voice. “I, uh, don’t know. It’s got fuel, but... It packed in and I can’t start it again. And then...” I gesture at the pile-o-bike still in the road. “It fell over and...”
He’s looking at me like I’m a complete idiot. He’s not far wrong either, to be honest, ’cause I’m sure feeling like one right now, but all I can do is shrug again and with great resignation in his voice he says, “let me take a look at it.” I can’t even say a word to disagree before he’s moved across to the useless pile of crap that was formerly known as my motorbike and hoiks it into a standing position.
I get to my feet with some grimacing; it’s a cold night and it seeps into my bones in a painful and annoying way. I swear I’m old before my time. “What’s the diagnosis, Doctor?”
He ignores me, running a hand over the smooth black curve of the gas tank before crouching beside it, one hand easily keeping it upright as the other prods and probes into the various pieces of shiny metal at the side. Not a minute passes before he rises again, and gestures with the hand not still holding it up, a hand I notice that is now smeared with greasy stains. “It’ll work now.”
“You’re kidding me.” Much like with the embarrassment, I do an appalling job of keeping the disbelief from my voice.
“Try it,” comes the even reply and again he gestures with his free hand to the leather seat.
I swing my leg over the seat, turn the key and press the ignition.
Lo, the bloody bike starts. I stare down at it with my mouth literally agape, because that’s entirely the reaction I wasn’t getting half an hour ago. “I- You-”
Mr. Pink-Hair turns from me with a faint shrug and an airy gesture with one hand. “Glad I could help.”
“What’s your name?”
He turns back to me, my helmet in his hands. “You’ll be needing this, won’t you?”
He’s got some kind of talent for making me feel like a moron. I can tell. He tells me his name as I’m sliding my head carefully into the helmet, taking care to protect ears that were clearly not designed with this kind of headwear in mind. The helmet padding has muffled his words - sounds like ‘Yowan’? Can’t be right, that sounds like a noise a cat in heat would make, but I try repeating it back to him and he nods, so it’s gotta be a fair approximation, right? Or I’m wrong and sounding like an idiot again...
I glance down to check on the bike’s glowing display and when I look up again he’s nothing more than a human-shaped outline heading into the shadows of the alleyway and, when I think about it, I realise that I have no clue how he made the bike work again. I squint after him, almost calling out my thanks, when I see what looks like his hand rise and his fingers move together and-
Wait, is that a spark?
On second thoughts, I don’t think I want to know.