Wherein I take a band name from Scalzi’s Next Band Name list, and spend no more than 20 minutes writing the story with the band name as a title. Current one is Chapstick the Cat and the full story archive.
"Is he going to do it?"
"Yeah, that's what I hear."
"But the last guy!"
"Oh my god, oh my god, I want to see this!"
The small group of teenagers quickly pulled on their gloves and checked their helmets before pulling up their glasses and putting them on their faces. Their feet strapped in to their boards, then jumped up and started gracefully sliding down the hill. Picking up speed and stringing out, they swished left and right as they winded their way down the snowy hill, passing skiiers and other snowboarders on their way to Medium.
The first teenager arrived at Medium, to find a large crowd already forming around Cat Rock. He could see over the top of most of the crowd, but the shortest girl in his group could not. "Want to try uphill?" he asked her. She agreed and they moved to the top of the crowd, the rest of the group dispersing into the crowd.
In front of everyone was an angry-looking black rock poking up through the high drifts of snow. Few had ever seen the rock fully covered in snow, those winters being some of the heaviest snowfall on record. The snowboarding terrain park, nicknamed Medium for its rated difficulty, didn't include Cat Rock. The outcropping had no edges to ride, no ledges to jump from. Most riders just boarded around it.
Today, the crowd gathered to watch Rich go over it.
Go over with with a flourish.
Some said he was going to jump the Cat. Which is why the crowd was gathered.
"Last time, that kid died, you know."
"Yeah. What was his name?"
"Charlie? Charles? Chuck? I don't remember."
"Me, either. Do you think he'll do it?"
"I do. If he's insane enough to try it, he's good enough to do it."
The crowd continued to grow, the noise level of hundreds of riders wondering if Rich could do it, if he'd chicken out, if he'd succeed, or die as Charles had the last season. Questions of which route he'd take, how much torque would he need, could he get high enough, snaked their ways through the crowd.
After a bit, the crowd noise started fading. Heads turned uphill as people nudged others downhill of them, to move attention to the rider coming down the hill.
"He's bombing," a girl whispered, a tinge of awe in her voice.
The rider didn't move in the graceful arcs that most boarders took on their way down the hill. He didn't use the arcs to bleed off speed, to slow his momentum. He came straight down the hill, gaining every bit of speed that gravity would give him.
"Is this going to work?" a boy asked.
"It could. It has to. See that lip there?" Another boy pointed. "He'll use that."
The crowd kept silent as Rich approached. They heard his grunt as he hit the lip the boy had pointed out. They saw his bent legs explode up as he threw his arms up and back, arching as he straightened and launched himself into the air.
Eyes grew wide as they watched him rotate backward in a near plank position, feet to the sky, arms over his head, the whole of him swinging around.
Everyone stopped breathing as they watched him pull his arms down to his shoulders, nothing protecting his head as his momentum swung it around to the Cat.
Rich looked up and saw the Cat come over his head, reached forward, and kissed it as he flew over the top it, head down board up, and kept right on rotating. A slight twist of his arms to pull him around again, legs extended for the board to touch first, and sink into the landing as his legs absorbed the rest of his downward momentum.
The crowd erupted in cheers and screams and high-fives and shock, as Rich smiled, and continued down the slope. He'd chapsticked the Cat.