Prompt: Not my type
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi
The rich, interior life of an introvert is a well-manicured machine. There are many tactics the psyche uses in order to preserve itself and its energies. Like some megalomaniac whose all encompassing goal is to conquer the inner world of one person, instead of the whole world. There are many strategic systems in place to ensure sustainability for the introvert; Perfectionism – working around the clock to calculate external perception, Self Criticism – marching around giving sharp orders, and of course, the Burn Rider.
The Burn Rider is a special mechanism designed to be a gatekeeper against influential messages from the external world. In this particular case The Burn Rider is tall, lanky, one long, lean muscle, which is appropriate because his vocation requires long hours night after night, pedaling furiously around one circular track.
The track is perfectly oval actually, a thin, sharp perimeter surrounding the plush cerebellum of the intellectual introvert he is endeared to, Mary. All day long, experiences and conversations occur in which external thoughts and feelings fling various types of wires and rope across Mary’s mind and if their grappling hooks break through the barrier of initial consideration, they may grip line onto the Burn Rider’s track.
As Mary begins her descent into sleep each night, the Burn Rider is passing through a parallel routine of awakening. He diligently performs all of his checkpoints while his eyes adjust to the dark red glow of the internal life flame, the only source of light to ride by each dim night.
His bike is built specifically for this task. He has little concern for balancing along this narrow ridge. The metal wheels fit magnetically into the track, so all he has to do is keep the pedals turning. As he rides each night, sparks fly from rear of the cycle as they slice the pleading lines that hold hopefully along the ridge, desperate for some stability of their own.
He moves along methodically, round and round the perfect oval, until the lines break away, and Mary is no longer in danger of maintaining the tethers that attempted distraction. As each line falls away, deep into the abyss of the bloodlines, out into chaos, he feels deep fulfillment with each final sever.
It usually amuses him how each line varies in the number of times it requires him to pass over it before relinquishing its hold on Mary. But tonight there is a troublesome rope that lies across the track. It appears braided, usually a quick and easy cut, but based on the intensity of the sparks that clash each time he rides over it, he suspects the braids are not your average rope.
From across the wide expanse of the full diameter of his route, he can see now the rope has not even begun to loosen or fray. The Burn Rider takes one more cautionary loop around the track to be sure all other connections have been successfully severed before skidding to an abrupt stop just a few feet ahead of the stubborn rope.
He steps off his bike, which he has never done mid track before. He has heard of other Burn Riders that have had to do this for maintenance on the track, but the unfamiliarity makes him nervous.
He walks to the rope and squats down to inspect it further. The braids are hot from the repeated friction of his bike’s strike, but they do not appear malleable in any way. The rope, he suspects, is some impenetrable metal, one he’s only heard about through the stories of other Burn Riders – steel.
He wrings his hands together, tracing back through his mind any conversations about this substance; its weaknesses, its source, its purpose. As he is turning the situation carefully over in his mind, he is suddenly toppled backward in surprise by the being that appears, climbing up the rope of steel.
In earthquake fashion, Mary’s whole body seemed to respond in unison to the repulsion and rejection of this energy life force. This was not a pleasantry conversation that took up space in the mind. This was not a well-meaning relative that had crossed a personal boundary. This was something else.
His features were all crooked, his spine contorted into some zigzag shape that seemed to bulge out of his body as if it were meant for a much larger mammal. His eyes were wild and thirsty; his mannerisms displayed no identifiable social graces, only impulse and greed.
“This is all wrong.” The Burn Rider blurted out. He had a specific job which he wasn’t sure included any kind of real authority, but for twenty-five years it had been cut and dry. Ride through the night, burn off the extraneous connections made from the day. If any are viable, they will apply for further consideration through the proper avenues, he couldn’t recall anything from his training about another psychic being physically transplanting himself into the interior world through the exposure connections.
“Oh, I’m sorry, not your type?” the creature’s smile turned even more crooked than his thorny frame. He seemed barely able to contain a laugh, a cackle, a howl before he was off, each step a dark imprint on the soft tissue of Mary’s brain.
The Burn Rider could barely compose himself at the sight of this, an opaque smear across an otherwise beautiful and delightful painting. He shook his head to regain some sense of order in his mind, in his vision. Before he could come up with a plan of what to do next, the blazon creature abruptly reached into the pulsing flesh of the brain with his bare hands.
The Burn Rider gasped for breath and felt the puncture through his own heart, if he had one. His vision went blurry again as he witnessed the creature’s uninhibited destruction, grabbing handfuls of veins as if he were ripping wires out of a wall.
Sparks were flying though they weren’t the kind that gave the Burn Rider a sense of ease and protection. These sparks were hot and melting his skin as he felt himself tackle the creature, desperate to halt the horror of his devastation, before he knocked himself unconscious.
When he awoke, he was dizzy and disoriented. The first thing he recognized was the nametag of his mentor, the one who had trained him for Burn Riding. He thought he asked himself internally if this were a memory, but it must’ve been out loud because the trainer said, “No.”
The Burn Rider jolted back in his seat, immediately aware of the layer of sweat that bathed him. His eyes darted furiously around the room, trying to make sense of his surroundings.
“Mary.” He managed to choke out, a statement and a question, a fear and a hope.
“No, son.” The trainer shook his head, tapping his coffee calmly. “Mary’s dead. You’ll be reassigned once you…recover from this shock.”
The Burn Rider rejected the notion, “Dead? They die? Suddenly? From exposure wires? What caused it? Why? We didn’t cover this in training. You never mentioned a death wire.”
The trainer raised his eyebrows and shrugged softly, “Well, if we had, wouldn’t you have been looking for it everywhere?”