Cryptid Quest: Shadow Under the Lake

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Chapter 5: Ride to the Library

After the kids returned the fisherman’s paddle boat, they made their way to the bike rack located near the docks. Caroline unlocked the chain of her Giordano Brava Hybrid Bike, while Rick rolled out his mud covered mountain bike. Caroline was rather disgusted by the condition of Rick’s bicycle, but didn’t want to upset Rick even more.

They took down the road toward an intersection not too far from the docks. Caroline tried to led the way, but Rick dashed up next to her.

“Hey! Where are you going?” yelled Rick, catching Caroline by surprise.

“What are you talking about? We’re heading to the library!” she yelled back. Rick shook his head and pulled to the side of the road. Caroline groaned and stopped her bike. She walked the bike over to Rick.

“Now what?” asked Caroline. But Rick was too busy looking around the area.

“I know it’s around here somewhere…” he whispered, scanning up and down the other side of the road.

“What? This better not be another lake monster thing! I have no time for this!”

Rick shook his head and continued his search. Just then, he had found what he was looking for. He pointed ahead and Caroline followed his finger. He was pointing to a small path opening on the other side of the road that lead into the woods.

“There’s our shortcut!” exclaimed Rick, as he looked both sides of the road before crossing. Caroline, however, was reluctant to go along.

“Are you crazy?” she yelled. “That path can’t possibly be safe for bikes!”

“Sure it is! I’ve been down in lots of times!” bragged Rick as he began to walk his bike down the empty road. Caroline wanted to leave the kid and continue down the road toward the intersection. But then she remembered the crosswalk, and how difficult it was to navigate on the intersection.

Not only that, but the commuters didn’t take kindly to bikers, regardless of age. That’s because bikers and pedestrians would always slow down traffic. Needless to say, crossing the intersection was a pain in the butt.

So if Rick really did find a way to avoid all that, then Caroline was curious to see it. So she took off across the road and followed him to the path. There she could see that the dirt path lead up a small hill. The ground was decorated with fallen leaves, twigs and rocks. Just as she thought before, Caroline didn’t think the path was safe for bikes. And yet Rick continued walking his bike up the hill. Caroline took a deep breath and followed him up.

Once they got to the top, Caroline could look out at the wooded area around them. The path had bushes and thorns on both sides, as well as oak and pine trees that almost draped out the sun. But what she noticed most of all was the path itself. It didn’t stay in a consistent line. Instead it zig-zag down the hill. The turns to keep on the path seemed drastic, and not something a casual biker could accomplish.

Yet, before she could object again to the ride, Rick hopped onto his bike and sled down the hill. Caroline watched as Rick successfully zig-zag through the path, dodging thorn bushes and other obstacles. She was actually amazed. So she thought, if someone like Rick could do this, than surely she can too!

So she sucked in her gut, slowly took her seat, and allowed gravity do the rest. And just like that, she flew down the path. Her heart started racing. Her head was pounding. Yet all she could focus on was the path in front of her. As she approached the first turn, she quickly jolted the paddles left, successfully dodging the up and coming foliage. But just as she made the turn, another was coming up ahead. She drastically turned the paddles the other way and dodged the hurdle.

She didn’t notice the large rock popping out of the ground. She hit it with the front wheel of her bike, causing her to jump into the air. Thankfully, she landed safely, though the jolt was enough to shock her.

Just ahead she could see Rick passing through the woods. She wasn’t going to let the cryptid boy get the best of her, so she rared up her ankle grease and began peddling faster. She had to admit, she was having fun.

Rick was lost in thought. He loved biking through the woods. The air through his face and the changing scenery gave Rick that outdoorsy spirit. He was so lost in trance, that he hardly noticed Caroline passing him up on the path. But as soon as he saw Caroline’s long blonde hair blowing in the wind in front of him, Rick snapped out of his disillusionment.

This was one activity he didn’t want to loose to, especially from Caroline of all people. But lucky for him, he knew the short cut of the short cut. Coming ahead was a smaller path on the left side of the larger path. Rick could simply take it, which would lead to a steeper part of the hill. And just like that, he’l be in the lead. Caroline wouldn’t know what hit her.

So as they made their way up path, Rick made a dramatic left turn down the secret path. Caroline hadn’t noticed cause she was far ahead. That, and now she was the one in the trance. As Rick went down the secret path, he disappeared behind the thick foliage. There were more hurdles to dodge on that path than the previous one. There was a lot more rocks, and Rick remembered a large log in the road. But he had mastered a trick that would help him get over it. And just as he thought it, there it was, lying smack dead ahead along the path.

Rick held tightly to his bike peddles, and as he was a few inches from the log, he thrusted himself up, successfully pulling off a jump. He made the log with no problem. Granted, the back wheel bounced off the log, but it didn’t upset his momentum. As Rick flew down the path, he could see Caroline’s blonde hair through the foliage. He was in the lead. The last hurdle for him to go over was the creek. Thankfully, there was a small walk bridge that was sturdy enough for bikers to cross.

At least, that’s what he thought. As soon as he reached the creek, he saw the condition of the bridge. Somehow, the bridge had collapsed. All that was left of the bridge was the raised front half of it. The other half that connected the two sides of the creek had vanished.

Without a moment to loose, Rick stepped on the breaks. He swerved through the dead leaves, and couldn’t stop in time. So Rick made a rash decision. He hopped off his bike. His bike when plummeting into the creek. Now, the creek was only a foot or two deep, but nobody likes a wet bike. Rick, on the other hand, rolled into a pile of dead leaves. He hit his arm on a small rock upon impact with the ground, but besides that, he was all right.

He got up and rubbed his arm, swore from the fall. That’s when he remembered Caroline. He looked over and saw her coming down the hill. Rick had no time to loose. He hopped over to the path’s opening and started waving her down.

“Stop! Stop the bike! Stop!” he yelled to the top of his lungs.

Caroline broke out of her trance upon seeing the frantic boy. At first she couldn’t figure out what he was saying. Was this a trick or something? But then she realized what he was saying. She slowly, but surely, stepped on the breaks. The bike came to a stop at the edge of the creek. Caroline looked over and saw Rick’s bike sticking out of the muddy water. She turned to him, a bit mortified.

“What happened? Did you fall in?” she asked, looking him up and down. He didn’t look wet. Maybe he had fallen?

“No! I’m fine! But the bridge is out!” said Rick, pointing to the defunct bridge. “There’s no way across!”

Caroline got off her bike and examined the bridge. She looked it up and down. She then walked around it, stepping into the muddy part of the creek. Rick, meanwhile, just stood on the side lines, confused by what she was doing.

Caroline rubbed her chin, and smiled. She then turned to Rick with a sly grin on her face.

“I think we can make it!” she proclaimed, though Rick didn’t know what she meant by that.

“What are you talking about? The bridge is gone! The only way to cross is to go through the creek!”

“Or… We can do something else!” said Caroline, picking up her bike. “Something a little bit more fun!”

Now Rick was more confused. What on earth was she talking about? Caroline then started walking her bike back up the hill. Was she going the other way? That was her idea of“something a little bit more fun”? But then she stopped at the top of the hill. She looked down, and then quickly jumped back onto her bike. She rolled down the hill in lightning speed. Rick then realized what she was aiming for; the bridge. Was she nuts? She was going to crash!

But she didn’t. Instead, the opening part of the bridge acted as a ramp that flung Caroline over the creek. Rick couldn’t believe his eyes as Caroline made a perfect landing on the other side. The girl then turned, gave Rick a smug grin, and turned back to the rest of the path. Rick was mesmerized. That was actually… Kind of cool.

He then turned to the ramp, and then back to the hill. Now it was his turn. He quickly ran to the shallow part of the creek and pulled his bike out. He walked the muddy bike up the hill. Only this time, Rick made sure to go even higher up than Caroline. Right when he thought he was at a perfect height, he jumped onto the bike and flew down the hill. He aimed the bike to perfectly line up with the ramp. And just as Caroline did, Rick jumped the creek. Though the landing caused the bike seat to slam against his tail bone, Rick had made a successful landing. And much more than that, he was able to keep his momentum, allowing him to catch up with Caroline.

As soon as Caroline saw Rick pass her, she gasped. Rick heard this, and to him, that gasp made his afternoon. It wasn’t just that he was going to win the race, but he had also impressed Caroline with his bike skills. But Caroline wasn’t going to give up just yet. She pumped her leg muscles and began peddling like she never peddled before. The path was widening, allowing the two kids to race neck to neck. The two of them passed through the opening in a close tie.

The path gave out to a small field, and on the other side of that field, was the Bridgetown Public Library. They rode out into the fields as their bikes came to a slow stop. As soon as it did, they hopped off their bikes, out of breath from the thrill ride.

“That was awesome!” laughed Rick, turning to Caroline. “How did you know the bridge would work as a ramp?”

“Please, it was simple mathematics!” bragged Caroline. “Honestly, the real issue I had with the ramp was whether or not it was stable. Thankfully it was!”

“No kidding! It’s a good thing it didn’t fall apart! That would have been a nightmare!” said Rick. All of a sudden, the two kids realized something. They were having a friendly conversation. They weren’t dissing each other, or getting upset by the other’s opinions. They had finally found something they both had in common. They were both thrill seekers.

As quickly as they realized this, they looked away from each other and pretended to be back on old terms.

“Right, well… Let’s get to the library already!” said Caroline. “And for the record, your short cut took just as much time as it would getting here the normal way. So it isn’t that much of a short cut!”

“Whatever… It was way more fun.” replied Rick, as he folded her hands into his hoodie pockets and followed Caroline to the building.

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