The River

I have never paddled so much in my entire life. I have a head start on these guys, but it’s not gonna last. There’s three of them, and they look a lot bigger than me. But if I can just get to the falls, I’m in the clear. There’s a little inlet there where I can stash my boat and run, and they probably don’t know about that.

It was all just a big misunderstanding. I just needed money for meth.

I was in their tents, and I had already cleaned out the car when they found me. I have three cell phones stashed in my underwear. I hope they don’t get too wet from their boat. That’ll give me 100 bucks at least. That is, if I can get out of here.

It didn’t used to be like this. I was a tour guide in this park. I used to lead expeditions down this canyon along this river. Now I’m hauling ass, trying to dodge what promises to be a savage beat down, if not my death.

Times change, and so did I. I liked to party. But all my friends left, went to prison, died. Then there was just me. The park fired me for being late, missing work too much. I used my savings. I started breaking into cabins to steal copper pipes and jewelry when I could. Campsites are a lot higher risk, of course, because people come back, but sometimes you don’t have a lot of options.

There’s rapids up ahead, and I pull off a crisscross maneuver, evading the rocks and the whirlpool. One of the boats doesn’t make it, capsizes, leaving two of my pursuers in the water thrashing around.

That just leaves one guy in a boat after me. One huge guy with a red beard, a shaved head, and tattoos all over his face. I don’t feel any better as I keep paddling.

We’re coming to a spot with calm water, and I start paddling all the faster. My boat is zigzagging . I’m practically out of the boat. I got the advantage because I’m lean, I have little whippet body, and that guy has got bulk.

Now he’s screaming at me, swearing, curses, threats, everything is promising to do to me, to my mother, and my whole family.

The current picks back up and I can see the falls up ahead. I skate through a flock of birds, swarming me.

The guy spots the falls behind me and starts backpaddling furiously. His boat spins to the side.

I press forward. I just have to get to that spot right before the current turns into its maximum velocity.

I’m almost there when my paddle hits a rock and flies out of my fingers. My boat turns towards the side and approaches the falls. I look back at the guy to see if he could help me, but he’s already out of his boat and swimming for shore. My boat crosses over the edge, and the last thing I see is the crush of water on all sides.

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