Prof. Sky Alton
A rain drop the size of a marble bounced off her nose. She simply stared at her handlebars and the road beyond them. she’d left frustration behind twenty kilometers ago and misery had slipped away at least five back. Now she was just feeling a detached kind of bemusement: how could one day have gone so, so wrong?
She’d woken up to find everything from her kit to her breakfast sodden. She’d gotten herself onto the road with an extreme effort of will… and immediately taken a wrong turning. What was worse, it had taken her three kilometers and a formidable hill to realise the mistake. Around mid-morning, she’d tried to gain a little time back by risking a shortcut. She’d ended up having to wheel the bike through potholes deep enough to swallow a moderately sized hippo.
Lunch had been as soggy as breakfast and a passing car had drenched her in muddy water thrown up by its wheels. And now? Now she was struggling up the steepest hill she had ever, ever encountered. It was so steep that the water slick road in front was practically at her eyeline.
She willed her numb legs to keep going, then spluttered as something flew into her face. Whether it was a rain addled insect or a hailstone, she wasn’t quite sure. Muscles burning, she crawled a few more feet up the hill. She fought the temptation just to let herself veer off into the nice soft ditch to her left. It wasn’t like she could get any wetter or filthier…
At last, she crested the hill. She leaned on her handlebars for a second, blinking water out of her eyes. The land stretched out beneath her, a patchwork of fields and woods in hazy browns and greens. There, tucked neatly at the bottom of the hill, was a collection of buildings, looking like nothing more than discarded toy blocks from up here. Looking to the horizon, she saw a patch of blue that was steadily growing larger. She was almost there. With a whoop, she plunged down the hill.