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Free Falling: Flash Fiction


Edie was climbing lead up the eighty foot red rock wall in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Colorado with Richie close behind. She was looking for spinners or loose anchors that might slip out when in use and cause a climber to fall. Ultimately, she was looking for anything that might explain her fiancé's recent plunge to his death. She inspected the next pre-embedded piton and clipped in.

"Edie, I came along today to, like, you know, give you support. But the sheriff already closed this case. He says it was an accident." Richie waited, making sure there was always one anchor between himself and Edie.

"I know, Richie, and I appreciate how much you care about me, but something isn't right about this whole ordeal. Steve was too good a climber to fall during a climb up a wall we've all trained on for years." Edie reached up for the next edge or bump or crack to grip with her strong fingers.

"Babe, we already know he was free climbing that day even though we all agreed we'd never do it alone, right? So his foot slipped or he tried to reach a grip that was too far. I hate it, sweetie, but shit happens."

"Stop calling me Babe and sweetie. You never talked like that to me when Steve was alive, so don't do it now."

"Hey, I'm cool with that. I'm sorry, okay?"

"The only evidence we have that Steve was free climbing is that he didn't have any equipment with him," said Edie.

"Sounds rock solid to me."


They finished the climb and attached their rope to a top-rope anchor for the rappell down. That way they could retrieve the rope and leave nothing but the anchor behind.

Edie went first. She backed over the edge of the red rock tower and descended down the side, bouncing off the face of the rock where they had been climbing moments before. She thought of Steve free climbing then rappelling down like she was doing now. She gasped at that thought. There had been no rappelling equipment when Steve was found. He had clearly fallen, so he had been climbing. How did he expect to get down without a harness and rope? Now she knew what had been bothering her. This is what she had come out today to discover.


"How's it goin' sweetie?" Rich stood at the edge of the tower looking down during her descent.

Why was Richie giving her the creeps all of a sudden? They and Steve had been friends for years. In fact, She and Richie had met Steve at a Basics in Rock Climbing class where he had been an instructor. Edie and Richie had never dated, but she knew he had always cared about her a lot. But now she felt uneasy around him.

"I said back off with the sweet talk, Richie."

Things were becoming more clear by the second. She just had to get down as quickly as possible. She increased her speed.

"Hey, what's your hurry, babe –– I mean, Edie?

She hit the wall and sprang back out and down, always with one eye on Richie. But then he disappeared for just a few seconds. What he held in his hands when he returned explained everything, and she stopped. Edie hung suspended with her feet against the red rock. Had it been like this for Steve as well? Had he known?

"You figured it out, right?" said Richie. "I can see it on your pretty face, in your lovely eyes."

"Why, Richie?"

"Because I love you. I've always loved you. I loved Steve too, Edie, but he took you away from me."

"That's where you're wrong. I was never yours."


The solemnity, the surrender, even a slight smile all disappeared from Richie's face at those last words. Anger sent them packing and rage burned in his eyes.

The rock Richie was holding became Edie's only concern. She could deal with sweetie and babe, but that rock was a different thing altogether. Thirty feet separated her from the ground and escape. She kicked off the wall. Twenty feet. She released the rope with her left hand just a second or two after Richie threw the rock. She fought to keep her feet pointed down, but the rock was speeding in her direction. She vaguely heard Richie's voice.

"Why didn't you love me, Edie, why'd you have to love him instead?"

Richie was crying. So was Edie.

She hit the ground feet first, rolled, then stopped. Twenty pounds of red rock landed six inches from her face. She squeezed her eyes shut, clenched her fists and sprang to her feet.

Edie looked up just in time to see her old friend and never lover, jump. They had always feared falling, but in the end, Richie embraced it.


Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 20, 2017:

Ah, just desserts! Richie should have left well enough alone. Either way, he lost a friend in Edie once she figured out he'd killed her fiance.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on January 12, 2017:

I live near some fun places to go, like Tombstone and Bisbee. Both are fun to go play tourist. I live SW of Tucson about 90 miles, down by the Mexican border.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 12, 2017:

Becky, Arizona is perpetually on my list of places to travel to for my work, so I'll keep that in mind. The hiking and outdoor/in-cave activities are perfect.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on January 12, 2017:

Chris, if you ever get to southeast AZ, let me know. I would love to meet with you. And the hiking is great here. My kids keep telling me about hiking that they do in the mountains around here. My sons went last week and found a cave with bats in it. One wanted to continue, but the other was kinda freaked out by the numbers of spiders in there. We have some really big spiders here. Tarantulas and all.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 11, 2017:

MartieCoetser, It's good to see you here on my hub today. Thank you for the helpful comment.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on January 11, 2017:

What a dangerous hobby! Definitely not meant for sociopaths like Richie. I enjoyed this. Interesting topic and sufficient suspense. Thanks, cam!

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 10, 2017:

Thank you Larry. Thanks for stopping by.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 10, 2017:

Alright now this is just my humble opinion but now is winter. I think must sees are Wolf Creek Pass up from Pagosa Springs, Not Aspen proper but just down the "river" from there - I think the four Bells all about 14K. Anyway there and the Roaring Fork are kayak heaven even in the winter with gear.

Save Telluride and Steamboat springs for the mid snowmelt.

I know it is big country and these places seem very far away from you -- but boyo whamo the trips are worth it all by themselves - Of course chains required.

I envy you out in the desert.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on January 10, 2017:

Very imaginative.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 10, 2017:

Eric, you have mentioned your Grand Canyon trips before. One of these days I will land a contract near there and do some serious exploring. Right now I am in Colorado Springs. Great place for some adventures when the weather is right. Right now we are having serious wind storms.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 10, 2017:

Chris our climbing is only called climbing because it requires use of hands and some serious elevation. Though we do sometimes use ropes it is only for us sissy old men. Not El Capitan type but heavy packs Everest style, only we go down instead of up.

So our next one we are hoping for is Nankoweep on the North rim of the Grand Canyon.

But this made me chuckle a bit at all the times I figured my big brother Brian was trying to kill me on a climb.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 10, 2017:

Ann, Thank you for reading and for the nice comment. I think if I rewrite this, which I eventually will, I will take out some of the early give-away-lines and keep Richy's guilt hidden for longer.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 10, 2017:

Ruby, Yes, love can hurt, but we have to put the real stuff in the stories to make them come alive. Glad this one worked for you.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 10, 2017:

John, Glad you liked it. In this one I finally got back to beginning in the right place, in the middle of the action. It does work better for these short stories. Thanks for reading and for the kind comment.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 10, 2017:

Becky, This one came fast and furious. I love those kind. Thanks for reading and for that awesome comment.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 10, 2017:

Eric, There's just nothing like being stuck on the side of a cliff with a deranged killer. Where are you going to climb? My son has done some climbing, but I've only done indoor climbing. I hope I got the technical parts right in the story.

Ann Carr from SW England on January 10, 2017:

I suspected something as soon as she objected to his turn of phrase but the ending was still a surprise. Good story-telling, Chris!


Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on January 10, 2017:

They say that love hurts, and your short story proved the old cliché is true. Well done!!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on January 10, 2017:

Great work, Cam. You packed it all (drama and suspense) into this short flash fiction story and that isn't easy to do. A good read.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on January 10, 2017:

Wonderfully developed short story. You keep proving you're the master at it.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 10, 2017:

Real danged good. In short order you developed a psychopath and a great climbing thriller. Wow, I like it. Now off to the gym to start getting ready for my climb in May. (yes it takes an old guy that long)

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