Thoughts on the Mountain Pass, Flash Fiction

Updated on June 13, 2018
PegCole17 profile image

Peg Cole is a self-published author who writes true and fiction stories and book reviews, along with nostalgia and how-to articles.

Mountain Highway

Source

"The decision took less than a second, maybe half a second, but it would change so much." - Writer's Prompt

If she continued at the speed she was traveling down the highway, the car would strike an enormous flock of geese that had landed on the road for a migratory rest. Turning the wheels right would send their car careening off the cliff, a vertical drop of nearly two thousand feet straight down. Veering left, they would impact the rocky cliffs of Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains. Either choice would bring instant death to her husband, herself and the two children who slept soundly in the back seat. Her only remaining choice would be to plow straight into the gaggle of geese strewn across the road.

There was no way she could intentionally hurt these elegant creatures meandering about the asphalt feasting on grain scattered from a transport truck. Her childhood pet was a parakeet that was a valued member of the family, celebrating holidays, birthdays, even eating meals at the table with her sisters and brother.

She glanced in the rear view mirror for a microsecond, wishing for once she hadn’t insisted on driving. Her husband, slumped in the passenger seat next to her snored rhythmically in sequence with the classical music drifting from the compact disc player. He'd driven most of the day before. After hiking the mountain trails carrying the younger of their children, he deserved a break.

Source

She and Brad were on the first vacation they had taken in the years since the children came along. There was always some excuse, some other priority that took not only their time, but their limited finances.

In the span of less than a second, her life flashed like a PowerPoint presentation on speed. She thought about the breakfast they’d shared earlier after checking out of their economy motel. The children crunched their fruity “O” cereal while she and Brad ate a cinnamon roll from the pastry bar. They'd splurged on a cup of gourmet coffee with whipped cream, shaved chocolate and a dash of sprinkles, an expense they usually passed up out of economy.

She thought about the years they'd spent, trying to conceive while she and her husband worked their mundane, joyless jobs. Her mind flashed to quiet evenings spent at home, a casserole in the oven, watching television with the kids. Their lives were ordinary, yet valuable to them; every moment, a shared essence of their time spent here on this earth. And now, it was about to end, or was it?

Source

A bead of sweat trickled down her neck while her foot moved as if it had a mind of its own from the gas to the brake pedal. The front of the minivan dipped radically in response as it slowed, still moving closer too fast for her to calculate in her mind the distance and velocity. What a time to think of math and her ineptness in that subject.

In her mind's eye she saw the aging professor who tried without success to explain the formula in a tutoring session. At sixty miles per hour she would travel how many feet per second? The answer wouldn't matter. His repeated definition of inertia came through clearly: "The tendency of a body in motion to remain in motion unless acted upon by some external force."

She knew only that the car would never stop in time no matter how hard she pressed on the brake or how much she willed it.

Velocity Formula. Velocity is a measure of how quickly an object moves. So, the velocity is the change in the position of an object, divided by the time. Velocity has a magnitude (a value) and a direction. The unit for velocity is meters per second (m/s).

By Dwight Burdette
By Dwight Burdette | Source

Another furtive glance in the mirror revealed the children’s bodies shifting forward, doubling over, straining hard against the seat belts that held the car seat for little Janie and the strap holding Johnny in place. Their bodies slumped forward as the tires gained traction against the inertia. Still, the vehicle barreled onward toward the unsuspecting birds, little space remaining before the impact of two tons of metal in motion would decimate the creatures. She had no choice in the matter. Her destiny was ahead as she pressed all her weight against the pedal and whispered the most pleading, intense conversation with God in her life.

“Please save us, Lord. Protect your creatures from my careless haste. Amen.”

Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington - Grayback Mountain
Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington - Grayback Mountain | Source

Her words were no quicker spoken than a shotgun blast sounded somewhere off on the distant wooded mountain top. Without hesitation, the flock took wing and flew away, safely out of the range of her bumper as it crossed the spot they just vacated.

“Everything OK?” her husband's groggy voice asked. He'd been roused by the sudden change in the rhythm of the car's motion.

“Better than ever,” she responded whispering a prayer of thanks and wiping a tear from her cheek as his snores resumed.

If You Lift Me Up

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Peg Cole

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      • PegCole17 profile image
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        Peg Cole 2 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Shauna, I appreciate your thoughts here and thanks for reading through to the message. :)

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 2 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Thank you, Liz. Nice to have you visit this story.

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 2 days ago from Texas

        Oh wow! Peg, you had me holding my breath. I am glad everything turned out okay.

        Blessings my friend

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 4 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Frank, PowerPoint presentations - how I do NOT miss those days. Yes, I used to long for the time when I would be able to write stories and articles and read books. Hooray for that! Thanks for the visit.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 5 days ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        Good story, Peg, and with a happy ending. Glad it all worked out.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 6 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Linda C, So glad you could come by to read this short story. I always appreciate your comments. Thank you.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 7 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Nice to meet you here, John, and thanks so much for stopping in to read this story. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 8 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Thanks so much for the visit and kind thoughts, Chitrangada. I will be checking out your mountain trail stories as well.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 8 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Chris, I truly appreciate your input about the story as I have such respect for you as a writer. Thanks so much for stopping in and for the kind remarks.

      • marcoujor profile image

        Maria Jordan 8 days ago from Jeffersonville PA

        I was riveted from start to finish, dear Peg - every sentence was packed full of action and suspense.

        "Jesus Take the Wheel" is in story form, thanks to you!

        Love this and you too, Maria

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 9 days ago from Central Florida

        Excellent story, Peg! I honestly had no idea how it was going to end. But by the grace of God, strength of character and sheer will, all lives were spared.

        I love the message here, Peg.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 9 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Jackie, I'm so glad you liked this flash fiction story.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 9 days ago from UK

        This had me gripped to the end. Well-written!

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 10 days ago from Shelton

        Her life flashed like a power-point presentation.. You gotta love that Peg Cole.. I see you have become a writer the hard way and it's paying off Loved it!!

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 10 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Flourish, I was glad, too.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 10 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        It was nice to see that the geese and all the humans survived. I loved the description of the thoughts going through the driver's mind.

      • GoldenRod LM profile image

        John R Wilsdon 11 days ago from Superior, Arizona USA

        Loved the ending. You kept my interest up all the way. Funny how one minute all seems lost and in a split second the drama can evaporate. Thanks for sharing your story.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 11 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Thank you, Peggy Woods, for stopping in to read and for caring about these creatures.

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 11 days ago from New Delhi, India

        Great absorbing story, and I liked the thrill in the plot. Interestingly, I could imagine myself in the same situation, and was relieved to read the end.

        I love the beauty of the hills, and have written few short stories, involving hills and mountains.

        Thanks for sharing!

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 11 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Oh, Mike, Thanks for being scared. Me, too. I remember one nighttime drive on Mount Mitchell where the road curved upward into darkness and my dad was driving, probably to a new duty station. We always seemed to move at midnight.

        Anyhow, thanks for the great reaction to the story. LOL

      • cam8510 profile image

        Chris Mills 11 days ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Way to open in the middle of the action, Peg. That's how good flash fiction is written. I love the mountains, but I hate driving those roads with nothing but empty space to one side. Nice job resolving this with nobody getting hurt.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 12 days ago from The Beautiful South

        As Dora said, Peg, it was such good storytelling following along with your thoughts. Great twist of imagination!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 12 days ago from USA

        I saw her driving off the cliff. Glad it didn’t go that way!

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 12 days ago from Houston, Texas

        What a great bit of story telling you did here with this bit of flash fiction. Glad it ended well for the geese and this precious family you described.

      • mckbirdbks profile image

        mckbirdbks 12 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Peg - I was sure my Goose was cooked, as we barrelled along in the car. Cliffs to the left of me, jagged crag to the right of me. You scared the stuffing out of me. Now, were is that down pillow, I need a nap.

      • PegCole17 profile image
        Author

        Peg Cole 12 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Thanks for coming by so quickly, Dora, and for the kind words about the story. Hope you have a great Sunday and a wonderful week.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Great story-telling! Inner conflict, suspense and not a clue about the ending till it ends. I like the way you kept our attention by taking us through her thought process.

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