You read right – the snail rodeo

A year ago this week I was attending Viable Paradise XIX. In fact, on this very day, the Wednesday of that week a year ago, I posted the assignment that was due on Thursday. At the time I did not know it was intended to be submitted for publication. Because I did not know, I wrote a humor piece and posted it HERE, blowing my First North America Serial Rights and making it a long shot that anyone will pick it up and publish it. 



Well, some of the Vipers wanted to relive the experience. 

So, they asked Uncle Jim to provide a prompt. His answer? The Snail Rodeo. So, we are supposed to write a story incorporating a snail rodeo. The stories will be judged and the winner will win . . . satisfaction. 

I’m kind of busy, but I figure I could knock out a few thousand words without much effort. And I did. And I scrapped a thousand of them and wrote another thousand to replace them. 

Scrapped those too and wrote a couple of thousand to replace those. Eventually — a few hours ago — I had to call it quits and go with what I have. 



Because of the short notice and because most of the people work or have family obligations, the decision was made to judge the stories on just the first 500 words. Once the contest is over, the winner would have to provide the entire story for everyone to read and give feedback on. 

So, that’s what I’m doing here . . . I’m presenting the first 500 words of my 3,045-word story for my reader’s pleasure. The rest of the story will go up on the next post, but it’s password-protected. If you want to read it, let me know in the comments and I will send you the password. Without further delay, here’s my 500 words entry (note that the title is a working title and might change):

Barrel Racing
© 2016 – E. J. D’Alise

Elisa’s long hair caught the breeze and flowed behind her like the tail of a comet. She streaked toward the first floating barrel on an arc designed to let her make the turn at maximum speed while maintaining a constant distance from the barrel throughout the turn.

SkyRocket, her racing snail, was well trained and responded to the change in pressure from Elisa’s legs by modifying the aerodynamics of its foot as it prepared to bank around the floating barrel. At the right moment, a final squeeze had the snail alter its control surfaces to execute a perfect arc around the barrel and leveling back well positioned for the approach to the second barrel thirty meters below and ninety meters away.

Elisa leaned forward to minimize her frontal area, and SkyRocket responded by drawing in the control surfaces and streamlining its foot. The dense atmosphere limited the speed they could achieve, but the pair still managed to shave a few seconds off their approach to the second barrel. Elisa waited until the last moment to squeeze the sides of her snail, and they executed the turn at close to maximum speed, SkyRocket’s foot splaying as wide as possible to pull them through the turn.

Even with her full concentration on the approach to the final barrel another thirty meters below her and one-hundred-and-five meters away, Elisa heard the cheer of the crowd. It served to spur both her and SkyRocket to reach the limit of their abilities, taking the last turn in a near-perfect arc and leaving them a straight shot to the finish line. She hunkered down, folding herself into a tight fetal position to minimize her drag as they picked up speed.

That’s when the cramp hit. Elisa felt it build and could do nothing to stop it, her leg tightening and spasming uncontrollably. SkyRocket reacted to the change in Elisa’s leg pressure and entered a steep bank and dive. A dive it would not recover from.

As if in slow motion, Elisa registered SkyRocket adjust its foot and control surfaces, but too late; the ground was coming up too fast. Elisa’s altimeter safety activated her parachute in response to the sudden drop in altitude, and she was literally ripped from the back of her snail. She cried out, half in pain from the massive cramp literally wrenching apart the muscles of her left thigh and half in anguish as she watched SkyRocket plummet. Thankfully, she lost consciousness and was spared the memory of SkyRocket’s impact.

~ ~

“Severe tears on two of the three hamstrings, but they are not detached,” the doctor summarized. “A lot of internal bleeding from the tears and the tendons are stretched, but the ultrasound did not show any damage to the vascular system. Meaning, no blood cloths. Still, we’ll monitor the swelling for a few days. Oh, and there will be bruising. A lot of bruising. It will look bad, but that’s just the internal bleeding showing through.”

Elisa was only half-listening, letting her mother ask the questions.

“No, no cause that we can determine . . . “

“She should recover . . .”

“No guarantee it will not happen again, but it was unusual . . .”

~ ~ end of 514/3,045 words ~ ~

I would be interested in hearing the opinion of them who bothered to read it. Again, if wanting the whole story, let me know and I will e-mail the password. Do not include your e-mail in the comments; I’ll have it when I get notifications of a comment. 

By the way, you can click on the photos for a larger version or go to THIS gallery to see the originals. 



That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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