Short Story, Flash Fiction, Of the Day, Coaster by Bill Chance

No, No. The worst is the long, slow chugging upward, gaining potential energy, riding the chain to the top. The anticipation of terror. That’s the worst, and it’s over. You have survived it. You weren’t sure you would.

—-Bill Chance, Coaster

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing Sunday’s Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge.

Let’s see… here’s one for today. What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


Ok, now, that first drop is the worst and it’s over. You survived.

Wait, no. The first drop isn’t the worst – it’s going over the top, the sudden acceleration into that drop… that‘s the worst. The first cars are bad because the ones behind hold it up and it hesitates suspended over the void – you can see the drop for a split second before the plunge. The rear car is bad because the front cars pull it fast up and over – it clanks and jumps. The middle cars – they’re bad too, the worst, because they do both. It’s the worst.  And it’s over. You survived.

No, No. The worst is the long, slow chugging upward, gaining potential energy, riding the chain to the top. The anticipation of terror. That’s the worst, and it’s over. You have survived it. You weren’t sure you  would.

That might not be the worst. The worst is going back and forth in that serpentine line, waiting an hour in the queue for a few seconds of fear. Then at the end there is the chicken’s exit – an arched door that you can duck out through If you don’t think you can take it. Walking past that is the worst, the absolute worst. You wanted to go out through that door so bad, so bad, so bad. But Carmen was standing there beside you and she had been waiting for an hour too. No way could you  chicken out.

An hour earlier she had said, “Let’s go for a ride on The Ripper!”

“No, the line is too long. It says it’s an hour wait.”

“What’s the matter? Are you chicken? I didn’t think so, I didn’t think you  had the guts to ride The Ripper.”

At that point you had no choice. It was going to be The Ripper. The darkness of the world was closing in around you. You stood in line for an hour shuffling along with Carmen at your side and you never said a word.

All you could think about was a memory from your childhood. You had gone to the State Fair and there you were in the children’s ride area. Everything smelled of ozone and popcorn. A calliope was whistling and tooting away, the merry-go-round was spinning with its mirrors and horses. And there was the children’s roller coaster. Now, you realize how small it was, but to your child’s eyes it was big and fast and looked like an electric steel dragon. You were excited and eager and couldn’t wait. You wanted the speed.

But it wasn’t like what you thought it would be. The sick feeling of nausea in the pit of your stomach wasn’t expected and scared you to death. You had never felt this before. A small child’s panic is a strong and evil thing. Your parents were so angry when the ride operators had to pry your hands off from around the bars – holding up the ride – making everyone wait while you were extracted, frozen, from the little seat.

“You embarrassed us!” your parents yelled, “You wanted to do it. Why did you freak out like that?”

And now, decades later, here you are. Again. Carmen is screaming like a banshee beside you but you are silent, frozen, hands tight on the bar with a death grip.

You feel your eyes grow into saucers as you stare at the rolling hills, the twists and turns, the slopes and banks ahead of you. You are hurtling into these at an incredible speed.

As you shoot into this maelstrom you realize you have learned something in the decades since the State Fair. Instinctively, your body decides to go with it. It’s like being in a fighter plane, rolling and rising, dipping and diving. This isn’t so bad. This is kind of fun. Your hands relax, your body moves along with the accelerations and velocity. At one particularly tight, fast turn you let out an ecstatic cry.

And then, so  soon, it is over. The bar clanks forward and you and Carmen step out and descend the little wooden stairs.

You turn to her. Her flushed face, wide eyes, and tousled hair make your heartbeats skip. You lean in and say, “Let’s do that again.”