A Challenge Gone Wrong
March 20, 2023
I’m sitting in my living room, my husband’s arm wrapped around my shoulder and my hand on my dog’s head when the first call comes.
I answer my phone with my signature “Fire department. You light it, we fight it! Haven’t lost a basement yet! How may I help you?”
“Hello, Evelyn. This is your formal challenge request,” a deep voice booms. “Porcupine Rim race on Saturday, May 13th. Refuse and there will be consequences.”
I meet Kameron’s eyes, confused. “Uh, who is this?” The call clicks off.
“What was that all about? You seem worried.” He takes my hand.
I look down at my phone, then back up. “I was just challenged to a bike race in two weeks. It’s one of the most dangerous trails there are. Porcupine Rim.” I look out the window. “I trained for a couple of years to bike the Cliffs of Moher. How in the world am I supposed to do this with only two weeks of preparation? And by challenged, I mean threatened. If I don’t do it, there supposedly will be ‘consequences.’”
Kameron squeezes my hand and says, “Well, um, that’s kinda– scary?”
I look at our intertwined hands and say, “Yeah.”
“Should we call the police?” Kameron says, looking worried.
“I don’t know. I guess if it escalates more, then yeah.” I take a deep breath. “But as of right now? I’m doing it,” I say adamantly.
Kameron opens his mouth to say something, but seeing my determined look, closes his mouth.
I stand up, letting go of his hand and giving Canyon a pat. “I’m gonna go train.”
Kameron nods. “Do you want me to come?” He’s a biker too, just not nearly as skilled as me.
“No, I’m going to Falls Creek.” I head into the bedroom to get dressed and grab my biking pack.
After collecting my things, I say goodbye to Kameron and Canyon, then leave the apartment and step into the elevator. It lowers me down slowly, the frustrating elevator music worming its way through my mind. I glare at the red floor numbers.
“It’s almost as if this thing goes slower when I’m in a rush,” I mutter, waiting impatiently. “Hurry up, I’m being threatened!”
After what seems like an eternity, the elevator dings and the doors slide open. I step out, taking long strides until I make it to the parking garage where I unlock my black Toyota 4Runner. I slide into the black leather seat, glancing out of the tinted windows as I shut the door. I see my neighbour, Carl, hobbling out of his car. He’s an old man, but he still gets out as much as he can.
I turn on my car, buckling my seatbelt and backing out of the parking spot. I’ve loved parking garages ever since I watched my first action movie with a car chase in a parking garage. I always find the dim, eerie lighting ominous and I sometimes find myself imagining that someone’s chasing me or I’m in a getaway car. It’s like an adrenaline rush without any of the danger.
At the moment, though, I’m too focused on the real threat to make up a fake one.
I pull out of the garage and start driving to Falls Creek. A sign for the new hiking trail that opened last week is on the side of the road. The thoughts start competiting in my mind for attention…
“Hey, big me!” eight-year-old me screams in my head.
“Little Evelyn, go away.”
“You need to go on the trail!!!!” the child in me yells. I physically shake my head at the warring voices in my head.
“No. I need to train.”
“Noooooo. You need to get Kameron and Canyon and go on the trail!!!!!” my squeaky kid voice persists.
“Ugh, I don’t know how my parents dealt with you. Fine, fine, fine. I’ll go on the trail.”
“YAYYYYYY!!” I turn the car around. Kameron and I were planning on going there today anyways, but then the threat came and I got wrapped up in that. Hiking is still strength training…
But what consequences are you bringing upon yourself, Evelyn? the responsible part of my brain questions. I shake the thought away, pulling back into the parking garage and into my parking spot, then running back to my apartment. With a brief explanation, I retrieve Kameron and Canyon and return to the car and we’re off.
We retrace my path from thirty minutes ago, but this time we turn onto the road that contains the sign. Canyon barks as we pull into the parking lot, turning circles in the back seat. Kameron and I exchange a glance, then we get out of the car, opening the back door for Canyon, who jumps out and starts running.
“Canyon!” Kameron yells. The dog turns around, his ears perking up. He runs back over to us, giving Kameron a goofy puppy grin. Canyon is a six-year-old pit bull, and the best dog ever. To Kam and me, at least. We set off on the hike, smiling and laughing, forgetting about the important biking matter.
Then a figure jumps out in front of me. I step backwards in surprise, wrinkling my nose when I recognise the person. “Ew. It’s you,” I say, Kameron and Canyon standing by my side.
“Likewise,” responds Tristan Taylor, the biker who broke my leg during my third big bike race. He was jealous of me because he had previously been a 15-time champion, and then a girl, me, came in and beat him twice in a row. So the third time, he ran into me, breaking my leg. I couldn’t prove he did it on purpose, but ever since then, we’ve avoided each other. Our paths have crossed a couple of times, and those encounters have never ended well. Tristan now looks down his nose at me. “So, I see that you declined my challenge.”
I cross my arms. “You could have just asked me nicely.”
“Yeahhh, where’s the fun in that?” Tristan shrugs, crouching down to pet Canyon. “He’s really grown up, hasn’t he?”
“Get your dirty hands off my dog,” I say, glaring at him.
He stands up, hands in a surrendering position. “Geez, sorry.”
“What do you want?” Kameron snaps.
Tristan rolls his eyes. “Just to beat your little wifey again.”
I inhale sharply. “You literally broke my leg. Get out of here.”
Tristan grins. “Alright, feisty, huh? I’ll go. Have fun on your little date. While it lasts. Consequences, remember?” He walks back the way that we came.
“What in the world was that?” Kameron asks.
“Does he really think he can just–” I sigh as Kameron gives me a hug.
“It’ll be alright, Ev. I’m sure he’s just blowing smoke.” Kameron rubs circles on my back.
Canyon licks my leg, worrying about me.
I nod. “Yeah, I’m sure.”
A day later, a headline appears in the local newspaper…
World-Renowned Mountain Biker Evelyn Spade and Husband Found Dead
Evelyn Spade, 29, and her husband, Kameron Spade, 28, were found dead on a Washington hiking trail. Their dog, Canyon, was the one to alert humans to their bodies. The hero dog will go to family members. Suspects unknown. Stay tuned for more information.
Three hours later on a local radio station…
“And now, more information on local biker Evelyn Spade’s shocking death. Witnesses say that Spade’s competitor, Tristan Taylor, was spotted on the same path not long before Spade’s estimated time of death. Taylor is being questioned, but some allege that his competition loss to Spade may be a motivation for what appears to be her murder.”
One hour later on the same station…
“This just in: Biker Tristan Taylor has been arrested for the alleged murder of his competitor, Evelyn Spade, who was found dead yesterday, along with her husband, on a local bike path. Taylor has no alibi, and was arrested shortly after talking to the police who say he confessed to the murder. They released a statement quoting Taylor as saying “Evelyn and Kameron deserved to die” and that he “failed the first time.” Police are piecing together evidence that Taylor may have attempted to harm Spade two years ago when police now believe he deliberately crashed his bike into Spade, breaking her leg. Stay tuned for an update at 11 pm.”