Encounter

Adam Wilson is on a motorcycle tour in Europe when a strange object ruins his trip. Encounter is part 1 of 3 short stories, they are the prequel to my science fiction novel 'Splinter'.

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1. Touring

Adam sat looking out over Baragem de Paradela, his motorbike cooling down behind him, the 60km journey from Chaves had tired him out, the Triumph Tiger had not missed a beat through France and Spain. The winding roads leading up to this point had been hard work but fun, aside from the fact that he thought the Portuguese drivers were insane. He was in Northern Portugal, in the Geres national park, at a point about halfway up the west side of the Baragem, a reservoir built in 1956. His friend Dave had told him it was a good place to get away from it all and see some spectacular wildlife, including his favourite, wolves. The sun was just setting behind him, so he settled down outside his small one man tent with a joint and bottle of the local red wine, freshly bought from a vineyard about 20 km back towards Chaves. Taking out his camera he took a few shots of the scenery until the memory card showed it was full,  pulling a replacement out of his bag, he removed the full card and then promptly dropped the camera, the batteries spilling out down the hillside. He found some more batteries and put them in, tried taking a few more pictures when it beeped again saying memory full. He had forgotten to put in the new memory chip and had been using the internal memory, digging out the new chip he put that in and took some more photographs, god this dope was strong. This scenery was spectacular, he thought and taking a deep hit on the joint he looked out across the lake sitting back listening to the animals around him. In the distance he thought he heard a wolf howl, life was getting better all the time.

The journey down from Calais had been good, staying off the motorways he had  cruised the countryside through France and Spain, exploring on a whim. If he liked the sound of the place he would head that way, using this method Adam had found some wonderful places, most that he would never have known existed. Staying at small municipal camp sites, most of which were run by local families, he had started to learn a small amount of French and Spanish, it had taken him 2 weeks to get this far and the great weather along the back roads through the Pyrenees had been the highpoint of the ride. Camping at small out of the way places had brought him closer to nature, he felt good and although he had initially fought against the idea of doing this trip alone, now embraced it.

Recently divorced, he needed to get away from home to think about what he was going to do now, he would be 50 in a few weeks and lived alone in a small flat, he was tempted to jack in his job and just push off around the world. With no children and very few surviving relatives there was nothing to keep him back in England, taking a sabbatical of two months from work had started to look like  a good idea.

The only thing he would miss would be the club. The club, the one part of his life he could not let go, a small motorcycle club with no name, Adam and his club members had been together for 15 years, they turned up at rallies, went on runs and they all looked after each other. This had been the bone of contention that had finished his 26 year old marriage, Lucy, his wife, felt that approaching 50 meant it was time to 'grow up' and give up his beloved motorbikes, of which he had 3, the 1050 Triumph tiger he was currently using, a 1977 Triumph T140v Bonneville and 1978 Kawasaki Z900.

Lucy had been unhappy with the fact he had the bikes and yet she still had to drive an old Jensen Interceptor, she wanted him to sell all the bikes and buy something a bit more in keeping with her perceived standards. Her friends all had Audi TT's or MX5's, she hated driving 'that old car' as she  constantly called it, to meet them. Adam could not see what the fuss was all about, the Jensen was in his eyes a classic and desirable car. That's why they had drifted apart, different circles of friends, different hobbies, then out of the blue, divorce papers were served on him for 'unreasonable behaviour' and she did not come home that night. Adam had no idea where she had stayed and when he had spoken to her the next day she claimed to have stayed at her friend Sharon's, but Adam had already spoken to Sharon's husband and he claimed she had not been there at all. Perhaps he had been unreasonable, he was not sure any more, Lucy had never had to work, his job and the occasional gambling spree bringing in more than enough to support them, thinking about it  he now realised Lucy had been spending most of her time down the gym or at the local wine bar with her friends, Adam could see that they had been drifting apart for years, maybe only habit keeping them together, she had not been on a run or to a rally with him for some time now and to be honest he felt he preferred it that way.

Adam decided that it was time to just walk away, he did not contest the divorce on the proviso they would do a 50-50 split on everything, after weeks of arguing they agreed that they would sell the house and get half each and other than Adams personal stuff, the bikes and the Jensen, Lucy would also get the complete contents of the house, then they could go their separate ways. Adam had not mentioned that since she had left he had put in the garage the 3 Fernando Zobel paintings that she hated, after the house was sold he auctioned them for 135k, he had owned them for 21 years, bought on impulse when he had had a large win gambling on tipped horses. Lucy had never taken any interest in them, in fact had berated him over wasting his money, even though the rest of the money paid off their mortgage. He had hung them in his study, where he worked when working from home and which she never entered,  so he could enjoy them out of her sight.

Another howl wafted down the valley, this sounded different though, it was long and drawn out and Adam had no idea how far away the wolf was, sound bounced all around the valley making it difficult to work out where it had come from. He had hoped to be able to see one, but the locals where he had stopped to pick up food and wine had told him they were still quite rare, despite the reintroduction schemes. Adam stood up and lifted his binoculars to his eyes, the fading light was making it difficult to see far now, he looked across the edge of the bay where he was camped and as he did a bright light blinded him, seconds later a shock wave knocked him from his feet and his ears hurt from a loud explosion, he tried to stand upright but fell to the ground holding his eyes tight shut and covering his ears with his hands.

What seemed like minutes but must have been seconds passed, the earth stopped moving and he pulled himself to his feet, he could hear nothing except a roaring sound, squinting through half closed eyelids, he then noticed his bike had fallen over, he staggered over and pulled it up, flicking the side stand down again onto the beer can he used to stop it sinking into soft ground. Making sure the bike would not fall over again he rubbed his eyes, what the hell had happened? It had sounded like a bomb, not that he had heard one before, but it was just what he imagined it must sound like, his body felt battered by the blast, the shock wave must have shaken him up inside as well, as he now felt quite sick. Hot dirt and stones started falling around him and he dived under the nearest tree, he watched as something landed on and set alight to his tent, he managed to put it out using his wine as he could not see where his water bottle had vanished to.

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