Action Heroes by JM Paquette

For Rob Whitt

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I kicked the engine to life and headed in…

Well, that was what should have happened. Apparently, it took more than a simple kick to get a motorcycle running. I looked down at the sleek metal machine between my legs, recalling every action movie I’d ever seen.

First, the hero stands up on the pegs. I straightened my legs. One of the metal prongs my foot was on collapsed beneath me, and I fell, hard onto my crotch. The seat was soft enough, but still, the motion was jarring. Ok, not that peg then.

Keys were probably important, I decided, and started clicking the key back and forth, wishing I had taken the time to learn to read the alien letters before coming to the surface. Back home, safe in my room, surrounded by my books and my films and my music, all of this had seemed so easy.

Simple creatures, really. They could barely break out of their atmosphere.

Not so simple technology, though. I stood up again, this time trying to simultaneously turn the key and stamp on the pedals, wherever they were. I kicked and flipped and jiggled, and suddenly, as if conjured by the fierceness of my thoughts, the motorcycle roared to life. I sat, rotating my wrists and getting into position, hoping the bike wouldn’t shoot forward too quickly.

I wanted to have some kind of control when I rode into town. If this was my grand entrance, it had better be worthwhile. I didn’t want to launch myself over the handlebars like one of the unfortunates on those old video reels I’d spent hours watching.

The bike settled into a steady rhythm once I figured out the handlebar controllers. It was a lot easier watching these things than it was to ride them! No wonder all those videos ended with someone falling off. It took every ounce of concentration I had to keep the thing upright and going forward with me on its back. I’d ridden monsters more easily subdued, but nothing like the magnificent creatures back home lived on this planet. The biggest creature here was an underwater behemoth, hardly worth the challenge to ride.

But even the least tame monster back home paled in comparison to the way the bike skittered and jostled beneath me. I held on tight, sending up one last round of prayers to the deities of my home world before I headed into the first town of my new world.

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