Somehow the trail didn’t look too intimidating from the bottom… but, once at the top it looked downright dangerous. Large wicked looking rocks held the steep trail in place while weather beaten trees framed it on both sides. It certainly looked like its name, Bone Crusher. The other riders had gone off one by one, made it down safely and now waited at the bottom… looking up at him expectantly. Damn! That’s all I need is an audience. Gary could feel the bile rise in the back of his throat. He fought back the urge to hurl, swallowed his pride and dropped off the edge. He passed the first 20 feet with no major problems. He could hear the hoops and hollers from the group watching from below. This seemed to give him added confidence. ‘What the hell, I might as well go for it”… and this is where things started to go wrong. The trail seemed to take on a life of its own. He wasn’t controlling the bike as much as just fighting to stay upright. One foot came out of the pedal which sent him sideways. He tried to correct but found himself now riding the front wheel and top tube. Things were looking very bad as time seemed to slow down and he could now sense that his body was leaving the bike. ‘This is going to hurt!’…. and as he dove into the black hole that suddenly appeared….. it did! He seemed to be swimming against a strong dark current back to conscious At first he had trouble just remembering where he was…even who he was. It felt as though someone had hit the right side of his body with a two by four… many times. Then as the pain increased, it all came tumbling back to him. Where was the bike… hope it wasn’t damaged too much. Gary was lying at the bottom of a rocky wash. He could hear his riding buddies climbing down to him. He had a strange metallic taste in his mouth and wetness all over his face. He looked down and found his jersey soaked in blood. He wiped his mouth and came away with a bloody hand. Even moving his hand had been an effort. Gene was the first one to him. He blanched when he saw the extent of Gary’s injuries. He quickly turned his head away in case Gary had caught his expression. Too late… Gary had seen the fear on Gene’s face. ‘Great… just what I need is a trip to the ER right now… especially with no insurance. Guess I really screwed the pooch, huh Gene!’ ‘It’s not as bad as it looks’, Gene retorted… but you could hear the lack of conviction in his voice. ‘Hey, guys’, Gene called up the others climbing down. ‘Anybody got a signal on their phone?’ Although they weren’t that far in the back country, you could never count on a signal in these hills. ‘I do’ someone called down. ‘Do I need to call 911?’ Gene glanced back at Gary. He noticed that Gary’s eyes seemed to be glassing over and he had started to develop that 1000 yard stare that indicated someone going into shock. ‘Do it’, Gene yelled back up…..’And tell them to hurry!’ Gary was having trouble seeing out of the tunnel that was developing. Gene seemed to be getting further away… until he was only a small circle and then that closed down. He came to several times during the helicopter ride but remembered little… loud sounds… being roughly handled… cold… then warm… then nothing. He came to again in the ER. He could tell it was the ER by the smell and the activity. There were several people in masks hovering over him cutting off the bloody clothes. He heard the doctor mumble ‘This looks bad… very bad!’ He winced as they turned him over on his right side. ‘Must have done some real damage to the shoulder, as it hurt like hell.’ he thought. He felt a needle go into his left arm a stinging sensation and then nothing. Gary came to very slowly. He had been swimming against that same dark current, trying to keep his head above water. The room was masked in darkness. The only sounds were the constant beeping of the monitoring station next to the hospital bed. He thought it strange that his body didn’t hurt. In fact he couldn’t really feel his body and it took great effort just to move his head from side to side. But try as he might, he could not lift his head. In fact, trying to do so made him dizzy. A nurse came in all business and quickly took his blood pressure, temperature and pulse. His ‘How am I doing?’ caught her off guard and she glanced at him and quickly scurried out of the room. His eyes followed her as she left and noticed for the first time a mirror on the wall next to him. His brain simply couldn’t grasp what he saw reflected back at him. He saw his head swaddled in bandages as expected… but what he didn’t expect to see was that there was no body attached to his head. Gary would have screamed had he not fainted To Be Continued…..