Cycling Stories

Pedal Path

July 28, 2020


Pedal Path

Sometimes, what you love doesn’t love you back.  

I loved bicycles. I loved their mechanics, their physics, and their inexpensive cost. So, I worked in a bicycle repair shop, although my boss was an asshole.  

My parents always babbled, “Oh, George! Get a good job, do something in life.” But I didn’t give a fuck. I was just fine cycling inside my small box. Sometimes, I wanted to know what the world was like, the ‘high life,’ but getting there was a lot of trouble. And I didn’t love trouble; I loved bicycles. 

But I didn’t think they loved me back, because they left.  

I left for work one beautiful morning and noticed a hell of a lot of people walking. I didn’t see any cars or other bikes on the road, either. I wondered, Is it Walk Day or No Pollution Day? These people don’t celebrate Christmas, so that can’t be it. 

I decided to leave my bike at home and walk to work. Along the way, I saw bullock carts and horses running together, which clogged up the narrow roads since only a few were able to pass at the same time.  

When I arrived at the main road, I sensed that even more weird shit was happening, so I slapped my face hard, hoping that I’d return to reality. My behavior caught the attention of a passerby who said, “Love is betrayal, friend. Forget her.” 

“It was not…,” I started to reply, and then thought better of it. “Nevermind. Why aren’t any cars, bikes, or motorcycles on the road? Are you guys celebrating,” I inquired. 

“What are those,” he asked in response. 

“What is what?” 

“What are bikes, cars, and the other stuff you said?” 

“You’re… kidding, right?” 

“No, I really don’t know. A dish or something?” 

“No, bicycles and motorcycles are two-wheeled vehicles, and cars have four wheels,” I tried to explain. 

“Two wheels? Oh, you’re talking about bullock carts.” 

My brain fell off. I stopped a man passing by, and he told me he hadn’t heard of cycles or bikes, either. Another called me a junkie and told me to get some rest.  

I decided to turn around and stroll home, carrying a heavy burden of frustration and confusion along the way. After arriving, I went straight to the basement, where I kept all my bikes and equipment. This time though, I saw nothing but emptiness. There was nothing there.  

Then, it occurred to me what had happened: it was a Mandela Effect. I had shifted universes, and in this one, they didn’t have bicycles. I quickly called my blacksmith friend, Pierre Mich, and I told him I had an idea—we were going to invent one. 

“What is a bicycle? A dish or something,” he asked. 

“No, it is a vehicle with two wheels, handlebars, and pedals. It doesn’t exist yet. We will be its creator,” I explained. 

“How you know about it? If it hasn’t been invented, why do you call them bicycles?” 

I smiled cinematically and said, “They are an old friend. We are going to make a lot of money, brother.” 

We immediately got the ball rolling. I prepared a blueprint, from which Pierre made a frame. An in a few weeks, we had completed this universe’s first bicycle. 

I hopped on, rode our bike, marveled at the feeling of the sunlight and the breeze—and then fell. Our bicycle was not perfect since it was crafted from iron, after all. After making a few adjustments, though, it rode quite well. 

One month later, we had ten bicycles for sale, and people flocked like sheep to our business in the middle of the road. I would take them for a ride, and Pierre would explain the mechanical and physical principles behind the bike’s operation. Combined, we told them they could travel miles and miles, effortlessly. 

A fellow asked us if our bicycles were only for show. We told him that they were available for $5,000. I knew it was way too much to pay for a bike, but I had to cover our costs.  

Even at those prices, we sold out in a few months and moved into a factory to keep up with demand. I was responsible for all the legal paperwork and had the forethought to claim the rights to our invention, so that we were the only company allowed to manufacture bicycles. Pierre handled production and exporting. 

Like a spark that turns into a wildfire, everyone wanted our bicycles, so we reduced our prices to help reach lower-middle-class customers.  

First, we made millions. Then, we made billions. For years, we were the richest men in our city—then, the entire fucking planet.  

One beautiful morning, I again felt empty and hollow. I wrote a letter to Pierre, gave him the entire company, and left to the beautiful hills to ride as much as possible.  

After living peacefully like this for a few years, I decided to return home. I expected a world of ease, but instead, all I received was doom—a dead, barren landscape. No trees, no people. The land was fucked. What happened here? 

I heard a familiar voice behind me and turned to see myself. “Who are you,” I asked the other George. 

“I am your imagination. I do not exist,” he answered. 

“Man, please.” 

“It’s true. I am your imagination.” 

“What happened here?” 

“You caused it.” 

I was shocked. “Me? All this destruction?” 

“Yes. After you left, people used what you taught them not just to make bikes, but also cars—and eventually, flying cars. They made everything so fast that nature shit its pants. Now, the planet is running out of iron.” 

“But, I never wanted any of this! I only loved how peaceful and quiet bicycles were. This wasn’t what I wanted.” 

“Your creation didn’t do anything, George. People just forgot what cycles were for.” 

“What should I do now,” I questioned. 

“You ought to see the bigger picture, George. Hit yourself as hard as you can.” 

I was taken aback but followed the other George’s instructions. I hit myself first, but nothing happened. Then, I struck myself again with all my.  

Suddenly, I woke up. I knew then and there that I’d had enough of cycling inside my box. I will cycle my way up to the world.  

Sometimes, the things you love, love you back. But not bicycles. Bicycles love everyone.

Aditya Singh lives in Varanasi, India, and has enjoyed writing science fiction and fantasy stories since the age of 13.
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