Contents 1 1. Episode
2 2. Episode
3 3. Episode
4 4. Episode
5 5. Episode
6 6. Episode
7 7. Episode
8 8. Episode
9 Spike Bike Returns
11 Spike Bike:
The Last Race
by Robert Fishell
12 10. Episode
1 1. Episode
With all the acrimony that's been passed around about bikes vs. cars,
I thought it would be a good time to talk about a really interesting
It was a Friday. Fridays are usually good days because you have a lot
of teenagers drinking and driving, plus a lot of people who are in a bad
mood and in a hurry to get home from work. The factories usually pay on
Friday, so you get a fair number of beer-commercial types cruising
around in their 4X4s looking for some butt to kick while they're knocking
back a few brews. A cyclist's paradise.
I stuck a full mag in my MAC-10 and put another one under the
saddle. The gun fits into the water bottle cage pretty
well, and it's fairy light. I stuffed a couple of grenades
in my jersey pockets and slipped my Rambo-knife into its
sheath on the front fork. Just for good measure, I grabbed
a thermite grenade and dropped it into the remaining jersey
pocket. This is a little more weight than I usually carry,
but it was Friday night after all.
I caught the first one just a mile from home. It was a type-A,
businessman-yuppie-semipsychotic in a BMW, who didn't like the fact that
I was occupying two feet of the lane in front of him. He let me know
with his horn and his middle finger. It's pretty hard to hit a moving
car from a moving bike, even with a machine gun. I must have fired four
bursts before I put one in the gas tank and the "Bimmer" erupted into
flame. Fortunately, this bozo managed to get the car off on the
shoulder before it blew up, so I didn't have to find a detour around the
The next one didn't come along for another five or six miles. This was a
couple of punks in an old Camaro. They pulled alongside me and the
passenger barked out of the window like a dog. Then the driver floored
it and screeched off in a cloud of burnt-oil smoke. I got lucky for
once. The punks got caught at a stoplight, so I didn't need the gun. I
pulled into the center of the road so I would pass the driver. As I
rolled past, he started talking some punk talk. I don't know what he
said, because he stopped in mid-sentence when he saw the grenade go
through his open window into the back seat. I caught a glimpse of both
of them frantically scrambling after it just as it went off. It
looked like some of the glass and shrapnel did some damage to the car
ahead of them, but it couldn't be helped. Every war claims some innocent
I'd had enough of the city traffic, so I headed out into farm country.
As I went past a barnyard, two enormous dobermans took off on an
intercept course. I dropped them both with one burst, and put a couple
of rounds through the farmhouse windows to remind the farmer about the
leash laws in effect everywhere in the county.
A short time later, I heard the roar of knobby tires behind me. I
looked back to see a huge Ford pickup truck, one of those jacked-up
monstrosities with the undercarriage about three feet off the road. As
it pulled closer, I heard loud country music blaring over the din of the
tires. There were two men in the cab. They both wore Stetsons, and
they were both drinking beer from cans. An archetypical redneckmobile.
I felt like just blasting them right then and there, but I waited
to see what they had planned. Sometimes these guys just pass you
without giving you a hard time. Not this pair, though. The
guy in the passenger seat had a styrofoam cooler full of icy
water, which he was preparing to dump out the window on yours
truly. That was all I needed. As soon as the truck pulled
even with me and the guy started to toss the water, I put a
burst through the window. This brought trouble, though, because
the cab was so high that I didn't get the driver. The truck
continued down the road, and I tried to finish them off through
the blood-spattered back window, but wouldn't you know it, the
mag was empty.
I couldn't reload while I was rolling, and the driver of the pickup had
by now stopped the truck and was turning around to come after me. I
had, maybe, two seconds to make up my mind what to do. I reached into a
jersey pocket and pulled out the other grenade. Then I did a time-trial
turn, pulled the pin, and looked over my shoulder at the truck which was
now speeding towards me. This would have to be timed just right. I let
go of the handle and dropped the grenade, then sprinted for everything
I was worth. I heard the blast and felt something graze my right arm.
Turning around, I saw the truck in flames and out of control. It did a
spectacular flip as it went into the ditch, then overturned. There was a
second explosion as the gas tank went up.
I decided to cut my ride short, since my arm was bleeding. The wound
was superficial, but it was nasty enough to cause a lot of discomfort. I
thought back to the ammo I'd wasted on that turkey in the BMW, and
regretted it. One of these days, I'd have to get some tracer bullets
for the MAC to help me aim. Oh, well. I reloaded the gun since I was
bound to come accross a few drunks and punks on the way home.
A few miles passed and I heard a siren behind me. I decided to play it
cool, hoping they weren't after me. I was disappointed. The sheriff's
car slowed behind me and I heard an amplified voice telling me to get
off the bike and lie face down on the ground. Damn. I hated the thought
of wasting a cop, but if they'd go out and do their jobs, I wouldn't
have to ride around doing my part to rid the area of its rat population.
But I had an idea. I still had a thermite grenade. I yanked it out of
my pocket and tossed it on the hood of the patrol car. I'd hoped for
the element of surprise and got it; the two deputies inside the car were
too startled to shoot at me. The grenade went off and started burning
its way through the engine compartment. The deputies managed to stop
the car, and by the time they got out, I was a good quarter mile down
the road. I heard shots behind me, but they'd never hit me at this
range with .38 Smith and Wessons.
My escape was short-lived, though. I saw two more sheriff's cars up ahead
with riflemen crouched behind them. I heard more sirens from behind.
This was it. I pulled out the MAC and fired wildly at the roadblock,
crouching to make a smaller target. If I had to go, I was going to take
some of them with me. It had been a good life. I'd had some good
times. I just regretted that they were getting the wrong guy. I felt
something hot tug at my shoulder. I reached up, expecting to pull my
hand away bloody, and found my office-mate's hand instead. "Bob..Bob!..
Wake up! You fell asleep at your desk! C'mon, it's Friday afternoon.
Time to go home!"
I went home, firmly resolved never to eat that cafeteria chili again.
Copyright (c) 1989 by Robert Fishell
2 2. Episode
[The year is 1998. The Federal Government is the
puppet of a consortium of the 20 large corporations which
run the country. State and local governments have been
completely taken over by real estate developers, whose goal
it is to turn America into one giant suburb consisting of
subdivisions, apartment complexes, shopping malls, and
Bicycles have been all but outlawed. The Bicycle Act
of 1992 made it illegal to appropriate tax dollars for bike
lanes, paths, etc., and included a provision that "those
persons riding bicycles on public roads do so entirely at
their own risk." The law was originally intended to stem
the flood of imports of Japanese bikes before foreign trade
was cut off entirely in '94.
However, the ramifications of this law were much more
serious. If a cyclist were to be injured or killed by a
motorist, the motorist could not be prosecuted or even sued.
It is open season on cyclists. One man fights back....]
A cloud of brown dust stretched as far as the eye could
see along old route 126. From my vantage point behind an old
barn, I watched the grim parade. For the third time in less
than a minute, a huge gravel truck rumbled past, spewing
acrid, black smoke and kicking up more of the brown mud-dust
and spreading it all over everything.
Including me. I'm Spike Bike. I hate cars.
Taking out a tractor-trailer rig isn't easy. You might
be able to get a grenade into the cab, but if it bounces
back at you, you're finished. You can sometimes shoot out
all the tires on one side of the tractor and the truck will
jackknife, but it takes at least half a mag, and half the
time you won't get all the tires. I had to face the fact
that a MAC-10 submachinegun and a few grenades just weren't
going to do the job against these monstrosities.
My weekly raid on the old Joliet Arsenal yielded what I
needed: a bazooka and a couple of crates of armor-piercing
rockets. As usual, the morons the Army has watching the
place didn't see anything. All the approaches to the
arsenal are pretty well guarded, but nobody expects a guy on
a mountain bike sneaking up from the river bank. I slung
the bazooka over my shoulder, stuffed all the rockets I
could carry into a set of panniers and a backback, and
slipped away unnoticed.
Back in the garage, I set about converting the bazooka
and some old Reynolds tubing into a bikezooka. When I was
finished, it looked pretty much like any other fat-tube
bike, except your every-day Kleins and Cannondales aren't
capable of firing antitank rockets out both the front and
back ends. The bike handled a little funny, but I wasn't
going to do any criteriums on this baby.
I had to ride along 126 for a couple of miles before I
got an opportunity to test it. There wasn't a gravel truck
in sight, but I spotted an enormous flatbed carrying a
bulldozer. Both the truck and its cargo were filthy,
covered with mud and chipped paint, just the thing to make
my blood boil. He tried to run me into the ditch, but I'd
expected that, and I dodged him easily as he rumbled past.
He gave a blast on his air horn that meant "I'll get you
There wouldn't be any next time. I waited until he was
about 200 feet ahead and let the first rocket fly. It
scored a direct hit on the rear axles and blew the wheels
clean off. The truck collapsed on the roadbed and the
'dozer broke loose from its restraints to lurch forward and
crush the cab. My second shot ignited the truck's fuel tank
and set both the machines ablaze. I had a weapon!
My first opportunity to take out one of my primary
targets came a few minutes later, when I spotted a gravel
truck a quarter mile behind me. It was big and ugly and
loaded with dirt - a fat hog to be butchered. I loaded a
rocket into the nose and flipped the firing mechanism over
so I could launch the round out of the back of the bike. I
waited until he got closer, almost too close. I heard him
downshift to get more power as he headed straight for me. I
let him have it. The missile struck the radiator just above
the bumper. The entire cab exploded and blew off the
undercarriage. With the steering box destroyed, the truck
promptly and violently jackknifed, turning over in the ditch
and spilling its entire cargo of dirt, rocks, and debris off
to the side of the road. It lay a smoking ruin as I pedaled
I'd only brought along four rockets for this test run.
I'd hoped to get a chance to hit another truck, but it was
after 5, and most of the truckers had gone home. The
remaining rocket didn't go to waste, though. On the way
home, I spotted a big, gaudy, new Pontiac pulling out of one
of the myriad construction sites along 126. A foreman,
maybe; he smoked a cigar and wore a yellow hard-hat. He
roared up at me from behind, hoping to clip me in the side,
but he didn't realize who he was dealing with. I feinted
towards the ouside lane, then quickly cut back to the
shoulder, and he missed me entirely. I could see him
flipping me the bird out the back window as I fired the
final rocket. There wasn't time for his expression to
change, but I'll bet he saw the backblast just before the
warhead blew his car into small metal scraps. I had to carry
the bike over them for sake of the tires.
It had been a long day. I headed home and went to bed
early. The construction crews start at dawn.
1) did you
a) like the story?
b) hate the story?
c) have you gone nuts, Fish??
2) would you
a) like to see Spike return in a new adventure?
b) hope you never see crap like this in rec.bikes again?
c) yawningly pop the "n" key on Spike 2?
3) if (a), would you like
a) more violence?
b) less violence?
c) to see Spike drop the Big One?
Copyright (c) 1989 by Robert Fishell
3 3. Episode
[In the year 1998, one man fights the tyrrany of the automobile...]
The image of a white panel truck grew ominously in my helmet
mirror. The vehicle's speed and the faces of the two men inside left
little doubt as to their intentions. As they got closer, I saw what
they had in mind. The passenger had a four-foot section of heavy water
pipe stuck out the window, intending to play a little polo with Yours
Truly's skull. This would call for perfect timing, but then, it always
does. I faded towards the right shoulder, and the van did the same.
But then, at the last possible moment, instead of going off the road, I
darted in front of the van and went off on the left shoulder, into the
grass, throwing the bike into a controlled skid. The driver reacted the
way I'd hoped. He cut the wheel sharply to the left, still intent on
having his pal brain me, and lost it when he hit the brakes to avoid a
utility pole. The van skidded wildly, rolled onto its side, and slid to
a halt 100 feet down the road. I picked up the bike and rode over to
the wreck, tossed a grenade through a shattered back window, and sped
away. The explosion was spectacular, as the grenade touched off
something, a propane tank, maybe, inside the truck.
It gave me no satisfaction. This was the third one today, and I'd
only been out a couple of hours. My mood blackened, just as the smoke
from the plumbing truck blackened the sky. When would it end? "Spike,
m'boy (I said to myself), you need a vacation." I headed home, packed
up a few things, and caught the next flight to Calgary.
I needed to pick up a couple of Dura-Ace gruppos, anyway. Canada
had no Bicycle Act and no Japanese trade restrictions, unlike what was
left of the States, and I was really looking forward to getting to my
cabin and putting in a few days of mountain biking without having to
bring along an arsenal. After a couple of hours of tearing up and down
the trails, I found myself on the road, heading down the mountain and
into town. I could do with some breakfast. I heard a roar behind me,
the unmistakeable sound of knobby tires. I looked back to see a jacked-
up Jeep Cherokee following me down the twisting, gravel road. Nothing
to worry about, I thought, this is Alberta, after all. I hadn't lost my
instincts though, and I kept an eye on it. As soon as it was close
enough for me to see the Illinois plates, I sprang into action, heading
for some rocks near the edge of the road. He barely missed me, and put
some big gouges in the side of the Jeep as he sideswiped the boulder I
It was two men, American men. Just my luck. Goddam tourists, and
drunken ones at that. They didn't stop to inspect the damage, just threw
a bag of empty beer cans and cigarette butts in my direction, and sped
off down the road. I didn't have so much as a firecracker with me, and
I stood there, impotent, shaking with rage and frustration.
A clear head soon returned, though. There were no motels in the
little town at the foot of the mountain, just a grocery store and a
couple of restaurants. They could only be staying at one or two places,
campgrounds up the mountain. They would be back, probably soon. I made
a few preparations down the road and doubled back to the spot where I
first encountered them. No more than 45 minutes passed before I once
again spotted the roaring blue Cherokee coming up the road, laden, no
doubt, with beer and junk food for another day's revelry. I hefted the
bag of garbage they'd tossed out before and waited behind a rock. As
they roared past, I hurled the bag at the driver, shouting "hey a--le,
you dropped something!" It hit him in the head.
As I expected, he slammed on the brakes and skidded to a halt,
manhandling the Jeep to get it turned around on the narrow mountain
road. By the time he got it straightened out, I was a good 200 yards
ahead of him, which was all I needed. I kept him in sight, making sure
he wouldn't lose me, as I headed down the old fire road from which I'd
removed the barricades. The surface was bumpy, barely navigable for
both me and the Jeep, but it would get a lot worse - for them. I
spotted them closing in behind me, nearly bouncing out of their seats.
That's it, butt-brain, watch me and not the road. Just a little
farther. Atop a sharp rise, a chasm 10 feet wide and perhaps 40 feet
deep cut accross the old road. The bridge had long since collapsed, but
I'd laid a foot-wide plank accross the abyss. I shot accross with the
Jeep nearly on my back wheel. As the heavy vehicle lurched over the
edge, the plank snapped like a toothpick and it and the Jeep tumbled to
the floor of the ravine.
After a while, I peered over the edge. The only sound from below
was the babble of the little stream at the chasm's floor, which now ran
streaked with red from under the wreckage, carrying away beer cans and
little scraps of trash. What a shame, to pollute such a pristine
wilderness. Before I headed back to Chicago, I would call the RCMP -
anonymously - and tell them about the mess. In the mean time, I had a
couple of days to take it easy, breathe the clean mountain air, and get
in some more trail riding. After today, though, I'd tuck my 9mm
Browning into one of the panniers, just in case I ran into some
unfriendly critters, like bears. Or more tourists from the States.
Last Week's Survey Results:
So far, 30 of you have responded. 29 of you liked Spike 1 and wanted
to see more, and 27 of those wanted MORE VIOLENCE!!! A couple of
well-meaning souls offered serious critiques, which I have politely
ignored, and one reader says he did not like the story (sorry Joe,
I guess you're the only one with good taste. Why do you read the
I had not intended to post another Spike episode so soon, but with so
many of you screaming for more blood, fire, and destruction, how
could I refuse? Just don't expect one every week. I have in
mind that Spike Bike will be a limited series, culminating in
a cataclysmic struggle between Good and Evil in the streets of
Detroit, the new Babylon of Post- Economic Holocaust America.
Economic Holocaust? See the next episode.
Copyright (c) 1989 by Robert Fishell
4 4. Episode
[In the year 1998, one man fights the tyrrany of the automobile...]
"DROP YOUR WEAPON AND PUT YOUR HANDS UP! STAY WHERE YOU ARE!" An
amplified voice roared from somewhere beyond the blazing wreckage of the
delivery truck that had chased me in here. Instinctively, I fired a
burst from my MAC-10 in the direction of the squawking and sprinted off.
I heard bullets grazing off the pavement behind and winced at a loud
ping from the rear wheel. The bike swayed crazily as I leaned it around
the corner of a building, and I went down at the top of a ramp that led
down into a loading dock. I scrambled for the only cover available, a
narrow, filthy space between the building and a large dumpster. I heard
several cars screech to a halt as I dove into the gap. The voice
repeated, "THROW OUT YOUR WEAPON! WE HAVE YOU SURROUNDED!"
I answered with a burst of submachine gun fire. My situation was
grim, but it could have been worse. I had a defensible position, two
and a half mags of ammo, and four grenades. They wouldn't get me without
They weren't real cops, of course. There weren't any real cops
left, just security guards employed by The Twenty. Cities contracted
with them to have their goons patrol the adjoining roadways, which
supposedly saved tax dollars. It was a laughable system. It was all
these idiots could to to keep from shooting each other, and cooperation
was virtually nonexistent. It was one of the reasons I've been able to
operate for so long. But now, they had me in a spot. Perhaps it would
all end here. How did it begin?
I was born Spiro Bikopoulis on February 14, 1965 in Oak Park,
Illinois, the eldest of six children. My father was a prosperous
importer of foods and specialty items from his native Greece. I played
football and soccer in high school, then did a stint with the Marines,
where I taught hand-to-hand combat and automatic weapons at the
U. S. Naval Academy. After the Service, I picked up degrees in Physics
and Metallurgical Engineering at Caltech, where I started building bike
frames as a project, and later for the racing team I captained.
As a bike racer, I moved up rapidly, particularly after word got
around that bumping me on purpose was a mistake. I even got to the
Olympic trials in '92, but I was disqualified when a California race
official detected traces of Tylenol in a surreptitiously obtained sample
of my urine.
"I had a headache," I told him. "besides, I took it after the
"Don't serve me a plateful of irrelevant arguments, you fool!" the
official countered, "it's right here on page 387 in volume 3 of the USCF
rule book (revised 1992). You're out! Finished! Disqualified!"
I left the race official with volume 3 of his rule book stuck in a
most uncomfortable place, and quit sanctioned bike racing forever.
That was when everything started to go to hell, anyway. The
Economic Holocaust had begun, first with import restrictions, then the
repeal of anti-trust and conflict of interest laws. A group of giant
corporations known as The Twenty soon emerged, crushing all competition
and gaining a strangle-hold on the Government.
In 1992, the Congress passed all kinds of ridiculous laws designed
to curb the demand for Japanese goods. One such was the Bicycle Act,
which cut off federal highway money to any state that didn't strip
bicycles of any claim of right of way on the public roads. Shortly after
it was passed, reports of bicycle fatalities all around the Country rose
sharply. The same hotheads, rednecks and hell-raisers who used to just
harass cyclists had upped the stakes to what amounted to legalized
murder. The nation's roads became a living Hell. As The Twenty expected,
bicycle sales, and hence imports, dropped off to nothing. The nation's
highways were ruled by motor-driven hooligans who killed for sport. It
had to stop. I, Spiro Bikopoulis, alias Spike Bike, would make the roads
a living Hell for them.
My old Marine uniform and some forged orders got me into the Joliet
Arsenal, where I learned the place's weaknesses and established my
secret entrance. I soon had an extensive collection of military ordnance
- and I knew how to use it. I began my campaign around rowdy
roadhouses and construction sites in my native Illinois, leaving a wake
of blood, fire, and destruction, as driver after driver, trying to turn
me into road kill, discovered too late that I wasn't defenseless. Soon
the attacks diminished, not only on me, but on the die-hard, crazy
cyclists who still braved the roads all over the Chicago area. Word was
out. Bikes weren't sitting ducks any more.
That was 5 years ago. Since then, I've been all over the country,
hitting areas at random, leaving my grisly signature on roads in every
state, and everywhere I've been, brave souls have ventured out on bikes
again, to find that drivers give them a wide berth, knowing that any one
of them could be me. Bicycles have become a symbol of the growing
Anticorporate Movement. It is the beginning of the end for The Twenty.
Unfortunately, it might also be the end for me. Crouching behind
the dumpster, my reverie is shattered by a volley of gunshots clanging
deafeningly against the heavy steel. Four of the goons are charging my
position, concentrating their fire to keep me pinned down. I pull the
pin of one of my grenades and lob it into their midst. I hear the
blast, and the gunshots stop for but a second. The hail of bullets
resumes and shadowy figures stir through the smoke. How many of them are
there? And where am I? A sign on the loading dock door confirms my
worst fears. I'm in a facility belonging to the Chrysler-Ford General
Motors Corporation, President Iacocca's own company. The delivery van I
took out hadn't chased me in here by happenstance. I'd been set up, and
I'd fallen for it! I fire wildly into the smoke, enraged as much at
myself as any of the uniformed hooligans out there. How many are there?
* TO BE CONTINUED *
5 5. Episode
[Synopsis: Pinned down behind a dumpster by armed security guards,
Spike recalls his past: his privileged childhood as Spiro Bikopoulis,
son of a wealthy Greek importer, his tour with the Marines, his college
days at Caltech, his bike racing career, and the Economic Holocaust -
the emergence of a consortium of giant corporations, known as The
Twenty, who control the Government and nearly every aspect of American
life. He recalls the passage of the Bicycle Act, which, in essence,
gave America's "rednecks, hotheads, and hell-raisers" a license to kill,
and how he became an armed, two-wheeled guerrilla, who would purge the
roads of mechanized murderers and strike terror into the corridors of
power in Detroit.
In the year 1998, one man fights the tyrrany of the automobile.
Now, he fights for his life...] -
Bullets rained against the heavy steel of the dumpster and chipped
away the concrete of the wall next to it. I was inbetween, in a two-
by-six foot pocket of cover which would be my coffin when my ammo ran
out. I lobbed one of my three remaining grenades over the top of the
dumpster at where I thought the fire was coming from. I must have gotten
lucky, for the onslaught broke up. I took advantage of the lull to slip
a peek around the corner. Through the smoke, I counted seven bodies,
two of which were moving some, and spotted two more men diving for cover
behind parked cars. Perhaps six more of the grey-uniformed goons
received them there, crouching with pistols drawn.
My situation seemed hopeless. I'd taken out almost half of them
with just two grenades and a few rounds of ammo, but they wouldn't be
foolish enough to try a frontal assault again. They were too far away
for me to get a grenade behind their cover without exposing myself, and
I could not slip away unseen. They would wear me down, or keep me
besieged, awaiting reinforcements armed with something heavier than the
.38 revolvers that were standard CFGM Security issue.
CFGM - The Chrysler-Ford General Motors Corporation, largest and
most powerful of The Twenty, and the most ruthless. They controlled all
transportation in America, including cars, trucks, rails, ships, barges,
and airlines. Their CEO was also President of The United States, and
lately, I'd been on his agenda. I'd been hitting bigger and bigger
stuff, like that fleet of construction trucks back home, and I was a
huge embarassment to CFGM and the Government. Last week, a group of
demonstrating Anticorporatists rode bikes around the White House, and no
one had touched them. Iacocca must have given the word to get me at all
That must have been how this bunch had trapped me. I suspected
that CFGM Security forces all over the Country had been instructed to
lure or chase bicyclists onto CFGM property, where they could be
apprehended and held for questioning. This bunch just got lucky - or
so they must have thought. Luck had run out for a truck driver and
seven security guards when they'd tangled with me. It was the remaining
eight, watching my dumpster through the sights of their pistols, that I
had to deal with now. A thought occurred to me: they wanted me alive,
if they could get me that way, although I'm sure they'd been told to get
me any way they could. Perhaps I could parlay that into an advantage.
I tore a sleeve away from my white jersey, and waved it gingerly
past the edge of the dumpster. I heard a voice ordering the goons to
hold their fire. An instant later, the same voice came over the
"THROW OUT YOUR WEAPONS AND COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP," he
intolled. Didn't he have anything else to say? He was beginning to
"Stick it, Butt-brain!" I shouted back, "Just come and get your
wounded. I'll hold my fire!" A few moments passed in silence. "Come and
get them, they're bleeding to death!" I insisted, and added, "Just leave
that bike where it is!"
My bicycle, its back wheel collapsed after a stray round had
fractured the hub, lay near the top of the ramp, among the fallen men.
There were eight more grenades, a .44 magnum, and several magazines of
ammo in the panniers, one of which had ripped open to partially display
its contents. If I could get to it, I could hold out much longer, maybe
even blast my way out. But if they got to it first, they could take me
out with my own grenades.
After a moment, two men emerged, empty-handed, from behind the row
of ugly grey Plymouths the guards drove. They made motions toward the
wounded man nearest them, but then quickly darted for my ruined bike.
One man scooped it up while the other produced a gun from behind his
back and opened fire on my position. As they retreated, the others fired
to keep me pinned down. The wounded men lay unattended on the asphalt.
The two who'd ventured out ducked back behind the cover with their
Long ago, I'd vowed I wouldn't be taken alive, and that I'd get
whoever and whatever got me. To that end, every bike I built had a
little extra weight: two pounds of plastique in the down tube, with an
electronic detonator linked by radio to a monitor strapped to my chest.
If my heart stopped, the bike became a bomb. I had flipped the arming
switch during my encounter with the delivery truck. All that remained
was to make the bike think I was dead. I drew as far back into my hole
as I could, put my head down, reached under my jersey, and ripped the
monitor away from my chest. Within seconds, a powerful blast shook the
ground, and debris rained down all around me. There was no gunfire as I
emerged from the filthy hole that had nearly been my tomb.
I surveyed the havoc I'd wreaked. The row of cars my adversaries
had used for cover lay twisted and blazing in a disorderly array around
the smoking crater the bike-bomb had made. One of the wounded men who'd
been abandoned by his comrades was still alive. He groped weakly
towards his fallen pistol, but I sprayed it with a burst from my MAC-10,
driving it away like a leaf before a garden hose. The man looked at me
with terror in his eyes. I looked at him with pity in mine. He was a
conscript, no doubt, some poor, dumb slob who couldn't get an honest
job. I holstered my weapon, removed his belt to make a tourniquet for
his leg, made him comfortable, and picked up a small object from the
ground to stick in his shirt pocket. It was the hand-tooled silver head
badge of a bicycle, twisted and charred, but still intact. It was inlaid
with the caricature of a bulldog with a steering wheel clenched in his
teeth. The name on his collar was "Spike."
"Give this to your boss," I told him softly.
Sirens approached from the south. I found an undamaged security
car and made my getaway. 30 miles away, I rendered it to scrap metal
and walked the rest of the way to the airport. I would go back to
Illinois, rest up for a few days while my road rash healed, and outfit
another bike. I had much to do.
Copyright (c) 1989 by Robert Fishell
6 6. Episode
[In the year 1998, one man fights the tyrrany of the automobile]
I heard it before I saw it. An ancient Cadillac convertible was
closing very quickly from the rear. There was nothing ancient about its
electronics; at least 1000 watts of amplifier power screamed raunchy Country and Western
from god knows how many speakers. It sounded even worse for the doppler
shift; he was doing at least 100. That was stupid. He would try to
clip me in the side, because people in snazzy cars always try to clip me
in the side, and at that speed, he wouldn't be able to maneuver. I
feinted to the left when he closed to within a few hundred feet, then
cut right abruptly when he'd committed himself. He missed me by a good
four feet. As he roared past, I opened up on the tires with my MAC-10,
shredding them. The Caddy swerved crazily, rolled over twice, and slid
off the road upside down. Crazy as it seemed, that godawful music was
still blaring out from the wreckage. I fired another burst into the gas
tank, and the racket stopped as the wreck went up in a huge ball of
orange flame. The driver's Stetson hat lay in the road perhaps 50 feet
away, virtually undamaged - unlike the driver, who had no further use
of it. I emptied the rest of the mag into it, chasing it down the
asphalt, cutting it to scraps. Sure as shootin', I was in Texas.
I'm Spike Bike. I hate cars. I don't care much for Country and Western, either.
I'd been to Texas before. The rednecks in these parts are as
stubborn as they are mean, and that's meaner than most. This time,
though, I had come for one man, and it wasn't that bozo in the Caddy.
I'd never met Earl Josiah "E. J." Ross, but I'd heard plenty about him.
He was a millionaire oilman who spent much of his time hunting since
Standard Oil bought him out. It was said he hunted rattlesnakes,
coyotes, and wild horses. These days, he also hunted bicyclists. My
Anticorporatist contacts in Lubbock said he'd run down at least 20 of
them, and those were only the confirmed kills, the ones there were
accident reports on. I'd come to see that there would be no more.
I arrived at the Yellow Rose Cantina at about 11:30 in the morning.
I counted three cars and two pickups in the dusty gravel parking lot,
plus a couple of cars out back. It was more than I'd expected, but not
too much of a problem. I leaned the bike up against a crumbling adobe
wall and went inside, bracing myself against the assault of darkness,
smoke, and Tex-Mex blaring from the jukebox. I paused near the door,
letting my eyes adjust to the dim light, and checked the place out.
Three men sat at the bar, and two more played pool in the adjoining
room. A tired-looking waitress set out ketchup bottles on the empty
tables. There was a big, middle-aged redneck behind the bar. I guessed
that there was some one in the kitchen, but I couldn't see much through
the tiny round windows set in the door. That would complicate things.
As my vision cleared, I noted that all eyes present were on me. I
wore black lycra shorts with a red stripe, and a red three-pocket. I
surmised that this was not suitable attire for this place, but then, I
wouldn't be staying long. I crossed to the bar.
"A glass of beer" I ordered.
"Ain't got no beer, boy." This brought chuckles from the men
seated at the bar.
"How about a sandwich, then?"
"Ain't got no food." More chuckles.
"What time does E. J. Ross show up?"
"You a friend of E. J.'s?" The chuckles gave way to raucous
"Didn't know the son of a bitch had any."
I casually strolled over to the jukebox, studied it for a moment,
and viciously yanked the plug out of the wall (Who the hell was in the
kitchen?). The twangy music abruptly stopped.
"Awright, get the fu** out of here, sissy-pants!" The bartender had
lost his grin.
"I said, what the fu** time does E. J. Ross show up?"
"'bout half past noon, but y'all ain't gonna be here that long."
He was out from behind the bar, lumbering towards me with an
unopened bottle of Lone Star beer in his hand. When he closed to within
a couple of feet, he brought it up in a wide arc.
"I thought you didn't have any beer" I commented, as I threw a
block to his wrist and brought my knee up into his groin. As he
flinched from the pain, I snap-kicked him in the face and he fell back.
He and the beer bottle he'd wielded hit the floor about the same time,
and ended up in approximately the same condition. The sleepy-eyed
waitress screamed, dropped her tray and retreated into a corner. The
three men from the bar advanced on me, one of them hurling a bar stool
in my direction. I ducked aside and blocked it away with my wrist.
Coming up from the floor, I fan-kicked the nearest of the three in the
jaw, spun around and threw a fist into the adams-apple of the next man.
Both collapsed. The third held back, circling, looking for an opening
(who was in the goddam kitchen?). The pool players had entered the room
by this time, brandishing their cue sticks menacingly. I thrust a side
kick at the third man from the bar and caught him off balance. He hit
his head on the corner of a table as he fell. A pool cue came around at
my head, and I ducked, grabbed the man's arm, and felt his elbow crack
as I twisted. The pool stick flew out of his hand to crash into the row
of bottles behind the bar. The other pool player realized his situation
and wisely dropped his stick, retreating with his hands out to the
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flood of light from the
kitchen door, saw a blur, and heard the sound of a shell being chambered
into a pump gun. I instinctively reached for the 9mm Walther I had
concealed under my jersey. In one motion, I chambered a round, took aim,
and fired. The mercury-filled slug tore through the cook's skull and he
fell back. The scattergun discharged as it hit the floor, and a
lighting fixture shattered overhead. I quickly swung around to cover the
people who were still standing, and backed towards the door.
"Tell E.J. Ross I'm looking for him. I'll be up the road a ways."
Two plumes of smoke intertwined in the air above the Yellow Rose
Cantina. Before leaving the parking lot, I'd fetched my .44 magnum from
the mountain bike's panniers and fired a round through the radiator of
each of the cars and trucks parked around the dump. Two of them caught
fire as the heavy slugs ripped through the engine compartments. I'd
taken care to cut the phone lines, but I didn't want any of the
survivors going for help. The ones I'd left breathing would recover.
The one I'd left with his brains splattered all over the kitchen door
wouldn't be needing help. Now, I watched the Cantina through powerful
binoculars from a mesa half a mile up the road.
My friends in Lubbock told me that every day, E. J. Ross stopped at
this dive for a bowl of Texas chili and a few beers on his way back from
his Lubbock office. The bartender had told me he'd arrive at half past
noon. Sure enough, at 12:30 sharp, a cloud of dust near the horizon
portended his arrival. I took some time to study his vehicle as it
pulled into the Yellow Rose's parking lot.
I'd heard about the E. J. Special, but I had to see it to believe
it. It had stared as an enormous Chevy pickup, but thousands of E. J.'s
dollars had transformed it into a rolling monument to bad taste. It was
mostly a glossy black, with elaborate desert scenes airbrushed onto the
side panels. The windows were tinted very dark. The grille was from a
Rolls-Royce, or a good imitation. Headers protruded from beneath the
running boards, to come together and elbow into stacks that rose three
feet above either side of the cab. The license plate read
All the brightwork was plated in 14K gold. The antlers of an authentic
Texas Longhorn steer embellished the hood. Under that hood, I knew, was
a finely-tuned, 454 cubic inch V8 that didn't bother with emission
E. J. himself was as audacious as his truck. He was big, at least
6'4", and 350 pounds if he was an ounce. He wore a white suit and
matching Stetson, with mirrored sunglasses, a string tie, a hand-tooled
Navaho belt with an enormous gold monogrammed buckle. His
correspondingly enormous belly hung over it. On his feet were ornate
Texas boots with gold caps on the toes. Gaudy, expensive rings
embellished each of his pudgy fingers. A huge stogie jutted out from his
I regarded him through the binoculars, wishing for a moment that I
was peering through the telescopic sights of a .30-06 Winchester; one
squeeze of the trigger and I'd make happy ladies of each of his ex-
wives. No, that would be too easy, too quick. I wanted him to know it
was coming, and who it was who brought it.
A small crowd had formed in the lot beside E. J.'s truck: the
bartender, the frumpy waitress, and a couple of the men I'd dealt with
earlier. I could not hear their conversation, but I surmised they
weren't talking about the weather. One of the men gestured up the road,
in my general direction, and I thought it was time I announced my
presence. I fired the magnum at the side of the building, not expecting
to hit anything in particular at this distance, but I was pleased when a
window shattered. The report echoed several times from the sides of the
nearby hills. All but E. J. hit the ground or scattered. He merely
looked up, trying to pinpoint my location. I hoped my red jersey made
it easy for him.
E. J. got into his truck and started up the road. I stuck the
magnum back in a pannier and hurried down the slope to meet him. I
waited behind a rock for the E. J. Special to round the bend, and took
off up the road, certain I'd been spotted. Timing would have to be
perfect. That monster could go from 0 to 60 in less than 9 seconds,
despite its size, and it had already killed at least 20. Surprisingly,
he gained on me very slowly. So that's how he did it; let them sweat a
little before the kill. I let him close to within 50 feet before I made
my first evasive move, cutting accross the center line and darting
through some rocks. I abruptly spun the back wheel around in a
controlled skid as E. J. brought the truck to a halt, and I took off in
the opposite direction. The truck did not turn around, but screeched
after me in reverse, much faster this time. As it closed to within a
few yards, I sliced off to the left and rode up the steep slope of the
embankment. At the summit, I paused to make certain E. J. knew what
direction I took.
The road wound through a canyon cut into the low mesas that dotted
the countryside. I had scouted it carefully earlier, but it was going
to be tight. I sprinted over the uneven, rocky surfaces towards the
bend in the road where I'd hoped to intercept him. I arrived barely in
time. planting myself in the middle of the road, I just had time to
draw the MAC-10 and cock the receiving bolt. The E. J. Special roared
around the curve, 200 feet up the road. I took aim for the driver's
side of the cab and looked for his face, found it, met his eyes. The
huge pickup bore down on me like a hellhound, but I waited for his
expression to change, his jaw to slacken, his eyes to widen in fear with
the shock of realization: that's right, you son of a bitch, this is a
machine gun, and you're going to die! He got an arm half-raised before
his face and cut the wheel sharply to the left as I opened fire. I held
the trigger and fanned the barrel in a narrow arc, exhausting the full
magazine. The windshield disintegrated and both the side mirrors
shattered before the truck ran aground against the embankment and turned
over on its side.
Five miles down the road, I could clearly see the column of smoke
rising from the remains of the E. J. Special. A well-placed satchel
charge had taken care of it, the road, and part of the adjoining
hillside. E. J. Ross was no more; 20 lost souls were avenged, and Texas
was just a little safer for bikes now. Perhaps E. J. had been the
worst of the men I'd faced, perhaps not. At least I'd known his name,
unlike most of them. And I'd had time to hate him. The satisfaction
was fleeting. E. J. and his ilk had always been there, murderous
intentions just below the surface, hatred and intolerance held barely
in check. The real evil was the system that allowed the E. J.s to
emerge, and I and all my guns, grenades, and bombs had no more effect on
that than spitting on a forest fire.
All that would change some day. I had to believe it would. I'd
killed two men today, and I'd seen their eyes. You don't forget the
eyes. You feel them watching you when you wake up shivering, pillow
soaking wet, with the sound of your own hearbeat shattering the night.
Copyright (c) 1989 by Robert Fishell
7 7. Episode
[In the year 1998, one man fights the tyranny of the automobile...]
A cold November rain beat against the window. The hour grew late.
Yawning, I had set down my book and started off to bed when a knock came
on the door. I warily crossed the room to peer through the door peep.
It didn't look good. There were two grim-faced men in cheap suits
outside. I caught a glimpse of more men in the grey uniforms of CFGM
Security just on the fringes of the fish-eye view. This wasn't a social
call. My 9mm Walther was in my right hand. My left rested lightly on a
control panel next to the sill. I spoke into the intercom:
"What can I do for you fellows?"
"United States Secret Service. We'd like to talk to you."
"I'm all ears."
"Open the door, please"
"I can hear you just fine. Modern electronics, you know -"
I saw the taller of the two men motion to the goons. Two of them
came into view, ready to kick in the door. I threw a switch on the
house's security controls. Instantly, a barrier slammed across the
threshold of the front door, and the house shuddered as similar barriers
simultaneously covered the remaining doors and windows. It was a
metal-polymer laminate I'd developed during my years as a metallurgical
engineer. Inch for inch, it was nearly twice as tough as armor plate,
yet it weighed only a quarter as much. It, and the reinforced
construction of my little ranch house would give me but a few minutes.
If they'd come for the reason I suspected, they'd have brought some
heavy firepower. I heard bullets thudding against the other side of the
barrier. They would try a battering ram next, then explosives.
I ran down to the basement. The sequence I'd set in motion
upstairs had already opened the sealed door to the secret room I'd built
five years ago. I threw aside my bathrobe and pulled on a rugged
jumpsuit and mountain bike shoes that awaited there. A gunbelt and
flack vest followed. I hopped on the black-anodized mountain bike and
opened the heavy door to the tunnel that led down to the river bank, 300
yards away. The chill and dank air seized me as I entered. I paused
inside and tapped out a code on the keypad just outside the door. It
quietly closed behind me, and I knew I'd never see my little house
again. The bike's powerful headlamp stabbed far into the darkness of
the tunnel, and I sprinted hard into its depths.
Halfway down the tunnel, I heard the muffled explosion behind. I
had set the charges to gut the house without causing too much damage to
the immediate area, or any innocent bystanders nearby. If, by chance,
any of the goons had bashed or blasted their way inside, though, they
were toast by now; those charges had been high-temp incendiaries. In
any case, they would not follow through the tunnel.
Opening the hatch at the tunnel's mouth, I was nearly overwhelmed
by a rush of knee-deep water. The heavy rains had swelled the river
beyond its banks. I tried to get the camouflaged hatch closed again,
but it was hopeless, jammed with mud. The tunnel would be easily
visible. Hoping to at least cover my tracks, I rode through the shallow
water for perhaps 200 yards before climbing up from the bank.
I rode along the river for another half mile before I saw the
chopper. A powerful spotlight swept across the landscape, paused, and
darted up and down the river bank in the direction I'd come from. They'd
spotted the tunnel, no doubt, and were trying to decide which way I'd
gone. The chopper turned to and headed my way. I offered a silent
curse and took off at a right angle to the river, into the back of the
railroad yard. I needed to get to cover fast. There! A freight train
was pulling out of the yard, and I sprinted to match speed, pull
alongside, and catch the open door of a boxcar. I struggled to get
myself and the bike inside before the chopper spotted me.
I didn't make it. The light played over the door and instantly
returned. The powerful beam followed the boxcar, and I heard the
chopper descending. I extracted a drab green cylinder from the mountain
bike's heavily laden panniers, extended the fore and aft tubes, and took
aim at the spotlight. A squeeze of the trigger and the LAWS rocket found
its mark. The chopper exploded and a huge fireball fell from the sky.
The train did not stop, but continued to roll out of the yard,
picking up speed. It was evidently a robot locomotive, and it would not
stop until it was programmed to do so. I didn't know where it was
going, but any place was better than here right now. I closed the car's
door and pondered my situation. In my bike's panniers and packs were my
usual armament of a MAC-10, 12 grenades, a .44 magnum, and extra
ammunition. But this particular bike had been especially prepared for
this occasion. I also carried two, make that one, LAWS rockets, two
satchel charges, and a sawed-off, 16 gauge pump shotgun. The rest of
its cargo was less destructive, but perhaps more essential: Dry
clothing, dehydrated food, 20,000 in small bills, some forged
documents, and a pint of Jack Daniels. I cracked the seal on the last
item and took one swig against the chill, replaced the cork, and set the
bottle aside. This bike and the gear it carried were now all I owned,
and I had to make the best of it.
I had known they might close in on me some day, but I had to learn
how. That and many other questions burned in my brain. But first, I
needed to sleep. I would need a clear head in the morning, wherever I
might be then. Where?
I awoke from a light sleep as the lurching of the cars made me
aware the train was slowing down. Through the space under the door, I
could see it was still dark outside. I opened the door a crack. The
weather had cleared considerably, and it was quite cold. I examined the
skyline silhouetted against the stars: Detroit. That was just about
perfect; just get accross the border to Windsor and I could make my way
to my Alberta cabin to decide on a course of action.
How had they found me? More importantly, why now? Corporatism was
finished. It had been a failure on all counts, social, political, and
economic. The early boom years, when the executive-politicians had had
the support of the people, had been financed by speculation, riding on
false hopes. Lately it had been falling apart. Economic growth had
ground to a halt, some consumer goods were growing scarce, and services
were deplorable. Dissension was widespread among workers at all but
senior management levels, despite harsh policies by employers - The
Twenty - to ensure loyalty. The "workfare" labor force, which amounted
to a pool of cheap conscript labor, could not absorb any more fired
workers, and the threat of losing your job if your district voted the
wrong way became meaningless as the quality of life deteriorated.
Though the Presidential election was still two years away, the
midterm Congressional elections and several key gubernatorial races
spelled disaster for The Twenty. Voter turnout had been unprecedented.
Despite lavishly orchestrated media coverage and huge PAC funds, nearly
every Corporatist candidate had been resoundingly defeated. The
Enterprise Party, the political party of the Anticorporatists, would be
firmly in control of the Congress and most of the states beginning in
January. My contacts in the Party had told me that impeachment
procedings against the Iacocca Administration would probably be the
first act of the new Congress.
I had rejoiced in the news. The long nightmare was nearly over. I
could soon go back to being Spiro Bikopoulis. Now, that dream was
shattered. My cover was blown. I'm Spike Bike, now. I can no longer be
any one else.
The train had slowed to perhaps 15 MPH. I slid the door open,
dropped the bike out, and jumped. I was just outside the railway yard,
near a crossing. I decided to take a chance on the road, at least for a
little while, in order to cover ground quickly while I still had the
darkness. It was early Monday morning. I would have to get near
downtown, dump the bike and the heavy weapons, taking only the cash and
my forged papers - on foot - to the bridge which led to freedom.
I covered about 5 miles before the morning glow made it too
dangerous for me to stay on the main roads. Now I wound my way through
alleys, through the poor neighborhoods near the downtown area. I would
ride for another half mile or so and then change into street clothes and
hoof it for the bridge.
My hopes were dashed. A block ahead, a dull grey Plymouth skidded
to a stop, blocking the alley. Almost immediately, another duplicated
the maneuver at the corner behind me. I immediately cut accross a back
yard, through the narrow space between two dilapidated garages, and
emerged with the MAC-10 drawn and ready for action.
This came immediately. As I rode out into the street, two of the
CFGM Security cars converged on my position. I sprayed the windshield
of one, and it changed course abruptly, crashing into a tree. The other
was closing fast behind me. I rode up onto a yard, between houses, and
into the alley paralleling the one in which I'd been spotted. To the
west were two grey Plymouths, and I cut hard to the east. I grabbed a
grenade and waited for the cars to close, but they kept their distance.
Up the alley ahead, I could see the walls of skyscrapers. I was
only a few blocks from downtown. As I crossed a street, I saw three
more of the CFGM cars closing in, but the way ahead was still clear.
Finally, I ran out of alleys beneath the heights of the tallest building
in Detroit - the CFGM building. To the left and right of me were
roadblocks. I had only one place to go, the parking garage under the
skyscraper. I darted inside, my machine gun ready for an ambush, but I
found no one waiting. I looked around for a place to make my next
move. I felt a sting in my leg. Looking down, I saw a small dart
protruding from my thigh. I reached down to pluck it out, but my hand
wouldn't obey. The world tilted crazily and went black.
At first there was only a blur of agonizing light and a noise like
a buzz-saw ripping through my skull. After a few moments, the blur
became a face, and I realized it was speaking.
" -ming around, Mr. Bikopoulis. Can I offer you a drink?"
A pail of icy water was thrown into my face, and I sputtered for
air, choking and nearly throwing up. It began to clear my head though.
As my vision returned, I observed that I was in an opulent office.
Before me was a heavy mahogany desk. On it were my MAC-10 and a drab-
looking suitcase. Behind, a panoramic window displayed the city lights
of Detroit-Windsor, seen from the exhilarating heights of what I
realized was the top floor of the 103-story CFGM building. The last
fringes of twilight glowed in the west. It had been early morning the
last I'd been conscious.
I was bound to a chair with duck tape, uncomfortably tight across
my wrists and ankles. I had been stripped to the waist. A glance
assured me that my heart monitor was still there. Looking around the
room, I saw my specially-equipped mountain bike leaned against a wall,
its armament intact. My gun belt and flak vest lay beside it.
"Yes, the bike's here," my host offered, "We know about that little
electronic gizmo of yours, but we didn't have time to figure out how to
disarm it. We thought it wise not to fool with anything, in fact. It
was easier just to keep it in range of the transmitter for now. You're
quite ingenious, Mr. Bikopoulis. Or is it Spike Bike?"
"That'll be Mister Bikopoulis to you, Butt-brain." A mistake.
That brought knuckles across my face.
"You should show proper respect for authority, Mister Bikopoulis.
Don't you know who I am?"
I knew who he was. Ames Morgan, Secretary of Transportation and
Executive Vee Pee of CFGM, Iacocca's right-hand man. It was rumored
that Morgan was the real boss of the Corporatist government. What was an
important cabinet member doing smacking me across the face?
"The face and charming manner are familiar. You grunt for the
"The President of the United States is rather upset with you,
"The American People are rather upset with him, so I guess he's
entitled. But why does he care about me? Senator Crisp..."
"Joseph Crisp is merely the political leader of this disloyal
rabble. You're their folk hero. You inspire them. You're too much of
a nuisance to have around."
"Somehow I think it's Mr. Iacocca who won't be around, at least not
much after the 3rd of January. Is it true that they're just going to
impeach him, or are they going to throw his ass in jail, too?"
"That's rather outlandish, coming from a terrorist."
"Terrorist? I'm just a concerned citizen, doing my best to keep our
highways free of trash."
"Terrorist. Particularly after the little stunt you pulled in New
"I was in New York Thursday, filling out reams of your goddam forms
just to receive a shipment of Metaxa from Greece."
"Quite the contrary, Spike. You shot up a top-secret government
installation. We've got it all on video tape. Killed thirteen people,
including a janitor and a couple of secretaries, before you got away
He placed a hand on the suitcase sitting on the desk. He removed a
panel to reveal an array of switches and displays. Reaching into his
pocket, he extracted a key and inserted it into a slot in the control
panel. The displays jumped to life.
"The CIA whipped this up. Quite clever, really, only thirty-six
pounds, and most of that's the shielding."
"What is it, a crystal set? Captain Video decoder, maybe?"
"I thought you were a weapons expert, Spike. It's a thermonuclear
device. Oh, it's just a little one - thirty kilotons, maybe - but
enough for you to do a great deal of damage to this fair city and its
I suddenly saw what he was getting at. It was monstrous.
The Enterprise Party had fittingly chosen Detroit's Cobo Hall as
the site for its first Transition Planning Conference. Every important
member of the Anticorporatist movement would be in attendance. The
conference was to open this evening. So that was why they'd timed my
capture for this date! They intended to destroy the cities of Detroit
and Windsor, and make it look like an act of terrorism, with me the
perpetrator. A quarter mile in the air, this office would be ground
zero. We were half a mile from the convention center. None of the
delegates would survive, and hundreds of thousands of innocent people
would perish with them.
"You're insane!" I hissed. I tugged and jerked at my restraints.
Morgan leaned back in his chair, placed his feet on the desk next to the
Bomb. His laughter filled every inch of the spacious office.
Morgan's laughter died down and my struggles ceased - partly
because I'd managed to partially free my right leg, and partly because I
needed a cool head to size up the situation. I was alive only because
of Morgan's maniacal ego. He'd conquered Spike Bike, and couldn't
resist confronting me, just to gloat. I studied the device on the desk
before me. One of the displays on the suitcase Bomb was changing. It
3:58:21... 3:58:20... 3:58:19...
I had to keep Morgan talking, to find out what he had planned, and
to divert his attention from my quiet struggles with the leg restraints.
He evidently hadn't realized the strength in a cyclist's legs. As I
exerted steady, concerted pressure, the strands of tape tore slightly on
the squared corners of the chair legs. Eventually, they would break and
my legs, if not my arms, would be free.
"You'll never get away with it. Even Iacocca wouldn't approve of
nuking an American city."
"Actually, he doesn't know anything about it. He's mainly a
figurehead, anyway. Past the age of retirement, you know. In any case,
four hours from now - make that three hours and fifty-six minutes -
your friends down there will be radioactive vapor, and the people will
have to look to the only government they have - us - to see them
through the ensuing international crisis. And you, my friend, will go
down in history as the most infamous terrorist of all time."
"The bomb goes off in four hours?"
"10:00 PM sharp. Senator Crisp should just be finishing his speech
to the convention around then. I'll be long gone by then, driving west
toward Chicago. Couldn't take a chance on the airlines. You, on the
other hand, will be right here, snoozing away on another dose of
aneprazine - that's the stuff we shot you with downstairs. You'll have
the whole building to yourself. We gave the cleaning staff the night
off - not much point in mopping the restrooms in the middle of ground
zero, is there?
"Well, Spike, it's been nice meeting you in person, but I have
pressing matters to attend to. It seems there's no way to disarm this
thing once the countdown has started - which it has - and Detroit is
fast becoming a crummy place to be."
He extracted a hypo from a briefcase on the desk. My legs were not
quite free. I had to stall him a few moments more, fan his ego.
"One more thing. How did you find me?"
"The computers did it. Took us a long time. Seems you always
traveled under assumed names, paying with cash for your airline tickets.
But you used your family's business shipments to transport your weapons
and bicycles by rail and truck to the areas you hit. It was just a
routine audit of our shipping records, anything to get a lead. When we
found out that Spiro Bikopoulis, former bicycle racer, was shipping
merchandise to areas that were shortly thereafter visited by Spike Bike,
we had a pretty good idea who you were.
"That business you pulled back in Illinois confirmed it.
Incidentally, that was a half-million dollar chopper you blew up.
Fortunately for us, the pilot radioed your situation just before you
smoked him, so we had the train diverted here. Quite a stroke of luck
for us; we got some nice pictures. The security cameras caught your
entrance downstairs and got a nice close-up of your face before we
tranked you. It was not strictly necessary, but it will add credibility
to the story of the world's first nuclear terrorist. In a few days, the
tape will be on every TV screen in America, along with the stuff we got
in New Mexico."
"You got a ringer for me."
"Remarkable likeness, at least from a distance. Good with weapons,
too, an ex-Marine, like yourself. Down on his luck, poor chap. He was
more than happy to work with us after we got him off death row in
California. He took to a mountain bike like a natural. Did a great job
for us in New Mexico. We need more men like him. Pity you don't work
for us, Spike. Well, Spike, I could go on for hours, but I really
should be going. Have a nice nap."
He prepared the hypo and crossed from behind the desk. My legs were
free. I would have just one chance. As he drew close to administer the
shot, I rocked back on the chair and kicked up violently with both legs,
catching Morgan in the rib cage. The thrust hurled him through the air
several feet, until his back crashed through the expansive, mural
window. They say that from 103 floors up, you're dead before you hit
the ground. I always thought it was a myth, but I didn't hear him
screaming the whole way down, just 50 floors or so. Maybe there's
something to it after all.
My hands were still bound. I lay on the heavily carpeted floor,
alone with the Bomb.
3:42:01... 3:42:00... 3:41:59...
The silent, florescent display counted down the seconds until an
inevitable 30-kiloton nuclear blast. Morgan had said the Bomb could not
be disarmed, and he'd had no reason to lie.
I got myself turned around and managed to get on my feet. My hands
were still bound to the arms of the chair. I gingerly hobbled over to
the shattered window, through which poured the chilly November air. The
jagged glass cut through one of my bonds, giving me a gash across the
wrist in the process, and soon I was free of the chair. Glancing down to
the street, I saw tiny flashing red lights converging on the area where
I knew Morgan's remains must be splattered. Not good; I'd hoped to get
out of here unnoticed. The surrounding streets would be crawling with
CFGM Security by the time I reached the ground floor.
I turned my attention to the Bomb. Within just over three and a
half hours, it would have to be taken to a place where it could be
detonated with relatively little harm. There wasn't time. Morgan and
his henchmen had kept the theft of the Bomb a secret from the public,
and I could not deal with CFGM Security, which policed the city. It
could not be exploded on the surface anywhere in the populous East. A
fast military plane might get it to the Nevada desert in time, but how
could I convince the Air Force or the Navy of the urgency of the
situation? And how could I trust them? I had no idea how extensive the
conspiracy was. Searching my memory, I thought of one place it could be
taken that might suffice: the extensive salt mines under the city. I
knew I would have to take it there myself.
I retrieved my MAC-10 from Morgan's desk and checked out the bike.
It was undamaged, and Morgan had been afraid to tamper with its
extensive array of armament. That was good; I had a feeling I'd be
needing it. I patched up the cut on my wrist and replaced my flak vest.
Then I set about lashing the 36-lb Bomb to the rear rack. It was more
weight than I was used to carrying, but I was able to maneuver the bike
around the room. I boarded the private elevator which connected
Morgan's office to the parking garage under the skyscraper. A brief,
sinking feeling assured me I was on my way. On the way down, I broke
all the lights in the car's interior. I readied the machine gun,
prepared a grenade, and straddled the bike as the elevator slowed to a
stop. As the door opened, I saw two grey Plymouth sedans waiting
I burst through the doors firing in a wide arc. The guards
crouched behind the cars instinctively ducked, and did not return fire
for a critical second while I sprinted past the roadblock, tossing the
grenade as I passed. One of the guards got off a shot before the blast,
and I felt something hot laid across my shoulder. The wound was
superficial, but bloody. I waited for more fire, but none came. The
next wave would be at the garage's entrance. There was no time for
stealth. Repeating my bold move at the elevator, I sprinted up to the
street. The Bomb's weight slowed my progress up the ramp, but I still
burst out of the door with enough speed to maneuver. Fanning the
machine gun at the row of grey Plymouths just outside, I cut towards the
alley I had come out of this morning, right between two of the Security
cars. This time, none of their shots connected. A second grenade went
off behind me and the guns fell silent. A block away, I knew I had made
the first hurdle, but I could not get far this way. A mountain bike has
tremendous advantages in rough country, but it's not much help on city
streets. I thought for a moment about where I should go, and had the
I wound my way through the alleys toward the sea of light four
blocks from the CFGM building. There was one place in this city where I
might find friends, but there would not be any time to explain. Firing
into the air, I burst forward into the light. A stretch Lincoln
limousine was just pulling up in front of the glittering entrance to
Cobo Hall. It would do nicely. Riding up onto the sidewalk, I grabbed
the first person in reach, a terrified woman. I hated to do it, but I
needed to hold off the guards while I got the limousine door open. I
rolled the bike inside and dove in after it, releasing my hysterical
hostage. There was a distinguished-looking man inside, rubbing his
knee. The bike had jostled him some.
"Senator Crisp, I presume."
"So. I finally get to meet Spike Bike."
I instructed the Senator's driver to get away - fast. The Bomb
silently counted away the seconds.
3:08:18... 3:08:17... 3:08:16...
"... and you're sure the Bomb can't be disarmed?"
"We can't afford to try. We've got less than three hours, and I
have a feeling the people who built this thing won't help us much. No,
Senator, the mine is our only chance. You have to help me get it
The Senator finished bandaging my wounded shoulder. He'd been
reluctant to volunteer any help at first, but I had convinced him of the
urgency of the situation. I turned my attention to the limousine driver.
Could he be trusted?
"Your driver, Senator. Secret Service?"
I held the muzzle of my MAC-10 against the driver's neck. I told
him to pull the car over and struck him sharply on a well-chosen point
at the base of his skull. He slumped over unconscious. I pulled his
limp form into the back seat.
"You'll have to drive Senator. I'm going to be busy back here. Is
this heap bullet-proof?"
"No, it's just an ordinary limo," the Senator replied as he took
the wheel and sped off. I tied the driver's hands and then busied
myself with smashing out the back window. Flashing red lights pursued
"Step on it, Senator!" I implored. Several CFGM Security cars were
gaining on us. I waited until they were just in range and opened up on
them with the MAC-10. The lead car went out of control, creating a
spectacular smash-up. Only one car came through the chaos to continue
pursuit. Bullets struck the limo and I felt it swerve. I turned my
head to see that Senator Crisp had been struck in the arm. It was only a
scratch, but it proved that our pursuers were not overly concerned with
the Senator's well-being. I took careful aim at the driver's side of
the Security car and hosed the windshield. It veered crazily off the
road and crashed into a utility pole.
"Are you all right, Senator?"
"It hurts like a bitch, but yes."
"We've got to get help. The CFGM Security force is loyal to the
Corporatists. They'll kill us both. Is there any one you can trust?"
"Maybe. There's a mobile phone in the back seat. Give it to me."
Crisp thumbed a number, spoke a few words to the person who'd answered,
and turned to me.
"The Coast Guard is sending up a chopper. The Base Commander and I
go back a number of years."
I hoped the relationship was a congenial one. Up ahead, a few
miles yet from the entrance to the mine, was a massive roadblock. More
grey Plymouths approached from the rear. We could not stop, and we
could not turn back. I reached into my ATB's bag of tricks and readied
my remaining LAWS rocket.
"Put it to the floor, Senator!" I opened the door and leaned out,
took careful aim at the center of the roadblock, and squeezed the
trigger. The explosion blasted a hole through the roadblock, setting
the vehicles ablaze and taking out most of the guards who'd awaited with
pistols drawn. The limo crashed through the inferno and continued down
the road towards the mine. I had to hand it to the Senator; he was a
hell of a driver!
A flood tide of red lights was still in pursuit. My MAC-10 was
empty, and the extra mags were in the bottom of one of the panniers. I
didn't have time to hunt for them. I extracted the 16-gauge sawed-off
from the bike's arsenal and took aim at the center of the parade. It
would not be enough. So close, dammit, so close. Another mile to the
mine entrance, but we wouldn't make it. I pumped the scattergun again
and again, but they kept coming. As they were almost on us, a bolt from
the heavens struck in front of the lead car. The Coast Guard chopper!
The Security cars scattered to the roadside and gave up pursuit as the
chopper engaged them with rockets and machine guns. The way to the mine
entrance was clear.
More resistance no doubt awaited at the mine. That chopper was
busy; I had to deal with it myself. A quarter of a mile from the mine
entrance, I bade the Senator to stop the car.
"Thanks for the lift, Senator. Sorry about your wheels."
"I think the taxpayers can afford it. What now?"
"I take the mine. You've got to get as many people as you can out
of this area. The mine should contain the blast, but there will be a
hell of a shock."
"Good luck, Spike."
"You're the one who'll need that, Senator. You've got to put this
Country back together. All I've got to do is dispose of some of the
last Administration's garbage, here." I patted the deadly suitcase. Its
flickering blue display continued the silent, businesslike counting.
1:58:33... 1:58:32... 1:58:31
The Senator sped away and I mounted the bike. I could not try the
main gate, it was too heavily guarded. I would have to get onto the
grounds some other way and find my way to the entrance to the mine
shaft. Though time was of the essence, I would have but one chance to
do this right, so I took my time in careful preparations. I blacked out
my face and donned black gloves. I taped together the remaining MAC-10
magazines and tucked them into pockets in the fresh black jumpsuit I'd
obtained from the panniers. Six grenades hung from my belt.
I scouted the perimeter of the grounds until I found a stream bed
which ran under the chain-link fence. It was a tight squeeze, but I got
through, dragging the bike after me. The area into which I emerged was
isolated and poorly lighted. The mine shaft was located on the other
side of the complex. To get to it, I would have to cross an open field
and wind my way through huge piles of salt, thence across a brightly lit
yard. It was not going to be easy. A force of about 25 CFGM security
men guarded the mine complex, and they had by now been alerted that I
was in the area. I rode through tall weeds parallel to the fence for a
ways, staying out of the open until I could cross the field to the salt
mounds at the narrowest point.
I spotted a jeep patrolling the perimeter service road, sweeping a
spotlight over the fence. I laid the bike down in the weeds and kept
low. The light did not come near, but the jeep stopped when the guards
passed the breach in the fence. One of them got out to look more
closely, shining a flashlight along the stream bed. He abruptly drew
his pistol when he spotted the crushed weeds that betrayed my arrival.
I could wait no longer. I tossed a grenade at the jeep and opened
fire on the flashlight. Both the grenade and the burst found their
targets, but I no longer had stealth to my advantage. I sprinted hard
for the salt mounds, darting between two of them as I caught sight of
headlights flickering and heard gunfire from several points.
The salt mounds covered an area of three or four acres in an
irregular pattern. It would be easy to get lost winding my way through
the maze - on the ground. I shifted into a granny gear and started my
way up the steep slope of a large mound. I took a spiral course around
the mound, staying just out of sight of the grey Plymouths that prowled
through the grounds.
At the mound's crest, I had a much better view. I could see the
entrance to the mine and was able to pick out a course through the salt
mounds. Below, three cars systematically searched the mound area,
supported by half a dozen men with flashlights. I would need a
I readied a grenade and observed the progress of one of the
security cars. As it drew behind one of the mounds adjacent to mine, I
lobbed the grenade over the top with a throw a major league outfielder
would have been proud of. I don't know if it hit its mark, but after it
went off, the searchers converged towards the area of the blast.
I rolled down the mound at a reckless speed, fighting to keep the
overweight bike under control. As I neared the bottom, I caught sight
of a lone searcher. He swung his flashlight in my direction; too late,
I was on him. There was no time for either of us to shoot. I ran the
bike squarely towards him, with all the momentum of my quick descent
behind me. At the last moment, I pulled back on the handlebars and the
front wheel left the ground to catch him perfectly in the chest. The
bike skidded crazily as he went over, but I kept it up. No gunfire
followed as I made the first turn through the course I'd scouted.
The last hurdle was yet ahead. Emerging from the salt maze, I
sprinted for the entrance to the mine. To the left and right, two grey
Plymouths sped towards me. I took aim at the windshield of the nearest,
fired, and watched the car spin out of control. The other car spat fire
from the passenger's window. I felt something thud solidly against my
flack vest and nearly lost control of the bike. Bringing it around, I
fired again, off balance, but I hit one of the Plymouth's front tires.
As the driver fought the wheel to regain control of the car, I opened up
on the passenger's window and the return fire fell silent.
I reached the entrance to the mine shaft as the security force
began to regroup near the salt field. I rode straight into to the
elevator, slammed the doors, and threw a switch which I hoped was for
"down." Reassuringly, the car began to sink.
Several minutes passed before the elevator lurched to a halt. I
wondered what awaited me outside. I threw the doors open, submachine
gun ready, but saw only a few startled, unarmed men. I bolted through
the door, into their midst.
"Everybody into the elevator! You have to get out of here!" To
convince them, I fired a burst into the air. Salt rained down from the
high ceiling. The frightened workers packed the elevator.
"Is this everybody?" I snapped.
"We're all there is. Most of the mine's automated, now. We're just
a maintenance crew, going off shift"
"Then get the hell out of here! And don't bother punching out.
You won't be working here tomorrow."
The doors closed and the elevator began to rise. The adjacent
shaft would bring the other elevator down, teeming with armed men. I
would not be able to deal with them directly. I set one of my satchel
charges at the bottom of the shaft and rigged it to explode when the car
contacted it. In the mean time, I had more urgent business to attend to.
I saddled up and headed down a tunnel. There was a fairly steep
grade; good, I was getting deeper and deeper into the earth. After
perhaps half a mile, I reached a large chamber at the tunnel's end. I
did not know if this was the deepest part of the mine, but it would do.
I detached the suitcase-Bomb from the bike, set it down, and examined my
surroundings. This was evidently a center of operations. There were
tracks and conveyers leading through various tunnels, and there were
crude offices set up.
That's where I found this terminal. The mine, like everything else
these days, is run by computers. This one has an operating system I'm
familiar with, and it was fairly easy to get an outside link to access
the main computer at Bikopoulis Imports. I brought up my diary file and
This, you understand, will be my last entry. I heard the satchel
charge go off a few minutes ago. It had to be done in order to seal the
mine shaft and contain the blast. It also leaves me with a problem.
That was the only elevator. When the Bomb detonates in thirty-nine,
make that thirty-eight minutes, Spike Bike will be no more.
Men like me are, I suppose, an inevitable consequence of harsh
times. But when the times change, we are out of place in the World. I
am a killer. The men I've killed were trying to kill me, but they're
still just as dead. The Bicycle Act freed them to act on their basest
instincts, but it allowed me to do the same. I hunted them, baited them,
and killed them without compunction. Some kind soul may argue that my
motives were noble, that the ends I achieved were for the greater good,
that what I did was for the benefit of everybody who claims the right to
ride a bicycle. I told myself all of this often enough. But the quest
for justice isn't enough to make a man kill. I am driven by a rage that
is neither good nor evil, but animal. Again and again I have felt it
boil over, surge through my nerves, and burst forth in a stream of fire
and lead. It sickens me now. I am sick of rage, sick of killing. It is
well that it should end here.
Do not lament. I have longed for this day. Although it is an end
for me, it is the beginning of everything I've fought for. But the
fight isn't mine any longer. It must be won with law and order, not
guns and bombs. Make it happen for me. I never made it to the Olympics.
Let Spike Bike go out a winner.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I've still got a pint of Jack
Daniels stashed away on the bike somewhere. I've got about half an hour
to kill, and I could sure use a belt. It's been a long day.
It was Spiro Bikopoulis's wish that his diaries be made public in
the event that something happened to him. Had I not known Spike, albeit
briefly, and seen the climax of this adventure unfold, I might not have
believed the fantastic accounts recorded on the diskettes that were sent
to me by the Bikopoulis Family. I am honored that he chose me to be
among the first to read it.
The nuclear blast was well contained by the deep mine. There was
considerable structural damage from the shock, but little radiation
escaped, and Detroit-Windsor has remained safe for habitation.
Casualties were minimal, and an international crisis was averted, thanks
to Spike's sacrifice.
We do not know, as yet, how widespread the Morgan conspiracy was.
We are searching for Morgan's accomplice, the man who, posing as Spike
Bike, stole the Bomb that was almost the end of us all. He should be
able to tell us much, if we ever find him.
President Iaccoca resigned in lieu of impeachment. We decided not
to pursue criminal proceedings against him, in deference to his age and
satisfactory evidence that he knew nothing of the Morgan affair. Vice
President Turner has resigned as well, although there are charges
pending against him. The Cabinet has, of course, been dissolved.
House Speaker Trump has resigned in scandal, leaving the job of
U.S. President to me, as President Pro Tempore of the Senate. It is
with great reluctance I have accepted the Office. Spike was right; I'm
going to need some luck.
The new Congress has a staggering agenda. The Corporatists did an
incredible amount of damage, and it will take more than a decade to
overcome it all. Yet Spike was wrong about a few things. The first Act
of the new Congress was a unanimous resolution to repeal the Bicycle Act
of 1992. The legislation left in its place provides for a nationwide
effort to improve the roads to better accommodate bikes, and outlines
severe penalties for motorists who engage in "willful acts of hostility"
Attached to the bill was a resolution, passed by acclimation,
granting a general pardon to Spiro Bikopoulis, a.k.a. Spike Bike, for
"all crimes and misdemeanors, known or otherwise," committed during the
years the '92 Act was in force. It also ordered that a medal be struck
in his honor. However, the Cities of Detroit and Windsor have upstaged
us. On an artificial island in the center of the Detroit river stands a
statue of a man astride a mountain bike. Twenty feet tall, it is
appropriately larger than life, as was the man it honors.
President of the United States
Copyright (c) 1989 by Robert Fishell
8 8. Episode
[In the year 1989, one man rails in futility against the tyranny of
Springtime in northern Illinois comes late, too late for me to wait
for balmy breezes and sunny skies to begin hard training. I can't stand
my wind trainer, and the trails are often too icy for off-road mountain
biking, so I've been hitting the roads. Sometimes I can get a partner
or two, but mostly, I'm out there by myself, friendless and defenseless.
Just me and THEM.
In the winter of 1980, I quit smoking. A month or so later, I
decided to do something about the ravages thirteen years of tobacco
addiction had inflicted on my body. I considered jogging, nearly threw
up on myself just thinking about it, and bought a bike instead. It was
a 32-lb department-store superclunker, but it had ten gears and drop
handlebars. It was to change my life forever.
I'd not had the bike for long before the pattern was set. One: I
was hooked. Despite its massive, water-pipe frame, flimsy steel rims,
80-PSI gumwalls, pot-metal brakes, and all the other frailties junk is
heir to, this amazing machine gave me a sense of freedom, an
exhilaration I thought I'd lost along with childhood. I knew right away
this was for me, and that I'd be doing it until the day I die. Two: I
discovered that day could come prematurely. I'd already encountered
some of THEM. I was thus forced to make a decision: I could cower in
some health club, buy a set of running shoes, and let THEM dictate how I
enjoy my free time, or I could defy the bastards and maybe get
slaughtered in the process. As you all know, I took the latter option,
and I've been living with it ever since.
Every year that decision gets harder and harder to live with. Every
year I ride more and more miles, 4500 in '87, 6000 in '88. I've set a
goal of 7500 for 1989, provided I survive. Every spring I think about
the close calls of years past, about the impermanence of human flesh,
and about the weak law of large numbers and all those goddamn CARS.
Maybe only one driver in 100 gives me any real trouble, but there are
so, so many of them. So many of THEM.
It gives me the heebie-jeebies when I think about it, so I don't
think about it. I've made my decision, and I will not go back on it,
the increasing risks notwithstanding. I'm not going to have my life run
by a bunch of hotheads, rednecks, hell-raisers, and half-dazed morons
who don't even watch the road half the time, let alone look out for
bikes. I hate them. I hate them all. Mile after mile I ride on,
seething with hatred and contempt, ever-vigilant and wary of every
mechanical monster that comes within my sphere of awareness. Watch and
hate. Listen and hate. I have to hate THEM, or they'll scare me out of
my shorts. Hate is a strong emotion. Stronger, even, than fear.
Last spring I dropped into a local sporting-goods store to pick up
a supply of those terrycloth sweatbands that vanish without a trace in
the laundry. A display case in the store caught my eye: GUNS. There
were hunting rifles, target pistols, even an imposing Redhawk .44
magnum. One piece in particular prompted a closer look: a double-action
.38 Smith and Wesson revolver with a snub-nosed barrel. It was perfect.
Small and easily tucked away in a jersey pocket, it could be drawn and
fired in a split second without having to fuss with a safety catch or a
receiving bolt. You could keep one hand on the handlebars to steady
your aim. Perfect. And it could be had for a few hundred bucks, well
within the means of any credit-card-carrying yuppie such as myself.
I don't know how long I stood there looking at it. The reality of
that cold steel mingled with eight years' accumulation of a hatred that
borders on paranoia, and something dark and ugly stirred within me. On
the other side of the glass was a fistful of revenge, and all it would
take was a little bit of paperwork and some of my disposable income, and
it could be all mine. That thought scared the crap out of me. I
quickly fled the gun department, bought a handful of the sweatbands I'd
come in for, and left the store feeling very shaken. Days later, I was
still disturbed about it. For just a moment, perhaps for just a split-
second, I'd actually felt the impulse to do it, to call the salesman
over, plop down my Visa card, and do something that would almost
certainly ruin my life - and could very well end it. I know now, as I
realized then, that as long as I own a bicycle, I must not own a gun.
Having made that decision, I felt a whole lot better.
The incident brought into focus a peculiar problem, though. I need
my hatred to give me the courage to ride, but I have too much of it left
over, pent up. I needed an outlet. I'd already settled the matter of my
carrying a gun, but it seemed such a shame to let the idea go completely
to waste. I conjured an image of a man who'd made that decision the
other way, and the result was a story called "My Wild Ride," which I
posted to rec.bikes some time in May of last year. The character in
that story was to disappear in the bursting bubble of a daydream, but he
would return a few weeks later as Spike Bike. I already had the idea of
a vigilante cyclist who would wreak vengeance on the dregs of motorized
society. All I needed was the proper setting to put him in. In what
sort of society might such a man emerge? I didn't have to think about
that for too long.
I chose our own society of course, making just a few minor changes
here and there. I had a little fun with it, getting ideas from current
events: ruthless corporate takeovers, trade protectionism, political
corruption, and rampant urban sprawl. But the central premise of the
Spike series was the Bicycle Act of 1992, which formally strips cyclists
of all the rights which have been informally stripped away already,
i.e., now, in 1989. That's right, 1989. Now. Today. We have no rights.
Don't take my word for it. If you want to discuss your rights, ask
that son of a bitch who just honked you, cut you off, and flipped you
the bird. Ask Officer Rupp. Ask your State representative, who will
dismiss you as a crank and subsequently ignore you. The only reason we
get to ride at all is that there aren't quite enough of THEM to get
bikes outlawed. The fact is, most people just don't give a damn one
way or the other. Certainly not about us. But to the extent that's
changing, it's changing for the worse. Bike bans are more and more
prevalent, e.g., Sheridan Road here in Chicago. By 1992, there could
very well be a law to get us off all the roads.
There may be some hope nevertheless. The Spike Bike series ends
with his society moving in a positive direction. The bicycle becomes a
symbol of opposition to the forces of Evil. Inspired by Spike Bike,
people take to the roads in ever-increasing numbers, in spite of the
risks. It's the same in our own society. If you want to be able to
ride tomorrow, ride today, and take a friend with you. Better yet, take
two friends, not people who ride all the time, but people who've, maybe,
just quit smoking and are looking for a way to get in shape. You see,
the more of US there are, the easier it will be to deal with THEM.
Spike began to understand this, too, near the end. He realized
that one man could do little to change things, despite all his resources
and skill. Benevolent creator that I am, however, in the series'
climax I gave him an opportunity to be a real hero (and gave myself a
neat way of wrapping things up). The world Spike saves is better than
the one he shoots full of bullet holes; it is better, even, than the
reality of 1989. Perhaps I'm an optimist, or perhaps I just don't like
to tell depressing stories. You get enough of those from the Ten
The Spike Bike series was cathartic for me. I had something to get
off my chest, and to all of you who enjoyed the stories and encouraged
me to write more, I offer my heartfelt thanks. I'm no Hemingway. I'm
just a hack engineer who harbors a frustrated writer within, and it's
nice to have a way to let off a little steam, to indulge in a little
fantasy, and know there's somebody out there who gets a kick out of it.
It was fun. Thanks for coming along.
I'll be away from my office for a couple of weeks, so I'll be off
the net for a while. I'll leave all of you with a couple of things to
think about, though.
Spike did something after he arrived at the salt mine's control
center. What did he do, and why would he do it?
Spike logged out half an hour before the Bomb went off.
Copyright (c) 1989 by Robert Fishell
9 Spike Bike Returns
* PRELUDE *
[American life in the Year 2000 is not what the futurists of the
late Twentieth Century had predicted. With the Western economy nearly
wrecked by the remorseless profiteers of the Corporatist era, conditions
are sometimes harsh, problems and unrest abound, and a fledgeling
Government struggles to steer America back to a course of prosperity and
Times are hard, but improving. In many ways, it is a better world.
Most Sundays, bicyclists ride freely up and down the streets and avenues
of American cities, secure in the knowledge that they are no longer
flirting with suicide.
Optimism abounds as the new Millenium approaches. People have
grown kinder, more tolerant, even happy. Most people, that is. In the
year 2000, one man cannot forgive the lowly cyclist for getting in his
way. Another cannot forgive himself.
Fate is to bring them together.]
* PROLOGUE *
(The smell of the new upholstery exhilerated him. With a lot of
people out of work, it meant something to drive a new car. It was not
just a cheap little econo-crate, either; this was a top-of-the-line
mini-van, with a V-6, air conditioning, stereo, power windows, the works.
He drove out of the congested city into the abandoned roads south
of town. This would be a good place to open it up, see what it could do
now that it was broken in. Just over the hill and .. NO! Just his luck,
a goddamn bicycle. One of those arrogant wimps who were responsible for
those spineless bleeding-hearts in Washington. Things had been good
when the Corporatists were in charge; there was money, and you could buy
a new car every couple of years. Now he had to work a second job just
to make the payments on this fine machine.
He followed the bike at a distance until the shoulder of the road
gave way to a bridge abutment. That would be the place. Okay, you
little bastard, it's pay-back time. He pushed the accelerator to the
* PART ONE *
I lay on the shoulder of a dusty Texas road, my feet hopelessly
tangled in the toe straps of my wrecked bike. My arms felt like lead.
E. J. Ross towered over me, his great bulk quivering as he laughed.
"Gonna whup yo' ass, boy. Teach y'all to fool with me!" E. J.
moved closer, reached for me. I managed, lamely, to get an arm raised,
and I tried to throw a punch at his jaw. My fist drifted slowly through
the air, barely dented the pudgy flesh of his jowls, and fell back. I
could not raise it again. So weak...
E. J. gripped my shoulders in two ham-like fists and pulled my face
close to his. His breath stank of whiskey. He was no longer laughing.
He squeezed my skull against his forehead and I felt my head begin to
split. I could not breathe. I could see nothing but his eyes.
"Gonna whup yo' ass, boy."
I awoke with stifled scream lodged in my throat. My pillow was
drenched. The chill air of the cabin impinged on my awareness as I lay
among knotted bedclothes tossed askew in the night. Shivering, I turned
the pillow over and pulled a heavy quilt up around my neck. My head
hurt. After a while, sleep returned. E. J. Ross did not.
A beam of morning sunlight glinted from the half-empty Jack
Daniels bottle next to the bed. The cabin was awash in daylight,
terribly bright, driving needles into my eyes. I sat up groggily and
reached for the jug, for the hair of the dog. Raising it to my lips, I
was seized by a pang of revulsion as the peppery-sweet fragrance bit my
nostrils. I hurled the bottle into the fireplace, where it shattered
and fell among the other shards of glass there. I regretted the gesture
immediately, for the whiskey stench now flooded the room. After a few
agonized moments, I rose to my feet.
A light June snow had fallen in the night. With the bright
sunshine, it would be gone by mid-morning, and by noon, I would be able
to split wood outdoors without a shirt on. Such weather was not
uncommon in the Canadian Rockies, but even after nineteen months, I had
not grown indifferent to the unpredictability of this place. It helped
to mark the passage of time - time which was too slowly healing the
wounds of a life ended under the streets of Detroit back in '98.
The day's first coherent thoughts returned to that night, as they
often did. Another morning, another day's life drawn on a bankrupt
I didn't deserve to live. Sitting there alone in the mine, I tried
to recall how many men I'd killed since I awoke only that morning. I'd
lost count. Multiply that uncertainty by five years and it added up to
a load of guilt which could be expunged by death alone. It was the
right time, the right place to die.
But I did not want to die.
I'd had the better part of an hour to work with the mine computer.
It took little time for me to activate one of the conveyers which
carried salt to the surface, half a mile above. After completing the
last entry in Spike Bike's diaries, I prepared my escape. To lighten
the bike as much as possible, I removed all the heavy armament, keeping
only the grenades and my 9mm Walther automatic. I then donned a dust
mask and hefted the bike and myself into one of the hoppers. At
precisely 9:30 PM, as I had instructed the computer, the conveyer
lurched to life and I began the painfully slow ascent.
When I emerged , I had but ten minutes to get away. I used the
remaining grenades to blast the conveyor tunnel I'd used to escape,
hoping to contain a bit more of the radiation from the impending nuclear
blast. Then I jumped on the bike, pointed it at the main gate, and
sprinted away. Fortunately, I ran into no resistance. Senator Crisp
must have been successful at evacuating the area.
I got, perhaps, two miles from the mine entrance when a brilliant
flash lit up the sky. A moment later, the pavement buckled violently
and I was thrown into the air. I landed hard on the broken asphalt. I
looked back towards the mine, half-expecting to see a mushroom cloud,
but I saw only the glow of scattered fires. The flash I'd seen had been
merely the result of a transformer explosion. It was over. Ames
Morgan's plot had been foiled; what was to have been a major nuclear
disaster had become a second-rate earthquake.
The bike had landed hard enough to collapse the back wheel. It was
totaled, and I was not far from being totaled myself. I hadn't broken
any major bones, but my left wrist was sprained, and the bullet wound
I'd received in my shoulder earlier had long since opened up, oozing
blood down the front of my flak jacket.
I armed the plastique charge in the bike's down tube, tossed the
bike into the culvert, and simply walked away. When the radio-linked
heart monitor I wore was out of range of the bike's receiver, the charge
went off, rendering the evidence of my survival to slivers. Spike Bike
In the pandemonium following the blast, it was easy to slip across
the border into Ontario. I had discarded my remaining weapons, keeping
only my Canadian papers and some cash. Some time early Tuesday morning,
Michael Resnick, of Caroline, Alberta, Canada, checked into a Windsor
hospital and slept for two days. The doctors did not challenge my story
about getting my injuries in a gas line explosion, although I don't
think they believed it, either. In any case, I was discharged after a
few days, to make my way to the only home I had left, taking the only
identity I had left.
Michael Resnick was born April 17, 1965, in Vancouver, B.C. He died
of severe birth defects on April 18. He had been my cousin. His birth
certificate was among the effects my mother inherited when Michael's
parents died in a plane crash in '67. I used it to obtain other
Canadian documents, including a passport and driver's license.
I established the Resnick identity during the years I fought the
Act. Canadian citizenship made it easier for me to move around north of
the border and helped to cover Spiro Bikopoulis's movements. To the
Canadian government, Michael Resnick was a geologist, a mining
consultant who spent most of his time in the States. But that was just
for the benefit of the authorities, and the bankers and lawyers in
Calgary. The people of the little town of Caroline, Alberta, where I
kept my post office box, didn't care what I did for a living. I was
just a hermit who came down from the mountains only to get whiskey and
I'd have to go this day, as that jug I'd smashed had been my last.
I didn't get drunk every night. Why, just two weeks before, I'd
gone to bed after only a couple of good ones. Well, maybe three. It's
not that I needed the booze. It just helped to dim the stares of a
hundred dead men. I could handle the rest of it, memories of the
flames, the twisted metal, even the blood. It was just those damned
[In case you were wondering:
In the final installment of "Armageddon in Detroit," Spike removed the
Bomb from his rear rack after he reached the mine's control center.
Why would he do that if he didn't intend to ride the bike any more?
How many of you caught on?
My cabin cannot be reached by auto, even by 4WD, which is why I
like it there; it cuts down on the riffraff. There are two ways to get
there: on foot or by ATB. I prefer not to walk.
The bright June sunshine had already melted the night's snow from
the trail, leaving only mud, but I was used to that. I rode the mountain
bike effortlessly down the five miles of familiar trail (riding back up
with full panniers would be more taxing) to the Timberline Trading
At 6500 feet, it was well below the timberline, but it was the last
outpost of so-called civilization for the tourists who passed by on
their way to the campgrounds up the mountain. They were willing, if not
happy, to buy their groceries, eggs, and notions at the Timberline's
outrageous prices if it would save them the 20-mile haul into Caroline.
As for me, I got a substantial discount, inasmuch as I half-owned the
place. My partner, Jack, kept most of the obscene profits in return for
not involving me in the day-to-day operations of the establishment. I
got my eats and supplies wholesale, and I got to use the Timberline's
ancient Jeep CJ when I had to go into town for stuff Jack didn't sell,
viz. American bourbon.
I pulled into town around 2:00. I stopped by the post office to
get the month's mail. It was the usual stuff: bank statements, junk
(even assumed names can't escape mailing lists), and a couple of letters
from my mother, forwarded by my lawyer in Calgary. My family knew I was
alive, but not where I was. My lawyer knew where I was, but not who I
was, and I paid him enough not to ask.
My next stop was Snuffy's Tavern, one of Caroline's less-classy
saloons. Snuffy kept in stock for me an extra case of Jack Daniel's,
which was my usual monthly supply. Stepping into the dark, smoky bar, I
noticed something shockingly new: a 120-cm, wide-screen, high-
definition, surround-sound, plasma-display television set. I had long
ago forsaken such banalities, but I was snared by a close-up shot of a
pitcher winding up. A "C" emblazoned on his jersey told all: the Cubs
were playing, at Montreal. What's more, they were actually leading by
four to one in the bottom of the eighth.
I guess it's something about growing up in Chicago. The bums
hadn't won so much as a division championship since 1984, but Cub fans
die hard. I sat down, ordered a beer, and watched the rest of the game,
which, of course, the Cubs lost on a grand slam homer in the bottom of
During the post-game wrap-up, I observed that the program
originated from Chicago's WGN-TV, and was being picked up here in
Alberta on a satellite dish. Snuffy had really gone overboard with this
rig. I was just about to pick up my whiskey and head back up the
mountain when the program broke to the local news. An attractive female
"Two more bikers killed in Oak Lawn. Details next on News Nine."
Typewriter music faded into an inane beer commercial. I sat down again.
Snuffy reached up to change the channel, but I gripped his arm. He gave
me a startled look and backed away from the set when he caught the
expression on my face. After an eternity of drivel, the announcer
"Two Oak Lawn teens are the latest victims of a hit-and-run driver.
The bodies of sixteen-year-old... "
The screen flashed high-school photos of the two victims, a boy and
a girl. I was struck by the girl's pretty, white teeth and engaging eyes
[at this point, the reader will notice, the narrative descends to
contrived, manipulative hate-mongering, a cheap ploy to gain the
sympathies of the reader and make his blood boil at the same time. -
Fish]. The announcer continued,
" ...the youths were the fifth and sixth victims of what police
believe to be the work of one man, seen fleeing the scene of this
morning's tragedy in a late-model Ford mini-van.
"Despite severe federal penalties, it appears, at least in Chicago,
that the streets are still not safe for bicycles."
The newscast switched to local politics. The announcer's voice
faded into the rest of the background noise: the clinking of glasses,
the murmur of the other patrons, the rickety ventilation fan. I sat in
numbed silence, no longer watching the screen. Something familiar and
yet new stirred inside me, a feeling I'd not had in years.
After a while, I got up to leave. Snuffy called after me:
"Hey, Mike, what about your booze?"
"Pass it around when business picks up. Tell 'em it's on me."
It was near nightfall when I got back to my cabin. I sat staring at
the fire, sober for the first time in nineteen months. Their eyes were
gone, along with their accusations, their hatred, their fear. The sons
of bitches had deserved it. The old rage blazed inside me, searing away
the guilt, cauterizing the wounds. The only pair of eyes I saw in the
flames were the powder-blue discs of a dead girl, imploring me to avenge
That night, I slept better than I had in years. The next morning,
I was on my way to Calgary Airport.
The plane made its approach to O'Hare over Lake Michigan, giving me
a spectacular view of the Loop. I had not seen this city I once called
home in well over a year. My thoughts were not, however, of homecoming.
Somewhere down there was a killer, the kind of man I'd nearly destroyed
myself trying to fight.
The plane landed and I disembarked, going through customs without
incident. I'd brought only an ordinary suitcase and a few hundred
dollars in traveler's checks. I had hoped that what I would need here
would be waiting for me in a rented storage shed out on 75th street.
With the aid of my shipping records, the old Secret Service had
raided several of my caches when they closed in on me, but they couldn't
have known about this place. The key-card still opened the gate, and
the seal on unit 13-J had not been tampered with. I'd leased this place
back in the fall of 1998, paying two years' rent in advance. A musty
smell greeted me as I opened the overhead door to reveal the shed's
contents: A dining room set, a china cabinet, and a large crate marked
HANDLE WITH CARE
I moved to the rear of the crate and felt under a slat for the small
studs which, activated in the proper sequence, would disarm the charges
that lined the box. A reassuring chirp from within assured me that I
would not be blown to bits, along with everything else inside of fifty
yards, when I pried open the crate.
All was intact, and appeared to be in good condition: A custom-
built, titanium-frame mountain bike, a MAC-10 submachine gun, a .44
magnum, a small-caliber automatic, a case of ammo, another of grenades.
A small box in the corner of the crate held ten thousand dollars in
American greenbacks. I buttoned down the crate, loaded it and the rest
of the junk into my rented panel truck, and drove away.
I needed a place to stay. A hotel would not do; there was too
little privacy. I finally found a tiny furnished apartment to sublet in
Berwyn. A house would have been better, but this would do. Besides, the
landlord had been happy to accept my hard cash for the three months
which remained on the lease, and didn't ask many questions.
There was little danger of being recognized. There had been no
close-up photos of Spike Bike, and the few photographs of Spiro
Bikopoulis that had been in the news did not resemble my present
appearance. I'd grown a short, full beard, which, like my hair, was
flecked with gray. The most familiar news photo of me was of a clean-
shaven, 22-year-old Marine sergeant without much hair at all. The
principal threat would come from a chance meeting with someone I had
known well, but the chances were pretty slim. My family no longer lived
in the city, and I'd had few close friends during my double life in the
My principal problem was locating my quarry. I'd never had much
difficulty finding trouble in the old days, and the few specific
individuals I'd gone after, like the infamous E. J. Ross, had been
easy to find. But all I could do now was set myself up as bait and hope
the killer would take the hook.
The police would be looking for him, too, but law enforcement in
Post-Corporatist America was, like everything else, in a state of
disarray. The economy was slowly recovering, but the country was in a
near-depression. Unemployment was at its worst levels in sixty years,
civil disorder was widespread, and crime was rampant. The fanatically
loyal private security forces of The Twenty had been completely
disbanded, and their former employees were barred from public service.
State and municipal police departments were staffed with eager but
inexperienced young officers and a few old hands who'd been willing to
come back to the job. They were a dedicated lot, but they were pretty
The Federal Government wouldn't be much help, either, with the FBI
and Secret Service having undergone the same kind of overhaul. All
things considered, it was a wonder things worked as well as they did.
President Crisp and his pals had their hands full. Faced with the most
staggering agenda since the Second World War, I suppose the Government
had more important things to do than to devote scarce resources to
protecting a few crazy cyclists.
Nevertheless, it made my blood boil. The police were advising
cyclists to stay off the streets. While that would make my job easier,
it wasn't what I'd been all about for five years of my life. Had I done
any good at all?
I should have stayed in Alberta.
How was I going to find the son of a bitch?
It had been a hot, sultry summer in Chicago. At 9:00 in the
morning, the temperature had already risen into the mid-eighties, and
the afternoon promised to be positively infernal. I wondered if it was
keeping my adversary indoors. For three weeks I had been riding nearly
a hundred miles a day, randomly criss-crossing through the southwest
suburbs where all of the attacks had occurred.
All had been quiet so far. Motorists passed by without so much as
a tight squeeze or even an angry horn. Riding on city streets was less
unnerving than it had been even in the pre-Act days, back in the
Eighties. Perhaps the new laws were doing some good, or perhaps the
excesses of the Act had shocked these people into better behavior. It
was almost disappointing. With the temperature in the nineties nearly
every day, the weight of the heavy weapons I carried made itself ever-
apparent. I was particularly aware of it now.
I first saw the lone rider as I headed into what used to be the
Palos Hills Forest Preserve. It was now a maze of abandoned
construction sites strewn with rotting building materials and rusting
machinery. The roads, however, were pretty good, so it wasn't
surprising to see somebody training out here, or it wouldn't have been,
had not the scare kept so many bikies off the streets. I decided to
pursue. I hadn't ridden with anyone in years, and I found myself longing
To my chagrin, whoever this was didn't seem to want any, or was at
least playing hard to get. After chasing the rider for nearly two
miles, I had closed barely half the distance between us, and I was
panting and drenched with sweat. O.K., maybe I was on an overweight
mountain bike. Maybe I was thirty-five years old, and maybe I had been
drunk every night of my life for over a year and a half. But dammit, I
had still trained every day. I'd once beaten Alexi Grewal. I'd never
had so much trouble trying to catch up with a woman!
She knew I was there. Several times, she glanced back, flashed a
smile, and dug in. It was only after she had to slow down over some
broken pavement that I finally closed the gap. When I pulled beside
her, I had to catch my breath for a few beats before I could speak. She
saved me the trouble.
"Hi! I'm Annie." She turned her head, and I could see that she was
nearly as wilted as I was from the race. She was also very pretty. She
had nice teeth, and the niceness sort of continued in all directions
"You can call me Mike." She could have called me anything, I
wouldn't have minded. "You know, you're pretty fast."
"You're not so bad yourself, considering. What have you got in
those things, anyway? You touring, cross-country?" She indicated my
full panniers. I liked her, but I didn't want to burden her with the
details of their contents just now. I don't think it would have made a
"Just day touring, but I like to be prepared. You know, tools and
"Tools? Looks more like you've got a whole bike shop in there", she
laughed. "You do any racing? Off-road?"
"On-road, back, oh, ten or twelve years or so ago. Before the
"Gee, you don't look that old."
It was bad enough that she was gorgeous. Did she have to be
ingratiating, too? "Chalk it up to clean living. You race?"
"I just started this year. Got a crit Sunday. Registration's
still open. You wanna come?"
"I'd love to," - and I would - "but I've got some things I have
to do." Which I did, and it was something I was beginning to really
regret. Riding here beside my new-found companion, I felt more alive
than I had in years. I'd forgotten what living had been like. I'd been
close to no one, lonely.
Damn, she was pretty. She was young, twenty, twenty-two, maybe.
Long, light brown hair streamed behind her from underneath her helmet.
She wore black lycra shorts and a light jersey, much as I did, but on
her it looked a lot more interesting. She was tall. I think "leggy"
might be the word, but there was no awkwardness, at least, certainly not
in the way she rode her bike. I thought she might be holding back for
me and my fat tires and my grey whiskers, and I began to wonder if she
hadn't purposefully allowed me to catch her. I got the feeling she
could break away at any time, and there wouldn't be much I could do
about it. I was glad she didn't.
I found myself thinking what a beautiful day it was. For the first
time in many, many years, I remembered why I had started cycling in the
first place. There was her, the warm sunshine, the rush of wind, the
singing of the wheels underneath. I momentarily forgot what I had come
here to do. Just for a minute. It was a minute too long. Too late, I
heard the roar of the engine, the howl of the tires. I jerked my head
around and he was on us, close enough for me to see the bugs on his
radiator. A blue Ford mini-van. I had nothing in my hand but a water
[Yes, she's beautiful.
No, I'm not going to put any cheap, gratuitous sex in this story.
The deadly blue van was nearly on us. There was no time to get to
the MAC-10, not even to the little Walther that I always had close at
hand. There was no time even to warn Annie of the danger. There was
time for only one act.
Back when I was racing, I'd go up against guys who were a little
short on manners, particularly in the closing laps of a criterium. One
learns to expect some aggressive maneuvers in such situations, but
occasionally somebody would cross the line between competitiveness and
sheer malevolence. Once in a while, somebody would bump you a bit too
hard, with the obvious intent of making you crash and perhaps take out
some of the pack with you. I developed techniques for dealing with
these guys, an unusual blend of cycling skills and Aikido. If a move
was executed properly, you got the guy out of the race without taking
anybody else down. It was such a technique I applied to Annie,
regretting that I had no time to explain.
Fortunately there was water and soft mud in the ditch that ran
along the side of the road. Annie's wheels hit the high curb and she
went sprawling, sliding down the muddy bank on her side. I cut just in
front of her and bunny-hopped the curb an instant before the van's tires
slammed into it. A hubcap came loose and rolled past me as I fought to
keep the bike upright on the slippery surface, groping for my automatic.
The van swerved and fishtailed for a block or so, then accelerated away
before I could get off a shot. Remembering I wasn't alone, I quickly
tucked the little Walther back in its holster.
I turned my attention to Annie. She was fishing herself out of the
muddy ditch, uttering some decidedly unbecoming monosyllables. She
turned to me. As she stood, I could see that she was strikingly tall,
nearly a match for my own 6'2" frame. She removed her helmet and shook
her head to get some of the big pieces of mud out of her long hair. I
waited for her to speak, more afraid of what she might say than I had
been of the marauding van.
"Are you OK, Mike? What happened? That van..."
She had seen it! Thank all the gods and all the lucky, twinkly
stars on a Rocky Mountain night, she had seen it! She would understand
why she'd just been run into a filthy ditch by a guy she'd known for all
of five minutes.
"Oh, my god!" she exclaimed, "that was him, wasn't it? The guy on
the news, the one who's been... Oh, Mike, if you hadn't been here..."
She crossed the distance between us, put her long, willowy arms around
my neck, and kissed me. She was covered with mud, and she was smearing
it all over me. It could have been tar and feathers, and it would have
been all right with me.
After a delicious, brief eternity, she broke away. We took a few
minutes to clean some of the mud off her bike, then rode together as far
as the nearest convenience store. Neither of us said much. She kept
giving me puzzled glances. I could not take my eyes from her.
"We have to call the police," she remarked, "they'll want to talk
She was right. Well, half right, anyway. My Resnick identity might
hold up, but then again, it might not. In any case, I didn't have time
to get involved in a police investigation, particularly one conducted by
young, enthusiastic, and somewhat inept detectives.
"No, you have to call the police. They might want to talk to me
about some things I don't have time to explain right now."
"Are you in some kind of trouble, Mike?"
"Let's just say I have my reasons for not wanting to get involved."
"But you are involved, aren't you? There's something odd about you.
I know you from somewhere. You had something in your hand when I got
out of the ditch. You didn't want me to see it. That was a gun, wasn't
"It was just..." Dammit, I didn't like lying to her. "Annie,
please, let's not go into that. It's better that you don't ask. Listen,
you call the police, you tell them what happened. Tell them to get that
hubcap back there, it came off his van."
"What do I tell them about you?"
"Tell them what you have to. Tell them I was afraid."
"No. Not you. I don't think you scare easily. But..."
"Annie, I have to go."
"Will I see you again?"
"Count on it."
I turned the bike around and sprinted away. I looked back only
once, to see her standing there, looking after me. I decided to go
home. The killer, having been foiled, would likely not do any more
My heart was doing flip-flops. I'd come here on a mission and I
had failed. But I'd been in the right place at the right time. If I
had not been there, Annie might have been dead. Yet if Annie had not
been there, the killer would be dead, and it would be over. But then,
I'd not have met her, would I? Life was beginning to get very
I returned to my small Berwyn apartment feeling exhausted and torn.
Too much had happened today. My head swam, and I longed for a drink,
just one little belt to put things back in order. I knew, of course,
that diving back into a bottle could only make matters worse. I settled
for a hot shower instead. Letting the water run for a long time, I felt
the tension slowly leave my muscles to mingle with the soap and mud that
ran down the drain. Remembering how I'd gotten so muddy, I was
reluctant to wash it off.
I considered my feelings. The rage which had driven me for so many
years was still there. The image of the blue mini-van escaping
unscathed incensed me. If only I'd had my senses about me. I played it
over in my mind, how I would feint to the outside, then cut back beside
the van, shoot out the tires, and finish it off with a grenade. Two
granades. Hell, I wanted to shred it and its driver into pieces too
small to identify. I wanted to do it twice. This much was familiar, and
But there was a lot more. Annie. I'd spent, maybe, twenty minutes
with her. I didn't know anything about her, her background, her
circumstances, not even her full name, yet I could not get her out of my
mind. It made no sense. In my situation, I shouldn't even consider such
matters; it couldn't work out with any woman, yet that knowledge made no
difference in how I felt. I had to see her again.
That was still not the end of it. I'd been caught off guard today;
I nearly died because of it. This gave me a profound sense of failure,
but even this was not new. I'd blown it before. What was new was that I
was afraid. I was not afraid of death, but of life. For a brief,
fleeting moment today, I had forgotten everything, forgotten who I was
and all that had happened in my life, and I had lived. And enjoyed
being alive. There was no room for that feeling in the context of my
existence. Nevertheless, I wanted more. I wanted to live, whereas
before I had wanted only not to die. It scared the hell out of me.
I shut off the shower when the hot water ran out and collapsed,
soaking wet, on the sofa bed. I awoke many hours later, shivering and
ravenous. I crossed to the tiny kitchen and extracted a leftover
chicken leg from a paper bucket in the refrigerator. Wolfing the
drumstick, I padded back to the bathroom to throw on a robe.
Returning to the main room with a Coke and the rest of the chicken
bucket, I flicked on the tube to catch the rest of the Cubs game. They
blew it in the top of the eighth, losing eight to four, which would back
them into a tie for fourth place, four games below .500, and eleven and
a half games behind the first-place Mets. But it was only July. Things
could get better.
I was finishing off a serving of congealed mashed potatoes when the
nine o'clock newscast came on. I dropped the mess in my lap when the
screen cut to a shot of Annie.
"This Orland Park biker narrowly escaped death today as the van
killer strikes again. Details next on News Nine."
After an interminable spate of commercials, the newscast got under
way. There was an interview with Annie, who recounted the events that
had transpired earlier, save that she made no mention of another
cyclist. All too soon, the camera cut away to the young police
lieutenant in charge of the case. He bungled his way through the
interview, commenting that they'd recovered a "valuable piece of
evidence" from the scene. I presumed he meant that flattened hubcap,
which wouldn't tell them diddly-squat. They already had the make and
model of the van. They were no closer to bagging this bastard than
they'd been when I was stinking drunk in my mountain cabin.
I found out a little bit about Annie, though. Her full name was
Ann Chernak. She was twenty-two years old, unmarried(!), a nursing
student at Loyola. She also looked just fantastic with the mud and
sweat washed off her and her hair combed and set and large hoop earrings
and just the right amount of makeup around her eyes.
I sat with a lapfull of mashed potatoes through a re-run of "The
Twilight Zone" and half the late movie before I cleaned up the mess and
went to bed. I had checked the phone book for "Chernaks" and found
there were eight entries, but no "Anns" or 'A's, listed for Orland Park.
I thought of contacting Loyola, as if they'd tell me anything, but then
I remembered she was going to race on Sunday, two days from now. There
couldn't be too many bike races in the area. I hadn't seen one in ages.
Come to think of it...
All day Saturday I criss-crossed the southwest suburbs, ranging
from Darien and Willow Springs all the way to Frankfort and New Lenox.
There was no sign of a blue Ford mini-van, nor any sign of Annie. Well,
if she knew anything about racing, she would be training lightly today.
I did spend a little extra time patrolling the side streets of Orland
Park, but I reminded myself that I'd come here for a reason, and it
wasn't to meet women.
Where could he be? Who could he be? I wondered what sort of mind
the killer posessed. He wasn't like any of the brutes I'd faced during
the Act years. They had come from various social and economic
backgrounds, but they were united by a common trait: they'd had no real
scruples; the Act had merely removed the thin deterrent of punishment.
They were predictable, and that had made them relatively easy to deal
This guy was something different. Cyclists were now protected by
laws stiffer than those of the pre-Act years. Shocked by the brutality
of the nineties, Americans had affected a kinder attitude towards
bikies. The killer was not, therefore, merely a product of his times.
He was an abberation, a psychopath, unpredictable.
All I knew was that he struck his victims several weeks apart. His
attack on Annie and me yesterday was the first he'd attempted since the
incident that had first brought him to my attention, nearly a month ago.
Would it be weeks before he struck again? Or would he hit somebody
today? Yesterday had been the first time he'd missed. Maybe he had an
itch to scratch, and I'd put it out of reach. Maybe I'd gotten him mad.
In any case, I didn't think he would emerge today. I would watch
the news later to find out, but I had some things to do yet. I'd looked
up a couple of bike shops in the Yellow Pages, and I was pleased to see
that the old Oak Park Cyclery was still in - or back in - business.
It was on my way home, so I stopped in just before closing time.
It wasn't as I remembered it. The bicycle industry had been
utterly destroyed during the Act years, so the inventory was skimpy and
unimpressive. Most of the new bikes were from places like Korea and
Malaysia, although a few European and Japanese companies had begun
dipping a toe into the American market once again. I didn't see
anything I liked, though, so I poked my head into the repair area and
asked the greasy-nailed guy back there if he had anything nice that
wasn't on the sales floor. He did.
It sat in the corner of the shop, a used Pinarello built up with
Campy Super Record. It was scratched up and at least 20 years old, but
it had the right sized frame. The guy said I could have it cheap, only
1800, since it had sew-up tires, and nobody used them any more. Ipondered whether 1800 was cheap, but there was quite a bit of inflation
these days, and it was the only decent machine he had.
He let me take it out around the block for a test ride. The
handlebar stem was too short for me, but I could live with it, and it
cornered well. I told him I'd take it and a pair of cleats, which he
threw in free of charge. I think he knew he was gouging me, and the
shoes made him feel a little less guilty - particularly when I paid him
with nice, crisp, fifty-dollar bills. I removed my shades for the first
time when I paid for the bike. The young mechanic-salesman (-owner?)
looked at me for a moment and remarked, "You've been in here before,
"Not in years", I told him.
"You look familiar. Can't place you, though."
I thought of something Annie had said yesterday. "Lot of that going
around," I returned, "but I'm sure I don't know you."
"It'll come to me."
He turned his attention to scribbling out a receipt, after happily
counting through the wad of greenbacks I'd passed him. This was the
first time I took a good look at the large poster which hung over the
cash register. I recognized the photo. It was taken at the 1991
Nationals. A sweat-drenched, road-rashed bike racer held a trophy
triumphantly above his head. A caption was emblazoned on a wide black
stripe across the bottom of the poster. It read:
Spiro Anton Bikopoulis
1965 - 1998
He noticed my looking at it.
"Oh, yeah, you want a Spike Bike poster? You get one with the
"Uh, no, no thanks."
"Yeah. I suppose everybody's got one of those by now."
Hell, it wasn't a very good picture. And I'd only won the damn
race on a disqualification.
I didn't know. Mom's letters had said nothing about it, and the
papers and newscasts I'd seen lately had mentioned little about me. I
thought they'd still be looking for me in every state in the Union.
Instead, I find out I've been pardoned, and that there's some statue of
me turning green and collecting bird droppings in the middle of the
Of course, they thought I was dead. Had they known I survived,
would they have been so magnanimous? Or if they'd known how I skimmed
profits from Bikopoulis Imports to finance my operations, or how I'd
cheated on my taxes because of it? Would the Canadian Government be
pleased to know I was impersonating somebody who died when I was two
months old, and that I'd broken just as many Canadian tax laws, and that
I still went around packing a 9mm automatic everywhere I went?
It occurred to me that there might be certain advantages to staying
dead. It also occurred to me that I should finish my business here and
get my ass back to Alberta before somebody took a really good look at
me. The trouble was that my business wasn't entirely under my control,
and there was more of it than there'd been when I got here.
The bike shop guy had told me there was only one nearby race that
he knew about. It was a 4-corners criterium being held in an industrial
park outside Willow Springs. It had to be the one. I rode the Pinarello
down from Berwyn and arrived at the registration desk about 8:00 AM. I
didn't know how I was going to bluff my way in, but it turned out I
didn't have to.
USCF was defunct. The Bicycle Act had put an end to all organized
bike racing in America by 1993, and the organization disbanded. It had
been in disarray even before then. The leadership had deteriorated to
an entrenched cabal of squabbling, imperious men who sat around thinking
up silly-ass rules that were as inequitable as they were
incomprehensible. It was the reason I left the circuit in '92.
This competition, however, was a far cry from the old days. Like
all races now, it was an open affair, sponsored by local clubs and
businesses. There was no license required, just ten bucks and a release
form. There were only two divisions each for men and women, "Beginner"
and "Experienced," which means you'd finished a couple of "Beginner"
races without crashing or going off the back. Even at that, nobody
checked; you just signed one sheet or the other and got your number.
The only thing they really worried about were unroadworthy bikes - and
from what I'd seen of the bikes that were currently available, the
concern was justified. I had to get my bike checked out by one of the
officials, who turned out to be the greasy-nailed guy who'd sold me the
"Oh, hi, Mister, ah, Renwick?"
"Well, I guess this bike'll check out."
"I would hope so."
"You know, I'm still thinking. It'll come to me, I never forget a
"Well, good luck."
"Thanks. Say, when do the women race? You know a tall gal, light
brown hair, kind of thin, name's..."
"Annie. Ain't she an eyeful? Yeah, the women's 'E' race starts at
9:30, she should be there. She's pre-registered, so she probably isn't
here yet. She'll win. Hell, she could win the men's division. You know
"Met her the other day. Say, she going with anybody?"
"No, no boyfriend. But a lotta men tried, and a lotta men died.
Man, you really need some luck."
"Thanks. I'll keep it in mind."
I pinned my number to the back of my jersey and loped over to watch
the men's 'B' race, the event just before Annie's. It was a comical
affair. There were numerous crashes, though none were serious. The race
officials did a good job of clearing the course of stragglers who'd gone
off the back and obviously had no chance of catching the pack. These
kids had heart, though. It brought back fond memories of how things had
once been, before everything went to hell. I had to smile. Damn it, I
was beginning to enjoy myself again. Damn it to hell, I was beginning
to like this place. Damn...
"Mike!" That voice! "Mike, you came! You're entered?"
She approached, as gracefully as anybody can walk with cleats on,
and placed a hand on my arm. Her smile was dazzling. I noticed for the
first time that one of her eyebrows was just a little crooked. It made
her face all the more endearing. She looked delicious. She had looked
delicious with mud all over her.
"Mike," she lowered her voice, "Mike I didn't tell them about you
the other day. I said he ran me off the road, that I steered myself
into the ditch. I guess I owe you a lot, and I know you've got
something to hide. That's why I didn't tell them about you. But you've
got to tell me about it. Can we talk after the race?"
"You can count on it. I..."
An announcement pierced the air. God, they were still using those
same damned bullhorns; some things hadn't changed.
"That's me. I have to get to the starting line. Wish me luck!"
"Good..." She draped her arms around my neck and kissed me.
The women's 'E' race was a 40-km criterium which, I learned, was
the standard distance for most events these days. Power would be more
of an advantage than savvy would be in such a competition. That was
well-suited to the times, as few aspiring racers had any real
experience. It made me wonder how I'd do in my own race. I had done
little road biking in the last eight years, and the maneuvers I'd
mastered on my ATBs were probably not useful here. Breaking away from a
pack isn't the same as dodging a marauding pickup truck while you're
cocking the receiver of a MAC-10 with your teeth. I was still pretty
strong, but some of these kids looked strong, too. I would have my
Annie was quite at home here. She stayed near the front of the
pack for much of the race, then made her move when a group of three of
the stronger women broke away. She cut to the outside and effortlessly
ran them down from a hundred yards back. By the last couple of laps, it
was evident she would win with ease. Just before the lap gun, she
broke away, easily outdistancing the pair of riders closest to her. The
gap steadily widened as she sprinted up the long back stretch of the
It was the trick of a practiced eye that caught it. I saw a light
blue blur on the edge of my perception, and automatically homed in on
it. It was him! He roared down a road parallel to the course,
watching out his side window for an opening. He would get his chance at
the cross street near the end of the back stretch, a mile or so distant.
The only rider who'd be there to meet him was Annie.
I jumped on the Pinarello, cursing as I lost precious milliseconds
starting a cleat in the unfamiliar pedals. I knocked down two
spectators as I jumped onto the course, and two of the women who were
trying in vain to catch Annie collided as I darted into their path. I
was going to make them scratch this race, but that wasn't important
now. In the clear, I stood up and sprinted for all I was worth.
Only slowly did the gap between me and Annie narrow. The menacing
blue van was at the end of the parallel street, making a screeching left
turn onto the common cross street that would connect him with the
course. I tried to call out to Annie, but she couldn't hear me over
the commotion on the sidelines. I could not reach her in time. I would
have only one chance.
I'd brought the little Walther along almost as a good luck charm.
I hadn't intended to race with it, and I was feeling it now as the
holster dug into my side under my jersey. I drew it, flicked off the
safety, and pulled back the receiver in the hollow between my chin and
neck. I tried to steady it before me as my eyes swam and my lungs
Annie rounded the corner and accelerated into the bottom stretch
just as the van smashed through the barricades. The hay bales and
sawhorses slowed him down just a little, enough time for Annie to to get
out of the line of fire. I tried to center the sights on the driver's
window. I squeezed off one shot, two, three, nothing. Four, five, the
van swerved slightly, kept to its course, picked up speed. Annie,
Annie, SPRINT, dammit! I fired off the sixth shot and the side window
shattered. One more shot, then I kept pulling the trigger, but there
were no more cartridges.
I knew I hit him. I could have sworn that his head jerked to the
side as I squeezed off the last round. The driver was no longer
visible, but the van continued to gain on Annie. I tried to scream, but
I had no breath. NO! My god, if only I could reach her! If only I could
take her place! I could not watch, yet I could not look away. Annie...
The van closed to within a few feet of her rear wheel, but then lurched
abruptly, left the roadway, turned over on its side, and crashed into a
wall. A moment later, it exploded into a ball of orange flame and black
smoke. Only then did Annie turn around to see what was happening.
You won, Annie.
After an eternity, I took a breath. I pulled off the course and
got away as fast as I could. There would be police here very soon,
with questions to which I had no answer.
I waited behind the rusting carcass of an earth-mover as I watched
the distant rider approach. I stepped into view when she was close
enough to recognize me.
"I hoped you'd be here." She said.
"Glad you could make it."
She crossed to me, raised a hand to touch my face. It was a moment
before she spoke.
"When I was a little girl, I had a bike. It was just an old
clunker, but I loved it. I rode it everywhere. Then, when I was
fifteen, my father took it away. I didn't understand. I cried for days.
I didn't cry like that again until I heard you were dead."
Tears welled in her eyes. She fell into my arms, kissed me, and
held her embrace for a long time. Neither of us said anything in the
minutes or hours that passed. Finally she drew back.
"How long have you known?"
"Since you left the other day. I wasn't sure at first, but when I
saw you again at the race, I knew. I think some of the others do, too."
"They know somebody rode onto the track and shot him. Nobody would
tell them anything else. Only Dutch - he's the guy who owns the bike
shop - and I know your name, or the one you're using. Dutch destroyed
your race registration. We didn't tell them. They didn't need to know.
Oh, Spike, you got him. That's all that's important."
"Another dead man. Another pair of eyes. They all watch me from
somewhere, you know."
"You did what you had to do. You did it for all of us. What of
the living Spike? What about us? What about my eyes?"
I pulled her to me and kissed her again. After a while, I let her
"You know I have to leave, Annie."
"Where will you go?"
"I can't say."
"Take me with you?"
"I'm getting old, Annie. I couldn't keep up with you."
I turned away and walked toward the mountain bike. It was no longer
loaded down with packs and oddly bulging panniers. There was no C-4
packed into the frame any more. For the first time in an eternity, I
didn't need any of that stuff. The bike felt light. Riding away, I
realized that I felt light too, younger by the minute, and alive.
What in the hell was I doing?
She hadn't got more than half a mile down the road. I chased her
down in less then a minute. I tried to hide my shortness of breath.
"You ever been to Alberta, Annie?"
* THE END *
Some time ago I read an essay by someone very good, Harlan Ellison,
I think. He explains that his stories often tell themselves; he writes
them down almost as though they have been dictated by an unseen other.
Occasionally, a story willcome out far differently from what he had
planned. In my own experience, "Spike Bike Returns" was such a story.
I had always planned for the original Spike Bike series to end in a
final confrontation of Good and Evil, with Spike bringing order to his
world only though the act of supreme sacrifice. As the series
developed, however, Spike became more than a comic-book character to me.
I grew fond of him, and in the end, I couldn't bear to kill him off. I
gave him a way out, which an astute reader will have surmised from the
little clues I left in the closing paragraphs of Spike's narrative in
"Armageddon in Detroit."
"Spike Bike Returns" begins where that story left off, but beyond
getting Spike out of the mine and safely into exile in Canada, I had no
idea where to take the story from there. With the fall of Corporatism
and the demise of the Bicycle Act of 1992, the central premise of the
original series was gone. I had deliberately left some loose ends at the
end, but I had only a vague idea how to develop them into a story. The
serial killer idea seemed like a good way to get Spike out of
retirement, but beyond that, I had no idea where the story would lead
Yet lead me it did. Every spring, my thoughts turn to two things,
cycling and people like Annie. Once I had the idea for her character, I
realized that the loose ends would have to wait. The story diverged
from the old blood and fire and became a tale of a man's rebirth, his
reconciliation with life and humanity. To be sure, Spike deals death in
the end, but it is for the sake of life and love, not destruction and
Much of this story was written in one sitting. It took me as much
by surprise as it did any of you, I assure you. If it was less
bloodthirsty than what you'd come to expect from Spike Bike, perhaps
it's because I wrote it early in the year, before I've had an unhealthy
dose of hostility at the unclean hands of the local motorhead
population. Nevertheless, I was quite pleased with the story. I've
been making up stories for as long as I can remember and writing them
down since I was nine years old. Of all the stuff I've written in
recent years, "Spike Bike Returns" has been the most gratifying
personally. If it wasn't what you expected, I hope you liked it anyway.
Will Spike Bike be back? This time, I honestly don't know myself.
There are those loose ends I mentioned, but at the moment, Spike is
happy and healed. I'd like to give him and Annie a little privacy for a
while. Of course, it's early in the year yet. I had an unpleasant
encounter with a gravel truck last Saturday; there will undoubtably be
similar incidents in the months to come. It's possible I will need
Spike again before the summer is out.
By now, most of you have heard that the Spike Bike stories I posted
to netnews last year were accepted for publication by Cyclist
magazine. You've also heard that Cyclist went out of business.
In any case, I am still determined to get the stories into print.
Once you've seen yourself written up in slick paper, it goes to
your head. I had intended to publish the series myself, making
it available to Spike's fans. The story which follows was written
as a sort of carrot to get people to send in for the booklet.
When I succeeded in selling the series to a magazine, I abandoned
the idea of a limited publication, and I decided to post this story
as a way of saying thanks to all the people who encouraged me to
develop the series.
Regrettably, this was shortly after I was unceremoniously dumped
onto this wonderful, new netnews system with its "enhanced"
software. As result, most sites didn't get the article.
"The Last Race" opens in Spike's hospital room a couple of
days after his escape from the Detroit salt mines. The story,
however, is set in the summer of 1993, the year it all began...
11 Spike Bike:
Grey November light poured through the window of the stark hospital
room in which I lay recovering from exhaustion and a bullet wound in my
shoulder. My body, if not my spirit, felt much better today. The
doctors told me I could go home soon.
Home. I didn't know where that was any more. As Michael Resnick,
I kept a two-room cabin in the Canadian Rockies, but it was no more home
than this grey hospital ward. It would be a place to hide, perhaps to
heal, but it would not be home.
It was over. I would kill no more. This purpose gone, I had
nothing left but memories that even now had begun to haunt me. How did
it start? What was the turning point? Why had I stayed? Why did I
kill, and who'd been the first? I remember...
I was no longer racing in the spring of 1993. I got my USCF license
revoked after the 1992 Olympic trials following an altercation with one
of the officials. Disgusted as I was with the organization, I didn't
appeal the suspension.
As things turned out, the incident was moot. The Corporatists had
taken control of the Congress and passed the Bicyle Act of 1992. The
Act prohibited all states and municipalities from spending any resources
on bicycle facilities, so it was no longer possible to hold USCF races
on public roads. There were still a few track events, but those fell
apart when most of the big names fled to Europe, Canada, and Australia
to continue their racing careers. The little fish in the lower Cats were
left in the lurch. In the spring of 1993, USCF formally disbanded.
The full impact of the Act had yet to be felt, though. Few
cyclists took the "at own risk" clause seriously, since most of us felt
that we'd been taking that risk for years, anyway. Motorist animosity
toward cyclists had grown slowly but steadily throughout the eighties,
but most of the skirmishes were name-calling contests that hadn't
resulted in any real violence.
As such, it wasn't surprising that the Chicago area clubs decided
to hold the Kay-Five unofficially. Most of the course was on little-
used farm roads in Kane and Kendall counties, where there wouldn't be
much of a threat from autos anyway. Or so we thought.
The Kane-Kendall Korn Kountry Klassic, which everybody called the
Kay-Five, was a 120-km road race held every year on the Sunday before
Memorial Day. It was the first race I'd won as a Cat 2, and I won it
twice after that before I achieved National status. I still held the
course record. Now that my licensing problems were no longer a concern,
I allowed myself to be coaxed out of retirement by my old friend Dave
Karpinski. It seemed there was a score to settle.
In 1992 the Kay-Five was won, amid considerable controversy, by
Scott Currey of the Winnetka Wheels. Currey purportedly won by jamming
a water bottle into my ex-teammate Jerry Smies's spokes as Smies
overtook him on the last stretch. The only witnesses near enough to
actually see it were Currey's teammates, who kept their mouths shut.
Jerry went down at over 30 MPH and got himself busted up pretty good.
Everybody knew Currey's reputation, so most of the guys believed
Jerry's story. The only ones who didn't believe it were the USCF
idiots who officiated the race. Currey got the win and the prizes
that went with it. Since that time, everybody was gunning for Currey,
particularly the Oak Park guys who were Jerry's teammates, as I was
once. No one had nailed him yet. The Winnetka Wheels were a very fast,
very skillful team, in spite of being some of the worst sportsmen even
USCF had to offer.
My reunion with the old Oak Park team was an emotional affair,
which called for a few extra rounds of Wisconsin's finest (or cheapest,
as the case may be) swill. The important business thus out of the way,
we settled into a strategy session for Sunday's race. Jerry Smies, the
team's fastest rider since my departure, started in.
"O.K., now that Spiro's back, we can put those Winnetka wimps back
in the gutter where they belong. Of course, Spiro'll win this year. We
"Hold it Jerry," I interjected, "I don't think that's the best
approach. Why don't we plan for Karp to take it this year. I think you
and I are going to have some other business to conduct."
"I think we ought to take care of Mister Currey. Catch my drift?"
A vicious smile twisted Jerry's lip, bringing color to the patch of
road rash he still had on his left cheek from his last confrontation
with Scott Currey. The smile was infectious, and soon we were all
grinning and chuckling our way through the strategy session. Of course,
it was thristy work.
The authorities would not cooperate for Kay-Five, but the weather
did. It was a cool day, partly sunny, and the winds were light. It had
been raining off and on for several days, filling the drainage ditches
and making lots of nice, black, Illinois mud wherever the soil had been
turned. This was perfect for what we had planned for Scott Currey. So
far, everything had gone as planned. 100 klicks into the race, the
field was pretty well spread out. At the front were myself, Jerry
Smies, Dave Karpinski, and Scott Currey, who was by now nervously
glancing around in search of his teammates. The rest of the Winnetka
Wheels were well back in the pack, hopelessly tangled up by the other
members of the Oak Park team and a couple of dozen other guys who'd had
it in for Currey.
We had Currey boxed. Jerry Smies took the point, while Karp stuck
on Currey's wheel. I held the flank, cutting off Currey from moving to
the outside. To the inside was a drainage ditch and a soft gravel
shoulder. A couple of miles up ahead, there was a sharp turn in the
road. The area had recently flooded, and the ground all the way to the
road's edge had turned completely to mud. Added to the mixture was a
generous amount of natural fertilizer contributed by the local bovine
population. It was there we planned to give Currey his due: Jerry was
to move momentarily to the side, giving Currey room to move on the
inside. But I would sprint to the point to cut him off, whereafter
Jerry would bump him into the muddy embankment at the curve's sharpest
It wasn't to happen. As we pulled into the curve, an enormous,
high-rider pickup truck pulled into our lane, crossing the double yellow
line. I went off to the left of the truck. Karp and Jerry went into
the mud. Currey went into the grille of the truck. His bike went under
the oversized tires, but Currey was carried for several hundred feet on
the bumper before the driver slammed on his brakes to shake him off.
I'm pretty sure Scott Currey was already dead. He wore a helmet,
but it wasn't much help in a head-on collision with that behemoth.
Nevertheless, I didn't get sick until I saw the truck drive over his
body before continuing on its way. As I had dodged the truck a second
earlier, I'd seen the face of the man behind the wheel. He had been
Damn it, Currey. You weren't supposed to get it that way.
* TO BE CONTINUED *
[Synopsis: Recovering from exhaustion and a bullet wound, Spike's
memories take him back to 1993, the year it all began. Nobody took the
Bicycle Act seriously, particularly not the Chicago area racing clubs.
Despite the collapse of USCF and the end of public support for bike
racing, the Kane-Kendall Korn Kountry Klassic - the "Kay-Five" - will
run on schedule. The defending champion of this 120-km road race is the
hated Scott Currey, who won the 1992 running by causing one of Spike's
former teammates to crash. Reunited with his old team, Spike plots to
give Currey his due by bumping him into the mud near the end of the
A vicious redneck in a red high-rider pickup truck puts a tragic
end to Spike's plans. Deliberately crossing the center line, the truck
plows into the pack. Spike and his teammates escape, but Currey is
caught head-on, killing him instantly. Spike laments that Currey was
supposed to get his - but not that way.
In the year 1993, the legend begins... ]
We all stood in shocked incredulity as the deputy continued,
"...well, it's one thing for you to say the guy was left of the
yellow line. Maybe he was, but it doesn't make any difference. I
didn't see it, so I can't issue him a citation. In any case, it's all I
could do anyway. Your friend there..." he gestured toward the coroner's
wagon "...was on his own. I'm sorry, boys, that's how the law reads.
As far as I'm concerned, there was no accident. Legally, you guys
weren't even here. I can't go after him. Now I'm telling you, for your
own good, get those bikes off the road."
We'd all seen the son of a bitch. Down the road, the scumbag had
sort of plowed through the pack, sending riders off both sides of the
road, but no one else was seriously hurt. Just Currey.
Most of us had disliked Currey. He was a dirty competitor, and off
the road, his personality had been somewhere between arrogant and
psychotic. A lot of the guys who raced against him would not have shed
a tear to learn that he'd been struck dead by lightning. Yet he had
been one of us. He showed up for the Kay-Five to defend his title,
even though it was an outlaw race. It was thus by acclamation we
declared him the winner. The kitty was six hundred twenty dollars. It
bought quite a few flowers.
I didn't sleep much the night of Currey's death. I could not
forget the look in his eyes when he knew he was going to get it.
Neither could I forget the fat, ruddy jowls of his murderer wrinkled
into a remorseless grin as he went by. The words of the insensitive
sheriff's deputy repeated themselves over and over in my mind.
"...can't go after him...get those bikes off the road...can't go after
him...off the road..."
Every notion of justice I'd ever held was shattered. What was
happening to this country? Why had I spent four years in the Marine
Corps, what had I been defending? And what of the goddamn cops? What
did they have to protect any more? "...can't go after him ... your
friend was on his own."
We were all on our own, now. It had been that way for years, but
most of us had learned to cope with angry gestures and trash thrown out
of windows. Now we had to cope with murder. That price was too high
even for a bastard like Currey. It was much too high for me. What I
had to do became suddenly and painfully clear. Finally, I drifted off
He'd been easy enough to find. Red high-riders are pretty
conspicuous, and I'd guessed rightly that he lived in one of the small
towns that sprinkled the area where we held the Kay-Five. For days I
watched him, doing nothing, getting to know his routine. He was an
early riser. Each day, he got up before dawn and left for work at first
light. He was a foreman at a construction site in Batavia. He bullied
his workers, drank his lunch, and chain-smoked all day long. Around six
o'clock, he would leave the constuction site, stop at a little roadhouse
outside of Batavia, and drink boilermakers for a couple of hours before
departing for home.
I didn't let him see me at first, while I learned his habits, but
when the time was right, I started to spook him a little. I dressed all
in black, like the mountain bike, save for mirrored sunglasses. I
smeared black smudges under my eyes, like a football player, partially
to cut down on the glare, and partially to obscure my face. I stood
across the road from his driveway, leaning on the bike, sitting on the
top tube, as he departed for work. The sun was peeping over the
horizon, and I caught its glint with my shades, flashing it into his
eyes. My hand cradled the butt of a 9mm Walther automatic behind my
back, but I did not use it. He just gave me a funny look, turned the
corner and drove off to work.
He kept a pair of wretched, abused dogs penned in the back yard.
When he returned home that evening, they were gone. The next night, he
did not park in his garage. Somehow, it had burned to the ground. When
he rose to go to work the next morning, he would find the words
1966 - 1993
rendered in black spray paint on the side of his truck. For the next
several evenings, he would return home to find nothing untoward, save
for an occasional random phone call in the middle of the night.
Two weeks after I first appeared at the foot of his driveway, I
showed myself again. This time, I waited, leaning against his truck, as
he left the construction site. When he caught sight of me, he began to
run, heaving his belly from side to side. I jumped on the bike and
vanished into the maze of half-built houses before he could reach me.
But I had left a calling card scratched into the paint on the driver's
Northern Illinois is mostly flat, save for a few anomalies left behind
by the glaciers. One such was Johnson's Mound, a heavily wooded hill
out in the middle of the Kane County cornfields. It was a forest
preserve before Corporatist real estate developers razed it in 1996.
There was a road that cut through the woods. It wound through the
trees, then cut sharply into a hairpin turn to the left, thence to a
steep grade to the top of the mound. It was a popular attraction for
local cyclists, who used to race one another to the top. The grade was
steepest just before the crest; this caught many an unwary cyclist in
the wrong gear. It was here that I set up for him.
In the blue, predawn glow I waited beside the road, watching the
wide-set, elevated headlights approach. When he was near enough to take
chase, I sprinted for the woods. As I expected, he crashed through the
chain that was drawn across the bumpy drive, two hundred yards or so
I reached the sharp turn and jammed my way up the hill. Unable to
negotiate the turn, he went off into the woods, had to back up and
maneuver around to right himself. He was making this easy. I waited
atop the hill for him to reach the notch just before the steep grade to
the summit. At precisely the right moment, I kicked over an ashcan, and
fifty-five gallons of used motor oil flooded the pavement. When his
wheels hit the slick, I heard the motor abruptly change pitch and saw
the huge truck lurch to the side, slamming into a tree. He tried for
half a minute to get it started up the slope again before he finally
shut off the engine. He reached to the rack behind the seat, got out of
the cab, and leveled a double-barreled shotgun at me.
"You wanna tell me what you want, boy?" he grunted.
"Your worthless redneck ass."
I stood at the summit, perhaps fifty feet above him, not moving or
flinching as he gesticulated menacingly with the 12-gauge.
"You the sum'bitch that took my dogs? You burn down my garage?
You mess up my truck?"
"Your dogs ran off as soon as the gate was open. I don't think
they liked you very much. You had a lot of old rags and paint in that
garage. Wiring wasn't much good, either. As far as that piece of sh*t
truck goes, it was messed up right off the assembly line."
"Who the hell is Scott Currey?"
"Just about the meanest son of a bitch ever to straddle a bike.
Besides me, that is. Too bad you didn't get to know him before you
killed him. You might have liked him."
He took a few steps up the slope, leveled the shotgun, and pulled
back on the hammers. I maintained my stance.
"What's a matter with you, boy? Don't you know you're gonna die?"
"Well, we all gotta go sooner or later."
I watched, grinning, as he pulled one trigger, then the other, to
no effect. A look of consternation crossed his face. He broke down the
shotgun, extracted the dud shells, and moved back toward the cab.
"They're all like that." I told him. "Regulation weight, except
for the powder. They don't work too well without it."
He reloaded the gun and repeated his futile gesture, casting the
shotgun aside as it once again failed. He retrieved a tire iron from
his truck and came for me.
He slipped on the oily surface twice as he scrabbled up the hill.
I waited motionless as he regained his balance and eventually closed to
within swinging distance. I kept my hands behind my back casually,
almost lazily ducking away (so it appeared) as he repeatedly swung the
iron. He lunged with its point and I stepped aside, tripped him, and
kicked him in the butt as he went down. Stepping back, I waited as he
rose to his feet and advanced again. He was beet-red, dripping sweat,
wheezing like a broken bagpipes.
"You know, you ought to give up smoking." I offered. "Bad for your
health. I'll bet your blood pressure is out of sight."
"You son of a bitch!" he panted as he swung at me again. This time
I did not step aside, but stepped into his lunge, blocking aside the
tire iron and bringing my fist hard into his solar plexus. Stepping
back as he doubled over in pain, I snapped my foot viciously up into his
face. He fell onto his side, blood streaming from his nose, gasping for
air in little, desperate gulps. I retrieved the tire iron from his limp
fingers and cast it aside, down the hill and into the woods.
"That's for Scott Currey." I said softly.
I left him there, struggling weakly to his knees, and rode down the
other, dry side of the hill. At the bottom, I waited for perhaps twenty
minutes before I heard the engine start. A moment later, the huge
pickup emerged from the woods, lurched abruptly, and drove onto the
grass, picking up speed, headed straight for me. I let it close to
within fifty yards before I brought the Walther around and leveled it at
the driver's side of the windshield. When I could see his eyes, I fired
seven times, exhausting the magazine. The truck rolled past and fell
over on its side in the ditch.
"And that's for me." I said, to no one who could hear.
"Well, Mike, your temperature is down today. I think we might be
able to send you home in a day or two."
The doctor examined the stitches in my shoulder, pursed his lips in
satisfaction, and replaced the dressing. He withdrew the I.V. umbilical
that had chained me to the bed for the last few days.
"We'd like you to move around some today, but take it easy. You
know, most men wouldn't have stood up so well to the punishment you
took. You have a remarkable constitution. Enviable, in fact."
"Don't envy me."
His expression turned somber. "You want to tell me how this really
"I don't think you'd believe me. In any case, it's over with."
I didn't know.
Johnson's Mound is a real place, much as described in the story. A
glacial legacy, it rises above the cornfields, dwarfing the gently
rolling hills which surround it. Although the climb to the top is
relatively short, the steep grade is a challenge for local cyclists,
particularly for those who use tight gearing that is more appropriate
for the surrounding flatlands. Because it is conveniently situated in
the middle of some of the better cycling country around Chicago, it is a
popular place to set up rest stops for the many invitational tours and
group rides held in the area throughout the season.
Copyright (c) 1989 by Robert Fishell
All Rights Reserved
The Last Race
by Robert Fishell
12 10. Episode
[In the year 1989, one man fights an institution]
Annie asked me how it all began.
I told her the story of Scott Currey and the last Kay-five, but it
really started a long time before that. I learned how to ride a bike
when I was four or five, and it probably started shortly thereafter.
Nevertheless, when I think of more recent times, of the dark years
immediately preceeding the Act, one incident comes to mind...
It was the summer of 1989. I was in my second year as an undergrad
at Caltech, visiting my family in Chicago over the break and competing
in some of the local races. I was still a Cat 2 then, unknown save for
a small local reputation I was getting.
Dave Karpinski, my best friend and one of my teammates, showed me a
newspaper clipping that had been circulating among most of the USCF
clubs in the area. The author was a humorist, a local personality noted
for his irreverent commentary and sardonic wit. Usually, his columns
were funny. There was nothing funny about this one. He described an
incident involving his wife and a local cyclist. The cyclist, it
seems, had been hit by the wife's car. The circumstances which led to
this were not fully explained, but the columnist inferred that it had
been the cyclist's fault; perhaps he had run a stop sign. This was not
infuriating in itself. The columnist, however, went on to explain how
his wife had been upset by the incident. He claims that he would have
enjoyed it. Mutilation and death, it would seem, were appropriate
penalties for minor traffic violations.
That was infuriating.
The local racing organization was asking its members to write
letters to the columnist's paper, deploring the irresponsible nature of
the column and all that. I took a somewhat different view. Being one
who holds freedom of speech in the highest regard, I didn't want to tell
his paper they shouldn't have printed the article. The man was entitled
to his views, however warped and sadistic they might have been.
Nevertheless, I wondered if he was sincere in his word. I thought I
might find out. I was always better with a bike than with a typewriter,
The rag he wrote for ran TV commercials that suggested he was a
regular at "Billy Goat's Tavern," one of the Loop saloons. I checked it
out and found out it was true enough, although the place wasn't as homey
and cozy as the commercials would have you believe. I spent
considerable time observing him, keeping track of his comings and
goings and the amount of beer he drank. The information would prove
I followed him home a few times, in my Dad's car, keeping a
discreet distance. I didn't want him to see me on a bike just yet. I
had to learn his habits, which turned out to be well established. This
would also prove useful.
Ultimately, I was ready to set up for him. I didn't go armed in
those days (although I often wanted to), but what I had in mind was
somewhat less than lethal. Hanging from ceiling hooks in my parents'
garage was an old Schwinn LeTour I used to ride to high school. It was
battered and rusty, but still serviceable. It did, however, require a
few modifications. I retrieved a set of Deore' cantilever brakes and a
pair of beat-up Campy Record levers from my junk box. A little work
with a brazing torch, and the brakes bolted on. I installed a couple of
oversized Mathauser brake pads, the kind used for heavily loaded
touring, and a pair of well-stretched 2mm cables. When I was done, my
old beater bike had brakes that would stop a train.
I waited until Friday afternoon to make my move. I wore my most
obnoxious outfit, a screaming, day-glow jersey I'd won in some crit or
another, and a matching helmet cover, white gloves, and shorts with a
bright yellow stripe. I wanted to make sure he could see me.
I lay in ambush for him in an alley a couple of miles from his
house. I knew he'd be coming home from Billy Goat's down this narrow
street, with several beers in him. As I saw him approach, I pulled out
of the alley and strategically moved in front of his car. He laid on
the horn, but I ignored it. There were cars parked in solid lines down
both sides of the street, with nowhere for me to go, even if I'd wanted
to. Of course, I didn't want to. I wanted him good and mad.
At the end of the block was a four-way stop sign. The columnist
would make a right-hand turn here, usually the California variety. This
is where I sprang my trap. I did something he didn't expect. I
stopped. That is, I STOPPED, from 21 MPH to zero in just enough space
to keep me from going over the handlebars.
He did what I expected. Timing it perfectly, I had released the
brakes an instant before his bumper hit my back wheel. It was easier to
control than I'd expected; I had to throw the bike into a skid myself,
taking care to slide a ways on my elbow and thigh. A touch of road rash
would make it more convincing.
By the time the columnist was out of his car, a couple of
passersby had already come to my side. I wasn't hurt, but I made a good
show of it, holding my elbow with the other hand, not getting up from
the street. A crowd was gathering. I heard someone murmur something
about getting an ambulance, another mentioning the police. The
columnist was visibly shaken, but I was just getting started. As he
approached, I turned to face him, pointed my finger and shouted to the
"Him! He tried to kill me! He followed me for blocks! Get him
away from me!"
A couple of big men emerged from the crowd, stood between me and
the columnist, glowering menacingly.
"What did you do to the kid?" One said (I was 24 and an ex-Marine
at the time, but I took no insult in being called a "kid" under the
circumstances). "Sh, you just run him down, man. Hey, mother,
you been drinkin'?" The crowd got uglier as sirens approached.
Ultimately I went easy on him. I dropped the assault charges a few
days later. I waited a couple of months to tell him I wouldn't be
seeking civil damages, although I did ask him to pay for the bike. He
was in a good deal more trouble with the police and his editor, given
the content of the article he'd written. And I didn't see him hanging
around Billy Goat's Tavern much after that. Just as well; I kind of
liked the place.
It was just a small skirmish, ultimately an empty victory before
the gathering storm.
Copyright (c) 1989 by Robert Fishell
All Rights Reserved
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