The Ezekiel Bicycle
by Brenda Anderson
Simon pedalled. To his right and left, all humanity pedalled too. No-one was breathing so he knew humanity had arrived at a turn in the road, and veered into unknown territory. Here, neither life nor death counted. Pedalling did, though.
How they managed to sit on the same bike, all humanity at the same time: now that was also unknown territory. Physics obviously didn’t apply. Simon looked around. In an unbroken line to his left—and right—men, women, and children bent forward, hands on the handlebars, and pedalled.
In that other life where he’d worked and slept, Simon had done a lot of bike-riding. This one resembled those bikes in that it had one wheel in front and one behind. It also had peddles, handlebars, a bell, and two rear-vision mirrors. Whenever he wanted distraction, Simon looked in the mirrors. The right and left operated very differently. If he wanted just to see faces, he checked the left-hand mirror. He’d already seen Attila the Hun, a Neanderthal, American actors, and Joseph Stalin. He’d seen many faces: different races, ages, sexes. A small Asian boy. An octogenarian Negro. A pale-faced Inuit. Because this bike ride had no beginning and so far no end, he sometimes got tired of checking faces, and occasionally looked at the right hand mirror.
Mirror, mirror on the right, tell me, tell me, why so bright?
Simon’s eyes hurt from the dazzling light, so he never looked too long in this mirror. He didn’t understand why a rear-vision mirror operated like this. Why would humanity be pedalling hell-bent-for-leather away from such dazzling light? Unless this light was somehow pursuing humanity, getting closer and closer, almost ready to catch up. That would make light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel a cruel lie, a myth someone had spun to help humanity cope with life.
Simon reminded himself that this wasn’t life, but it wasn’t death, either.
He glanced at the left-hand mirror. This time the stern, proud face of the first Queen Elizabeth pursed her lips. Her bleached face puckered, and the row of fat pearls strung across the top of her forehead trembled. Elizabeth, like all humanity, like Simon himself, was giving it her all.
A flag appeared in front of humanity and waved, vigorously. Everyone strained to see ahead, and a whisper ran up and down the ranks: Comet ahead. Every hand went to the bicycle bell, and humanity ping ping pinged a warning.
The comet arced away.
Humanity breathed a sigh of relief. Every time the bicycle bell had to be rung, Simon wondered where they were. He’d always understood that the cosmos was almost-infinite, so perhaps humanity was pedalling through some cosmic annex, not physical space, but maybe metaphysical, something more like Enlightenment.
But that didn’t square with the blinding light in the right hand mirror. No, on the contrary: humanity seemed to be pedalling away from light, going like a bat out of hell.
Now there was another thought. Heaven and Hell? Simon had taught Sunday School back in that other life. He’d read a few religious books. He rather liked the Bible, especially the Book of Revelation. Yes, he knew that Revelation was also the happy hunting-ground of cults, the unhinged and the religious nuts. Perhaps this was Purgatory? No, that was an archaic concept. This endless bike ride wasn’t improving humanity, or cleansing it, nothing of that kind. Of course, the notion of ‘cleansing’ belonged in moral territory, and Simon wasn’t sure that described this bike ride, either.
Perhaps it was a Get Fit class that lasted forever.
But what would God want with a super fit, bicycle-riding humanity? Simon reminded himself that the thoughts of God belonged in another territory again. For example, that free-wheeling apparition in Ezekiel defied all physics and besides, it had wheels: in fact, a wheel intersecting a wheel, and ‘as they moved, they would go in any one of four directions.’ There it was again: ditch physics and do impossible things, on wheels.
Perhaps it was a symbol: Freewheeling God.
Were they cycling so hard to get closer to God, or escape from Him?
Then Simon and all humanity pedalled slap-bang into an invisible wall. Wham, everyone toppled over. The bike shimmied into a pool of extraordinary light that enveloped the fallen riders. It got so hot and bright that the road cracked open, and deep crevices appeared. Hiding their eyes from the light, some of the fallen riders flung themselves down the crevices. Others fell over themselves reaching for the light.
Which became a Face.
Simon gazed at God, and wept for joy.
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Brenda Anderson’s fiction has appeared in various places from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine to Flash Fiction Online. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia, and tweets irregularly @CinnamonShops.