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Extinction: Imminent
Broadcast Signal: Pirate

District of Olympus Archives
Mortal Hall
Αρχείο Περιφέρειας

Temple of Dione

Extinction: Imminent
Broadcast Signal: Pirate
District of Olympus Archives
Mortal Hall
Αρχείο Περιφέρειας
Temple of Dione

Chapter 2 – Joshua Bach

Joshua Bach, Mortal Savior. A late 20s man with a beard is driving a truck in the mountains. Image generated by Adobe Firefly.

Book III ⇔ Present Day

Old Stage Rd, WSW Cheyenne Mountain, CO, USA

The truck vibrated violently, its rear tires losing grip on the gravel mountain road as it hopped across the washboard. Josh’s grin was wild and he punched the gas, the rear sliding around a corner.

The sun was high and shadows from the tall pines cut the sunlight, their contrast mimicking a strobe light as the truck jittered underneath. Dust billowed from the mud tires and settled on the dash, wind whipping freely through the open windows. The Ford charged ahead, twisting the forest into a frenzy while Josh mimed along with the Beastie Boy’s Mike D pumping from the stereo.

Josh continued to climb, his energy elevating along with the  switchback road. Glimpses of the ever-growing sprawl of Colorado Springs faded beneath him while his fingers tapped the steering wheel like a metronome. Rocks pinged the undercarriage and dust followed behind like a jet trail, rocketing him toward the ridge line and the deep blue sky beyond. Peaking through the trees to the far west, snow-white thunderheads built on the horizon. It was a daily tradition, their size growing with the troubles of the day as the afternoon wore on.

The truck slowed as Josh drove along the crest of the mountaintop. He took in the last view of civilization behind him and awed at the vast, rugged peaks ahead. The summit acted as a gateway, a natural monument of liberation. Once crossed, only freedom remained, along with the wild unspoiled valleys of aspens, rolling meadows, and hidden gulches that cut deep between the slopes of the Rocky Mountains. As the truck dipped behind the backside of the Front Range, Josh grinned nearing his destination. It wasn’t so much a location as it was a feeling. Intuition was his guide, and he only stopped when it felt right—and this was the way each of his adventures began.

Satisfied, he found a clearing and pulled the truck off to the side of the road. He killed the engine and turned the key back, allowing the music to continue to play. Josh jumped down from the rock rails and unloaded his mountain bike from the bed. The stereo penetrated the quiet landscape and he imitated MCA’s animated hand gestures while rapping along to “Here’s a Little Something for Ya.”

With the bike ready to go and his crash helmet snugged securely, he killed the music and locked the truck. A deafening quiet consumed Josh’s ears. Like eyes trying to take in the dark, shapes of sound filled the space left by the trio. A light breeze brushed against leaves, birds conducted their lives in the distance, and the low drone of insects now became his soundtrack. Josh leaned against the bumper and took in one last look of endless treetops.

“Just another Tuesday afternoon.” He bragged to himself with a wild grin.

He straddled the bike and gave it a half crank to gain balance, gravity quickly taking care of the rest. He navigated along the dirt road for a short distance until he met up with a single-track deer trail that descended the mountain in a much more direct route.  Gaining speed, Josh dared himself to see how long he could ride before touching the brakes. The twisted path won and he dropped further, now relying on the front disc for survival.

Joshua Bach riding a mountain bike. Image created by Adobe Firefly.

With each straightaway, Josh found bumps and mounds to hurl himself off of. His airtime got longer, his height got higher now preloading the full suspension. Low-hanging tree branches created perfect ocean barrels and he tucked, dipping his shoulder against the leaves. His mind freed, imagination flowing in realtime as he was now getting pitted like the big wave surfers of Hawaii. Shooting out the other side of the leafy pipeline, Josh’s adrenaline surged and his fingers touched the brakes less and less. His blazing speed merged with reaction time, leaving only an instant to bunny hop sections of eroded trail. Locking up the rear tire and sliding himself around corners, Josh became one with the bike. The wheels and handlebars now extensions of himself, feeling his way down the trail.

The kamikaze run continued for about seven miles. The immense concentration needed to navigate the single-track trail brought Josh fully into the moment. He knew the consequences of becoming unfocused; he had plenty of scars on his arms and knees from doing so. Reaching a state of pure situational awareness answered all of Josh’s questions about life, or at least made him forget about them. Somehow matters of consequence and the deep, profound meaning behind the world escaped him as he was simply reacting to what was happening—not analyzing it. These were the moments he reveled. These were the moments that felt like a vacation, a break from the quiet times when he was left alone with his thoughts.

Josh finally brought the bike to rest under several massive pines. Out of breath and filled with euphoria, he plopped down in a patch of ferns. He sprawled, then rolled. The same way he did when discovering a king-size bed in a swanky hotel room. While resting in the shadows, the brilliant blue sky divided the limbs above. He wiped sweat and rubbed his eyes, faded contrails left by passing jets providing the only evidence that humanity still existed. The adrenaline faded while he sucked cool water from a CamelBak. Why doesn’t everyone do this? He thought.

Sitting up, his eyes moved past the trees in front of him to a small meadow. He pulled himself to his feet and made his way to the edge of the tree line. The field was filled with wildflowers and tall plumes of golden grass. “Untouched,” is all he said to himself.

Meeting back up with the Jeep trail, Josh’s mind began to wander. The talent distanced him from the exertion of peddling back uphill through the switchbacks toward his truck. That’s how Josh coped, he lost himself in fantasy, removing himself from the task at hand. Unaware of his burning lungs and pounding heart, he thought about all the exotic lands he’d yet to explore, all of the great adventures that would take him by surprise. He basked in his freedom and worked hard to retain it.

Josh was in his late twenties, unmarried, no kids, and not a cent of debt attached to his name. He scraped by from doing odds and ends, mostly carpentry work. He was college educated but quickly found himself out of place with the red tape that consumed the corporate world. While he had a refined taste for fine foods and travel, he lived rather modestly. As long as he could pay rent and buy the toys needed for his adrenaline-fueled escapades, he was somewhat content.

This juncture in Josh’s life frustrated many of his friends and family. They thought Josh was selling himself short and they knew he had the potential to be a successful individual, achieving all the things that society expected of him. According to them he just lacked dedication. Josh would only pursue jobs that caught his interest or provided him with a new skill. He had no aspirations of making a career of them, building a pension or climbing the proverbial ladder into assumed stability and security. He was there to learn the tools of the trade, or in some cases, just to have a fantastic story to tell. As soon as he was satisfied with the experience, he moved on.

Though he understood the sentiment, Josh felt annoyed by their misjudgment of him. He had plenty of dedication. The amount of effort it took to maintain his freedom was a full-time job in itself. Avoiding true responsibility and lifetime commitments isn’t as easy as it seems on the surface. It took a concerted effort. Maintaining a positive income while technically unemployed was not an easy feat. His ability to pack everything he owned in thirty minutes didn’t come without considerable trial and error. The amount of paperwork it took to continually change his address lead him to consider hiring an intern. However, his greatest hero’s trial was in remaining untamed by the kisses of beautiful, educated, and very stimulating women. Giving in would undoubtedly lead to a white picket fence and the end of his life as he knew it.

Even though Josh was legally considered to be a full-fledged adult, little would suggest that he was living up to the title. Josh was a Lost Boy, unable to compromise the only thing he knew to be true: the little voice inside that alluded to something greater than money. The voice that told him there was something more rewarding in the world than conventional reason. His intuition didn’t make life easy, but it also never let him down.

Joshua Bach riding a mountain bike in the mountains above Colorado Springs. Image created by Adobe Firefly.

Finally reaching his truck, Josh chuckled at how powerful his imagination could be. He had hardly thought about the seven-mile climb and somehow ignored the sweat dripping down his face.

After securing the bike in the back of the truck, he climbed in and turned the key. The music from his earlier jam session was deafening and he jerked to hit the stereo’s power button. He rolled down the windows once more and positioned himself so that the sun fell over his body, his contorted arm finding a protein bar in the center console to snack on. After a few slow chews, Josh turned the truck around and started to make his way back toward the ridge line and eventually down the face of the Front Range, this time going much slower so as to take in the sights.

Releasing the right-of-way to approaching adventurers, Josh gave each a gentle wave. A sense of melancholy fell over him as he knew that passing cars meant he was approaching cell phone range. Today’s walkabout was coming to an end and soon he’d be on city streets where the real world awaited him. On cue, once rounding the last protruding foothill, the text messages began to roll in.

“Ugh…” he groaned, laboring through the notifications in his phone. “Nonsense, garbage, hot chick, Wilde, nonsense.” He clicked on Harrison Wilde’s text message: Hey dude, give me a call when you get this. Josh rolled his eyes. He knew what the message meant—work. Work was good right now because the first of the month was approaching and he needed to cover rent. But, nonetheless, he still loathed the idea.

Though being born a decade apart, Josh and Harrison had been friends for many years. While Harrison lived a more sensible life with a wife and children, he never missed a chance to hang out with the guys. From band practice, to video games, snowboarding, and boozing, Harrison’s interests were hardly more than that of a typical seventeen-year-old. He envied the poetry of Josh’s freedom, only seeing the possibilities of being unattached rather than the reality. He lived vicariously through Josh, imagining every night was a remake of a bad high school movie where the sole mission was to get drunk and laid. While that was sometimes the case, Josh kept most of his exploits fairly vague. He allowed Harrison to use his imagination, which was usually better than reality anyway.

Ironically, the two had met while Josh was dating Harrison’s younger sister, though she was still considerably older than Josh at the time. Spending her early twenties in a failed marriage, Josh was the perfect bit of insanity she needed to clear her mind of her past. However, as with all women in Josh’s life, the time eventually came when she forced him to make a decision. He knew she longed for perfectly decorated Christmas mornings, elementary school plays, and a man who fully dedicated himself to her and their family. And she deserved that.

Somehow Josh and Harrison were able to keep their friendship alive, even after the breakup. A considerable feat seeing as their common bond was utterly heartbroken. Shortly thereafter, Josh helped Harrison land a job at the same home building company that he was working for. It was one of the only real jobs Josh had ever had and the primary reason he hadn’t taken another since. The two had worked side-by-side, with Harrison learning the ins and outs of the industry and Josh continuing to give him material to dream about.

Eventually the duo parted ways when Josh, unable to swallow the red pill of the real world, opted to pursue his lifelong love of music. The friends casually stayed in touch, but Josh was gone on the road for months and sometimes years at a time. E-mails, social media, and the occasional drunken text message carried them until Josh’s recent return home. With Josh now somewhat permanently back in town and Harrison running his own construction company, the two picked up right where they had left off.

Soliciting Josh’s wide array of construction skills, Harrison enabled the lifestyle Josh so brazenly fought for, though he gave Harrison little credit for it. Harrison’s name appearing on his phone, no matter how much history they shared together, now represented authority, work, money, and all the rigors of society Josh couldn’t seem to grasp. Harrison continually pushed Josh to take on more responsibility in the company and even offered him a partnership. Josh of course refused, citing something about “too much responsibility” and that he “had no desire to pound nails for the rest of his life.”

Nonetheless, when Josh did work, the two worked well together. Harrison trusted Josh like a brother. Any project Josh was associated with always maintained top-notch craftsmanship and was completed within budget. A rare find in their industry. Josh never let Harrison down and always followed through with any project he committed himself to. In exchange, Harrison knew Josh needed a long leash and plenty of sabbaticals. The two had found a harmony in their relationship and this was why Josh, reluctantly, returned the phone call.

Harrison Wilde, construction contractor out of Colorado Springs, CO. Image created by Adobe Firefly.

“Joshy!” Harrison said as he answered the phone.

“What up, dude? Just got your text.”

“Hey, man, did you bike today?”

“Yep, just heading back. Awesome!” Josh emphasized in falsetto.

“Good to hear it, brother!” Harrison’s shared excitement quickly gave way to business. “Hey man, I think I have some work for us, if you’re available?”

Harrison knew that Josh was free but had learned how to talk to him to get what he needed. If he approached the situation more as a question and favor instead of telling Josh what to do, he knew wouldn’t meet much resistance. Josh wasn’t fooled by the tactic but he played along. He truly did want Harrison to succeed, and, more importantly in this case, he needed to pay the rent.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, just some minor deck repairs and painting at this big house up on Pike’s Peak.”

“Cool.” Josh replied with pointed deadness in his tone.

“It could potentially lead to a lot more work. This guy is loaded. I painted him a pretty picture of what an addition would look like!”

“Right on,” a bit more life returned to his voice. Josh was always happy to hear of opportunities that would grow Harrison’s business.

“So yeah, he’s ready to go whenever. We can start tomorrow and get it knocked out if you want?” Again, Harrison always had a way of making things sound like a team effort with words like “we” and “us,” but Josh knew better. He’d be up there doing the work by himself and Harrison might meet up for lunch if it happened to work out.

“That’s cool. You have all the materials I need?” Josh knew he didn’t. He had done enough work with Harrison to know that he was never prepared for anything.

“Yep!” Harrison lied, quickly trying to figure if he had enough time to stop by the hardware store in the morning. “What time do you want to start so I can let the homeowner know?”

Josh smirked and shook his head, knowing exactly what Harrison was calculating. Using Harrison’s lack of preparation to his advantage and a chance to gain some extra sleep, Josh replied, “You know me, I get the shakes if I have to be anywhere before nine…”

“That works!” Harrison quickly agreed. “I’ll let the homeowner know and meet you up there. I’ll text you the address in a bit.”

“Nice. Have a good night, mister!” Josh began to end the phone call before Harrison could elaborate on any further projects.

“You too, brohio—shoot one for me!” Harrison laughed. Harrison loved to sling insults and razz his friends, but he was terrible at it. While he had the gift of gab, he wasn’t particularly quick witted and that combination usually left him defenseless.

“I used it all up on your sister.” Josh was quick with a smile.


“See you tomorrow.”

“Later, tader.”

Josh Bach riding a mountain bike in the mountains. Image generated by Adobe Firefly.
Josh Bach relaxing in a meadow in the mountains. Image generated by Adobe Firefly.
Josh Bach riding a mountain bike in the mountains of Colorado. Image created by Adobe Firefly.
Harrison Wilde, construction contractor and friend of Josh Bach. Image created by Adobe Firefly.