Facing Fear

roller coaster“The best way to overcome your fear is to face it,” Doc Freeman said. “You’ll never live a full life unless you can do that.”

Second worst money I ever spent was on phobia therapy. First worst? The amusement park ticket.

A two-hour line did nothing to convince me the ride was safe. Each step forward made my heart beat harder, my thoughts churn faster. By the time I reached the front of the queue, cold sweat chilled my forehead.

My clammy hands trembled when I pulled the bar down over my head.

I kept reminding myself this ride had never once shut down for problems or repairs. Not a single time. It was the safest coaster in the country.

Statistically, didn’t that mean it was due to break?

My head spun, and I pushed on the bar. I couldn’t breathe, I had to get out. “Hey!” I pushed up again, but the restraint held. “Hey, worker guy! I need out! Let me out!”

The speaker crackled. Worker guy ignored me and spoke into his mic. “Departing in three, two, one.” The car jerked forward. “Enjoy your ride.”

We moved forward at a snail’s pace. I knew it was slow, as I’d watched every ride for hours while I stood in line. Didn’t feel slow, though. Felt like we pushed Mach 1.

Every chink-chink-chink of the chain as we climbed the hill sounded like nails in my coffin. The air had thinned. I couldn’t catch my breath.

We crested the hill and… plunged.

Riders all around me raised their hands and screamed their excitement. I had no one’s hand to clutch, and I sure as hell wasn’t letting go of the bar. My terrified shrieks drowned out the joy of those around me.

The only thing I heard over my wailing was a bang. Then another. The car jerked.

Fear flooded my veins in an icy rush.

The first loop loomed, massive and deadly. A third bang, and the car slowed. Thank God, we were stopping.

We weren’t.

The coaster didn’t slow enough. It headed into the loop, too slow to make it around, too fast to stop before the apex.

Something blew in a burst of smoke, the acrid black cloud blowing back on me, choking me, stinging my eyes. Tears rolled down my face. Then the coaster bucked and disengaged from the track.

In freefall, among all the screaming, I heard Doc Freeman’s voice in my head. “You’ll never live a full life…”

He didn’t finish his sentence. I didn’t finish my ride.

This story inspired by the WordPress daily prompt: Loop.

19 thoughts on “Facing Fear

  1. Great story, unless you’re in the roller coaster business. There is or was one that ran outside the needle of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. I rode a bunch of coasters, but couldn’t do that one outside a tall building.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I won’t ride them anymore. Haven’t for years. It’s not the ride that bothers me; it’s the congestion of the line and the tightness of the restraints. The older I get, the more claustrophobic I get.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m afraid of heights so it’s always a challenge to get on one. Usually I’m fine once I crest the first hill, but the older I get the harder it is to convince myself of getting that far!

        Liked by 1 person

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