Pink Blur by David J. Ruthenberg

It was the hottest summer in the history of the world, and I was in one of the hottest places: Satan's Uvula, the world's most extreme bio-surfing slope, built in the Gobi desert by mysterious billionaire and bio-surfing enthusiast Zepf Zarkham.

My bio-board, Cynthia, was riding in the freight elevator next to us with the other boards. I first noticed Magnum Flex's Warhead, an ox. Skip “Sizzle” Sherpin, a low-rider from Cali, had a brand new salt water crocodile he was calling Greenwake. Wicked Sick, a galapagos tortoise, belonged to Ollie Macomb, longtime respected bio-surfer pro. Macomb was unbeatable in his prime and though, at thirty-six, he was long in the tooth, yet you couldn't build a slope like this and not invite him; and to do so would be an insult to b-surfers everywhere. I'd been worried that the old dude would take a bad spill and kick the bucket for years now, but he always managed to come out alive, if not on top.

I, Regina “Baconspike” Jones was the youngest, at fifteen. My board, Cynthia, was a common pig: sus domestica. When I went into the semi-pros, they all laughed at her. “When pigs fly,” was the joke. Turns out they can. Pork-boarding is now one of the hottest trends in the sport.

I'm a pretty righteous b-surfer, but two things worried me here. One: Satan's Uvula was the steepest, waviest, and hottest slope ever built. And B: Prince Kamal Hussein Abn Al-Sayyid was surfing: son of a leading OPEC member, Kamal had sunk millions into the sport with which he was obsessed; had the best gear, the best trainers, the best support, the best everything. Not only that but I'd left too many rich kids in the dust to fear unskilled chumps with primo boards.

But the prince was a monster. He lived and breathed bio-surfing. When his imam told him he couldn't bring his board to the mosquehe's a pork-boarder toohe renounced his religion. “If there's no bio-surfing in paradise,” he told the shocked newspapers, “I have no business there.”

While Cynthia was a sow I took off my cousin's farm, Kamal's Desert Sunrise was a Visayan Warty Pig, a critically endangered species. He spent millions on him, and continues to spend millions; for example, on a gifted legal team, to use every trick in the book to keep Sunrise out of the hands of conservationists. The pig went through training just as intense as the prince, and ate better than most heads of state. No humans were allowed in the board elevator, but the prince had hired two warthog bodyguards to protect his prize and companion.

Viewed from the top, the slopes of Mongolia stretched in all directions, desolate but for the hordes of press camped at the bottom of the slope, their news trucks now as small as ants. The air was noticeably thinner up here so Prince Kamal, ever prepared, now took casual hits from a small bottle of oxygen, donning a jumpsuit made of some kind of material designed to help with the extreme G's of the slope. His new national emblem, a man bio-surfing an eagle grasping the sun its talons, was stitched on the front in gold cloth. I was in a tank top and breakaway track pants.

I peered down at the irregular surfaces and felt the bile rise in my throat; but why?, I'd killed thousands of slopes and this one couldn't be that different. No, it had to be the air. There was a man near the edge of the slope, looking uncomfortable in a business suit, someone from Zarkham's office, I guessed. He started to explain the rules but I could understand little of what he said: it all sounded like the buzzing of flies; I could feel my heart pounding in my ears. Suddenly the sky went crazy and I felt myself falling.

Next there's a bunch of faces crammed in my vision, and I'm on my back; Ollie, looking down at me, his black helmet strapped on, with a concerned expression. Zarkham's stiff is looking too, but he doesn't have any look at all. And the weirdest is Prince Sayyid, who's... smiling at me? I realize I'm in his arms.

“What the hell?”

“You fainted. Kamal caught you before you fell down the slope,” Ollie said.

“Yes, it is true... are you ok, samshonsakkir?”

I blinked. “What is THAT?”

He blushed. “Oh, I am sorry... it means 'mother of pigs' in my language. I am a big fan of yours.”

And he cracked his goofy grin and blushed some more. Great: I was about to ride the toughest bio-surfing slope the world had ever seen, and now I had boy trouble too.

David J. Ruthenberg lives near Chicago and needs to be employed. You should hire him.