Heroes Of The Green City Chapter 7: Skateboarding, Also Frog

“Holy shit!!” Jason exclaimed. He’d just been walking through a bunch of trees. It’d been pretty dark except for the small slivers of light that managed to shoot through the branches and needles above. The trees were close together. Sap had gotten on Jason’s clothes. The trees had scratched his arms. Finally he came to an open spot and there was this huge fucking toad just… just sitting there next to the creek. The thing was easily three or four feet tall, maybe four and a half feet wide. Jason jumped backwards in shock, hitting the trees behind him.

The toad either hadn’t noticed him, didn’t care, or maybe it was too cold to move? Nah, Jason thought to himself, it had to be warm enough for it. Jason had been sweating pretty heavily from his walk but he probably would have been too warm even if he’d been sitting, even in the shade of the forest.

Jason couldn’t stop staring. There was nothing like this on Earth. He let out a low whistle and said “Buddy, you are one big fucking Toad”. Perhaps in response, the toad blinked one eye after the other in quick succession. Then it got back to the important business of sitting nearly motionless.

There was a small creek between Jason and the toad. There were more of those rock formations around, big flat areas of rock that looked weirdly skateboard-able. One of the “benches” that had appeared every so often during his hike was on his side of the creek. The rectangle of rock was situated perfectly for toadly viewing, as if it had been made for sitting and appreciating the toad, as if it were a piece of art and not a huge fucking animal out of a kid’s fairy tale book. The bench was surrounded by flat, rocky, ground that almost looked like cobble stones. Bits of easily sweepable forest detritus (mostly dirt and pine needles) was scattered on the “cobble stones.”

Jason sat down on the bench and put his skateboard on its side by his feet. He took off his backback, got out his water bottle and one of the jerky bars he’d taken with him for his skateboarding session back on earth. Earth, Jason thought to himself as he ate the jerky, that is where you are not. Now you’re on Nebulon 5 or whatever planet this was supposed called. Maybe it was called Ribbit.

Jason sat there, drinking his water and eating his snack. He idly watched the frog, who still wasn’t doing much. It was just staring off in the middle distance, blinking occasionally or sometimes adjusting its feet. It seemed like a normal toad, just incredibly large. Jason had always thought toads and frogs were amazing. He’d never lived anywhere where you saw a lot of amphibians so it seemed to him that they were rare wild animals distinct from the birds and bugs of a suburban park. The suburbs in California’s central valley was probably too hot for amphibians, or maybe the lawns and the herbicides killed any of them that arrived at the housing subdivisions or shopping centers that were Jason’s normal habitat.

He felt better for resting. He put his skateboard under his feet and started idly rolling it back and forth as he sat. The skateboard’s wheels rumbled along the stones. He looked at the rocky surface around him and shook his head in disbelief. Jason was beginning to accept that the small dragons he saw flying around were real, and this toad was about as fucking real as anything could be. (The damn thing could probably eat a small dog without much trouble.) The thing he was having trouble with believing just now was that this natural environment was seemingly littered with choice skate spots.

He’d been resisting the urge to try any of them out on the assumption that he didn’t know how near the nearest town or city was, and he should conserve his energy just in case it was real fucking far. Of course he could be on a planet that was completely uninhabited, in which case he’d be well and truly fucked…

As he moved the skateboard under his feet, he found the “cobblestones” seemed less bumpy than he expected…

“Ok, fuck it” Jason said, put his food away, and grabbed the bag of skate wax from his bag. He started coating the top edge of the bench for better sliding and grinding. He put his bag and water bottle in a spot out of the way of his approach to the bench and used his foot as an improvised broom to sweep enough of the detritus away for this ridiculous, toad-filled, skate session.

Jason walked away from the bench to give himself enough distance to get enough speed to grind the bench. He got on his board and tried a few ollies. (For those not savvy to skateboarding, an ollie is just a jump that keeps the board attached to a skater’s feet without the skater having to touch the board with their hands.)

Damn. He still felt on. His ollies were higher than they’d been. Everything seemed easier than normal. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m not freaking out, Jason thought to himself, everything just feels right, which is just wrong. Why should I feel so at ease? Why do I feel like I can do anything?

Jason sped toward the bench on is board and popped an ollie high enough to get him on to the “bench”. His wheels landed in the perfect position. Two wheels on the bench, two wheels off. The landing was smooth. He was locked in. He’d not lost any speed. The axels grinded against rock with that satisfying sound skateboards make when the metal hits slick cement at speed. The trucks (the metal axles of the skateboard) slid along, pushing and sliding the wax and metal into the rock for the few seconds Jason made contact. He dismounted and landed on the stones that seemed like they’d been specifically placed there for Jason to roll on them. He rumbled along until he hit the dirt near the creak.

Now that he was closer to it, Jason looked at the Toad. It hadn’t moved much but it did seem to be watching him. “Ever seen anything like that Kermit? I’m assuming skateboarding hasn’t been invented here on Neblulon 5.” Jason looked at the bench and the ground near it again. It must have been his imagination, but the spot looked like it had morphed just a little more into the sort of thing he’d find at his school or in a public park.

He looked at Kermit the Toad again, then back at the skate spot, then shook his head. “Yeah, me neither.” So this world is offering itself as my personal skate park, he thought, is that really the weirdest thing about my current situation? Is this my new super power now? Maybe I’ve been given the power to shred wherever I go.

Jason raised an eyebrow, seriously considering the possiblity. While considering it, he used one foot to fiddle with the board, making it pop and spin in the air and around his foot. “I just got a wacky idea Kermit” he said to the toad while facing away from it and toward the bench. He was a big believer in visualizaiton as a way to improve his skating. Even when he wasn’t in a position to skate (while standing in line at a store, or not paying attention in class, to give a couple of examples) he tried to vividly imagine himself doing new tricks or perfecting old ones. He knew it had improved his skating, and his mind’s eye was pretty well developed.

He looked past the bench and did his best to visualize a stone “curb” (the bit of cement on the street-facing part of a sidewalk or the rectangular strip surrounding a tree in a parking lot, slick curbs are a staple of street skating) appearing on the far side of the bench as he approached it. It didn’t appear out of the ground he moment he imagined it like he half expected, but the experiment wasn’t over. He did his best to imagine a smooth, oily, waxy, rectangular strip of rock appearing out of the ground as he approached it.

Jason got a running start, dropped his board under his feet and then started pumping his legs to get maximum speed. Just like he expected, the ground got even smoother as he rode over it, though it still rumbled under his wheels. The rumbling was now at a higher pitch as he went faster and faster toward a curb that wasn’t there.

Pop! He spun the board in the air under him and then landed on the — “Oooof!”

It seemed the curb hadn’t appeared out of the ground after all. Jason Jumped off the board and started to run on his feet to slow down. He was going to fast for that trick to work. He tripped and rolled into the dirt. As he rolled in pokey dirty forest detritus he had a huge grin on his face. This was for a couple of reasons. One, he was having a blast. Skateboarding is just fun as hell whether you’re landing your shit or not. Two, what the fuck had he been thinking? He didn’t have magic powers. Jesus Christ dude, get a grip.

Jason looked back to see if the toad had witnessed his fall, but it looked like Kermit had finally had enough of all this ruckus and wandered off. “Fair enough” Jason said out loud, then he looked at the spot. “Wait…”

He looked a the spot where he’d visualized the curb being. It was there. It was fucking there.

He got off of his stomach and onto his feet, then walked to the curb that hadn’t been there just seconds before. “Holy fucking shit.” He also saw why he’d not landed the trick. The “curb” wasn’t really enough of a facsimile for him to properly skate. The rocky surface was too rough to grind or slide. It also wasn’t completely straight and had cracks in it big enough to stop any skater. But it was there. It existed. Big as life.

Jason had goddamn skateboard powers. “Jesus Christ on a cracker” he said out loud and to no one in particular. “I’m a skate god!” He shouted this so loud that a couple of dragons flew out of their trees in surprise.

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