Read Rush Online

Authors: Jonathan Friesen


Table of Contents
Ten minutes later we get our orders, and we jog, geared up, onto the tarmac. We swing into the helicopter beneath the thumping of rotors. In the distance, a finger of black spirals into the sky.
This moment answers all the questions. The “why” Salome doesn't understand and the reason I'll never comply with Dad's request. Inside, I burn a joyful burn, and darkness flees. I hate fire. I want to kill it. But I love it. It dances in my mind.
We hover over the smoke. Radio scratches in the distance.
“Abort, guys. Wind shifts in the canyon.” The copter pilot looks back and smiles. “It's turning ugly. Not your war today.”
Nobody pays attention. We stare at Moxie's shadow. A red light flashes across his face.
“Hover!” Mox steps out onto the helicopter's skids. “The IC has the call, and this IC says, yeehaw!” Mox tucks into the pike position, pats his belly bag, and disappears down his rappelling rope.
“Guess it is our war,” I say to Harv. “Later.”
Finding our safety zone. Securing the eighty-pound K-bag filled with saws and food, axes and survival equipment. There will be time for all that. But not now. I stand on the skid and stare out over the sea of green. Smoke rises from beneath the canopy of trees and sends spindly fingers up to grab me. It's down there, waiting to destroy or be destroyed.
I zip down the line into the suffocating cloud. My feet hit Koss's hands, and I hear curses and laughter. I slow. We descend together. The thicker the smoke, the clearer I think. The cloud that fogs my mind blows away, and I'm all here. Right now. Let there be light.
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2010
Copyright © Jonathan Friesen, 2010
All rights reserved
Friesen, Jonathan.
Rush / by Jonathan Friesen.
p. cm.
Summary: A pariah in his town and home for the results of his risk-taking behavior,
eighteen-year-old Jake seeks adrenaline rushes to clear his dark thoughts, but when Salome,
the girl he loves, gets caught up in taking chances, too, the consequences are devastating.
eISBN : 978-1-101-43475-8
[1. Risk-taking (Psychology)—Fiction. 2. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 3. Emotional problems—Fiction. 4. Wildfires—Fiction. 5. Firefighters—Fiction. 6. Family life—California—Fiction. 7. California—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.F91661Rus 2010
[Fic]—dc22 2009049934
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume
any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

I want to thank an incredible family—mine. Wendy, you know just what to say, and Emma, Isaac, and Si, you know just when to show up with hugs. I love you all.
I also want to mention the incredible people who worked behind the scenes, yet whose names, if you ask me, belong on the book cover. Deidre, agent extraordinaire, I begin with you, and the family that is the Knight Agency. What a team you make. Angelle, you need to know that as an editor, you're a writer's dream. Along with all the good folk at Penguin, your insight makes writing a joy.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Cec Murphey. You were there when this idea was merely a crumb, but you believed in the story, and you believed in me. Thank you.
Mom and Dad, you were there too. You support me in more ways than I can list. I'm blessed.
One of the greatest surprises during this season of life has been all the wonderful people at Hillman. You surrounded our family with more love than we could have imagined.
Which brings me to God. Simply acknowledging you feels too small. You're awesome.
Finally, Eli, I humbly thank you for living the life, for leaping into flames when the rest of us flee. You and those who fight fire everywhere are heroes.
Christian Kodrey
Allen Kimm
Ray Torea
Carter Ramirez
David Hendersly
Benjamin Graft
Andrew Lee
Jason Graft
Gabe Filcher
I whisper at the sky as sheets of rain sting my face. Water rushes by me, swamps my boots, and fills Carver's Gorge up to my shins. It's a steamy wet, a loud wet. Sheer walls rise on both sides and jumble the sounds of foam and thunder. Miles away at Brockton High, teachers drone on about the composition of rocks and good poetry. But in this deep ravine sliced into forests of California pine, my world is wild and alive.
Lightning sears into the rushing flow twenty paces beyond me. I feel the jolt, and my sopped hair leaps.
“Did you feel that?” Troy's hand squeezes my shoulder. “I'm serious, Jake. If Cheyenne finds me dead, she'll kill me.”
I stretch my neck, work my shoulders, and feel my smile widen. “No, she won't. Why do you think she dropped out when you did? She married you for your money and that big old firefighters' insurance policy.” I grab his arm and pull him beside me. “She asked me to take you down here so she could collect.”
“Shut up! When you and Salome finish playing around and get serious, you'll know what I'm talking about.”
I run my hand hard over my forehead. “She's a friend.”
I swipe beads of water off my watch with my thumb and peer through the smeary face: 1:30 P.M.
“You wanted to stay in shape in the off-season. I thought a fire boy like you would love all this water.” Suddenly, the stone beneath me shifts, and I reach for Troy to steady myself. He whacks at my hand, and I slip to my knees, stand with a laugh.
“Okay, buddy. We're going the length of the gorge in fifty minutes.” I point at a boulder that juts out of the froth. “And you, no mercy.”
Troy squints and whips back matted hair. “I can't see a thing down here. I'm heading out.”
“Follow!” I slap his shoulder and sigh, knowing he won't go back without me. “Good to have you home.”
I leap into darkness. Deep in the cut of the forest, stone and shadow keep it dusk, but beneath this storm, it's midnight. I dodge left, weave right. I wade blind. Massive rocks loom colorless—only lightning gives me a flicker of sight.
“Slow down, Jake! Can't hardly see you.”
“It's gonna be close,” I call over my shoulder, and my arm grazes a boulder. “Keep up.”
I don't fear the granite giants—hit, bleed, run on—it's the ankle twisters, the sunken stone grenades that wait to explode my feet and drop me to my knees.
Rain thickens. Straight-down rain that reaches from the sky deep into the earth.
More lightning sizzles into the canyon walls. The river's on sulfury fire, each breaker tinged blue or gold.
I'm inside a fireworks display, part of the explosion.
Lightning flashes again, and I burn, a pulsing burn that scampers up my legs and sets my spine on fire. The flash steals my strength and leaves me twitching.
I'm not breathing.
I stop, suck air hard, and expand tingling lungs. Troy crashes into me, and my body slumps against a trunk, thin and rough. I gasp and press my cheek against the bark. It feels alive, like I'm alive. Pines that dot the ravine's bottom prove it—there's life down here. I will not die here, not today.
“What happened there?” Troy's voice sounds tinny, but he's yelling in my ear.
I straighten, clench my teeth, and stumble forward. But I can't stand against the flow.
I scrape against rock, leave a hunk of fleshy thigh. My foot slips. My ankle rolls beneath my weight, and I scream. I splash into foaming water face-first.
Troy's strong arms circle my waist and haul me vertical. “Jake, what's the quickest way out? I didn't survive all those fires to get killed in the water!”
“Off me! I need to beat my record.”
I pull free from Troy and pause. Something thick and weighty wraps my calves, and I kick it away. A battered jacket dips beneath the surface, swirls, and snags on a rock. I lean over and pick up the shred. Brown leather, with an
emblazoned in gold across the back. Caked blood splotches cover the sleeves, the front. My heartbeat races, lit up by a different jolt.

Other books

All Fall Down by Carlene Thompson
Counselor Undone by Lisa Rayne
The Unseen by Sabrina Devonshire
Duet in Blood by J. P. Bowie
The Sicilian's Mistress by Lynne Graham
Transcendent by Katelyn Detweiler
The Ex Who Wouldn't Die by Sally Berneathy
Sidekick by Natalie Whipple Copyright 2016 - 2024