The wind whipped his longish hair around his face. The bridge was empty except for himself. The boy looked down. It was a long, long way down. He turned his head to the young man next to him. Tommy was an athletic guy with spikey hair and a Thrasher T-shirt. He was also the one who tied the bungee rope around his ankle.
“You ready, pal?” Tommy asked.
The boy gave that some thought. He was hoping to feel something akin to fear, staring in the depth from that bridge. Still, he felt nothing of the sort. In his sixteen years on the planet he’d never really known the feeling of fear. That’s why he’d come here. In fact, that was the reason that for the last few months he’d been traveling across the country, looking for the feeling of fear.
“I guess,” the boy said.
“Then jump!” Tommy told him.
The boy took a leap, arms stretched wide without any hesitation. For a moment he felt like he was flying. That felt pretty good, not scary. Just good, free. Then he dropped down, wind rushing past his face. Tommy had warned him there might be a bit too much wind, but the boy had insisted he wanted to do the jump anyway. He saw the ground heading his way, he knew that for not to die, the rope tied to his ankle harness had to be the correct length, the ankle harness had to be fit around his ankles perfectly, the rope had to be sturdy enough. He wasn’t blind to those facts. He just didn’t feel any fear.
Then there was a powerful tug on his ankles, as the rope was stretched taut. He grunted, the tug somewhat painful. The fall had stopped. He was now just swinging by his ankles in the wind.
“Whoo-heeeeee! That was quite some jump!” he heard Tommy yell above him.
Hanging there in the air the boy felt disappointed. He had so hoped to feel some kind of fear. But no, he was still the boy without fear.
Some time later the boy was having a Cherry Coke at a gas station near the bridge. He was sitting on top of the hood of Tommy’s pick-up truck. With a big, flashy font the door of the truck said Tommy Swan, Extreme Sports. Tommy was drinking a Red Bull.
“I’ve never seen anyone jump down with such wild abandon before,” Tommy said. “And shit, I’ve seen some reckless adrenaline junkies.”
“I told you, I don’t feel fear,” the boy said.
“How can that be? Everybody feels fear, right? I mean, maybe for different things, but still…”
The boy shrugged. “I don’t.”
“Okay, obviously you’re not afraid of heights. But maybe, I don’t know… Maybe you fear snakes? Or spiders?”
“I had a bunch of tarantulas crawling over me. Went into a snake-pit. Nothing.”
“That’s wild, dude! Pretty awesome.”
“It’s not. I feel… Incomplete. Not human. I’ve read up a lot about the subject of fear. How it rules many people’s life. Fear is something that also makes life worth living, you know? The fear of losing someone makes you also aware you love them. The fear of death makes you live your life to the fullest every day. I miss those feelings. Ever since I can remember.”
“Shit, is that some kind of medical condition or something? You ever go to a doctor or shrink with that?”
“Doctors, shrinks, all kinds of smart people. They haven’t ever encountered someone like me. Through the years I tried to feel fear by reading horror novels, watching hundreds of horror movies. Nothing. I decided to leave home, go off an some kind of adventure, you know. Alone traveling around this big country… That should be a bit scary right? It’s not. Not to me. And I’m afraid that bungee-jumping didn’t make me feel any fear either.”
Tommy scratched his head. “I guess I can imagine that maybe feeling no fear isn’t as great as you might think. So, what are you up to now?”
“I’d appreciate it if you could give me a ride to a town called Arkham’s Lot. Ever heard of it?”
“I think so. Small town, not much going on.”
“Right. It also has a very haunted house.”
“A haunted house? Like I don’t know, the one in Disneyland?”
“If the stories are true it’s nothing like Disneyland,” the boy said after a sip of Cherry Coke.
“More like The Amityville Horror then?” Tommy asked.
The boy smiled. “Yeah, something like that.”
“It’s quite a drive. But I’m sure you have some interesting stories to tell me along the way. I don’t have any customers the rest of the day, so I guess I can take you.”
The boy jumped off the hood. “That’s awesome! What are we waiting for? Let’s ride!”