“I have killed more people than I care to remember.” The sound escaped with a hiss as if through gritted teeth.

“And destroyed the lives of countless more.”

There was a pause as if it were trying to remember something it had forgotten. A memory so deeply buried that it took a long time to drag to the surface.

“The problem is that there are three types of people who come to visit” it said with a hint of sadness leaking into its’ voice.

“There are those that understand me, those that think they understand me and those who really don’t have a clue.”

Jeff lay back and gazed at the sky through the cracks in his visor, a shallow sigh escaping through his bloodied lips as he struggled to breath.

“I was going to warn you.” it said; the remorse heavier as if it regretted the actions which had just taken place.

“Every year the signs are there. Every year they go up and every year, nobody pays the slightest bit of attention.”

In the distance Jeff could hear the sound of an engine whining. He struggled to sit up as the whining grew louder. Beside him the shattered remains of his motorcycle lay strewn across the highway where it had rebounded off the tree which had somehow managed to get in his way.

The pain exploded down his spine and he collapsed back against the road, the light fading from his blood shot eyes.

“Of course there is no accounting for stupidity.” Both the whining and the voice seemed fainter now as his chest struggled to rise under the crushing weight of the air around him. Jeff allowed his eyes to close against the brightness of the sun, unable to turn his face away to seek solace against its’ intensity.

The whining rapidly descended a series of steps until it came to a low rumbling halt.

“Hey buddy, are you alright?” Jeff tried to open his eyes to work out where this new voice was coming from but it was like they were glued shut.

“Of course, nobody ever asks me how I am.” it said.

“But then who cares about me? After all, I’m the one who killed you.”

A gasping rattle escaped from Jeffs lips as his body went limp. No longer could he hear the hissing voice. No longer would he feel the heat of the sun or feel the freedom of the air rushing past him at 90 miles an hour. The tree that had got in his way had taken its’ toll and pain subsided as the life slipped gently from him.

* * *

Wending its’ way through the peaks, it drives a treacherous path from east to west.

On a summers day it glitters with a dark green hue as shafts of light force their way through the hills and trees which line it on either side.

In winter it basks in white, hiding its’ icy glare under the soft pale sun.

It is not a place for stupidity and has a reputation for dealing cruelly with those who fail to heed the warnings it provides. Those who understand it tell tale of the beauty it is famous for, whilst those who don’t, brazenly boast of their stupidity. Those who survive that is.

Its coat changes and morphs with the seasons and its’ bite is as vicious as that of it’s namesake. Both deadly and beautiful, like a rattlesnake poised, waiting to strike.

* * *

Stephanie heard the shriek of the tires over the sound of her iPod.

“There goes another one.” She said even though there was nobody there to hear her.

A split second later the sound of screeching and tortured metal filled the air followed by the clatter of shrapnel as it rained down onto the road.

“They never learn.” Stephanie stood up and began to make her way down the hill. One more soul to be guided back to safety. She didn’t mind so much. It was a beautiful day and a gentle breeze warmed her as she skipped down the mountainside.

Below her on the road lay the twisted remains of, what appeared to have been a brand new motorcycle.

“Idiot.” She thought to herself.

To the east she could hear the whine of another rider coming towards the scene and she sat down to wait. From the pitch of the whine she decided that this one was travelling at a much more respectable speed.

“Play nice.” She said.

The rider had seemingly spotted the accident and she watched as he quickly brought his bike to a stop a few feet away, dismounted and went to check on the latest victim to fall foul of his own stupidity.

Sensing it was time, Stephanie climbed down to the road and walked slowly along it to where Jeff lay struggling to gain his final breath. Ignoring the frantic screaming of the second biker into his phone, she took Jeffs hand.

“It’s time.” She said.

Jeff opened his eyes and looked at her.

“Time for what?”

“Time to take you down off the mountain.”

“What happened? Where am I? Who are you?”

“That doesn’t matter.” Stephanie said. “But you can’t lie here all day, you’re blocking the road.”

Jeff allowed Stephanie to help him to his feet at which point he noticed the remains of his bike lying in pieces all around him.

“I’m dead aren’t I”. It wasn’t so much a question as a statement.

“Yes.” Said Stephanie. “I’m afraid you are.”

* * *

The pass glittered in the afternoon sun and enjoyed the warmth of the breeze which cascaded down from the summit above; beside it a small brook burbled along merrily as the traffic hummed along the tarmac.

Stephanie sang to herself as she made her way back to her tent where she would spend the rest of the afternoon watching rabbits darting in and out of the heather.

With the exception of shrapnel and a slightly damaged tree, there was no sign of the events which had taken place. It was as if nature had already forgotten his passing.

Just one more voice lost to the rattle of the snakes tail.

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