Spectral surfing dominated the skies over southern California long before the sport became popular along the shores and piers of the congested human community below. Cool ocean breezes carried moisture inland on mild November air, creating conditions ripe for brief afternoon precipitation over the hills of Los Angeles. The resulting sun-showers and the accompanying rainbows were spectacular in their arching radiance, unless benders were prevented from doing their jobs. It was the benders that turned unremarkable horizontal rays of wet white light into splayed jewels of colored luminance.
Roy kicked off his skids as he monitored the sky, anticipating a hearty straight and narrow that he would mount in a leaping dash from the foothills near Santa Monica and ride for miles in a rush of color and spray. He existed for the pure art and joy of a splendid ride, and prided himself on the depth and breadth of colors he was able to extract, briefly tattooing the sky with his footwork. He would frequently hang five on his descent, goofy-foot on rare occasions, and on his best days bend double rainbows Earthward under his feet.
Catching a ray took timing and patience. Opportunities were scarce, and competition between surfers was growing as the number of benders grew relative to the number of available rays. Because of this rivalry, a ride’s exhilaration was always tempered by the possibility of conflict, or even sabotage.
On the afternoon of November 14th the rain bent and bowed, shredding into seven brilliant bands under Roy’s white refractals. He dove earthward in the vicinity of the Los Angeles River and dipped below ground level hoping to exit unseen. Too late to react upon approach, he spotted a rival bender reflected in the shallow water of his intended culvert, standing on the bridge above. He struggled to reduce his speed and braced himself for impact, helpless.
* * * * *
Reports of a fallen bender came into the Central Office Of Luminance from a field officer patrolling Santa Monica south of Sunset Boulevard. An outbreak of fractal offenses had stretched the department thin for several weeks and the short rainy season had only just begun.
Investigator Birg was first on the scene and called in his report. Bender falls were seldom solved and rarely accidental. Birg knelt over Roy, pulled back the hood on his jacket and shook his head. He knew the victim by reputation.
“Damn shame,” he muttered, then looked around at the torrent of water that had followed Roy to the ground, leaving him face down in a shallow pool under a bridge.
“Looks like a hit,” he said to his commanding officer, angrily snapping the send button on his radio, “Seven balloons tied to his wrist. Trademark of the Solaris gang. One for every color of the rainbow.”
A wagon arrived to quickly dispatch Roy’s remains. Birg stood quietly surveying the scene. The sun came out, darkening his glasses. Water in the culvert evaporated as the sky cleared. A silent figure walked over the bridge above, unseen and unheard.