I flopped down belly first and spread my arms and legs in a vain effort to create maximum friction between me and the dirt, rock, and the dried vegetation that was carrying me down the side of the dark cliff, to the river far below. To my right I could hear the heavy thumps and grunts of a 1000 pound animal that was accompanying me in the fall. I was briefly reminded of a physics lesson where I learned that a feather and bowling ball fall at the same rate in a vacuum and wondered which one of us was going to reach the bottom first, considering I was currently in the lead.
Mostly I didn't care as long as I ended up on top.
In the next moment the toe of my boot caught in a low shrub and swung me around abruptly 180 degrees, my head pointed down hill. Suspended, I watched as my horse catapult above me, the flash of glowbars on the breast collar spinning above me and then - stop.
In the absolute darkness below me I watched the three spots of green glow oscillate slowly with the breath of the horse, but remain solidly in place.
I cautiously raised my hands above my head and stretched my finger tips toward the green glow. My fingertips touched solid ground. I carefully slipped my boot off where it was fixed in the bush and slid onto my arms in a bastard handstand before scootching my bum over to the left and falling onto the ledge in a heap.
I lay there for several minutes, wanting to gasp and choke in air in relief and gratitude, but tried to breathe as quietly as possible. I listened for any sound above that would indicate that the person who started my impromptu sled ride was still around to make sure there were no unscheduled stops on my way down to the American River.
Estella sighed as I crawled up to her and since her breathing didn’t appear labored, I hoped the darkness wasn’t hiding anything more than cuts and bruises. I unwrapped the black electrical tape holding the glow bars onto Estella’s breast collar, hid them inside my gloves and then put them in my helmet so I wouldn’t lose track of my only light source. Satisfied I was as hidden as possible I tucked myself against the cliff wall, out of the way of flailing hooves if Estella decided to get up, and settled in for a long night.