Sky Diving

The last thing you remember hearing before your friend thrust you out of the plane was: “Don’t forget your parachute!” That would be nice, though, instead of falling, you immediately begin hurtling upwards. With the stratosphere slowly approaching and your air running out, what do you do?

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254 thoughts on “Sky Diving

  1. TwistedLyric

    I could hear my heart pounding in my chest, a rapid ‘thump-a-thump-a-thump.’ It was like a surreal out of body moment when the wind from the open helicopter door blew warm air into my face and echoed all noise back at me in a muted variation of hearing a train come racing into the station. The pack on my back felt heavy, a bag of anchors ready to weigh me down in the sea of air I was expected to jump into.

    My friend Julie was sat beside me, her cheeks flushed with excitement. She was a thrill seeker, forever pulling mad stunts and ridiculous feats my tame being would never attempt but this one was different, it was for charity and one that was close to my heart so I couldn’t deny her or myself the experience.

    The instructor gestured to me, mouth moving and words coming out that I couldn’t hear. I scooted forward slowly, my hands trembling. I was terrified and I knew either my heart or bladder was going to give out when I jumped out of the helicopter. Turning to Julie I opened my mouth to tell her and the instructor I couldn’t do it when with a quick shove Julie threw me from the helicopter, some unheard words coming from her grinning mouth as I screamed to high heavens.

    All around me air rushed by, my goggles the only things protecting my eyes from the air. I was free falling, my eyes fixated on the ground below that showed me field upon field of crops and vineyards. Then the air seemed to stop, no longer rushing past me but instead just drifting past at a sluggish pace. I looked around frantically, wondering if I had died and somehow not known it yet I could clearly see the helicopter and Julies falling figure.

    This sight sent me into a bigger panic as that sight registered in my mind. I shouldn’t have been able to see Julie falling and in fact should have not been able to see anything but lush green. Instead I could see the helicopter fading into a black dot and Julie disappearing altogether.

    The sky quickly became space and the sun faded to starlight and the sights of spinning planets. I breathed easily and floated, my mind unable to comprehend the sight before my eyes.

    It was only when I heard a voice behind me I was certain I was dead, especially when I saw who was talking to me.

  2. Dew

    “Wait, what?” I call out, but it’s too late. He shoves me from the plane. Below me I can see rows and rows of small farms, creating a patchwork on the ground below. And my fear of heights kicks in.

    “Kyle, you jerk!” I scream, knowing that it’s very unlikely that he’ll hear me. The end of the sentence fades away into a straight up scream, and my stomach lurches. There’s an uneasy moment of weightlessness where I seem to just be hanging there in there in the air, before I realize I’m not falling. That’s not right.

    He comes up next to me, and I think he notices it too. I’m not falling, but he is. I reach out for him in desperation as the sickening feeling in my gut lurches again, and I’m moving. But not the way that I should be. I’m falling up. Literally. Kyle looks panicked as he grabs my outstretched hand. I can feel the pull lessen as the gravity applied to him offsets the pull that seems to be directed to me.

    “Don’t let go. Please don’t let me go,” I say my voice wavering. He nods, and I twist my head to try to see what it is that is making one of the fundamental laws of physics ignore only me. I can’t see anything though, the helmet getting in the way, and the bag on my back making it hard for me to see past it. But what I am managing to see is all open sky.

    For a moment we hang there, before the pull on me becomes stronger and I get ripped from his grip. I can see him yell my name as we both tumble through the air growing further and further away from each other. I try to shimmy as I’m ripped through the air towards whatever unknown force is pulling me up there.

    The air is getting thinner and thinner with my ascension, and the further into the air I go the colder I feel. A numbness starts to take over, and I feel myself beginning to disconnect. The sound of the wind whizzing by my head has been replaced by my heartbeat that I can feel in my ears. Seconds stretch into hours in my mind’s eye as I consider the possibilities of what this even means. I can feel the shallowness of my breaths, looking down in the direction I should logically be going warrants me a view of the earth that makes me panic more.

    Instead of individual farms I can see almost the entire country spread below me. With a whimper I turn to see where I’m going, and I can’t help but wonder when I’ll break out of the atmosphere and be lost to the depth of space.

    I don’t have to wonder for long. Above me, in that vast sky, a round door way opens and a space craft appears above me in the clouds.

    I left the atmosphere shortly after being on board, and I doubt I’ll ever come back.

  3. Manwe38

    I’m way late to this prompt, but here’s an idea…

    ***

    The only way out is through.

    That’s what he’d said, back in the lab, just before everything had gone to hell. Despite the crashing of my computer after the momentary connection to an outside line, I’d been lucky enough to retrieve all the data, and had been well on the way to finding a cure.

    Then it changed. Mutated. Took off and ran away like Michael Johnson in the four-forty, and now we were here, stuck in this plane. There were four of us left, not counting the pilots, desperately trying to outrun the virus, searching for someplace, anyplace to land.

    And our fuel was almost gone.

    I glanced over my shoulder at my three companions. There was Jenkins, the mathematician, who’s hairless dome glistened with sweat like a fat man in a sauna; Immetra, the Sudanese-born immunologist who had first cracked the secrets in Ebola’s core, and finally, Lillian, who looked like Taylor Swift but had once beat an IBM computer in a whimsical chess match. She looked up, and flashed me the briefest of smiles, like the last ray of sun winking over a glittering horizon. The time was near, and she knew it. We all did. We were the ones who had made it out, while the others had choked and drowned in their blood. By the grace of God, our suits had been on, and when the breach came, we had borne witness–but not fallen.

    Not yet.

    I turned and rapped on the cockpit door. It swung open, and the voice of pilot drifted out. “We’re almost there,” he said.
    I nodded. “How big is the island?”
    He shrugged. “Twenty, maybe thirty square miles. Big enough.”
    “What’s the terrain?”
    “Mostly mountains, some rainforest. We’ll survive.”
    “Do we have enough ‘chutes?”
    Now it was his turn to nod. “Yep. Twenty, in fact. We each can have two.”
    I managed a smile. “I hope I won’t need it.”
    “Me too.”

    I slipped back into the dimly-lit bay. Unlike a regular passenger plane, the cargo-conversion was drab and gray, with no seats. Only a series of nylon harnesses kept riders secure; they hung from the curved walls like bizarre webbing. I shuddered, momentarily reminded of a picture I’d once seen of an Australian globe spider devouring a three-foot long snake. Struggling to her feet, Lillian stumbled over to me across the plane’s swaying floor.

    “How bad?” she asked.
    “Not good.” I looked down. “We’re going to have to jump.”
    Her eyes widened. “Are you serious?’
    “Yes.” I met her gaze, two lanterns beaming out from an oval of pale snow. “There’s no place to land.”
    She swallowed, then slowly nodded. “So who’s going first?”
    “Me.” I motioned towards the door. “I’m team leader, so it’s my responsibility.”

    She paused, and the hand that landed on my arm felt like the touch of an angel. “Jerry….”
    “Don’t.” This was no time for unspoken feelings, to acknowledge the attraction that both of us felt. “We still have a job to do.”
    “What’s that?”
    “Survive. Live on. Finish this.”
    “But-”
    “Shhh-” I placed a trembling finger on her lips. “We couldn’t save the world, but maybe we can save ourselves. If we’re lucky.”
    “I love you, Jerry.”
    “I love you too. Believe it.”

    Her mouth fell open, but before she could speak, I quickly turned away and strapped on the chute. It was lighter than I thought, but that was good; I didn’t have the strength to carry anything else heavy. On the other side of the plane, my remaining two colleagues began to stir, but I paid them no mind: it was time to jump.

    Bending at the waist, I hauled open the door, sending a blast of muggy air screaming across our faces. Below, the irregular wart jutting out of the ocean stared back at me with hues of light green. I turned and cast a final glance at Lillian; her eyes were wet, but her jaw was strong. If we both made it down, then we might have a chance. My wife and kids were probably dead, and eventually, I’d be able to start over. One day.

    The plane gave a lurch, and I fell to one side. It was time. I braced my hands on the sides of the hatch and looked down. The wind was loud, harsh, the throaty roar of the Lords of the Air. Heart pounding, I closed my eyes, leaned forward, and jumped.

    The only way out is through.

    To be continued….

  4. foodpoet

    Abigail leaned over and watched him jet pack away.

    “Well Damn”

    The technician major strolled over and tossed Abigail a belt. “We kept some things back did not trust that duster wearing slick.” He grinned “time to test” with a push he shoved Abigail out the broken window. “Don’t forget the parachute and just push the green button.”

    Abigail fell herself falling toward the smog layer below. Once she calmed herself down in mid plummet she clasped the belt and pushed the green button and found herself shooting skyward and a rapid pace. She shot arrow like up into thinning area and looked around. On a horizontal line in the distance she saw Montefort angling down toward the smog level. “Not time for a learning curve, I am going to kill Franklin.” Pushing the other buttons by rapid fire she figured out red was stop and plummet. Green was go and shoot skyward. Blue now that was go and level off. She pushed the red button and fell until she was on the same level as Montefort and hit blue. Now she angled herself into a torpedo shape and aimed herself to intercept Montefort. In the blue cusp just before the clouds thinned to blackness they met in a crash of limbs and metal. Abigail broke the seal on the iron manacles she had kept for this occasion. Hitting the red button she slapped the manacles around Montefort’s wrists and cited the 15 and ½ security breaches against the new realm as they plummeted down through the smog level. She hit the green and red at the same time and hoped that met come in for a smooth landing. It almost worked and they bounced hard and landed with a thud.

    Abigail stood up and pulled up the shackled Montefort. “Well a long chase comes to an end. You should never have turned Franklin into that sheep.” She brushed off her velvet and pulled out communication spell. “Franklin Montefort is in irons and magically inert. I recommend pick up before he comes up with a new non magic counter agent.”

    A few days later Abigail and Franklin sit down for tea and scones. Franklin leaned over the table. “Abigail, you were a griffin, beat a terror spell, used an untested gravity belt and snared the Houdini of the magisters. Ready for an encore?”

  5. lionetravail

    Pipe Dream
    (took some liberty with the prompt, but it felt right)

    “… And that is the story of your name, little Raven’s Wing,” the old man said, his eyes crinkling with delight as the young girl giggled happily.

    “Now mine, Grandfather?” the boy said hopefully.

    “For your name story this year, we must go to the sweat lodge and smoke,” the old man said. “It is time.” He stood.

    “No, Grandfather, tell mine again!” Raven’s Wing called out, wrapping her arms around his leg.

    His expression was loving and kind, even as he refused her. “Later, dear one- now it is your brother’s time.”

    She pouted, but let him detach her.

    “Raven’s Wing, you come here now to help me with dinner,” her mother called.

    The girl gave the old man a quick hug and ran to her mother, chattering before she even got there.

    “Let us go, Uppik’s Shadow,” the old man said to the boy as he pulled his own furs tightly around himself and went outside.

    The youth said nothing, but followed the old man out into the chill wind of evening. He followed the well-tramped path through the snow behind Grandfather with a careless athletic grace which contrasted sharply with the careful-but-dignified stride of the old man. When they reached a structure buried in the snow, with heat shimmers visible above the small opening at the top, the old man went directly in and the boy followed.

    Inside it was hot, and they both took off their outerwear. Grandfather set about making it even hotter, adding wood to the charcoal from a supply by the entrance. Fragrant woodsmoke curled its way upwards to the vent as the two took seats. The old man brought out a pipe and filled it as both he and the boy began to sweat.

    “Your story, Uppik’s Shadow, began when the very first Angakkuk had been taught by Raven how to petition the helpful spirits and to banish the tornrait, those which seek our harm. His first great success happened when a child from his community was stolen by the mischievous spirit of the Avingngak, the lemmings, which sought to gain the formidable understanding which people had by stealing one of their young to raise it as their own. It is said that Tulugak, Raven helped them…”

    The boy listened raptly as Grandfather told the story, smoking at his pipe and occasionally allowing Uppik’s Shadow to have some as well. The combination of heat and the smoke made him feel very light as he listened…

    …and Uppik’s Shadow found himself falling out of a clear, cold sky to the harsh cry of Raven’s raucous, squawking laughter! He flailed as he fell, wind rushing all around him more strongly than the storm which had come with the onset of the last winter. The frigid updraft chafed his skin, and brought stinging tears to his eyes, and he saw the white world below him rushing towards him. He fell, helpless and out of control!

    And then he heard, from within the whistling wind, the hunting cry of the Uppik, the snow owl from where his name had been chosen, and he felt an answering surge inside himself. Muscles in his back tensed and suddenly pushed outwards as a tickling rush whispered along his skin from head to toe, and Uppik’s Shadow was able to spread his wings which reluctantly caught at the violent air, slowing his descent. He fought to gain control over his fall, muscles where his wings attached bunching and straining with the effort, and when his fall became a glide and then a powered ascent back to Father Sky, he threw back his head and screamed with delight!

    The exultant hunting cry of the Uppik tore through the wind over the wide land below, filling the entire world!

    Then, as the boy-snow owl flew over the plains of ice, he saw a dark rush of movement below him, and he saw a large pack of the Avingngak racing across the tundra, and they carried with them a small child. He flew lower, spreading his wide wings to brake, and he issued a fierce cry of challenge to his prey below!

    As his shadow passed over them, the Avingngak panicked, splitting off in many directions. The Inuit child tumbled loose from the pack, and rolled to a halt on the frozen ground. Without losing a beat of his wings, Uppik’s Shadow swooped low to grab the child in his talons carefully, and with powerful strokes returned to the air to bring him back to his family…

    “… And that is the story of your name, Uppik’s Shadow,” Grandfather said, kindly.

    The boy, senses reeling from the potent smoke and heat, blinked several times. The old man could see him move his shoulders and back muscles in the dim light, and smiled to himself as he puffed his pipe and simply watched.

  6. Observer Tim

    Sorry, I just had a sudden thought.

    THE BODY

    “Hey Jefferson, get a load of that.”

    I look over at where Tom’s pointing. There’s some kind of dark blotch on the bottom of the cloud deck.

    “What is it, Tom?”

    “Dunno. Get your binoculars, I’m going to fly closer.”

    As we approach the anomaly I use my binoculars to get a look. It’s kind of hard to focus and the image jumps around, but eventually I figure it out. It’s a body, splayed out on the base of the cloud with limbs twisted at unnatural angles. The lower part of the cloud is stained with a splat of blood.

    “It’s a dead body, Jeff. It looks like he hit the cloud at terminal velocity.”

    We zoom by in silence; Jefferson looks thoughtful. Finally he speaks.

    “Guess his parachute didn’t open.”

    “Yeah. Shame, that.”

    We make a note of the position and altitude in case search and rescue wants to come pick up the body.

    1. Critique

      An interesting story that brings up questions as to how the body could be in the air etc. This story could have sequels. So few words and told well. I liked it 🙂

    2. Kidron Googo

      wow, i like how you captured the adrenaline rush in the prompt, made the tension linger and subsequently faded it effortlessly, with little action or fighting. The scene feels like I just watched the beginning of a sci-fi thriller but then your prose and choice of diction suggests its just the beginning.. Indeed beauty is a perfect blend of precision and simplicity. Simply beautiful.

  7. Critique

    Packed in the small aircraft with fifteen of her panicky friends all committed to taking their first solo static line jump, Lindsay couldn’t breathe. The harness felt like a tourniquet around her chest. She willed her body to stop its uncontrollable quaking. Skydiving was number three on their collective bucket list of extreme sports.

    At that moment Lindsay hated herself and her friends for pressuring her to swear allegiance to completing their bucket list by the end of the year. Why did she do this to herself?

    Lindsay couldn’t see her friends jump but she heard the screams. Marcus the adventurous leader of the bunch was the fourth to jump and when she heard his shrill scream a fresh wave of terror washed over her.

    “Lindsay you’re up.” Paul their instructor shouted over the noise.

    Finding herself clinging to the side of the open door of the plane she asked for the umpteenth time, her teeth banging together and lips quivering. “Have they doubled checked the parachutes? They’re working properly?”

    “Lindsay don’t worry okay.” Paul yelled as he fiddled with the straps on her back.

    Lindsay stood at the entrance of the plane door and found herself praying for the first time in years – out loud. “Oh God keep me safe. Oh God, please.”

    Paul leaned close, pried her hand off the side of the open door and mouthed the words. “You won’t need this.” He held up the backpack that held her main parachute as well as the reserve and gave her a hard shove.

    Then she was in a free fall until her eyes focused on the plane – beneath her. The pressure on her ears was excruciating and she struggled to suck in the frigid air. The plane became a black dot far below and in a frenzy she yanked on the useless parachute cord. Paul had cut her backpack off at the last second.

    She was rocketing upwards at a terrific speed encased in a beam of light and her last memory was the earth’s sphere fading from view into blackness.

    Something poked Lindsay’s forehead. With effort she opened her eyes to see iridescent creatures with bulbous heads hovering over her. She was lying on a cot next to other cots occupied by her fifteen skydiving friends and Paul.

    No one said a word but she knew what they were all thinking.

    “This one shows promise.” All the creatures thought as one.

    Lindsay saw Paul float off his cot. Soon everyone joined him.

    A concerted thought trumped all others.“Here on Planet Genesis you will obey and no harm will come to you.”

    “Your sacred mission is to learn advanced ways of perpetuation and save Planet Earth from extinction.” The creatures prismatic eyes scanned the group. “Or be cast into the outer realm for eternity.”

    The creatures floated through a doorway motioning for everyone to follow.“Your training begins.”

    Lindsay found herself floating beside Marcus, their thought processes entangled.

    “What will they do to us?” Lindsay thought. “Is this some extreme wacko sport?”

    “Obey Lindsay.We must stick together.” Marcus warned.“Remember our allegiance.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Me thinks it’s some sort of sexual experimentation. Lucky for them, maybe, maybe not. My wife has a girl friend that’s waited for fifty years to be taken away by a flying saucer for this sort of thing. Funny in that she is a conservstive Democrat. Oh well, one less for the election.

      Critique, I thought this had wonderful imagination and crisp writing. Chalk up another great one for you.

      1. Critique

        Thanks lionetravail! So few responded to this prompt I didn’t think I would get any feed back. I agree this story has the potential to expand and I may consider doing that, even though SciFi isn’t my forte 🙂

  8. Batman

    Metal doors jerk open forcefully fallowed by brisk humid gust of cloudy air. Temperature outside the plane is hot enough to fry an egg. “Are you ready? We are running out of fuel princess. There is no time like the present time, and right now that is about to end.” said the gray eyes with a rugged voice through a silver exit gear. His right hand is out to escort me either my doom or save me from this hell hole. “You and your friend are the last ones to jump. You’re the last people to leave home. So, say good bye to our burning world and get off my plane.”
    The pilot flying the plane is rushing out of the cockpit grabbing his exit gear. He jumps out the opposite escape door. Red lights are flashing and have between since we’ve reach the destination. The pressure of the atmosphere is disrupting the engine causing it to fail. The plane can’t last too long this high. Many planes have crashed trying to escape our dying world. Making it a miracle every time people survive, and those that die will always be remember with this planet.
    My body moves regretfully to the door. My knees are quaking in my suit. The heat from the Earth is increasing. The world below, everything in it is dead except the few monster that lurk in the toxic gases. I don’t know how we served the last couple of decades. May it be the grace of God or the stubbornness of mankind to survive. Many people sacrificed their life for the “Future of Humanity” or HOM ships. Memories of trees, and large lakes are now fables we tell children to lull them to sleep when we can hear the monster fighting for food. Now it’s only dust, mutant animals, and the hot hot heat. Electric storms, and tornadoes cover the land. The rain that falls from the orange, red sky burns the ground. Earth, my home is now the burning world.
    “Elisha, what are you doing? We don’t have time for this.” a female voice said from behind
    “I just wanted to say bye.”
    “Bye? Now is not the time” She tackled me lunging me off the plane at my hip. My body fell forward with her holding on to me. All the air in my lungs was pushed out not even enough scream going down. I was falling face first toward the planet that people slowly destroyed. Letting go of my waist falling underneath me with arms and legs spread apart and shouting against the rushing air “This maybe the last time we’ll ever have gravity like this. I’m so happy it’s with my best friend. Oh yeah, don’t forget your parachute.”
    A beam of bright blue light decreased the gravity around her. She was falling into the red orange sky to safety. Drifting away into the stratosphere where HOM would pick her up at a safe distance. I push the button for the parachute, and drifted up into the sky surround by hundreds of what looked like blue lanterns headed to HOM.

  9. jhowe

    The 1,200 foot tall helium balloon lifted Oscar Penny’s specially designed capsule high into the stratosphere on a sunny morning above the salt flats of Utah. The previous record for the highest skydive was 128,000 feet and Oscar was already higher than that. This was definitely not the time to develop cold feet but that’s exactly what Oscar had.

    “Freebird, this is Mission Control; do you copy?”

    “Affirmative MC,” Oscar said.

    “Open the hatch Freebird; you’re near critical altitude.”

    Oscar wished he had paid attention a little more during training. “Uh, ten four MC, let’s talk about this.”

    “Negative Freebird; it’s imperative that you open the hatch and jump now.”

    “I’m having a little problem with my nerve at the moment MC.”

    “Open the hatch and jump Freebird; that’s an order.”

    “How do I turn this thing around MC?”

    “Negative Freebird; this is a one way flight.”

    “Ok, ok, I’ll do it.” Oscar reached for the hatch release but his mind wouldn’t let his gloved hand grasp it. “MC, I think I forgot my parachute.”

    “Negative Freebird; it’s built into your suit. You’ve got to jump now.”

    “Where’s the rip cord?”

    “It opens automatically Freebird.”

    “Right, I forgot.” Oscar focused every ounce of will he possessed and turned the hatch release and the heavy door fell away, leaving him exposed to the elements.

    “That’s good Freebird; release your safety restraint and jump now.”

    “My safety restraint?”

    “That would be your seatbelt Freebird.”

    “Right. Uh, MC, how fast will I be falling once I jump?”

    “No time for that Freebird, you’re considerably above critical altitude now. Jump Freebird, jump!”

    Oscar jumped. He watched as the capsule continued to rise but it did not appear he was falling. “I’m not falling MC!”

    “Come again Freebird?”

    “I’m not falling. If anything I’m going up.”

    Silence.

    “MC, come in MC.”

    “Stand by Freebird.”

    “Stand by? What do you mean stand by?”

    “Freebird, apparently you waited too long. You’re in outer space.”

    “Outer space?”

    “Affirmative Freebird.”

    “What does that mean exactly?”

    “It means we’re glad as hell you signed that release.”

    Oscar began to scream, but it fogged up his helmet shield so he started to cry instead. Ashton Kutcher opened the door to the sophisticated simulator and strode in. He released Oscar’s helmet latch and pulled it off. “You’ve been punked dude.”

    Oscar stared blankly. “Whoa, dude,” Ashton said. “Hey, somebody get a cleaning crew in here, I think he shit his suit.”

    1. lionetravail

      Fun story, and i like the reveal of the virtual simulator- it’s a great tech surrogate for the dream sequence for a sci fi take, and the Ashton line underscores how real the VR was. Great job with this 🙂

  10. Observer Tim

    Last week someone noticed that references to 500 words are no longer being made. This story takes advantage of that fact.

    JUMPING AND FLYING

    “It’s perfectly safe, Holly.”

    “Perfectly safe? I’ll tell you what’s perfectly safe! NOT jumping out of a moving aircraft! That’s perfectly safe!”

    “Come on! It’s a team-building exercise. Everyone else from the office is doing it.”

    “Okay, if I have to.” I look out at the ground two kilometers below me; four parachutes are already out and now it’s my turn. Everything looks so small and far away. Maybe I could…

    “Off you go, Holly. Don’t forget your parachute!” A firm hand pushes into my back, thrusting me out the aircraft door.

    “Zeke you asshole!” But it’s too late. I fly out the door, narrowly missing the tail wing on the way by, and then I’m being blown in a hurricane wind. I’m blowing upward, I guess due to the plane’s wake or something.

    After a few seconds and about a forty vertical meters it dawns on me that something’s wrong. I’m not falling down, I’m falling up. This wasn’t covered in our preparation.

    “HAAALP!”

    A radio clicks to life in my ear. “Miss Brellin? What’s wrong?”

    “Gravity is broken! I’m falling up!”

    “A feeling like you’re floating upward is perfectly normal. You are in fact falling downward.”

    “Then why is the ground getting farther away?”

    “That’s just an illusion. What does your altimeter say?”

    I eventually find the little cluster of readouts on my arm. “It says 3400… 3450… 3500… If that’s falling I’m wearing this thing upside-down!”

    “Don’t panic. Maybe you’re caught in an updraft. Try shifting your weight.”

    “Updraft!? I wouldn’t rise this fast if I were sitting on a wind machine!” I try to shift position, but it has about as much effect as I thought it would. “It’s not working. And it’s… getting… hard to… breathe!”

    “Is there any way to slow your rise? Have you tried opening your chute?”

    It takes some fumbling to find the rip cord. Things are starting to go red and dark patches are coming and going in my vision. I start giggling when a little tiny parachute comes out. Then the big one opens and just about pulls my arms off while at the same time giving me the ultimate wedgie.

    It doesn’t take long to realize that the parachute’s upside-down; the world is hanging above me and the clouds below. Everything is getting fuzzier and dimmer. The voice is shouting but I can’t really tell what it’s saying. It sounds like it’s getting farther and farther away…
    _

    When I wake up it takes me a moment to actually realize that I have. It’s dark and it’s cold; all I can see is a dim glow on my frozen-over goggles. I try to flex my muscles, but everything crinkles and resists. With some effort I manage to raise my hand and pull the goggles off. Stupid idea, I know, but if this environment wants to kill me it’s already had plenty of chances.

    It’s nighttime and the stars look awesome! The Milky Way is glowing brightly, clearly visible for the first time in my life. I recognize some of the constellations, but not all of them. I start to look for old favourites from when Dad and I used to go sky watching, but the tableau is broken up by a large object. It’s the Earth, floating against the stellar backdrop like a gargantuan pearl sheathed in blue radiance. It seems close enough that I could just reach out and touch it…

    The illusion breaks and I realize it really is the Earth and it’s actually several thousand kilometers away. I’m floating in space in my parachuting rig, completely coated in frost but somehow not dying from lack of air.
    I pull off one glove and my hand immediately feels warmer. It’s glowing too, with a faint white light like some heavenly aura. If I concentrate I can see the stars through it. I immediately pull the other glove off, with the same effect.

    The boots are next, followed by the bulky skydiving coverall; if real physics were operating here I’d be signing my own death warrant by doing this. Instead it’s warming me up. I look around nervously, then realize if anyone’s watching me they’d have to be using a high-powered telescope. Off comes the sweater and then the tee. I’m glowing all over, or I guess all under, and my exposed flesh feels warm, dry, and soft.

    I stretch my back. I hadn’t realized it had felt constricted, but now I’m free. A ten meter triangle of diaphanous wing stretches to my left, and the same amount to my right. A warm breeze takes hold of them and I can feel myself blowing away from the Earth. It takes practice, and maybe a few hundred kilometers, but I figure out how to adjust things so I’m floating freely and not moving too much.

    The rest of my clothes come away quickly. I’m a little self-conscious, but I’d rather be embarrassed than frozen to death. I find that I can fly around with little more than an act of will, but moving toward the Earth is like going uphill. That’s annoying because about a hundred kilometers in I can see something: another faintly glowing shape like me.

    I manage to get to him, though I’m winded when I get there. It’s a man in a frozen business suit, looking totally confused.

    “Are you an angel?”

    “If I am, then you are too. Help me get you out of those clothes, they’re what’s making you cold.”

    It takes some effort, but his clothes come free. As happened to me, the air (or lack thereof) catches his wings and drags us a ways before he gets control.

    “Who are you? What’s going on?”

    “My name’s Holly and I have no idea. I’ve only been here a few minutes myself. Skydiving accident.”

    “Oh. I’m Carl. I was admiring the view from the roof of my company’s building. Well, not my company, I work in the Accounting Division, but you know what I mean.”

    “And you got sucked up into the air like you were falling?”

    “I guess. More like the Earth rejected me. I jumped, but rather than falling down I fell up.”

    “So you were trying to end it all. I kind of suspected. And now instead of the end you’ve found a new beginning. I mean, look around you at all this beauty. There’s a whole universe to explore.”

    He stares at me. “You’re right; there is beauty here. But I’ll still be alone.”

    I know what he means. I’m not close to my family and I only have a few friends, most of whom are busy starting families of their own. If I have to go to one more baby shower I’ll throw a tantrum myself. Even ‘team building’ events from work like the one that got me here are more of a torture than a treat.

    So here I am alone in outer space, which is really no different from what I was on Earth. Suddenly I’m struck by how much I just want to have someone around. “You don’t have to be alone. Come on, I can see two more people like us from here.”
    _

    The next person we get to is a man, another jumper. After that it’s a woman who ‘fell’ out a fifteenth-story window. And more after that. All but me are suicides, all by jumping, all because of extreme loneliness. Loneliness is the only thing they have in common, and the only thing I have in common with them.

    Maybe a few people at work will mourn my absence, light a candle for me or some such. I kind of wish I could call and tell them I’m all right. In fact, I’m better than all right. I’m a butterfly in outer space, free to fly and be free. And with the thousands of others that have emerged from their earthly cocoons this day, I won’t have to fly alone.

    1. jhowe

      All those naked angels flying around up there… intriguing. This was pretty cool. Defying the laws of physics seems to be mandatory with this prompt. I love your ending.

    2. Manwe38

      This was beautiful, Observer Tim.

      I’m reminded of the movie “Brainstorm”, with Christopher Walken and the late Natalie Wood.

      It had an ending similar to this.

      Loved it.

    3. lionetravail

      This is a beautiful story, sparking a host of questions, none of which interfere with the personal and eerie feel. It’s got a unique flavor to it, that’s for sure 🙂

    4. Observer Tim

      Thanks, guys. After I posted I realized I still wasn’t quite happy with the ending, so I recast it to move the chapter on Holly’s loneliness up to where she’s just finished her personal transformation. That way it doesn’t come off as so much of a deus ex machina at the end. The revised version is on my site.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Your story is in a charm all to it self. It leads the reader to want to jump in, grow wings and fly with the others. This certainly is a new beginning for Holly. I love the way you left the story and I agree the last sentence was perfect. Your descriptive powers are supreme, creating a new world for your reader. I know ‘masterpiece’ has been used in critiques on this forum before, but you deserve this word.

    5. Critique

      I enjoyed this story. To me it seemed like the shedding of clothes/earthly cocoons was an analogy of stripping away the masks, being who we really are, and that its okay. Holly recognizes that loneliness is at the root of the fortresses people have built around themselves and her generous spirit is helping others break free.

  11. Pete

    “Look, kid, we’ve been over this a thousand times,” Harold squawked. “You’re ready, now relax.”
    Marcus peered over the basket, gasping as he looked down at the patches of land and the tiny houses. He squeezed his eyes shut. It was all so enormous.

    “I don’t know Frank,” Harold called to his friend.

    Marcus seemed to shrink in the basket. He wanted to go home, to tv dinners and big band records. Card games and trivia, to the bickering over his studies. He could even smell the old spice aftershave in the bathroom.

    Then he felt a hand his shoulder, heard a softer voice. “Kid, once you’re out there, it will come to you. Trust me. It’s time. You can’t stay with us forever, we’re just a couple of dinosaurs,” Frank said.

    Marcus unclenched his eyes, searching Frank’s withered face. “We need you, kid. The world needs you.”

    He found his footing beside Frank, looking out to the muted vastness before them. Frank’s freckled hand swept over the mountains towards the city, the buildings washed orange from the sunset. “And there’s more of you out there…somewhere.”

    Marcus nodded, still terrified but determined not to let them down. Even Harold, the old mallard, for all his grumpiness, seemed to be off somewhere in thought. But only for a fleeting moment, then he resumed with the barking. “Okay, here we go, kid. Sink or swim time. Or, well, you know…”

    Frank held up a hand. “Marcus, you can do this. On three now. One two—“

    “Don’t forget your parachute!” Harold yelled out, shoving the boy into the sky and then tossing out a back pack. Marcus let out a grunt as he caught the bag. The men watched hopefully.

    It was up to him now.

    Marcus breathed like he’d been taught to breath. He closed his eyes, his body weightless and trembling.
    He felt the heat from the top of the balloon, just under his feet. Otherwise all was quiet.

    Marcus unzipped the bag only to find it full of bricks. One last prank from Harold.

    He flipped backward, then forward. Just as he had so many times in training. Then he thrust ahead, wobbly but fast, like a tadpole upstream. Control was something that would come with practice.

    The balloon hung in the sky, getting smaller in the distance below. Untethered, Marcus could see the two silver heads watching on, one smiling and the other scowling.

    He zipped forward, the wind in his face as he tore through the clouds, shedding the fear that had gripped him only moments before. He pushed hard against gravity, against everything that would come his way, his confidence building as the wind rattled in his ears. He shot for the moon.

    In the basket, the cynic and the optimist watched their project like a puppy finding his stride. Frank grimaced.

    “Bricks, Harold?”

    Harold shrugged, nothing was said for a while as they as they watched the boy streak against the glow of the horizon, no longer learning but soaring. Frank’s twinkling eyes were like those of a proud father. Harold nudged his old friend. “You think he’ll be okay?”

    “We were okay.”

    “It was a different time,” Harold said.

    “I suppose,” Frank said, “but that kid’s got heart.”

    “He’s going to need it.”

    Just then the two men looked at each other as the heavy drops fell from a clear sky, pelting the balloon.
    “What in the?” Harold started to ask as Frank reached out and then grinned a loose smile. Harold looked into his opened hand.

    “Brick dust.”

    1. jhowe

      This was very well done, The two geezers and their prodigy were very compelling characters. I’m not sure what Marcus was, some kind og god or somehting I’d say, but it didn’t matter because the story was deisigned with that mystery in place. Loved the tadpole swimming upstream comparison.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        At first, reading this, I thought of a mother and father pushing their boy out of the house, saying get a job or sink or swim. The reference to the ’50 brought that thought to me. But I realized there was so much more to this story. The parable to a baby robin being taught to fly came also. There are many thoughts I have from so few words. I really like this, Pete.

    2. Critique

      This was an interesting story that claimed and held my attention to the end. Marcus was an enterprising little fellow that didn’t let the ‘bricks trick’ get him down and out of courage and love for the old guys he turned it into an opportunity to grow.
      I enjoyed this 🙂

  12. Cceynowa

    Portal to Olympus – Part Two
    (Word Count: 448…See Part One below… I couldn’t resist writing more on this idea)

    I had forgotten how green the grass grew in the forest’s clearings at the base of The Mountain. My caramel-tinted skin glittered and my hair tumbled unbound between my golden wings. For a moment, I could do nothing but press my face to the soil and breathe in a world untainted by pollution, technology, and other toxins. Even if The Council decided to kill me for returning, feeling my wings flutter in the breeze and my lungs expand with clean air would be worth it.

    I stood, stretched, and bent double in pain. My wings had suffered from three-thousand years of being under human skin. “Lady, are you unwell?”

    I whirled around, expecting danger, and faced a young woodland Nymph, seemingly undisturbed by my sudden appearance. I peered closely at her face, and detected no glow of god-hood. Relaxing a bit, I said, “I have not been in my true form for a long time. What is your name?”

    “Galina.”

    “Can you take me to The Council’s waiting lodges?” I had hoped to find a guide to lead me to the formal lodges and to follow every diplomatic protocol set in place. I intended to give no reason for The Council not to hear my case. Galina’s appearance seemed fortuitous.

    “Have you been on Earth with the Mortals long,” she asked. I was not use to having my questions answered with other questions. I decided to tread cautiously.

    “Yes, for many years. Do you know much about them?”

    She shook her head. “I have never Descended, but none of those with Elder God’s blood in them have returned before.” She walked towards the forest, “Follow me.”

    I chewed my lower lip, a nervous habit I had picked up when anxious. She could see I was a god, which meant she had Vision, but what did she mean about others with god-blood having never returned before? After all I was the only one who had ever been Cast Out.

    She had stopped at the edge of the clearing. “Lady,” she spoke softly, “It isn’t safe so near the Portal’s entrance if you want to remain undetected.”

    “How… What makes you think I don’t want to be found,” I stepped back, suddenly fearing her.

    She studied me, her head slightly tilted, and nodded as if having made a decision. “I watch the Portal daily, and know all who pass through. That has been my assignment for many years, but I do not recognize you, which makes me think you must be from the Time Before. I will help you, but you need to trust me.”

    “Do you work for The Council,” I asked.

    “The Council,” she replied, “is no more.”

    (To be continued… hopefully)

  13. jhowe

    Ha, that was a good one; yes sir, that was a good one indeed, Hector thought as he stepped unsteadily onto the landing gear strut of the single engine piper cub. His instructor, Adam, who doubled as his bowling team captain said it again, “I’ve got my parachute where’s yours?”

    What a prick. They were in fact, harnessed together for Hector’s first and last tandem skydiving jump over the gently rolling hills outside of Santa Barbara. A hundred and twenty bucks he’d paid for this.

    ‘Skydive Santa Barbara, Southern California’s Premier Dropzone,’ the sign had said. How the hell he got roped into this he’d never understand. “Geronimo!” Adam shouted as they pushed off from the strut. They banged against the overhead wing which prompted them to start spinning which brought screams from Adam. Hector didn’t know if he himself had been screaming or not.

    The spinning subsided and Hector saw the top of the plane as they free fell. “We’re falling up!” Hector shouted through the roar of wind.

    “No, I think the Plane’s upside-down or something,” said Adam.

    “Pull the cord!”

    “It’s called the rip cord.”

    “Pull the goddamn rip cord!”

    Adam pulled the cord and there was a forceful jerk as the chute opened and then there was silence as they floated peacefully. Hector looked down and saw nothing but blue sky and a few cumulous clouds. “I still say we’re falling up.”

    “That’s impossible.”

    “Look up then.”

    They both looked up and saw the ground. Nothing was said for several minutes as the features on the ground gradually started to get smaller. Adam said, “We’re falling up.”

    “No shit.”

    “No, I’m serious.”

    “I know we’re falling up. That’s what I’ve been telling you.”

    “What’s going on?” said Adam.

    “I don’t know.”

    “Maybe it’s the Rapture.”

    “If it is, it appears we’re heading in the right direction.”

    “It’s getting colder,” said Adam.

    “I don’t think it’d be this cold in heaven.”

    “Are you saying this isn’t the Rapture then?”

    “I’d say no.”

    “It’s hard to breath,” Adam said as they continued to float upwards. “I don’t think you should have said goddamn and shit, you know, just in case.”

    “I take it back then.”

    “Thanks.” Adam wheezed audibly as the air became thinner. “I’m scared.”

    “Me to,” said Hector rubbing his arms. His head started to swim and he felt bile trying to rise in his throat. “I’m here with you buddy.” But there was no answer from Adam. Hector looked one more time at the shrinking earth and blackness overcame him.

    * * * *

    “Is that you God?” Adam said.

    “I’m Captain Avery from Santa Barbara Fire and Rescue.” The captain looked at them oddly. “Do you know why the plane was flying 8,000 feet higher than regulations allow?” They both shook their heads.

    Hector looked around and saw they were on the ground. They had been unharnessed and they were covered with course wool blankets. The parachute cloth billowed nearby. “What’s going on?” he said.

    “That’s what we are trying to figure out,” said the captain. In the distance Hector could see emergency vehicles and flashing lights around what looked like the wreckage from the yellow piper cub. The captain looked at them again with raised eyebrows, threw up his hands, spun and walked off.

    “You know,” said Adam. “The Lord certainly does move in mysterious ways.”

    1. Reaper

      Okay, that was pretty amazing. That missing time really leaves me wanting to know more. As calm as the conversation was for a couple of guys falling into the sky it was so amazingly believable. Well written and definitely worth the read.

    2. lionetravail

      Great story, and just so cleanly written. My interpretation of the ‘mystery’ is that 8000 feet over normal left them both a bit short on oxygen, and they hallucinated together, but it’s kind of immaterial- story’s great whatever the explanation 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You’re clever, jhowe, I’ll give you that. You followed the prompt and wrote a story that gripped me, believable and very realistic. My favorite line, “It that you God?”

  14. rle

    Shane struggled to inhale a fleeding oxygen deprived breath. This was his final moment. His mind was clouded with a myriad of emotions: anger, dispair, and regret to name a few. He should have been dead already, the result of an eight-thousand foot plummet from a rickety old DC-3. Instead, he was here, floating higher and higher, accompanied only by his increasingly fragmented thoughts and a backpack full of one-hundred dollar bills, courtesy of a drug deal double cross that had almost succeeded.

    From the very second he’d cleared the cargo hold of the old warbird and pulled the chute’s ripcord, Shane knew he was a dead man. He’d always heard stories about parachutes not opening but never dreamed of it happening to him. Then, something else went wrong(or maybe right). His rate of descent began to steadily slow down until it finally stopped altogether and then reversed. He climbed higher and higher into the clouds and beyond. This wasn’t how he was supposed to die. His destiny was to go out in a hail of gunfire, a firey car crash, a shanking in prison, or the result of a faulty parachute, not like this. However, as he continued to rise, the air became thinner and he came to the sad realization that this was in fact how he would parish.

    Shane Deaver came from a long line of loosers. Most of his ancestors had either been small time con-men, penny ante crooks, low level street thugs, or any combination thereof. Despite his best efforts, Shane ended up on the same broken path, a lifestyle of crime that kept repeating, perpetuating itself over a half dozen generations. Nothing Shane ever did would have changed the tilt of the earth on it’s axis, but almost everything he did had the potential to land him in prison or get him killed. Suffocating in the stratosphere though, now that one really blindsided him.

    The physical side of death didn’t bother Shane very much, it never had really. What really grabbed ahold of him and shook him was the prospect of being gone. It was the very idea of ceasing to exist that cut him to the core. He had plans, dreams, things he wanted to do yet, things that would now never come to fruit. He thought of everything he could do for his family with the million dollars cash he still clutched close to his side.

    Then he thought of his wife, a woman who for so many years had overlooked his many faults and stood by him through thick and thin. Then there were his three children, all too young yet to understand the fine line their father walked to provide for them,and, if the chain were not broken, all destined to follow in his footsteps. Shane knew he wasn’t an honorable or even a particularly good man, but he knew what love was. He couldn’t think of any one thing he wouldn’t trade to go back and replot the course his life had taken. He’d give anything to gather his family in his embrace one last time. He felt tears well in his eyes. He knew he’d never get that chance.

    In his final conscious act, he let the backpack go and watched it free fall toward toward the earth, now far below him. As he continued to ascend, the air chilled him. He closed his eyes and rested easy. In a moment he knew his body would be forever warmed by the flames of an eternal fire.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Gives me chillbumps in a nice way. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the money wandered down from upper space and fell in his own back yard? Your story is written tight and reads well. I suppose most readers including myself are waiting for some kind of miracle now that he has released the ill earned money. I like the story having an open ending. Good Job, rle,.

    2. Reaper

      You know you’re too tired to be reading or shouldn’t be reading and editing your own stuff at the same time when you see fleeding and try to correct the d instead of just continuing to read. 🙂 This is an amazing story. I was thinking something like Kerry except of the money landing in a neighborhood or people who’s lives would be altered for the better by receiving it. I felt a lot of empathy for your character. Hard to pull off with an admittedly bad man. I also loved that there was no miracle save, at least not in the text. Redemption and realization being their own, though short lived rewards were a perfect touch for me. The writing on this is very good and definitely loved the story.

    3. lionetravail

      This was a deft touch kind of story, where the weird plot element of the ascent you don’t bother to try to explain: it’s unnecessary next to the MCs mental journey. Nicely written.

  15. Dennis

    The Birth of a Hero

    Ricky knew he had made some bad choices in his life, but he never expected his best friend to throw him out of a plane at 10,000 feet.

    “Okay Ricky, one last time.”

    “But Tommy, you know me. I don’t know where the money is.”

    “Well then, I guess we are done here.”

    Two goons, guys that Tommy worked for, were standing behind him shaking their heads. One opened up the side hatch to the plane. Tommy grabbed Ricky and moved him over to the opening.

    “Don’t take this personally Ricky. It’s just business.” With a quick shove Ricky was out of the plane. The last words he heard were, “Don’t forget your parachute.”

    As Ricky was moving through the sky, he realized he felt fairly calm about the whole thing, thinking that there had to be worse ways to die. He just never saw it coming with Tommy, although he knew Tommy was always hanging around the wrong people.

    Then the strangest thing happened. Instead of continuing to fall, Ricky started to get pulled upward towards space at quite a speed. He felt like something was pulling him by his belt buckle. In the distance was an object that he appeared to be heading towards.

    The air was thinning and Ricky felt completely numb by the cold air. The object continued to get closer and was bigger than Ricky originally thought. “Holy Shit,” he screamed. Apparently he was on a collision course with a meteor.

    What happened next Ricky did not quite remember. He collided with the meteor which caused an immense explosion. When he came to he assumed he was dead and saw himself floating among space debris. But he felt more alive than he ever had and his body was fully intact. The most amazing thing was that he found that he could fly and at supersonic speeds.

    “Whada ya know, I’m a super hero.”

    Ricky knew what his first mission would be and zoomed down until he found the plane, the same one he was thrown out of. He made his way to the side hatch and pounded on it. No response so he did it again. This time one of the goons opened it.

    “Howdy fellas.”

    The two stood and stared with jaws dropped. Tommy made his way forward.

    “It seems your little plan backfired and gave me superpowers. Always like you Tommy to screw things up.” For once Tommy actually looked worried.

    “Hey man, let’s talk about this.”

    “Sorry Tommy, as you put it, we’re done.”

    Ricky took off and flew through one of the wings. He caught Tommy’s panicked face as the plane started to spiral out of control.

    “So long, friend.”

    Ricky then shot off like a rocket wondering what trouble would come upon him next.

    And this readers, is how the legend of Meteor Man began.

    (Sorry Reaper, I might have gleamed the idea from your story.)

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Wow! Dennis, you took me on a wild ride that was fantastc. All writers pull their ideas from other areas, including me. Don’t think in any way you need to worry about that. This was a clean response to the prompt and I couldn’t manage that. Appearantly, neither could those who aren’t responding to this weeks puzzle. You’re at your top form and I feel I’ve been turning pages on the first issue of Meteor Man.

    2. Reaper

      First, this is awesome and I love it. Meteor man may be my favorite hero for the moment. Great story.

      Second, Kerry is right and you should never apologize for where you pull your ideas. I have story ideas gleaned from one or two lines another author has said and I went, huh, what if? So no worries. You should only ever feel bad if you plagiarize. I know from experience with those ideas that we worry we are doing that but you’re not so no apologies needed.

      Third, or second point five. If you gleamed this idea from my story, or any part of it I am amazed and humbled to be your inspiration. Thank you for telling me because I am very honored.

    3. jhowe

      I enjoyed this greatly. It reminds me of many superhero stories where some bizarre event creates the hero. or often the villian. Very imaginative and fun to read.

    4. Cceynowa

      Is your MC a hero or a villain (heroes shouldn’t cause destruction, right?)… hmmm…. nicely done.You could take this idea and run with it. Thanks for sharing!

    5. lionetravail

      Awesome work. With this kind of a prompt, thereks a finite number of choices for it to make it make sense. Superhero totally works, and it’s definitely original.

      I think it was because of special radioactive materials in the meteor… 🙂

  16. lionetravail

    “Magnify the image on scan, Sikre-Liath Harag,” Liath Ganegor demanded, as he watched the screens in his Command Center of the Hive Ship in sudden curiosity. Protocol called for observation and report to the Queen before the decision as to whether contact would be made with the dominant life form on the alien world below. The had catalogued much of the alien technology already, and had moved to concentrate on the high-volume atmospheric travel.

    The image jumped, showing a primitive fixed-wing craft moving through the thin atmosphere of the mostly-blue world below. He translated the readings sufficiently to understand that the vessel flew approximately eight kashaths below the planet’s tropopause. “Interesting,” he said. “They have an orbital station, numerous satellites, and both inter- and intra-continental travel… By Thrak! What are they doing?”

    On the screen, scan showed that a portal in the craft they’d been observing had opened. As the Liath watched, one of the aliens aboard it appeared to throw another from the craft into free fall!

    “It’s murder,” muttered Sikre-Liath Harag in disbelief as the first alien fell.

    Ganegor’s chitinous face went blank as he thought an emergent message to the Queen, into which he summarized all he’d observed and a swift recommendation. Her Eminence’s response was gratifyingly swift.

    “Yessssss.”

    Sikre-Liath, use the kaleppas beam to snag the doomed alien and bring it to us!” Ganegor commanded.

    “Yes, Liath,” Harag responded after a moment’s shock at the abruptness of the plan to reveal themselves in this fashion. His extremities flew across the various controls, and the screens showed the falling alien slow suddenly, and then begin to rise swiftly.

    “Bring us into the atmosphere,” Ganegor said. “We will bring it directly into a holding tank along with a supply of the native gases to keep it alive. By saving this one, we can demonstrate our helpful intent to the dominant species, and…”

    Liath!” said Harag with alarm as the Hive ship dived towards the planet. “There are more advanced aircraft being launched from two ground sites near our position… scans show active radar, explosive compounds, electronics with some shielding…”

    Ganegor watched with some amusement. “Most likely it’s an honor display for our action to save their…”

    “I… I don’t think so, Liath!” came Harag’s panicked reply. “The new aircraft are homing in on us, and they’ve launched missiles at us!”

    “But… but…” Ganegor looked on with growing horror. “But we’re saving one of them,” he said helplessly. “They wouldn’t be so irrational as to launch a military attack… they couldn’t be!”

    The Hive Ship took multiple hits and exploded, but not before the Queen had thought her experiences back to Homeworld.

    The subsequent invasion of Earth would prove to be the mostly costly error in miscommunication in the history of the planet.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This would make one heck of a space movie, David. Really a great action story. I liked the twist, that the alien planet was earth. Cool response. I’m ready to do battle. Where did I leave my bomb shelter in Miami from Castro? Oh yeah, I remember, I made a swimming pool out of it.

    1. Reaper

      It always amazes me how many stories start with an alien attack when I figure a species that has it’s stuff together enough to travel so far would probably not be the squabbling type. This is a much more realistic how the war starts, especially with a hive species. Aside from it playing into personal prejudice this was all around amazing. Thanks for this one.

    2. Cceynowa

      Oh, Lionetravail, this is wonderful! Your characters are so vividly alive in my mind, and your last sentence opens up so much to the imagination. Fantastic writing.

  17. Batman

    Metal doors jerk open forcefully fallowed by brisk humid gust of cloudy air. Temperature outside the plane is hot enough to fry an egg. “Are you ready? We are running out of fuel princess. There is no time like the present time, and right now that is about to end.” said the gray eyes with a rugged voice through a silver exit gear. His right hand is out to escort me either my doom or save me from this hell hole. “You and your friend are the last ones to jump. You’re the last people to leave home. So, say good bye to our burning world and get f*** off my plane.”
    The pilot flying the plane is rushing out of the cockpit grabbing his exit gear. He jumps out the opposite escape door. Red lights are flashing and have between since we’ve reach the destination. The pressure of the atmosphere is disrupting the engine causing it to fail. The plane can’t last too long this high. Many planes have crashed trying to escape our dying world. Making it a miracle every time people survive, and those that die will always be remember with this planet.
    My body moves regretfully to the door. My knees are quaking in my suit. The heat from the Earth is increasing. The world below, everything in it is dead except the few monster that lurk in the toxic gases. I don’t know how we served the last couple of decades. May it be the grace of God or the stubbornness of mankind to survive. Many people sacrificed their life for the “Future of Humanity” or HOM ships. Memories of trees, and large lakes are now fables we tell children to lull them to sleep when we can hear the monster fighting for food. Now it’s only dust, mutant animals, and the hot hot heat. Electric storms, and tornadoes cover the land. The rain that falls from the orange, red sky burns the ground. Earth, my home is now the burning world.
    “Elisha, what are you doing? We don’t have time for this.” a female voice said from behind
    “I just wanted to say bye.”
    “Bye? Now is not the time” She tackled me lunging me off the plane at my hip. My body fell forward with her holding on to me. All the air in my lungs was pushed out not even enough scream going down. I was falling face first toward the planet that people slowly destroyed. Letting go of my waist falling underneath me with arms and legs spread apart and shouting against the rushing air “This maybe the last time we’ll ever have gravity like this. I’m so happy it’s with my best friend. Oh yeah, don’t forget your parachute.”
    A beam of bright blue light decreased the gravity around her. She was falling into the red orange sky to safety. Drifting away into the stratosphere where HOM would pick her up at a safe distance. I push the button for the parachute, and drifted up into the sky surround by hundreds of what looked like blue lanterns headed into the fire sky.

  18. Batman

    HOME
    Metal doors jerk open forcefully fallowed by brisk humid gust of cloudy air. Temperature outside the plane is hot enough to fry an egg. “Are you ready? We are running out of fuel princess. There is no time like the present time, and right now that is about to end.” said the gray eyes with a rugged voice through a silver exit gear. His right hand is out to escort me either my doom or save me from this hell hole. “You and your friend are the last ones to jump. You’re the last people to leave home. So, say good bye to our burning world and get f*** off my plane.”
    The pilot flying the plane is rushing out of the cockpit grabbing his exit gear. He jumps out the opposite escape door. Red lights are flashing and have between since we’ve reach the destination. The pressure of the atmosphere is disrupting the engine causing it to fail. The plane can’t last too long this high. Many planes have crashed trying to escape our dying world. Making it a miracle every time people survive, and those that die will always be remember with this planet.
    My body moves regretfully to the door. My knees are quaking in my suit. The heat from the Earth is increasing. The world below, everything in it is dead except the few monster that lurk in the toxic gases. I don’t know how we served the last couple of decades. May it be the grace of God or the stubbornness of mankind to survive. Many people sacrificed their life for the “Future of Humanity” or HOM ships. Memories of trees, and large lakes are now fables we tell children to lull them to sleep when we can hear the monster fighting for food. Now it’s only dust, mutant animals, and the hot hot heat. Electric storms, and tornadoes cover the land. The rain that falls from the orange, red sky burns the ground. Earth, my home is now the burning world.
    “Elisha, what are you doing? We don’t have time for this.” a female voice said from behind
    “I just wanted to say bye.”
    “Bye? Now is not the time” She tackled me lunging me off the plane at my hip. My body fell forward with her holding on to me. All the air in my lungs was pushed out not even enough scream going down. I was falling face first toward the planet that people slowly destroyed. Letting go of my waist falling underneath me with arms and legs spread apart and shouting against the rushing air “This maybe the last time we’ll ever have gravity like this. I’m so happy it’s with my best friend. Oh yeah, don’t forget your parachute.”
    A beam of bright blue light decreased the gravity around her. She was falling into the red orange sky to safety. Drifting away into the stratosphere where HOM would pick her up at a safe distance. I push the button for the parachute, and drifted up into the sky surround by hundreds of what looked like blue lanterns headed into the fire sky.

  19. Batman

    Metal doors jerk open forcefully fallowed by brisk humid gust of cloudy air. Temperature outside the plane is hot enough to fry an egg. “Are you ready? We are running out of fuel princess. There is no time like the present time, and right now that is about to end.” said the gray eyes with a rugged voice through a silver exit gear. His right hand is out to escort me either my doom or save me from this hell hole. “You and your friend are the last ones to jump. You’re the last people to leave home. So, say good bye to our burning world and get f*** off my plane.”
    The pilot flying the plane is rushing out of the cockpit grabbing his exit gear. He jumps out the opposite escape door. Red lights are flashing and have between since we’ve reach the destination. The pressure of the atmosphere is disrupting the engine causing it to fail. The plane can’t last too long this high. Many planes have crashed trying to escape our dying world. Making it a miracle every time people survive, and those that die will always be remember with this planet.
    My body moves regretfully to the door. My knees are quaking in my suit. The heat from the Earth is increasing. The world below, everything in it is dead except the few monster that lurk in the toxic gases. I don’t know how we served the last couple of decades. May it be the grace of God or the stubbornness of mankind to survive. Many people sacrificed their life for the “Future of Humanity” or HOM ships. Memories of trees, and large lakes are now fables we tell children to lull them to sleep when we can hear the monster fighting for food. Now it’s only dust, mutant animals, and the hot hot heat. Electric storms, and tornadoes cover the land. The rain that falls from the orange, red sky burns the ground. Earth, my home is now the burning world.
    “Elisha, what are you doing? We don’t have time for this.” a female voice said from behind
    “I just wanted to say bye.”
    “Bye? Now is not the time” She tackled me lunging me off the plane at my hip. My body fell forward with her holding on to me. All the air in my lungs was pushed out not even enough scream going down. I was falling face first toward the planet that people slowly destroyed. Letting go of my waist falling underneath me with arms and legs spread apart and shouting against the rushing air “This maybe the last time we’ll ever have gravity like this. I’m so happy it’s with my best friend. Oh yeah, don’t forget your parachute.”
    A beam of bright blue light decreased the gravity around her. She was falling into the red orange sky to safety. Drifting away into the stratosphere where HOM would pick her up at a safe distance. I push the button for the parachute, and drifted up into the sky surround by hundreds of what looked like blue lanterns headed into the fire sky.

  20. GuitarSlim

    Freefallin’

    Life never works out the way you think it will. You plan for sunshine, and then it starts to rain. Put your money in a 401(k), and then the market tanks. Agree to go skydiving with a friend, and now I’m…well…doing the exact opposite of that. Instead of plummeting to the ground, I think I’m getting ready to launch into outer space. What was that Alanis Morissette song? Ironic? Yes, I think maybe that’s exactly what this is. I step out of the proverbial ‘perfectly good airplane’ into a beautiful, clear blue sky…and look what happens.

    My rate of ascension is increasing, and my arms are pinned down by my sides. I want to reach up to my chest to pull my chute – and what good would that even do, anyway? – but I can’t manage it. I can see the stars now, racing toward me, and it’s getting harder and harder to breathe. God, it’s so cold up here! The air is deafening as it rushes over my face and ears, alternately exhilarating and terrifying, because I know that soon, there won’t be any more air. What there will be, I can’t imagine.

    Am I a rocket, or a comet? I can’t tell if I’m being propelled forward or if I’m being pulled by forces that are beyond me. The stars are becoming clearer, brighter, more intense. I must be leaving the atmosphere, then. I realize that I don’t mind anymore – it’s actually quite beautiful.

    And suddenly, my speed is decreasing, and I am no longer hurtling headlong into the void. In fact, I’m hovering above the Earth. I feel like Superman. It’s the most exquisite calm I’ve ever experienced. I close my eyes and savor the moment, focusing on nothing more than the serenity.

    And when I open my eyes, I want to scream because I’m falling now – what I should have been doing all along, ever since I stepped out of that airplane. I’m plummeting to the ground, faster and faster. I can hear the voice of my high school physics teacher telling me I’ve exceeded terminal velocity. The lights of an enormous city are directly below me, the buildings and avenues becoming more defined in the clear night sky.

    I can hear the sounds of the city rising to meet me, the voices and traffic. The wail of a siren rises above the din, becoming the focal point of my descent. As I brace myself for impact, I wonder if my impending death will hurt. The siren overwhelms everything, becoming louder and louder and louder and…

    …my eyes open. And I realize my wife is poking my shoulder to get me to turn off the alarm.

    “You don’t want to be late for your first day at your new job, do you?”

    No, I don’t. I’m hoping or the best, but you never know how things will turn out.

  21. Dud

    “Ha, ha, so what? You got me; You got me but good. My friend or scumbag as I now refer to you. Helium infused in the airbag, eh Nick? You’re a bore even as I perish. How pedestrian, you dolt. Sheila wanted me, not you pal. Oh, you’re pleasant and a nice guy. So am I. I, however, didn’t plant petals around her every move. Literally or figuratively. You scared her, man! I was nice, as well, but lived my life; didn’t depend on Sheila for my happiness. The two of us drank Goldschlager. You thought her lips were too delicate. I didn’t phone her every hour on the hour. She respected my chivalry: I held doors and complimented her within reason. Your attempts simply creeped her out, man. I mean how many times could she listen to ‘I adore you my sweet?’ She respected my independence; I, hers. So you send me to my demise. Big deal. You spend the next three decades chasing a dream! Guess what? Never gonna happen for yuh, yuh sad excuse for a man. At least I had a good run with a great woman. Something you’ll be crying about in your Busch Light drafts for years to come, buddy. Ha ha ha…”

      1. Dud

        Thank you. Much appreciated.
        I was thinking:
        A man skyrocketing toward his death laughs profusely:
        “That’s gold, Jerry, GOLD!”
        -Kenny Bania(1994-1998)
        SEINFELD

    1. Reaper

      I like the take no prisoners voice on this. The fact that only someone completely comfortable with themselves and their life could have these thoughts says a lot about your MC in a few words. Seeing your inspiration just makes me love it more.

  22. Bilbo Baggins

    THE SUN NOW RISES

    2 July, 1937
    0843 Hours

    The Pacific had lain below them for hours, ever since they’d taken off from New Guinea, and it showed no signs of stopping. Calm, softly undulating waves lapped for miles before encountering the stray atoll, a sunken reef. Even though no clouds covered the vast expanse, the water somehow looked cold– frigid.

    Amelia Mary Earhart, feisty aviatrix and aerial pioneer, steered her Lockheed Electra over the ocean, her eyes darting about, not missing a thing. Built the previous year in Burbank for her round-the-world flight, it was 38’7’’ from propeller to tail and required a delicate hand on the stick. But she was ready for it, after years of publicity, could face the grueling voyage.

    “Do you think we should send another message out?”

    She looked at Fred Noonan, her navigator who was consulting a nautical map. Although more at home on a ship, the wiry, blue-eyed 43-year-old had all the qualifications to take her home.

    “Might as well. The ship off Howland isn’t responding.”

    Reaching over, she turned on the 3015 GHz radio, noticed Noonan take his brown flask from his pocket and quickly swig, didn’t say anything. The frequency whined.

    “We are on the line 157 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles.”

    There was no response, only silence, and she tried again. They began flying into sparse clouds, thin shadows on the water. The radio came back to life, but it was only a garbled foreign language. Noonan leaned back into his seat with a worried look.

    “Must be just a local Japanese ship. We can’t get through.”

    The dial’s needle was wavering in the red, but she tried to keep calm, keep the confidence that had carried her through before.

    “Well, we have enough fuel. But, check the parachutes just in case,” she added.

    “Of course, sweetheart,” Noonan replied drowsily. He slipped out of his seat, went back to the rear seats. Fumbling to light a cigarette, thin smoke spread in the cabin. Bad habits, he thought as he raised it to his lips. But it hadn’t impacted his success.

    As he checked the packs, he heard the radio again, the crackling Japanese, but growing closer. The plane rattled suddenly, a patch of rough air. Amelia adjusted the ailerons, and the Electra swooped low into cloud cover.

    “I’m having bit of trouble, Fred–”

    The nose of the plane dipped dangerously towards the ocean, more turbulence coming. Amelia’s hands left the wheel, the entire fuselage shuddering. He felt his feet slip, caught his hands on the seat. She was trying determinably to steady it, but the propeller was sluggish, like something was caught in it. He began to panic, thought of drowning, saw her look at the instruments.

    “We need to bail! Don‘t forget the parachutes!”

    He nodded, his head feeling light, strapped on the pack. Opening the rear door, a strong gust blew in, and he leaned into it, saw now the vast sky open up above him. Thrusting himself forward, his head cleared the plane, and his legs followed after him.

    He saw the Japanese ship now, like a children’s toy sailing below. Water began to churn from beneath the vessel, its wake spreading out in a circle, white-capped waves. He was headed right for it, its bridge 1,000 feet below, and he could see soldiers on it, rushing about, a broad white dish facing the plane. He inspected it, the humid air whistling past him.

    “What the–”

    The parachute exploded open, the leather straps cutting into his arms with a severity that made his stomach jump momentarily, and then he was carried up by the air rushing into the sheet. For a second he thought he’d collide with the plane. He saw the grey Electra high above him, knew she was still barely in control.

    But instead of a slow, steady descent, the continued to climb up, towards the clouds again. Fear ripped through him. What was happening? He began breathing harder, the amount of oxygen dissipating. The world grew dizzyingly high before he blacked out, sagged into the straps with defeat.

    Amelia fought to control the plane, but it was inevitably beginning to follow her doomed navigator upwards. Its right wing leapt upwards, and she wrenched on the wheel to prevent her going into a tailspin. The propeller was shot, the engine sputtering on the last few drops of oil. She tried to volplane, but the undercarriage was supported by a strange kind of wind, refused to obey. Just like a Kansan tornado back home, she went up, up… into seemingly endless darkness.

    (Long story short– my computer crashed. I haven’t had much time, but you can count on me doing at least one response per week. GH)

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This was wonderful Bilbo. You placed me right in the plane with Amelia. A lost legend who flew into the wind, never heard from. It’s always amazed me, she vanished without a cliue. You got the excitement, tension and eminent dager running out of fuel. It was a wild part of the world then, most people can not comprehend how vast the oceans were, that hid her memory. But you caught the spell of her flight, the lonely pursuit for history. You got it all, including the threat from the Japanese.Very well done. Bravo

    2. Reaper

      Sorry to hear about your computer. That is just no good.

      I have to say Kerry pretty much nailed this. I know you have a fondness for history, you also have an amazing strength with it. A lot of historical fiction can’t hold my attention but yours and others on this site always manage to. You have this way of adding not quite fantastical bits that make it even more interesting and this is a prime example of that.

  23. Kerry Charlton

    WIND BENEATH MY WINGS

    Jonathan Benson, a four star Air Force General left the graveyard Delores Benson rested in, his wife of 54 years. He drove in silence to his ranch in Montana.

    “Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh,
    It must have been cold there in my shadow to never have sunlight on your face.”

    Memories of the wedding day flooded his mind. ‘You were so happy and beautiful then. Why did I ignore you?’

    “You were content to let me shine, that’s your way. You always walked a step behind.”

    ‘Was it the war Delores? Flying ’51’s, escorting B 17’s over Germany? Still no excuse for me.’ His car pulled up to his private landing strip. His real love waited there, his restored P51 Mustang.

    “So I was the one with all the glory while you were the one with all the strength.”

    He remembered that day in England he had taken a British lass. ‘What was my excuse then, death lurking at every mission? There was no reason.’

    “A beautiful face without a name for so long. A beautiful smile to hide the pain.”

    ‘Forgive me Delores. I never deserved you.’ Jonathan wearily climbed the wing of the Mustang and pushed his weary body into the cockpit.

    “Did you ever know that you’re my hero and everything I’d like to be?”

    A familiar ear-splitting roar climbed into the cockpit. A Rolls Royce Merlin 12 cylinder 1695 horsepower. For a moment Jonathan smiled. ‘You never understood me sweetheart, the freedom and beauty of the sky.’ Reaching the 3000 foot runway, he checked his flight list, oil pressire, fuel level, his ancient procedure. Hurtling down the asphalt, Jonathan reached lift off.

    “I can fly higher than any eagle ’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.”

    As his ’51 reached 20,000 feet, he leveled his flight. ‘I wish you were with me darling. Are you watching? Do you now understand?’

    “It might have to go unnoticed
    But I’ve got it here in my heart
    I want you to know the truth,………”

    Tears streamed down his weathered face and Jonathan’s body racked. ‘Lord, how I always loved you. Is it too late for you to know?’

    “………..of course I know it
    I would be nothing without you.”

    Jonathan pushed full throttle, the eleven foot propeller tore through the air until speed reached 400 MPH. The Mustang shimmered slightly. Jonathan closed his eyes and loosened his grip on the controls.

    “Fly, fly, fly away, you let me fly so high
    Oh you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.”

    For fifteen minutes he let the plane fly alone. ‘Are you with me Delores? Will you take the controls?’

    “Fly, fly, fly high against the sky
    So high, I almost touch the sky.”

    Jonathan opened his eyes, glanced at the instruments. lowered speed and proceeded through barrell rolls, stalls and pull outs. In a few minutes the Mustang headed home flying a straight course, occasionally diving, rolling and climbing in delight.

    “Thank you, thank you, thank God for you
    The wind beneath my wings.”

    1. lionetravail

      This was a lovely and wistful- although a little confusing with the self-dialogue and song lyrics interspersed (more a form issue for me, I think). Also, it seemed a strange juxtaposition between his love for his wife and his plane- the transition from the cemetery visit for his dead wife to getting to his private airstrip and his ‘real love’ threw me a bit, because it seemed to me to put the wife in second place behind the plane.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you David. If I knew how to go back and forth with italics on this web, dividing the song from his thoughts like I did before I posted, it might have been less confusing. This was an experimental type of writing I’ve never done before. As far as the Mustang being his first love, it was. When his wife died, he realized it wasn’t.

        I should have made that clear……”What he now realized was not his first love, waited for him, his restored P 51 Mustang.”

    2. Amyithist

      Kerry, this was a very beautiful and haunting take. I wonder if the pilot was planning on killing himself? Was that his plan? Or was he simply trying to get closer to his wife by flying through the sky? Not sure. I’m sure you left it ambiguous on purpose; sometimes the best story allows the reader to draw his/her own conclusions. 🙂
      Thank you for yet another beautiful prose!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Amythist. Please read my response to David above. At first I thought I would write this as his final flight, then I realized it might be stronger leaving the answer in the clouds.

    3. Reaper

      I loved the mix of story and lyrics in this. The realization of undeserved love too late was haunting and there was some strong commentary in this on realizing what’s truly important. What’s that line from Fight Club? “The things you own end up owning you.”

      The italics translating would have helped but even without them it is a well known enough song that I didn’t have a problem reading them in honestly. I felt that shift from last flight to hope. The minutes of letting the plane fly read as a message from beyond. As he reached out to his dead wife and gave her the choice. If she took the controls he would live on, knowing she forgave him and she did. That’s how I interpreted it anyway. Another great story Kerry.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reaper, that is exactly how I wrote it, you are in sync with me. I’m not sure you haven’t always been. There a was a story written by a Canadian msybe ten years. He was ar an airport as a boy about fifteen and noticed an old, grizzled pilot next to him. He asked if he was flying that day. The pilot pointed iut a WWII Mustang sitting off the runway.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I got kicked off Reaper.

          “Stay a while,” he told the boy as he left and walked to his plane. After getting permission to take off, the boy watched the Mustang climb at a 30% angle, noise was deafening. About five minutes later the pilot’s voice came over the control tower

          “Permission for a pass.” Being a small airport, the control tower answered, “Permission granted.” This was broadcart to the waiting room.
          The boy srepped outside and saw a spec approaching. As it got nearer the noise followed rhe plane. The pitot made his riun at over 400 miles an hour, 50 feet above the tower. The noise was ear -splitting. The way the author wrote it,brought tears. WWII was the glory day of fighter aircraft and the Mustang was the greatest aircraft of the war.

    4. Cceynowa

      I had a fairly easy time keeping track of where the dialoge and the song was, only because I know the song well. You incorporated it beautifully into the prose; formatting with italics would have helped though. This forum isn’t friendly to non-html, so no sweat there. Thank you for clearing up in an earlier response to his first/second love. Overall, a great read. Thanks for sharing.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Cceynowa. It’s structured properly in my computer. To try it on the site might have taken a year or so, novice computer operator, freeze of brain, I’m certain. Well, on to the next one. I’ll try to keep it simple.

    5. Critique

      A wonderful duet of lyrics and story.
      Using Bette Midler’s song interspersed through your story was very well done. Jonathan was able to process the grief of losing his wife Delores, realize she was his true love, come to grips with regrets, and find peace.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, Critique. That’s exatly how I wrote it. I was able to format it on my computer but couldn’t figure how to do it on the web site. Charge that to geezer brain freeze.

  24. john godfrey

    What a World

    The skydiving lesson was a gift from my father for my 30th birthday. He claimed that now that I had reached thirty, it was time I “lived a little”. I never could understand how my brothers “lived” in my father’s eyes, though. My oldest brother was a neurologist, but the rest of the family joked he was brainless himself, for he never could seem to grasp the daily tasks the rest of us faced. Instead, an endless supply of servants living with him and his wife did everything for him. My middle brother, though a very successful accountant, had been diagnosed with a minor case of autism at age five, and it manifested in his emotions: it seemed he had none at all. He came off as odd and robotic in his relationships with other people, but it was just the way he was. He had even been called “heartless” by a past girlfriend due to his calculating way of approaching their relationship. Despite this, his numerical ways were huge benefits in his career, at which he excelled. My youngest brother was the hardest to deem “living a little” in my eyes. He had serious confidence issues, and these drove him to be afraid of any human contact. He was always the one of us to shrink away from adventure as kids, always being so afraid of failing he would refuse to do anything. It was like he didn’t have any courage at all, where he fared poorly on the small farm in Kansas where we grew up. This had hurt him particularly hard when he was an adult, and he had been reduced to living with my father and my stepmother, even though he was now twenty-three years old and had not gone to college. How were any of them living?

    ***

    I had brought this information to my father when we had had our weekly lunch at Marvel’s Café. The weekly lunches at Marvel’s had been his idea, again. After the death of my mother, to whom I had been particularly close; my father was trying to make an effort to be close with his children, especially me, his only daughter. Growing up, our father worked so long on our farm that by the time in the late afternoon when he was finished, he was so tired he fell asleep instantly, never saying a word to us. As we grew up we all four helped, but never to the extent he had every day. So he wanted to spend time with us, and since I lived close (and not with him) we often met.

    “I’m glad you could meet me today, Doe.” he had said. Doe was his nickname for me, which was short for my first name. Only my daddy could call me Doe, and only he ever would.

    “Of course, Daddy. Don’t I always, at least once a week?”

    “You do, but today is important. I really needed to talk to you.”

    My mood instantly changed. My father was, when he wasn’t working, a very jovial man. The look on his face, however, had been different than the smiling old man he usually was. Whatever information he had to tell me, this was serious.

    “What is it, Daddy?” I asked.

    “Well, Zeke bit Effie last week…” he began, but I already knew the rest. Zeke was the last remaining of the three Cairn Terriers we had owned, which we had all adopted from a neighbor upon their birth. The other two, Hunk and Hickory, had since passed, but Zeke was still alive, but old. Apparently, he had bit my father’s second wife (and our stepmother) Effie, and she wanted to have him put down, claiming he was a menace. I thought the idea was ludicrous, he would be thirteen soon, and would die soon.

    “What the hell is wrong with that wicked bitch?”

    “Doe…”

    “No, Dad. This is wrong. She can’t barge in and demand the dog we’ve had since he was a week old be killed. How long have you two been married? Since April? That’s four months, Dad. Effie does not have any authority to do so.”

    My dad sat quietly for a moment, in what I assumed was thought.

    “I’ll do my best, darlin’.” my father said in his perfect Southern drawl. I knew that my father meant what he said, but the wicked bitch might just have her say after all, she usually did since their marriage.

    Shortly after, my father called me and told me that Effie refused to keep Zeke. He asked me to take him, but I couldn’t have pets at my apartment. The following day, when Effie was out shopping, I arrived at my father’s house and, with his permission, took Zeke. I told my father I would find a way to keep Zeke, even if it meant leaving my cramped apartment.

    ***

    After the skydiving lesson was over and I had been fitted for a suit, my instructor and I took the long descent up into the clouds, leaving the familiar Kansas ground I knew so well, leaving behind the drama of my personal life.

    “It’s supposed to be a beautiful day today…a perfect day for you to dive!” my instructor screamed over the roar of the plane. We were quickly approaching the diving point.

    “Great! I can’t wait!” I screamed back, fidgeting with my ponytail in anticipation. I didn’t look out of the plane at all, instead focusing on my bright red running shoes the entire time, which were clicking together with help from my feet.

    The point arrived closer than I thought, and soon, my instructor told me to prepare myself.

    It was no time that I was plummeting towards the familiar ground again. What if I didn’t want to go back down? What if I could just leave and go to a simpler place without my family, just Zeke and I?

    The parachute clung to my back, unopened and barely noticeable. I was screaming, not in fear, but in exhilaration. The air felt good; fresh.

    Remembering my training, I prepared to pull the parachute, as I was getting closer and closer to the ground. I pulled the cord, but instead of going down, I found myself going up. I was going higher and higher up…where was I going? How could I stop? Was I going to die? The air began changing, becoming lighter and lighter with every inch I took, and breathing became a struggle. I was relieved when the parachute finally performed its intended operation, and I began falling towards the ground instead of away from it.

    Landing in a field, I noticed that the Kansas I had landed in what very different from the one I had taken off from.

    A beautiful emerald castle sat just on the horizon, very far away. Fields and fields of flowers sat in perfect rows along the path I now stood on, with a thick forest on one side, leading into darkness in the west. The path itself was very different. Once a paved asphalt, it was now of a yellow brick.

    “I don’t think I’m in Kansas anymore…” I found myself mumbling aloud.

    1. lionetravail

      Nice! A fun take, and a fine way to end the story… though perhaps I’d suggest a slight modification to your last line: “I don’t think I’m in my Kansas anymore…”

  25. Trevor

    Friends Forever

    Chris and Andrew were flying over the plains of Oklahoma in a rickety plane. The two men had been best friends since high school, and they were going skydiving. It was a warm summer day, and Christopher could feel the warmth of the glowing sun even from inside the plane.

    “You ready for this, Chris?” Andrew shouted at Chris over the loud plane engine. Chris meekly shook his head yes. While Andrew was obviously thrilled about skydiving, Chris was a nervous wreck. His stomach was in painful knots, and he could feel beads of sweat forming on his head. But Christopher didn’t want to look like a coward in front of the fearless Andrew, so he kept quiet about his fears.

    “Alright, boys! About time for you to jump!” The pilot shouted over his shoulder. The man was elderly and feeble-looking, which only added to Chris’s nervousness about going through with Andrew’s idea. Slowly, he got up and joined Andrew as he opened the door to the plane. Strong winds blew through the open door, messing up Andrew’s long blonde hair. When Chris looked at his friend, he noticed the strange grin on his face.

    “I hope it’s not too painful, Chris. You always were a good friend to me.” Andrew said, gripping Christopher’s wrist. His grip was much stronger than before.

    “What are you talking about, Andrew?” Chris asked, frightened.

    “I’m sorry I have to do this, buddy. But I can’t let you get rich off of my creation.” Andrew had a look of anger in his eyes.

    All at once, Chris realized what Andrew meant. The previous month, Chris had discovered an old novel Andrew had written in college. He read it and saw that it had potentional, so being the great writer he was, he edited it and sent it in for publishing without telling Andrew. The novel became very popular and sold many copies. Chris didn’t think Andrew would find out.

    But obviously, he had.

    “Andrew…I’m sorry. Please, I’ll give you all the book’s profits! I’ll tell everyone you were the one who wrote the book!” But Andrew was still pushing him toward the edge. “Please! Don’t do this!”

    “It’s too late for apologies, Chris. You’ve betrayed me. And now you’ll pay…” Andrew said. Then, he started to say a chant. Chris couldn’t understand any of it, since it was all in some other language, but it sounded like a spell of some kind.

    “Don’t forget your parachute!” Andrew shouted as he pushed Chris off the plane, ripping his parachute off his back as he did. Chris closed his eyes, not wanting to watch as he plummeted to his death.

    But he didn’t fall. He seemed to be going back up to the plane. Chris opened his eyes and was astounded to see that he was going up toward the sky. He flew straight through clouds, becoming wet from the moisture inside them. The higher he got, the thinner the air seemed to get. As Chris “fell” closer to the stratosphere, his lungs starting to run out of air, his friendship with Andrew flashed before his eyes.

    The last thing Chris remembered was when he and Andrew were 12 and at the park, swinging together. They had made a pact that day.

    “No matter what happens in the future, we’ll always be best friends.” Chris had said solemnly, facing Andrew.

    “That’s right. Nothing will ruin our friendship. We’ll be friends forever.” Andrew agreed.

    “Forever just ended.” Chris thought just before he suffocated and floated off into space.

    1. lionetravail

      Interesting story… but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions- where did the spell/chant thing come from? That broke the otherwise great flow of the story for me, and the sad and bitter ending was weakened by that little diversion.

    2. Reaper

      I liked this story. For me there was some language to clean up, little things like began to say a chant, that disrupted the flow for me and would have been smoother as began to chant a spell. Aside from those places this captured and held my attention. Possibly because I could see myself pulling an Andrew if someone did that to me.

      1. Trevor

        Yeah, I know. If I had it to do over, I would have added that Andrew’s story would be about a warlock who had spells that controlled the planet, atomosphere, etc. And Andrew would reveal that the story was based off himself (since he had those powers).

  26. nvlwriter

    This scene takes place in the Matrix.
    If you’ve never seen the movie “The Matrix” you may not understand this scene.

    The man’s voice sounded familiar as I strained to make sense of what he was saying over the roaring of the wind. When I opened my eyes I saw that two men were dragging me toward the open door of a plane and I realized my limp limbs wouldn’t move. “What are you doing?” I managed to say through the fog that clouded my mind.

    “He’s awake.” One of the men said. “What do we do now?”

    “We jump.” The other said.

    “But he’s awake!”

    “That doesn’t change a thing.” The familiar voice said. “By the time the drugs wear off he’ll be part of the countryside…and he’ll no longer be a problem.”

    “But he’s awake!” The man said again as they dragged me to the open door. “You know what he’s capable of when he’s awake; he’s just like Neo”

    “He’s nothing like Neo…besides the tranquilizers are still working.” The familiar voice yelled back. “He may be awake but he still can’t move. He’ll be dead before he can do anything about it.”

    “I don’t like it!” The other man yelled back over the wind.

    As we stood near the doorway I could see the ground below and the rushing wind took my breath away. The man with the familiar voice bent down and pulled my face up toward his and the sight of him instantly caused my mind to sober; it was Agent Smith.

    “Neo died before I had a chance to finish him off myself.” He said squeezing my face. “But I’m going to enjoy watching you die. Once you’re gone the Matrix will be back to normal. In the Matrix nobody is better than Agent Smith…not Neo, not you, not anyone!”

    “You’ll never get away with this.” I said as I fought desperately to move. “Not if I have anything to say about it.”

    “In case you haven’t noticed human…you’re not in a condition to do anything.” Agent Smith said as he released my face and began to laugh. Dragging me the last few inches to the open door he pulled me upright and leaned me out into the howling wind. “We’re at 12,500 feet…” He yelled in my ear. “Agent Brown and I will be beside you for the first minute, but once we open our chutes I’m afraid you’ll be making the rest of the trip by yourself.” His laughter echoed in my ears.

    I closed my eyes and tried desperately to think of what Neo had told me about the Matrix and Agent Smith and his mind games. It had something to do with a spoon but at the moment I was so scared my mind couldn’t focus. I felt myself being lifted slightly and all at once Agent Smith shoved me out the door. By the time he released me we were well away from the plane and I felt myself drifting away from him. Time seemed to stand still as I saw nothing but open air between me and the ground below.

    Then a strange thing happened, as I fell at freefall speed my mind somehow became laser focused and I could remember everything Neo had told me. It was like a movie in my head; Neo had held a spoon in front of my face and bent it using nothing but his mind. When he handed the spoon to me I pondered it. He told me not to try to bend the spoon; he said, “That was impossible…instead, try to realize the truth.”

    “What truth?” I asked.

    “There is no spoon.” He said. “When you realize that, you will know that it’s not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

    It was then that I remembered that this whole life in the Matrix…everything that I see, feel, and touch is an illusion that my mind is feeding me. It’s all coming out of the Matrix mainframe and no matter how real it seems everything here is an illusion.

    Suddenly my limbs had strength and as I stretched out my arms I instantly began to fly. Shooting forward and past Agents Smith and Brown then skyward I could feel strength surging through my body and I couldn’t help but smile as I passed the two dumbfounded agents. They were so shocked and stunned at the sudden turn of events that they totally forgot to open their parachutes.

    Looking down from the heights above the clouds all I could see were two small dots striking the ground as I soared off into the distance. There was only one thing left for me to remember…………”How was it that Neo said he landed?”

    1. lionetravail

      Interesting take, but your lead-in “This takes place in the Matrix” takes away your ability to leave the first part vague, and then hit us all with the surprise twist that it’s all taking place in the Matrix. It’s a very clever idea, but keeping it as a surprise until your ‘reveal’ would make it a stronger and more exciting piece for when the revelation hits.

      1. lionetravail

        i realized, rereading my comment, that i may not have been clear- i think this is a great story and a very cool take. Just don’t sell your writing ability short by feeling like you need to let us know where you’re going in the very beginning 🙂

    2. Amyithist

      Woo Hoo! GREAT take on the prompt! I really enjoyed this! When I first saw the Matrix, it scared me. The whole idea of nothing being real made me sad. But it’s an interesting concept. I really liked your take on this! Thanks for writing it.

  27. RainEDay

    The last thing you remember hearing before your friend thrust you out of the plane was: “Don’t forget your parachute!” That would be nice, though, instead of falling, you immediately begin hurtling upwards. With the stratosphere slowly approaching and your air running out, what do you do?
    Think, think, there must be some detail you’re missing. Let’s think about this logically. You’re going up, not down, what does that mean? You get to die of suffocation instead of impact with the ground. Not really a comfort. Alright, next thought. You’re friend said “Don’t forget your parachute!”… Wait, how did you know it was a friend? The voice was familiar. Okay, who’s voice was it? Madeline! It was Madeline’s voice! A rock falls into the pit of your stomach and it’s a very odd sensation considering you’re falling up. Why the dread? Because Madeline is dead, that’s why. She died 4 years ago in a tragic car accident. Are you sure it was Madeline’s voice? Yes, positive, she was doing her fake Irish accent that used to always make you laugh. Alright, well, did you forget your parachute? You look around yourself, realize that the stratosphere is coming closer at an alarming rate but, on the plus side, you do indeed have a parachute attached to you. What good is it going to do? Well, can things get much worse? Right-o. You pull the cord and instantly feel yourself slowing down. Oddly, the parachute balloons out below you and slows your ascent.
    “Good,” you hear a voice say. Where is it coming from? Is it Madeline? No, this voice sounds like your 9th grade gym teacher. “You can come back to us now,” the same voice says. I’d love to, you think, but how? “Blink three times,” the voice intones. So you do, and suddenly you’re waking to a beeping sound happening close by. A fresh, young face appears and her hands begin removing the electrodes attached to your head. She smiles at your vacant expression, and it’s a sympathetic, tight smile. You know she feels bad for you, but why? She quickly looks away and finishes her task as harsh, slapping footsteps approach and a man smelling like antiseptic is suddenly in your face, checking your eyes with a flashlight. He speaks, though you can’t register everything he’s saying and you know that this is the person who told you to blink, even though he no longer sounds like your gym teacher.
    “Where am I?” you manage to ask. The man smiles at you but it’s an unkind, patronizing kind of smile. “You don’t need to know,” he tells you. “It does not matter where you are, it does not even matter if you know WHO you are. The important thing is that WE know who you are, and every time we send you into a simulation, we are able to get deeper into your mind and closer to your secrets. You may have tried wiping your consciousness to protect those you love, but you are sharing with us. Why do I tell you all this? Because, soon, you won’t remember this either.”
    Except, you do. Because Madeline had told you not to forget your parachute. Yes, the parachute had been part of the simulation but you had created your own way out of your mind wipe, a safety. The nurse from earlier returns holding out pills and a glass of water for you to take. The man stops writing on the clipboard and looks at the pills, giving a quick nod of approval before walking away. You hesitate taking the pills but then the nurse says, “Your parachute,” in the quietest possible whisper. You roll the pills around in your mouth and realize that one of them has a double coating on it, almost like a capsule had been inside another, false, covering. You swallow and instantly you recognize the nurse. She is your sister and it’s time to go home.

  28. RainEDay

    First time writing – not sure what the word limit is. Hope you enjoy!

    The last thing you remember hearing before your friend thrust you out of the plane was: “Don’t forget your parachute!” That would be nice, though, instead of falling, you immediately begin hurtling upwards. With the stratosphere slowly approaching and your air running out, what do you do?
    Think, think, there must be some detail you’re missing. Let’s think about this logically. You’re going up, not down, what does that mean? You get to die of suffocation instead of impact with the ground. Not really a comfort. Alright, next thought. You’re friend said “Don’t forget your parachute!”… Wait, how did you know it was a friend? The voice was familiar. Okay, who’s voice was it? Madeline! It was Madeline’s voice! A rock falls into the pit of your stomach and it’s a very odd sensation considering you’re falling up. Why the dread? Because Madeline is dead, that’s why. She died 4 years ago in a tragic car accident. Are you sure it was Madeline’s voice? Yes, positive, she was doing her fake Irish accent that used to always make you laugh. Alright, well, did you forget your parachute? You look around yourself, realize that the stratosphere is coming closer at an alarming rate but, on the plus side, you do indeed have a parachute attached to you. What good is it going to do? Well, can things get much worse? Right-o. You pull the cord and instantly feel yourself slowing down. Oddly, the parachute balloons out below you and slows your ascent.
    “Good,” you hear a voice say. Where is it coming from? Is it Madeline? No, this voice sounds like your 9th grade gym teacher. “You can come back to us now,” the same voice says. I’d love to, you think, but how? “Blink three times,” the voice intones. So you do, and suddenly you’re waking to a beeping sound happening close by. A fresh, young face appears and her hands begin removing the electrodes attached to your head. She smiles at your vacant expression, and it’s a sympathetic, tight smile. You know she feels bad for you, but why? She quickly looks away and finishes her task as harsh, slapping footsteps approach and a man smelling like antiseptic is suddenly in your face, checking your eyes with a flashlight. He speaks, though you can’t register everything he’s saying and you know that this is the person who told you to blink, even though he no longer sounds like your gym teacher.
    “Where am I?” you manage to ask. The man smiles at you but it’s an unkind, patronizing kind of smile. “You don’t need to know,” he tells you. “It does not matter where you are, it does not even matter if you know WHO you are. The important thing is that WE know who you are, and every time we send you into a simulation, we are able to get deeper into your mind and closer to your secrets. You may have tried wiping your consciousness to protect those you love, but you are sharing with us. Why do I tell you all this? Because, soon, you won’t remember this either.”
    Except, you do. Because Madeline had told you not to forget your parachute. Yes, the parachute had been part of the simulation but you had created your own way out of your mind wipe, a safety. The nurse from earlier returns holding out pills and a glass of water for you to take. The man stops writing on the clipboard and looks at the pills, giving a quick nod of approval before walking away. You hesitate taking the pills but then the nurse says, “Your parachute,” in the quietest possible whisper. You roll the pills around in your mouth and realize that one of them has a double coating on it, almost like a capsule had been inside another, false, covering. You swallow and instantly you recognize the nurse. She is your sister and it’s time to go home.

  29. swatchcat

    Out The Door Without a Chute

    When you exit high school it is nothing like you would expect. Oh, there are exceptions to the rules. The honor rule students heading straight to university or the pizza-to-go workers, and working since old enough to, students. There are however, the students like me that have just been riding the ride and enjoying life that simply just don’t have a clue and no one bothered to prepare.

    “Go, fly, jump! Oh, by the way, do you have your Golden Parachute?”

    “My what,” I asked?

    “Are you prepared,” he asked?

    “For what?”

    “Life man, Life.”

    “What is that?”

    “College or a trade, a skill? A family: 2.5 kids, a dog, white picket fence. Have you set up your retirement, yet?”

    “Wait a fucking minute! I’m only 18 years old. I just got my license, there’s a party at Jackson’s on Friday. Mom’s making macaroni and cheese for dinner.” I was panicking.

    “No, no. Your out by the end of the month. Do you have rent, deposits, utility money?”

    “What the hell do I need utilities for?”

    “Your parents are selling and down sizing. They’ve done their job. You’re on your own, man. Get moving, don’t forget your parachute.” I listened in shock as the man said this. What is it about this parachute? What am I going to do? I’m all alone?

    He read my mind. “No, son. Here, take my card. Come on in and have a seat, we’re here to help you. What are you into? Do you want to see the world?” Hook, line, and sinker. Be all you can be, do all you can do. The recruiter had me. Quota met.

    Six months later. “All they could say in the letter, was, ‘we’re sorry to inform you,'” said Jimmy’s mother to the neighbor, tears welling in her eyes.

    The neighbor padded her on the back. “Well our Tom has his parachute. Did Jimmy have his golden parachute?”

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Golden parachute? Is that the one where you have extremely excellent benefits upon leaving a company (usually exclusively reserved for executives)? My guess is the neighbor was well off or something?

      This was an interesting story about being sucked into the military by promises of a bright future and forever valor and then being shit out sans the promises. What a sad story, actually.

      Also, remember to always check your ‘you are’ contractions, friend! Thanks for sharing, was a good read. 🙂

      1. swatchcat

        Oh crap! Where is it, ahhh there, sorry you are 😉 right . There are this books that help you find jobs, resume, evaluate personality & skills to help for your future , invest etc. Its like a how to for making it in the world. There is one for retirement too but not just that. I’ll look it up, years ago I think one was called ” What color is your parachute ” anyway it’s what came to mind, a teen tossed out of a plane into life with help. ” Children, lollipops”.

          1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

            I have giant hands (and, subsequently, fingers), so I feel you. haha That’s why Swype is my savior when it comes to typing on the phone.

            I’ll have to look further into the parachute thing, then, because the golden parachute, from what I remember, was as I mentioned earlier. There’s probably more depth to it than that though, I suspect!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          This story packs a lot of truth of how recruiters work, paid by the head they are. I think the neighbor may have been referring to something beside a financial future. A Goldun parachute is used by business to steal executives from their competition. In other words, if they screw up like the CEO of J. C. Penney happened to do, they’re out there dragging stock options and stock by the barrel full.

          I’m not too excited about how recruiters grab their prey. You pointed that out very well. Good story.

    2. lionetravail

      This was a good story, Swatchcat, though the unannounced switch from the first person perspective of Jimmy to a third person and an announcement it was 6 months later was abrupt for me. I think that the switch took away from the ending, which was innovative to make use of the colloquial golden parachute.

    3. Amyithist

      I try not to focus on typos when reading a story; at least here because I’ve been a victim of internet/phone issues that render my otherwise witty and capable spelling and grammar abilities useless. Focusing on the story itself, it made me sad. I feel for the MC; a young, confused kid being silver-tongued by a savvy recruiter. How many times has that really happened? 🙁 The writing and feeling were superb. Thank you for the take.

    4. Reaper

      swatchat you’re definitely thinking of what color is your parachute? That’s where the golden parachute comes from and it deals with retirement as well as stock options and negotiating so if a company fires you they still have to pay you a bunch of money. It’s an executive thing but everyone was scrambling for it for a few years.

      This is wonderful, echo what everyone said. There were a couple of songs that went through my head, songs I really like which means I really like your story. Towards the end the recruiter became a combination of a used car salesman and a soul buying demon and then your ending hammered that home for me. Tragic and very emotional stuff.

      1. swatchcat

        You guys are awesome, thank you for the notes. Calling it a “golden parachute” was incorrect although, the premise was totally spot on. I think I was calling it (pending preparedness of adult life) the “golden parachute” because to a teen it seems this gleaming unattainable goal.
        The book I was thinking of is: “What color is your parachute? : a practical manual for job-hunters and career-changers.”
        by Bolles, Richard Nelson. There is another called: “What color is your parachute? for teens discovering yourself, defining your future”
        by Christen, Carol.

    5. Cceynowa

      I was hooked when I started reading this, and was thankful for the comments explaining the ideas behind it. Well done on the premisis of the story, and all is forgiven for the editing errors (I give a handicap for writing on your phone, and apploaud your commitment). I watch a lot of young kids leave HS and feel like they are free-falling. The armed forces manages to catch and help many fly… I’m sad your story ended with Jimmy not “flying into old age” and retirement. But, alas, that is the way life goes sometimes. Great read.

  30. JRSimmang

    Severely over the word limit, but unapologetic. I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

    THREE PLATES

    Knowing that you’ll end up a pancake when you finally touch down eases your thoughts while careening at terminal velocity toward the earth. As I stared at the impending ground ahead, I thought about -9.8 m/s^2, my buoyancy, and quickly calculated that I would make my own burial chamber in roughly 3.2 minutes.

    3.2 minutes is more than enough time to reflect on my adventures.

    My sweet 16th gift to myself was a trip to Spain. I stayed with a young couple, the Feurilleses. Rodrigo was a guitar player; his wife, Iza, was a teacher. The day after I landed, they took me to the Mediterranean where I sat under the sun, watched the topless women, and drank cold beer. Soon thereafter, I found a small fishing boat, captained by Senior Palacios, who took me on board for eight months.

    When I got back to Spain, the Rodrigo taught me how to play guitar. I took my music on the road, hitchhiking through France, Greece, and into Turkey. That’s where I met Callan, who was a Kurdish fighter. He handed me a pistol, and together we fought for independence.

    A lot of lost years later, I found myself in this airplane, piloted by Gilroy Lockhart. I leapt, thinking I was going to land near Wellington. I wanted to visit Hobbiton.

    At 3.1 seconds, I could feel The Shift. At 3.2 seconds, I heard most my body liquefy, the rest bounce, and then nothing.

    ***
    I met Aila in Spain. She was my age, brunette, with glasses and a lisp. She held my hand furiously, as if she may float away if she let go. I wouldn’t lie; I felt the same.

    She was a clever girl, and soon she convinced me to move to Spain. Leaving behind my childhood for Spanish wine and cheese was the best decision of my life. Aila and I moved into a small condo in Barcelona, made love every night, and drank in the sweet Mediterranean breeze. Our first child was born three years after we got married. We named him Rodrigo after a guitar player we met on our first date. His wife, Iza, was our son’s third grade teacher.

    For Aila’s and my 15th anniversary, she talked me into skydiving. Of course, I demurred. Admittedly, I was scared shitless. But, it would be fun. She met our pilot, Mr Lockhart, through the tourist center. Clever man, he was, graduating at the top of his class. I felt like I was in great hands.

    That day was a blur. We were up by 6, in our gear by 8, and out the plane by 8:45. Rodrigo came along and “pushed” us out. He got a great picture that he later posted on Instagram. I couldn’t hear what he said as he took the pic, but I’m sure it was hilarious.

    After what felt like a couple minutes, Aila and I were safely on the ground, 15 years married. We snuggled that night, then made love like we did when we first met.

    That was too many years ago to count. Soon, I’ll be dead, where I’ll be reunited with my wife. She’s waited, and I’ve waited long enough. Rodrigo and his wife are here with me. He has no pity in his eyes, just love and that child-like wonder he’s never lost. Their daughter looks just like Aila.

    The moment before I die, I feel The Shift. My body goes stiff, I wet myself, and I hear the heart-monitor flatline.

    ***
    I’ve been a man on many choices. Working with Alternate Energies I have to be. Last week I got a glimpse into the present through a keyhole. We’ve been obsessed for far too long with the future and controlled by the past. Where we should have been looking is here, now.

    Rodrigo, my associate and research partner, helped me develop a system of compounding exponential densities to generate terrestrial gravitational anomalies. We would sit up in the lab, sometimes all night (which he assured me Iza, his wife, was okay with), him playing guitar, me listening and calculating. Our first successful experiment was two weeks before their kid, Callan, was to be born.

    That’s when I first saw the singularity, when the fabric of space was torn. It proved to me once and for all that time is a constant. No matter where we are, time perpetually moves at the same pace, in perfect synchronicity. We are in a bubble.

    Unfortunately, being on the ground only deterred our success. I had to get higher, where the Earth’s own gravity didn’t affect our devices.

    I called up my friend Gilroy and explained to him I needed him to fly me as close to the thermosphere as would be possible. He informed me that being a shuttle pilot for nearly ten years afforded him some perks. Three weeks later, he had a spot for me on his MMK 1303.

    On schedule, Rodrigo’s and Iza’s daughter was born the day of my scheduled flight. He told me to go on without him, but I placed a call via satellite during ascent. I strapped myself into our device, labeled Aila M. 2, and as I leapt out the door into the thin, cold air, I heard him remind me to grab my parachute.

    Once you hit the air, there is no sound. It’s pristine and beautiful. The Earth quickly passes you, as you slow from the speed of the shuttle. I could see the little farmsteads, the lakes, and I realized that the Earth is a living, breathing thing. I couldn’t be distracted.

    I quickly turned the knobs on the Aila, felt the whirring and modulation, and before I could gasp, my body was being thrust in 360 degrees. I was looking at the air as a refracted light, resonating with the solar winds.

    Then, I froze. Everything froze. I could see the water vapor turned crystal on my fingertips, my breath as it retreated from my lips.

    The shuttle blew past me as I was hurdled away from the Earth. At least I thought my body was racing interminably into the exosphere. That wasn’t it. Space was bending around me.

    My oxygen tank bleeped. Slower. Slower, until there was no bleep. Beside me, I looked at me. I was in a spandex jump suit. Sheer terror was reflected in his eyes, and I noticed his parachute hadn’t been deployed.

    To my left, I saw me with another jumper behind. In the distance, a woman was keeping pace. Each of me, interspersed in the same space at the same time.

    It lasted only long enough for recognition. Then, it all came crashing back to me.

    Once again, I was in free fall, faster, faster, faster, until I deployed my parachute.

    I settled onto the ground 13 minutes later, fell onto my stomach, rolled over, and stared at the sun. My suit was charred in several spaces, and Aila was fizzling.

    Approaching me from the north was a woman, brunette with glasses. I must’ve landed on her property. She was yelling with a lisp in Spanish.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      I think we can safely file this one in the Tall Tales from GranPappy next to his story about the time he wrestled a 30-tentacled creature from deep beneath the sea. lol [I hope you get the reference. :)]

      The story is good, the time flow is a bit funky, but it’s not like I haven’t written time jumping stories before so I’m down with how it goes down (no double-pun intended). I think the real story is why he’s so comfortable free-falling and how creepy it is that he Weds Aila in the future when she’s technically so much younger than he is. Maybe it’s just me that thinks that, lol.

      Also, your title made me hungry. Lunch time for me. lol

      Thanks for sharing! It was a fun read. 🙂

    2. Reaper

      Amazing story here. It took me a while to get it but when I did I just strapped in for the ride. This is one of those stories that I can’t even explain why I love it so much but I do. I was going to make a joke about the word count but after reading this I just can’t bring myself to. It is that good.

  31. Manwe38

    Hey all,

    I’m at the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s annual business meeting this weekend, so I probably won’t be lurking or posting much until next week. I’m kinda bummed about it, because this is such a great prompt, but I plan to be back next week.

    Busy time of year for me, but hopefully, things will then slow down.

  32. Hiba Gardezi

    Rolling up a piece of paper, shoving it into a shored up glass bottle and throwing it into the mass of tangled, waves before me.
    It wasn’t my initial idea.
    My initial idea was a girl’s night in watching Annabelle in my grave and eating whole dirt reed nachos.
    She just had to do it, didn’t she? Skydiving is cool! Oh, it’ll be fun!
    Pretty fun dying wasn’t it?
    I use the sand as a bed. Surprisingly it’s a comfortable bed. The black and white grains shift to fit my body into the grounds cocoon. I lie with my arms crossed behind my head as I watch the sun bid me farewell. Her dark hot cheeks burn. I wonder who embarrassed her.
    Was it her crazy reckless friend? Do we all have crazy reckless friends?
    I did.
    But mine is dead. Because she was a crazy reckless friend. I didn’t know you could die once you were dead. If also didn’t know there was a sun in the underworld. A night later a star appeared in the sky. A new one, that’s how we tell the dead are dead. At least that’s what the lady in the dream told me. But when the dead die they go to a worse place.
    Now the sun goes down. Down to God knows where. I want her to take me. But she’s gone.
    I look at the waves and they remind me of my life.
    I’m thankful the underworld’s not very different from the upper world. I can almost remember being with her.
    A memory. An old one. It feels like a million years old, urges me to ride its wings as it flies me over a glimpse of my short but sweet past.
    I’m at the sea side. It was mother’s favorite place. The sea was her favorite color. It was blue. I remember it was blue but I can’t picture the color. After living in underworld black and white for 12 years I really can’t. I catch only a glimpse and it fills me with warmth. I wonder if she still goes to the sea. Does it remind her of me? Does she miss me? I miss her.
    I start to live the memory. I bathe on the warm rocks and let their hot fingers reach into me .I taste salt as the sea spray shines on my nose like diamonds or jewels tempered near the hot spell of the sun on my nose.im with her.
    I’m with her and that’s the best part.
    That’s the best part and it’s the one that cracks me up. The high pitched helpless laughs turn to sobs as my back digs deeper into the ground creating a second grave.
    I’m crying hopelessly tears streaming down my boiling cheeks simmering as they fall.
    ‘I want mom’
    ‘I want her now!’
    ‘I sound like a baby and I don’t care!’
    I shouldn’t want her. If I want her and she listens to my calls like she did when I was little she’d have to die. She’d have to die for me.
    ‘Calm down’ I barely whisper to myself. ‘There’s nothing you can do. All you can do is live. Live’…I weigh my words ‘And wait’.
    Live what? Death? But I’m right I have to wait.
    * * *
    I yawn as the silvery archers bow climbs up the black sheet of death.
    ‘Well?’ I shout at it. ‘Any sign of help?’
    He doesn’t respond. I take it as a no. Maybe someone will find a dirty, mossy, glass bottle I sent yesterday and try to find me.
    There’s a 0.05% chance they will. There’s a 99.95% chance they won’t. It’s not a 100%. It never is. I won’t keep my hopes high.
    Just in case.
    I threw the bottle yesterday. It’s a good thing I always keep web dust sheets and an ink arrow with me wherever I go.
    Just in case.
    Tomorrow I will try to carve a raft out of the wood I cut today. I learned to cut wood. And to survive on an island.
    Just in case.
    I get out of my cradle and decide it’s safer to sleep in a tree.
    Just in case.
    * * *
    My eyes snap open. I’m wrapped in a trees leafy tentacle. I just heard her.
    I heard her.
    It’s impossible! This is a dream. I peek through the leaves.
    Just in case.
    I see her. I should’ve known. Under world dreams always come true. I also know what comes next.
    She’s the woman from my dreams… nightmares…the nightmares I started having 12 years ago…the nightmares after which I always carry web dust sheets and ink arrows everywhere I go…
    Just in case
    …after which I learned how to survive on an island…
    Just in case
    …Because of which I decided not to keep my hopes high…
    Just in case
    …because of which I wanted to sleep in the trees and not in the open…
    Just in case
    …and I peeked through the leaves
    Just in case
    She walks through the passage between the trees in the underworld uniform for women; a torn, black, silk dress. She walks…calmly. Death is calm for some…when they reach what they want…and this woman…she has.
    I know what I’m going to do and what is going to happen…I’ve played through the act a million times in my nightmares. But still I feel the fear and anxiousness I would’ve felt even if I hadn’t known.
    I do what I always do. I climb off the tree.
    I climb off the tree and start running towards the woman.
    ‘MOM!’ Even though I knew long before I’d find her here. I’d land because of skydiving on a stranded island I’d sleep in the trees on the third night and find her. I still fill with a huge feeling. I don’t know what it is but it’s huge. As she turns wide-eyed and shouts my name and I fit myself into her safe arms I feel like an empty space in me has been filled.
    ‘Mom…’I burst into tears of joy and sorrow ‘I missed you’
    ‘Oh my baby!’ I feel her tears land on my hair ‘I missed you too!’
    ‘How did you get here ’the lines are rehearsed but natural
    ‘I-I … It’s a long sto-’
    ‘Never mind! There’s a bigger problem and you have to listen to me very carefully, Okay?’
    She nods
    ‘I-I saw dreams of this…but…but… it’ll be okay. In a little while the plates under the underworld will shake…the trees will fall…they’ll catch on fire…the sea … the water will be sucked down and instead of water the bowl where the water once was will cracked letting in magma from Hell which will take its place.’
    She tries to say something but I start again ‘you have to jump over the magma’
    ‘What? Clarisse how can I do that? It’d be suicide…in DEATH!’
    ‘It’s okay ill explain later’ I start running she doesn’t look convinced but follows me anyway.
    While we run back to the beach she asks ‘Clarisse?’
    ‘Yeah?’
    ‘What are you going to do?’
    ‘Me?’ I manage to lie to her ‘I’ll be fine.’ It’s not completely a lie. I will be okay.
    ‘Clarisse’
    ‘Yeah?’
    ‘Explain to me exactly what you plan to do’
    ‘Later’
    ‘Clarisse!’
    Just then the rumbling starts. Thankfully were out of the trees canopy because behind us the forest erupts into coal black flames as the trees fall. Before us the giant basin sucks in the water revealing a circular chasm. We stop by its side. A boom hammers in my head as a crack appears at the bottom of the hole filled by further cracking and further hammering booms. In no time it fills with grey bubbling magma I can tell by the heat and the sound it makes that it isn’t water. Other than that since there’s no color here you can’t really differentiate between water and magma.
    We stand at the brink of this deathly pool.
    ‘Mom …’ I choke on the word this is where we part. She doesn’t know. But I have to do this. So she can live…if that’s something a dead person can do.
    ‘You have to jump here. Don’t worry … you’ll live just …think happy thoughts…’
    ‘What?’
    ‘Yeah. When you jump …I know it seems hard to jump over this whole sea… but when you jump imagine your someplace else…some happy place…’
    She stares her eyebrows arched
    ‘I promise it’ll work’
    She gets ready ‘You’re jumping too right.’
    ‘Yes’ I manage but I don’t want my last words to be a lie to her so I say
    ‘Mom I love you and kiss her cheek’
    I watch her jump.
    And she’s free.
    I’m happy.
    Because she’s free.
    Now the flames and the magma corner me and as she watches me somehow from the distance, screaming I wait…wait for my end.

    1. Reaper

      I did not realize it was a continuation until I read your comment but it is pretty amazing. I got lost, there were parts that made me wonder what was going on, probably because I didn’t go back an reread yet. However, that slight confusion was good. There is a poetry and a beauty here. The places where I wasn’t sure what was going on made this feel more like the underworld and in many ways made me think of Dante’s Inferno. So great job here.

  33. qwert

    Chase had been kidnapped by a group of monsters called the Slester Equiza, had been betrayed multiple times, and flown on top of a camouflaging beast whose every part shouted death. He thought that the feeling of surprise had vanished from his life. Boy was Chase wrong.
    As he flew in the clear skies of the morning in Bergen with the sun beating on his face he felt pretty good. That is he would have felt pretty good had not Dana, who had absolutely no knowledge of planes, been flying the one he was in. A stolen jet flown by a pilot who had never seen a real cockpit was like riding on a bull that was wearing a blindfold, and Chase had done that. And that situation was absolutely hopeless, unless you have magic at your side.
    Alden walked up the aisle, his hair a tangled mess of blonde perched atop his head. His eyes were tired and worried but it had a trace of glint in it, the same glint Chase had seen when he had ended up being kidnapped.
    Alden came up to Chase and went straight to the matter at hand. “You’re jumping out of this jet.”
    Chase didn’t know what to say but neither did Alden wait for an answer. He instead opened the door and literally carried Chase over and threw him out. Chase had just enough time to wonder why his friend had suddenly turned against him or what vicious plan his evil mind had concurred this time. A scream caught in his throat as the air enveloped him and he thought that it would have been better if this blanket was warm. To die in the hands of warmth would have been nice.
    Chase cast a glance at Alden, a glance that couldn’t be expressed in words, a glance that said it all.
    Alden swallowed the emotion that was starting to well up in his throat and thought It’s for the best. As Chase met his gaze, Alden had an instant feeling of looking away but managed to say brightly,” Don’t forget your parachute!”
    Yeah, Chase thought, nice timing.
    As the wind rushed into his ears, only one thought rang through his mind: He was going to die.
    But the funny thing was that instead of dropping down to the earth, Chase was rising upwards. He was defying gravity.
    And though he never thought he would, Chase grinned. This was what life was all about.
    But he soon realized that he was running out of oxygen. He gasped and looked up. He prayed to all the gods known and unknown that he wouldn’t feel his death.
    But fate just liked playing with him. Soon above his head appeared the outline of a world. And as the strong vertical winds pushed him up higher, he corrected himself: Above him was the world. The world he had been in search for since the day they had learnt of it’s existence.
    The world of Magic.
    He’d found it because of a betrayal. His mind started to wander back to his, he was reluctant to say, his former friends. Or had Alden known about this magical world above them? He shook his head to clear his disarrayed thoughts. In any way he had found it. He chuckled at his achievement. He would have to worry about his friends after he had finished celebrating.
    He laughed again. This time to make sure this was real

    1. Reaper

      This feels bigger. The story is interesting, though you have some tense changes and some words that need a little editing. Beyond that there is a lot of world, backstory, and ideas here. Because there is so much this felt kind of rushed and run together. I feel like this is the kind of idea that needs at least a chapter or three to fully explore and because of that I felt like I was missing a good deal that belonged in a book I want to read.

      1. qwert

        Thanks for the feedback. I’m an eighth grader, always wanted to be a writer.
        And yeah, I wrote a few pages to the story before this so it probably wouldn’t have made total sense. These comments are really helpful, though.

        1. Reaper

          Well let me start off by saying wow. I wish I had written with this much lust for life when I was in eighth grade. Never give up that dream no matter what you hear from people that don’t get it, and you’ll hear a lot. Glad I didn’t miss this being part of something bigger. As for tense changes and such…

          The firs thing is in the third paragraph you have concurred where I believe you meant concocted, that’s just a typo though. Huh, rereading this I don’t know where I thought there was a tense change. I was sure I saw some but looking back on it I don’t see it anymore. So unless you found the magic edit button I was mistaken. I think it is the passive voice in the first bit that made me see it, had been instead of was throws me off, even in my own writing. So that’s my bad and I’m very sorry for that.

    2. Observer Tim

      Welcome aboard, qwert! This is an interesting and action-packed piece of an obviously larger story. I find myself curious about what happened before and what is going to happen next.

      My style advisor tells me you’re using a few too many names, especially in the confrontation between Chase and Alden. You might try recasting it to cut down the number of references needed. Here is an example (for illustration only):

      Alden walked up and got straight to the point. “You’re jumping out of this jet.”

      Chase didn’t know what to say, but didn’t get a chance to answer anyway. Alden simply opened the door and threw him out of the plane. He had just enough time to wonder why his friend had suddenly turned against him or…

      That sort of tightening up will help your writing, especially when dealing with tension and conflict, where there is a preference for shorter sentences and less need for description and explanation.

  34. keyhonay

    “Oops”
    The plane was a dot far below me; by the time I had given up and turned to the direction I was traveling. Before me was an endless blue sky. As I was about to black out from the lack of oxygen, I gasped what I thought would be my last breath and was rewarded by the feel of fresh air filling my lungs. Maybe this was death; I considered this as I sailed upwards through the heavens. The thought did make sense. I was not a meteorologist, but I knew there was no way I could get enough oxygen to survive at this altitude. I pondered this idea as suddenly the sky before me became as black as ink and dotted with a trillion stars.

    I knew I was in space or believed I must be by the weightlessness I felt. Not slowing, but somehow able to breath; I moved through the void of space. Glancing behind me I saw the blue marble that was the Earth slowly drifting further away from me.
    When I turned back, I screamed in silence at the object coming at me. It was the moon and I was heading towards it as if I was falling to it. I got closer and closer when all off a sudden I changed direction and arched over the moon.

    As I crested the top I could see a chrome space ship sitting in the shadow of the moon. I changed direction again and headed towards the ship. A port opened on its side and I was pushed towards it. I slipped into this port and everything went black.

    After what could had been a few minutes, hours or even days in the dark, there was suddenly light and I found myself in a large glass like tube, that was sealed at each end.
    From the tube I could see I was in an empty room with a door in front of me.
    The door faded away as two people came in. They both wore silver body suits and came towards me.
    Both of their expressions where blank as they approached me; then one frowned and the other smiled.
    “See you missed him,” said smiling one.
    “Whatever, you do it next time,” said frowning one.
    “Where am I?” I asked, as the frowning one took out a small silver box and pointed it at me.
    “Sorry, about this we’ll send you back in just a second,” said smiling one.
    “Wait, what’s going on?” I asked.
    “Nothing and don’t even bother telling anyone, because no one will ever believe you,” said frowning one a he ran his finger over the small box he held.

    There was a bright light and closed my eyes to shield them. When I opened them again I was falling towards earth. In a panic I reached up and pulled my rip cord. The chute open and my descent slowed.
    Needless to say it was my last sky diving experience.

    1. Reaper

      There are a couple of spots where the flow seems a bit off. The beginning until you hit your stride and then when the aliens approach. The door faded away as two people came in. They both wore silver body suits and came towards me. Both of their expressions were blank as they approached me; then one frowned and the other smiled. There is a lot of bridging and sentences. I would suggest a reword to something like. The faded away to admit two people in silver body suits and carefully neutral expressions. As they approached me one developed a frown and the other a smile. Just a suggestion though.

      With that said this hooked me and reads amazingly. I don’t know if it is your intention but this read as a very strange study of abuse. Not knowing where you are being pulled, being confused and not knowing the situation that you are in as the other intentional keeps you in the dark, the two aliens could be sides of a personality one smiling one frowning. All of that hit me at the don’t tell anyone because nobody will believe you. Like I said, not sure if that was intentional but it added a lot of power to this for me and made an already enjoyable story wonderful.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a strange and disturbing story, keyhonay. I love the way it all just happens without anyone even attempting to explain it. That’s the world I live in… 🙂

      I could tell you were either writing in a hurry or didn’t have time to edit. Normally your word choices are better than this. If you were going to publish, I would suggest a thorough going over. But the idea came through clearly and entertainingly.

    3. keyhonay

      Thank you for the comments and suggestions. I am guilty of rushing my prompt submissions, partly due to the giddy excitement I get from submitting them and the fact I do these at work during lunch and breaks. The other thing I need to work on is trimming down the prompts to 500 words. I know it’s a suggested word count but I do like the challenge. In any case again thank you all for the comments and suggestions. This has been a great experience and the feedback has been wonderful.
      For this story like all others my only real intent is to entertain. This one was spawned by the people that have claimed events like this happen to them. The coldness of the people in sliver was organic but, I did purposely include their mild concern about the MC, in their decision to send him back to Earth and not just eject in to space.

  35. Colonel Plops

    Beam Me Up

    He sat in front of my cage, with his hat tipped slightly and a cigar sticking out from in between his lips. Two nameless men with guns stood on either side of him.

    “Where am I?” The man stood and looked down at me. Once he stood I learned that he was abnormally tall and had the dark eyes of a shark.

    “This is the S.S. Capone. My spaceship. And you’re Lucky Leo right?” That’s when I realized this man didn’t want to talk to Leonard Day, the man who had just been interrupted on a sky diving trip. He wanted Lucky Leo, the man responsible for the deaths of hundreds, whether those deaths be orders or by his own hand.

    “I’m Lucky Leo,” I answered.

    “Good. They call me ‘The Gray Man’, but you can call me Gray,” he held his hand out and I took it and shook. “Your friend, that’s ‘Mr. Machine’?”

    “Mr. Machine?”

    “So you don’t know yet…” Gray began walking away from the cage.

    “Don’t know what?”

    “That you’re a wanted man Leo,” Gray turned back toward me.

    “Trust me, I know that I’m a wanted man.”

    “No, not like this. You’re a wanted man even up here Leo. Do you remember ‘The Red Gang’?”
    “Yeah. They were a rival gang from a long time until I finally went in personally and killed the leader, ‘Mars’. What about them?”

    “They were actual aliens. Like me. A rival gang of mine as well. We thought we were done with them when you killed Mars,” Gray stopped and blew smoke in my face, “but you just made things worse. A new leader rose, Mr. Machine. A robot built by Mars himself. Mr. Machine is now after you Leo. It’s up to you to stop him…”

    “And Mr. Machine is my friend back on the plane?”

    “Exactly. That’s why he pushed you off. The one thing he didn’t count on was me saving you.”
    “So now what? You send me back knowing all of this information? I live the rest of my life in fear of knowing anyone could be an alien or a robot?” I asked Gray, pushing myself against the bars of my cage.

    Gray whispered, “Well, it’s either that or these two men shoot you. Your choice Leo. I’m a man of business. Don’t think I won’t go down to Earth myself and kill Machine. But I like you, and you’re gonna go back down and kill him because I told you to,” by the end of Grays sentence he was also up against the bars, sneering at me.

    “Then get to sendin’ me back.”

    “It’s not that simple. If I send you back right now you’ll continue falling to your death. You misunderstood what I meant by sending you back.”

    “In time?”

    “With this,” Gray held out an oddly shaped silver gun.

    “Got it.”

    “This is your only chance. If you fail this time, you die.”

    “I understand,” with this I slicked my hair back like I always did when I was Leo, “Beam me up Scotty.”

    1. lionetravail

      This is great 🙂 the dialogue was cool, a lot of backstory given as part of the happening story rather than in exposition, and the idea nicely original with a pulp sci fi of the 50’s or 60’s feel to it. Almost a Flash Gordon feel to it.

      Very well done- me likey lots!

  36. cosivantutte

    Jimbo dragged the door open. The wind tore into the cabin, whipping my hair into a frizzy frenzy. He smiled at me.

    His henchman scooped me up and hauled me over to the open door. I tried to resist, but really, what was the point? Where could I run to even if I did get away from the bad, bald behemoth? I was thousands of miles above ground.

    “I’m sorry, Janice.” said Jimbo.

    “So, why are you smiling?”

    He turned to face the clouds. “I’m not smiling.”

    “You’re so full of bologna you could start a bologna-only deli.” I frowned. I didn’t want to keep yelling, but I needed to know. “Why are you doing this? I trusted you.”

    “But I never trusted you.”

    “Wha?”

    He turned around. “I befriended you, yes, but I couldn’t trust you. How could I? You are my opposite.”

    “Oh my gosh! Are you still stuck on that stupid prophecy–”

    “It is not stupid!” He somehow managed to roar his words. If we were in a different situation, I would have been deeply impressed. “I saw you at the party. I saw what you did with that broken plate. Our paths have already split. Can’t you see it? Can’t you feel fate pulling us apart?”

    He was being so stupid I wanted to slap some smarts into him. “So, what are you going to do about it?”

    “The only thing I can.” He snatched me from his henchman and yelled right into my face, “I’m gonna show fate who’s da man.” Having said the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard him say, he shoved me out of the plane. “Oh. DON’T FORGET YOUR PARACHUTE!” He threw the parachute in the completely opposite direction that I was falling.

    As I plummeted to the green and brown patchwork quilt below, I didn’t scream. I felt. Fear. Anger. Sick to my stomach.

    A strange exhilaration.

    I wasn’t going to die. No, it wasn’t a pathetic, clingy hope. It was determination. It was truth.

    I pinned my arms to my sides and shot upwards. I was going to get back on that plane and punch his lights out.

    But I was going too fast. I swooshed past the plane and headed straight up. No. No. No! This wasn’t good. I tried to turn, but my body was like a missile – perfect straight line going straight up. The air was thinning out. I could feel it in my lungs, buzzing deep in my head. Fear claimed me as its own. I was going to die. I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die! Jimbo. How could you do this to me? How? Why? Because of a prophecy?

    Anger trickled back in. That blamed, blasted prophecy. It was wrong about me. I’d show him. I’d show them all!

    I flung out my arms, breaking my missile shape. I tried to bend and succeeded. Flapping my arms like wings, I flew back to the plane. The door was shut, but that was not a problem. I’ll just wait for him to land.

    1. Reaper

      This is an interesting beginning and leaves me wanting more. Is it strange that with all the hatable things about Jimbo the one that makes me despise him the most is the da man comment?

    2. lionetravail

      Nice, original take on this. I like the switch where the ascent is able to be controlled. Like Reaper, I’d enjoy seeing more.

      There were a couple of tense changes which interrupted the flow for me a bit, but editing (I always need more myself) could smooth that easil enough. (“I don’t want to die!” I thought, as and example, or “I didn’t want to die!”)

      Nicely done. Now get writing- i wanna know what prophecy.

      1. cosivantutte

        Here’s my continuation of sorts:

        Jimbo chin-propped on his hands and watched the teacher through half-mast eyes. The teacher waved his arms in big dramatic arches and he talked and he talked and none of it made any sense to Jimbo’s tired brain.

        How can he be that energetic at ten o’clock in the morning? Jimbo wondered. Is his coffee extra caffeinated? He yawned. I bet he doesn’t have bad dreams that keep him up until…

        He closed his eyes for a second too long and fell into a dream.

        His mother held his hand as they walked through an endless aisle at the grocery store. He tried to look up at her, but she was too tall and he was too small. Loneliness wrapped its winter rain arms around his chest.

        A man wearing Darkwing Duck sneakers stopped in front of them. As Jimbo stared at the sneakers, the pattern changed from purple and pink and gray Darkwing Duck to red and yellow and black Negaduck. The man dropped down to Jimbo’s line of sight and looked at him with yellow-green eyes.

        Jimbo startled awake. The teacher didn’t even notice. He was too busy scrawling large equations all over the chalkboard with gleeful abandon.

        He lowered his gaze to the top of his desk. A previous student from sometime in the past had carved an H overlapped with a V into the wood. Is the H overcoming the V or is it the other way round? Jimbo wondered. Touching it didn’t answer his question. Both letters were equal in depth.

        Thinking about it didn’t do anything but increase his sleepiness. He laid his head back on the desk. I won’t fall asleep this time. he thought. I’m just going to rest my…

        He tried to cling to his mother, but she had disappeared, leaving him truly alone.

        “A great future as a hero stretches before you, Jimbo Heveron. You will be remembered and honored and feted and loved. But beware. Your opposite exists. Your paths are one, but the day will come when your paths will split. You will choose the hero’s path. She will choose the villain’s path. When she chooses, you will know. You will have to destroy her.”

        “Who is she? Who is my opposite? What does that even mean?”

        The man opened his mouth and spoke the sound of rushing wind and roaring engines.

        “Tell me!”

        Jimbo opened his eyes and sighed. It’s always the same dream. he thought. But it’s more than a dream. It’s a memory. And his words…Maybe they were the ramblings of a crazy man, but they felt strong and true like a prophecy. What will I do if his prophecy comes true? I’ve never hurt anyone before. How could I steal someone’s life?

        He sat up straight. I must find that man. If he’s right and it is a true prophecy, I know nothing can change it. But I need more details. I need to know more. Who is she?

        Someone tapped his arm. “Excuse me.”

        He looked over at the arm tapper. A girl with frizzy red hair smiled at him. “Sorry to bug you, but I forgot my slide ruler. Do you have a spare?”

        “Sure.” He reached into his book bag and pulled out his ruler. “Here.”

        “Thanks. What’s your name?”

        “Jimbo Heveron.”

        “Jimbo Heveron. Thatt’s a good name. I’m Janice Varnes.”

        “Nice to meet you.” He laid his head down again and slept without any dreams.

        1. cosivantutte

          Sorry about the italics abuse. I only meant to italicize the dream sequences, but my computer went into full diva mode and italicized everything else. 🙁

          1. lionetravail

            No worries- it happened to me too. Nice extension- I found it very smooth and an enjoyable read.

    3. Observer Tim

      Great story, Cosi. How to create one’s own nemesis in two easy steps (1: try to kill them. 2: fail). I find the MC and the story fascinating, and I would definitely love to hear more about her. Jimbo has some fleshing out done, but Janice needs more depth.

      The extension was great, too. Now your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write the extension again from Janice’s side. Is she really evil? Does she have a destiny too? Is this all a mistake on Jimbo’s part? Inquiring minds want to know.

      1. cosivantutte

        Thank you so much for your kind words, OT. While I don’t mind constructive criticism, it’s always nice to hear positive feedback. 😀

        I choose to accept my mission. I have part of it typed already, but I need to go to bed. 🙁 I have to get up early tomorrow for work. I will finish/clean it up tomorrow and post it.

        Good night!

  37. Reaper

    Trending Up

    They call it an affirmation of life.

    People will generally live up to their names. Maybe skydiving with Richard was a mistake. Though, it may have been the best decision of my life.

    “Don’t forget your parachute!”

    The words and his hands gripping my lapels startled me from my catnap. Then I was soaring through the air. I caught a wink of steel from doorway as my emaciated frame flew past it, my feet never touching the floor. Not that he had given me much choice, but I had done what Richard advised me not to. Then I was in the great blue abyss.

    I was surprised. Friends don’t throw friends out of airplanes. Panic gripped me as I realized I was going to die in a painful manner. But wait, I wasn’t falling, I was floating upward!

    It took time for me to get hold of myself. Breathing deep I closed my eyes. Just when I got into my zen place I realized I was approaching the stratosphere slowly, but not slowly enough. The air was getting so thin it was hard to breath. Damnation, I was going to die.

    I didn’t panic though. I signed up for the jump because at ninety the doctors informed me the good news was the dementia settling in was still pretty mild but would eventually do for me. The rapidly failing liver was going to work quicker. So bouncing off the ground, or atmosphere, didn’t matter. My death sentence was confirmed, it was just the manner of execution up for debate.

    I twisted until I looked down. Open country spread out for miles. At a certain height it looks like colored squares on a school map. It looks like love. That kept me calm. In the distance were towns and cities near crystal blue squiggles of rivers and ugly grey scars of highways. That was beautiful too.

    A dot bloomed a rectangle, Richard opening his chute. Gasping for breath I was still serene. I wanted to hate him but I couldn’t. I was floating up like an angel winging to heaven. The thought pleased me more than the ever expanding view.

    The sky above me faded from blue to black. Soon the ozone would turn me into the world’s oldest signal flare. Richard had given me a gift. I didn’t want to go out of this world gibbering, drooling on myself, unable to remember my name as my organs filled me with increasing pain.

    His plan would have sent me out like a meteor, surrounded with terror and the thrill of life. My odd twist of fate was going to turn me into a blazing afternoon start wrapped in a warm embrace just before I froze. My last thought before the lack of oxygen caused me to pass into dreamless eternal sleep was this.

    Not many men go out as a meteor. Even fewer go out as a star. Most leave this world as a vegetable. Richard was a pretty good friend.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      I loved it all the way through, Reaper. Just out of curiosity, are the word confusions part of his character because of the slow dementia setting in? “Abyss” If it is, brilliant.

      I read it twice, I very rarely do that, so excellent job. It was the descriptions that did it for me more than anything. Thanks, Reaper!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I had never thought about death in this manner until I read this. It would fascinates me to think I might go through this experiecnce with my brain attached rather than lying in a vegetated state. If I had a choice, it be to realize my transition. Like Steve Jobs saying at the last moment, “Oh Wow. Oh Wow.” An unusual poignant tale from your Reaper. Always, not most times, but always in top form.

        1. Reaper

          Thank you Kerry. Loss of faculties is a terrifying thing for me. It got worse when I watched my great grandmother go through it, and now am watching my grandmother start to. I agree with you, I’d much prefer to know what was happening.

    2. Dennis

      Very poignant and heartfelt. It reminded me of the young woman recently who moved to Oregon with her family to die with dignity so she didn’t suffter the pain her terminal illness was going to cause her. It’s those true friends who sometimes have to step up to the plate for you when a difficult decision has to be made.

    3. lionetravail

      Wonderful take, Reaper- smooth and enjoyable, with a character i certainly felt empathy for… Empathy rather than sympathy, which i think is an interesting accomplishment of this prompt (which seems even more limiting than usual to me).

      1. Reaper

        Thank lioneravail. That is a hell of a compliment. I was definitely going for empathy on this one since I know a lot of my MCs are pretty unlikable all around. The prompt didn’t seem so much limiting to me as kind of bland but then when inspiration struck it brought some bags to stay a while.

    4. Observer Tim

      Wow, great story Reaper. It’s a fascinating NDE hallucination, or is Richard one of those people who happens to sub in with the strange sometimes? Leaving that unresolved merely adds to the surreal quality of the story.

  38. matthewlynn

    First try, a little longer than I expected. (word count 1000+)

    “Don’t forget your parachute!” Tim said to me as the loud whoosh of air passed over my ears from my sudden departure of the 747 at 20,000 feet. “How did this happen?” was my only thought. Tim looked pale. His red-rimmed eyes, fresh five o’clock shadow, and lunatic smile began to grow smaller with our gaining distance.
    We had popped pills, slammed drinks and boarded this plane headed from Los Angeles to Waikiki an hour and a half ago. After takeoff, we ordered another round of cocktails, flirted with the stewardess, she was maybe a five, and set back to enjoy our trip-out until touch-down.
    We were going for broke and having a good time until someone started coughing to our back right. The cough sounded like your standard, dismissive, please-don’t-talk-to-me hack, but it kept going. The rotund man in a JC Penny’s suit was hooting away. The woman sitting next to the man shoveled through her purse and patted him on the shoulder, hoping to soothe the poor guy. The attendant appeared from the back with a glass of water as though she had received a telepathic message and her services were needed. I noticed eyes shifting from one passenger to the next asking the blatant question on everyone’s mind “Does he have Ebola?” As usual, I ignored the thought. I saw it like mad-cow disease or SARS, “If I don’t have it, I don’t care.” Tim and I wrote off the spluttering and continued our drinking. A few gasps of breath later, the coughing stopped. Then there was the scream, the blood curdling type that makes you think someone had unexpectedly died, but this time, someone had. I looked back and noticed a bead of blood running from the man’s mouth down his double chin on to his seventy percent cotton shirt and twenty-dollar tie. The fuss lasted a few breaths before another cough started. Eyes shifted again; however, that time, I felt they were deserved. One-by-one, coughs began to take the passengers except for Tim and me. The wheezing, burly hacking had killed my buzz cold. Tim cleared his throat. He looked at me, and we both feared to acknowledge what the itch in his throat meant. Another scream came from across the cabin, more coughing bellowed down the aisle, and more people became frantic, as I sat staring at my friend. My thoughts sprinted from neuron to neuron, attempting to make connections, but I was just too high. His cough progressed as the others had into a body-jarring fit that left him debilitated. I was still dumbstruck when he stopped coughing, took his hands away from his face and revealed his dilated eyes. He looked crazed. Before we could exchange a word, he jumped up from his seat and ran to the galley. He burst from the back wielding a plastic knife and began stabbing each of the coughing passengers. Blood sprayed his arms and face as he slashed jugular and artery alike. I sat in shock. Working row by row in my direction, he carved person after person. I could not fathom what was urging him on, but I knew I had to do something quickly because he was about to reach my row. I scrambled around trying to find a weapon, something, anything to protect myself from my deranged friend. It was no use. He was there and I did not have the motor control to stop him. A moment of recognition flashed across his face before he sprinted away from me to the pressure-sealed escape hatch. The plane fell hard to port as he reached for the handle. I guessed whatever the killing disease was it had reached the cockpit. Tim scrambled up and pulled the door handle anyway, until it gave. The depressurization sent air rushing out until the compartment stabilized. Tim held through the forces, regained his footing and made his way towards me. I shuffled around trying to get my seat belt on thinking that it would somehow save me. Tim kept coming. He grabbed both my arms and pulled with a strength I have never known he had.
    “Let go Tim!”
    “Matt, you don’t have it yet. You have to get out of here. You have to go now.”
    It occurred to me he thought I would be safe if I escaped the plane. I squirmed to get away from his grasp, but he had me. He pulled me out of my chair and dragged me towards the exit. I kicked, screamed, pleaded and even bit him, but nothing would change his course. I heard the sound of rushing air and whirring jet engines increase in decibel as we approached. Accepting it was all for naught, I went limp. He was going to push me out that door. He jerked me forward towards the cold air whipping into the fuselage. His rational mind gone, he looked at me and said, “Don’t forget your parachute!” and pushed me out the plane. Fear crawled up my throat, but something was wrong. I could see the Pacific glittering below me, but it appeared to be distancing itself instead of rushing at me. I turned my head and saw the plane fall past me. “Wait, it didn’t fall past me. I’m going UP!” I turned on my back and saw the sky begin to darken as I closed the heavens. The vastness of space was waiting for me with its cold lifeless arms stretched in waiting. The cold scrapped across my skin reminding me of lower oxygen levels, freezing temperatures, and nonexistent atmospheric pressures at higher altitudes. My eyes watered shut, and the tears began freezing on my eyelids. Consciousness was escaping me, and I wondered if people who drowned felt this uncomfortably peaceful about their deaths. Pain flared on my chest signaling my time had come.
    “MATT, we’ve got to go. We landed twenty minutes ago.”
    I jerked my eyes open and blinked rapidly in succession. I was confused and breathing heavily when Tim’s face came in to focus. I was still on the plane and it had all been a dream.
    “Tim! You’re okay.”
    “Yeah, are you alright? Dude, you were out like a light, come on, we’ve gotta go.” He leaned forward and whispered something else in my ear. “You scared the piss out of me dude. I thought you OD’d. Let’s go before they ask questions.”
    “You’re right, I’m getting up.” I pushed myself out of the chair, ducked under the overhead storage, and headed towards the exit. The almost five stared me down with contempt written on her face as I passed. I heard someone cough behind me as I stepped on the ramp, and my hair stood on end.

    1. Reaper

      I’m terrible with names so I am going to assume first try means I should be saying welcome. Even with the length I was engaged and pulled into your story. The beginning and middle were amazing. I have this special dislike for it was all a dream stories so I admit I was bummed when I got there. It was well done, don’t get me wrong, it is just a thing for me. However… your last paragraph redeemed it for me. Because it led to the thoughts that it could be a real plague coming out now this read more like the prophetic beginning of a longer action story than a short that ends with it was just a dream. So, good work and nice writing.

    2. Dennis

      Great job and welcome to the boards. The length was fine but just remember to put a space between your paragraphs so it is easier to read. I too liked the ending as it gave possibility for something real to happen.

    3. lionetravail

      Great story. I, too, am not often wowed by ‘it was all a dream’ sequences, but this prompt was so improbable it requires a dive into sci fi, fantasy, mythology, dream, spiritual experience… Anyway, the fright and timely concern abut a terrifying communicable disease like ebola, plus the wierd synchronicity of the cough from behind once he’s awake is wonderfully done. Nice work, and welcome. Look forward to reading more!

    4. matthewlynn

      Thanks for the warm welcome! I’m still very green at creative writing and have taken notes on your suggestions, and I appreciate them immensely. Please forgive me for not commenting on your writings. I’m still working on feeling qualified enough to say anything, but know that I have read and enjoyed them thoroughly. Until next week I guess.

    5. Observer Tim

      This is a great first take, matthewlynn; welcome aboard! I love the character name, but I never would have pushed him out the door. 🙂

      There are lots of good suggestions from ‘the gang’, especially the one about being careful with dream sequences/drug trips. It’s way too easy to use them to explain away the fantastic. Dreams have a fine pedigree: Johannes Kepler’s Somnium, from 1608, is arguably one of the first works of SF. Unfortunately, that has made them “expected”. Don’t disuse them, just use them sparingly and carefully.

      Other than that I don’t see any more bumps than is typical for writing here. I think we all could use a good editor now and then. 🙂

  39. Priya

    Hello, this is my first post. Happy to be here. I’ve read some good entries. Are there any rules. Maximum words?

    “I’ve got no parachute. I’m going to die,” crossed my mind. I opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out. I gulped. I looked downwards, I expected soon to be smashed potatoes when my course suddenly changed, and I found myself to be hurtling upwards. “What the heck is going on?” I passed the plane that was descending.
    The higher I soared, the more difficult my breathing became. I broke throughout puffy clouds, remembering how I dreamt to lie on those clouds and travel the world when I was young. My dream was coming true and I didn’t like it at all. It was cold and lonesome up in the air, that was getting thinner and thinner. In a few seconds, I had traveled into space and could look down on earth, which seemed insignificant from up in space. Next thing I knew, I was among the stars and the moon, also a childhood dream which became reality as I was going to die, very soon, since space doesn’t nurture life. First, I flew to the moon, took a seat and enjoyed the starry glittering sky. I loved every bit of it. Not a bad ending for the last leg of my life. My death could have been less adventurous. I could have drown or killed by a car but instead my friend threw me out into the sky. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the moment, waiting to be transmitted to the other world. A blast of air tumbled me of the moon. “Hey, what’s going on?” I was falling again, towards the earth this time. “Oh heaven, I was enjoying good scenery,” but I knew I had to turn back. I had seven more lives to go, enough to revenge my friend who threw me out of his plane. Hadn’t he heard that black cats have nine lives?

      1. swatchcat

        Welcome to the party. This was nice and the fact it was a cat made it more interesting. While your here, you will encounter the vague critique “good, nice, good show old fellow, and all that.” On occasion someone will let you have it and others will actually tell you where you need to clean it up, do some nip and tucks and so on. We come from all walks of life and all levels of experience in writing, so have fun and start writing some more.

    1. Reaper

      Welcome Priya. A nice story that was very readable. You might consider putting an extra line between paragraphs for ease of reading because of the format here. Otherwise it used to be five hundred words or less but someone informed us recently they didn’t post that anymore. I think Jay and a couple of others broke the word limit thing and it is now in the shop.

    2. nvlwriter

      Pryia, this was a nice take on the prompt. Very few words and done well. I’ll echo Reaper’s request for a space between paragraphs and thoughts. One thing that jumped out at me after you revealed that this was a cat was a term you used earlier. You said, “…also a CHILDHOOD dream…” which I thought was confusing since this was a cat. Cats are not children and therefor can’t have a childhood. I thought that if this were reworded it would have sailed smoothly by instead of jumping out at me. Other than that I enjoyed it. Good job.

    3. lionetravail

      Interesting story, and a cute reveal about it being a cat and having nine lives, but…. a cat falling out of a plane should not know about parachutes or smashed potatoes, and wouldn’t be likely to actually have 9 REAL lives. It’s a fun story, and readable, but it reads like a fantasy bedtime story rather than a story with a beginning, middle, and end which is internally consistent, at least for me.

      It’s nicely written and a very nice first story for the site. I hope to read many more of yours!

    4. Observer Tim

      This is a beautiful story, Priya, especially taken from a cat’s point of view. Welcome to the site!

      My style advisor suggested a punch line to me (for after the last paragraph).

      And yes, I landed on my feet.

      I only have one suggestion to add to those already given: read through your story several times, and at least once very slowly. There were a number of errors that reading would catch but a spelling/grammar checker wouldn’t. That’s the step needed to go from good to great.

  40. Amyithist

    This is long… but it’s been a couple weeks since my last post, so I indulged a little. I hope you enjoy it!
    ***

    The airplane hangar was frigid and, whether it was from the icy air or the fear lacing through my body, I was trembling. Despite the dread and angst running rampant, I smiled as Cody bounded into the room. His tuft of blonde hair still glistened beneath the sallow glow of the halogen lights; though, I wasn’t sure for how long.
    “Are you feeling okay?” I asked.
    He smiled as he stuffed his head into the helmet. “Shut up, Maggie. This isn’t a day for worry. It’s a day for excitement and living like there’s no tomorrow! Which, oddly enough, could be true for me.”
    I bit my lip as tears started to well in my eyes. “I really wish you wouldn’t joke like that,” I whispered.
    Cody frowned at me. “It isn’t a joke,” he retorted, “it’s the truth! Isn’t it?”
    Before I could answer, Mom and Dad appeared in the massive mouth of the hangar. “Are you two ready to go?” Dad asked.
    Anxiety pelted through me but I nodded. I was doing this for Cody. And I wasn’t backing out no matter how scared I was. “Ready as I’ll ever be,” I said, forcing a grin.
    “All right then. Henry is ready, too, so I guess this is it.”
    After saying our goodbyes and promising not to forget everything we’d learned about diving, we boarded the small plane. Cody sat next to me. As we bounced our way down the runway he smiled. I wrapped my hand around his and squeezed. Being that we were twins, we didn’t need words. I knew he was grateful.
    The plane lifted into the air. From the small windows, we could see the ground becoming smaller and smaller. My stomach clenched. Pretty soon, I’d be hurdling towards that same ground with just a giant cloth to keep me from death.
    It had taken me a lot to agree to come along for Cody’s last wish. I was terrified of heights and flying…and death. But after he’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer, I was the one who’d stopped living. “I want you to live again,” he’d said as chemo coursed through his veins. “Even if it’s just for one day.”
    “Okay, are you two ready?” Henry’s voice snapped me from my thoughts. Cody nodded vehemently next to me. I could only manage a slight curve of my lips; you couldn’t even really call it a smile. It was more of a muscle spasm brought on by complete and utter delirium.
    “All right,” Henry said, strapping himself to me. Cody had already been diving several times before he’d gotten cancer and didn’t need a dive buddy; whereas I would probably be clinging to Henry until my feet were safely back on solid ground.
    We approached the door. My heart immediately climbed into my throat. “On the count of three!” Henry called at the top of his lungs. “ONE, TWO, THREE!”
    And then we were falling. I couldn’t even scream I was so terrified. My insides felt as though they’d been turned to mush. My heart was like a jackhammer beating away at pulverized cement. My eyes shifted through the clear blue and I could see Cody; his arms splayed; his body rigid against the force of the air…and a smile unlike any I’d ever seen.
    I felt a sense of satisfaction wash through me. I was doing this for him. And he was happy. And whether I lived or died today, that was all that mattered…
    Suddenly, the air around us churned. Clouds gathered above and below and thunder clapped in all directions. Panicked, I tried to twist to see Henry, to look into his face and see that he had this under control, but I suddenly realized Henry was gone!
    I groped for my parachute, but it wasn’t there! A sound unlike any I’ve ever heard escaped my throat. I tried to swim through the air towards Cody, but I was suddenly jolted upwards. Cody’s body remained suspended in the clouds. I screamed again, reaching toward him…
    Suddenly, quiet enveloped me. I opened my eyes to find that I was in a room. Bright sunlight filtered through the window. A vase of sunflowers only seemed to intensify the cheer. A bed with a yellow comforter and powder blue pillows sat beneath the window.
    Confused, I started toward the door, just as a woman dressed all in white walked in. She smiled at me and dropped her clipboard to her side. “Welcome,” she said. Her voice sounded like heaven. “We were expecting Cody first, but that’s okay. These things happen.”
    “What are you talking about?” A deeper sense of bewilderment settled over me. Oddly enough, however, I wasn’t scared.
    The woman smiled again and looped an arm over my shoulder. “It’s okay that you don’t understand why you’re here. People aren’t supposed to die when they’re sixteen.”
    “Die?” A mild discomfort pressed at me, but I couldn’t process it. “What’s going on?”
    The woman motioned for me to look through the window. “This is the last time you can do this,” she said softly. “But hurry, because everyone is waiting.”
    Cautiously, I stepped over to the bed and climbed onto it. I peered through the window and gasped at what I saw. My family was gathered around me in a field. Henry was gripping his hair with both hands; sobbing and rocking back and forth. But Cody… I could hear him as he bent over me: “Don’t worry, sis. I’ll see you really soon.”
    I turned back to the woman, my eyes wide with disbelief. “How did I die?”
    She looked down at her clipboard. “Heart failure. No one even knew you were sick.” She sighed. “It’s sad for them, but don’t worry. You’re here now and in less than month, Cody will be too.”

      1. swatchcat

        A little long, who cares, it fit perfect. The writing kept rolling on and on like falling through the sky. Line after line I had to keep reading to get to the end, nice ending. Yes, could be emotional too. But, all I can say is it was complete. Keep writing.

    1. Reaper

      And this is why we let you take weeks off even though we want to show up at your house and glue you to the keyboard. Because you come back with stories like this. The emotion and power in this were palpable and just an all around amazing story.

    2. Dennis

      Wow, always look forward to your stories and writing. The whole thing flowed as in free fall from the moment the story started. Glad the MC lived life to the end.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I loved this Amythist. It filled me with such emotion and your writing was so beautifully smooth. Now I’m going back and read it again. You’re in top form this week.

    3. lionetravail

      I read this twice, Amyithist… at the risk of being unpopular, I’m not sure I loved the ending. I think the writing itself is beautiful, the story heartfelt, but the first person, post-death experience of the MC bothered me in some way. It’s probably me, specifically, but the concept of heaven here seems fairly conventional, and somewhat disappointing to me, maybe because it seems mundane.

      There’s no question but that it’s a great take on the prompt; the sudden ascent either the actual trip to heaven, or else the illusion/experience of her last minutes makes sense. The emotions of the piece are powerful, too- the revelation of the heaven experience was the only part disappointing for me- it seems more pat and less surprise than I normally expect from you.

    4. Observer Tim

      This is a lovely and touching story, Amyithist. I was a little confused by the changeover, but that’s to be expected. I’m guessing surprise is likely the most common reaction to death, especially something sudden like that.

      There were two small things that caught my attention. First, I don’t think Maggie needed to realized that Henry was gone; it would have sufficed to say he was. Second, you gave away the reveal (at least to me) when you said the woman’s voice sounded like heaven; another adjective would have strung me along a paragraph or two more.

  41. Pete

    Warning: 150 words over and silly…

    <a href="Pies and Terror"

    We’d just taken off when Dorothy, my dad’s jet, jerked violently. I picked up the phone to call the cabin when three of the ugliest dudes I’d ever laid eyes on appeared.

    “Everyone remains in seat,” said the little one in a sort of cartoonish French accent. “My name is Merrill, and we are part of the Cayolla Utilitarian Terror Entity. I will only say this once so—”

    “Wait, wait. Hold on. Your terrorist name is C.U.T.E.?”

    Collin and I turned to Stu, who could never keep his mouth shut. The little man looked confused. Then he continued.

    “Yes, and if you do as we say, you will remain unharmed. Which one of you is Nicholas?”

    I would’ve raised my hand, eventually, but it wasn’t necessary because both Stu and Collin turned their heads to my direction. The man barreled down on me, his nose hairs interlocking like alien teeth, his breath like a diaper full of pork rinds. “Your father will regret the day he discontinued using the Cayolla Fuiga in his pies.”

    “But the FDA said that Fuigas cause painful gas.” Stu blurted out.

    “Lies!”

    Napoleon snapped and the bigger one started towards me when the jet dropped, hard. If I’m giving an honest account, that’s when I felt a touch of warm pee on my leg.

    When the turbulence calmed, the leader rose from under the leather swivel seat. “The Fuiga is Cayolla’s only export, and we will demands yours father will use it, or else. Now, no’s funny business,” he said, turning towards the cockpit. It could’ve have been the air pressure, but it sounded like he let one rip.

    When they were gone, Stuart shook his head, “Seriously, CUTE?”

    “Not now, Stu. We need a plan.”

    “We’ve been hijacked by the world’s most inept terrorists,” Collin said, whipping out his phone.

    “I knew they weren’t pilots,” Stu said and I rolled my eyes.

    But my dad hadn’t become the CEO of Dorothy’s Donut’s by being unprepared, and I knew where to find the parachutes. We scrambled towards the back of the plane, to the auxiliary section where I used to play when Dorothy was being serviced in the hanger…serviced…he he he.

    Crap…only two chutes. I looked at my two best friends. Stu had just given me the latest Smash Aliens game so it looked like Colin was going to have to—

    “Hey, what’s this?”

    Collin pointed to a bulky back pack of some sort. Sweet. “Okay, you guys take the parachutes; I’ll take this thing.”

    Five minutes and seventeen tweets later we were all suited up and ready. We fought the door open, and then things got crazy. The big goon was back, barreling towards us without ab appreciation for Italian leather seats. “Hey!”

    I fixed my goggles just as Stu gave me a shove. The last thing I saw was the goon trying to grab him.
    “Don’t’ forget your parachute,” he yelled to Collin who dove and slide between the lugs legs. It was epic. Unfortunately I was too panicked to appreciate his moves. The damn thing wouldn’t start, ignite, whatever.
    Until I smacked the red button.

    WOOSH

    My neck jerked as I was thrust upwards, over the plane and into the clouds. I fiddled with the buttons, headed towards space. Not good. In the distance, the jet drifted through the clouds, farther down the parachutes bloomed. But I was still blasting to the moon.

    I jerked and jingled the levers before finding the throttle but not knowing how to stop.

    CLUNK

    Everything was quiet. I plummeted. Fast. The jet pack like an anvil on my back, pushing me into the clutches of the Earth’s gravity. Oh man, I groped the handle for a lever, a switch, something.

    CLICK

    Of course, a parachute! Yanked from my free fall, I hung in the sky, falling perfectly in line with Stu and Collin as we drifted towards the sparkling ocean waves, breaking over white sands lining the beach. A few palm trees. Girls in bikinis pointed towards the three sky divers. I smiled at my friends. Collin took a group picture.

    "Dude, you got to tag me in that."

    1. Cceynowa

      As unlikely as this scenario would be, it is very likely you captured the characters’ responses perfectly. My favorite part was the “five minutes and seventeen tweets” part. How accurate. I can’t even get my niece out the door shopping without her entourage being informed. Great take on the prompt!

      1. swatchcat

        This was an enjoyable read, and as unlikely as this may seem, that is the pleasure of fiction, good job. Your line here, “his nose hairs interlocking like alien teeth, his breath like a diaper full of pork rinds,” had two things. One, just loved it, made my nose crinkle and lip curl from the grossness, super great. But, you wrote it or I misread it as though the hairs were moving as he leaned in to the MC. Maybe did you mean something like; “he was so close I could see his interlocking nose hairs like alien teeth” But, moving nose hairs are pretty scary. Oh, your “servicing” comment was great, I instantly thought of Jack from “Will and Grace” laughing every time someone mentions Balls, teehee 😉

    2. Reaper

      Loved the CUTE moniker and of course the social media references are always awesome and you did them well. This reminded me of airplane, something very serious turned funny in a way that was not disrespectful but just reminded me we take things too seriously. Well done.

  42. Cceynowa

    Portal to Olympus
    (Word Count: 488)

    [1500 A.D. – Florence]

    Leonardo da Vinci, the old fool, rambled on in a semi-drunk state. He was rehashing theories on flight, and, I was hanging on his every world. I longed to return to the Sky. He, of course, did not know this. I had two-thousand years of practice hiding amongst humans; each new generation accepted me as easily as if I was a mortal.

    But, inspired by Leonardo’s words, I thought, “What if I could return?” There had been talk in the Council, shortly before they cast me out, of granting temporary Decent Privileges to study humans. That would mean a portal between the worlds. For the first time in a thousand years, I had hope.

    [Modern Day – The Outer Edge of the Bermuda Triangle]

    Finding a pilot to fly over this part of the sea had been surprisingly difficult. Over the past two centuries I had watched the general human population steadily wean off their beliefs, superstitions, religion, whatever they chose to call it, but this part of the ocean still gave many of them pause. Not surprising if they knew the truth.

    “It’s the craft’s computer system,” explained the pilot, a man I had befriended in the jungles of Brazil nearly a decade earlier, “they go all wonky.”

    It had literally taken me years to talk him into doing me this favor. I had invented a wild story about wanting to push the boundaries of living, done him a number of favors, and eventually earned his trust. It was time consuming in the extreme, but I needed to avoid suspicion. Over the years I had seen more and more Immortals walking the earth. I kept hidden, stayed out of their way, and waited. I well remembered the accusations that had surrounded my Casting Out. I needed to go to The Council directly and beg a pardon for my alleged crimes. I feared what would happen if another Immortal met me on Earth: hatred for a traitor is not easily forgotten.

    “We’re almost to your drop point. You sure you want to do this?” He glanced back at me nervously. The plane was shaking and I could see the screens blinking erratically.

    “Yes, this is exactly what I want,” I patted his shoulder reassuringly and pulled the door of the aircraft open. I grasped the sides of the door and leaned forward. Below I could see the sea shimmering, the waves breaking, and, invisible to a human eye, a steadily swirling whirlpool.

    “Wait! Don’t forget your parachute,” he shouted at my back when I jumped.

    A parachute would be nice if I had been falling, but instead I felt a surge of power I had all but forgotten. I was racing upward, leaving the World of Mortals behind. My lungs, accustom to Earth’s atmosphere, struggled painfully. I shut my eyes when the light became too bright. My blood boiled. My human skin peeled away and, with a burst of speed, I broke through the firmament. I was home.

    1. Cceynowa

      Eeek, comma fail in the second sentence. Oh well.

      Thank you Jay and Pete! I’m thinking about expanding on this, since I didn’t really fulfill the prompt’s request. It was very different from my usual takes, and a lot outside my comfort zone, but I enjoyed writing it. Thinking I’m going to see where it takes me, get to know my MC a bit more.

    2. Reaper

      I agree this is well written and very interesting. I would read more of this. The sympathy for the devil take is well done here. Often it feels hammy or forced in popular literature so you did what many can not. I love that you stepped out of your comfort zone because you created something amazing here.

      1. swatchcat

        This was nice. I don’t think Zeus expelled the devil but there were a few demigods and gods that pissed him off. As for your concern that you didnt keep too well to the prompts request, I beg to differ. You did nicely. The prompt is merely a suggestion. It does not have to be literal. You used a piece of it which you felt was worthy for what your mind came up with once an idea formed. You dont even have to mention the prompt. Some of us seem to cut and paste the exact lines and fit it in, it is whatever your creative juices come up with once you have read the prompt, you did a good job.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I liked this CC. It’s out of my comfort zone to write something as this but I found it fascinating to read. Your structure of your story was excellent.

    3. Observer Tim

      I really like this, CC. Aside from a little mild awkwardness of phrasing that tells the reader you are outside your comfort zone, there was little evidence of it being a stretch for you. I wish I’d thought of this. 😉

      Because of the Olympus reference, I don’t paint the MC as a demon so much as a Prometheus-like figure, who’s broken some niggling stupid little rule (like “don’t give fire to the humans”) and has been paying the price.

  43. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    “What’s the last thing you remember?”

    I fidgeted for a moment, bit my lip, and furrowed my brow. “I remember Kellen pushing me through the door, and him telling me not to forget the parachute. When I was in the street, I felt a vacuum drawing me up into the sky, like reverse gravity.”

    “Then what happened?”

    “I felt like I couldn’t breathe, like I was running out of air.” I said, and ran my hands through my greasy hair.

    “Okay.” The man said, and lead back against the chair, which emitted the soft groan of stressed metal. “What happened next?”

    “I—I really don’t know.”

    6 Hours Earlier

    Loud hip-hop music boomed in the background of the small dive bar. Even though years had passed since anyone was able to smoke in a building, the stench of stale cigarettes remained strong. Some people sat at the dimly lit bar while others played pool at the cheap tables spread throughout the place. Kellen and his friends were among them.

    Burke left the bathroom, feeling a bit fuzzy from the three drinks he had. L.A. Water, as they called it, was a hell of a strong cocktail. When his lips felt numb and he had a noticeable slur, he knew he should’ve stopped drinking. Instead, he ordered one more on his way back to the pool table.

    When he rejoined Kellen, Marco, and Sal, they raised their glasses and howled. Burke was, after all, the man of the hour. Having just passed the bar exam and ready to make his mark on the legal world, he needed one good romp before hitting the straight and narrow path to success.

    After about an hour of pool and bit more booze, the boys decided to call it a night. Kellen climbed into the back of a cab, which wasn’t his but the people that ordered it realized he needed it more than they did and let him leave with it. Marco had his arm around Burke’s neck, and Sal walked backward toward the parking lot with his arms waving in the cool night air.

    Marco said, “Dude, I can’t believe you’re gonna be a goodie-two-shoes now.”

    “I’m… I’m not going to be doogie… goodie-two-feet!”

    “Shoes!” Marco slurred, and laughed. He dug his hand into his pocket and fished out a small square of folded aluminum. “Here, unwrap this shit, and suck on it.”

    “Dude, I ain’t gay!” Burke said, and pushed him off. Marco laughed very hard, and Sal did, too, falling against a black Chevrolet in the process.

    “Nah, man, get your mind out’tha gutter. This!” He said, and placed it in Burke’s hand.

    “What it is?”

    “You’ll see.”

    Burke stood for a moment, leaning left and right and forward and backward as if he was holding steady on a boat weathering a heavy storm. He looked up, both eyes alert yet about as focused as the heavy Gaussian blur of thick circular glass. Then, he put the aluminum in his mouth, chewed, and swallowed it.

    4 Hours Earlier

    The room was unfamiliar to Burke, and so were the people. Sitting on the couch was a young teenage girl with her hands tied together on her lap. She wore a pair of small shorts and a yellow top. Her blonde hair hung over her shoulders, and a thick strip of duct tape gagged her. Next to her was a little boy, bound just the same, and wearing a superman jumpsuit with padded feet. Then there was a man wearing a pair of boxers and a stained white t-shirt and his wife next to him wearing a light-blue Chantilly lace nighty.

    The boy whimpered, and Marco paced back and forth while scratching his temple with a gun. He pointed the barrel at the father and screamed, “I want the fucking money!”

    The man shook his head, and Sal appeared from the right. He planted his fist in the father’s cheek, and then man sneezed up some blood. The man’s wife began to cry, and Sal grabbed a handful of her hair. He pulled her head back and kissed the tape covering her lips.

    Sal slurred, “If you don’t give it to us, we might just take something else from you.”

    Burke could barely stand, and the excitement caused a slithering sickness in his stomach. He threw his hand against the wall, supported himself, and vomited on the small table next to the couch. The man’s daughter leaned away from Burke and whined as specks of his ejection spackled her skin. The room wobbled and warped, and he dropped the gun in his hand that he had no idea he was holding.

    2 Hours Earlier

    Kellen slammed on the brakes and the car skidded to a stop in the dirt. Rocks ticked against the undercarriage, and Sal rolled out of the front passenger seat. Burke remained in the back seat staring up at the soft glow of the map light until Kellen threw the door open and pulled him from his comforting rest. They moved to the back of the car as Marco opened the trunk.

    Sal first pulled the girl out, who was limp and bled from a wound on her head. Marco fished the young boy out, who didn’t put up much of a fight and whose jumpsuit was now soiled with piss. Sal threw the girl to the ground, and used the gun to force the mother and father to get themselves out of the trunk.

    “Come on, come on. We don’t have all night.” He slurred, though it was much less prevalent than before.

    Burke rolled his eyes, nearly lost his balance, and Kellen caught him. “Woah, dude. You don’t want to miss this.”

    A sharp pain traveled from between his eyes to the back of his head as Kellen flashed a light in his face. Kellen said, “You alright?”

    Burke was about to answer him, but immediately jumped when he heard a loud sound boom from behind him. He rolled his head back, and glanced over just in time to see the man’s wife drop to the ground dead and a gun in Sal’s hand. Three more shots disturbed the night. Burke felt the fuzzy loss of time approach again, and when it arrived, he rode the waves of darkness to a not-so-distant future.

    2 Hours Later

    My head pounded hard, and I pressed my palms to my temples with the hope it might abate the pain. It didn’t. I felt every swell and pulse as my brain seemed to make every effort to break free from my skull.
    I took a deep breath, and looked down at my shoeless feet. I wasn’t wearing my socks. I wasn’t wearing my pants nor my shirt. They’d taken all of it away for evidence. The cot I sat on was incredibly uncomfortable, and there was an odd rubbery smell accenting the stink of aged sweat and piss. I heard a buzzer sound and a heavy metal door open. I stood, and shuffled toward the pale green painted iron bars that locked me in.

    Footsteps grew closer and closer, and finally Kellen appeared with a chubby officer at his side. Kellen wore a nice suit, and held a black leather briefcase. I recognized it as one of mine. Confusion swallowed me whole as the officer looked at Kellen and said, “You got five minutes. Don’t try nothin’ funny.”

    Kellen nodded, and the officer waddled back down the corridor. I said, “What the hell is going on? They’ve been questioning me for a couple hours, but they won’t tell me why.”

    “You don’t remember?”

    “God, I barely remember my own name. What the hell did we do last night?”

    We?” He said, and laughed. “You mean you. What the hell did you do last night.”

    “What?” I said, and walked looked down. “Why are you wearing my clothes? And that’s mine too.”

    “Not anymore.” He said.

    “Stop fucking around, what the hell is going on?”

    Kellen leaned close, and I could smell the sour stink of a long gone peppermint candy on his breath. He said, “You killed a whole family last night. You took their money. Well, at least that’s what it looks like.”

    I didn’t remember any of that, let alone anything from that night. My head began to pound again, and I slammed my eyes shut.

    I said, “I don’t understand.”

    Kellen took a deep breath and said, “It’s been a good ten years, but I thought you’d remember me. Remember what you did to my sister. You know, she was only 13, you sonofabitch.”

    My legs immediately felt weak, and I grabbed onto the bars to steady myself. As shock raised my hairs and turned my skin ashen white, I said, “Lincoln? Kellen Lincoln?”

    “Now you get it.” He said, and leaned closer, “Payback’s a bitch. Enjoy spending the rest of your life in this icy hell.”

    1. Amyithist

      Very well done, Jay! You have a way of painting a picture that leaves me chilled and hot at the same time. Kellen sounds dangerous…I wouldn’t want to cross him! LOL
      Thanks for the good read! 🙂

    2. lionetravail

      I think this is a great story, but the time layout format was confusing for me on a first read. I will revisit and reread when I’m less tired 🙂

      Interesting, gripping and a twisted take on the prompt Jay!

    3. Cceynowa

      I’m glad I went back and re-read this one Jay. I got jumbled up somewhere in the time frame the first time around. I think where I got lost was Kellen getting into the cab at six hours, but being present at the killings. Regardless, a creepy tale that makes me wonder what happened to Kellen’s sister… and at the same time, I don’t want to know.

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        Thanks, Cc. As I mentioned above, the time frame fogginess is intentional, although I think now that it might have been too effective. As for Kellen being gone at for a large part of the night, I really wanted a more realistic explanation (without an explanation) as to how they managed to get it all done. When movies and books keep all the characters together and then magical planning happened that just so happens to work out has always irked me, so having one of them behind the scenes orchestrating the whole thing was important, even more important was that it was Kellen, the one who would be the one making sure everything goes as planned.

        Thanks for reading!

    4. Reaper

      Was not expecting that ending. The beginning doesn’t seem to tie in much, but then I assume that was intentional because of the drugs. This is one where I kept rooting for the wrong guy and then found out, hey there are no good guys, just some more understandable ones. Very scary stuff and nicely written.

      1. swatchcat

        I’m sorry but I have to agree that the connection of the beginning and the rest of your story was a little confusing. After only a little bit though, I pieced together a possible conclusion. The MC is with a psych. Dr. or something trying to put the puzzle back together. The parachute reference from Kellen was just a sort of analogy to prepare the MC for a ride of his life, something so outrageous it could only be compared to falling upward to the point of loosing air. TADA! Did I do it? Oh, did you get that I liked it, since I took this long to explain myself? By the way one possible blip, wouldn’t he “drop the gun from his hand” ? You can’t drop a gun in your hand if it is already in your hand. Just curious.

        1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

          Swatchat, his confusion is a result of the drugs he was on. In my limited, albeit shameful, experience with drugs when I was younger led me to be certain of three things. 1) I always felt as if I was in a vacuum, 2) I always had panic attacks at the beginning that left me gasping for air, and 3) I could never clearly recall what happened the previous night, often times making things up that didn’t happen in the first place.

          You’re right about the blip. It was initially “dropped the gun that was in his hand” before I changed it to remove the middle part and extended it to include the part about him not knowing it why he was holding in the first place. I guess I didn’t fix the whole sentence. haha, edit edit edit!

          Thanks for reading, and your comments are always appreciated!

    5. Dennis

      Nice read Jay. I like this structure of timeline. My favorite example is the movie Memento. I wonder how often this type of revenge really happens, with so much planning involved. So many better things to do with one’s time. But it does make for a great story.

    6. Observer Tim

      This is a really good story, Jay. I love the metaphorical take on the prompt, and you captured the sense of disorientation very well. I found the timeline worked to accentuate that effect, and it was in no way too much for me.

      The only thing that threw me was the switch from first person in the present/future to third person for the flashbacks. That’s well within the realm of artistic choice, though.

      (Also there was a mental jump when I misread “shirt” as “skirt” and accidentally changed the MC’s sex partway through, but that was corrected by a re-read.)

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