Monday, June 18, 2012

Not Quite a Short Story: Free Fall

I wrote this almost two years ago and it was kind of inspired by a level in the game "Wet" and a particular scene from the Bond flick "The Spy Who Loved Me." It was cool to play another scenario like the one below in the opening minutes of "Saints Row: The Third."

I can hear wind. It's whistling and it feels like I'm falling. I open my eyes in a squint.

I am falling and I grab my chest, clawing at a rip chord that isn't there. It's then that I notice debris falling with me. A fuselage of some kind of plane matches my speed. I point myself toward it. I inch closer to it on the wind and in the dim moonlight the interior becomes visible.

I reach the jagged edge of the fuselage and hold on to it, using what little leverage I have to haul myself in. It's dark so I fumble the walls, floor and ceiling or some order of the three. My fingers touch something familiar.

I strap the parachute to my back and kick off one of the seats to get myself clear of the debris. The ground is so close, I can easily make out features of the city below framed in the glow of streetlights and vehicle traffic. I pull the chord and there's a dull flapping sound and the world jerks up with a punch. My broken ribs scream and my breathing struggles in ragged chunks.

The debris begins to the hit earth.

So very close to the ground, searchlights suddenly hold me. It's quickly followed by a sputtering of gun fire. A massive explosion rocks the area above me, another one a hundred feet to my right.

I steer myself toward a black area and hope for the best. At the rate I'm falling, I should be able to make it, unless the fireworks from the ground manage to punch a hole in my salvation.

The trees come up to meet me, snagging the parachute long enough to jerk me in the harness. My descent is finally stopped and so are the guns. There's no noise in the forest or light for that matter. I can't see how far from the ground I am and search with my hands for tree branches. There's nothing. I'm stuck.

I hope for a smaller tree or a soft pile of pine needles, then snap the emergency release. I don't even have a scream out before I hit the ground only a few feet below me.

I slump against the nearest tree and try to see in the dark. Failing that, I stagger to my feet on my rubbery legs and begin edging forward.

A dog barks in the distance. Then another.  A few second later there's some shouting in a language I don't understand but I hear enough of it to know I should make myself hard to find.

I drag myself forward, trying to get away from my telltale chute. I grunt my way through some underbrush and find a tree large enough and easy enough to climb so I can get off the ground. I grope for branches and climb as fast as my injuries will allow. I can't tell how high I am but the voices and barking are definitely below me. The beam of a flashlight cuts through the trees some 100 yards away.

A flash brightens the area just before the explosions nearly knocks me from the tree. An exchange of gunfire between groups, one practically at my feet the other a ways off but getting closer. Another smaller explosion rocks the base of the tree. There's a low snapping sound below me and the tree begins to topple. I jump.

I'm not as far from the ground as I think and a bush softens my landing but a heavy branch crosses my legs, pinning me down. Escape isn't in the cards. I lquickly glance around me. Bullets continue to be exchanged in brief muzzle flashes. A high-pitched whizzing sound reaches me just before yet another explosion sends a shockwave through my ears. It's not unlike the sound of waves. I cover my head with my arms.

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