Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
By Graham Keet
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Behind him the three skydivers started checking their equipment, making sure that everything was secure.
‘Glad you could make it, Martin, you didn’t seem too sure about today.’ John Higgins, a Baptist pastor, was the most experienced jumper of the three, with over two thousand jumps to his credit. ‘Thought Steve and I would be by ourselves today.’
‘Well, yeah, I did have some problems, but I’m sorted now.’ Martin sat back and stared blankly out of the small window. Fired from my job after all these years. Justine Winslow was a bright young sales manager that Portico had headhunted recently, and the fact that she knew just how to move that cute little body sure made it easier for customers to increase their orders. But was she really better than him? How could they give her the job meant for him? Surely thirty years service must count for something?
‘We are nearly at exit altitude, boys, who’s going first?’ Dan called back to the jumpers.
‘It will be Steve, then Martin, then me,’ shouted John. ‘Are we on target?’
‘You’re A for Away, tallyho.’
Steve went first. Martin felt the cold rush of air in his face as he stood momentarily at the door, then the familiar feeling of free-fall as he flung himself clear of the Cessna.
Then silence: but for the wind. How am I going to support Nancy and the boys? As it was, the college fees were a substantial financial burden on the family.
Altimeter reading 2500 ft. Experience told Martin that he had about forty seconds left before reaching the critical altitude to deploy his canopy. They will be financially better off without me.
He reached behind and felt the small ring at the end of the release cord. For a moment he hesitated, then let the ring go and continued his free-fall.
Altimeter reading 2000 ft. Below him he could see Steve reaching behind for his release ring to open his ‘chute. Why did the boss lie to me? He had fully expected to be appointed VP sales and marketing, in fact the CEO had virtually assured him of the appointment at the Christmas party. Perhaps old Ebenezer had had a few too many, but others in the firm had also started asking him of his future plans as VP. What had changed?
Altimeter reading 1500 ft. He glanced up and saw John, still in free-fall, indicating frantically to his own release cord, and then pointing down at him. I’m not that old. At forty-eight he was still young enough to make his mark at Portico; perhaps even reach Marketing President. Can Justine handle that job? No ways, she just doesn’t have the experience.
Altitude 1000 ft. If he got much lower, it would be too late to deploy the main canopy. I’ll have to enter the job market again, but doing what? He could always join Nancy’s brother in his construction business, but not having any experience, he would be nothing more than a forty-eight year old apprentice.
600 ft. Too low now, if he deployed it would have to be the reserve ‘chute. Why didn’t Ebenezer talk to me long ago if he wasn’t satisfied with my work?
The ground was now racing up to meet him. What is the best position to hit the deck? Will it matter?
400 ft. He decided to go face-up. As he rolled over he was sure that he could see Nancy’s face in the clouds, and he was suddenly filled with an overwhelming desire to hold her again. They had faced many hurdles before; they could survive this one. But it’s too late; I’m nearly on the deck.
Suddenly something struck his side, and Martin saw an outstretched hand reaching for his release cord. The next instant he felt the jerk as his reserve canopy opened. Out of the corner of his eye he saw John rolling away and deploying his own reserve ‘chute.
They both made a clumsy landing in some long grass. The two men approached each other and embraced. ‘How did you know?’ tears of relief filled Martin’s eyes.
John grinned: ‘Guess the Lord told me to keep an eye on you; but that was too close for comfort.’
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