This extract is one of the pieces of flash fiction from my first collection of short stories, Bleak Midwinter Tales
The propeller spun, lazily at first, then jerked as the engine coughed. Grey-white smoke appeared, thickened, and then the air was filled with a staccato bark as the Cessna’s engine burst into an uneven rhythm. The pilot, Troy, slid back the narrow Plexiglass window and stuck up his thumb. I acknowledged him with a wave of my hand. Jamie, my jump partner, seemed agitated.
“We off, then?”
“Looks that way, Jamie. Just remember what I told you before. Follow my movements, and I’ll lead you down. Nothing to it. Nervous?”
“You’ll soon get the hang of it. I really think you’re a natural.”
With a final wave to his workmates and sponsors, he followed me through the
tiny cabin door. I closed it behind us, and latched it firmly. Making my way forward , I slapped Troy on the shoulder, and buckled myself in, opposite Jamie.
I could see he was terrified. Probably never even been up in a light aircraft before. Most of them are like this. Plenty of bonhomie and well-wishing from friends on the ground, but realisation hits as soon as the cabin door’s shut.
We bobbed across the field to the taxiway, and Jamie gripped tight onto the cabin stringers. This should be quite an entertaining jump. I checked the camera strapped to my chest. All was in order.
A short time later, and Troy yanked back hard on the stick, the little Cessna leaping into the air. Jamie lurched sideways, and recovered. I indicated the intercom switch on his belt. He flicked it, and I heard his harsh breathing in my ears.
“You okay, Jamie?”
“Fine. Yeah. Bit nervous, I suppose. But okay.”
I smiled, and gave him the thumbs up. He contented himself with looking out of
the window as we climbed. I’d seen it all before. I watched him, and smiled encouragingly whenever he turned my way.
When we had leveled out, Troy twisted sideways, and nodded. I helped Jamie up, took a couple of pictures of his grimaces for posterity. His friends will be delighted with the photos. I opened the cabin door, and we made our way, hesitatingly, onto the jump platform. Poor Jamie was really shit scared now. I started to feel sorry for him, I really did. The camera clicked off a couple more shots.
I maneuvered myself outside him, and he grabbed my harness, as he’d been instructed. I turned off the camera, and flicked on the intercom.
“It’s just about time, Jamie. Oh, by the way, I know about you and my wife.” He stopped shaking, and stared at me,
“I’m having a bit of a fling with Diane, who works with you? She told me what
was going on. I thought it would be a good idea to bring you up for a jump. With a bit of encouragement from your workmates, led by Diane, and here we are.”
Before he could react, we leapt into space. The camera was off, and the rescue knife was out of my thigh pocket. I was smiling as his harness straps gave way.
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