by Jon Jefferson
This is it, he thought. Jeremiah looked out over the city. The bell tower in the cathedral gave the best view.
He was ready to do it. He knew he was. But he wanted to check the straps again. For the first test, at least live test, he wanted everything to be right. This was his life at any rate. He mumbled something about updrafts and downdrafts to himself. The theory was sound. He went over it again in his head. He knew his calculations backwards and forwards.
“Are you sure you want to try this?” Jem asked.
“Someone has to,” he said. “This will put us in the history books.”
“But what if you were wrong?”
“We’ve been over this,” he said. “I showed you the books. You even checked my numbers. Everything is going to be ok.”
“What if the fabric rips?” She stepped behind the camera again. “What if I don’t get the picture?”
“The fabric is fine, and we can do this again if you miss the picture the first time.”
“Are you sure the sticks are strong enough?”
“I told you, they are bamboo. They came from the Orient and are super strong. I even heard they were stronger than steel.”
“Imagine when we make the papers for this, it’s going to payoff big time.”
“Fine,” she said. “I love you. I don’t want to stand in your way.”
He stepped up to the opening leading to the roof. He ran through everything again, mentally checking his work. With a deep breath he stepped out without looking back.
“I believe in you,” Jem said. She moved the camera to get a better shot. “Think like a bird.”
On the ledge the world below didn’t look as happy and safe as it did inside the tower. He could still turn back. Jem would love him at least for a little while. She would grow tired of his self pity though. There was no way he could live with himself if he gave up now, he knew she wouldn’t be able to live with him either.
But the ground was so far away. Was it getting further away as he stood here on the ledge? How long had he been standing here anyway? He took another deep breath, holding it in. “You can do this,” he said.
He took the control handles into his hands and spread the wings wide. The wind kicked back at him, rocking him into the ledge. “They do catch the wind, it seems,” he said. Without looking back he leapt from the ledge. He didn’t notice the bright flash of light behind him as he caught an updraft.
“It works,” he said. “I knew it would.” In his excitement he tapped the button to retract the wings. They began to close against the wind, changing their shape and snapping the bamboo on the left wing.
He lost altitude. The ground was coming up fast. He hit the button to open the wings out again, but it was too late. The broken bamboo kept the left wing from coming out fully. The right wing extended and helped to slow his fall, but he was still falling.
He hit the ground with a dull thud. He was alive, though his leg was broken from the crash. He felt like a bird with a broken wing, and then some. His flight had taken him a good two hundred feet from the church. He counted it as a success.
Jem arrived at the same time a copper did. “Are you ok? Are you alive?” she asked. “What happened?”
The copper was writing in a book. “Can you please state your name?”
Jem cried laying her head on his chest. “Please don’t be dead.”
“I’m alive,” Jeremiah said. “Though I think I broke my leg.”
“Who is the responsible party of this ruckus?” The copper asked.
“Did you see it? I flew, I really flew.”
The copper dropped the paper into Jeremiah’s lap. “You can pay the fine at the court house.”
Jeremiah’s eyes crossed while he tried to read the ticket. “What’s this then?”
“Disturbing the peace and general misconduct,” the copper said. “Have a nice day.” He walked away.
Jon Jefferson is a long time fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy stories in all their forms. He has spent most of his life looking for magic in the every day moments of life. He hails from the tundra of Southwest Michigan. The monsters in his life include his wife, two daughters and a grand daughter.