This material is not appropriate for all audiences.
1"Go on, Ace, jump! Jump already!"
I feel a shove to my backside and find myself losing my footing. The slip-resistant flooring of the airplane's narrow corridor is no match for my soon-to-be former friend's daredevil attitude. The back of my head narrowly misses the cliff I just slid off of, as the wind grabs my body and pulls my feet up and over my own head.
I'm tempted to pull the rip-cord immediately, but my brain is kicking into overdrive and reminds me it's a very long glide down. Instead, I check to make sure my altimeter isn't jammed while trying not to pay too close attention to how quickly it's spinning. The ground seems so far away, and I can feel my heart pounding all too fast, so I roll over and stare up at the clear, blue sky.
If not for the buffeting winds roaring in my ears, it feels rather peaceful.
Two small words appear at the corner of my vision: "Checkpoint reached." I brush them away before my mind acknowledges their meaning. My calm disrupts and I can't get back the feeling of serenity that just passed over me. With waves of panic only now shutting down my ability to remember how much further it is to the ground, I roll over, grab the rib-cord and pull.
Staring at it in bewilderment, I keep pulling until it comes free in my hand, and then the wind yanks it away from me. I watch it quickly flutter away into bewilderment... and my altimeter starts beeping.
I took a deep breath. My body felt like it should hurt, but it... didn't. It felt just as real as too many of my dreams, and even in those I had experienced death just as real and just as sudden, but never so inevitable.
I laid in darkness, that slowly grew lighter, until I once again found myself staring up into the clear, deep blue sky. The two words flashing up again, and I groaned. Rolling myself over, I grabbed the rip-cord and pulled.
The cord came away in my hands and I let it disappear into the endlessness of the sky.
I can't seem to keep myself from staring at my altimeter as it ticks down, even as I try to figure out some way to save myself from falling to my death... again. My hands scrabble backwards behind me, but I can't reach anything, can't get a hold on anything, and then the earth is rushing up towards me and I know I'm too la--
Okay, this is bad. My brain keeps telling me my bones should be broken every which way, but my body is telling my brain that no, they're not, but the pain sears through the reset and even as the wind is tearing my breath away I scream...
They say falling to your death hurts, but not for very long, because you die before it can get really bad. But, if you don't die...
I'll be honest: it took half-a-dozen more falls before I got my shit together and I actually started to think about the problem, at which point I realized that although my body and position kept getting reset, my mind didn't. Whatever didn't work the last time, I could remember it, and not do it again. Or at least, that was the plan.
As agonizingly painful as it is to fall to your death face-down, face-up hurt more and seemed to take longer. I landed on the pack, instead of under it, and wrenched my back something fierce a slip second before breaking the rest of my bones.
When I came back to the blue, I decided to try something different. Instead of trying to reach something on my back, why not take the pack off?
Ow, ow, ow, ow, no, bad idea. The wind kept pulling it from my grasp before I could actually do anything with it. If only I could reach something, anything, without unhooking it.
I dislocated my shoulders. And then promptly blacked out.
One at a time, this time. First the left... *crack* and then the right... and now, can I... no, I can't.
Okay, left, then right, and breathe, must remember to breathe...
My fingertip brushed the clip that was supposed to release the chute, but I couldn't get the right leverage...
Left shoulder, than right shoulder... either the pain was getting less intense, or I was just getting used to it, and I wasn't sure which was worse.
Maybe if I had a rop-- oh. Damn.
This time, I didn't pull the rip-cord.
I dislocated my shoulders, first the left and then the right.
I reached around the back of my pack, and found the clip, the cord still attached.
I wiggled and wriggled and..
...the straps bit into my waist and shoulders, but as my altimeter started beeping, I felt my decent slow. Smiling up at the chute above my head, I let my shoulders sag on their own weight, and waited until I coasted down to the ground before going through the tedious and pain-inducing struggle to pop them back in.
I left the wasted chute lie where I landed, and when the guys came to get me, slugged the ex-pal who pushed me.
"Give me the keys, or so help me, I'm walking home."
I got hit by a car on the 15-mile hike, only to wake up once more falling in the deep blue sky.
I sighed, and closed my eyes.