Sunday, 4 December 2011

87) Free Jump

    You double check your suit, clips and locks, pressures and dials. Everything’s set. Then you look out the door of the shuttle and it’s sublime. The Earth is huge, and though you have watched the training video the size and brightness of the Earth hits you with a religious weight and you have to look way for a breath, away from the unblinking eye of the Goddess.
    Your instructor pats you on the shoulder and you hear him over the radio, “What a sight, eh?”
    You reply, still a little in awe, “Yeah, wow. I never knew it was that big.”
    He just laughs and says, “Ten seconds, you ready to go?”
    You say, “Yeah yeah yeah!” And give him two big thumbs up and look back out the cargo door. It’s still the Earth, huge and bright and sacred, but that initial embarrassment is gone and you can make out North America from under the cloud cover. Your bowels loosen up a bit as you contemplate the size of the jump you’re about to do. You’re 110 Kilometers up in the Thermosphere.
    A count-down pops up on your visor, “8,7,6…”
    You grab the sides of the door and lean all the way back like your were taught. The count down blinks red “3,2,1…” and you jump.
    Nothing changes in front of you, the Earth is still the same size. But bringing up your rear view the shuttle shrinks down to nothing quickly. After years of sky diving you kind of miss the rush of air even though you know up here your ears burst if they were exposed.
    Slowly the Earth begins to grow until all you can see is green and white and brown. It’s a long twenty minute ride until your chute will open.
    Random thoughts flitter through your mind. You wonder how your kids are doing, what’s for dinner, what you’re going to get your mistress for her upcoming birthday.
    The altimeter flashes for a second as you pass 90Km. Then the suit’s automatic systems kick in, your joints lock, the blast shield comes up on your visor and the video camera kicks in and even though its all fire you can make out some land masses.
    The rumbling of the atmosphere is rough enough to make your normal cast iron stomach lurch. Before you can control yourself you feel acid crawling up your throat and kick yourself for not taking your instructor’s advice and going without breakfast, but that ham and cheese croissant and peppermint mocha were so tasty. There’s nothing to do about it and the worst thing that can happen happens, you throw up in your suit mid drop. It stinks and the smell stings your eyes.
    You miss your cue, three soft beeps, to override the suit and fly through the air doing stunts and generally enjoying your self, which is why you took the trip in the first place. Then the suit goes into dead locked emergency backup mode to make sure you get to the ground safely in another fifteen minutes.
    ‘Well, that’s fifty grand down the tube’ you think to yourself, chagrined.

No comments:

Post a Comment