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Last Minute (standard:action, 3689 words)
Author: Chris MichlewiczAdded: Mar 26 2002Views/Reads: 2019/1221Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A middle-age man skydives to prove his youth only to have something go terribly wrong....

The room was spinning I was so nervous.  Actually it wasn't a room, it
was the fuselage of a Cessna TL-145, filled with a variety of people I 
had never met before today.  It was my first jump. A HALO jump, which 
stood for High Altitude, Low Opening.  Probably not the best decision 
I'd made but I figured if I was going for it, it was going to be the 
whole enchilada. 

My tandem partner was named Peter; a clean-cut guy in his early twenties
who, according to him, had done this a million times.  I hoped he had 
dealt with people like me before because he was bound to have a stained 
jumpsuit before this whole thing was over.  Damned if I was going to 
hold back my fear in front of him. 

We were almost at our jump altitude, said the crackling voice on the
speaker above me.  My stomach did a summersault but my vision was now 
back in focus. 

Peter looked over and gave me a smile along with a reassuring wink. 
Little punk.  The only smile I wanted to see right now was that of my 
wife, Anne, who was waiting patiently for me on the ground. Again I 
checked my harness to make sure it was in working order (like I would 
know any different if it weren't). 

“Don't worry!  You'll be fine!” Peter yelled above the roar of the

I nodded sarcastically.  He better be right.  Cause if he wasn't, it was
going to be his hide, too.  This thought brightened my face for a 

The woman across from me was crossing her chest.  Something I should
probably be doing, but I was never all that religious to begin with. 

The plane shook violently as we flew into an air pocket.  I accidentally
let out a little yelp.  No one heard, though. 

My hand, which now seemed to have a mind of it's own, had a death grip
on the bench we were sitting on.  No doubt my knuckles were white under 
the gloves I was wearing.  It was a difficult task to pry my hand 
loose.  It wasn't taking any more chances, that jolt seemed to be the 
last straw. 

Peter and one of the other instructors began yelling back and forth but
I couldn't make out what they were saying.  It was probably something 
like, “Get a load of this guy over here!  I think he's going to wet 
himself!  Will you take him instead?! Hardy-har-har!!” 

The thought of wetting myself was the last thought I needed to enter my
mind.  My bladder suddenly began to bubble up.  My body was not 
agreeing with this idea of jumping from a plane and I think my mind was 
starting to defect as well. 

Skydiving was something I had promised myself I would do for years—to
prove that my youth and vitality were still intact.  Sitting here now, 
I know that it isn't.  I had become the feeble old man I used to make 
fun of my dad for being without even knowing it.  But what was so bad 
about growing old?  It's when you get to retire and go on cruises, play 
shuffle board all day and eat until your heart's content. 

‘Too late now,' I told myself. 

My boss—who without my asking--had put his two cents in yesterday:
“Skydiving?” he said with a perplexed look on his face.  “See, Wallace, 
the thing about skydiving is—you know you have to jump out of a plane 
for that right?” 

He found this concept rather amusing and broke out into a fit of
laughter, slapping me on the back.  I gave my fake, insincere ‘work' 
smile and walked out of his office.  How he ever got to be above me I 
will never know.  The man doesn't know his foot from his elbow yet he 
makes more money by doing less than me.  Go figure.  The politics of 
the business world for you. 

I looked at the door we were going to be jumping out of.  It loomed
there like the closed mouth of a sleeping beast that could awaken at 

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