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Владимир Стреляев (Business Intermediate)

I место в конкурсе короткого рассказа

My first parachute jump (Short story, 2011)

Владимир Стреляев (Business Intermediate)

The helicopter quickened rotation of the blades. The figures in single file going ahead, moved into a run. The last of them turned around, with a nod inviting to catch up. People had disappeared one after another in the belly of the helicopter, leaving only two of us. The Increasing noise of propellers urged us to hurry, but the air under the blades was becoming denser. Overcoming the resistance, we ran to the machine and climbed inside. The noise increased even more, and the helicopter, slowly breaking away from the ground, lost its footing, and stooping down, began to move forward. "Here we go" -flashed through my mind. We started to climb.

Restrained and at the same time lively atmosphere. Peculiar faces. These are actor’s faces before going on stage. These are sportsmen’s faces before going to the stadium.

I heard the voice of the instructor: "Close your eyes and mentally repeat your actions". I'm for a couple of minutes left to myself. But then he knocked me on the shoulder and pointing out the window, said, "Look ...". I turned my head and saw something unbelievable: earth did not exist.

An endless ocean of red clouds stretched over the whole space where the eye could see. And there was the sky above it. It was all-embracing huge empty sky with extremely distant and cold disk of the sun. It was a different world. It was the "heaven". It was the place where earth did not exist.

The needle of altimeter had done a full turn on the dial and stopped again at zero. “That means 4,000 meters, it’s time”. The door had opened, and the people who 15 minutes ago hurried to the helicopter, now fell out into infinite space beyond. The instructor walked towards the door and I followed him automatically, before it was only a couple of steps. "Is it already - I thought - time?" But there was no time to think. The hands and feet themselves took the right position in the doorway. I had looked at the instructor, he nodded his head. At the next moment I made a strong spurt out all over - and then a habitual space receded, displaced huge boundless emptiness, in which there was nothing but the wind that filled all space, endless fields of clouds far below and a vast sky, passing up with the steel disk of the sun somewhere infinitely far away.

But it was not all. People were falling around me. They were slipping near me, somersaulting, dropping out of sight and reappearing again. They were incredibly small in this huge space, which had no boundaries ... It turned out that falling took a surprisingly long time. I managed to complete all the necessary steps.

I looked at the altimeter: 1600 meters. I reached for the ripcord and threw pilot chute, which opened the parachute. It pulled me up strongly, my ears were filling with tight air, and finally it loosened the grip calmly swaying in the air stream. And suddenly I was struck by deafening silence...

I've never heard such silence and never felt such emptiness. Only then I realized that all around me at a distance of more than a kilometer there was no material object, except for such tiny men, lost in this vast space.

There was nothing. No sounds, no smells, no tangible objects. There was only sensation of the wind on my face and a huge amazing landscape beneath me. My sight has never covered so much space at once before. There have never been so many things between me and the horizon. I’ve never seen my whole city entirely.

I was descending in a spiral and the horizon rose higher and higher, encompassing the world in a habitual hoop. I had directed parachute against the wind and was waiting for a meeting with the land, which hospitably received me in its arms and replaced tension of the shrouds with the steady footing.

I picked up the parachute.

I went back to the start line.

I couldn’t remove the smile from my face.

I couldn't imagine my life without repetition of this.

I discovered a lot that day. And among other things, now I know, that no matter how many clouds are over my head, above the clouds there is always a clear blue sky. Above the clouds, there is always bright sunshine.

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