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Chapter 10: Let’s Go to the Drop!
“Last day of school~ Last day of school~!” Harrey jumped up and down like an excited rabbit high on carrot juice. He wrapped an arm around Madnes and Alice each as they headed out the high school’s front glass doors for the last time that school year. “We passed our exams, our finals—I managed not to get a D in Math… We should celebrate!”
Alice tried to keep her growing grin subdued at their friend’s energetic enthusiasm. Her eyelids were heavy, and peeking around at Madnes he looked ready to drop and sleep on the street any moment. Maybe a little celebrating would wake them up from the many all-nighters pulled for decent grades’ sake. “What do you suggest we do, Harrey?”
He thought, and blew back stray brown and blue hair obscuring his eyes. “Let’s go to the Drop!”
The moment he said it a part of her regretted suggesting he choose. Madnes’ expression balked, “The Drop, are you out of your head? Who in there right mind would go there!”
“I’m pretty sure I’m still in my own head,” Harrey felt around his scalp theatrically as if checking to make sure. Madnes rolled his eyes. “C’mon, Mady, I’ve been wanting to take you there—it’s beautiful! Not to mention a haven for thrill seeking!”
Madnes raised a hand to pause him. “That’s the thing: it’s for thrill seekers. I’m not a thrill seeker. I’m a happy-to-be-on-the-ground-in-my-tucked-away-cave seeker—And don’t ever call me Mady.”
“Boooo, that’s no fun at all.” Harrey made a booing face. “I’m gonna change that attitude of yours, Madnesy. We’re going to the Drop and having ourselves the experience of a lifetime!”
Alice had to muffle her laughs at the return expression Madnes flung at him. He wasn’t an outgoing person, or one who enjoyed taking risks, and the Drop certainly required both. She poked his shoulder playfully, “Afraid of heights, are you?”
He mock rubbed at it as if it were a bee sting, “Cruel damsel. It’s normal instinct to be afraid; and anything that’s dangerous should be feared. Nut jobs like Harrey are not normal!”
As serious and cynical as he could be at times, Madnes had a playful side to him too; though only few knew how to draw it out of him. Speaking of which, his attitude was much improved lately. He seemed…different. She wasn’t sure how else to put it. It wasn’t anything drastic, and yet it was, too. Only something she and Harrey could notice because they knew him so well.
Ah, Madnes. She sighed inside. He was handsome in a cute sort of way—though some found it hard to see past his personality. Red hair so thick and a vibrant deep red she’d never seen on anyone else before. His violet eyes held a gentleness, like soft petals of the flower for which the color was named, betraying he was kinder a person than he liked to let on. He had a cute habit of tugging at a red strand of hair whenever he was deep in thought or nervous. She looked over, he was doing it now; heights unnerved him.
He could have been popular, and adored by many, if he wasn’t so cynical and full of dry humor. People didn’t want to be around someone negative. But she knew him enough to know there was more than what showed on the surface; at the heart, he was loyal and caring. He never tried to be negative; it was a part of him, and something he couldn’t easily change. He was realistic, and if you really thought about it, most of the world was a cynical and dark place. He needed to see the bits of light there still were in Okinala—and she hoped she and Harrey could show him that. Going to the Drop would get him out of his comfort zone, and maybe show him one of those rays of light.
‘Is it just me, or has he smiled more than usual today?’ Something had happened recently; something had changed. She wanted to know what. “Let’s give it a go, Madnes,” she said, “For Harrey’s sake.”
He stared up at the airship gliding overhead with its massive torpedo-shape balloon and spinning propeller, closer to him than he was used to. The ground’s elevation here made it uncomfortably close. But it was easier looking up than looking down. His feet warily carried him up the wide, wood planking that formed a twisting staircase up the side of the rock face. The rushing sound of thousands upon thousands of tons of gallons of water falling to the depths filled his ears, his head, like a giant’s humming. The air was thick with cool moisture. He looked left: Harrey was enjoying himself immensely, head turning every which way to see every bit of the sight he could as they climbed. To the right: Alice looked around almost as much, eyes scanning, wide with wonder. He swallowed and let his gaze lightly observe his surroundings:
They were nearing the top of the massive waterfall and its steep cliff face either side. The largest waterfall in the known world. It dropped the height of several cliffs before cascading deep into the earth, down a cavern where no light could reach it. Beyond the soaring cliffs’ base spread a scenic view that caught his breath: Pieces of cliff like pinnacles and balconies, strips of land and islets, fanned out in five levels of earth where a chasm opened the ground and released the waterfall’s submerged river to flow freely out into the open—far away, it met with the sea. It was like a green, subterranean world five stories high either side and all around the chasm. And everywhere adventure seekers were hiking, and some—a contraption flew by the stairs, and he swallowed—were crazy enough to hang by a piece of V-shape fabric and glide like the birds down the scenic landscape.
“I refuse to do that!”
“It’ll be fun~” Harrey pulled him by the hand up the last set of steps, and they stood on top of the cliff face, the rapid water not far left rushing past with hurricane force. His body subconsciously shook like a leaf inside that very hurricane.
“Your definition of fun and mine are VERY different.”
Harrey waved over one of the Glider Lodge staff, ready and waiting to outfit customers for a flight down the cliff following the river out. He handed cash over before Madnes could protest, and felt Alice’s reassuring hand pat his back.
“The Drop just looks scary. But we’ll be attached to the safety line. See that rope?” she pointed. It ran from the Glider building and down at a steep angle like a rollercoaster, slanting through the air and down toward the low river before leveling out.
“Jumping off a cliff and hoping you can fly your way down, where’s the sense in this?”
She shook her head full of sun-blonde waves. And before he knew how the world was spinning he found himself buckled to one of those absurd, death-defying V-shape contraptions called a glider, both his hands gripping the steering bar before him.
Harrey went first and launched forward in a run, his glider attached at the top to the safety zip-line, before vaulting off the cliff edge and sending Madnes’ lungs into his throat just watching. “Waaaahooo!” echoed his friend’s wild laugh.
Alice turned and gave him a sea-green eyed wink before facing the cliff and charging forward just as Harrey had. He panicked when the ground left her feet. She giggled, gliding away. His whole body shuddered, making his glider’s fabric flap.
“You’re next,” motioned the staff. He didn’t want to. Every inch of him screamed against it. But the worry that something could happen to Harrey or Alice, while he was here being a lame scaredy cat, made him more sick to his stomach. “Oh, what the heck with it!” he shouted to the air and forced his feet to run, eyelids shut until the final moment. Ground bid his shoes farewell, and there was nothing but open sky and a steep drop beyond the human mind’s comprehension beneath him. The rush stole his throat’s scream away, and his mouth hung wide and silent, eyeballs bulging.
Behind him the waterfall dropped as he did, when he turned his neck he could see it. Rainbows scattered heavy mist rising up in transparent clouds. It was beautiful. Directly below was the cavern its waters vanished into—more like the Earth’s mouth gulping it down. The zip-line took them down toward it; he gripped the bar for dear life. Just as it seemed they would crash one by one into the dark, monstrous pit the zip-line leveled out and they skimmed above it. Then dipping at an angle the line brought them deeper into the chasm, gliding just above the low, rushing river as it carved its way out of the terrain. It was like another world he found himself flying through on either side, this length of chasm. He was terrified and shaking every second, and unexpectedly…exhilarated. It was petrifying. And it was beautiful.
He faced the fear, the steep depths, and at the end was able to fly. It sort of felt like a metaphor for what he was facing with the Madness Solver power. He was…actually enjoying the view. Even as he couldn’t let go of the bar—hands frozen stiff to it like a dead man’s.
Plok! Rip! Rip-P-P-Pk!
Black things like arrows ripped through the glider’s supporting fabric. His breath caught. The glider rushed down. The safety zip-line snapped. One black arrow floated like a feather….
Black feather…I wonder what dark character that reminds me of? (*hint: chapter 2).
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Thank you for reading, and check back next Wednesday for more Okinala adventure! 😀
© copyright 2015 Rawls E. Dreamer, All Rights Reserved
This is my entry for this week’s #BlogBattle challenge by the wonderful Rachael Ritchey, where the challenge is to write a short story based on that week’s chosen word. This week’s word was: “Drop.” Check out the link, read the great stories there and VOTE for your favorite to win!
Come back to Okinala Island (here) next Wednesday for the next chapter!
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