Slingers

Slingers by Matt Wallace

Book: Slingers by Matt Wallace Read Free Book Online
Authors: Matt Wallace
30,000 FEET ABOVE HANOI
     
    At such a height one might argue labeling it “above Hanoi,” but in this instance we’ll allow the destination to define the journey.
    It’s afternoon. It’s springtime. The sky is that pure azure of...
    ...actually, do we really need another description of the sky?
    It’s blue.
    Around 3:10 p.m. the constant gravity well surrounding our swirling blue-white-green-brown sphere contracts above the country of Vietnam. An elemental funnel begins to form. It extends down from the ionosphere with the majesty of a great ethereal horn and the chaotic whiplash of a tornado. The end of the funnel is God’s own drill bit piercing the atmosphere. It constricts to a fine-touch point after half-a-mile, aimed at all of us with vague and powerful menace.
    There’s a brief flash too pure white to be lightning and the tip of the funnel spits forth.
    It delivers the tiny, helpless figure of a man.
    His body looks absurdly unprotected from a distance. He wears only a thin rash guard, jet-black streaked with pure white and the subtlest yellow accents. The logo on its chest displays half-a-dozen scythe blades formed into a rolling wave, “The Reapers” spelled out in letters like edged weapons themselves below it. The helmet is so supremely formed and fitted to his skull that it more closely resembles the shiny head of a mannequin than a human cranium.
    He wears no parachute, no jetpack.
    No technological solution to manmade flight of any kind.
    He is not skydiving.
    He is falling.
    Nico is still conscious as he exits the funnel and begins plummeting towards the surface of Earth. He tastes liquid copper in his mouth. There’s a deafening electric current buzz filling the space between his temples. It’s only interrupted when the sudden impact and g-force split the shield over his face down the middle and it goes flying in two perfect crescents from the rest of his helmet. The intense wind shear razes the blood from his face and pummels his wounds closed. Instinct commands his eyelids shut, but he forces them open after several extended seconds.
    He’s perfectly calm and immediately wonders if the reason for that calm is that the reality of the situation hasn’t yet hit.
    Questioning the calm is what begins bringing on panic.
    Fortunately Nico sorts out that emotional sequence and his response is something else unexpected.
    He laughs.
    He laughs at himself and at the contrary, psychically backwards nature of us all.              
    He releases the panic. He ceases questioning the calm. He forces an invisible wedge down through his entire body, crushing everything beneath it save blissful serenity. His arms and legs spread out naturally and his body spins like a wagon wheels as it descends.
    Nico thinks about the last orgasm he experienced, of the very sharp and very brief variety, and how he’d never been more completely aware of Xenia’s hair tangled in his fist. He swore he could feel every individual cuticle of each individual strand.
    He thinks about the volcanic crags of his grandfather’s hands as he watched the old man make chicha de jora from scratch in a cracked-linoleum kitchen that barely seated them both. Nico was allowed three sips, and three only. The second one tasted the best for some reason.
    He thinks about his four-year-old niece smiling, barely conscious of the birthday party exploding like a circus band around her, her impossibly tiny, chubby face covered in white and yellow cake.
    He thinks, oddly, about moving his bowels that morning. It would’ve been immensely satisfying had he not been so rushed and possessed of game day nerves.
    His mortal thoughts level off as the canvas of our world stretches farther and farther beneath him, somehow more vividly real than any image and yet thoroughly dreamlike.
    It’s beautiful.
    It’s inhuman
    It’s divine.
    He wishes for continued consciousness all the way down.
    He’ll never see the tallest structure in

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