“Daniel,” Ed’s tone was getting increasingly insistent.
“Um, what is it Ed? I’m a little busy just now.”
Daniel was hanging, by his bare fingers and toes, from a holographic recreation of the Yosemite’s El Capitan. The sun warmed his exposed skin, and the wind ruffled his clothing and hair. A pair of Prairie Falcons called to each other across the open valley behind him. Their shrill yelps echoed off the rock against his chest. He could smell the rich resin from the pines which crowded against the rugged granite wall.
“You asked me to remind you to check the wind direction when you reached the summit.”
“Thank you Ed, I had forgotten.” Daniel’s fingers grabbed the ledge above his head, once he was sure of his grip, he inched his feet up along the uneven lip that had opened up to his right. Reaching with his right hand, he found the crevice he was looking for. Only three… more… moves…
Standing at the top, looking down at the waving mass of green tree tops, Daniel felt an exhilaration he had never imagined possible.
Discovering the HoloSuite and niggling Ed to show him how to design his own programs had been the best thing he had ever done. He hadn’t got the knack of people, yet, but his adventure-scapes were pretty darn close.
So far, he had spent the last few weeks surfing, sailing, hiking and climbing to his heart’s content. His fails were epic, but his successes were legend.
Reaching into his backpack he pulled out the handheld anemometer that he had found during one of his rummages through the equipment lockers. He had made Ed calibrate it so that it made sense to him.
“You could have just asked me Daniel” Was Ed sounding peeved?
“Why Ed, you know that would be no fun! But what you can do is check me. I get 72℉, with a wind speed of 27 km per hour, blowing North North East.”
“71.932 ℉, 27.125 km per hour, NNE.” Ed confirmed with his usual calm. “Are you sure that you want to do this Daniel, you know what happened last time.”
“You don’t have to remind me Ed. But we have fixed the settings now, so it should work just fine, shouldn’t it?” With only the slightest of qualms, he took the absurdly small jet pack out of his backpack and strapped it securely onto his back.
Walking to the ledge he had just climbed up over, he could feel the wind pushing against the back of his head and legs. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Somehow Mum had managed to make that sound like a good thing, like she always expected him to fail, and that he really shouldn’t waste his (or her) time trying anything new. Well, he was going to do it anyway.
Reaching to the jetpack nestled between his shoulder blades, he activated the ignition switch. The motor belched. Slowly he felt himself lift off the solid rock, to hover a meter above the ground. Cautiously he shifted his weight so that his chest and head dipped forward, and as he did, he shot off over the edge of the cliff.
He could feel it the instant it started going wrong. He threw back his head to try to correct his downward plummet and his body flipped and tumbled out of control. Finally deciding he was not going to recover, he reached overhead and switched off the jetpack.
He only had a few seconds to notice how the tops of the trees swayed in the wind when he crashed into them. It was a bumpy ride down, and when he finally hit the ground, he sat for some time, pulling out pine needles and small branches.
He replayed his launch and nose dive over in his mind, completely unaware that he had a huge grin on his face. Once he was no longer a pine needle pin cushion, he lay on his back on the small clearing his crash-landing had made.
Watching the clouds drift across the sky, realised he had never been happier. Being indestructible had a huge part in that, he conceded wryly to himself. But also the fact that he could recover (granted not always elegantly) from anything. He felt something swell within him. He felt buoyant and optimistic like never before.
“Oh Daniel!” predictably he recalled Mum’s voice, as heard originally by his younger ears. “You are just an ordinary boy, the sooner you accept that, the better things will be.” He remembered the stab of disappointment he had felt when he had been asked by the school baseball coach to not attend try-outs that year. He had secretly trained, alone, for months. Throwing, running, sliding into base. Only the old man (who inhabited the lone bench in the most inaccessible part of the park) had witnessed his activities. Mr Brown’s rheumy eyes had followed him, blankly, without recognition. The ten-year old Daniel had understood then that some people were dead long before their bodies died.
The pair of Prairie Falcons soared across his window on the sky. Watching their effortless swoop and dive, he sighed. That was what he wanted to feel.
He got up and dusted himself off. “Ed, please end program”. It was time, he decided, to do some research.
Copyright Kim Magennis 2015