Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

Knight's Curse actually started out as a different book, different plot. I was just about done with it when I decided I didn't like how things were going so I started over from scratch. But I saved what I'd written, just in case I could use pieces of it in later books. I doubt I'll ever use this scene in the future, so I'm sharing it here. I told this story in Chalice's POV, but in third person instead of first. I used to sky dive, so a lot of this is based on personal experience.

Just as the jumpmaster reached over to attach Jackson’s static line to his pack, Jackson tipped forward and fell from the plane.

Chalice and the jumpmaster shared a look of shock. Jackson could be unconscious, and even if he wasn’t, he had no ripcord on his main chute to grab and pull. The static line was supposed to make it safer for everyone. So much for that idea.

Did he even know how to deploy his reserve chute? She couldn’t afford to wait and find out.

Chalice leapt out after him.

He was no more than a spec below her, tumbling, arms and legs flailing. He made a difficult target to catch. She straightened her legs and pinned her arms flat against her sides to turn herself into a speeding bullet, then aimed her body straight for him.

She couldn’t see her altimeter so had no idea how far they’d fallen, but she could see white caps on the ocean. Way too close. Water landings were most dangerous due to a risk of drowning, but without the slowed descent of an inflated parachute, landing on land or sea at this speed would be fatal.

The air whistled by in a deafening crescendo. The fabric of her jumpsuit flapped like a wild thing against her skin, and the biting blast of cold air stung her face. She had to be approaching terminal velocity for a free fall; one hundred and eighty miles per hour, give or take. She’d need to slow herself down once she came close enough to Jackson to pin him. If she continued at this speed, they’d have one hell of a midair collision. Neither of them would survive.

Closing in on Jackson, she flung her arms out wide, curling her body around the air as if hugging a bubble. The whistling air dropped an octave or two as the speed of her descent decreased.

Careful. Just a few more feet....

Missed him. She gazed up as she passed him, his body flopping like a rag doll. Focused on catching as much air as possible with her baggy jumpsuit, she came even with him again. She reached out to grab him, and he slid to her left like a kite catching an updraft. Damn it!

A quick glance at the sea below revealed a dolphin leaping from the water. Crap! She was just about out of time.

Arms opened wide, she tilted her body hard to the left, screaming her defiance as she made a kamakaze dive toward him. If they collided, what the hell. They were dead either way. But she slid past him, grasping at whatever she could as she flew by. Her gloved hand snatched at a wad of fabric. She felt it rip, but didn't let go. She spun him around to face her and wrapped her arms around his back, hooking both legs around his torso. Her fingers clutched his harness. Her other hand seized the ripcord on his reserve parachute pack and pulled.

The pilot chute shot out like a cork, caught air, and carried with it a flowing stream of nylon that swiftly bloomed into a canopy above them. Their bodies jerked from the force, and it was all Chalice could do to hold onto Jackson’s limp, unconscious body.

The water below rushed up to greet them. Before the semi-calm sea engulfed them, she’d have to lighten their load to keep them from sinking like stones. Latching on to Jackson like a monkey to its mother, she ripped her harness free and let her gear fall away. They drifted down a tad slower, only seconds from impact.

She glanced toward shore, relieved to see a speedboat headed their way. It was too much to hope they’d arrive before she and Jackson hit the water. She could live with that, literally. Better wet and in one piece than splattered like a watermelon tossed from a five story building.

Her head pounded from having her contacts out for so long, but at least her ears remained protected by their plugs. She again caught that mildew odor from Jackson, stronger than before. She sniffed at his chest, then popped one of the snaps that kept his jumpsuit closed. A small suede pouch tied to a leather string hung around his neck.

He wore a charm. And guessing from the charm's nasty odor, it wasn't a good one.

Chalice wrapped her fingers around the tiny pouch just as they plunged into the sea.

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