Was asked to create a suspenseful story in 800 words of less. What do you think?
‘Is it safe?’ He didn’t understand why, but his thoughts went to the scene in Marathon Man when Laurence Olivier asks the same question of Dustin Hoffman… right before Olivier drills into Hoffman’s healthy molar. Years later he still shuddered at the recollection. “Babe, hand me my towel please?” He looked at the text again before putting her phone down. There was no name on the message – question he thought wryly – just a number he didn’t recognize. “Babe?”
“Sorry hon, just finishing.”
He reached over and flushed the toilet to hide his…what he thought? Betrayal? Insecurity? Fear? Grabbing the towel she left on the warmer he passed it to her as the shower door slid back. A warm cloud of steam escaped – heating the surrounding air. “I hate it when you pee when I’m in the shower.” He flashed a false grin before turning away mumbling “I hate it when you hide things from me.” The steam clung to the mirror obscuring his reflection from her.
While she toweled off, he brushed his teeth using his free hand to adjust the vanity mirror – bouncing one reflection off another. He had to know what would happen when she noticed her message indicator blinking. She rambled on about her plans for the day while drying her hair, acting like she didn’t have a care in the world on this lazy Saturday. Not hearing a word she said, he scrubbed harder; making his gums bleed. Bending over to rinse the blood out of his mouth, he willed her to look at the phone. There… in the mirror… he saw it. The quick glance at the phone, then to him to see if he was watching. He knew all she could see was his ass and back. Snatching the phone, she slipped it between her breasts underneath the towel. She walked out of the room, one hand holding the towel tight to her body and with her free hand, she ran it along his back – “Good luck with your skydive today.”
The rest of the morning was spent fixating on who the text could be from. A dozen things came to mind over the last month so out of the ordinary for her. He wanted to confront her and make her reveal her secret, but she was out of the house before he finished in the bathroom. Driving to the field, he fought the urge to buy an anonymous pre-paid mobile phone and text her to see if she’d respond. Nowadays you could buy those phones for almost nothing and no one would know who they belonged to if you paid cash.
There were so many things to be done before the jump. Skipping any of the checklist items would end up in disaster. He found himself re-doing many of the tasks due to his lack of focus. Eryk came over to him – “You ok mate?” He didn’t know how to answer. Eryk had been his friend since primary school. They shared everything. Eryk grabbed him by the elbow, leading him outside the hanger. “Talk to me.” So he did – going over all the events that happened in the last few weeks. The late night texts – her recent attitude towards him – and finally the text asking ‘Is it safe?’ He wiped the tears from his eyes –
“I even considered getting one of those phones you know, the ones you buy and throw away?”
“That’s stupid mate, just talk to her. I’ll finish up the checklist or you’ll kill us both. You go talk to the pilot.”
Standing in the open door at 10,000 feet was a sure way to bring his focus back. He ran his hands along his harness one last time and reached up, switching on his helmet cam. There was no familiar beep to indicate it was working properly. He looked over at Eryk and saw the red light blinking on his. Before he could signal his wasn’t working, Eryk’s hand came up – three fingers extended – counting down three – two – one. He jumped a split second after his friend.
Freedom – the feeling of air rushing by at over 100 miles an hour – falling in tandem, they executed acrobatic rolls and maneuvers done hundreds of times; getting it all on video to show potential clients. They were laughing and smiling enjoying the adrenaline. He felt immortal. Just before they were to pull their chutes, Eryk reached into his jumper and pulled something out – a burner phone. He held it out for them to see. It was a text message from his wife in big letters – ‘IT’S SAFE’. Eryk pointed downward. In the landing zone was a huge banner… Happy 1000th Jump My Love.