I think life would have turned out differently if the parachute had opened.
It could be suggested that life may have unfolded in a myriad of ways if the parachute had opened in but one. But then, life would have turned out differently if I hadn't stepped onto the plane. While that was, or is, undoubtedly true, some events in life are, simply put, more pivotal than others. The parachute not opening was undoubtedly quite a big one all things considered.
And so I fell…
Amongst other events that have drastically altered the path of my life, I include, in no particular order, my discovery of alcohol... along with a few other substances but we probably don’t need to go into that right now. I suppose you have to include the doctrines of The Church in its various incarnations and its extended effects upon society, that one should sort of go without saying, and to quite a large extent I must admit I was undoubtedly influenced by Brenda Donaldson’s chest.
Needless to say though, hitting the ground at terminal velocity is pretty high on the list, if I ever get around to putting it all in order.
I think it's important to point out that none of these events dictated the exact direction my ‘life’ was to move in. For that I do accept some responsibility. They were merely catalysts, or influencing factors in how decisions were made. Ultimately though, if responsibility is to be placed, I think that there is no better direction to point the finger, than directly at, not to put too fine a point on it, God. Let’s face it, he started it. Allegedly. And he's not denying it.
Don't get me wrong, I spent my life completely and undoubtedly devoted to the cause of Atheism, so it came as much as a shock to me as anyone, when I found myself screaming His name as I hurtled towards the earth with increasing velocity. I was even more surprised when… He answered.
Now some amongst you of atheist and agnostic persuasion may wonder how I was so sure it was God and not for instance, just a frantic voice in my somewhat distressed and desperate head. I can only offer this small and highly inconclusive explanation which I certainly don’t claim to be any great scientific proof...
… there was something in His tone.
All He said was "What?" but it was said in a sort of 'oh it's you' sort of way with a slight hint of ‘a parent you haven't phoned in forever’. It was a deep voice… deep, and calm. That annoyed the hell out of me given the circumstances.
"What do you mean 'What'?" I screamed.
An excitable little girl, who’d just been given her first puppy, could not have reached the immense frequency my question ended on. Perhaps she’d have a chance if first you fed her helium, but more likely if you fed her helium and then shot the puppy. "Isn't it bloody obvious!" I continued at the same shrill cadence.
There was a brief pause, as the wind rushed past at an increasing rate. I think we can safely blame that on gravity. Which let’s face it, we can also blame on God. He’s got a lot to answer for.
Then He said, with the same self satisfied irritating calmness "You're perhaps using excessive diction for someone with... so little time remaining."
"What?!!!?" I screamed, remembering to stop at three exclamation marks and two question marks as it occurred to me I might appear to be losing my cool.
The wind continued to rush past, to wherever it so desperately needed to be.
In a frustrated attempt I pulled the parachute chord again, and then again. Maybe I was clutching at straws, but when you find yourself begging favours from The Almighty, it’s important to at least look like you’re making an effort to help yourself. I considered flapping my arms, and got as far as lifting my shoulders before I decided ‘The Big G’ would probably be able to tell I was faking, and went back to my futile attempts with the release mechanism. On the third tug it came off in my hand. When they say your life flashes before your eyes, I really didn’t need to relive the memories that brought back.
"I said..." He said, as if talking to someone a little slow "You are using a lot of words for someone with… limited… time… remaining." He really seemed to emphasise those last three words.
"Oh for fuck's sake!" I exclaimed. Then, taking his point on board I added, possibly a little louder than necessary "I don't want to DIE!"
"It happens to all of us." he said very matter of factly, but then added, "Well, maybe not all of us.” and with a slightly deeper voice, and more than a hint of melodrama he intoned “... It is the nature of time!"
Amidst the howl of the passing wind, and my life screaming before my eyes I’d like to say I thought about his words for a while before responding. It could still perhaps be said that on reflection, maybe my response was not the most considered.
"For fuck's sake! You smug pedantic shit!"
I don't know how I knew, but God raised an eyebrow. You have to understand, and I'm sure He did, that I was in some distress here. I think He understood I wasn’t really used to discourse with deities… or to seeing fields and houses approaching from this angle at such an alarming rate. There was a pause while I expected him to respond, before I realised that he wasn't going to, and as the ground rushed up towards me, I thought I'd better say my piece pretty quickly, so in exasperated tones I emphasised "I don't want to die RIGHT NOW!"
The truth be told, what I actually said was "I don't want to die RIGHT Nerghhhppphhhh."
It turns out that the ’terminal velocity’ for a human being falling from space is actually zero miles an hour. The point at which you hit the ground being ultimately, the most terminal. If anything it’s a slightly negative number as you probably die mid-bounce.
There was a microsecond of pain, as everything faded from red to black, and all feelings were just an endorphin glow as my body loaded itself with pain killers. The pain was over very quickly. The worst part was the sound. It just seemed to reverberate around my eardrums. It was sort of a cross between a splat and a crunch.
Actually it’s probably more accurate to say it just reverberated, as I'm not completely sure my ears were still connected at that point.
As the lights blinked out I heard a deep calm voice say something along the lines of "You probably should have tried to get to the point a little sooner."
Then there was another, quieter voice that said "Errrrggggghhhhh!" and there was screaming, lots and lots of screaming.
So yeh, the main character appears to have died in the first chapter, which could prove an inconvenience given there's rather a lot more story to go, but heh...
If you want to undertake a voyage of discovery which is not what it seems, before eventually being ejaculated into the sunset in a happy ending that would... ok the ending is a wee bit twisty, it may or may not make a massage parlour proud, who knows? It's probably all just a metaphor or something anyway.
This book is available for E reader from the link below. It's distributed as 'beerware', which basically means you can just have it if you want to read the rest, but that I won't complain if you buy me a pint (or make a donation to that effect, either is good).
If you're a bit skint feel free to buy me a half, and if you're really skint, just take it and have one on me.
If you're feeling flush, I'm happy to accept bottles of whisky, new computers, slap up meals, consumer electronics, ludicrously fast cars and villas in the sun.
Consider it a charity donation to help those delusional enough to think that people might actually give up money willingly for something they could just take for free.