LEAP OF FAITH

WILL HE JUMP OR NOT?

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1. LEAP OF FAITH

LEAP OF FAITH

The wind was blowing hard in the face of Michael, drying the perspiration on his brow before it could run down his leather-tanned face, his long blonde hair flickering in the breeze. His heart rate was racing faster than the legs of a cheetah, pounding loud as aherd of elephants thumping the plains. His hands shook as if the very foundations of the skyscraper he now stood on top of was rocking from a quake.
Michael is a stunt man, an adrenaline junkie. He had performed many stunts in his young life; now only 27, he had already abseiled the Grand Canyon, more parachute jumps than he could remember, he had been set on fire on many a film set, been thrown through windows, rolled over in cars, and dodged buffaloes in a stampede in the latest western to hit the Hollywood silver screen. But this was his biggest stunt yet; to free fall from the Empire State Building. He was wearing a flying suit, with wings that opened from hip to wrist.
There had been months of preparation and practise runs. The last practise attempt could have ended in disaster as a gust of wind had blown Michael off course; if it was not for his safety harness on that day he would not be staring down the vast fall and the thousands of dots moving around the streets of New York. Michael thought they looked like thousands of worker ants going about their business, but they were people. He could barely make out the emergency vechicles gathered below if misfortune was to strike. The sky was a clear blue and the sun shone across the city, gleaming off the thousands of windows that littered the New York skyline. But at this height the wind was strong; after the first 100ft down the wind would ease and he could take full control of his winged suit and glide to safety.
Safety was a red cross-his landing pad a large inflatable square. Michael could see it clearly although from up on the top of the world the red cross was as small as that of a medics arm band, if not smaller. Today will be my greatest achievement, he thought, as he would be entered in the Guinness book of records. So many hours of practise and training, it would be a happy ending; he could feel the joy and adulation from the baying crowd that now gathered in the street below, and he stepped closer to the edge, his toes dangling delicately on the ridge of the concrete block. A gull landed nearby and looked at him, almost startled to see a human in his hemisphere, it appeared to wink at him then took flight, back off into the sky. He closed his eyes and began to wonder how the brave men built this magnificent structurewith no safety equipment, no ground support or practise. He was in in awe or their bravery and craft; this gave him courage.
Now fully focused on the red cross down below, a stab of fear hit him and the red cross suddenly resembled a crucifix. Adrenaline pumped and poured through his veins as a raw voice in his ear with a strong cockney accent shouted, "We're green to go Michael, good luck geezer". It was his stunt coordinator Gary who was camped below. The weather was perfect, the wind settled and Michael took a leap of faith and sprung like a grasshopper into the air, his body briefly silhouetting the sun.

 

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