Roman Sturgis Take care of each other and make good decisions.

March 10, 2010

Float On

Filed under: Between Worlds — Roman @ 4:05 pm

Craig took a moment to rest, the Pelican riding a nice wind, gaining altitude a little bit. The air passing over the cockpit hood rubbed against the skin of the glider and that friction made a squeaking noise, like wet yellow dish gloves on a soapy plate. His view out the cockpit bubble: A wet road edged in salt crust rolling past. Snow in the trees. Ahead, the JV football field and the woods. Then the cross country course with its wild grasses more than waist high. Over there, a wind came rolling up a long, wide hill creating some interesting conditions. You could use that wind to do some pretty gnarly gliding. This time of year, there was the added bonus of all that snow on top; not that you’d want to take a nose dive, but it would soften a belly landing if you had to bail. In theory.

Craig had a goal in mind to take his glider to the beach one day. There were great spots off Galveston, but he’d never had the balls to go out. The wind was a lot stronger, and wiping out in rolling surf was a whole new dimension. These fields were excellent practice grounds for him, and he came out every chance that he got. In an ideal world, he’d get a pass for spring sports and just fly every day after school.

Feeling the need to pump out a few more reps, Craig unhitched the hand bars and began to paddle his feet, as if he were swimming. He pulled butterflies nice and slow for ten, charging more power into the spring, then he rested for a timed minute. Did it again. He checked a heart icon in his Invisilens view, trying to stay in the suggested aerobic range. Below him, the white fields ended and the dark green of conifers began, clumps of icy snow lumping them together. He tried for a bit more altitude here, pulling up, belly to the wind. The computer suggested a power twenty and he accepted the challenge, breathing deep. Exhale. Release. In the best of times, he could literally feel the wind through the tips of his fingers, picking up on vibrations down the cables to the pulley blocks, through the lines connecting the wings. As if he could feel the friction of the air flowing over the glider. In his toes, too. And on his shins, especially when diving, the wind pushing against the tail or sliding right past, depending on how he was poised.

A clock alarm went off on his dashboard: lunch period half expired. Time to get busy. Craig angled to the top of the hill and turned to face the wind full on, cupping his wings to float up and down a little, until he felt the pressure drop out. He ducked his head, pushing his weight forward and dove towards the far side of the hill top, pulling up enough to pass just a few feet over the snow. He felt this in his stomach and especially in the tip of his penis, the rushing sensation of flying fast without much effort. The hill bottomed out and he banked around a stand of tall pines, wheeling up and then flapping to gain even more altitude, rising higher than anything around him, and then heading back to the hill to do it all over again. He got in ten runs before it was time to head in, and by then the inside of his cockpit was dripping with the humidity of his sweat and respiration. He opened a vent and the outside air quickly cooled him down.

On the way back to the stables, he caught a good tail wind and slalomed back and forth, carving wide banking turns just for the hell of it. In school Craig had studied how religion has helped mankind find that quiet place within. He thought that flying might be a part of his religion. It was much more fun than going to church, and for him, served the same purpose. In the field around the barn, he could see his footprints in the snow. He brought the Pelican down with a controlled fall by slowing his speed and then sort of parachuting himself, holding out his wings and cupping the air to create maximum resistance as he gently floated down. The legs automatically deployed and he landed with a soft whir as the servos absorbed the bounce.

He took a deep breath and lay there for a moment, looking through his bubble at the surrounding field of snow and the worn path back to the dorms. The wind picked up and the Pelican swayed a bit, readjusted its footing. He would have to hurry and shower before afternoon classes. Maybe he could grab a banana or something from the dining hall. A glass of juice or a muffin. He lay still for another minute or two, just listening to the wind against the bird’s shell, feeling the legs shift as needed. Then he popped the cockpit hatch, crawled out, and led the bird back to its stall.

1 Comment »

  1. i want my pelican, just after my hoverboard.
    a few nits to pick on tech vocab.. soaring gains altitude, gliding loses altitude….reminds me of a prior scifi where the kids were flying in the air supply of a moon base, or arc ship.. don’t remember, may have been a girl protag. but 1/6th g or less make muscle power borderline plausible, is your pelican powered for propulsion/lift, or just the auxiliary legs, controls, etc.? just wondering

    respiration is accurate, but sounds a bit prissy, would panting or heavy breathing be more in tune? i was going to mention busty before, thought better of it, now thinking i should’ve. not that i can write.

    Comment by miser — February 5, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

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