A very short one-shot that I wrote not too long ago. A friend of mine told me he thought it was deep and insightful, but really it's just a satire so read it with a grain of salt.



Chute

According to the dictionary, a risk-taker is someone who risks loss or injury for excitement, and Jack was the epitome of a risk-taker. But, as he leapt from the plane at 20,000 feet, he wondered if that simple definition were enough. He didn't really like to think of himself as a risk-taker. He much preferred to think of himself as an experience-taker. He didn't take risks. He just grabbed life and ran, or jumped, as the case may be. He'd never once thought about the danger associated with rock climbing, sky diving, or base-jumping. All he thought about was the rush of adrenaline and the thrilling ecstasy that filled his soul.

He pulled the ripcord on his primary chute. It didn't open. Hum Jack thought, that's not supposed to happen. He would have shrugged his shoulders if the wind weren't pressing against him so obnoxiously tight. He struggled to push his arms and legs out spread eagle in an effort to slow his fall as much as possible. Instead of panicking like a normal person, he instead wondered if he looked anything like Da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" with his arms and legs splayed out as they were. He figured he only needed to be naked to be the perfect image of it—especially with his limbs moving at super speed up and down and side to side to keep himself horizontal. He wanted to chuckle at the absurdity of the thought, but he didn't have enough air in his lungs.

Hum Jack thought again. If I were naked, I think I'd have a horrible case of wind burn from this. Better be glad I'm wearing clothes. It was odd though. Jack didn't feel the thrill he so prized from this free fall. Instead, he felt something quite different; something he couldn't name. The rush of adrenaline was there to be sure, but he wasn't actually thrilled to be falling.

He pulled the ripcord on his secondary chute. It didn't open either. Well, that's not good. Jack was shit out of luck now. He watched the ground hurtle itself towards him and wondered if he'd actually feel himself go "splat" or not. He didn't think he'd be able to feel it. He couldn't really feel anything right now, and it was just wind and air pressing against him. Surely the ground wouldn't actually hurt. He inwardly smiled. the "Vitruvian Man" was drawn in 2-D, I bet I really will look like him once I hit the ground. Hum, better turn over so it's done correctly then.

Jack maneuvered his body, twisting and turning in the air to flip over, so that when he hit the ground he would be face up. Looking at the bright yellow sun, Jack named the curious feeling that sat uncomfortably in his stomach pretending to be a thrill. He was afraid. Actually, he was terrified that he wouldn't get up and walk away from this like every other time he fell off of something. He didn't want to pancake on the ground. He didn't want to die, there were so many more life experiences left for him to take!

He started to panic in earnest then. He flapped his arms wildly working hard to get them to lift up and take flight. His elbow hit something solid, and then so did the heel of his foot. He thrashed about; his arms and legs coming in contact with the solid, hard thing again and again. He heard a sound like a sigh in his ear, and he paused in his assault to glance at the sun that was now coming closer to him instead of farther away like it logically should. Odd, I thought I was falling.

"You were falling, and now you're flying. Well, I'm flying, you are being carried, Jack."

Jack panicked more fiercely this time. He heard the sighing sound again and tried to crane his neck around to get a good look at whatever creature had a hold of him.

"Honestly" the thing said, "I don't know why you humans put up such a fight. Would you kindly stop pummeling me? It's really very annoying. You can't imagine how hard it is to fly straight up while being kicked and elbowed practically to death."

The thing snickered at its own private joke, and Jack frowned.

"I am not a thing," the thing said, sounding annoyed. "I am an angel, obviously."

And he was, Jack noted. He twisted his body around as much as he could in an effort to take a good look at it. The angel had his arms wrapped tightly around Jack's torso, using Jack's armpits for support. His wings were huge and suitably impressive for an angel. They were covered in feathers the pale blue and gray colors of an overcast sky. Jack felt the terror in his belly ebb just a little to be replaced with an equal amount of awe.

"Where's your halo?" Jack said stupidly to the angel.

The angel scoffed. "If I drop you then you go straight to Hell. But, instead, here I am flying you up to Heaven's gate, and you have the gall to ask me about an archaic piece of metal that was painted above heads during the Renaissance?" He huffed indignantly. "I'd think you'd ask me something a little more pertinent."

Jack thought about this for a moment. He'd never been one to believe in Heaven or Hell, but perhaps this was God's way of choosing who goes where instead of all the Biblical mumbo-jumbo he was taught in Sunday School as a child. It made sense, really—send an irritable angel to pick you up from the dead, and, if you annoy him too much, then you're dropped into Hell. Hum, does that mean I'm dead?

"Of course you are Jack. You jumped out of an airplane without a working parachute. What did you expect? If you ask me, you've been knocking on Death's door for years what with all this silly risk-taking business you've been about. I had bets with the other angels two years ago when you fell off that mountain. I lost."

There was that term again, "risk-taking". Well, now that he was dead, he supposed that the dictionary was right, and he really had been risking his life all these years. The angel halted abruptly in mid-air, and Jack was set down none too gently on top of a fluffy cumulus cloud. He looked about and the strangest image of furry little bears with symbols painted on their stomachs floated across his memory. He shook his head free of the thoughts.

Before him stood a tall but narrow gate carved out of one giant pearl. He couldn't see anything behind or to the sides of the gate. Aside from the shiny, incandescent nature of the thing, it was rather boring looking. Jack had seen more ornate gates in front of people's houses. A man was floating a few feet above the clouds directly in front of the gate. Jack thought he looked like Buddha.

"Ah, here we are," said the angel. "My job's done, and I'm off to find the next soul to be judged. Peter here will do the judging." The angel gestured to the floating, Buddha-shaped man and then flew off into the sky.

"Well," Peter peered at Jack, looking so deeply into his soul that Jack almost felt violated. "You'll probably do. Look down over the edge for one last peek at your body, and tell me what you think."

Jack did as he was told and stuck his head out over the edge of the cloud. With surprising clarity, he could see his broken and bloody body. It was as if he were only ten feet above ground instead of…where is Heaven anyway? He shrugged and thought for a moment as he watched a small crowd of people gather around his body hysterically crying and pointing. He scrambled back towards Peter after the moment was over and nodded.

"Well, I was right about one thing and wrong about the other," Jack volunteered.

"Oh?" Peter raised a quizzical eyebrow.

"Yes. It seems I was wrong. I look nothing like the "Vitruvian Mman." But, I was right that I didn't feel a thing when I went 'splat.'"

Peter chuckled softly, it sounded like a breeze. "Yes, you'll do. You're able to tell the difference between right and wrong. In you go Jack."

He thumbed behind him as the Gate swung open far less dramatically than Jack thought it should. The terror in his stomach vanished completely and was replaced with the thrill that should have been there from the beginning. The wonderful feeling ran forcefully through his body, he shuddered in delight. He grinned happily as he stood and walked through the gate, disappearing into a warm, engulfing white light.