The Flying Man
By Russell Brown
He had lost control of his Airglider when one of the Skybeasts soared above him. The wind came roaring up under the wings and sent the Glider into a hectic spiral. The straps held and he did not fall, but he passed out as the painful spinning world was too much for his mind to handle.
He had watched the Skybeasts as a child. Flying off in the distance, their stretched wings glowing like embers in a dying fire. They soared high above the ground with the whole world as their kingdom, while he spent his days on the ground his father yelling in his ear to plow this field or to fix that fence.
When his father died he sold the farm, packed what little he had and moved to the mountains he had long viewed from a distance. He built a cabin that held only a sleeping pallet and a small pit for fires. As each day ended he would watch the Skybeasts in the distance swooping at each other in some fierce aerial mating ritual. He would watch, and he would dream.
He searched over the mountains for the bones of a long dead Skybeast. It took many months of searching, but when he found them they were just as he hoped. Thin and long, they would give against pressure but would never break. He collected all the bones he could find, both big and small, and laid them out as a pair of wings. Then he went about binding them together with tough strips of leather into a tight frame. With the money left from selling the old farm he bought a large bolt of Arcane Sail cloth; enchanted by magery to keep sturdy in the fiercest of storms. He stretched the cloth tightly across the bone frame and made sure there was no excess to flap against the wind. He hoped the stories of its strength were true, otherwise it would be a short flight. To guide the Airglider in flight, he fashioned a small set of holds. By shifting his weight to the either side, the bones would dip and guide the glider; well, at least he hoped it would work that way.
Painstakingly, he dragged the Airglider up the mountain. When he reached the launching point he readied the glider and sat to wait for a day with high winds. When that day came he strapped himself in grabbed the holds so tightly his knuckles turned white. “I should have planned this a little better” he thought to himself as he started to nudge the glider over the cliff. “If I die here, well at least I died trying.” And so he went over the cliff.
The longer he flew the easier it became to fly. The bones became accustomed to their new frame and more receptive to his shifts of weight. The homes and farms of the valley looked like a child’s toys so far below. He leaned forward, hard against his hold and swooped down closer to the ground, the sheer speed making his eyes tear up. Travelers pushing carts down the old roads and old women digging away in their gardens looked up stunned to see him skimming the treetops. The young men wiping sweat from their brows down in the rock pits thought he was just another Skybeast as he soared overhead. He then flew to the old farm where his father lay buried. A young boy was working the field he once toiled in, floating so high above the ground he could only imagine what puzzled look painted the boys face. He turned away and flew on to where he knew the Skybeasts roamed. He wanted to see them up close, to share the sky with them.
His body was found mangled, bones jutting from skin and only the whites of his eyes showing. The Airglider he had carefully pieced together was smashed beyond reckoning. The tale of the flying man became popular among the people in the valley of the Skybeasts. When they tell his tale they say he had become one of the creatures. That his lifeless body glowed the color of a winter sky.
- - -
Biography: Russell Brown hasn't quite crashed his glider yet though he plans to go out in a blaze of glory. Also he loves his girlfriend.
Labels: Russell Brown