Gaud and glitz weighed down his wings. He’d have to be strong to heave them over the edge with any style. Still, he looked good: running on beach-strong legs, arms pumping, head low, racing for the cliff edge.
The dude launched himself over the edge, ankles together and arms outstretched. He soared, for just a moment, before the updraft got him, turned him from bird to leaf. Those flashy implants tore from his shoulders — I saw blood spray, hey! extra points — and he was tossed back against the cliff. He did the tumble: arm over head, leg over chest, broken before he hit the rocks and was sucked away by the surf.
Whistles and applause, shouts of approval.
Eyes now shifted to me. No sweat. I was good to go and it was as clear as the breeze that I had company. This girl had come looking for someone worthy of her. She rubbed my shoulders, caressing skin and scars around my wing frame. The pins went to the bone and would probably tear me apart as I fell. Kudos!
She tongued my ear. “Ready?”
I shifted, letting my wings capture the breeze. They bellied like sails. New skin tore. Scabs burst. The pain was like the sun exploding within me; apocalypse made personal. The air lifted me like a surge beneath my surfboard. Pain and joy spun me out like a twist of coloured candy.
My death-mate smiled. I took her hand and we walked to the runway. Spectator silence shouted appreciation. We were going out with Style: two strangers lifting the threshold of extinction.
We began our run as we meant to finish it. Fast and hard and glorious. Man! That girl was something, and she’d chosen me. Kudos for the Barrenjoey Kid: school dropout and surf bum scores.
We ran, racing, cheetah-light over that rocky cliff top. Arms pumping like oiled pistons, legs like bands of steel. My body was the apocalypse: I burned.
I see the edge; that jagged, rocky cliff is our doorway. I’m lifting, rising, as she overtakes me.
Her leap is the most beautiful thing to leave the Earth. Time stands still, so we can all watch. A millisecond behind, I leap into the blue and I’m beside her, poised above the rocks, the golden crescent beach and the acid ocean.
Our voices join, stark and wordless, like the caw of gulls, and then we fall apart. She tumbles gracefully, dancing with gravity. I see her splash, and only then do I realize…
…the tainted wind snatches me away, lifting me above the watchers on the cliff. Their faces are upturned, eyes and mouths open like pits.
I rain blood down upon them. I scream. I fly.
I grew up on the Barrenjoey Peninsula, north of Sydney, NSW. We were surrounded by the ocean. Sometimes, I watched as the hang gliders took flight from Bungan Beach headland. I was amongst the audience, admiring and judging a feat that I would not have the courage to do.
These flyers embrace their sport with the same joy I imagine Icarus felt as he took his great leap, just as I imagine flying into the sun would be their choice exit, come the apocalypse.