Something clicked and my senses turned on; heart pounding, mind wide awake, fists ready for action as I started to hear the rush of wind and a propeller outside, a 12 seater Cessna Caravan. I could see two of my best friends with duct tape around their feet and seated at the back of the cabin next to the luggage compartment. I turned around towards the front of the plane. I could see blood on the ground; I felt the back of my head, and it was wet, sticky wet. I looked further past the blood. My eyes stung from the concentration, but I saw a man lounging on a red seat next to the aisle with a pistol pointed at me. I wiped my eyes to lessen the sting; it helped a little bit. I thought this was all a dream as I attempted to stand. I dragged a knee up, levering myself into vertical. I swayed as I looked at the man’s face. It was dirty with red rings under his eyelids. His black hair was lank and greasy. He stood up and waved his gun towards the back of the plane. I continued to stagger towards him, but something stopped me as I tried to take another step. I looked down to see my friend prostrate on the ground with his hand on my ankle. Tears were forming in his eyes. What was I doing? I’m in a plane with people who have guns and two friends who have duct tape around their feet and I am walking towards my death?
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As I turned around, someone grabbed me from behind and forced me towards the back of the plane. Pain snaked across my upper arm and shoulder. My body was screaming out in agony as I tried to twist away, but all that happened was more pain. A blond haired man with a huge freckle of his chin forced me to sit with my back against the cargo door. Not too far away was the door that was used for exiting the plane. It had a simple red handled lever that was used to open the door. I glanced outside to see if there were any houses down on the ground but no, there was still only the Australian desert. From what I could see there were only small shrub bushes with occasional gum trees. There was no hope of escape.
Another man appeared from the cabin carrying three items of baggage; they were a backpack of a sort. He approached us and calmly stated “Thank you for being our experiment. We have some clients that want some fun with guns. They are placed on the ground and if they find you or see you they will shoot you”. I began to panic. My heart was beating faster. As I looked across at my friends and they were trembling I began to realise what the backpacks were. They were parachutes. I told myself to remain strong and I gave my friends a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
The blond haired freckle man spoke this time,
“Simple as this, you put on these backpacks and jump”. I was shoved out the plane with barley enough time to put my parachute on. . It felt nice to be outside putting aside the fact that I was falling towards the ground at an astonishing rate. My lungs lurched out of their normal place right into my mouth, or so it felt like it. It was the biggest whoopsy I have ever had. I pulled the straps tight around me, and then I pulled the rip cord at the front. A small chute about the size of a kid’s plastic swimming pool opened up. My heart sank and I had the worst feeling in my life. I heard a tearing sound. I looked up and thought the mini-chute was tearing apart, but no, something forced its way out of the bag and pushed against my back. I saw a huge black object about the size of an Olympic swimming pool open up.
I slowed down to a steady pace and all was calm, surprisingly. I scanned the sky for my friends, there was nothing except for the wispy white clouds and
“WHOA!!” I exclaimed out aloud, as a large dark object whistled in front of me. It was Jake. I realised he didn’t know how to open the chute. I screamed out,
“Pull the strings!” It appeared that he didn’t hear me, but after what seemed an eternity a parachute opened. I breathed a sigh of relief. I looked around, beneath, above and beside me. There was no one else, other than Jake, to be found. Could Frankie have fallen past me and crashed on the carpet of brown and green spots? I refused to belief that, and squinted my eyes to look across the sky where the plane was. I focused harder and thought I could see my friend. To confirm my thoughts a mushroom blew up in the sky. How on earth are Jake and I going to find Frankie now?
Jake and I had levelled with each other in flight. As we neared the ground, which was about 50metres away, I tensed up for a hard landing. Jake glanced across at me, a nervous look on his face. I shouted out
“Aim for the clear patch and run when you hit the ground!” Jake held up his hand and put his thumbs up. I looked up at the inside of the parachute to see if everything was fine, landing spot was okay, head still pounding but okay, legs sore and stiff; I was ready.
In the last few seconds as I came down I started to run in mid air, Jake was doing the same. 4 metres, 3 metres, 2, 1, 0, SMASH, pain shot up my legs, but I continued to run. I slowed down, my parachute folding in on itself, scratches starting to bleed, dust blowing everywhere and legs collapsing under me.
I lay there for a moment thinking over what had happened today or yesterday. Bike riding with my friends, kidnapped, drugged, woke up in a plane, forced to jump and now, apparently, prey in the middle of the Australian desert. I dragged myself up and dropped the parachute on the ground. I limped over to Jake who was lying face down on the dark red ground. Checking his breathing, I rolled him over. He had blood dripping out of a cut, just under his chin, but otherwise was okay. I went over to the parachute and tore a strip of fabric of it. As I wrapped the cloth under his chin and over his head, I had to chuckle a little bit. He looked a little like ‘red riding hood’. Jake sat up and said, “I don’t think I will ever do parachuting again in my life.”
“Same here”, I replied. I continued in a more serious manner, “Okay let’s move out, we have no idea how many people are trying to kill us and we have to find Frankie.”
We got up and began to walk away from the landing site, towards Frankie. The terrain was flat but it was not desirable. There were small knee height bushes covering every bit of land, we couldn’t see the ground and I was afraid of being bitten by a snake. There were a few taller shrubs that were my height, but were sparsely spaced out. There were also a few gum trees that I could see in the distance and nothing else of importance. There was an eerie silence; there were no birds, cars engines, horns or people yelling. The silence was totally opposite to the sound of Perth, where I live. We continued our journey towards Frankie’s landing spot. Both of us had walked 2miles all ready. We came upon a gum tree, it was a large tree and it provided a lot of shade. We stopped and sat for a rest, my throat was dry as parchment and it hurt. My legs were also shaky from lack of food. The sun was getting hotter. It must be near midday I thought. All of a sudden we heard leaves rustling, Jake and I jumped into the nearest bush, because we thought it was someone with a gun. My heart pounded, and prickles went all over my body and started pressing into my skin. Out of the surrounding a voice yelled.
“Oi! up here.” Sweat was pouring out of all my sweat glands, I lay down as flat as I could, it was uncomfortable and I was really scared. I couldn’t see my friend and wished the best for him. Then the voice yelled out again,
“Help me I’m stuck in this tree.”
I looked up without getting out of my hiding spot. In the gum tree I saw Frankie dangling with his parachute snagged on the higher branches. I crawled out of the bush, being careful not to cut myself again. I hoped to my feet and yelled in a happy voice,
Frankie yelled back, “Of all the open shrub land I landed in a tree.” I began to laugh and say,
“Well we landed in the only spot where it has clear ground.” Jake came across to where I was standing and glared up and said,
“How are you going to get down? You are about 2 stories high, dangling in the air with no branches nearby.” Frankie shouted back,
“I’ll jump, but first I’ll drop this down to you.” He reached around and grabbed the zip on his bag and yanked it down, he pulled out a grey plastic shopping bag. He carefully dropped it to the ground; it went clunk and a crackle. I went over and picked the bag up, I glanced inside and there was three one litre mount Franklin bottles. I moved the bottles around and saw a flash of bright red; I reached in more and pulled out three big mars bars.
“About time I got some good news,” I said aloud.
“Look at below” said Frankie as he released the strap and jumped. He landed on the heavy side but was okay. We all sat down and pulled out the water bottles and had a drink. It felt nice, clean crisp cold water running down my dry throat. I had already drunk more than half of the water, but I stopped because we had to ration the water.
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We got up and walked west. According to Frankie’s watch by lining the hour hand with the sun, and halfway between the minute hand and the hour hand was north. Head for the ocean was our thinking. We walked for ages, my legs are sore and sweat is pouring out of my back. The terrain was changing there were more mounds in the dirt and uneven ground. There were more trees with greener leaves. While we were walking along taking sips of our water we came across a small gravel cliff. We all began to climb down, however I slipped on the gravel and tried to grab the nearest plants, but I ripped them out as I fell. I clawed my hands against the edge of the rock face, but I couldn’t grab anything. I was increasing my speed; it was a 3 story building drop and I was approaching the bottom. I looked down it rounded of a little bit. It flashed through my head as if it were less than a second. I hit the bottom, my legs skidded out from the soft sloping gravel and I hit my head after my hands tried to lessen the impact. I cried out in pain as I yelled for my friends to help me. I lay on the ground with pain coming from my leg, ankle and head. I felt giddy and the world spun around me. Then a supporting hand lifted my head and propped me against a tree nearby. My friends came into view; there were tears in their eyes. I reached over to touch my leg which I couldn’t feel. I couldn’t see that well so I was going by touch. I ran my hand from my hip down to my knee, over the knee cap, halfway down my lower leg then I reached a bump in my leg, I continued to run my hand down but it wasn’t just bent it was broken. It was lucky that I couldn’t feel much pain because I would be crying out if I did.
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