On the floor, sitting between each other’s open legs, back to front, Moondoggie buddy-checked Tom’s setup and equipment, and each man in turn did the same.
Preacher, the spotter, hooked himself to the restraining line and yelled, “Secure your reserves,” then opened the door.
Tom scooted closer to the open door to see the dragon. Flames shot thirty feet into the air.
“Not that big. A two-man stick,” Preacher said, meaning two men would jump with each pass.
Tom nodded his agreement and watched the streamers, which were thrown to gauge the speed and direction of the wind. Preacher radioed Flyboy to climb and make the first pass. Tom was the first jumper in flight. He bumped fists with Moondoggie.
“Do you see the spot?” Preacher asked.
Tom hollered, “Yes.”
A final head shake signaled the affirmative. Tom gave one last worried look at Whitney. He got the slap on his shoulder every jumper waited for and rolled out the door head first, tumbling forward into the dusky night. The hot air surrounded him, and he heard the roar of the flames eating the forest of trees. The static line sprang and released the chute. He glided toward the drop point marked by the spotter and illuminated by nearby flames. Over his shoulder, he saw Moondoggie’s parachute on an angle following.
He had no time to explore the renewed feelings for Whitney. Concentrate on the here and now, or end up burnt and crispy like the bread in his grandmother’s old toaster.
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