06 – FIGHTING THE AIR

The silk above him caught the air and Jingle felt the harness tighten against his chest. The sudden deceleration yanked him upward, or so it felt, and if he had joints (he wasn’t sure whether he did or not in this incarnation) he could imagine them being pulled to popping.

The strange breed of calm terror he felt did not abate, instead he figuratively held his breath. It didn’t take long for the descent to settle and slowly Jingle felt some faith restored in his hasty plan.

Below him the green valley was laid out like a map and Jingle noticed that the large building was not the only one in the vicinity. Smaller dwellings littered the valley, half hidden by trees or almost overgrown by the undergrowth they were almost perfectly camouflaged but the odd glint of glass betrayed them.

The old parachute offered very little control and it was entirely by luck that he found himself drifting closer and closer to the large building. Perhaps, he thought, the sail draped over one of its towers indicated some kind of wind trap in the area.

All roads lead to Rome, he thought without understanding it.

The landing was not pleasant and he took it as proof that there was still cotton wool stuffing inside, as the force of his impact would almost certainly have broken bones. Under him the rooftop on which he had landed seemed to give a little, tiles cracking and sliding free. A little avalanche of dirty dark-red tiles slid down the slope and followed each other off the edge like lemmings.

The sound they made on the ground below, something like shattering glass, seemed too loud by far but Jingle tried not to listen as he fought with the releases to the parachute.

The wind caught it and he felt it drag him across the rooftop towards it apex.

Jingle clung to the broad tiles and worked his fingers under the release.

With a snap the harness release flung open and the parachute silk flowed across the roof and wrapped around the same tower that the sail occupied.

Jingle rolled onto his back and stared up into the sky. In the distance he could see the dark grey of the Walrus seeming to hang in the sky. Around him the air was quiet and whatever lived in the forest nearest to him must have moved in silence.

He shuddered.

Finding his way inside the building was easier than he could have imagined. Further up the roof was a narrow walkway that disappeared into a short opening into one tower. The oaken door covering the opening hung loose and its lower edge had worn a groove into the tiles beneath it.

Inside it was dimly lit and smelt of rotted wood.

Jingle took a breath and ducked through the doorway into the darkness.

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