Submitted for the Flash Fiction Contest #7 The Diver for the Short Story and Flash Fiction Society
The Earth Drop
Word Count: 483
Drapna entered the registration facility and took a seat. The room was full so she knew it would be awhile before they called her name.
“Is this the first time you’ve been eligible for Earth Drop?” said the registrant that took the seat on her right side. He was obviously part of her group but Drapna was not in the mood to make nice with a perfect stranger. Besides, what did he mean by the first time? She planned on making it down so failure and having to do it again was not an option.
“Yes but I’m well prepared,” answered Drapna.
“Today’s my third attempt. Sure the first time I wasn’t prepared but for my second attempt last year I was and I thought I’d make it but a gust of wind at the last minute caused a shift. My name is Jacko by the way.”
“My name is Drapna. I’ve been practicing under many extreme conditions including wind.”
“Those virtual practice facilities are certainly worth the money; however nothing can be like the real thing so don’t get over confident.”
“What was it like when you entered the earth’s atmosphere?”
“For me it was like being shot out of the barrel of a gun. The special material in the skin suits that we are required to wear eliminates any friction so it’s real fast. The timing is critical. You enter the atmosphere and a large reservoir full of water opens and if all goes as planned, you are plunged into the reservoir.”
“So what didn’t go as planned for you last year?”
“As I mentioned the wind was a factor. Just as I was aiming for the reservoir, gale force winds pulled me off the mark. When that happened, the Earth Drop technicians could do nothing but use the robotic crane arm to retrieve me.”
Drapna sat in silence contemplating all that Jacko had said. She repeated to herself a mantra that failure was not an option. She needed to infiltrate Earth and find her family. They just had to be alive.
Soon it was time for Drapna’s group to take the Earth Drop. She picked up her company issued skin suit and headed for the locker room. After changing she was provided with identity cards to be used on earth and a card containing E-money for her first three months. Drapna took her place and stepped into the chute. After a loud popping sound, she was on her way. It was pure weightlessness until she entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Looking down, Drapna saw the reservoir open up to receive her. Suddenly the wind rose threatening to pull Drapna off her mark but she was ready for it. Spreading her arms like wings, she was guided back and she plunged into the reservoir. Mission accomplished. After being processed through the Earthling replicator, a beautiful woman emerged ready for life on Earth.