“Alright Garrett, we’re over the target, ready to jump?”
“Tell me again why this jump needs to be into an ink-black, stormy sky in the dead of night, Billy? Not to mention the fact that the landing zone is in the middle of the jungle.”
“Stop your bitching, man. If you get to the artifacts first, we’ll make millions. The pilot says it’s now or never. Remember, don’t pop the parachute until you’re under 1,500 feet for your best chance at staying undetected.
“Got it! Free fall from 20,000 feet to 1,500 feet, then pop my chute and steer it to the only clear patch of ground in the middle of the jungle, in the dark. Oh, and just where is Cassandra?”
Yes, where is his arch-rival? Garrett and Cassandra are rival treasure hunters. It’s a field where the competition is limited but fierce. One rare item can make a person extremely wealthy. Unfortunately, it takes a large amount of money to find these lost treasures. Most of the hunters work for wealthy employers that are long on cash but short on scruples. Cassandra works for one such person. Garrett freelances.
“Jump, jump, jump! I’ll send you her location on your sat-link.”
Garrett leaped from the plane and placed his body in the shape of an arrow as he plummeted toward the earth. The only sound was the air rushing past his helmet as his body sliced through the atmosphere. The altimeter on his wrist beeped when he reached 5,000 feet, showing it was time to spread his arms and legs, opening the panels on his wingsuit.
Pseudo-wings deployed and Garrett had limited steering and stability control. Now, the dilemma was what direction to steer into when his surrounding world was pitch black. He pressed a button on the inside of his helmet with his chin and a heads-up display immediately appeared on his visor. Garrett leaned his body slowly to the right and the display compass needle gradually pointed to the North.
The altimeter beeped again, telling Garrett he had just passed through 1,500 feet. Time to deploy his chute. Slowing to a more manageable speed was comforting, but he was still shrouded in darkness. He bumped a second button in his helmet to turn on its night vision feature and… nothing! Garrett bumped the button several more times before writing it off as a lost cause. He would have to rely on his instincts to land safely. If he missed the landing zone, his options were slamming into the jungle, or splashing into the piranha- and alligator-infested Tambo River.
Garrett’s altitude was dropping fast, and he needed to decide. From out of the moonless night sky, a lightning bolt streaked past him, lighting up the ground below. The errant bolt struck a nearby tree, setting it on fire. Garrett was about to thank whatever lightning deity the local Ashaninka Indians worshiped when the rain pummeled him. He needed to be on the ground now!
Garrett landed with a thud, fortunately breaking nothing. The rain dissipated as quickly as it arrived, leaving Garrett wet and uncomfortable. He gathered in his parachute, taking the time to repack it for future use. Next, he checked his GPS to find his exact location and found he had no reception. Fortunately, he had a map and compass and knew how to use both. What his old-school tools couldn’t tell him was where Cassandra was. He was sure he would find out soon enough.
The jungle was damp with intermittent showers, making the humidity unbearable. Garrett wound his way between trees and bushes until finally reaching the river bank. From there, walking was easier. Unfortunately, the chances of being spotted by unfriendly locals and Cassandra’s team increased dramatically. No guts, no glory, Garrett told himself as he hurried up the river bank.
The cliff stood above the river like the Colossus of Rhodes. According to legend, Avirevi, a local hero, turned a Spanish ship into this cliff. The Spanish version was that one of their treasure ships ran aground at the base of the cliff. All hands were lost. Either way, Garrett had arrived at his destination, and so had Cassandra.
She arrived by riverboat along with a crew of six. They had already started exploring the area, which meant he had some catching up to do. As he stood just off the riverbank, taking cover in the trees, Garrett saw one man topple off the top of the cliff. A second man followed the first as arrows rained down on Cassandra’s crew. He watched as she took shelter in the wheelhouse. A minute later, she was the only survivor.
Apparently, the locals hadn’t seen Cassandra run for cover. As he watched the inhabitants celebrate, a plan took shape in Garrett’s mind. He worked his way behind the attackers and climbed the backside of the 300-foot cliff. Next, he unfurled the canopy strapped into the parachute harness and ran at full speed. As he reached the cliff’s edge, a strong updraft caught the chute and Garrett was airborne.
From the natives’ perspective, a demon was descending to Earth for revenge. They fled into the jungle, never looking back. Garrett landed on the riverboat’s deck.
“Hi, Cassandra. Nice to see you again.”
“I was expecting to see you on this trip, Garrett, but not like this.”
“Guess I’m just full of surprises. What say we turn this boat around and get out of here before the locals realize I’m not an avenging angel? Then, when we’re clear, we can discuss my share of the find.”
About the Creator
I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.
I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Original narrative & well developed characters
Niche topic & fresh perspectives