Monday, January 19, 2009
The First Jump
Without thinking, dazed, Birdie reached for his outstretched hand. Images flashed through her head, unbidden:
A baobab tree, silhouetted against an orange sky... A dinner fork and a sharp knife, crossed, on a russet tablecloth... A cork, bursting from the neck of a champagne bottle... A small rodent of indeterminate species burrowing quickly into a mound of yellowing vegetation... A rainbow, across which passed the shadow of an airplane...
She fought the confusion. "I don't... I don't know you. Of course I want to live but I don't---"
"One chance," said the stranger. "One chance only. Take. My. Hand. Do it. Do it now."
Birdie blinked her eyes once, twice, and when they opened finally there was her hand in his. His palms were icy but his fingers strangely warm.
Most alarming of all: His coat opened behind him -- it was a coat, wasn't it? -- and he suddenly sprang to the roof of the train. Birdie rose effortlessly behind him, still hand-in-hand with him, and her feet touched down on the corrugated steel as though she weighed no more than a feather.
"But wait -- no, my uncle, I have to call my uncle---"
The stranger interrupted her. "No time," he said. "Follow!"