Pull the Plug and Jump

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Like the book said, it was a pleasure to burn. Money never meant anything to me. You can pick up cash anywhere if you’re that sort, and besides, it would weigh me down like people can weigh you down. Thankfully, I shed it and them. Nobody wanted to pull the plug but me anyhow.

There’s a ton of Flat Earth Society members but none have balls. They’re all talk, no action. Frig, I hate spineless morons. Now, to be clear, I’m not one — a member, I mean. The spineless moron is still out for debate. True or not, I had to go see. What I do, when I get there, hell if I know.

The flight over was easy enough, no speed bumps in the sky. God was making damn sure I’d make it. A second junket flight to Dana Island and I was there. The fake ID worked. I knew the lingo. Dad had been Big Brass. It scares the shit right out of you, thinking how easy it is to infiltrate American defenses.

Duffle bag in hand and I hunkered down on the assigned cot in some temporary set-up. Nothing looked permanent on this military outpost. All was a bloody WWII time capsule. Hemp tarpaulins covered everything, the kind that outlasts nuclear bombs blasts. At most there were twenty souls on this spit of volcanic soil, and fifteen, the two MP gorilla-sized gate guards said, were scientists from Nat Geo or somewhere.

Lights out at 2200, and by God it was as dark as a sea urchin’s ass. Good for me.

When all was quiet on the western front — oh, how I slay! — I took my shit and headed out. I’d memorized the route, played it out in my mind and practised over and over on the model at the Society HQ. A little more over-grown than I calculated but the machete worked fine. A few lizards crossed my path but otherwise quiet. I heard the waves crashing ahead and the odd peep from exotic birds but no F22s and no military leather necks, so I trekked on.

An hour, maybe two, it took. Time was moot. I’d get there when I’d get there. And when I got there, holy cow, the plug was bloody big, bigger than I figured. The metal tool I brought didn’t have enough torque so I duct taped a downed branch and I jumped on it but good. Two or three or eight tries and the rubber cap slowly rose and with it a popping sound and hissing air. Ten, fifteen minutes in, and by God, it was off. A white-capped eddy formed out in the bay. I saw it, twirling and twirling, counter clock wise. The sea water lowered, maybe a 100 feet per minute, and with it sunk the sea floor. The bottom of the earth literally melted away. I sat my ass down on the sand but far enough back so I didn’t get caught up in the suction. Maybe an hour passed, maybe less. When all movement ended, when the suction ceased, I crawled over to the edge. Yep, it was gone. The land next to me was no more. Earth’s cliff was visible and I saw stars all down and around.

I broke the “DON’T BREAK GLASS UNTIL STOPPER REMOVED” labelled cabinet to reach for the next instructs. Fairly clear: apply flapperons at 15 degrees, O2 helmet hose connect, set course for Ma1-Ta1, and jump. The last bit, well, I hesitated, as anyone would. I initialed the document so my attempt was recorded. I inhaled to the point of seeing stars inside of me, figuring this might be my last earthly breath, and I jumped.

~~~

Days, months, years, God if I know, clocked on. I woke up, or came to, or just opened my eyes. Lights, strobe lights, or maybe just fluorescents needing new bulbs, flickered, and in my ears, murmurs. I listened and lay stock still ‘til there was a pause in the sounds, then I shifted on my side and lifted my head. All around me was foreign. The room was all a weird green colour and when you touched stuff like furniture your fingers sunk in like it was Jell-O or something. It wasn’t wet. It was solid. Some frigged-up shit.

I checked for injuries or lost body parts and for ass rape. None, thank Christ. Hey, you can never be too careful after that Barney and Betty alien abduction. My helmet lay by my side and my duffle bag, too. Wherever I landed and whoever was around, it and they must be Friendly’s.

“You awake. Good. You hungry?” said a man in tan fatigues, carrying a tray.

Rubbing my forehead ‘cause everything felt funny up there, I asked, “Where the hell am I?”

“You reached Ma1-Ta1. You jumped.”

“Over the edge? Like, for real?”

“Yeah, for real. You pulled the plug and landed. Who told you where to go?” The man said as he laid the tray down on the Jell-O like counter.

“Sam at The Brewseum on Waimanu. He handed me a note and it said where to train and how to arrive, and shit.”

“Right, the usual course. You tell anyone?”

“No. Who would I tell? But I initialled. That’s right, right?”

“That’s right.”

“What now? Do I go back? Can I get back?” I accepted something that looked like a sandwich, but wasn’t. I would have eaten a bloody June bug at this point.

The guy sighed, hesitated, took a seat in an army green chair, and said, “You can… but I wouldn’t advise it. Big trouble if you reverse course. I’d stay here if I were you… or you could pull the next plug. You’ve been cleared for that.” The guy lit up two real cigarettes and handed me one. I didn’t smoke but if I wasn’t going back, it was as good a time as any to adopt a bad habit.

“The next plug? There’s more?”

“Heck, yeah. Say, I haven’t introduced... I’m Steve. Lieutenant Steve Hammill. Div One, USS Nevada.” Steve held out his hand and I shook it. First clammy handshake I’d ever offered to anyone.

“Is it worth it? I mean, should I pull and jump again?”

“I would if I were you. I’ve never pulled, so I guess I shouldn’t say. I was ordered down here. Well, we all go here once we bite it.”

“Bite it?”

“Bite the bullet. Get killed. I bought it at Pearl Harbor. Say, you feeling okay? It’s like you’re not all here.”

“I’m fine. You mean, you were up there, on earth, and once you were killed, you fell off the edge?”

Steve laughed. “Well, it’s a wee bit more complicated than that, but yeah, in a nutshell, yes.”

“So, every dead sailor from Pearl, you’re all down here?”

“Yep. Purified atmosphere, so no aging. We’re all in our teens, early 20s, the same as we were on December 7th. See this head gear? We’re scattered all over space, so we do Comms through that and at day’s end we get together at the Base for drinks.” Steve handed me the head set. It looked like a pair of shiny black dice but without the white painted dots. I handed it back.

Doubts, oh boy, did I have doubts. A lark, I figured. It wouldn’t work after all. Earth is round and the Society was filled with loons. Sure, I thought before I headed to the islands, I’d try it for shits and giggles, but it wouldn’t work. But sure as Hell, with my luck, I trained and did it ever work. I fell off the edge like all those Flat Earth’ers endlessly jawed on about, all those who had no balls to try, and now I was talking to a dead guy in some under space realm. I decided I was up to my neck in liquid shit. In other words, I was screwed. I swallowed a drink Steve handed me, adjusted my clothes, smoothed back my hair, scooped up my duffle bag and grabbed Steve’s elbow... hard.

“Listen, buddy, for you unlucky sea boys, this result may be fine. At least it’s no death. But what choices do I have? Join you guys in whatever the hell you do down here or pull the next plug, and if I do, where do I go?” The cigarette tasted good after I puked out the first inhale. Steve laughed as I pointed for one more. The pack was small with red letters that spelled out, “Lucky Strike.” Well, I’ll be damned! Lucky Goddamned Strike. That made me laugh. Those beauts hadn’t been around since the ‘50s. Steve smiled, knowing well my reaction, and handed me another lit stick.

Steve looked down at his clipboard. A whole row of names filled the sheet. “What’s your name again?”

“Belham, Trevor.”

Finger scanning the list, “Right, there you are. Okay, Belham, Trevor, you aren’t cleared to join us. You either remain as a temp until you die which won’t take long as volunteers are allotted little air supply, or you pull the next plug. Most pull.”

“Right…” I lowered my head to feign hard decision making but I’m no idiot, well, not much of one anyway, “I’ll pull. Lead the way.”

Same training, same map but different location, of course. It had to be. The flight over, the junket made and the same machete and sandy shoreline, but I was falling further down so it had to be different. I pulled the plug and jumped again.

~~~

Eyes flickered and opened only as cracks as I sneaked a peek. Light, none. Murmurs, none. I figured this time I had bought the farm. How many times can you pull the plug on what you don’t know and not expect a kick in the existential ass? I felt for the matches Steve gave me along with the smokes, and I struck one for light. Blue, the colour was everywhere, a translucent sea foam blue. Same cot, same chair, same hemp tent like on Dana but unlike the green gooey-dry place with Steve, all surfaces were hard and wet-looking, yet when touched your fingers touched surfaces they came away dry. This would be funny if it were just a dope ride.

On a side table, a note lay open and my fingertips scanned the surface. I felt the upraised dots of braille and I freaking laughed, then I gulped and stared hard. Holy shit! Am I blind? I grabbed the note. The braille spoke. “GO TO SECTION B, DOOR 21. FOLLOW THE HANDRAIL – RAISED DOTS. WHEN DOTS STOP, YOU’RE THERE. OPEN DOOR. METAL TOOL TO YOUR LEFT. PULL THE PLUG.”

For frig’s sake! Not again!

Now I wished I hadn’t been so damn curious. Sure, I’m brave. Sure, I can do stuff. Sure, I’ll find the edge of the earth and bloody well jump over like some goddamned idiot. Now, I was frigged up the keister without a lubricated paddle and didn’t know what was what. Do I pull plugs and jump until God has His fill of the giggles? I was spitting mad, well, a wee bit angry anyways. Thank God Steve gave me those smokes. I wasn’t hungry which was weird but I’d morphed into some kind of lunatic chain smoker.

The lit match singed my fingertips, so I let it drop. It didn’t matter anyhow ‘cause either the space was void of all atoms or I was blind. Stowing my Lucky Strike’s, I grabbed my duffle and made my way down the hall. Dots were there all right. The note wasn’t fake news, chuckling.

The door’s locked? Great. So, here I am, blind and shit. Only message I got was thi—

A slide-grinding sound followed by a door ajar. I knew it had unlocked ‘cause there was air on the other side, or what felt like air. I’d plum forgot there might not be oxygen to breathe and my helmet was stowed. Taking no precautions, I shoved it on. No matter the end game, it wasn’t coming off. Brooms and some buckets and shelves of neatly folded terry clothes in this tiny room but soon my fingers found the metal tool and the rubber stopper, this one much bigger, some three feet off the ground and about a foot in diameter. This plug means business. I chuckled again. I set the claw end of the bar into the female port and yanked down with all my body weight which, as it turns out, was now a nifty 1008 lbs — don’t ask me how I know this, I just do — and the mother popped out, and I jumped.

I felt the fall this time. Oh, my God, did I ever! Freefall, whooshing wind. My stomach lurched into my throat and I hurled in my helmet. The effluent: chunks of whatever that sandwich was on Steve’s level. Frig it! I’d risk asphyxiation. The pukey helmet fell alongside me, green globule chunks hitting me like flack until it caught more speed and fired off into the trade wind.

At some point, I must have passed out, but I awoke, lying on a bed of what looked like colourful balls. Eyesight back, that was nice. I rolled my eyes. This was not funny anymore, if it ever was.

“Swallow one. You’ll feel better.”

I looked down to see a tiny lizard hand me a ball from the pile. I opened wide and swallowed. At this point, what did I have to lose? Colours, mixing, swirling, inside my mind. I lay back on the pile and enjoyed the ride. The lizard poured a cup of what looked like water over its nubby head and the lizard grew and grew and it carried me over to a sandy shore, shoved a metal tool in my hand and turned my woozy head to the plug location.

People, this time, holy hell, but the people! Bikini and swim trunk clad, young and old, laughing, talking loudly. I knew where I was!

“You want I uncork the fourth bottle for you, Sir? Oh, and here’s a dish of Skittles to munch on,” a waitress with the name tag, “DANA,” said with a wink. She wore pierced earrings. They were shiny black cubes.

I looked up at her, focusing my sight on the swaying image, and said, “You know what? I’ve hand enough uncorking for one day. What else do you recommend?”

“Mai tai’s, naturally, Sir” as she pointed to the beach bar sign reading, “THE ROYAL WAIKIKI MAI TAI BAR.”

Mai Tai… Mai Tai… the words strangely familiar, repeated and rolled inside my head. An old man sitting opposite, who took at my expense a mighty long stare, who looked so familiar, said, “It’s what Ed and I do, when we reach Waikiki at day’s end.” The smile. I recognized it right away. It was Steve, but this time he was old... really old, an age spotted skin kind of old, a decrepit 97 years kind of old. His wink told me to play ball ‘cause there was no one around who would believe me anyway. I ordered the drink like a good sailor. After all, it’s what we jumpers do. When we reach Waikiki.


Submitted: October 23, 2019

© Copyright 2022 B J Thompson. All rights reserved.

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