Thirty Seconds to the Ground
James W. Nelson
Copyright 2014 by James W. Nelson
Published by James W. Nelson at Smashwords
To the pros who trained me and got me through my first jump
Table of Contents
“Three thousand!” Rod yelled, “Four thousand!” By then Rod’s parachute should have been opening. It was not. And Rod was not hearing his own words. His eyes were open but seeing nothing. He was experiencing first-timer’s blackout. The jerk of the chute opening would, likely, have woke him. Even without the jerk he should have been waking up. He was not. Descent speed had reached about forty mph. About twenty-five seconds remained before he reached the ground.
“Hi!” came the voice over the phone, “I’d like to do a skydive!”
Jake’s gut twitched. It didn’t happen often, but something in this guy’s voice set it off. “With experience you build up to a skydive,” he replied, “What you’ll be doing is a static-line, four-second-delay, parachute jump. Have you jumped before?”
“No. But I know I want to.”
“Okay. What’s your name?”
Jake couldn’t explain his gut twitch. But, no cause to reject a new student. The next class would begin the following evening.
Peg’s rotation for training.
One pm. From the classroom window Peg saw the four students arriving. Strangers during their first class, they were now bonded with a sort of fear, the anticipation of danger. They likely had planned a meeting at some restaurant for noon lunch, now were arriving together. It happened sometimes, this quick bonding. It was good. Skydiving did that with people.
But one of the students caused her…oh, some discomfort. Peg couldn’t think of his name but picked him out. He wasn’t swaggering, not stumbling over his own feet, so what was it? He reminded her of what Jake might have looked like fifteen years earlier, except the student wore his dark hair longer, had about four days stubble on his face. Now that she thought about it Jake usually had about that much too.
This class was her fourteenth, total of seventy-nine students, also her smallest. She felt glad about that. More time to spend with, whatever-his-name-was. What bothered her about him? She shook her head. Her graying blonde hair swished. Maybe at thirty-nine she was too old for this sport, too cautious. Keep jumping, yes, but no more students. Out of her other seventy-five students nobody had landed miles away. None in the sewage lagoon. Nobody hurt.
A hundred percent so far. Yes. Time to quit. No more responsibility for students. Let the younger skydivers do it all. After this class was safely on the ground she would announce her retirement from training.
The students were at the door, entering.
“Hi, Peg!” From what’s-his-name.
She finally remembered, “Hi, Rod.” That afternoon for their first jump she also had radio-ground-control. She would speak to her students on one-way sets, but Rod might need to actually hear his name. She should not forget again. If only she could share her discomfort about this guy named Rod with somebody. Jake at least should know. But why label the guy? He had done absolutely nothing to cause her…discomfort.
So why did she feel discomfort?
Her students were seated. Four expectant faces stared at her, two young women, two young men, all showing a quiet but reined-in fear, but fear nonetheless. All but that Rod character.
She dismissed those thoughts. She had to. These four people depended on her. They were trusting her with their lives. She would not let them down.
Her own thorough skydive training kicked in. Now she would function without emotion. These students would understand the seriousness and listen closely. The training would enter their heads, so that their bodies, later, if necessary, would perform without cognizant thought, at least to a point. “What may seem like more endless drilling is coming up this afternoon, people,” she said, “You might get tired and bored, but, listen and watch and learn. Our training method works.”
She met the gaze of each attentive face, lastly Rod. Whatever he was projecting did not affect her. “But first a video about your equipment.”
Another second became history. Rod’s descent speed hit fifty mph. Approximately twenty-four seconds to the ground.
From the chute packing area, about thirty feet from the harness training rack, not a good view but enough, Jake had watched the students performing their drills. Three made at least two mistakes each. The one called Rod made no mistakes, even helped the other students with a word, or a point.
Jake finished packing a student chute, stood, stretched, then walked to the open hanger door facing west where sunshine was pouring in, what a perfect day for skydiving. It had rained that morning, but Jake kept a close watch on the weather. Satellite coverage the night before had shown a window between approaching cloud banks in the west. By 2pm the closest front had split and begun dissipating. At 4pm all that remained of clouds were low puffy fluffs and higher strings of cirrostratus, far above where any plane from the small airport would climb to that day.
Beyond the stringy clouds how blue that sky was. How it went on and on and on. How Jake loved that sky, the perfect freedom of falling through it. He glanced toward the student Rod and wished that feeling in his gut, that twitch, would go away. But it did not go away.
Training over. Peg watched the students lounging while they waited for the pilot, who would be leaving his job about then and would arrive in about a half hour. Sometimes that bothered her. Whether trainer or not she always wished the students could go right from class, to jump suits, to the plane, when everything was completely forefront in their minds.
She could have slowed training she supposed but boredom could have set in. A mind or two could have wandered, could have missed something. No, their method worked. All but waiting for the pilot. But everybody had jobs. Everybody had to earn money to pay for this expensive skydiving habit, this obsession of height and fear, and the thrill of that certain knowledge that each jump—if nothing worked—could be the last.
Her gaze went to Orlan, that mountain of a man who packed most of the trainer chutes. He could do it with his eyes closed, almost with his hands behind his back. He was good, the best. A bank loan officer he had skipped his afternoon off just to help pack these chutes.
The student Rod had hovered in the vicinity of Orlan, at times even appearing to be in the way as he asked questions and followed Orlan back-and-forth during canopy folding and line straightening. She thought about saying something to Rod. But, Orlan had packed chutes in the close presence of students before. If Orlan didn’t mind then Peg shouldn’t either.
Jake was now packing his own chute, had his laid perpendicular to Orlan’s, so his back was turned. Earlier, as Jumpmaster that afternoon, Jake had taken up six students who had come a hundred miles the day before, completed classes and their first jump in one day, stayed overnight, then had returned for their second and third jumps. Everybody had arranged work schedules for the two-day affair, but the money was good. Something had to pay for fuel, hanger rental, new chutes, and student fees did that. So everybody had arranged their schedules to fit. It was worth it so everybody did it.
Peg wished that pilot could have stayed for this last trip. But he worked the four-to-midnight shift, so just not possible. But their own pilot would arrive soon.
The phone rang. Peg rushed to the lounge to answer.
Orlan was at a critical stage of chute packing. Student Rod was on his knees facing Orlan, bent over as close to the work as Orlan himself as Orlan inserted the static line through the metal ring hooked to the tiny canopy that would drag out the main canopy, only the static line was inadvertently mis-routed underneath a closing flap of the parachute container.
This parachute, a tan one, now would not function. The decisive mistake happened very quickly. If Orlan would have had one more second he likely would have caught it, but besides the distraction by student Rod he was about to be interrupted by Peg.
The phone was for Orlan. Peg hated to interrupt anyone while they were packing a chute. She glanced through the door window, saw student Rod almost face-to-face with Orlan. Well, maybe Orlan wants to get interrupted. She moved to the door. “Orlan, can you talk to your wife? Won’t take a minute she said.” Orlan would take his call, return to his packing, and his hands would begin again where they had left off.
Both men rose from the floor. Peg didn’t look at student Rod but saw a definite expression of irritation on Orlan. He passed her in the doorway, “Thanks, Peg. And give that guy something to do, will you?”
Yes, she would. She would give them all something to do. It was time anyway. Peg’s Training took over, “Okay, people. Let’s get the jump suits on.”
All four students approached.
Student Rod picked a red and black suit that was way too big for him. In his fall the suit would blossom in a very, very, very, vague, similarity, to a parachute canopy.
For student Rod two more seconds passed. Descent sixty-five mph. Twenty-two seconds to the ground.
Jake finished packing his own chute and stood. For one second it crossed his mind to give the chute he had packed earlier to the student Rod. He knew it was packed perfectly. No decisions yet as to what student would get what chute. No decision to make really. All chutes were basically the same.
He walked to where Orlan had been working. The static-line lay ready to be packed and the bag closed. Not a good time to be interrupted, if any time was good. Again, not a real conscious thought, but Jake considered checking the static line tie-off. But, no, Orlan had never made a mistake.
Jake turned away just as Orlan came from the lounge.
“Be ready in another minute, here, Jake.”
“No prob, Orlan.”
And yes, just as both Peg and Jake assumed, Orlan’s hands knew where they had left off and began packing again.
Fifteen minutes passed. The four students stood around, ready, their eyes…Jake had never really figured out how their eyes looked. Frightened? Just nervous? It didn’t matter. All students looked the same, like they were holding their breath. Almost all. Rod Skokum looked like he was heading for a picnic.
He gazed at student Rod. What was on that face? Of the four Rod appeared the least tense. No, not tense at all. Why did that twitch remain in Jake’s gut?
The pilot arrived, went immediately to the plane. A moment passed before the single-prop engine roared to life. For Jake training took over, “Let’s go, people. I know you’re all scared to death, but soon that fear will melt away. You’ll all do fine on your first jump.”
They filed toward the plane. Peg called a radio check.
All four students waved they had heard.
Jake slapped Student Rod’s shoulder as he climbed in. Student Rod wore the tan parachute. A picture snapped in Jake’s mind of the tan bag laying, unfinished, the static-line laying loose, the bag unclosed. But it was closed now. The picture lasted no longer than it took Jake to blink. Nothing was wrong. He couldn’t go around checking everybody else’s work just because of a gut-twitch.
Jake slapped each student’s shoulder as they climbed into the plane, then checked a couple things on his own chute, the altimeter on his wrist. Everything ready. He wore no jump suit that day. He was Jumpmaster. His job was to get the students smoothly out. He was not planning to jump himself.
With over 2000 jumps Jake did not waste his adrenalin jumping from 3000 feet, where all students began. No, nothing less than 10,000 for him, and up to 15,000 when they went on boogies to Arizona or Florida, or some other far off exotic place. Maybe soon he would do that. Just jump himself, pleasure just himself, no responsibility for students, just himself.
The pilot revved the engine. Jake crawled in, closed the door, looked over the students. Nobody looked back. All eyes were staring straight ahead, looking at…maybe looking at nothing.
All except the student Rod, who was gazing at Jake. Jake looked back for about two seconds, then turned away. What was in those pale blue eyes? He just did not know.
They were rolling, about forty mph…fifty…sixty….
Peg watched the plane get airborne. It would be a tense few minutes as it climbed to three thousand feet. The students had gone in by number. The student Rod was first in so his number was four. He would jump last. Strange, she couldn’t even think of the other students’ names, just Rod, Rod….
Time passed. The plane was directly overhead. She watched the first student exit, one of the young women she thought. Didn’t matter. On the one-way radio she would speak to them by number. Chute opening. The student had a few things to do now. She held the radio close, “Welcome to the sky, student number one,” she said. “Check your canopy, and check for twists in your cascade lines. If there are any, kick in the opposite direction of the twists.”
Too far away to see if the student kicked. She waited a few seconds. “Student number one, if you can hear me give me a left ninety degree turn.”
Immediately the student turned. Good contact. Peg released a light breath. Evidently the steering toggles were free and functioning. Now enjoy the view. She remembered her own first jump, how peaceful and calm everything was from above. She wanted to give her students as long a first ride as possible.
The plane began circling for the second student’s exit.
Student number one was starting to drift west a little too far, out over the sewage lagoon.
Peg’s training worked automatically, “Student number one, turn left ninety degrees.”
Student Rod passed seventy mph. Nineteen seconds to the ground.
The first three students were enjoying their ride down. The first…yup, just reached the ground. In a pile. Far back in Jake’s psyche a smile, and a chuckle. But training was preventing showing any kind of emotion. Nothing that could possibly affect the next student’s concentration.
He leaned back from the open door, gazed at student Rod, then eased himself behind the pilot. “Move forward.” Just an order, just two words stated clearly. No time for more chatter up here. Too much wind-noise. The students had heard everything in class. Now just short, crisp, orders.
Student Rod moved forward, sliding on his butt.
Jake stopped him partway, attached his static-line to an eyelet attached to the plane, then had the pilot check, then student Rod. It was secure.
Then the next order, “Get your feet out and stop.”
Just a few words from close proximity. No way could it be misinterpreted. Student Rod did exactly as he was told and trained to do, grasping the door’s casing in two places and placing both feet on the small launch platform, and then stopping, and then looking out at the faraway earth.
Kind of in a dreamworld. Stop him.
The unplanned thought jolted Jake. Bring him back in.
But no reason to. Absolutely no reason to. At this point most of the first-time students appeared to be in a dreamworld. Hell, they all did. And why on earth wouldn’t they feel that way?
The plane began the last turn. Just a few seconds more. Jake leaned out. Almost overhead. “Move all the way out.”
Flawlessly student Rod thrust his body up, grasped the airplane’s strut, then moved hand by hand into ninety-mile-per-hour wind, then swung one leg down, then the other and hung by his hands with legs spread, and looked back into Jake’s eyes.
Everything exactly as required.
Last order, “Look up.”
Student Rod looked up at a red spot painted on the underside of the wing, fixed concentration for a second, then let go, arms thrust up and out, legs spread, head back, a wild grin on his face, shouting, “Arch thousand…!”
Jake leaned out the door slightly, heard the shouted, “Two thousand…!”
Student Rod was in perfect spread-eagle form.
Though shouted at the top of Rod’s lungs, jumpmaster Jake did not hear the words ‘three thousand!’
Student Rod was falling away.
The static line came to its end, tightened briefly, then hung from the plane. It had not dragged out the tiny canopy on the parachute that would have dragged out the main canopy.
“Four thousand…!” Student Rod shouted the words but the words whipped away.
Peg watched student Rod exit. The three-to-five-second time delay was not long. It had happened before that an extra second or two had seemed to pass before the chute could be seen trailing out.
She felt every muscle in her body tense. The tension seemed to last a long, long, time before the subconscious thoughts, the chute’s not opening.
Student Rod was still in perfect spread-eagle freefall position. That would have seemed exceptional for a student’s first jump, but Rod’s body was still frozen in the form it had been in when he let go of the plane’s strut. If anything his flattened form and baggy suit was causing a slow fall, which soon would be detrimental to him.
His eyes had been open throughout, but not seeing or comprehending a thing. His thorough training had gotten him that far. “Six thousand!” At that point his instructions were to look up, to see if the chute was opening properly. His head even tilted farther up. But even if he had been cognizant he would have seen nothing except blue sky and puffy white clouds.
Later he would not remember shouting numbers at all. What he would remember was a last fading glimpse of the plane, then a feeling as if slipping underwater, a whoosh! It took him months to identify the exact sensation. Years earlier he had received barbiturates for surgery. First the prick, then that whooshing roar through his veins to his head.
An absolute sensation of SPEED!
Twelve seconds had passed. Eighteen remained.
Jake too had counted off the seconds, not out loud, not even consciously, but his training kept that time-span in his mind. His feet were already on the small launch platform.
Peg spoke calmly into the one-way radio, “Rod, pull your reserve ripcord.”
Rod did not hear her. His training was beginning to wane. By then his chute should have been blossomed fully. He should have been releasing the steering toggles. He should have been goggling down at the faraway city of Strattland, the surrounding checkerboard farmlands, the winding Brandywine River, the airport below him and the sewage lagoon.
But he was still blacked-out, his mind in total suspension.
Seventeen seconds remained.
Just once before Jake had knelt in the open door this ready to dive after a student. Just the one time had he watched the automatic-opening-device deploy the chute at twelve hundred feet. Student Rod could not be far from that altitude. But that time Jake had not been experiencing the gut-twitch. He had watched confidently, knowing the AOD would work.
And it had. This time it was not going to.
Jake braced his feet, let go of his handholds.
“Rod! Pull your reserve ripcord!” Some calmness had left Peg’s voice. But still her training held, even with the sight of that dark body hurtling toward the earth, not even tumbling but still in spread-eagle position, but she knew soon passing the 1200 foot altitude where the AOD should pop the reserve chute.
But student Rod was dropping too slowly. Peg was barely aware of her thoughts as she kept repeating the one message, but she knew she was right. She knew speed was what made the AOD function much more than altitude pressure. She knew eighty mph was necessary. And she knew that student Rod in his perfect spread eagle form was not going to reach that speed. She spoke to Orlan without looking at him, “911.”
Then her feet were moving her forward. In peripheral vision she saw a second body exit the plane. Jake was going to try catching student Rod. She knew he could not.
“Rod, pull your emergency ripcord!” Her voice still sounded calm. She knew the next time would be close to a scream.
“ROD! PULL YOUR EMERGENCY RIPCORD!”
Student Rod heard the voice. The words had no meaning. He could feel no part of his body. Nothing under his feet. Stomach completely gone. He must be dreaming. If he would have had the presence of mind to look at his wrist altimeter he would have seen 1000 feet. Descent about seventy-eight mph and holding. Ten seconds before he would hit the ground.
Even with over 2000 jumps and Army Ranger training, nothing had prepared Jake for bulleting through the air from only 3000 feet. Thirty seconds to the ground. And that was in a normal fall. Jake, his body pointed in hard dive, would get there much more quickly.
Peg saw Jake, shaped like a knife, streaking toward student Rod. Her mind recorded that sight. She would never forget it. She felt her voice going into the radio again, definitely a scream, “ROD! PULL YOUR EMERGENCY RIPCORD!”
Again and again Rod had heard the voice. But the words continued having little meaning. Ripcord? Ripcord…but he couldn’t move his hands. Some vision began coming back. He saw the sewage lagoon. He didn’t want to land there. But he could steer the parachute away. He wondered why he couldn’t?
Over pointed hands, head up just far enough to see, presenting as little wind resistance as possible, Jake knew he was catching student Rod. But the ground was coming up fast too. No, the lagoon was.
A chance. Getting too close even for the reserve chute.
“ROD! PULL YOUR RIPCORD!”
Now the voice in the radio was making some sense…some. But all on Rod’s mind was missing that sewage lagoon. That shitty water. His hands, arms, legs began moving.
Jake had heard Peg’s continuous radio talk. Why wasn’t student Rod doing what he was told? From about 200 feet behind—if incredulity was possible in Jake’s position—he was feeling it as he watched student Rod shaping his body into a knife, like Jake’s, and actually beginning to increase speed, and change direction. Away from the lagoon.
Rod heard the distant second voice. Barely. And what little concentration he had was lost. He began tumbling.
“RODDDD! FETAL POSITION!”
Fetal position? That Rod could do.
Jake imagined he could almost make out expressions on Peg’s and others’ faces before he leveled out and pulled his own ripcord about four hundred feet above the lagoon. He hit the water not nearly as hard, and about two seconds behind student Rod.
Peg watched the water splash at least thirty feet high from student Rod, then again from Jake, whose collapsing and barely-open chute muffled much of the splash.
As she scrambled down the lagoon banks she sensed many other people also running, workers from the small airport, the other students, other skydivers just off their jobs ready for a relaxing evening of skydiving.
Student Rod pile-drove through seven feet of water and several inches into the muck of the lagoon. His breath was knocked from him. He swallowed water, realized there was no air to breathe, and finally came fully to life, struggling.
The muck sucked at him. He could not move. Even the automatic floatation device could not budge him.
But in seconds other hands dragged him to the surface.
His first words, “WHOOOEEE! WHAT A FUCKING RIDE!”
Later, while hanging his chute to dry, Jake shared his plans with Peg of taking a boogie to some exotic far off place for some real skydiving relaxation.
“Good idea,” Peg answered, “I’m going with you.”
“[*There is a sacredness in tears….They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.” *][
Winter in July
(The doomsday clock is ticking…it will reach midnight)
(A place, or maybe just a state of mind,
for if you go there, and partake, you will be changed…forever)
Pharmacological Research Gone Berserk
Daughters Book 1
(The heartbreak of human trafficking)
Daughters Book 2
(Emma gets payback)
Daughters Book 3
(The Lure of Pornography)
Daughters Book 4
(The Little Girl From Down the Street)
Daughters Book 5
(Sorority Animal House)
(Vietnam War action by fleet submarines)
(The mother of all disasters)
The Light at the End of the tunnel
(A supernatural thriller)
New World Order Rising Book 1
New World Order Rising Book 2
(The New Civil War)
New World Order Rising Book 3
(The Next Generation Fights On)
The Short Stories
Strange & Weird Stories
(The unknown: as close as beside you)
A Collection of Short Contemporary Stories
(Stories about people just like you)
Dying to Live (memoirs)
(The life & times of Jimmy Nelson)
One Morning Nature Series
(For children, 3-103)
Book 1 One Morning at Boxelder Cove (Tamius, the Red Squirrel)
Book 2 One Morning at Juneberry Row (Sybil, the Cottontail Rabbit)
To the Nineteenth Century (fantasy, time-travel)
He had it Coming (crime, mystery)
Waiting to Die (the new pandemic)
Into Tilovia (war, romance, adventure)
The Commons (environment, time-travel)
30 Seconds to the Ground (a skydive gone wrong)
Descriptions of Books by James W. Nelson
From the author: In my fiction I do not try to create super-heroes, but rather bring alive common and regular people who try to find love, survive, and react to circumstances as best they can, and, usually, try to do the right thing. The books are more than one genre, from war to sex and violence to romance to humor to horror to fantasy to science fiction to adventure, I write in third-person with viewpoints by men, women, and children.
For more detailed descriptions, synopses, reviews, please go to:
Winter in July (65,500 words) (The doomsday clock is ticking…it will reach midnight) (nuclear war drama) In 2019, many more nations than the superpowers have nuclear weapons and dependable delivery systems. Kirby Yates, 40, helps his town prepare for the ultimate war, which nobody believes will ever happen.
Callipygia (66,100 words) (love, sex, violence, sexual violence) (A place, or maybe just a state of mind, for if you go there, and partake, you will become changed…forever. Stephanie Daniels, 29, journalist, goes on the undercover assignment of her life, and finally finds true love, with another woman.
Pharmacological Research Gone Berserk (82,500 words) (Needed: volunteers) (medical mystery drama) Shea McTory, 31, homeless, volunteers to be locked up six months for a human nutrition research study, learns to deal with nine other volunteers—one a psychopath—and—the good part—meets the love of his life.
Daughters Book 1 (40,200 words) (The heartbreak of human trafficking) (abduction, crime, prostitution, love of a father) Emotion and love in the house where Emma, 18, grew up was rare. When she was abducted into prostitution she was hardly missed, until the one person who truly cared about her finds out.
Daughters Book 2 (45,000 words) (Emma gets payback) After six months of living with her foster father, Bailey Forbes, Emma and new best friend, Alexis, leave the safety of Abundance, Montana, and venture 200 miles farther west to the campus of University of Montana, Wyman, where her past will come back to haunt her.
Daughters Book 3 (59,200 words) (The Lure of Pornography)
Emma, in her second year of college (studying psychology & criminal justice) goes undercover into the dark world of pornography.
Daughters Book 4 (49,000 words (The Little Girl From Down the Street)
Emma is home for a visit and a little rest, but a local nine-year-old girl in trouble. Her mother is suffering from the early effects of Alzheimer’s. Her boyfriend and his son have turned to the healthy daughter.
Daughters Book 5 (42,000 words) Sorority animal House
Emma is graduated with degrees in social work and criminal justice, working toward a black belt in Taekwondo, and has partnered with a young lady attorney. They will specialize in helping victims of human trafficking.
(A young woman “Little” says “No!” to the sorority’s brutal initiation rites, starts to leave, would have been stopped and forced, but her big sister “Big” has a change of heart and comes to her rescue.)
Boat Sailors (65,000 words) (Vietnam War action by fleet submarines) Fresh from the farm, Brice Moser, 17, will leave his loved ones behind, pay his dues in bootcamp, then Class A Weapons School where he’ll experience more life in 9 weeks then the whole 17 years before, become a Torpedoman’s Mate, Seaman Apprentice, and soon will discover his rating covers much more than torpedoes.
The Bellwether (229,000 words) (The mother of all disasters) (economic & environmental meltdown) (love, sex, violence, drama, adventure) Aaron Hodges, 32, has one month to take his future colonists 300 miles to northern Minnesota wilderness…not by truck but overland across farmland and forest by horse and wagon, but first he has to convince them to want to go.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel (68,600 words) (A supernatural thriller) (one theory of reincarnation) (capital punishment, horror, crime, drama, foster care) (if the state kills a worst-of-the-worst criminal, does he really die?)The prison chaplain, 35, recruits nurse Nicole Waters, 30, to help him find and stop the reborn worst-of-the-worst criminal, Les Paul, now rampaging through foster home after foster home.
New World Order Rising Book 1 (52,200 words) (The Abduction) Carter Banks, 47, recruits his childhood friend (ex-army special ops) to help track the abductors of his daughter, Chantal, 24, and granddaughter, Dodie, 6, and gets a hair-raising short course on the true goals of the Illuminati, composed of elite politicians, CEOs, and generals, in their quest to eliminate 85% of the world’s population and create a one-world government: The New World Order.
New World Order Rising Book 2 (56,000 words) (The New Civil War) Carter and his load of young girls rescued from the Satanist Illuminati (while avoiding the black-uniformed police) takes two weeks getting home from Kansas, to his sister’s farm, discovers she is militia leader of southeastern North Dakota, and learns North Dakota is the front line of resistance, among a group of states west of Interstate 29. Seven-year-old Jocelyn by proxy takes the place of the missing six-year-old Dodie, and brings new life to the heartbroken Carter and Chantal.
New World Order Rising Book 3 (66, 500 words) (The Next Generation Fights on)
Ten years pass. Seventeen-year-old Jocelyn is now staunch at Carter’s side as his aid and lieutenant. Sixteen-year-old Dodie escapes her abductors, returns to ND to reclaim her birthright, joins in the fight, and is not too pleased about Jocelyn’s position with her mom and grandpa.
James W. Nelson was born in a little farmhouse on the prairie in eastern North Dakota in 1944. Some doctors made house calls back in those days. He remembers kerosene lamps, bathing in a large galvanized tub, and their phone number was a long ring followed by four short ones, and everybody in the neighborhood could rubberneck. (Imagine that today!)
James has been telling stories most of his life. Some of his first memories happened during recess in a one-room country schoolhouse near Walcott, ND. His little friends, eyes wide, would gather round and listen to his every hastily-imagined word. It was a beginning. Fascinated by the world beginning to open, he remembers listening to the teacher read to all twelve kids in the eight grades.
He was living in that same house on the land originally homesteaded by his great grandfather, when a savage tornado hit in 1955 and destroyed everything. They rebuilt and his family remained until the early nineteen-seventies when diversified farming began changing to industrial agribusiness (not necessarily a good thing.) He spent four years in the US Navy during the Vietnam War (USS Carbonero and USS Archerfish, both submarines.)
After the navy he worked many jobs and finally has settled on a few acres exactly two and one half miles straight west of the original farmstead, ironically likely the very spot where the 1955 tornado first struck, which sometimes gives him a spooky feeling.
A little more Biography:
He lives among goldfinches, chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, crows, cottontails, squirrels, deer, mink, badgers, coyotes, wallflowers, spiderworts, sunflowers, goldenrod, big and little bluestem, switchgrass, needle & thread grass, June berries, chokecherries, oaks, willows, boxelders and cottonwoods, in the outback of eastern North Dakota.
Thanks for reading for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, won’t you please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer?
James W. Nelson
In my fiction I do not try to create super-heroes, but rather bring alive common and regular people who try to find love, survive, and react to circumstances as best they can, and, usually, try to do the right thing. The books are more than one genre, from war to sex and violence to romance to humor to horror to fantasy to science fiction to adventure, [_I write in third-person with viewpoints by men, women, and children. _]
Author page at Smashwords
Feel free to contact me.
Occasionally I list a book as free for a day, sometimes more . Look for those announcements on my blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.”
by Erica Jong
Author of the 1973 novel “Fear of Flying,” Erica Jong turned 72, March 26, 2014.
“The longer I write, the more often I find myself going deeper into dark places, but I question whether that is truly courage.”
My one and only skydive was/is called a four-second-delay parachute jump. Not quite as dramatic-sounding as a skydive, but plenty dramatic when one is crawling out under that wing in ninety-knot wind, hanging on for a second or two, and then--yes, right--letting go. There's no choice. You "have" to let go because--once you're out there--I'm pretty sure there's no getting back into that plane, no matter how much you would want to. Anyway, your parachute ripcord is attached to the plane itself on about a twenty-foot lanyard. If everything is right your ripcord will be pulled automatically in about four seconds. In the meantime--after "letting go"--most first-timers black out until the shock of the chute opening wakes them up. (That's what happened to me. I remember waking up and seeing that chute OPEN!) In this short fictional story everything is "not" right. The twenty-foot lanyard trails out but does not pull the ripcord. The fictional character, Rod Skokum, from 3000 feet--where all first-timers begin--will reach the ground in about 30 seconds.