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"Why am I talking to myself?” Toby asked.

“One could claim I am talking to you,” Toby said to the fat sky diving instructor. He was strapped facing him, the pair swinging lazily fifty feet above the foliage varied ground.

“But then we would have to neglect the fact that you are dead." He slapped the bloodless face of the skydiving instructor, the full cheeks vibrating a full second before halting.

"And if you're dead, than I am most certainly talking to myself. Wouldn’t you say?"

Toby looked around, an act that was quickly becoming quite the annoying habit. But seeing how there was really nothing else to do while swinging however many feet above the ground, he kept it up. The good thing though was that the swinging motion was accompanied by a slight turning. The benefit of the turning was the fact that he could get a view of his entire surroundings. All three hundred and sixty degrees of vibrant green canopy, something he might have paid for just yesterday. After the third or fourth spin though, it became rather bland.

Looking up was much the same, but instead of a solid vibrant green he could see patches of the limitless blue sky. He cocked his head to the side, following the few strands of cord that still held the pair suspended. Toby and the instructor were currently hanging by the slightest of tattered silk strips that were tangled into the overgrown canopy of the Costa Rican rain forest.

Toby felt his face begin to burn and he smacked the instructor once more, “Didn’t even let me know what was happening did you?”

Toby didn’t know any Spanish, but he could tell something was wrong when the instructor all threw the two of them headlong from the plane. The screaming crew wasn’t far behind either. Of course, they didn’t have the benefit of parachutes. For that Toby felt fortunate. He felt unfortunate however, in the fact that he had spent more than half his day hanging in an unknown location strapped to a dead parachuting instructor that had found the time to evacuate his bowls during the short fall from the plane to tree-top. The stench was overpowering and he wasn’t sure how long he could handle it. He must have known something was wrong with the parachute before he had died. Toby slapped the instructor across the face again out of spite.

“I suppose I should really stop doing that shouldn’t I? I mean you do have a wife. And a child. A girl I think. A girl right?”

Yes, it was a girl, he was sure of it. He remembered the color washed pictures the man had shown him. Pointing out each one and describing everything they liked to do. Toby wasn’t really paying attention; he knew it was some stupid ploy to keep the clients calm before they jumped. Toby wondered if the man even had a family or if all the instructors got stock photos before hand.

Toby pitched himself forward causing the branches above to creak slightly. He gazed between a split in the canopy that he had noticed on the last revolution.

“I’m sure that plume of smoke is the plane. I’m sure of it. They probably think we’re somewhere around there.” Toby swung back suddenly, unable to remain pitched because of the man he was strapped to.

“Why were we attached again?” He waited a quarter revolution before answering himself, “Oh that’s right, because it was safer.” He slapped the instructor hard. This time he could hear the branches above as they shook the tree shook. This caused him to drop with a jolt.

The warm rush of adrenaline pumped through his system. “Son of a--, better not do that again.” Toby looked up to assess the situation. He could see that about a foot above his reach the silk had caught on a branch and was splitting ever so slightly as they turned.

“That’s not good.” Toby looked around quickly, trying to see if there was anything to grab a hold of; something that would stop him from spinning. If he wasn’t strapped to the great slob he could swing over to the nearest tree, maybe catch a branch.

“Well, why don’t I just un-strap him?” He looked around quickly, unsure where the catches that the instructor had so deftly and quickly fixed as he babbled about his daughter. If he had been paying attention to what the man had been doing it might have been easier now.

Toby stopped dead when he heard the tortured Velcro-like rip of the silk tearing above him. He looked up quickly; moments at best. If he dropped the instructor’s weight maybe a bit more than moments. “Come on, come on.”

I need to stop talking to myself.” He had all the straps off except two. The instructor was listing to the right slightly, the weight shift perpetuating the spinning motion. He had to drop him soon.

One strap was free, while the Velcro sounds from above were increasing like an avalanche down a mountain.

Toby was nearly unhooking the final strap when he felt a wiggle, a wiggle that wasn’t his own. He looked away from the strap and into the deep dark human eyes of the parachuting instructor. Fear more potent than anything Toby had ever imagined was alive in the hollow of those eyes. They were the eyes of someone with something to lose.

“You passed out?” Toby didn’t get a reply, but he didn’t expect one either.

“If I drop you, I can make it.”

The instructors hand shot over the top of Toby’s own. It was too late though, Toby had loosed it already and the instructor and his eyes were falling quickly away, while Toby and his own were springing upwards in response to sudden loss of weight.

Toby managed to grab at a branch near the apex of the motion. He wrapped his legs around the top and shimmied his way towards the trunk. Looking around he knew he would be able to use the remaining material from the parachute to make his way down the tree.

His eyes shifted to where the instructor had fallen. A mess of the unidentifiable things that Toby would be guessing at for the rest of his life lay on the ground where a man should be.

He wanted to apologize but couldn’t. “I guess I wasn’t talking to myself after all.” Was all he could manage.

"It is considered rude to silence a fool, but cruel to let him go on."


The following comments are for "Canopy"
by SoulShade

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