The world tipped and swayed like a catchers mitt trying to palm me, the ball. White faces were turned up at me and I could look right down their throats. But I wouldnt hit them. No, I told myself, that was swell. I would hit the only spot below which wasnt movingthe center of two car tracks, nice and hard.
About this time I couldnt do much breathing I was going so fast. That worried me quite a bit, as if it really mattered. What a long ways down it was!
I cautiously felt those useless controls. The elevators were still working and I amused myself by wiggling them. If I went fast enough maybe I could pull the old baby out of it a split instant before I hit. Maybe I could save me a broken neck after all.
Sitting upor rather horizontal, seeing that I faced straight downI tried this again. I could actually level her out if I wanted, at the last instant. Fine! And the ground was still coming up, up, up and I could have classified every wild flower under me I could see them so sharply. Wild flowers when I was about to hit about three times the speed of an express train, streamlined.
Suddenly I knew it wasnt any use. Too many people were looking straight up. Two kids, about ten, wanted to get a better idea of this from below. Before I could yellit was all so silent I could hear the gaspsthese two youngsters were right where I would hit if I pulled her level the last instant. A lot of plane poundage would smash them flat.
Oh, dear no. I had to let her hit and hit damned hard and that would be the end of soaring pilot 385.
I heard somebody yell in surprise, Hot dawg!
It was me. Thats all I had to say about dying.
The last ten feet were there and gone and then came a sound about me like a smashed paper bag and pieces of glider went all over the terrain.
Out? No, I knew all about it in pained surprise. Both my hips were out of joint and I couldnt move. My armsye gods, they must be gone or smashed. I couldnt move them either. I couldnt even raise my head and everything was going blacker and blacker.
Bleeding to death, I told myself bleakly. Hell of a way to die, bleeding to death.
People rallied at last and I heard them yelling foolish things all around the splinters, but I couldnt yell back.
Then I heard something going snip, snip, snip. Hands grabbed me and somebody laid me out and I felt my hip joints pop back into place. And then somebody else shoved something between my teeth and strangled me with fire.
I sat up and they say I said, Well, I got down.
Its a matter of luck I guess, that I did all in one piece that way. Couple ribs broken, a kneecap split, but otherwise so fine and hearty that I went barnstorming the next day and flew constantly for the next six weeks, so it couldnt have been so serious.
But the riddle of why I wasnt killed will never be solved. Unless it was the piano wire. You see, there were yards of the stuff stretching out from me in every direction, and when I hit, the stuff snapped at the other end and, recoiling, wound me up around and around and around like notes through the horn until I couldnt move or breathe or see. I felt the effects of that whipping and I never want to be flogged. Never again, that is.
Maybe I got out because I said, Hot dawg. I dunno.
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