[Picture] The world tipped and swayed like a catcher’s mitt trying to palm me, the ball. White faces were turned up at me and I could look right down their throats. But I wouldn’t hit them. No, I told myself, that was swell. I would hit the only spot below which wasn’t moving—the center of two car tracks, nice and hard.

About this time I couldn’t 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 up—or rather horizontal, seeing that I faced straight down—I 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 wasn’t 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 yell—it was all so silent I could hear the gasps—these 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. That’s all I had to say about dying.

L. Ron Hubbard 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 couldn’t move. My arms—ye gods, they must be gone or smashed. I couldn’t move them either. I couldn’t 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 couldn’t 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.”

It’s 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 couldn’t have been so serious.

But the riddle of why I wasn’t 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 couldn’t 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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