Author's Note: This is a snippet of exactly 450 words. It was written to a prompt - 'fall' - given to me by redgirl72928, and is dedicated to her, with much love and appreciation.
The canopy of leaves above him, red and gleaming in the late afternoon sunlight, took Blair’s breath away. As he watched, entranced, one more of them detached from its mooring, fluttering gently down to fill his vision; like a butterfly making a graceful descent, it’s filigreed skin delicate with veins as it swept past his face to join its fellows on the cold, hard ground.
“Sandburg!” A familiar cry rent the air, and Blair wept to hear it, alone, hurt and frightened as he’d been for so long. “Blair, hold on! I’m coming!”
Another sound intruded and, above the canopy of leaves which whipped to-and-fro in the downdraft, Blair could see the helicopter which had been flying over constantly all the time he’d lain here, unable to move or attract its attention in any way.
The sound of crunching footfalls on dried leaves heralded the arrival of Blair’s deepest desire. A moment later, gentle hands framed his face. “Easy,” Jim murmured, his eyes full of care and terror as he knelt beside Blair. “It’s gonna be all right.”
“Jim,” Blair groaned out loud, more relieved than he’d ever been in his life. “Oh, Jim. I fell, man.”
“I know.” Jim kept one hand on Blair, and with the other pulled a radio out of his pocket and spoke into it. “I’ve found him,” he said, as it crackled into life.
Blair must have drifted away for a while after that, because the next thing he was aware of he was surrounded by people. He wasn’t on the ground anymore but, instead, was strapped into a metal cradle, his neck immobilized in a stiff collar. A cable extended upwards above his head, attached to the hovering helicopter above him.
Blair must have made a sound, or perhaps it was just that the sentinel was paying close attention, because the next second Jim was at his side. “Easy,” Jim said. “It’s all right, Chief.”
“I don’t want to do this,” Blair said, panicked. “Please, Jim. I can’t!”
Jim stepped in close. He was wearing a hard hat and a harness, and as he spoke he fastened the other end of a rope extending from his waist to the chopper cable. “I’m coming up with you,” he said soothingly. “Just relax, Blair.” He smiled gently, reaching out to touch Blair’s face again. Then he looked up and raised his thumb in indication of readiness, and the cradle swayed as it rose through the red leaves and up into the sky.
Blair didn’t cry out again, even though his heart stuttered in terror as they gained height. Instead he fixed his eyes on Jim’s face, trusting his friend not to let him fall again.
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