Contributor: Anneka Winder

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Two men sat at the edge of a particularly large and craggy cliff in the middle of a place where civilization had not yet encroached upon. It mattered not who they were in human society-- that their khakis dangling over the edge had been featured on a vast number of travel magazines and their rugged looks exploited in the feminine side of society. Here they were but a human intermingled with the wild.

The first man curled himself into a ball, pinning his legs above the sharp rocks; he did not appear distinctly different from the other (despite what news rags claimed), but for all storytelling purposes, he is separate in his name: Ricky. Said Ricky to the other with a shudder, "Can we go now? I don't like putting ourselves in harm's way like this-- without a harness or anything. I feel vulnerable... do you, Mattias?"

Mattias kept his legs draped over the incline without much thought. His face was grim as he stared ahead. After some time, he said, "No, Ricky... I'm afraid I haven't felt that in a long time. I thought that if I wrung my legs over the edge, maybe I'd indulge in a little fear for once, but I..." He inhaled sharply. "I don't."

The wind whipped-- not cold, but pressing. Ricky yelped, as when he wriggled against it, he felt unsteady. Unwieldy. Even as an explorer, he tended to stay away from breakneck situations like this... where the cameramen refused to follow... where Mattias fell into his daredevil moves as if he wished to die-- somehow, they'd been so lucky as to live and see this red rock cliff where again... they risked their life.

"Perhaps," said Ricky in a strained voice, "it is not our time."

A rock shifted below and kicked its way to the inevitable ground. Twenty seconds passed before it gave its last shout (with silence following). Twenty seconds the pressure built in Mattias's head.
Ricky pretended not to notice.

"Ricky, do you..." Mattias's eyes flashed as he peered over the edge. "Do you ever feel that we're immortal?"

"No, not in this occupation," said Ricky immediately-- but then he backtracked with a quick, "You?"

"We've... we've never died on any of our ordeals when another man very well should have. I find that strange, Ricky, and... maybe rightfully so. Here. Let me explain." Mattias stood up as straight as he could without Ricky chiding his imbalance. "We've been in dangerous spots across the world-- do you agree?"

Ricky nodded, for it was so.

"Cannibal's island, leper's quarantine, the Mariana Trench... everywhere our watchers wouldn't dare go, and for good reason. They're instant killers-- for heaven's sake, the title of our show is called 'Death Trap!' " His breathing quickened, but at Ricky's inquiry, he held up his hand. "We should have died long ago-- from the first episode. From the pilot." His eyes flickered. "It makes a man wonder if he's not able to-- to--" He grabbed his hands. "To hurt."

"You've been in the hospital," said Ricky, but even as he spoke it, he knew it a lie. He shuddered as Mattias studied him to the point that he he nearly jumped over the cliff himself. He said, "What do you suggest to test your theory?"

"That's simple." Ignoring Ricky's cries in protest, Mattias stood androcked back and forwards, unable to decide which way to fall. Gravel stunted his control and sprayed in Ricky's face. Mattias grinned. "We jump."

Ricky squealed and tried to pull Mattias down, but he could not without flinging both of them off the cliff. "Mattias!" he bellowed, voice hoarse against the wind-- which whispered about the same things, but much quieter. He tugged again, and stopped to support himself. "You're going to kill yourself!"

"But I won't. I'm much more important than that." Mattias bent his knees, preparing for a dive. "If fate wanted to have killed me, she'd done it on live television. I never..." He bit his lip. "I mean I can't..." He stopped, and smiled at the expanse of space below him. He spread out his hands. "If I jump right now, I won't even fall. I'll... I'll float."


"We won't have to tell-- anyone," he continued as if babbling would stay Ricky's cries. The wind wavered and had its way with his body. "We can walk away after and continue with the show. The cameramen won't capture it for the screen. It will be our secret."

"There is no secret, Mattias." Ricky's voice broke. "Come down, come down-- oh!"

Mattias flung himself off the cliff to tempt the wind itself (the very wind that had warned him, though he had not heard it). For a moment, he froze, aloft in the invisible waves. He grinned at Ricky, who shook his head in astonishment for it did look as if his companion had mastered the air, as if he were floating-- but then, suddenly, the man's grin disappeared into the dead man's gape.

He dropped. Like a rock. And without so much as a whisper of the wind, he departed from Ricky's view.

Twenty seconds later, there was a crash-- silence following.

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Anneka Winder's greatest assets are her inconsistencies. Especially when making biographies. Don't listen to what you heard in her other ones--they're liars.
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