Bungy Jumping Or At Least Bungy Falling…

Published March 12, 2016 by julietstubborn

When I was ten or eleven years old, I saw a film where the two main characters bungy jumped off a bridge into a river. While the film’s name, the characters’ names or even the resolution of the plot  have entirely escaped my memory, the idea of bungy jumping off a bridge into a river has remained in my mind.

Aged ten this seemed like the most amazing concept. It involved two of my greatest passions at the time: Climbing up things to jump off them and trampolining. Surely if there was any adrenaline junkie activity designed especially for me, bungy jumping was it.

Only bungy jumping isn’t something you can do over any old river, or at least not in the UK, so it wasn’t until I was 24 and found my self in New Zealand where most small towns seem to offer not only bungy jumping but also skydiving over spectacular scenery that I thought about my adrenaline fuelled dream again.

The AJ Hackett bungy jumping company in Queenstown started the first commercial bungy in the world: The Kawarau bridge bungy, so finding myself in Queenstown surely this was the place to do it.

The jump itself is 43m which, while not being the tallest in the world did fulfil my ten year old ruling that the bungy jump I took would have to be over a river.

I didn’t think I was nervous, in fact as the instructors tied my feet together and asked me whether I wanted to hit the water or not – I opted for not as I was wearing contact lenses and didn’t think river water would be good for them (ten year old me would be so disappointed) – I felt quite cheerful. Until I had to stand at the edge of the bridge that is…

It was at the point that the instructor said “Go on then, jump” that the instinct part of my brain decided to take over. A survival mechanism in my mind delivered the very clear message “Don’t jump off a bridge!” and automatically I stepped away from the edge.

But the instructor was still behind me and told me “Don’t look down, look up”.

I had been staring straight down towards what my instincts told me was certain doom and instead I moved my gaze to straight ahead down the river.

In doing so the instinct part of my brain settled down again and I was able to think rationally about what I was doing, the thought process that went through my head was “I am tied to a bungy cord, I have paid to do this…”

However, my instincts were not letting go that easy, they had delivered the message “Don’t jump off a bridge” and while my conscious mind could rationalise my decision, my instincts could not, so my conscious mind came up with a compromise: Get as close to the floor as you can before you jump.

I crouched down so my knees were almost resting on the floor of the platform as my body moved forward and then I was bungy jumping – or at least bungy falling as I had sort of just tipped myself off the platform.

Now I was in free fall my instincts kicked in once more, but by now there was nothing they could do so I let out a huge scream which echoed round the cliffs surrounding the river and in that scream was another simple message from my instincts: “I told you not to jump off bridges!”

And then before I hit the water and my inevitable doom was carried out, I bounced back up and my instincts calmed down “Oh this actually is alright and quite like trampolining…this is fun after all” and then it was all over.

An instructor pulled me down onto a boat where they untied my legs and complimented me on my shoes (They have flowers on), they took me ashore and then there was nothing but a long walk back up the viewing platform.

The person who went after me did not scream, clearly their instincts don’t get as angry at not being listened to as mine.

And so the adrenaline junkie dream of a ten year old was fulfilled, even if I didn’t get my head in the water as ten year old me wished – but then I didn’t wear contact lenses back then so I think this slight change of plan should be forgiven – as for the screaming, well I think she would have approved of that, if you don’t scream, how does anyone know what you’re doing is fun (or at least terrifying)?AJH-KB-20160109-180-001-0006-Roving

12 Short Stories of Christmas: 12 Drummers Drumming

Published December 23, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day eleven click here.

The sound echoed off the walls of the caves, bouncing back to where Janet stood. It was the noise of her classmates running around through the smugglers’ caves.

There were ghosts in these caves, so the story went, but it was just a story, just something to keep people out of the caves when the smugglers used them.
Anyone who entered the cave uninvited would get caught by the drummer, went the story.

Janet, away from her classmates, pressed the button on the display to tell the story. The sound of drumming from the recording filled the cave, drowning out the sounds of her classmates.
When the drumming stopped and the display finished, the cave seemed silent and strange. Janet turned the corner to rejoin her classmates and frowned.
They weren’t there.
The tapping of drums started again; grew closer and closer and louder and louder. Janet screamed.

12 Short Stories of Christmas: Eleven Pipers Piping

Published December 22, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day ten click here.

The music drifted down the hallway and into Laura’s room. Slow and sad, it ended one note too early, Laura thought.  The absence of the final chord left the whole song feeling incomplete and creepy. Laura waited for the final note, but she fell asleep before it was played, if it ever was.

Laura asked her father about the music over breakfast the next morning.
Asked whether one of the servants was practicing and whether they knew they had missed the final note  which had made the music seem so full of longing to Laura’s ears.
Her father didn’t reply. He stopped eating, porridge halfway to his mouth, dripped off the spoon and back into the bowl drop by drop.
Her father told her never to mention the music again and to pay it no heed if she heard it that night.

As Laura lay in bed, the same music came floating into her room.
Laura got out of bed and followed the sound, unable to resist.

12 Short Stories of Christmas: Ten Lords a Leaping

Published December 21, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day nine click here.

The house lays empty now. High up on the hill you’d think someone would have noticed the flames. He revved the engine of his car and drove away from the shell of the house. There was nothing left in it for him now, nor for anyone.
But he had jumped and he had lived, even if the house had not.

12 Short Stories of Christmas 9: Nine Ladies Dancing

Published December 20, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day eight click here.

Back and forth. Left to right. They rehearsed the dance moves for the hundredth time.

The show was opening tonight and a talent spotter was going to be there, but there was only one part and thirty people performing. As they rehearsed the moves for the last time Jane and Sarah were trying to see how they could make sure the talent spotter would notice them before the other.

Jane was in the front row and Sarah was behind in the second row, but Sarah was slightly shorter than Jane and thought it only fair she go in front so she would be visible to the audience. They had practiced the dance moves so much that they had managed to come up with a way that they could both be in the front row for half of the song each and could dance round each other without messing up the dance.

Once the performance had started, Jane and Sarah began in the positions they were supposed to be in and as the song progressed tap danced round each other, but Millie a dancer to their left in the front row mis-stepped as Sarah was moving round Jane back to the second row of dancers. Millie tripped over and Sarah and Millie fell off the stage.

The other dancers tried to keep going, but with two of the dancers not in place and instead entangled together in the orchestra pit arguing quite loudly about whose fault the fall had been, no-one was that successful at making sure the show went on.

At the end of the performance it was deemed a failure, despite all the hours of rehearsal they had put in, though the talent spotter had not been able to make the show after all, so there was a chance to do it all again tomorrow.

12 Short Stories of Christmas 8: Eight Maids a Milking

Published December 19, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day seven click here.

James could hear the milkmaid singing as she worked. The song drifted up to his open window and into his study. Though he could not hear the words being sung, the tune settled itself in his head and he found himself humming as he worked.

The day was hot and there wasn’t even a strong enough breeze from the open window to rustle the papers on his desk.

The next day it rained and the milkmaid was gone. There had been an outbreak of smallpox in the town and her mother had contracted it. The milkmaid was in quarantine to see if she also had the disease. James hummed the song to himself that the milkmaid had been singing just the day before.

Within two weeks the milkmaid was back. It was a miracle, or so everyone said.

The weather was warm again and James had his window open. He hummed the tune which drifted through the open window down to where the milkmaid worked.

The tune reached her, settling itself in her head. “That sounds just like the song I used to sing,” she thought.

12 Short Stories of Christmas: Seven Swans a Swimming

Published December 19, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day six click here.

One of the carriages on the ride was broken again. A wheel had fallen off leaving the painted swan lopsided and unable to stay on the track around the ride. It wasn’t dangerous exactly, the swan would still go round and round, just slightly wonkily, but according to the manager of the theme park, no-one was to be allowed on the ride except Evan until he had fixed it. As Evan screwed the wheel back on to the side, he tried not to listen to the sounds of carnival music from outside, the songs were so repetitive that it had started annoying Evan ten minutes after he had started working at the theme park, now after ten years he was resigned to the songs and tried his best to block them out.

From inside the ride, there was a creaking noise, as if someone had taken just one step towards Evan.

Evan turned round but there was no-one there, so he went back to screwing the wheel onto the swan carriage.

No-one else at the theme park had worked there as long as Evan. There had been people over the years that like Evan had got to ten years, but no-one ever stayed here any longer than ten years except the manager.

He wanted to leave, ten years was way too long to stay in a job like this, he had started applying to other jobs, asked his manager for a reference, who hadn’t been best pleased that the park’s mechanic wanted to leave him, but as of yet no luck.

There was another creaking sound behind him, closer this time.

The wheel wasn’t going back on. He looked more closely at the axel of the carriage. It hadn’t fallen off, it had been sawed off, the broken metal had jagged edges from where it had been vandalised. Evan put his thumb on one of the sharp edges, and immediately took it away again, as the jagged edge cut his skin. He put his thumb  in his mouth to stop the bleeding, one drop of blood fell from his thumb onto the floor of the ride and he heard one last creak behind him.