The skin of the plane is drawn tight as a sail and he can feel it pulsing in and out even though that’s impossible. The windows are blacked out and even if they weren’t there’s no moon so it’d be black as pitch inside anyway. He wishes he could use his flashlight just for a second so he can see their faces one last time before they drop but he can’t risk it. No names, no faces; they said their stiff goodbyes before the briefing.

There’s a stirring up front and the pressure drops as the door opens. The night swallows them up. He check the luminous dial of his finder — he’s got one chance to make this landing — then opens his hands and lets gravity catch him. The drop’s a long emptiness without form and void, only the steadily dropping numbers of his finder telling him how fast he’s falling.

At 500 feet he opens the chute and aims for the bright lights of the hospital. The walls pass over him like yesterdays. He falls through the floors until one of them grabs his heel and he touches down in a halo of silk. It’s a perfect landing — just outside 212 — pinpoint accuracy. He slips into the room, gloved hand soothing the door closed. The lights in the hallway dim slightly. The soft purr of the machinery crowding Room 212 dies away. He rides the death down to the black river. Flawless. Maybe he’ll get a medal for this, he thinks. You never know.

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