Short Fiction

Fallen from Grace by Tom Clark

I was God. Men feared me.

Yet I was unworshipped.

No one paid homage.

No one left tributes at the altar.

I was the God who decided when and how men died.

Should they bleed out, be consumed by fire, have their innards eviscerated?

Yet no matter how they perished, they were deserving. They were born my enemy.

My domain was not of the earth, for I arose from the sun. The God birthed from the sol.

But that all changed moments ago.

Call it spiritual revenge, the inevitable, or the proof of statistical averages.

Now, somewhere above me, there was a newly minted god. He would be revered for a day, perhaps a week or a month, before he was replaced. The cycle would repeat until powerful gods decided this should end.

I earned my deification by appearing from thick gray clouds, deftly maneuvering, and precisely firing into the enemy’s underbelly. This skill earned me adulation and praise in officer’s clubs in both camps.

But that was then – the then of seconds ago.

Now, without my shell, I was falling, spinning and tumbling uncontrollably. But my training kicked in. I became pencil-shaped, arms to the side, feet pinched together, toes pointed earthbound.

It worked. While regaining control, I found myself in a new reality. I was at 20,000 feet, a mile below from separation.

Another thing I remembered: do not deploy early. A chute opened at this altitude is an easy target. It was better for them to think I was already dead.

Random thoughts came to me:

32 feet per second squared. Why squared? Why not doubled?

Other thoughts were more lucid, more practical:

Where was my last reported location? Which side of the river was I falling into?

Will the people below be sympathizers or come to my aid?

Although alert, my world quickly turned black. I was dropping through a cloud deck. The dampness clung to my jacket. I had no sense of vision. My lungs ached from the intense cold.

Yet, somehow, a calm came over me.

Inexplicable.

I was untethered. Not only from my wounded ship, but released from scoring another kill, depriving another man of his life, painting another cross on the fuselage.

And there was more. I was no longer part of a squadron, a flight, a division, or a corps. I had left the familiar noxious smell of fuel, the adrenaline rush, confusion, camaraderie, petty insults, and the quest for dominance.

Up there.

 It was up there, still being played out. A continuance I was no longer a part of.

It was up there, two miles, and 10,500 feet ago.

I broke through the clouds. Things became brighter, though my goggles still fogged. My gear flapped wildly as I sped up.

I was no longer the prey of an opportunistic Me-109 pilot. The clouds had cut off any pursuit.

I was no longer accountable to anyone. I had completed my life’s mission.

I would be given up for dead, both by friends and foes.

I just needed to pull the ring, slow my descent. Soon things would be different.

And then another more vivid realization came to me.

I was not defeated. Instead, I was the victor.

I alone determined my destiny.

I was God again.

Tom Clark

Image: T/Sgt. Douglas White / Public domain – (I just couldn’t resist this image – taken in 1944) – dd

Banner Image by Anja🤗#helpinghands #solidarity#stays healthy🙏 from Pixabay 

18 thoughts on “Fallen from Grace by Tom Clark”

  1. Hi Tom,
    In your initial submission to us you told us about coming across those ‘Encounter Reports’.
    I really do like that idea as inspiration and that adds a mind-set that I could never argue with.
    The ending is excellent (We have to accept that he chose to pull the chute!!)
    There is an old idea regarding suicide that states, ‘Only when you know that you can go through with it, is when you truly choose to live’ – So I understand the clarity that he feels and as many a Serial Killer will tell you, he also had a touch of the ‘God syndrome’
    Brilliant! I really enjoyed this and Diane’s image selections are stunning!
    All the very best my friend.
    Hugh

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    1. HI Tom: Got caught up in the air speed immediately, and felt it hard to breathe as the pilot descended through the clouds!! BRAVO!!!

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  2. Not all deaths immediately result in job openings–unless, of course, your dream is to be known as collateral damage. This is a well done allegory, I guess, more than it is a metaphor. Stodgy terms aside, it seems that the myth of Icarus is nowadays more of a training manual than it is a cautionary tale.

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  3. A harsh moment told with an artist’s eye for detail and a poet’s ear for words. I especially enjoyed the interplays: between past and present, physical and spiritual, focus and imagery. A difficult task that resulted in a cogently told, tightly woven story. Excellent work!

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  4. I loved this piece. I felt like I was in the plane with the pilot and loved the twists and turns as the pilot decided he wanted to live and his time had not ended. Good story would like to see more!

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  5. I very much like the way the narrative gets shorter and shorter towards the “end.” You can almost feel gravity doing what it does. It reminded me of the iconic “Falling Man” photo from the 9/11 terrorist attack.

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  6. Loved the imagery and the complex relationship between man and war. Powerful short story written in a way that kept a tempo with what was actually happening!

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  7. So well written! This piece really put me in his shoes and in his mind as he experiences both a physical and mental journey.

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  8. Well written. Tom, you captured the essence and inner thoughts of the human mind
    as it copes with a near death experience

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  9. This short story works as it covers down on the five important elements of a short story. The first sentence is arduous to accept but demands that you read more. Well done Tom!

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  10. Very poetic and thought provoking. I thought of my father-in-law while I was reading this beautifully written piece as he did 23 sorties over Germany during WWII but was fortunate not to have to parachute out in any of his missions.

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  11. I like this short story, when I read it sounds like I am reading a poetry. The piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both rhyme and metaphor. The author brings us into the pilot’s plane and fly to sky, later the pilot parachuted to escape. We have experienced the pilot’s both a physical and mental journey of life and death. I particularly enjoyed the construction of the piece with the ending’s echo with opening. Good story would like to see more!

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