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The idea came to me during a course I had to attend about safety measures and risk assessment for working at height.

The spokesman was so boring, he managed to make the word ‘boring’ itself exciting by comparison. So, after being hit for an hour or so of droning nonsense, my mind began to wander.

Then when the idea came to me, I jotted down just a few words on the pad I should have used to take much more serious notes.

The course ended at long last. When it did, the winter sun had already gone behind the mountains. But I was too excited to notice. And while driving back home I began to think more and more about the idea for my story.

Things like the setting, the characters, the relationships between them. But as it is so usual for me, I needed to write it down to discover what I wanted to discover. That’s why my first drafts are incredibly messy and sketchy at times.

So, when I got back home, I fired up my PC and wrote the first draft of the story. It was half the length of the final version, and lacked some passages and pieces of information, all right. But it was there. And that was what really mattered.

The Wind Tower

It seemed they had been clambering up that service ladder for hours. Pietro wiped the sweat from his brow and stared up at Christian. His workmate was a dozen rungs above him, and still climbing.

“Son of a bitch… you’ll see,” he muttered. A gust of wind snatched his words and dispersed them in the sky among the seagulls.

Pietro had been panting for most of the ascent, but he didn’t want to slow down. He was fit and in shape. He would show his colleague what kind of man he was, he kept telling himself in a sort of mantra.

The wind rolling in from the sea was scorching even up here. At this rate their supply of water would most likely be gone long before they could finish their job.

Pietro groaned at the thought.

“Sicilian summer.” He spat out the words with a grimace, then paused to observe the seagulls. There were too many of them, and way too inland. The storm cooking over the sea had to be a bitch, he concluded. And indeed, at some point during the ascent the wind had ceased to be just a breeze. Now that damn sirocco was like a dog jerking at a leash. A big and mean dog. If it kept on gusting like that, they would have to abort their job for the day.

At that thought, Pietro huffed. There was only one thing he hated more than running out of water, and that was leaving a job unfinished.

But the top of a wind turbine was not the safest place in the world even on a perfect day—certainly not with those damn blades turning over and over and producing that gut-churning low-frequency hum which so often made him sick. So he wasn’t at all eager to discover what it looked like in the middle of a storm.

***

Despite his best intentions, five minutes later Pietro was sitting on a small landing not far from the top. Panting and gasping, he sucked in generous mouthfuls of air. But these rasped painfully against his windpipe and did little to appease his lungs.

I’m going to quit smoking, he decided for what had to be the tenth time that month alone. Actually, he had quit for real some years before. But over the last year his marriage had been a bit bumpy—a bit too bumpy. And before he realized what was happening he had found himself already tearing through a pack a day.

That damn habit.

Again.

Pietro took a bottle out of his backpack and drank. Glaring, he looked at Christian. His colleague had already reached the top of the tower.

Dark Thoughts

A few minutes later, restored and already forgetful of his thoughts of quitting, Pietro turned and looked down the way he had come.

The service ladder with its protective cage plunged down to the ground. It was like the gullet of a gigantic worm. The only difference being that at the end of this gullet there wasn’t a stomach or anything like that, soft enough to cushion the impact of a fall. No, down there, scattered all over the red and arid ground, there were only rocks. Large and jagged.

That gullet gave Pietro the willies. If it hadn’t been for the fat paycheck he received each month on the twenty-seventh, he would have looked for a less dangerous job.

With eager gulps he emptied the bottle of water and put it back in his rucksack pocket, already thinking of the two others he had stored in there. Then he shook his head, and with a sigh he finally forced himself to move. He monkeyed up the last two sections of the service ladder. Baleful determination burned in his eyes.

Once at the top, Pietro snapped open one of the carabiners which secured his harness to the service ladder. Then he turned and closed it back around the safety cable encompassing the girth of the nacelle. He repeated the process with the second carabiner, then put on a pair of sunglasses and moved on to reach Christian.

His colleague was shielding his eyes with his hand and looking out toward the sea. He too must have noticed the storm building up just off the coast.

The smooth surface of the nacelle glared painfully under the pounding sun. Without sunglasses, it was almost impossible for him to keep his eyes open. The hull was a red-hot nightmare, and Pietro could feel the heat propagate through the soles of his shoes. In a way, he thought, it was like the rage imbuing his whole body.

Seeping.

Moving awkwardly into his safety harness, his feet almost sliding on the dazzling surface, he followed Christian.

Just a loose knot on the cable end… Just that and with the first gust he’ll jump off… A slanted smirk illuminated Pietro’s face.

“…you OK?” Christian’s words snapped him back to reality.

“You bet,” he said, fighting to keep the panting out of his voice.

Christian stared back at him.

“And…?”

“And what?” The glare was fierce up here, but Pietro pushed his dark glasses up his nose mostly to better cover his enraged stare.

“I asked you. Do you really want me to do the job?”

“Of course. It’s time you put into practice what you’ve learned. Today you’re the boss.”

It’s a hundred-meter jump. No chance to survive.

Pietro’s hands twitched while with his mind’s eye he saw the whole scene. Then he stepped closer and clenched Christian’s forearms—his fingers like talons.

“You’re the boss,” he repeated. “Let’s go.”


Download the rest of the story for free

Smashwords (multiple formats: epub, mobi, pdf…)

Kobo

iTunes

Amazon

I published this free short story also on Amazon, But over there, they seem to disregard the fact I published it for free everywhere else.

I already reported to them three times about this, but with no luck. Maybe if it’s some reader to report to them, they will do something about it. Maybe.

In any case, if you want to, you can check out my other works in my books page.

And if you enjoyed my books and feel like, leave a review. =)

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