Continuation of The end of global warming:
Georgiana Kable made some last-minute adjustments and jumped. The wind tore at her as she fell. She waited, glancing up. Just a bit further, bit further, NOW! She pulled the chute, and as it flared into the air she felt an upward jerking motion. Then the descent restarted at a slower pace, and she drifted towards the safety net below.
She and Fredrick had spent the last week in intense survival training. Telling safe foods from poisonous ones, hunting, camping, first aid, parachuting and more. Now they were going to spend the weekend surviving on their own in the make-believe wilderness center.
For a start, they were going to do real solo parachuting practice. As Georgiana touched down, she dropped the backpack that had been clutched in her arms and stripped off the parachute pack. Soon Fredrick would be landing, and she planned to have all of her stuff set before then.
She was just swinging her parachute bag over her shoulder as he landed. She glanced at him as he hurriedly took care of his own parachute then stood up straight. “Come on,” he said before starting off into the trees.
Georgiana followed him as he trudged through the forest. They kept walking, looking for a place to set up camp, until finally, he gave up and turned to her. “Head that way and make a circle. I’ll go the other way. Use the whistle if you find a good place or get lost, I’ll use mine in response and the same way. Remember to respond if I signal you.”
Georgiana nodded and set off in her direction, not waiting to watch him go in his. She very carefully slipped her whistle at the tip of her lip and started breathing through her nose.
She wandered for a long time, turning carefully, always watching the sort of line of trees she was using to stay going in a circle, listening with her ears for warning sounds.
The silence pounded in her ears. She twisted her bracelet on her wrist. Then she tripped. She’d spent hours working on not tripping while looking at signs, yet now she’d tripped.
Georgiana looked up. She was in a sunny clearing. The perimeter had several large roots and bushes. She glanced behind her and decided she’d probably tripped over one of the roots.
She grabbed her whistle, which had fallen out of her mouth, and gave a signal whistle — long note, short note, long again — and soon the replying long note sounded very close. She looked around again and saw Fredrick leaning against a tree, his stomach quivering as if he was laughing silently.
Georgiana couldn’t stand it. She stood up and shook herself, then glowered at him. “Why didn’t you signal when you got here?!” she said angrily, straightening her shirt.
Fredrick opened his mouth to reply, but instead he burst out laughing, doubling over. Georgiana did the last thing available to her, she tossed her head, marched over to him, and slapped him across the cheek, hard. A bewildered look crossed his face and he fell silent. Now if anyone had a reason to laugh, it was her, not him.
“I asked you a question,” she said, her foot tapping on the ground, though the effect wasn’t quite the one she wanted since the ground was too soft to emit a good tapping sound.
“Fine, I’ll tell you. I arrived here half a second before you. I didn’t have time to signal before you — you know what.”
Georgiana scowled, then turned away and started to set up her tent. Fredric went to the other side of the clearing and set up his own tent before turning the her. “Oh, great miss clumsy cheater. I shall go get firewood while you stand guard. Don’t trip while I’m away.”
Georgiana spun to slap him again, and he fled, hearing her call out after him, “Be careful coming back or I might think you’re a deer and shoot you for food!”
Fredrick returned soon after, carrying some firewood. He carefully entered the clearing and dropped it. He almost wouldn’t put it past her to “accidentally” shoot and wound him. Georgiana glowered at him.
She knew she should make her peace with him. They were partners now, and he’d been selected to be leader. What she didn’t understand was why she wasn’t paired with someone else with leadership skills, and him sent back home. It was obvious that he didn’t want to do this.
She shook her head. This was no time to be thinking those things, and there was no way she would be the first one to make the peace! Instead she’d just say something to show that this single argument was over.
“Fredrick, I’m going hunting. We’re supposed to save the dry food as long as possible, anyway. And don’t you dare tell me no, because you’re only partial leader. Neither of us is completely in charge.” The last part was probably a bit overdone, but she didn’t care.
Fredrick flinched. He didn’t want to start another argument, so he nodded, saying, “Yeah, go ahead. Be back before sunset, or else I’ll cook a one man meal, eat it, and forget all about you.”
Georgiana rolled her eyes and then ducked into her tent to jerk on some camouflage and grab her gun. Then she set off to hunt — and to get away from Fredrick.