I run through the checklist one last time. Everything is clamped down and fastened tight, all systems pass self-check, no error messages, no data leaks. Slowly, ponderously, I climb down the ladder of the chute. At the bottom I step into the indentations in the center of the small circular platform. A percussive release of air, loud even through the helmet, punctuates the rude jolt of metal jaws snapping shut around the thick, wide soles of the boots, locking me into place. I raise my arms straight out to either side of me and feel the familiar click as armpits, elbows and wrists lock into the cruciform position.

Before I hear them I feel the turbines rumbling up through the soles of my boots. Slowly the walls of the chute begin to turn and the ladder starts to corkscrew up as the chute grows longer. The whine of the turbines grows from a rumble to a screech. Each time I dervish out I truly believe that the noise will keep growing until it bursts my skull.

And just as my skull begins to come apart and my field of vision irises in to a pinpoint and my eyeballs start to snake their way out of their sockets and I am praying for the blessed relief of the blackout that's overtaking me, like a rifle bullet, I am launched into the HyperSphere.

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Flightless Hummingbird:  A Pseudo-Periodical