Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride.
We'd been living with Jeb two weeks when he suggested what I had been thinking- that the flock should try to fly.
Considering we'd never tried it before, our wings were very weak, mine especially, because I was oldest. We'd also been in dog crates our whole lives, so we didn't even really know how to extend our wings properly.
Honestly, I'd been meaning to give it a try since we got free in the first place. I had no idea how to fly, but it had to be easy, right? Especially since it was written into our own DNA.
I had spent most of my free time just folding and unfolding my wings. It felt kinda sore, like the way legs do when they fall asleep for a long time.
But Jeb's idea was different than mine- he wanted to take us all one-on-one and see who did best. He said it had to be like learning to walk- we'd pick up on it eventually.
I was so excited. Just the prospect of being able to glide through the sky was exhilarating. It was kind of like a statement to our newfound freedom. Goodbye dog crates, hello blue sky.
Because I was oldest, Jeb decided to try and teach me first. With the rest of my flock behind me, Jeb and I strode out into the clearing.
"Okay, Max. Just try what feels natural," he told me, smiling.
"I thought you were going to teach us."
"How can I teach you? I don't have wings myself. You should watch the birds around us first, and see what they do." He gestured to a blue jay sitting on a branch. Its talons gripped the limb of the tree. As his hand grew close, the bird flinched but didn't fly away. It spread its wings and beat them, jumping off the branch and continuing to swat the air. After a few strokes, it relaxed and stopped moving, and as I waited for it to fall out of the air, it glided gracefully, curving its body slightly.
"I never thought of that," I breathed. I unfolded my winds, savoring the feel as wind caught the feathers. I flexed them a couple of times, trying to get used to the feel. I prepared to just jump and beat my wings, but before I could move, I heard Jeb's voice.
"Why don't you try running and jumping first, Max?"
A bit frustrated, I pulled my wings in again. There was plenty of room in the clearing. I put one foot behind me, taking in a deep breath.
I ran out, trying to gather as much speed as I could. Then I worried that I would run out of clearing, and jumped high in the air, at least three feet. I snapped out my wings- ouch, I'd never done it quite that fast- and started to beat them.
The motion was tiring me very quickly, but I didn't care. Every time I flexed one of the beautiful wings, I was propelled a little higher.
I was doing it. I was flying. I felt a grin spread across my face. I urged myself higher, above the trees now, looking down on my shocked and sadly grounded flock. Everyone wore a look of complete shock, aside from Fang. Meh, a purple, three-headed, fire-breathing unicorn wouldn't surprise him.
Jeb waved at me wildly. "Excellent, Max, just fantastic! Why don't you try circling now?"
I nodded, but this was going to be tricky. I continued beating my wings, but just doing that was tiring me quickly. How come birds never got this tired?
Well, they hadn't been locked in cages their entire lives. I had almost no muscle on my wings. They felt fragile and weak, though it felt good to finally exercise them.
I shot up in the air higher still. I was at least a hundred feet off the ground.
Steadying myself, I tried to lay flat on the air, like Superman, though I kept my arms out near my wings for balance. As soon as I was going forward, like a real avian, I remembered what Jeb said about trying to circle.
I angled my left shoulder down slightly, and the effect was rapid. I found myself completing a pathetic, shaggy circle, but I was proud of myself nonetheless. I mean, what other kid could say they'd flown today?
Well, Iggy, Gazzy, Nudge, and Fang could. Angel was so young. Jeb decided it would be best if we waited until we could all fly to teach her.
I let out a joyous whoop, straightening out again.
"Coast!" Jeb shouted. "You can do it, Max!"
He meant to glide like the birds. For some reason, I had in mind the ridiculous notion that if I stopped moving my wings, I would plummet to the ground. It was then I realized that I didn't know how to land. Great!
I beat my wings twice as hard. They were tired, twitching slightly from all the work. They needed a break, badly.
With my heart in my throat, I stopped moving my wings all together, keeping them snapped out.
Surprisingly, I didn't fall like a stone. I was coasting, and losing speed quickly. I swatted the air another couple of times, keeping the glide going, and feeling slick, I tilted my shoulder to the right, creating a graceful circle.
Oh yeah. How cool was that?
The thing was, though, now that I knew what I was doing, I knew I had to stop. My wings were screaming in protest. That was going to be awful in the morning.
"Um, Jeb? How do I land?" I cried, but I was too high up for them to hear anything other than a yell. My flock and Jeb yelled back, not realizing the predicament I was in.
I swore under my breath, and then righted myself so I was standing in midair like I had been in the beginning. I angled my wings downward so they caught the air like a parachute, and I felt myself sinking to the ground slowly. I smiled as I discovered that this was the right thing to do, my two-percent avian DNA reacting instinctually.
However, ruining my temporary happiness, I realized something.
I'd run out of clearing. The trees here were so jam-packed that if I continued sinking like this, the trees would grab my wings- and probably arms too, and snap them like twigs.
Heheh. Tree pun.
Frantically, I beat my aching wings, forcing them to carry me towards the clearing. They were twitching more now, much too worn out. As soon as I saw the edges of the trees, I snapped them out again, relaxed, but they were still too close.
About fifteen feet from the ground, just as I was feeling confident that I'd successfully landed, it happened.
My wings, having been going through strange spasms the entire way down, snapped to my back entirely, refusing to move and aching horribly. I screamed as I began my descent.
Just because I was a bird kid didn't mean I couldn't break a bone like everyone else.
Jeb, looking just as scared as I felt, dove out to catch me. I wanted to shout at him to not even bother, that I would just end up hurting him too and would heal soon enough. But before I knew it, I was landing in his outstretched arms, kind of gracefully. Jeb was stronger than he looked.
"You did it, Max!" He exclaimed. "You really flew! That was excellent!" He set me down.
I smiled, feeling happy again. "Well, everything was fine until that wing malfunction."
He went around and touched one of my wings lightly- it hurt. "That's partially my fault. I should have had you do some cardio first, warm up the muscles. They've seized up. They'll stop doing that in a few days with more practice, but it will hurt."
Really? I hadn't noticed.
Jeb gestured to the rest of the flock and they all trampled over, gathering both of us on a massive bear hug.
"Omigosh, Max, that was so cool!" Nudge gushed. "Was it hard? Was it easy? Please tell me it was easy."
"You'll love it," I assured her.
"Awesome, Max!" Gazzy told me with wide eyes.
"I couldn't see you, but I'm guessing it was good if everyone's saying it was." Iggy smiled warmly. "But Max, how will I fly?"
"We'll help you. It's easy," I informed him, ruffling his hair.
Fang just nodded. "Got to be more careful with those landings!"
I stuck my tongue out at him, but I was just so happy. "You do better your first try."
"Max?" Angel whispered. I knelt down to meet her eyes.
"Is it scary up there?"
"No, Angel. It's not scary at all! Everything's sharp and breezy." I ruffled her curls, and she grinned a little.
"I'm so proud of you, Max," Jeb declared. He made my heart swell. "But who wants to go next?"
Immediately, four voices piped up, "me, me!"
"Okay, okay. Fang will go next because he's so quiet. All right, just copy what Max did. Take a running start…"
For my first MR fanfic, I think this wasn't too bad. I'm pretty sure someone's already done this, and the beginning kind of sucks, but I'm proud nonetheless. I think I kept everyone in character okay. Iggy was definitely OOC, in my opinion, Fang and Jeb too. Honestly, though I've read only the first book, it was hard to latch onto their characters.
Please review, everyone. If I get a good response I'll write a couple more MR stories. Honestly, I wish I had wings too. It's such a great book!