Day 10 – Best scene ever.
Oh, heavens, this is another difficult one…
Life, the Universe, and Everything (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #3); Douglas Adams
Arthur is running from a landslide…
“And suddenly he tripped again and was hurled forward by his considerable momentum. But just at the moment he was about to hit the ground astoundingly hard he saw lying directly in front of him a small navy blue tote bag that he knew for a fact he had lost at the Athens airport some ten years previously in his personal time scale, and in his astonishment he missed the ground completely and bobbed off into the air with his brain singing.
What he was doing was this: he was flying. He glanced around him in surprise, but there could be no doubt that that was what he was doing. No part of him was touching the ground, and no part of him was even approaching it.
He was flying. What was he going to do about it? He looked back down at the ground. He didn’t look at it hard, but did his best to give it an idle glance, as it were, in passing. There were a couple of things he couldn’t help noticing. One was that the eruption of the mountain seemed now to have spent itself. […] The other was his tote bag, the one he had lost at the Athens airport. It was sitting pertly on a piece of clear ground, surrounded by exhausted boulders but apparently hit by none of them.
He was faced with the fact that he was going to have to pick the thing up. Here he was, flying along six hundred feet above the surface of an alien planet, the name of which he couldn’t even remember. He could not ignore the plaintive posture of this tiny piece of what used to be his life[…]
Slowly, carefully, inch by inch, he began to bob downward, swinging gently from side to side like a nervous sheet of paper feeling its way toward the ground. […] He bobbed, he floated. He tried a little swoop.
The swoop was terrific. With his arms spread out in front of him, his hair and dressing gown streaming out behind him, he dived down out of the sky, bellied along a body of air about two feet from the ground and swung back up again, catching himself at the top of the swing and holding. Just holding. He stayed there.
It was wonderful.
And that, he realized, was the way to pick up the bag.
[He] slipped an arm smoothly through the handles of the bag, and began to climb back up, couldn’t make it and all of a sudden collapsed, bruised, scratched and shaking on the stony ground.
He staggered instantly to his feet and swayed hopelessly around, swinging the bag around him in an agony of grief and disappointment. […] He tried hopelessly to run, but his legs were suddenly too weak. He tripped and flopped forward. At that moment he remembered that in the bag he was now carrying was not only a can of Greek olive oil but a duty-free allowance of retsina, and in the pleasurable shock of that realization he failed to notice for at least ten seconds that he was now flying again.”
* * * *
I’m not sure this is the best scene ever, because there are so many good ones in so many excellent books, but I love Douglas Adams, and The Guide. And this scene, which I trimmed some so you could get the idea without reading several pages of text is pretty representative of the books. A dry sense of humor, and a protagonist who is terribly unlucky and very lucky at the same time–terrible things keep happening to him, but he also keeps surviving them.
And flying, the art of falling and missing the ground, sounds like a fun if dangerous sport.