11:11

Evie sat up in bed. She slid off the Coach eye compress which she wore every night,
and gently pressed under her eyelids with her fingertips. Still puffy.
Piece of crap.
This was going to add another fifteen minutes to her makeup regime. (The application
time for the the Mac Miracle Eye Wonder Gel.)
Worth every penny.
She began tallying minutes in her head, expert in the nuance of application times, even
accounting for the high altitude. Blow dry, foundation, straighten, liner...then she saw at
the clock.
7:11.
“SHIT!”
Matt was still sleeping next to her, his face soft and innocent, his lips dribbling a small
puddle of saliva on the pillow. She smacked him straight in the jaw, square, so the
crack echoed off the walls. He was shocked awake, gasping for air, his face turning red
around the white outlines of her handprint.
Matt spun his head left and right in a panic. “WHAT"S WRONG!?”
“Get up!”
Matt sat up in bed, eyes wide, looking for the fire. The only thing burning was his
cheek. “What"s going on!?”
“You were supposed to wake me up 45 minutes ago!”
“I"m sorry,” pleaded Matt. “But I was driving all night...”
Evie got out of bed in a huff and collected the various accoutrements she needed to get
ready. “Goddamnit Matt! This was the one fucking day I needed you to be responsible.”
“I"m sorry.”
Evie slammed the bathroom door behind her. Matt heard the shower turn on. Then he
switched the alarm from 7:15 to 8:15 and put his head back down on the pillow, not
caring that it was wet.
An hour later, Matt got up and shut off the alarm. He threw some clothes on and tied his
shoes. Evie was still in the bathroom, probably painting on her Fire Engine lipstick, or
Mystique eye shadow. Or Luscious rouge, or Linea lashes, or whatever the fuck. He
didn"t really care, even though his Visa had paid for most of it.
Fifteen minutes later, the bathroom door opened, and Evie presented herself.
Revealing yoga pants. Low cut, tight fitting tank top. Fashionable Adidas sneakers.
Matt thought she looked beautiful, as always, but her expression said pissed. Almost a
scowl. For all the trouble she went through with her makeup and outfits, he thought, it
never seemed to improve her mood much.
“You look beautiful,” he said.
“I look like shit. Thanks to you. I had to rush.”
Evie held out her cell phone and Matt silently accepted it. He knew the routine. She
moved around the room, looking for the best spot to have her picture taken.
“The view from the window is beautiful...” he suggested.
“Too much glare.” She finally settled on a pose in bathroom, where the mirror could
highlight her rear assets. Matt clicked off pictures until she was satisfied, then handed
the phone back, reclaiming his seat on the bed while she uploaded them to Facebook.
Matt watched her thumbs whirring, like a miniature game of smack the gopher. She
typed in: “About to claim 1000! Wish me luck!!!” Then added #1000 and smiled to
herself. Post.
Finally, a smile.
But it didn"t last long.
“THAT FUCKING BITCH!”
Before Matt could ask, Evie thrust the phone in front of him. It was Myra Millers"s
Facebook page. There was a picture of Myra, packing her parachute. The caption
read: “El Capitan - Here I come!”
“I hope she fucking dies!”
“Come on E, you don"t mean that.”
“That bitch is trying to steal my number from me.”
“The climb to the top of El Capitan takes at least three hours. You have plenty of time.
Don"t worry about it.”
“All my shit better be packed and ready.”
“It is,” said Matt. “I double checked it last night.”
“Then let"s go already!”
Matt rolled his eyes, thankful she didn"t see. But she was already out the door.
Colorado Springs was a half bowl, set into the rising steppes of the Rockies, which cut
like granite teeth into the sky beyond. The Cree people called them #As-sin-wati."
!Where the gods walk." A magical place where the division between human and nature
was at its thinnest.
But Evie had her phone up, a shield against any kind of spiritual epiphany. Her thumb
was on refresh, and she scowled at the screen, watching the pictures of the hated Myra,
as she began her ascent up El Capitan. Under the photos, hordes of Facebook
admirers offered generic encouragement: “You go girl!” “Such and inspiration!” “Girl
power!” “Blah blah blah.”
Fuck them.
Matt opened up the back door of the SUV. “Do you wanna check the chute?” he asked,
hesitant. He knew the look. The one he didn"t want scowling at him.
“You checked it last night, right?”
“I triple checked it, but it was late...”
“Jesus, we don"t have time....” Evie trailed off, distracted suddenly, looking at the
passenger side of the SUV. Deep scratches ran along the entire length, exposing the
chrome underneath. Evie ran her fingers along the gashes, her face turning red with
frustration. “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!”
Matt grimaced. The damage looked much worse in the light of day. “You don"t
remember?”
“Obviously not! What the FUCK?!”
“You must have been sleeping.”
“What happened?!”
Matt used his hands to explain, one held up, straight and steady: their SUV. Then the
other hand came into the picture, swerving back and forth. “On the highway down from
Denver, this random truck came straight into our line.” His hands jerked together,
pointing in opposite directions. “I had to swerve out of the way, and our car hit the
guard rail.”
“It looks like shit,” said Evie.
“That guard rail saved our lives. We could be two corpses at the bottom of some
thousand foot ravine right now.”
“It still looks like shit.”
“I"m sorry.”
“It"s too late to fix it now. We have to go.”
Matt opened the door for her and Evie got in. “The cameras are totally gonna see it,”
she said.
“It looks kind of extreme.”
“No, it"s looks ghetto.”
Matt got in the driver"s seat and started the car. She"s just nervous about the jump, he
reminded himself. They drove off in silence. Soon, Colorado Springs had vanished in
the rearview, and the newly ghetto SUV climbed the serpentine highway 6 into the
mouth of the Rockies.
Where the gods walk.
The Royal Gorge Bridge was the highest suspension bridge in the world, rising nearly
one thousand feet above the Arkansas River. In BASE jumping terms, that was five
seconds. But that was without a parachute, straight down. Ideally, the jumper pulled
the chute before the five seconds were up.
The acronym BASE stood for Building, Antennae, Span (bridge), and Earth (cliff). The
BASE jumping Hall of Fame permanently enshrined the names of individuals who
successfully completed jumps from each of the four categories, bestowing upon them a
number indicating order of enshrinement. The late legend Stu Magnus was 1, and
famed daredevil Robert Raffi was two. Currently, only 999 people in the history of the
world had jumped from every category of BASE.
The BASE hall of fame also kept a less prestigious list: fatalities. According to the math,
one jump in sixty resulted in a death. That meant anyone attempting all four categories
had a one in fifteen chance of dying.
But the only math Evie cared about was the number that came after 999. Social media
had chronicled the push by various jumpers to claim the mythical 1000. (The pics of
Lars Svengard"s brain matter and shattered skull were up on Facebook for three days
before they took them down.)
Many had failed. Today, she would not. She would claim 1000, and stick it to
wannabes like Myra Miller. No one would ever forget her name.
Matt paid the $10 toll at the booth, and the wheels of the SUV did a double thump over
the raised metal strip, marking the entrance proper of Royal Gorge Bridge. The iron
lattice of the South tower rose into the sky above, pulling one end of the suspension
cables, while it"s twin, at the opposite end, pulled back. Two steel sentinels, silently and
perpetually pulling, 150 years and counting.
The RGB had felt the hard soles of pioneers, the hoof prints of draft horses, even the
tracks of armored vehicles sent to put down the miners" strike of "35. But thirty years
ago, she was purchased by the Morgan Theme Park company, and turned it into a
tourist attraction, complete with large paved parking lots on either end and a large
thoroughfare for pedestrians.
“Where should I stop?” asked Matt.
“Right in the middle. That"s where everyone is,” said Evie.
The pedestrians tried to look nonchalant, but their turning heads and expectant glances
gave them away. Jumping off the bridge was illegal, parachute or not, but that"s why
everyone was here. If the Colorado State Police caught them, the event would be shut
down.
Evie stepped out of the car, and a spontaneous cheer went up, contagious and
spreading. The crowd became a single entity, an organic half circle caught in the gravity
of their darling. Their BASE jumping princess. At that moment, Evie felt like 1000. It
was hers. She was jumping. No police could stop her. The adoring crowd wouldn"t let
them.
Waiting for her at the jump point was Vince McCreary, number 666, bedecked in his
famous devil themed gear. Next to him, his ubiquitous cameraman Tory was already
filming. Vince had spun his notoriety into a successful YouTube channel, with more
than 100,000 subscribers. When he saw the stunning Eve and her beaming smile, he
knew this would be his biggest video yet.
Matt was at the back of the SUV, carefully unpacking the parachute and the jump rig.
One small tear was the difference between life and death, but no one besides him
seemed to appreciate this. They were all busy fawning over Evie, who was fawning
over Vince McCreary, and his camera.
“First, let me say what everyone is thinking,” said Vince into his mic. “Why is someone
as beautiful as you about to jump off a bridge?”
“Ahh Vince, come on,” said Evie, blushing seductively, perfectly coy for the camera.
“I"m serious. Don"t women like you end up becoming models, actresses, or weather-
ladies?”
“You know what,” said Evie, suddenly serious. “That"s exactly why I"m here. Every life
has it"s own challenges. We all have obstacles and fears to overcome. I"m here today
to prove that it doesn"t matter what you look like. Being pretty doesn"t mean I"m
delicate. It doesn"t mean I"m not as brave as any man.”
A feminine cheer went up from the crowd. As it died down, another sound emerged...
Police sirens.
The camera turned, along with the sea of heads, towards the end of the bridge.
Colorado State Police cruisers, making their way through the tollbooths.
The camera turned back to Vince and Evie. “Looks like the po-po is here to crash your
party.”
“Not my party,” said Evie. “Not today!” She raised a fist in defiance. The crowd went
wild.
“Keep them back!” shouted Vince, over the din. The crowd merged into a human wall,
five people deep.
“Let"s go Matt!” shouted Evie. He was standing by, holding the jump rig, looking
worried.
“You"re not going to check it?” he asked, concerned.
“I thought you already did!”
“Yeah, but--”
“--Then hurry up!”
Matt slipped the rig over Evie"s shoulders, like a backpack, then began buckling the
myriad harnesses and straps. Evie wrapped her fingers around the ripcord, one by one,
making sure her grip was firm. She gave it the slightest tug, to check it was taught.
Behind them, cop car doors were slamming closed. Cops were shouting. Her fans
were shouting louder.
“E-VIE!” “E-VIE!” “E-VIE!” “E-VIE!”
“It"s now or never,” she said, before gracefully grabbing the railing and swinging her legs
over, so the only thing between her and gravity was a two inch ledge of concrete. She
glanced at her watch:
11:11
Myra can suck it.
Evie gave the camera a thumbs up, and jumped.
The crowd went dead silent, for exactly four seconds. At five seconds, they cried out in
horror. Even louder was the sledgehammer crunch as Evie"s body cratered into the
granite bank of the Arkansas River.
-----------------------
Evie sat up in bed, her body drenched in cold sweat. She slowly slid off her Coach eye
compress, blinking back tears, knowing they would leave her eye bloodshot. Through
the sheen, the digits of the clock sparkled and waved:
7:11
Deep breathes.
Next to her, Matt was still sleeping peacefully, dripping saliva pooling on his pillow like
he always did. Evie put her hand on his shoulder and gently shook him awake. When
he opened his eyes and saw the clock, he bolted upright, immediately aware he was
busted.
“Damn! I"m sorry Evie. I know I was suppossed to wake you up at 6:30--”
“--It"s okay.”
Matt saw tears starting to fall from her eyes, before she quickly wiped them away.
“What"s wrong E?”
“I had a bad dream,” she said, wiping away more tears in frustration.
Matt put his arm on her shoulder, feeling his heart swell for his uncharacteristically
vulnerable fiance. “That"s totally normal,” he said, his voice gentle and kind. “This is a
big day for you. Most people would be puking their guts out...Actually, most people
wouldn"t have even made it here.”
Evie cracked the hint of a smile. “You"re right.” She wiped away the last remnants of
her tears. “My eyes are going to be so bloodshot!”
“You look beautiful. You always look beautiful. It"s not fair to everyone else.”
“Thanks Matt.” She collected her gear, then disappeared into the bathroom to get
ready, offering a wink and a wave, the kind only beautiful women can do, before she
closed the door.
An hour later she emerged. Revealing yoga pants. Low cut, tight fitting tank top.
Fashionable Adidas sneakers. As radiant as ever.
“You look amazing,” said Matt.
“Thanks.” She smiled, but it was obligatory, not happy.
She must be nervous about the jump, he reminded himself.
“Do you want me to take a picture?” he asked, used to the routine.
“Let"s take one together,” said Evie. They moved together to the balcony, the Rockies
filling the sky behind them. “Cheese.” Two smiles, one picture. Post.
“Ready?”
“Ready.”
In the parking lot, Matt opened up the back door of the SUV. “Do you wanna check the
chute?” he asked.
“You checked it last night, right?”
“I triple checked it, but it was late...”
Before Evie could check, she was distracted by the gouges dug deep into the
passenger side doors. “What happened?”
“You don"t remember?”
“Wait...I do remember,” said Evie, in a far off voice. “You hit a guard rail....”
“A truck swerved into our lane.”
“We could be two corpses at the bottom of some thousand foot ravine right now.”
“Exactly,” said Matt. She took the words right out of his mouth. He opened the
passenger door, and she got in without another word, her gaze lost in the depths of the
Rockies.
The serpentine drive up highway 6 was quiet. Just the hum of weathered concrete
under the treads, and thin mountain air passing by the windows. Every mile, Matt
turned his head to check on Evie, but she was lost in her own world, lost in a thousand
yard stare, visions of futures and pasts passing by her wayside.
The higher they climbed into the Rockies, the more the silence began to press down,
taking on a life of its own, a third companion in the lonely car ride. Matt wanted to say
something, but he didn"t know what. Hair, makeup, camera, Facebook. Things she
liked to talk about. They all seemed suddenly trivial.
Jumping off bridges. That wasn"t trivial. But like condemned prisoners on death row,
superstition ruled, and only the man (or woman) facing his own (or her own) execution
had the right to bring it up. And Evie wasn"t talking.
Not until Matt paid the $10 toll and the wheels did a double bump over the bridge
marker. Then she turned to him, fear in her eyes, and broke her silence:
“I don"t think I can do this,” she said. He hands were trembling. She crossed them over
her chest to hide them from his worried glance.
“Yes you can baby,” Matt said, with a reassuring smile. He had never seen her this
nervous. “I know you can.”
“I just have a bad feeling.” She could see the legions of pedestrians, her fans, suddenly
looking to their car expectantly as Matt pulled to a stop. “I have a really bad feeling.”
“That"s normal honey. Remember how you felt at the top of Al Basri Towers?” She
nodded reluctantly. “But you totally nailed it! You even stuck a ten pointer on the
landing! They are still talking about that...”
Evie smiled half-heartedly, coming around. Fans near the SUV recognized it was her,
their BASE jumping princess, and spontaneous cheering went up. Arms pumping,
American flags waving.
“They"re all here for you,” said Matt. “You inspire them.” He offered a fist bump.
Evie clenched her fist and bumped him back. “Let"s do this.” Then she stepped out into
the roar of her adoring fans. She knew nine out of ten of them had never jumped off
anything higher than a jungle gym. But that"s why they were shouting her name.
She saw Vince McCreary waiting at the ledge. And there was Tory, with his ever
present camera. Evie pumped her fist, and the roar turned to a frenzy. The crowd
parted in front of her as she took her position. Vince kissed her on the cheek, and Tory
wave for quiet so Vince could start his interview.
“First, let me say what everyone is thinking,” said Vince into his mic. “Why is someone
as beautiful as you about to jump off a bridge?”
“Ahh Vince, come on,” said Evie, blushing seductively, perfectly coy for the camera.
“I"m serious. Don"t women like you end up becoming models, actresses, or weather-
ladies?”
“You know what,” said Evie, suddenly serious. “That"s exactly why I"m here. Every life
has it"s own challenges. We all have obstacles and fears to overcome. I"m here today
to prove that it doesn"t matter what you look like. Being pretty doesn"t mean I"m
delicate. It doesn"t mean I"m not as brave as any man.”
A feminine cheer went up from the crowd. As it died down, another sound emerged...
Police sirens.
The camera turned, along with the sea of heads, towards the end of the bridge.
Colorado State Police cruisers, making their way through the tollbooths.
The camera turned back to Vince and Evie. “Looks like the po-po is here to crash your
party.”
Evie suddenly felt sick. All the way to her bones. A nightmare deja-vu. Terror, panic,
horror. All of them and more. She clutched Matt"s shoulder to keep from collapsing on
the pavement.
“What"s wrong?”
“I....I can"t do this.”
Matt didn"t know what to say. He saw Tory filming, knowing this would all be on
YouTube soon. Knowing Evie, the ignominy of failure might be worse than death. But
before he could think of any words of encouragement, Evie grabbed the car keys from
his hand. A second later, the SUV was peeling out down the bridge, Matt standing there
alone, holding the parachute.
The SUV blew through the toll booth, the engine racing hard. Evie had the steering
wheel in one hand, wiping away tears with the other. She didn"t know where she was
going. She didn"t care. As long as the Rockies were in the rearview.
Cutting through the fugue, the clock in the dash board, cool electric blue, clicking over,
all straight lines.
11:11
It was the last thing she saw. The oncoming semi swerved into her lane and closed the
gap so fast she didn"t even have time to break. Her body lost it"s beautiful form,
smeared across 100 yards of lonely Colorado highway.
---------------
7:11
The sound of sobbing woke Matt up. He blinked his eyes, making sure this was real.
He reached out and touched Evie gently on the shoulder. “Are you okay?”
“No, I"m not.” She could barely get it out through the sobs.
“What"s wrong?”
But Evie just looked at him, devastation on her face, before crumpling in his arms. They
stayed like that, holding each other, while Matt watched the minutes on the clock tick by.
Eventually, Evie calmed down, but he noticed her eyes were open the whole time,
staring into the creases of his t-shirt.
“What happened E?”
“I had a bad dream.”
“About the jump?”
She silently nodded her head, still buried in his chest.
Matt compassionately stroked her hair. “That"s totally normal. Jumping off a bridge is
stressful.”
Evie bolted upright. “NO. This wasn"t normal.... We are not going anywhere near that
fucking bridge.”
“Hey, hey. It"s just a dream.”
“I don"t care! I"m not jumping.”
“But all your fans are expecting you! They"ve traveled from all over the world, just to
see their BASE jumping princess claim number 1000.”
“FUCK THEM!”
Matt knew there was no point arguing, so he decided to take a shower. He took his
time, hope Evie"s mood would pass. But when he got out of the bathroom, she was still
in bed, now holding the alarm clock on her lap, staring at the red LED numbers.
“Should I call Vince, and tell him you"re backing out?” asked Matt.
“Yes.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.”
Matt escaped to the balcony, to make the call, but he talked loud enough so Evie could
hear, their conversation betraying obvious disappoint. But Evie didn"t seem to care.
When he went back inside, she was still staring at the clock.
“Are you hungry?” asked Matt. “Do you wanna get some breakfast.”
“No.”
“You just wanna sit here and stare at the clock like a weirdo?”
“Yes.”
Matt sighed and sat back down in the bed next to her. He looked at the clock, trying to
determine if there was something imperceptible he was missing. But it was just a clock.
“How long are you gonna stare at that thing?”
“Until it turns 11:12.”
Something in her voice. Matt knew this was not up for debate. He decided he could
wait until then before assuming his fiance was losing her mind. They had been together
two years, he could spare two hours.
So together, in silence, they watched the clock. 9:30...10:00... Matt dozing off.
The fire alarm woke him up. A shrill insistent wail, and flashing halogen bulb on the
wall, strobing the room in bright white light. But Evie was still frozen in place, staring at
the clock, silent tears rolling down her face.
“OH MY GOD!! EVIE!! WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!!!”
Matt launched himself out of bed, grabbing her by the arm. But she shrugged him off.
“It"s no use.”
Smoke was filling the room. The walls and doors were scorching black. The roar of the
fire, the wailing of pandemonium right outside their door....
11:11.