Nathan concentrated on the rock ahead of him. Even with his heat suit, the extreme temperatures were making him dizzy. Just below him, a slow river of glowing lava bubbled and swirled.
“Come on, you can make it,” his brother Austin called. They were alone in a low cave that just days before had been filled with a furious torrent of lava. Now it had gone down a little, just enough for them to make their way along the edge. This was lava jumping, the most dangerous sport in the world.
Nathan reached out with his rock hammer and swung his leg over the crevice. Another small jump and he was across.
“Now comes the big jump,” Austin said. Nathan looked ahead to where Austin was pointing. Two rocks came together over the main flow of lava, but they were still five feet apart, with nothing for him to hook his rock hammer to.
“Do we have to?” he asked.
Austin nodded. “We have to. We can’t go back from here and it’s the only way back to the surface.” He went first, edging out until he was on the very edge of the rock. Then he made a flying leap to the other side. His foot slipped, but he caught himself, just before it could touch the lava flow. “It’s okay,” he said. “It didn’t touch. My suit protected me. Come on, you can do it.”
Nathan edged out onto the rock. Sulfurous fumes swirled up, making it hard to see. He thought of his parents, his dog Freddy, even his little sister. If he missed this jump, he would never see any of them again. Instead, he would be burned alive in a river of fire. He jumped with all his might.
He missed completely.
“You’re dead,” Austin said from where he stood on the armchair.
Nathan picked himself off the living floor. “Move the chair closer next time,” he said.
“Okay, now it’s a shark-infested lagoon,” Austin said.
The sawed-off broom handle in Nathan’s hand ceased to be a rock hammer and became a spear gun instead. The living room carpet transformed into a pool of ominous, blue water.
Sharks, Nathan thought. I can handle sharks.