Read Dunc Breaks the Record Online

Authors: Gary Paulsen

Dunc Breaks the Record

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YEARLING BOOKS/YOUNG YEARLINGS/YEARLING CLASSICS
are designed especially to entertain and enlighten young people. Patricia Reilly Giff, consultant to this series, received her bachelor’s degree from Marymount College and a master’s degree in history from St. John’s University. She holds a Professional Diploma in Reading and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University. She was a teacher and reading consultant for many years, and is the author of numerous books for young readers.

For a complete listing of all Yearling titles,
write to Dell Readers Service,
P.O. Box 1045, South Holland, IL 60473.

Published by
Dell Publishing
a division of
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
666 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10103

Copyright © 1992 by Gary Paulsen

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

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The trademark Dell
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eISBN: 978-0-307-80372-6

v3.1

Contents
.1

“It’s like this—I’ll put it the same way my uncle Alfred says it—if I’d been meant to fly, I’d have feathers on my butt and my feet would fit a limb.”

Amos was standing on a hillside north of town. Actually, not standing so much as digging his heels in. He was wearing a helmet and orange sunglasses with pastel frames. The helmet strap was so tight, he had to talk through clenched teeth. “I won’t do it.”

He was not standing alone. Dunc—Duncan—Culpepper, his best friend for life, was there with him. Well down the hill, a mile away and
seemingly almost vertically below them, stood their helper and instructor, Tod Meserman.

Dunc was standing beneath a hang glider and holding its pipe frames. It was early morning—just past dawn—and though the air was fairly calm, soft breezes wafted up the hill and fluttered the cloth on the glider now and then.

“Come on, Amos. You did it at least ten times when you were taking the lessons.” Dunc wiggled the glider to emphasize. “It’s perfectly safe.”

“I crashed.”

“You didn’t crash. You made a slightly early landing.”

“I crashed. I went down like an anvil out of a four-story window. I hit so hard, I saw colors and drove my knees up around my ears.”

Dunc sighed. “It was your second flight, and if you hadn’t let go of the control bar to swat that fly, you wouldn’t have cra—come down quite so fast.”

“Bee. It was a bee. Not a fly. Probably a killer bee. And I crashed.”

Dunc shook his head and turned to face down the hill, wiggling the glider around. “Call it what you like—it doesn’t matter. This time
there’ll be two of us. I’ll be there with you. All we have to do is launch, let the glider float down the hill to Mr. Meserman, and we’ll have the record.”

“The record—that’s another thing. You’re being a little pushy about this record business. It’s not all that important.”

“Not important? It’s the
world
record, Amos! The longest flight ever for two boys our age on a hang glider! We’ll be in all the record books.”

“Big deal.”

“We’ll be famous.”

“Right—as the first two boys our age to drop like anvils from a four-story building.”

“And everybody—even Melissa—will read about us. Think of it. Melissa Hansen reading about you being a hero.”

Doubt mixed with interest on Amos’s face, starting a small battle with a frown between his eyes, and in a moment interest won. “Melissa …” Melissa Hansen had been the object of Amos’s dreams, it seemed, since before he was born, before he could think. She didn’t know he walked the planet, and she had never spoken to him or touched him except once when
she thought he was his cousin, the skateboarder Lash Malesky, and again when she thought he was a dog because Amos was a dog.

“Sure”—Dunc nodded—“I can see it now. She’s in the library, the record book is open on a table. She looks at it. Hmmm, she thinks. Hang gliders. And look, here’s Amos Binder. Cool, she thinks—he’s got the record. I should meet this guy.”

And it worked. Amos nodded, smiled, and moved to stand with Dunc inside the framework of the glider. He slipped into the harness that would hold him while they flew. “Melissa …”

“All right,” Dunc said, “hold the bar and run with me, and when I give the word, kick off. Just like Mr. Meserman showed us. All we have to do is glide down the hill to where he’s standing, and we’ll be in the record books.”

“Melissa …”

Dunc started his run, and Amos trotted beside him.

Dunc started to run faster, and Amos picked up speed.

The glider started to lift. Just a bit at first, and then the morning breeze, which was gaining
speed coming up the hill even as they ran, caught under the front of the glider.

“Now!” Dunc pushed forward on the control bar. The nose of the glider went up, and with a surge they were off the ground, flying.

“Lie out flat.” Dunc kicked his legs back, and Amos copied him.

The glider wobbled a bit, but Dunc corrected with the bar, and it settled into a proper attitude and began to slide down the hill, about thirty feet off the ground.

“See?” Dunc said. He was smiling. “Isn’t this great? We’re just greasing on down, and then—”

They would argue later over what he had been about to say next. Dunc said he was going to talk about being in the record books. Amos swore he was going to say: “—–just greasing on down, and then we’ll fly away and ruin our lives and everything, and die.”

At first there was a natural flow to what happened.

The morning breeze coming up the hill freshened still more, and a sudden gust caught the glider. It shot up two hundred feet.

“Yalp!” Amos shouted, or something very like
a gulp that turned into a yell. “What happened?”

“No problem,” Dunc said. He pulled the bar back, and the nose of the glider dropped. “It was just a little updraft.”

“Mr. Meserman looks awful small down there.” Amos took his hand off the bar to point. The glider wiggled. He put his hand back on the bar. “I mean
really
small.”

“I just have to compensate a bit more.”

“So do it. Compensate.”

Dunc pulled further back on the bar. The nose dropped still more, but it didn’t help.

The glider continued to climb.

“Compensate,” Amos said, his voice becoming shrill.
“Compensate!”

“I am.” It was a cool morning, but Dunc was starting to sweat. Damp spots showed through his jacket. His forehead under the helmet was damp. “I’m pulling back all I dare.”

“Why aren’t we going down?”

“I don’t know—we should be dropping fast.”

“We’re still climbing!”

“I know, Amos. I’m here with you, remember?”

“I can’t see Mr. Meserman.”

“Sure you can—there he is, by his car. See?”

“He’s just a dot. A tiny dot!”

Dunc pushed sideways on the bar. The glider swooped off to the left.

“What are you doing?” Amos fought him on the bar, and the glider wobbled like a sick bat.

“I think we’re caught in some kind of updraft or thermal. I thought maybe if we slid off sideways we would start down.”

“We didn’t.” Amos’s knuckles were white on the bar.

“I know.”

“We’re still climbing.”

“I know.”

“We’re going to die.”

“No, we’re not.”

“We’re going to fall and fall and crash and drop and plummet and die.”

“No, we’re not.”

“I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Be quiet now.”

“Bad.”

“Amos—”

Even though the nose stayed down, the glider continued to climb, until even Mr.
Meserman’s car—a large station wagon with a rack on top to haul the glider—couldn’t be seen.

Until town, eight miles away, was lost in the blurry haze of altitude.

Up and up and up …

.2

“Yes,” Dunc said, nodding. “It’s a thermal. That’s what it is.”

Amos had his eyes closed tightly, the lids jammed down. “I don’t care. I’m not looking.”

“Oh, heck, Amos, it’s not so bad. We just got carried up a ways. As soon as we get off this thermal, we can get back down.”

“That’s what bothers me—the down part.”

“It’s all very simple.” Dunc pulled himself slightly around so he could see to the rear. “The air moves up that hill, just like Mr. Meserman told us. I guess it just moves more than he thought it would, or faster. See out there off to
the right—those clouds? That’s what caused the wind and the thermal to come up.”

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