Mid-tackle, feet in the air, Jim realized this was the stupidest thing he'd ever done. But it was too late. Cartoon characters could stop time, could backpedal and change direction as they fell.
Jim Scott was no cartoon character.
Down into the woods he plummeted, diving head first into a pine-scented pool of shadows, but he found no smooth water landing. Instead, he slammed into the taller of the two bullies with bone-crunching pain. Or maybe he'd hit a tree. He was sure he'd exploded, broken into shrapnel the color of idiot would-be kid hero. He waited for the thunder of timber against earth, followed by the patter of a zillion shards of No Good Jimmy Scott, dead at twelve. He was flabbergasted to hit the ground with more of a roll and a thud, just two guys, meat and bone, probably intact. But who knew? The world was gone. All that was left was the tin can smell of adrenaline and the roaring in his ears.
For a moment.
Then the pain came back with a vengeance, and the roar faded to si