Airborne Nightmare

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F O R E W O R D

Before we begin, I should make it clear that this story takes place in the early 1960s, when aeroplane rules were a lot laxer. One could brandish a cigar or even holster a pistol. Now, consider if you will, the thoughts of one James Augustus McCoy, as he goes airborne in a helm of metal, held together by nothing more than nuts and bolts, and is rocketed to well over twenty thousand feet in the sky, at speeds faster than any other passenger vehicle can even attempt. His "nightmare" treads the razor edge between the possibility that it's merely James's psyche feeling especially cruel, or that what he thinks he sees hanging off the edge of the plane is real.



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James McCoy was not one to usually opt to fly. He took the train whenever he could, or else simply drove around. But every now and again he was forced into rattling metal death traps over twenty thousand feet in the sky. Today was one of those days. And the worst part? It could have been avoided if people were ever so slightly more competent at their jobs.

James's company was in the middle of a major deal with one of their German competitors. Despite having their base of operations just under a thousand kilometres away, their prices seemed to consistently shrink James's company's market share, year after year. This year though, someone upstairs decided to do something about it and rang up the Germans.

The technical term for what conspired is "price fixing", but James preferred to think of it as simply allowing British products complete freedom in the British market.

(Along with getting me a pretty fat bonus)

Anyway, everything was going swimmingly, and their little team of five (it was important to keep these things hush-hush) was working in excellent coordination. Until, that is, Oliver Anderson fantastically cocked it up. He allowed his son onto his work computer — for what reason, James will never be able to understand — and the boy ended up sending some rather offensive emails to the Germans. Again, why the boy did it, or how he thought up the deed and the contents of the email, will forever be lost on James, but he sure was glad to see the child being reprimanded. He never could stand children, which was why he didn't have any of his own. He was happily married to a wonderful woman and adored their rescue pup.

Troublesome children aside, it was now up to James to sort out this royal screw up, so here he was, flying to Germany before they decide that the English just aren't professional enough to be able to execute and honour this deal.


He strapped into his seat, nervously clinging to both armrests after having tightened the seat belt as much as he could. He stared out the window, at the men loading the luggage into the cargo hold below. He wondered what would happen to the poor soul who accidentally wound up stranded in the hold, perhaps adjusting a bag at the back or correcting the fastening on a one he noticed on his way out, the others oblivious to his absence. He'd probably be tossed around from side to side, smashing into the cargo. When the plane finally landed, they'd find him unconscious, or even dead, in a pool of blood, his body and bones shattered beyond hope of creating a semblance.

James shook his head clear; he mustn't think of such things. Especially when there was so much else that could go wrong much more easily. The plane could lose connection with ground control, their frequency could be hijacked, flight paths may get distorted or deleted, turbulence might toss them abou-

(NO!)

He drained the small plastic bottle from the seat pocket in front of him and pulled his nightcap down. If things were going to go wrong, he'd rather he goes in his sleep, instead of having to face the danger head-on. With that in mind, he popped another ibuprofen in, hoping he wouldn't hit the OD limit, and swallowed it dry.

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