Chapter Two - The Professor

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It wasn't my first time flying but by god would it have been the last. I peered over my seatmate's shoulder through the double-paned window to the vast, desolate green below as the fuselage rumbled again through the air current. Gripping the armrests tightly, I bit my tongue, leaned my head back, and counted back from ten.

As much as I flew, I still could not shake the gripping anxiety that filled me through each drop and rumble. I wasn't much better with elevators. I was an earth guy and boy did I love my earth. If I could make my next trip from Texas to Brazil via motor vehicle, I would.

"Hey, are you okay?"


She was much younger than I was, sporting a curtain of bluish-black hair and almond eyes; honestly, I had no idea she realized I existed through the incessant and loud rap music blasting through her earbuds the majority of the flight.

"Not a frequent flyer?"

I chuckled at her question.

"No, I am, believe it or not. Work."

"You know they say odds of a plane crash are about one in five million."

"You don't say."

"So, what do you do?"

"I'm a professor at Austin State. Eric Malcolm."


Cool. Good talk.

I wasn't much of a talker; neither was she. My stomach clenched as another roll of turbulence shook the cabin and my claws dug into the armrests once again. She chirped at me, completely unaware of my nerves.

"I'm Cassie. I'm headed to my bachelorette."


"So 'Prof', are you married?"

"Well, uh, yes."

And no.

"Why do you say it like that?"

I chuckled again, more forced than the last time as I spun the gold band on my ring finger.

"Eh, you don't want to hear about an old man like me going through a bitter divorce."

"You're right. I don't really."


"What happened?"

"Well, when you work on opposite sides of the country, it gets tough."

Especially when the missus starts sleeping with her coworker...

"Do you have any kids?"


Her voice became fluid, echoing against the whistling of wind; pressure built in my ears as the cabin rolled underneath us. My ears popped; there was a sensation of being lifted out of my seat, the noise growing, roaring through my eardrums, threatening to implode my brain. I was tilting; I watched Cassie's black hair float through the air; a brief moment of zero gravity and everything became still. The fuselage cracked open like a grenade, bisecting the plane in two.

For a moment my feet were above my head, screams became distant in the whine of the engines, my head met hot, whirling air--

--And everything went dark.



That was all I knew.

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