The weather was nice. The night was crisp and clear. It made for an astonishing view. Up there at 38,000 ft the flight was continuing with an amazing quietness enhanced by the new General Electric engines. Captain Wilson was monitoring the instruments and he was doing calculations paperwork, while First officer Jake returned to his seat. The autopilot commenced a slight bank to the right…
“We over Death Valley yet?” F/o Jake was trying to suppress a yawn. “Time seems to be flying tonight…”
“No, not yet.. I believe the bank in queue was left.” Captain Wilson spoke with a soft and collected tone as he placed his hand on the yoke. Then he pressured a little bit towards himself, switched the autopilot off and reset it. He guided the new Boeing 787 on the right track towards the next waypoint and then set the refreshed autopilot back on. “That was weird!” F/o Jake got up from his seat again. “Did you feel that?”
“Uhhhh… Feel what?” Captain Wilson was watching Jake in the same way that a conductor watches an overzealous violinist.
“The push… the engines are spooling up!Look! Speed indicator. Flight plan has it as 360 knots… why is it 375 knots?” First officer Jake was getting frantic as he was pointing at the autopilot settings group on the center console of the airplane.
Captain Wilson disconnected the auto thrusts and gave the airplane a bit of airbrake treatment until the speed stabilized. “That’s a really strange behavior. Can you pass me the manual please?”
“Yosemite Airways… Your speed is subject to clearance…. Retreat to previous assigned airspeed…” Ah, the air traffic controller sounded pissed off. “This is Captain Wilson… ugh.. looks like we picked up some tail wind for some reason.. I totally apologize…” The captain stabilized the throttle manually to the required speed, then he left just only a slit of airbrake to keep things in check. He retrieved the manual from his copilot and he begun to scan the index page. He was looking for anything to do with electronic operation of speed and thrust. Suddenly random lights and horns started going off all over the secluded pilots’ cabin.
I woke up under the low lights of the dashboard.. I was having a hard time opening my eyes. Through the daze, I was trying really hard to process different smells and sensations. My head was resting comfortably on Lance’s chest. His hand caressing my hair.
“Good mornight,” he whispered. I giggled. “I see what you did there. Sounds really cute.”
“How did you sleep?” His hand moved from my hair down to my shoulder, pulling me closer.
“Like a baby,” I lied. He was so calm, so collected. Being that close to him was giving me a mix of sensations. There was a beautiful warmth radiating off him. It made me feel good. Made me feel protected. Although I was still shaken from what happened a few hours ago, being near him kinda blocked those fears.
“Sooooo… What’s it like in there?” I scouted closer to him.
“Ummm.. Where?” He really seemed confused.
“You know… On the other side of the fence.”
“Hah! You really want to know… I can’t really tell ya.”
“If I had to tell you, then I would have to kill you!” He planted a kiss on my forehead. That sensation harbored more memories of what happened between his mission and the time I woke up. Such as the spontaneous kiss in the lips… Oh God. I could already feel my cheeks getting hotter. “Why don’t we pretend that things are back to normal and continue to enjoy the view? Isn’t it beautiful up there? All the different stars and different cosmic bodies that make up the Universe. So big! So unknown to mankind. When I was about seventeen, I felt the urge to explore… I would lay on my roof every clear summer night with a pair of binoculars and would scan the sky for anything. I would mutter repeatedly ‘Hello friend. Are you there? Whatcha doing?’ Then by sun up, I would find myself squinting against the piercing sunlight. Struggling to open my eyes.”
“Little did you know, that there really was someone hidden in plain sight.”
“That’s right… Hey did you know that our location in the Milky Way is called the Orion Arm or the Orion Spur? What’s more strange though, it’s the fact that all the stars that we are seeing tonight and every night with our unaided eyesight, are all located inside the Milky Way. Does it tell you how enormous She is?” Oh my God. He was acting too geeky for a tough guy.
“Mmhmmm, hey look! A shooting star!” I was pointing at a really bright light.. which… was… acting… really strange…
“Hey look! A shooting star!” Sierra squealed like a teenager.
“Really? Oh.. It might also be astronaut poop.. I heard NASA disposes junk from ISS to burn into the Earth atmosphere. You never know.” I said with a grin. She expected the sad news with a pout. Her pretty facial features combined with her feminine scent, were driving me crazy. I planted a hard kiss right on her lips. Savoring the magical nectar.
Then the would be shooting star started acting, strange… really strange.. circling and twisting around itself during it’s great circle across the sky. Extra… flashing… lights…
“Honey.. That’s not a shooting star! That’s a fucking burning airplane! Holy fuck! I turned the engine on and threw the Caddy in gear as I sped through the desert sand towards it. I instructed Sierra to send a short message to Arrgahal.
“Burning object in the sky. Additional lights determine it to be an airplane. Going to check it out.”
I was trying to keep up with the great arch of the airliner. Speeding through the no man’s land, I was leaving behind a ton of sandy fog as the wheels kept eating the terrain ahead. Then I slowed down. The burning carcass of the fuselage was less than three seconds from hitting the ground. It slid down the hillside into a final stop. Then it broke on three…
Inside the cab of the hearse a message arrived:
“Glove compartment. Memory card thumbnails. End of fuselage. Download blackboxes. Dash.”