Saturday, May 24, 2008

A short story - will it scare you?

Flight NA100 to Mumbai
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I knew I would never see him again, but I did not speak out. As Pilot of NightAir 100, my duties do not include needless chatter with passengers.

My taxi dropped me at the airport at about 1 am and I walked past security, who ignored me completely, as though I did not exist. The place was quiet and deserted. I walked through the final doors and then on the tarmac towards my plane, a Boeing 737 waiting motionlessly in a dark area of the airport, very far away from the terminal. It stood silently, blacker than night, glowing with tales and mystery. Not a soul was around. I got into the cockpit and started up the engines and went through the manifest and papers. I went through the checks and let the engine idle and waited for my passengers. I turned on the lights in the cockpit. Then I looked into the blackness and waited. And waited. I had all the time in the world.

And soon I saw him, my lone passenger, running across the large concrete expanse, breathless, with two small bags in his hands. I waved at him from the cockpit window and saw the relief on his face from a distance. He clambered on, huffing and puffing, a short fat businessman.

He peeped into the cockpit. “NA 100 to Mumbai?” he asked, gasping, trying to catch his breath. I nodded, not turning around.

He went to find his seat, and then returned a moment later.

“No airhostess? No other passengers?”, he asked, a moment later, a bit nervously.

“Nope. Its just us. One Pilot. One passenger. Red-eye flight, you know.”

“Ah.”

“We’re ready to go. Please sit down and fasten your seat belt.”

“Of course, of course”, he said hurriedly. In the mirror, I saw him turn and walk back quickly to his assigned seat. A fat businessman on a mission to make more and more money. I shut the door to the cockpit, made the routine announcements on the intercom and dimmed the lights. It was pitch dark now, inside and outside.

I taxied the plane to the head of the taxiway and announced an imminent takeoff. The lights were off on the runway too, but I knew the way, having taken off so often. I revved the engines and gathered speed. Faster, faster, faster. The Plane shook and trembled and rattled as it trundled down the runway, against the wind, about to lift off, about to take off into the black moonless night, about to take my passenger to his destination.

And soon it took off. A sleek black arrow with one pilot and one passenger. I angled the plane up and away, seeking to gain height as much as possible.

And then I saw it, once again, another 737 right in my flight path. Where had it emerged from? Why hadn’t I been warned?

And my plane crashed straight into the other plane and we went up in flames together, lighting up the night.

I had failed in my task to take my passenger to Mumbai. Perhaps another hundred passengers in the other plane had also died.

Tonight I am scheduled to fly NA100 once again to Mumbai. At the same time. From the same place.

I wonder who my passenger today will be.

1 comment:

Grasshopper said...

More than scare me, this story had me wondering, is this pilot a ghost? And then I read it again and except the security ignoring him, there was no more indication.
Interesting story, it made me read itself twice.