Blame it on Midnight
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Evelyn Starr
Word Count :71237
Publication Date :2012-02-11
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-77111-660-2
They blamed it on midnight. He always blamed it on himself.
At 37,000 feet on a smooth and moonlit night, the unthinkable happened. Lives changed, people changed. And after fourteen bitter years it's time to find some answers. Some peace.
Early May, 2:48 A.M. over the Pacific Ocean
"Panorama four two eight, Mayday, Mayday, May-daaaaaay!" Captain John Maxwell's first officer, Ken Stone, sounded like he was strangling. Or to be more accurate, he sounded like he'd already been strangled and just hadn't realized he was no longer breathing.
"Nothing working, nothing right. Indications off." Behind Stone's shoulder, Second Office Bud Splevins was muttering rapidly. Apparently obsessed. Apparently, obviously, in total disbelief. "Airspeed zero. Straight and level. Straight and level."
Straight and level?
"Jesus God," he said. "We're…fuck.
How the fuck can that be?
When he took the time to look through the windscreen, if he took the time and could see through the blaze of hellish light out there, John knew he'd be able to see nothing but sky. He was plastered tight against the yoke. He was plastered full-body, exerting every bit of forward pressure he could muster. His feet dug into the cockpit floor with so much force he swore he heard metal bending down there—if it was possible to hear anything over the chaos of alarms and bells and buzzers and goddamn klaxons that clanged-jangled-howled from every corner of the cockpit. Creating their own goddamn kind of chaos as they tried to warn him about what he already the hell knew.
That things were just…not…right.
Shit. Hell. Damn.
Straight and level? What the hell?
The aircraft was practically standing straight up in mid-air. Balanced precariously, impossibly on her goddam big-ass tail. Like this was some kind of circus act, and she was the featured performer. And all the pressure he and Stone exerted with the combined maximum strength of braced, strained, straining muscles and tendons and bodies?
Shit. Hell. Damn.
All that effort was having no discernible effect.
Clearly the grand old lady had lost her mind.
Clearly she had developed one of her own. And no pilot…no man…was going to understand it. How it worked.
John couldn't think. He could barely bellow "Splevins!" in his best I'm-the-captain-so-don't-feed-me-your-fucking-bullcrap voice. "What the hell are you…"
Usually The Voice worked. Like magic.
But not this time.
Splevins was gone. Off in his own little world of conflicting readings, and impossibilities, and violations of the most fundamental laws of nature and physics.
Splevins just kept muttering. Reading off his wildly divergent, wildly insane readings. Always interspersed with that same bizarre and terrifying litany. "Straight and level, straight and level, straight and level."
Hell, Shit. Straight and level. No fucking way!
Not if John's shoulders, his arms, the burn and ache of every muscle stressed to its limit with the effort of trying to shove the aircraft's nose down before disaster struck had anything to say about it.
John's shoulders, his arms, all those burns and aches and agonies, told him they were as far from straight and level as any flight had ever been.
He didn't need instruments to tell him they were standing straight the fuck up in the middle of the air. Didn't need to see anything to know there would be nothing but sky...clear, midnight, starlit, star-drizzled sky, outside the cockpit windows if he could see. If some damned, blazing, scorching, searing light wasn't beaming straight in. If sweat hadn't started to pour into his eyes…stinging-hot sweat laced with pure, undiluted terror that burned and blinded as it pooled at the corners of his eyes. Further confusing the issue.
That light. Oh, Jesus. The goddamn, ball-crawling light. It…
"Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!"
What the fucking hell was that light? At forty-seven…automatically, John slid a halfway-blinded eye down to focus on the altimeter. Checking. Always checking. Always following procedures the way he'd done them a thousand times before, and…
What the hell?
The light of a hundred-million Mack trucks afire is glaring into my eyes at forty-seven thousand, three hundred and ten feet in the air? Over the middle of the mother-fucking ocean?
It did no good. Splevins was still off, way off, in that dream-world of his. That version of a flight engineer's holy, living, mother-fucking hell That brain-fried world of things that couldn't possibly be. But were.
"Panorama Airlines four two eight Mayday! Mayday! Mayyyyyyyyy…"
He wished Stone would stop doing that. Stop screaming Mayday over and over again into the radio.
If anything was guaranteed to get all kinds of attention...all kinds that airline captains in their right minds faced with supernatural events went the hell out of their way to avoid if they knew what was good for them…it was the sound of a pilot shrieking Mayday at the top of his lungs as if the apocalypse was upon him. As if it was the last word left in his vocabulary.
Shit. Hell. Damn.
If they lived, somebody was going to have to explain. John was going to have to explain. And he was fresh the hell out of explanations. For anything. Let alone something that had no explanation, because it had no reason. No logic. No…John had just enough wits left to wonder what the hell he was going to say when ATC responded. When they asked the nature of the emergency.