Wednesday, March 9, 2016

chapter 0: an introduction of a sort


The aircraft appeared to float above a layer of cumulus clouds far below;  lit in rosey hues, as the sun fell below the horizon ('fell' here is loosely defined). Friedrich Van Bilge marveled at the view. "Imagine, just imagine," he murmured. "How fortunate are we to have behold such beauty at this moment."

"Not really," said Mirada Lund, Senior Stewardess Extradinaire (though everyone just called her Miranda). She was also the woman whose right hand was clutching his left. Or more likely he was doing all the clutching.

"Seen it," said Mr. Schlock, first mate and co-pilot, and whose right hand clutched Miranda Lund's left. (Or perhaps the opposite; historical records are often vague when it comes to clutching in this era.)

Van Bilge had the uncomfortable realization that he was (a) standing next to assholes, and (b) holding Mr. Schlock's hand by proxy. This despite the fact that the proxy holding of hands had been ruled unconstitutional by the greatest court in the land. Although the court had ruled that there were certain exceptions, such as when attorneys for both plaintiff and defendant were required to sing 'London Bridge' in judicial chambers. (This was held to be true even when the judge joined in on the song. The appeal upholding mandatory skipping in the jury selection process was upheld without review, much to the chagrin of the parents of 11-year-old jump-rope champions who had found themselves serving as jury foremen.)
"It would of course be of assistance if we were not trapped on a plane that is very soon going to run out of fuel and plummet into the sea, killing us all, that we locked ourselves out of the cockpit and can't land the plane, that some of the passengers died and then were mysteriouly resurrected into some sort of strange parodies of humanity, mute beasts with a perpetual craving for human flesh, or that the entire continent seem to have been disrupted by these creatures."

A voice from behind piped in: "Oh, and you forgot the mysterious disappearance of millions of people around thhe globe, including some of the passengers, leaving cities littered with burning wrecks, plane crashes, and closed coffee shops."

"Yes, Captain Lockjaw, we remember because we were all here," Schlock coldly observed.

"Right on the same damn plane," said Miranda.

"Why are guys holding hands?" came another voice. Miranda groaned. For a few moments, she had thankfully forgotten that in addition to the flesh-eating creatures, the imminent crash into the sea, and that she somehow had found herself in a temporary relationship which could only be characterized as an act of desperation, she was trapped with her nemesis, Janie,Subordinate Stewardess. Blond, vivacious, flirtatious, and giggling at the drop of a hat,  Miranda generally referredto her by the moniker, "You there."  Though when she was in a better mood, she would address as, "Hey, you over there."

Both were secretly certain that someday soon, one would murder the other.

Her thoughts of murder were interrupted by a loud series of beeps. "What the hell is that, now?" she asked loudly.

"I set a timer so that I would know when we had 60 seconds to live," replied Mr. Schlock. Schlock made this statement in his typical calm, rational tone.

Lockjaw shouted. "Well turn it off, dammit, it's annoying!"

Schlock yanked his hand free from Miranda's clutch and pulled out his meFone.

Van Bilge felt Miranda's grip tighten; he pulled her close.
"I'd prefer it not to end like this," said Miranda.
"It's going to be okay after we're dead," he whispered soothingly.
"I wasn't too worried about that part," she replied, "but thanks."

The beeps beame louder. "49 seconds," said Schlock.
Lockjaw spoke louder. "Turn it off!", he commanded.
Schlock did not reply. "45 seconds...time still moving into the future and not the past..."
"Wow thanks," said Lockjaw.
"39 seconds..."
"Oh hell I have some chocolate, guess there's no harm in eating it now," said Lockjaw.

The noise intensified. The other passengers, overhearing the conversation, began screaming. The children (the ones still alive that is) began crying. "God save us!" cried a man(JLS).

Lockjaw opend the wrapper and began chewing on the candy. "I'm going to really savor this," he said.

"15 seconds!" shouted Mr. Schlock, trying to be heard above the crowd.

"I have to tell you something," Miranda shouted at Van Bilge.

"10 seconds"

"My advice -- make it short and to the point," he shouted back at Miranda.

"5 seconds!"

"I <i>blurgh</i> you!" shouted Miranda!

"0 seconds!"

"You what?", Van Bilge shouted back in reply.


Miranda shouted "I--"

But she was cut off by a silence that suddenly took hold of everyone. All seemed to be holding their breath at once. Van Bilge imagined he could hear the pause between heart beats, as if the entire crowd had taking a pause from being alive, waiting for the inevitable fall. Even Janie had shut up.

But the aircraft held steady. "Um, nothing's happening," he said.
"Are you complaining?", asked Mr. Schlock.
"I don't know, Miranda and I were sort of having a moment and--"
"No we weren't," she retorted.
"But you said--"
"Nope. Perhaps it was the television. Or your phone."
"But--oh forget it." He turned towards Schlock. "Another 10 seconds would have been nice, you could have counted out a bit more slowly."

Mister Schlock shrugged. "Sorry dude."
[end of introduction]

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