Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ADVENTURE genre (05/24/07)
TITLE: Plane Panic
By Marita Vandertogt
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“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve encountered some turbulent weather ahead.” The pilot’s voice was pleasant, as though he were saying, if you look to your left, you’ll see the sights of downtown Toronto. He kept on, his voice calm. “Please keep your seat belts fastened and get ready for the ride.”
I popped two more valium and braced my hands on the armrests and my feet on the floor. No sooner had he finished speaking than the plane started to shake, rumbling, rumbling, rumbling through my ears. The next few minutes, the shaking grew harder and harder, rocking from side to side. I literally began to pray, thinking, this was it. This was how I was going to die. All those years wasted worrying about car crashes, or lightning bolts, or pains in my heart. This was it. A simple plunge to the earth beneath. I was sure it would be quick, if the pilot would just give up and let us ditch.
The shaking kept going, and my hands and feet were in pain from sticking to their positions on the armrest and floor. One big lurch and I heard a scream from behind me. At least, I think it was from behind me. Surely it didn’t come from my throat. At this point, nothing was coming from my throat but restricted fear.
I closed my eyes and prayed, a mantra of “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me”, over and over again, to try and stay calm. The shaking got stronger, rattling things around me. I opened my eyes only long enough to look out the window. Nothing but a thick grey pressed against the window. Not a secure feeling since it was the middle of the afternoon. I managed to pry my hand loose and find one more valium. By now I was about 20 mg over the limit, but felt nothing.
Again, another scream from behind me, at least I think it was from behind, and the shaking continued. How much could one aircraft sustain? I’d had my share of bad flights, but this was beyond anything I’d ever experienced before.
“Prepare to land”, the voice came over the intercom, not quite as calm as it had been at the beginning. No airline stewardess stood to give directions. We all held our places as the rocking continued on the bumpy ride down. I pictured war movies where planes fell apart, scattered on the ground beneath, beyond recognition.
The next thing I felt were a series of thuds under the belly. We had touched the runway. The plane was moving along smoothly now, gliding toward safety. I pried my hands and feet loose, and silently gave a prayer of thanks.
The rest of the time was spent in a line up for the women’s washroom in the airport. We all stood in a line, silent, and I suppose thankful for the solid ground beneath us.
That was the last time I have ever booked a fight to anywhere.
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