She woke feeling strange, and detached, like she was floating over herself as she showered and dressed for the day. “I sure don’t need to come down with something now…” she thought as she sat down with her coffee and the morning paper. With a quick look at the kitchen clock, she sighed. “Six-thirty. Good. I have awhile before business starts.” She opened directly to the employment ads and picked up a pen. “If I don’t find a job soon, I might as well just disappear.” She had finally decided to get over the past and join life again.
As she looked down at the paper, she began to feel dizzy. “What the h…?” Her vision blurred as she tried to focus on the newspaper. Covering her face with her hands, she rested her elbows on the table, waiting for it to pass. Suddenly, she was spinning, falling into inky blackness.
When she opened her eyes again, she was disoriented and confused. Where…? She was seated, and buckled around the waist, on what appeared to be a plane. She looked at her watch. 7:38? She tapped it violently, the second hand would not move. An hour? How did I lose…? She looked up and asked another passenger for the time, but he appeared to look right through her and turned back to his newspaper. She looked at the person across the aisle. “Ma’am? Excuse me…” The woman seemed not to hear her. Raising her voice, she tried to get the attention of the flight attendant passing by her seat. “Miss? Hello?” She reached for her and was startled, as her hand appeared to go right through the woman’s arm. The stewardess continued walking without a glance in her direction.
She sat back and looked around her intently. Am I dreaming? Where am I? She felt her legs, her arms, her face. She seemed fine, all in one piece. The man next to her was still reading his paper. She realized he seemed to be somewhat transparent, in fact, everything around her seemed flat, dimensionless. She noticed an intense quiet and realized she couldn’t hear any noise; no voices, or engines, nothing. This is so weird. It seems like I am the only real thing here. She was sure she was dreaming now. She looked at her watch again, still stopped at 7:38am. I wonder what the dream dictionary will have to say about this… she chuckled. She found herself making a mental note of different dream symbols to look up when she woke. Airplane, travel, stewardess, watch…hmmm, maybe time. Seven, thirty-eight. She looked at the man next to her. Newspaper… An article on the front page caught her eye. “Will It Crash – AGAIN?” she read the heading aloud. She continued to skim the adjoining article, involuntarily repeating bits and pieces audibly.
“The people of Broward County, Florida are keeping watch for the mystery plane to crash, again. Seven years ago today, Flight 324 went down in the early morning hours near the Big Cypress National Park and adjacent Big Cypress Indian reservation, killing everyone on board. The cause of the crash was never determined. Each year since, the plane’s wreckage has reappeared in the exact spot, exactly the way it was found the year it crashed, with one exception. Every year there is one more body found with the wreckage than the prior year.
If this sounds like a campfire ghost story to you, try to imagine the reaction of the residents in the area of the crash. There has been pressure by locals to bury the wreckage at the site, if the phenomenon occurs this year, in the belief it will end future recurrences. Others have requested an Indian cleansing ceremony, believing an ancient burial ground has been disturbed. Another theory is that the phenomenon will end this year regardless of official action.
According to airline officials, there were 7 passengers were scheduled on Flight 324 who missed their boarding call seven years ago. Some people believe the flight has taken one of those people each year, and this year will claim one last victim. The airline refuses to name the individuals who missed that flight, or issue any further comment on the story.”
She stopped reading and slowly sat back in her seat. “Seven years ago?” She glanced at the date on the paper. “It’s today’s paper!” she breathed in shock. She looked around again. The people and plane seemed to be more real now, she could faintly hear them talking to each other. She looked at the man with the paper. He had fallen asleep with his hands resting on his stomach; she squinted to read the time on his watch. It read twenty past seven, and she saw the second hand on his watch was moving normally. She looked at her watch again, still stopped, and began to panic. “No! Ohmigod, no…”
She thought hard about that day 7 years ago. She knew she had missed the flight that day, it had been one of the worst days of her life. She was going on a business trip for the advertising agency she had been with for 9 years. She had left in plenty of time to get to the airport hours ahead; she hated to rush. Digging through her purse at the bag check, she found she had forgotten her ticket at home. She knew her husband would already be at work, so she saw no use in calling him to bring it. She decided instead to take a cab back to avoid parking again. When they drove up, she gave the driver $10 to wait, and then ran to the house. Quickly unlocking the door and opening it, she ran to the dining room table, grabbed her ticket and turned to leave. She froze in her tracks as she saw her husband and her best friend naked on her couch. After that, her life just seemed to stop. She had been severely depressed, unable to get past the betrayal. She had been unable to work, and wandered from job to job, exhausting all her contacts and ending up on disability. She refused to socialize, she trusted no one. She remembered all the times she wished she had been on the plane. She could have been spared all the pain of the last seven years.
She looked at the man’s watch again. 7:34. “Four minutes left…what should I do?” She began to pray. “Dear God, please forgive me for wasting the last seven years of my life. I had a second chance and I threw it all away wallowing in self-pity. I am truly sorry, please, God, forgive me. There was so much I could have done. Hail Mary, full of grace…” She felt the plane lurch, and she gasped. The man next to her woke up, and looked at her. He smiled and said, “Don’t worry. Just a little turbulence.” She stared at him incredulously. He patted her arm and said, “Really, everything will be fine.” The plane heaved again. She heard a thunderous noise, and looked down at the man’s watch, resting on her arm. It was 7:38.
History – Another pathetic attempt at fiction. This one, and The Blood, were for contests that had word count limits.