Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Maelstrom

Bad is never good until worse happens. -Danish Proverb


  1. They were flying their approach to Arlanda airport whose glideslope transmitter wasn't working. The countryside was covered with snow and even the evergreens were a single mass of white.

    Sven, the first officer, pointed at a brown smudge in the center of a flat plain. "Look at the cow on the ice."

    "Don't get distracted," said Captain Lebron, "I don't like the look of the clouds on the radar."

    "Air America 377, you may begin you descent to 4000 feet," crackled the air traffic controller.

    "Hey boss, we got five maybe ten minutes of fuel left. How about we get this thing down on the ground," said the flight engineer.

    "Damn," said Lebron. "Sven, get that air traffic controller on the horn and tell them it's an emergency we better land fast." Sweat dripped from Lebron's eyebrows and the salt stung his eyes.

    When the 747 flew into a low cloud, everything in front of them became a single splash of gray. The captain and the flight officer concentrated on the controls and digital displays. The plane bucked as they flew into wind shear.

    "Tony, get on the intercom and talk to the crew and passengers," said Lebron.

    "What do you want me to say?"

    "Anything. Make sure they stay calm." The plane jerked again.

    A lightning bolt flashed through the sky and the tendrils like thin twigs on a tree flickered across the aircraft's nose. He felt the thunderclap as the cloudy mist glowed white for seconds after the bolt flickered away.

    "Lightning in winter?"

    "You know it's one of those friendly Scandinavian greetings where bad is never good until worse happens," said Sven.

    "Lovely," said Lebron as he swiped beads of sweat away. "Who told you that?"

    "It's one of my dad's sayings. There, see the runway lights."

    Captain Lebron flicked the switch to drop the landing gear. A light blinked on the dash but they didn't hear the familiar hum of the landing gear extending.

    "Sven, get back in the passenger section and flip the manual override control to drop the landing gear."

    Sven raced out of his seat and strode through first and business classes until he got to the panel between the seats in economy. He pulled up the floor panel and lowered himself down below the floor until just his waist and legs stuck up out of the floor and he could reach the override. He flicked it, but nothing happened for a second. He waited and then felt the hum of the landing gear.

    He ran back to the front and Lebron pulled the nose up as Sven belted himself into his chair and the wheels hit the tarmac.

    P.S. Anyone spot the Swedish saying?

  2. Aidan, I've no idea what the Swedish saying is but I LIKE this!! Are you a pilot or what? Is there really landing gear panels where the seats are? I'm going to freak out now on a plane. ;)

  3. There is a swedish saying "There is no cow on the ice". It refers to a swedish farmer who might have one cow. It was a reminder that as long as their cow hadn't wandered out onto the ice things could be worse.

    I'm not a pilot but have recently read a non-fiction book that was investigating plane crashes. However, I know someone who was flying and had a pilot run back where the seats were to get at the landing gear panel. I don't know what type of plane that was and it probably wasn't a 747.

  4. This sucked. This was hell. He felt crowded and filthy. Safety in numbers? What a joke. Later--after they'd passed out supplies, he'd get away from this crowd. All he could smell was sweat and dirt... and people. Too many people.

    "Whatcha got there?" the girl asked, sitting down beside Nate. She dropped a backpack at her feet as she leaned against the wall beside him, crowding him. They were all crowding him.

    All that remained alive were sitting beside a concrete wall in the dead part of town waiting for the week's distribution of food and water. This was it. Everyone alive was right here... crowding him.

    When the entire city fried via the atomic pulse, only the less industrial dead side of town survived. The dead side. It was interesting that the dead side of town survived, in Nate's opinion. Ironic. As if a higher power was laughing at technology. He tossed the super round rock from hand to hand. It looked like a rock carved into a sphere.

    "It's a rock, isn't it?" she asked, gesturing. "Did you make it?"

    "I found it," Nate said, continuing to toss the rock from hand-to-hand.

    "It's weird," the teenage girl beside him said. "It looks like a giant marble." She was his age and, truth to be told, probably cute underneath the grime of two weeks of rubble hell.

    "Yeah... there were a bunch of them. Other people found them too. Maybe it's a sign.... or something," Nate said. He didn't really know what he was saying, but her nearness was doing funny things to his stomach. There was the rumble of hunger that was always present... but something else tickled his insides. Anticipation of... what?

    Her eyes followed path of the rock. "Do you ever get the feeling that maybe there are bigger forces at work and we're just a game?" She was leaning closer to him, though she probably didn't realize it. Her dirty hand clutched at his soiled sleeve. He didn't mind it so much.

    "You're hung up on the marbles thing," Nate said, trying not to smile.

    "There are weird things happening out there," she whispered.

    Someone walking by quickly snatched the bag from in front of her and took off running with it.

    "HEY! My food!" she shouted, trying to get to her feet.

    Nate beamed the thief with the rock and he fell in a heap. She retrieved the bag and his rock, leaving the thief where he fell.

    "We should stick close together," Nate said to her. "Pool our resources and protect each other." He'd seen one of the bigger guys, glancing her way and checking out her legs. Yeah. She needed him and being needed... sounded pretty damn good. Plus, she had food to share.

    She smiled... a flash of white against her dusty skin. Dropping the rock into his hand, she said, "My name's Ali... that sounds good." She sat even closer than before, and Nate glared at the guy checking her out.

    "Yeah. Close together," he repeated. He put her backpack beside his and looped his leg through both the shoulder straps. The rock began its arc again.