great ball of fire (part 1 of 5)
(originally posted 12/1/2017)
The idea came to him as he clutched his throbbing knee. His knee throbbed courtesy of a beverage cart being pushed down the aisle of his flight by an attendant who wasn’t paying any attention. Certainly not a unique occurrence. Even as your eyes travel across the page somewhere there is a flight attendant not paying attention. Getting a drink wrong. Giving a pillow to the wrong passenger. Saying “Have a nice day” to the herd of people existing the plane without bothering to look up from her task of looking busy. What makes this incident worthy of being on a page is not only the owner of said throbbing knee but what he was doing on the plane in the first place.
And he was flying to Washington D.C. to once again save the planet from certain destruction.
That got you. I bet you’re thinking to yourself that this is the quickest you’ve even been sucked helplessly into a story, unable to resist reading on.
And his throbbing knee got him to thinking. Thinking was the only way to avoid standing up and breaking the neck of the clumsy stewardess. It occurred to him that the pain he was feeling would have been very different if that beverage cart had been traveling ten thousand miles an hour. Hurtling down the aisle like a metal comet. His knee would have simply been sheared off.
He sank back into his first-class seat and briefly imaging his leg flying off to land wetly somewhere in the back of the plane.
And that’s when he realized that what made his leg hurt was the fact he was a conscious being. The various chemicals that made up his body were aware. Things collided in the universe all the time but rarely did they hurt because the objects weren’t aware. For a brief moment he appreciated the throb in his knee.
Then he remembered why he was flying to Washington D.C..
Damn it! Less than a dozen paragraphs in and I already don’t know if you put a period at the end of a sentence ending in D.C..
Damn it to hell, there it is again.
I would email my editor but I’m in the grips of inspiration and don’t want to lose track of where I was going with this.
Now where the heck was I going with this?
Oh yes, Nap suddenly had a thought. Rookies might call it a hunch but Nap knew that his intuition was never wrong. Where other people might have an educated guess, Nap leapt immediately into unshakable certainty. It was one of the many gifts that made him such an asset to his government. He could make a connection that seemed at the time absurd but in the end it was always proved correct.
However crazy it might appear at the time.
And this thought was crazy.
You see, Nap was flying to Washington D.C. to (thank goodness there were words after D.C. this time) to sit down and brainstorm with top officials about possible ways to stop the comet headed right for Earth from ending all life as we know it.
Even Washington D.C.. (now I’m just doing it to myself).
He rubbed his sore knee and realized that this comet might actually be aware. He marveled at his own intuitiveness for a few minutes then pushed his seat back and went to sleep. He still had a few hours in the air.
When Nap Lapkin falls asleep on a plane he dreams about plane-centric things. When he falls asleep on a train or inside a submarine he dreams about sex obviously. They both look like penises. One could argue that a plane looks like a penis with wings sticking out of it and bring up the fact that many psychiatrists associate flying with sex but as I am the one writing this who are you going to believe?
And yes, I know many of you will still believe the psychiatrists just to be difficult but as I can’t control who reads my stories I suppose I have to let it go.
Nap had the following dream; he was flying on a new plane. A new plane with extremely large aisles. It was in some alternate reality where a five hundred pound woman had sued the airlines because she wanted to be a flight attendant but she was too fat and kept getting stuck in the aisles. In this alternate reality there was nobody to sit her fat ass down and explain that she was too fat for that particular occupation and instead some agency with a title like American With Disabilities And Such forced all the airlines to buy all new planes with wider aisles to accommodate this woman. Of course, the woman never got to live out her dream of pushing a beverage cart down the aisle and hitting a passenger’s knee (Nap’s knee throbbed slightly as his subconscious realized what was going on between his ears and it caused him to stir slightly and mutter “fat bitch” before sinking back into the REM state) because she died of a heart attack while all the planes were being built. She was just too fat to live.
But her brave struggle to achieve her dream of pushing a beverage cart down the aisle and hitting a passenger’s knee (knee. stir. “fat bitch”) did have consequences. In Third World countries around the world they were able to buy the old planes at a great discount and thereby the number of aircraft fatalities plummeted. These ‘old’ planes they were buying weren’t really old compared to the ones that they were flying up until then. Their old planes were really old. Every third plane would burst into flames on the runway or disappear over whatever body of water they were flying over. Now they were able to afford nice planes because these Third World countries didn’t give a flying crap (get it? flying?) what a fat woman wanted to do as a career.
On the downside, the cost of flying in developed counties skyrocketed (that sky was unintended). Overnight it quadrupled and the airlines charged for every little thing they could. A passenger would hear the following safety announcement as the plane was ready to depart; “In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, insert your credit card and swipe it downwards then pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your own mask first, and then swipe your card for each individual you would like to have oxygen supplied to. You will receive a discount of $3 off every person after your third swipe. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it. Oxygen will continue to flow at a rate of $9 per half hour.”
It wasn’t long due to the cash-crunch that every flight included a decompression. Heaven forbid they were forced into a water landing, the cost of the slide was exorbitant to say nothing of the floatation devices.
At some point during the dream he imagined a rocky flight filled with decompressions and water landings and was jolted awake. He realized that the plane he was flying on was hitting some turbulence and the two were probably connected somehow, although it wouldn’t explain the cynicism of the dream, and he closed his eyes once more and drifted off.
He knew that even if the plane crashed he would somehow stumble out of the wreckage. Even if it crashed inside an active volcano he would stagger out of the ash coughing and no worse for wear.
He was a super spy for fuck’s sake.