A Greater Danger

A side scene snip from my next novel.

Jessica sat in her window seat, afraid. Flying toward the PHX airport, she was wondering if this was going to be her last moments. Part of her didn’t want to be on her way home, but that didnt mean she wanted to die.

There was turbulence, a lightning storm that rocked the plane like a boat rolling over waves. The air was heavy with anticipation, fear. She had been on vacation. Sunlight’s highlights gave her auburn hair life and the faint scent of coconut still clung to her tanned skin. But she was going home. Home to her miniature poodle, Maximus, and her husband, George.

Another bump made her close her eyes and try to think happy thoughts. Other passengers began to mutter to each other.  They’d stopped fidgeting a few bumps ago – stopped pretending to read or watch the little TVs.  The pilot came on twice, but hadn’t bothered in the past five minutes.  He’d told the flight attendants to buckle in and then clammed up as he presumably tried to dodge the terrifying lightening.

Jessica had been so stressed lately. George had sent her to her best friend’s home on the coast to “take a week away from life.” The vacation was magnificent. Relaxing and fun, she and Lois were a couple of 30-somethings out on the town, out on the beach, out on their own. No bills, no bosses, no husbands wanting dinner or dogs needing walks.

The plane plummeted for several seconds, inspiring screams and gasps from the passengers. There was also a giggle. The woman next to her was looking out the window, a demented smile on her face as her fingers twisted in her long hair. Jessica quickly looked away as gooseflesh broke out on her arms.

“Come on, come on,” the woman said. Her urging made Jessica look at her again. She had a round face and was now leaning forward and towards the window, her eyes squinted. Her lips pursed. She seemed so intense – probably didn’t even realize she’d spoken.

One of the compartments toward the back of the plane snapped open and a coat fell out onto a woman who shrieked like it was a snake. Her seatmate just kept staring out the window. Jessica’s fingers turned white as she held onto one armrest – the one farthest from the woman’s creepiness. She was undecided where to look – something in her told her that the greatest danger wasn’t the weather.

A lightening strike brightened the cabin, illuminating a momentary look of hopefulness on the woman’s face before it fell. Jessica thought she must be frightened, but there was something about her – something inhuman.

Soon, they would survive through the storm and land peacefully in Phoenix. Part of her believed the plane would not crash. That didn’t really happen to people, did it? Jessica turned back to the window as the woman sat back, slumping slightly. She heard her sigh as if deeply disappointed.

Then, nothing happened. The turbulence calmed.  The pilot returned to the sound system with reassuring words.

“We’re through the worst of it!”  He made everyone laugh with “What a ride, eh folks?”  The steward-people went back to work.  The plane landed.

Jessica was glad to deplane, but was happy to have a shaky couple step in-between her and the dark-haired woman. It wasn’t the ride that woke her that night. It was the look in the woman’s eyes as she shot one last look out the window as they landed – cold, cornered, and condemned.

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