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Melissa Crosson

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Witnesses and Troublemakers
by Richard French

A novel about the effects of warfare on ordinary people and the rewards that come with reflecting on one's experience later and talking or writing about it. This is the f..  
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The Trip From Hell
By Melissa Crosson
Friday, September 03, 2004

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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A not so short story for all of you to enjoy. Keep in mind I don’t know port from starboard so I used left and right. Left is driver’s side and right is passenger side (when sitting down facing front.)

This airplane ride was unlike any other I had taken before. It was an older plane but appeared to be in good repair. As I got on the plane I noticed that all the seats had been recently recovered in a maroon fabric. There were four seats on the right side of the plane and six seats on the left side.
I, slowly, followed the person in front of me and we sat on the right side of the plane. I shoved my backpack under the seat in front of me and put my seatbelt on. I sat back and closed my eyes.
“This is the Captain speaking: We’re having an engine problem and we’re making an emergency landing. Please put your head as far down as possible to minimize any injuries.”
My eyes flew open and I could hear the whine of the engine on the right side. All of us did as we were told. The landing was bumpy and a little rough but it wasn’t all that bad of a landing.
“Stay in your seats.” The Captain said.
We looked out of the windows to try and see where we were. All we could see was that we were on a flat spot on a mountain. There appeared to be houses of some kind and warehouses around us. We could see what had to be a landing strip but it appeared as if we didn’t have enough room to turn around, assuming the plane could be fixed.
The cockpit door came open and the pilot came out. “Well, there’s not enough fuel left to get us off the ground. The good news is that I managed to get a mayday out before the radio fried. I’m going to go have a look around and see if I can find anyone around that can help us. All of you need to stay in your seats.”
The pilot opened the door on the right side and waited for the emergency slide to open. We heard him slide down and saw him out the window. He disappeared around a corner and the flight attendant closed the door because there was a very cold breeze coming in the door.
“How’s he gunna get back in?” One of the guys asked the flight attendant in a thick southern accent.
“Shut up! No talking!” It was a big, burly guy in the front row on the right side of the plane.
“And why should I?” He asked.
The big, burly guy stood up and drew a 9mm from a shoulder holster. “Because I said so. Now if all of you behave there won’t be any problems.”
The flight attendant didn’t seem to be scared and I couldn’t figure out was going on. I figured it wasn’t really any of my business but I’d keep an eye on things to try and figure out what was going on. I put my head back and closed my eyes. I listened to everything around me. I could hear birds outside, everyone breathing, the flight attendant in the kitchen area, the big, burly man playing with the change in his pocket, and finally a dog barking. The guy next to me nudged me so I opened my eyes and looked over at him. He pointed out the window so I looked. The pilot was coming back and he had something in his arms. The flight attendant must have been looking out the window in the door because she opened the door. We heard whatever he had hit the floor in the plane and then I heard what must have been him climbing the chute to get back in.
“I need five people to help me bring supplies back here.” I heard him say to the big, burly man.
“Are you prepared to shoot any of them if they try to run?” The big, burly man asked the Captain.
“They won’t run. We’re on the top of a plateau with no way down but to jump to your death or by plane. I didn’t find any planes and there’s no sign of anyone but us. There’s houses that aren’t locked and they have plenty of food in them. They don’t have any electricity and I didn’t find any generators. Our best bet is to go get the food and bring it back here. We have enough fuel to cook with and if we have to we can start a fire outside by the houses to cook on. I don’t know how long we’ll be here so we should plan for the worst and hope for the best.” The Captain said.
The big, burly man started to walk through the plane and picked out five of us. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a part of a food gathering expedition but when you have a 9mm pointed in your face you do as your told. I got up and followed the Captain and the others down the chute. I heard the door close behind us. The Captain started to walk so we followed him. We went around the corner and he pointed to the houses. We went inside and grabbed anything we could carry. We brought back our booty and threw it up into the plane. We went back to the houses and grabbed more food. When we had cleaned out a house we went to another and did the same. It took us most of the day to get the houses cleaned out and it was cold. We were starving by the time we were done. The flight attendant had made soup out of the supplies we had brought. It was the best soup I had ever had. She had managed to make enough that we could have two servings each. When I was done, with my second serving, I brought my spoon and bowl up to the kitchen area. The flight attendant was writing our names on our bowls and spoons.
“We don’t have much water suitable for drinking but we have a crapload of wet naps. Take one and clean your bowl and spoon then take them back to your seat and put them under your seat.” She handed me a wet nap and I did as I was told.
The cold, the continuous trips to get food and then the hearty warm soup must have been enough to make me doze off. I woke up freezing and it was dawn of a new day. I carefully got up and put my hands in my pockets. I started to walk to the front of the plane and saw that the big, burly man was sound asleep. I took my hands out of my pockets and put them where he could see them. I gently shook him and did my best not to startle him. It must have worked because his eyes shot open and he didn’t go for his gun.
“I need to use the bathroom.” I whispered so as not to wake anyone. “I didn’t want to wake you but I also didn’t want to be shot. It’s freezing in here is there anything we can do about that? More warmth will make it so you don’t doze off from hypothermia.”
He nodded his head towards the bathroom and I carefully turned around, keeping my hands where he could see them. I opened the door and left it open while I used the bathroom. I made sure he could see my hands first as I came out of the bathroom. I walked back to my seat and hunkered down for what was sure to be a very cold nap.
I woke up to someone shaking me. It was big burly. “What?” I asked as I sat up in the seat.
“Chow’s ready. I didn’t want you to miss your share.” He bent down and whispered, “Now, we’re even.” I nodded my head as he stood upright and walked away.
I grabbed my bowl and spoon and went to the kitchen area. No one was in the plane but big burly, me and the flight attendant. I got my soup and asked, “May I sit in the front row and eat?”
The flight attendant looked at big burly and I saw him nod his head out of the corner of my eye. I sat down and ate my soup. It was just as good as the first batch. When I was done I got a wet nap, cleaned my bowl and spoon and put them away. I went back to big burly and the flight attendant and said, “If I may ask: where is everyone?”
“Outside making a signal fire and checking every building for anything useful. You can stay here and help make the next batch of soup.” Big burly said to me.
“Yes, Sir.” I then turned to the flight attendant and said, “What do you want me to do?”
We were halfway done with the preparations when I smelled gas. I wrestled the door open and went down the chute. I saw the puddle of gas on the ground and crawled back up as fast as I could. When I got to the top big burly didn’t look too happy.
“We have to shut the engines down, there’s a gas leak.” I managed to get out.
Big burly ran into the cockpit and shut the engines down.
We huddled for warmth that night. Sleep eventually overcame us, with thoughts of warm soup in our heads, as the cold seeped into our bones.
We all woke up cranky because we were so cold. The Captain made us get outside and go into one of the buildings for calisthenics to get our blood moving. When that was done he told me to go back to the plane and help make the soup. We were about to call chow when a phone rang. The flight attendant jumped at the sudden sound. She fumbled with what was in her hands and managed not to dump it on the floor. She got to the phone and picked it up.
I could see her carotid artery pump harder. She looked at me and said, “It’s the FAA. They need to talk to the Captain to see if he has an idea of where we are.”
I opened the door and shot down the chute. I almost lost my balance as I shot off the end at a dead run. I found the Captain and told him what was going on. His feet make sparks as he shot off towards the plane and I was right on his heels.
A barking dog coming towards me stopped me dead in my tracks. I searched the shepherd for a collar.
“Bingo!” I gave the dog some scratches behind the ears and took off, again, towards the plane.
“Brady, Ohio!” I screamed when I was halfway back up the chute.
Big burly stuck his head out the door and said, “What?”
“I just found a dog and his collar had an address of Brady, Ohio on it.”
As big burly helped me into the plane the Captain was saying, “Yes, we found food and enough water to make a damn good soup but we can’t wait another day. We had to shut the engines down because of a gas leak. Yes, I understand it will take time to get us out of here. No, we’ll freeze to death dammit! I am calm so don’t tell me to calm down. Yes, everyone is accounted for. No, there haven’t been any problems. Yes, they’ve all behaved. What is this the damn Spanish Inquisition? If it wasn’t for one of these convicts we would’ve gone up in smoke already! You better be here by dusk or we won’t survive another cold night.” The Captain slammed the phone down and sat down with his head in his hands.
Big burly asked him, “When can they get here?”
“At first they told me three days but at the end they agreed to be here by dusk. At the very least they’ll bring generators so we can be warm tonight. Maybe they’ll even bring us some fresh water.”
Help arrived by dusk with warm clothes, food and water. They even managed to bring a plane big enough for all of us to fit on. We were transferring things from one plane to another when full dark hit. Me and one of the other convicts were the last off the old plane.
“Great, full dark. You know there are murderers among us.” He said to me.
“What are you saying that now we’re all going to start dying?” I turned around and started to jog backwards and said, “Oooooohhhhh, we’re all going to die!” The fact that his hand was out and he was trying to stop me didn’t register until the bag was put over my head. I tried to scream but my air supply was already cut off. I tried to claw the bag off but it was too late. I was already dead. The fear on my face was frozen for all too see, including me as I floated away and saw the look on my face.

I woke up in a cold sweat and my heart was beating 8 million miles a minute. I reached over and woke Robin up and told her about my dream.

I’ve changed some things around and left some things out to make my dream make sense. I slept with a light on the rest of the night and it took me four days to be able to sleep all through the night. I’m not sure what set it off and I hope to never have a nightmare like that one again. It was fine until the end, weird but fine.

I did some research and found a Brady, Ohio. It’s off of Cadiz Rd in Salt Fork State Park, in the mountains. The irony is that I didn’t know it existed (I’m also not a convict or felon). The irony continues because Brady, Ohio of located off of Cadiz Road. I live in Cadiz, Kentucky. I also don’t know if Salt Fork State Park is located in mountains high enough for it to be cold or not, but my dream seemed real enough when I was having it.

I’ll probably have a heart attack if I find out it ever happened or if it does happen, but I’ll tell you this much: If I ever hear about a plane full of convicts missing I’ll be the first to tell them where to check!

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