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Kathy J Marsh

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Flying While Broken
By Kathy J Marsh
Monday, October 15, 2007

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Recent stories by Kathy J Marsh
· Broken Bones and a Killer Lizard
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What happens to friends flying on a damaged plane?

Flying While Broken



            The plane rose effortlessly through the darkening night, its silver body shimmering, its strobe lights blinking.  The two childhood friends who were strapped in their seats breathed a collective sigh of relief as the plane reached its cruising altitude.  Unbuckling their seat belts, neither woman was aware of the impending mayhem.


            One of the friends, Lexie, was in the throes of a hissy-fit.  The elderly woman in the window seat had refused to trade seats with her.

“Girl, you know she could have let me sit by that window,” Lexie said, still complaining to her friend, Nia.  She rolled her eyes at the woman who gazed out of her window, ignoring the both of them.

Nia snapped her head towards Lexie and hissed, “You need to calm down quick, fast and in a hurry!  That’s why you’re in the aisle seat right now.  I can’t have you creating a disturbance up in here.”

“Girl, please.”  Lexie waved her caramel-colored hand in Nia’s direction, thoroughly disregarding the little scolding.


The plane continued its journey, its mechanical and electrical parts seemingly working in perfect conjunction with one another.


Nia, opening her mouth to say something to Lexie, noticed her friend was completely enthralled by whatever she could see through the window.   Waving her hand in front of Lexie’s face, she said, “H-e-l-l-o!   What in the world is it with you and planes?  What are you looking at?”

Lexie gave a little chuckle.  “Everything!  Everything!  The sky, the stars, the clouds.  Everything!  Girl, I just love it when the plane takes off and that pressure…you know, that pressure that glues you to your seat…I just love it.  And then, I look out the window and watch as the ground drops away.  What can I say…I find it absolutely amazing!”

 She looked at Nia and laughed at the ‘girl, I know you crazy look’ on her friend’s cinnamon-toned face.  “And then see, I like to check out how different all the cities look from up here!  Some of them, like Wilmington, are all laid out in perfect little blocks.  And others, like Charlotte, have roads winding all over the place…I just love it!”  Eyes sparkling, face glowing, hands waving, she continued, “Not to mention the landing!  Especially at night!  Don’t you ever look at those blue runway lights?  Don’t you ever notice how they get bigger & bigger as the ground gets closer & closer?”  Not giving Nia a chance to answer, Lexie went on.  “And when I feel that bump…and I know we’ve touched down, I say to myself, oh hell yeah!”  She nodded.  “I don’t know, girl…I just find it freakin’ fascinating!”

Shaking her head, Nia said, “How in the world did I ever hook-up with your crazy behind?”  The friends looked at each other and cracked up.



The plane did a little shimmy as it made its way through the suddenly ominous clouds.  Several more small shimmies…the passengers glanced at one another, a little trepidation showing in their eyes.  The plane ended its dance.  Relief…


“Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  This is Captain Lewis speaking.  We are beginning our descent and should touch down at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in ten minutes.  The area is blanketed in fog, so we may have a bumpy landing.  I hope you’ve had a pleasant flight and thank you for flying Twilight Airlines.”


The plane, as if it had been listening to the pilot, began its rhythmic dance once again.


Lexie cast her gaze toward the window and strained to see as much as possible from her distant perch.  “You know, this turbulence crap is pretty scary…Damn!  Look at all that fog.”

“Oh!  So, little Miss Freakin’ Fascinated has the nerve to be…what…frightened?”  Nia’s voice dripped with sarcasm.

Suddenly, Lexie tensed.  “Oh my God!”  Her hands clenched the armrests; she leaned forward, her torso straining against the seatbelt.  

What?  What’s wrong with you?”  Alarm etched itself on Nia’s face.

Lexie’s right arm rose from the armrest.  Her hand was balled into a fist, the forefinger pointing at the window.  “The runway lights!  Oh my God, they’re right there!”  Her eyes locked on the window.  “We’re so close to the runway!  But, damn, we’re going fast!”  Just as those words tumbled from her mouth, Lexie felt the plane touch down.  She smiled a little smile, nodded her head and said to herself, “Oh hell yeah.”


The plane, its wheels having met the tarmac, seemed not to realize its flight had ended.  There was no screech of brakes as it journeyed down the length of the runway.  No screech of brakes as it journeyed across an open field, as it journeyed down a steep embankment.  No screech of brakes as its nose came to rest on the metal surface of a railroad track.  And definitely no screech of brakes as a train, a mile down that very track, raced towards the plane’s nose at 60 miles per hour.


Some passengers, having ignored the ‘Fasten Your Seatbelt’ sign, walked the aisles unlatching overheads as soon as the plane touched down.  Lexie sat still, waiting for the plane to brake, waiting to be flung forward, to feel her body strain against the seatbelt.

Instead, terror tore at her as, like a rag doll, the plane flung her forward and backward in its mad race from the smooth surface of the runway to the uneven surface of an adjacent field.  Dread claimed her as she watched unrestrained passengers attempt to grab seat backs, armrests—anything that would keep the relentless motion of the plane from tossing them around.  She watched in shock as pieces of luggage spilled from the gaping overhead compartments.  She watched in fear as one lonely sneaker flew toward her head, missing by a fraction of an inch.  Screams, moans, whimpers filled the air as the plane continued to rock and roll. 

As terrified as she was, her hands plastered against her mouth and her eyes big as saucers, Lexie’s mind began to form a few coherent thoughts.  “This is a plane crash!  Planes blow up in plane crashes!  I have got to get my ass off!”

As the plane shuddered to a stop, the phrase, ‘Planes blow up, get my ass off,’ was the single thought running through Lexie’s head, her mantra.  In one fluid motion, she unbuckled her seatbelt, swooped toward the floor where she spotted her pocketbook, swung the handles into the crook of her arm and began to run down the aisle, searching for escape.

To her right two men wrestled with the emergency exit door above the wing, and Lexie waited while the men struggled.  Her sneaker shod feet continued moving, though.  Still running, she was going nowhere.  “Planes blow up, get my ass off!”

Snatches of conversation floated through the air.  Nobody, not passengers, not flight attendants, seemed concerned about an explosion.  “What in the world’s wrong with these people?” she wondered, unaware she was still running, unaware she was still going nowhere.

Seconds later, the door swung open.  The strong, unmistakable smell of gasoline entered the cabin.  “Planes blow up, get my ass off!”

Lexie peered through the open door into the pitch-black night.  She saw Nia step tentatively through the door onto the wing and thought, “Now how did she get out there before me?  I know she was behind me a minute ago.”  That thought was only a momentary distraction, though, as a slight breeze brought the smell of gas close.  Her nose scrunched, her eyes watered, and the mantra kicked in, “Oh my God!  Planes blow up, get my ass off!”  Though adrenaline pumped up her pulse, time seemed unaware of her emergency; it moved as slowly as molasses trickled. 

That same adrenaline kept her feet moving.  She still ran, was still on her trip to nowhere, when she saw one of the men who had wrested the door open, standing on the ground, beckoning to the little old lady in front of her.  The lady, who obviously didn’t understand that planes blow up, turned to Lexie and in a tremulous voice said, “I’m scared.  I can’t go out there.” 

Fear and frustration overwhelmed Lexie’s deeply instilled home-training.  She thrust her face inches from the woman’s tear-stained one and whispered, “Lady, you get out of my way, or I’m gonna have to plow through your ass!”

Without uttering another syllable, the lady spun around, and carefully putting one foot in front of the other, made her way onto the wing.

Lexie followed, taking cautious steps.  Reaching the wing’s edge, she could barely see the man on the ground as he placed the older women beside him.

The night was a wet, inky black. The smell of gas was almost overpowering in its intensity.  “Oh my God!  This plane has got to be moments from blowing up!”  Panic began to ease its way into her being.  “I can’t wait on him, I’m gonna have to jump!” she thought, sitting on the edge of the wing, her feet dangling in mid air.  “I have got to get away from this plane!”  She eased her butt closer to the edge and looked down, but the night was so dark she couldn’t even see the ground.  Just as she was about to take the plunge, the man below stepped into her line of vision and extended his arms toward her.

As her feet hit the ground, she heard Nia screaming her name, and she turned toward Nia’s voice.  An embankment separated the two.  “Planes blow up, get my ass away!”  Lexie clawed her way up, hand over hand, digging into the soft, wet dirt, her pocketbook still in the crook of her arm.

She pulled herself onto the road where Nia stood and blew right by her friend, screaming. “Come on!”

“What?  Where?” Nia screamed back, taking a few steps as if she weren’t sure what to do.

“Just come on!” Lexie yelled, not even breaking her stride.  “Just come on!”

They ran like the hounds of hell were snapping at their heels.  The only two people in this marathon, they raced down the road, looking neither left nor right.

Suddenly, from the vicinity of the plane, people began shouting, “Run, run, the plane’s gonna blow up!”

“Oh my God!”  Adrenaline soaring, legs pumping and hearts pounding, they shifted into fifth gear.  Unaware of the light mist hitting their bodies, unaware of the silently drifting fog, they ran.

They ran until they could run no further.  Their mad dash stopped by a tall, wire fence.

“No!  Don’t touch that!”  Nia screamed at Lexie’s back just as her hand reached for the fence.

Head hanging over her knees, hands holding her sides, Lexie searched frantically for her breath.  “What… you…talkin’…’bout?  Why…can’t…I…touch…it?” 

“Suppose…it’s…electrified!” Nia panted as she wiped at the sweat dripping down her face.

“D-a-m-n!  What now?  I mean…like…how far do you have to be from an exploding plane—” 

“Wait!  Listen!  You hear that?”  Nia asked, her head cocked to the side.

“N-o-o.”  Lexie stood stock-still, listening.  “What?  I don’t hear…oh…sirens?  Sirens!  Yes!”

“Thank God,” Nia murmured.


“WKMN correspondent Darlene Wright is live at the airport,” Sonya Hill, the noon news co-anchor, said as the scene switched to the airport.

“Thanks, Sonya.  I’m here at Charlotte Douglas International Airport where Twilight Flight 251 ran off the runway at 8:34 last night.  There were seventy-seven passengers and eight crewmembers on board.  No deaths and no serious injuries resulted from the accident. The NTSB and airline officials are on-site, but offer no information as to the cause.”  The camera panned the area surrounding the wrecked airplane.  The plane, lying on its belly, resembled a rejected child, the name and logo of the airline already painted over.

“Darlene, do we know anything about the train?”

“Yes, Sonya, we’ve heard from an unidentified airline employee that a train was indeed approaching the downed plane.  A quick thinking air traffic controller averted a major disaster by placing a call to the railroad company.  From what I understand, that call was made just in the nick of time.”  A shot of the nose of the plane sitting atop the railroad track now filled the screen.

“In addition, Sonya, we have learned the plane almost certainly would have exploded if it hadn’t rained all day.  I was told the soaking ground provided no hard surface for sparks to ignite.  Live from Charlotte Douglas International Airport.  I’m Darlene Wright.  Channel 4 News.”

“Well, Bob, I’m glad to say the people on board Flight 251 were an extremely fortunate group,” Sonya remarked, smiling at her co-anchor, Bob Wilson.

“Indeed they were.  Indeed they were.”



To check out the first six chapters of The Aura of Love, click on My Blogs!


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Reviewed by John Domino 8/16/2008
You have God given talent and a heart of GOLD.

Success Always,

John Michael
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 1/4/2008
well done
Reviewed by Patricia Smith 10/16/2007
Being I am overwhelmed at even the thought of flying anywhere. This story was really terrifying to me. It seemed as I read I read faster.
It was brilliant. I salute you. I really enjoyed it.
Patricia J Smith

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