Monday, September 23, 2013

Clash of the Figments - Chapter 12

I walked casually down the aisle of first class toward the aft end of the plane.  That’s the back.  Not sure why they call it aft, but they do the same thing on boats too although you can also call it the stern, the top of which is the fantail.  No stern or fantail on a plane, just forward and aft.  So right now I was moving physically forward to the aft section.  This made no sense to me at all.  Even though I wasn’t walking backwards, I couldn’t be moving forward if I was headed aft.  I got confused, had a small aneurysm, and fainted dead away to the floor. 

I woke up a while later, looking up at the ceiling.  At least I think it was called the ceiling.  I decided not to blow anymore brain cells and refused to go further down that path.  Besides, something had caught my eye to reinforce my belief that a certain Zodar the Spy Moose had been on this plane.  Namely one set of fresh moose prints running all along the roof of the compartment. 

Looking at the spoor more closely, I realized that there were only prints of his hind feet, which meant that he’d been tip-toeing.  And though I was no zoologist (and in fact had no idea what a zoologist was), I knew that anytime a renegade Russian Spy Moose has been tip-toeing on the ceiling of a passenger aircraft, he’s been up to no good. 

The footprints headed back.  To the stern .  .  .  .er, I mean, aft. 

I got to my feet, approached the curtain separating First Class from Coach, paused slightly to steel my nerve, and slipped quietly through. 

The first thing that hit me was the stench.  A nauseating aroma of death and decay permeated the air, and I recoiled because of it.  The second thing to hit me was a fist with four large knuckles, which came without warning from the side and caught me square in the jaw.  I recoiled from that as well, watching my hat fall to the floor and settle in a pool of urine.  I turned to face the threat – if anybody’s gonna be punching somebody it’s gonna be me – but there was no one there.  Through the gloom and murk I could see a man running down the aisle on the far side of the plane, huge floppy antler shaped ears bobbing a quick retreat into the bowels of the 7- somethin’ - 7. 

What the hell? 

I raised my hand to my face.  Blood.  Wiped my injured lip on my arm.  I bent down to pick up my hat.  Pee.  Wiped it on a woman sitting in 24-C.  With the bodily fluid cleanup complete, I continued my way further into the depths of the aircraft. 

Around the second stewardess station the compartment had embraced an eerie twilight.  Vines hung from the overhead and a thick mist rolled around my knees, obscuring the creatures who scurried below.  Two children in rags sat in front of a broken television, warming their hands by the fire burning inside.  The stripped remains of a sport SUV stood off to the side on blocks, chopped down to the serial numbers. 

I never fly coach. 

I stopped to let my eyes adjust and lit a cigarette.  In this type of atmosphere, it was the perfect complement to the coat and hat.  Very 30’s retro.  But I didn’t have time to enjoy the moment or gloat in the envious stares I was getting for long.  A stewardess – one with a dick – appeared out of nowhere and promptly spouted off some airline regulation about smoking being prohibited.  I told him I was happy for him but apparently that wasn’t what he wanted to hear.  He wanted me to put it out. 

Still smarting from the fact that I’d been sucker punched just minutes before and now totally annoyed that my moment was being interrupted, I wasn’t in the mood to hear it.  So I cleared his sinuses with a meaty haymaker and parked his regulation abiding ass on the carpet. 

Just a word here, folks.  If you ever come across a big guy in the dark wearing clothes that went out of fashion 60 years earlier, and this same individual is just standing there in a haze of smoke looking like he might like to punch someone, it’s usually in your best interests not to provoke him.  Unless you have a horrible toothache and can’t find a dentist. 

I caught a sudden movement out of the corner of my eye, but by the time I looked it was gone, whatever it was.  Probably a squirrel.  But it did lead my eye to an area just between rows 65 & 66 that didn’t look quite right.  I went over, yanked a few people from their seats, and knelt down for a better look.  Sure enough, there was a passage beaten through the underbrush.  I looked for trail sign and spotted several.  After a quick check of the spoor, I realized that something had recently passed this way.  I also realized that I had just used the word “spoor”  twice in the same chapter.  Maybe I was turning into Wilbur Smith.  But if you’ve never read a book by Wilbur Smith, you don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, do you?  Fucking idiot. 

I wondered who or what had recently come through the trail; my floppy eared friend with a penchant for surprise attacks, perhaps?  Maybe. 

I pulled out my gun and felt the pilot adjust the flaps to compensate for the weight of it.  Working slowly along the path, I went even deeper into the bowels of the aircraft, the gaping muzzle of my gun staring into the darkness with a black dead eye. 

The going was slower now.  The terrain grew rocky and pitted.  Complex mangrove root systems tried to snare my legs and the dense brush & improperly stowed luggage made movement almost impossible.  My progress got so slow at one point that even I got bored with the whole thing and dozed off for a while.  When I awoke I had to chase two kids out of the barrel of my gun.  They had apparently crawled in there for shelter.  And of course one of the little bastards had stuck gum in the rifling groove so I had to waste more precious time cleaning that out. 

At last I came to the rear of the cabin where even the airline crew looked like something out of a John Carpenter movie.  I stood there, puzzled, as there was not a sign of my quarry anywhere.  Well, perhaps there was a sign of him, but if there was, I missed it since I wasn’t sure what or who I was looking for in the first place. 

Then I spied it.  One of the bathroom doors was ajar.  Without thinking (okay, that’s a lie; I did think about it, but only briefly), I raised the mergers & acquisitions end of my gun and fired off six rapid shots into the small room, the BLAM!  BLAM!  BLAM!  BLAM!  BLAM!  BLAM! of the weapon obliterating all other noise.  I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone noticed but saw no looks in my direction. 

Peering through the gray smoke and shattered fiberglass of the lavatory, I looked to see if I had scored any hits, but other than the general carnage and the decapitated rhinoceros, nothing seemed amiss other than a few gaping holes in the fuselage and the strong smell of jet fuel in the air.  I shut the door and hoped no one would notice the damage until after we landed. 

Since the trail had gone cold, I decided to make tracks of my own back to the creature comforts of first class.  But as I turned to head back, I collected the second cheap shot of the afternoon, only this was no love tap.  I remember falling back slowly to the ground, watching the primates in the branches above swinging and chattering in slow motion.  Then the world turned black. 

No comments: