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Flight of the Lost
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Flight of the Lost

By Paul Benvin

Karen Marshall was elated to finally be leaving. She had been planning this trip for nearly six months, and couldn't think of a better get away than a full week of rest and relaxation. When she walked into the travel agent's office, she was looking for a place where she could simply get away from her everyday life and lose herself in the surroundings. When the obnoxious woman behind the counter suggested a small, quaint little resort just outside Colorado, Karen jumped at the prospect. Not being bothered by anyone was one of her main concerns, and this sounded like just the place. She could picture it in her head. A cozy log cabin, a fireplace, and possibly one of those rugs made out of some wild animal. She was going to love it. Her boss wasn't exactly thrilled that she was taking a vacation during the busy season, but he would just have to find someone else's ass to ogle while she was gone.

As she was walking down the ramp to board the plane, she waved back over her shoulder to her mother and father. They had insisted on coming to see her off, and although in opposition of being treated like she was still fifteen, she finally relented. They meant well, and even though they were both a little over protective most of the time, they were still her parents. She couldn't help but love them.

After finding her seat, she stowed her carry on bag in the overhead compartment and settled in. It wasn't exactly first class, but it was nice nonetheless. As she sat there gazing out the window at the hustle and bustle of the airstrip, the pilot came on over the intercom. To Karen, his voice was very soothing, almost hypnotic.

"Hello, ladies and gentleman. My name is Mr Stuart, and I'll be your pilot this evening. We'll be departing shortly, so if everyone would please find their seat, Ms Bauer will walk you through the flight instructions. As always, thank you for flying Charter Airlines, and have a pleasant trip.

With that, the overhead speaker fell silent, and the bubbly Ms Bauer informed everyone what to do in case of an emergency - bend over and kiss your ass goodbye, Karen thought - how to buckle the seatbelts, and what the in flight movie would be. Luckily for her she had already seen Cats and Dogs, so as the plane coasted out onto the runway, Karen pulled the lever on the reclining seat and fell into a deep slumber.

She abruptly woke up, out of breath and sweating profusely. The aircraft was shaking violently in severe up and down motions, and the overhead lights were flickering on and off. Glancing around frantically, she was surprised to notice that all the other passengers were asleep. They were all oblivious to what was going on around them. Then, as quick as it had begun, the plane leveled off and was steady again. Karen, visibly shaken and wide awake now, let out an audible breath as she slowly stood up on trembling legs and made her way to the ladie's room.

"What the hell was that," she said into the mirror. "Not exactly a good way to start your vacation." She turned on the faucet and splashed a handful of cold water onto her face.

When she got back to her seat the old man sitting next to her was awake and thumbing through a copy of The New York Times, the faint glow of his reading lamp casting eerie shadows upon his wrinkled face.

"Fly much?"

"Pardon me," Karen said as she sat down.

"Do you fly much," the old man responded as he closed the paper.

"Not very often, but I've been on planes before."

"I only ask because of the way you ran off after we hit the turbulence back there. Some people can't handle it."

"Yeah, it was pretty unnerving," she said as she reached into her pocket for her lipstick.

"You don't need that," the old man said as he leaned in closer to her. "You're a very beautiful girl." He was grinning now, and Karen noticed most of his teeth were gone.

"Thanks," she said hesitantly. "You're very kind." She didn't want to have this conversation anymore.

"My wife - she's dead - used to wear that stuff. When I told her I didn't like when she wore it, you know what she said to me?" He was inches from her face now, his breath reeking of something similar to rotten fish.

"What?" She had an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, and the salad she had eaten earlier in the day felt like it was about to come up.

"She told me it wasn't for me anyway. Can you believe that?"

"Excuse me," she said as she hurriedly got up and walked back to the bathroom. As soon as the door was shut, vomit sprayed from her mouth with such force that it came out her nose. She brought her hand to her mouth, but the thick sludge forced its way through the cracks in her fingers. She wobbled over to the toilet, one hand over her mouth and the other on the wall, and unleashed the full onslaught into the open bowl. As Karen cleaned herself up, the lights flickered once, twice, and then went dead.

The temperature unexpectedly dropped, and in a matter of seconds the chill in the air permeated every corner of the plane, making the hairs on the back of Karen's neck stand at attention. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, marveling at the steam that poured from her mouth. Her entire body began to shake uncontrollably. As she stood there in the cramped bathroom, cold and afraid, there was a jarring knock on the door.

"Hello, came a distorted voice from the other side. Are you alright in there?"

"I'm, uh, I'm fine," Karen responded. "Just a little woozy, that's all."

"Well open the door honey, and we'll see if we can't fix you right up."

"I'll be out in a minute," came Karen's shaky voice from inside.

"Open the door now," the muddled voice demanded. "You can't stay in there forever."

Karen opened the door, expecting to see a flight attendant or another passenger, but what she saw was not from this world. Standing there was the rotten and disfigured shape of a woman long dead. Most of her hair was gone, and what remained was a tattered and disheveled mess. Chunks of flesh were missing from her face revealing the gnarled and stringy muscle beneath, and maggots could be seen swarming in the infected depths where her skin used to be. Looking past this abhorrent thing, Karen noticed that the plane had changed completely. What was once a fully functional passenger jet was now just a crumpled and mangled shell. The metal was rusted, like it had been under water for some time, and all the windows were gone. As she peered out one of the holes, she could see the stars passing by in rapid succession. They were still in the air. As she stood there shaking her head, Karen Marshall became aware of more beings gathering in the aisles, each in varying stages of decomposition.

"You're with us now," the dead woman said as she started to advance, her outstretched arms dripping pools of rotting ooze. "We're going to take good care of you."

As Karen began to scream, a single bolt of lightning blistered the night sky, briefly illuminating the airborne graveyard as it continued its endless journey.

Copyright Paul Benvin 2004


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