Saturday, June 23, 2012

Shadows on Stone

“What the hell?”

Russet’s head came up. “What?”

“Where did that come from?” Max pointed at the black clouds billowing on the horizon ahead of them. “The radar doesn’t indicate anything out there.”

“That’s a huge storm out there. How can the radar not see it?”

“Gather everything in the cockpit, and stuff it down under the back seats next to the grocery boxes.” He caught her before she chucked the pillow back there, stopping her with a firm grip on her arm. Hold on to that. If we go down, you’ll have it to cushion your head.”

“Well, that made me feel better.”

“That was my goal. Keep your eyes peeled for a possible place for us to put down.”
“Where the heck are we?”

“About an hour from our next refueling stop. And that’s on the other side of the storm.”

He saw her point to an enormous swirling vortex in the clouds. “What the hell is that?” she yelled. “Is that a tornado?”

“I don’t know!” Max bellowed as he fought to keep the plane airborne above the high Adirondack peaks while the black storm clouds bubbled and churned ominously all around them. From the corner of his eye, he saw Russet double-check her seatbelt harness. “Good idea.”

“There’s no way to fly around the storm?”

“We were. The storm is coming to us.” Max scowled as he studied the jagged terrain below. The crazy splotches of brilliant oranges and golds blanketing the steep mountains on the New York-Vermont border were nearly obscured by thick cloudy mist. Lightning flashed all around them, dancing frenziedly on the peaks as thunder rolled and boomed, shaking the sturdy Skyvan.

They were in trouble. Deep trouble. Alarmed and pissed off, he double-checked the weather forecast. Radar wasn’t indicating storms anywhere within a couple hundred miles. Well, they sure as hell were in the middle of a storm with a capital S. He desperately searched the steep mountainsides for a reasonably level place to set the plane down.

With shocking speed, the black clouds swirled around the plane, sucking it into the weird formation. As they flew through it, the engines made odd, little coughing noises. In the flickering light, they shot free of the cloud. He spied a narrow valley with a long meadow and drifted down for another look. With a fatalistic mental shrug, he decided it would have to do and lined up for his approach. “We’re going down!”

A resounding roar accompanied a brilliant flash of light. Seconds before his emergency touchdown, the engines went silent with an ominous plink.

And stuff happens...

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