The altimeter, last I looked at it, showed that I was slowly, steadily falling.
I was losing hydraulic fluid too, and I felt loose pieces of metal swinging around at high speed, banging violently against the fuselage.
Steam billowed out of the gaping hole where the shrapnel hit. The increased drag was causing my bird to yaw slightly to the right.
I used to like the thought of being on an aircraft carrier, it made me feel important. My grandfather was deployed on one in his day. He flew a P-38.
He was shot down over the Pacific Ocean by a Zero he probably didn’t see coming.
I guess this is appropriate then.
I wonder what he would have said if he knew I joined the Air Force too.
Would he have been proud?
Would he have been afraid?
Luckily, planes are different these days, this was no catastrophic wound.
I’ve climbed high enough to coast for a while, so I backed off the engine power and glided.
The surf looked choppy- I had no idea my exact location but I should be close to the disputed territories in Eastasia.
If I can find a coast, I’ll be safe.
Well, I’ll be in enemy territory, but I’ll be on solid ground.
Just then, I heard five high-pitched notes in my headphones, which means that I’ve appeared on enemy radar.
I turned the engines on once more and started saying something that sounded, to me, something to the effect of panicked prayer but to outside observers madman’s mantras.
At that moment, I knew two things for sure: a missile could be waiting on a hair trigger for me, and either way, I truly didn’t want to be where I was.
I hunkered down a little, as if that made me more aerodynamic and jettisoned my drop tanks giving me some much-needed speed.
“Come on. Come on. Come on,” I repeated ad nauseum, pushing the throttle more.
The engine spooled up.
I tuned the alarm out, and was suddenly lulled into a sense of security, the constant droning sound seemed to take me backwards in space and time, at least in my mind.
I sat back into the seat, loose metal and rubber tubes still swing back and forth, clanging and caressing the side of the plane, and remembered my father bouncing me on his knee.
“Nervous?” He asked.
There were hundreds of people, standing around holding briefcases, eating fast food, sitting impatiently while reading newspapers.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Trust me,” he said, “the pilots know what they’re doing. Planes are very safe, and you’ll be able to see over the clouds!”
I felt myself actually smile, as I was enveloped in a benevolent golden light.
A couple of winged shapes came into view.
I had been staring at the sun.
I heard the alarm scream crrrEEEEEEEEE as I regained faculties.
They soared toward a craggy cliff, with a large plateau at its summit about a few hundred kilometers away.
The alarm’s volume fluctuated, red warning lights flickered quickly all about the cabin; a missile had locked onto me!
I pulled on the lever on my left next to my seat, with the same color scheme as a bumble-bee, denoting danger.
The canopy swung off over my head, and the seat thrust swiftly upward.
The plane banked to the right underneath me, still barreling forth at high speed.
After a few silent seconds, a massive fireball lit my line of sight; burning comets broke off and traveled upwards in L-shaped arcs before joining the rest of the fragments and tumbling into the ocean.
My parachute deployed and I drifted through a pillar of black smoke, and then headed toward the island carried on a thermal.
After a few minutes of slaloming through the swarm of gulls, I safely reached a shrub-covered plateau at the top.
Upon landing, I patted my chest until I felt sure I was alive.
I slid my helmet off and rest it on my lap; my unmasked eyes enjoyed a familiar world that now felt more vibrant and fresh than ever before.
Looking down, I noticed a greasy, white, spider web shaped splatter spiraling down the sides of the drab green dome.
Today was my lucky day.