"Encounter in the Air"

Streams of icy air blasted through the sky, but that didn't bother Bob. He was encased in the tons of steel skeleton and skin that composed his airplane. Robert Madison was a pilot for Continental Rail and Air Service Holdings (CRASH), and this plane was his baby. She was a 747, and she sailed gracefully through the sky almost every day as her polished, silvery skin reflected the sunlight in all directions. And though the pure snow fell outside among the frigid air, Bob was comfortable in the warm cockpit. Through the cockpit window, Bob observed the sun slowly setting, just barely visible through a fissure in the clouds. Soon it would be night, and on the ground below, Bob knew, it would still be quite bright. Flying during the winter, especially when it was snowing, was very nostalgic for Bob. He had to be wary of falling into deep trances, because he was the captain of the airplane. No doubt the co-pilot and navigator would not take kindly to his falling asleep on the job. Bob sat up straighter and began to study his instruments, when, without warning, the door to the cockpit swung open. In stepped a Middle Eastern-looking man, clutching a grenade. Bob noticed the grenade was missing it's pin, which did not bode well at all.

"Who's the captain?" demanded the man.

Bob refused to face the hijacker, instead choosing to stare out the cockpit window. "Who wants to know?" he retorted.

"I am from the Holland-Ireland Joint Army of Casual Killers (HIJACK), and I want you to change the course of this plane," the hijacker said. He spoke with such ease, Bob was convinced he had plenty of experience in this area.

Bob leaned back in his high-back chair letting it all sink in. A hijacker. A grenade. "Especial de dia," he muttered to himself. The special of the day, indeed. This one had come gift-wrapped in black, and toting a grenade. Wonderful.

The hijacker's eyes lit up. "What did you say to me?"

"I said 'You're uh... especially dead, now, Bob,'" he replied, thinking quickly. "This is a Continental Rail and Air Service Holdings plane... Standard CRASH procedure during an attempted hijacking requires the activation of a self-destruct mechanism. CRASH would rather its pilots blow up its planes than hijackers blow them up."

The hijacker's eyes, already wide, grew wider. "This is a CRASH plane?"

"Yes," Bob said.

"I was supposed to be on a Philadelphia Liberty Air Network Express plane!" the hijacker exclaimed, thumping his head.

"A PLANE plane?" Bob demanded.

"Yes! PLANE is actually a cover company for the Secret Police International's Elite Services," the hijacker began to explain.

Bob, still staring at the setting sun through the cockpit window, interrupted. "So PLANE is actually SPIES in disguise?"

"Right," the hijacker confirmed. "SPIES, through PLANE, has been crashing aeroplanes into residential areas of my country as a way of retaliating for our last hijacking."

Bob turned around. This was getting confusing. "Your last hijacking?"

"Yes. That one was in response to a missile attack they staged against my country, because of a bombing we performed a year ago. That particular bombing was our way of getting revenge after they... nevermind. Anyway, I was going to blow up the PLANE plane, regardless of what happened. But, since this is a CRASH plane and not a PLANE plane, I suppose that isn't necessary. Now I just have to figure out how to disarm this grenade."

Bob stood up, turned and looked at his copilot. "Ed," he said.

"Ed," the copilot replied.

Bob grabbed the hijacker's arm and pulled him out of the cockpit. "Sir, I need you to stand right here next to the hatch. There is special equipment built into the walls of this area, and that equipment is designed for the disarmament of any kind of weapon."

The hijacker looked at the grenade he clutched in his hand, his fingers holding the safety down. He took his place in front of the hatch and looked at Bob. "Let's do it," he said.

"Ed!" Bob shouted.

"Explosive decompression, yes sir," the flight attendant replied.

The hijacker's eyes grew wider than they'd been throughout the entire episode. "Noooo!" he exclaimed. The rest of his words were drowned out by massive thunder, as the hatch blew away from the side of the plane, sucking the hijacker and the grenade out with it. After a few seconds in free fall, the hijacker tossed the grenade as far as he could. Unfortunately, it was falling at the same rate he was, and it exploded three seconds later. All passengers on the left side of the aisle with open windows gasped at the sight.

Bob stared out the open hatch. The roar of the plane drowned out all the other sounds in the cabin. "That was fun," he muttered. Bob stepped into the flight attendant's serving area and pulled out a megaphone. "Because we are now missing the hatch door," he said, after clicking on the megaphone, "we will be making an emergency landing. I don't want any of you passengers getting sucked out into the open sky. So, if you haven't already, this would be an excellent time to buckle up. I'll get back to you when we're on the ground."

Bob staggered back into the cockpit, a little dazed. The dark of night greeted him through the window. "Okay, boys, let's take her down," he said.

The silver-skinned plane began to plummet towards the earth at tremendous velocity. The blanket of snow on the ground smiled back up at the fantastic falling vehicle, the CRASH plane. And then the plane crashed.

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