Writing

Short Story: ‘Mystery Flight B’

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April’s Furious Fiction

Guidelines for this month were that each story had to include three pieces of dialogue, taken from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Anthony Burgess, and Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty.

Here’s my effort:

Mystery Flight B

“What’s it going to be then, eh?” The ticket seller tapped his foot, waiting for a response.

Rod hesitated. “What’s today’s choice again?”

“Mystery Flight A, return; or B, one way only.”

Rod heard the tumour speaking to him through his stomach wall. Take B! You don’t need to come home…

“OK… I’ll take B, thank you.”

The man looked pleased. “Good choice! Not many taking that one nowadays, but still, you never know.”

No, Rod thought, you never know.

Three hours later, he was in a cramped seat, the belts clicked, ready to fly. As he waited for the pre-flight checks to be done, he thought about his sister’s reaction when he’d called her.

“You’re WHAT?”

He’d repeated it.

Silence. Two beats, five. A rustling as she covered the phone’s mouthpiece, turned to someone, probably Phil.

“He’s never done anything like this before,” she whispered.

“Ros? I’m leaving in a couple of hours. I wanted to say…goodbye…Not sure when I’ll be back.”

“How are you going to live, wherever it is you’re going?” Her panic zinged through the air between them. He was surprised: he hadn’t thought she’d care that much. Since both their parents had died, there wasn’t a lot holding them together. And Phil hated him. Rod shrugged. He didn’t have much time for his brother-in-law either, so that was fair.

He said, “I’ll manage. I’ll find something to do.”

“Well…will you at least let me know when you get there? Let me know how you get on?”

“Of course I will,” he promised. He would if he could. “Better go now. Say hi to Phil. Look after yourself, OK?”

The pilot’s voice came through the intercom. Professional, reassuring. “Good afternoon, folks. Welcome on board today’s Mystery Flight B. It’s a beautiful day for flying so be sure to take a peep out the window. Enjoy the flight.”

Rod smiled at the elderly man who’d taken the seat beside him. The man smiled back. He had a mane of snowy white hair and a long, snarly beard. He looked very…dignified.

Rod leaned back in his seat as the sounds and sensations of take-off started. He closed his eyes. When he opened them, the light had gone from outside. Had he fallen asleep? He pressed his face to the window. Gave an involuntary gasp as he took it all in. Glimmers from floating stars. Earth, a blue and white marble far below, floating on a sea of inky dark velvet. The paper-thin layer of atmosphere, once a cradle of protection, now a toxic soup that threatened all life beneath it.

The man next to Rod leaned forward to look. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution,” he said.

Rod only nodded and turned his face to the window again.

Just for fun, let me know in the comments if you worked out which bit of dialogue comes from which novel.

 

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