Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Excerpt: 'The Aviator.'


Note: 'The Aviator' is a small piece of a larger work in progress and is subject to further review.

Cold wind blasted at his face, the stench of petrol ever present. Thoughts of fire danced in his head.

Looking over the side, the village of Bevan’s Knoll passed under his wheels. Huddled in his cockpit against the icy chill, inscrutable in the helmet, mask and goggles, the beauty of the land below, darkened in irregular blotches by patches of cloud, a low mist still hanging in some of the valleys, meant nothing to him.

The clock on the instrument panel mocked his every desire, and reinforced his every terror. If only she knew what he knew, she would never forgive him. But for her, he had sacrificed everything, and it still wasn’t his fault.

It wasn’t his fault and he didn’t want to pay the price. White knuckles gripped the control column, and his head swung on a pivot, dark eyes probing everything in rapier-sharp focus. He had no choice in the matter.

The fearful burden that he bore must go with him to his grave, for surely the truth, a truth so obvious, would never be accepted. It would never be accepted of him, never in a thousand years. One little lie to get somewhere in life, and it had led him to this inescapable moment in time. The barrier looming ahead made his lower guts tighten up in anticipation. Heavy straps tugging at his body in the sudden turbulence gave little reassurance.

The white fog obscured all vision and even dulled the sound of the motor. Rarely for him, the tension rose a thousand-fold, but this was different. There was no going back now. He stared at the turn-and-bank indicator in fixed concentration. What people said was absolutely right—there was just no way to tell if you were in straight and level flight inside of the cloud, or if you were in a one-way, one-gravity death spiral, with the cold and indifferent earth rising up to meet you. If the instruments had shaken, or tumbled, or gone off in any way, he felt he might have given up and died by choice…but they were serene in their confidence to measure simple forces.

The parachute bulging so uncomfortably under him was of no comfort at all. The thought of using it for anything other than an emergency, a fire in the air perhaps, terrified him.

People also said you couldn’t really tell the difference between vertigo and sheer horror. They said it was a kind of physical, totally-detached temporary insanity, where the whole world was spinning on you. In his experience, people said an awful lot of stupid things.

Normally a very confident young man, he was finding out that this one was true as well.

Perhaps it would be just as well if he did lose control. He could at least die with some dignity and his honour intact.

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