Title: The Minute Before Takeoff
Source: Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – Week of February 21, 2017
Words count: 175 words
The title of this piece was half-borrowed from Vacation by Rita Dove. It may not be the taste to everyone, but I find that it captures that strange listlessness before you actually board the plane. Of course, the hour before takeoff sounds far better, but personally, I think this would have been a tad bit more realistic!
His hands shook as he leafed through the file. Countless filthy, lifeless faces stared back at him. Each Polaroid bore a number: #83911, #40285, #77089. He knew there were corresponding numbers branded onto their wrists.
A young woman sat down, handing him a coffee. He accepted it gratefully.
“I – ” He sighed. “Yes, the ringleaders were arrested, but where’s the rest?”
She shrugged. “That’s what the plea bargain was for.”
“It won’t bring back the dead.”
“No, it won’t. But weren’t there escapees?”
“Years ago! That we never found, re-captured, even! If you saw the logs, the bodies…”
The speakers interrupted him. “This is the boarding announcement for Flight 246. This is – ”
“Our flight,” she said brightly. “Well. You have a stand to take, and my mentor and I have a syndicate to nail.” She pushed back her sleeves, grabbed her duffel, and he froze. Her wrist was branded with a familiar string of numbers. He looked up, and saw the glint in her eyes and her vicious smile. “Shall we?”