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Fear Jet Part 3 - Final Flight

Posted by Max_Writer , in Call of Cthulhu, Campaign Log 07 April 2017 · 160 views

CoC 1-6e Modern

Darryl had the idea of putting Anne across as some kind of British royalty. That would make Monty her retainer while the others were a couple of passengers. Anne nodded and opened the door.

 

They each felt a strange and uncomfortable feeling, as if the place was sickly and contagious. The air had a greasy feel to it and it made them all feel quite ill. It took all of their nerve and resolve to simply pass through the door and cross the threshold.

 

The interior of the main tower was fairly dark with strange. Victorian era gas lamps burned around the circular room. The place appeared to be empty except for a desk in the middle of the room with a placard upon it that read “Back in five minutes. Please take a seat.” An uncomfortable-looking couch stood nearby. Running around the side of the tower was a narrow staircase without railing. Only about two feet wide, the staircase climbed up the circular tower, lit every 10 feet by dim gas lamps set into the walls. The steps went up about 50 feet, the entire tower open in the center. The room had a smell of age about it and the steps appeared rotten and crumbling. There was a strange, yellow wallpaper on the wall with an uncomfortable pattern that seemed to ripple in the corner of one’s eye.

 

They waited. Five minutes passed without anyone showing up. After another 10 minutes, no one came and they decided to climb up the crumbling, terrible stairs.

 

They headed up carefully and slowly, Melvin, Morty, and Darryl crawling, and soon saw there was a ladder set at the top. It led to a trapdoor in the ceiling. Halfway up, Melvin wondered if it was really worth it to go to the top. Anne, in the lead, climbed the ladder connected to the wall and pushed the trapdoor up.

 

They found themselves in a control tower with windows all around. A central shaft in the center of the room had a spiral staircase that led up to a yellow door. The lower level held a great deal of equipment and filing cabinets, as well as doors to a catwalk that ran around the tower where flags or semaphores hung. Storage was there for the semaphore flags and normal flags, all of them for communicating with incoming aircraft. There was also a large amount of wireless and Marconi radio equipment in the tower proper. The rest of the place was filled with filing cabinets cluttered with papers.

 

Two men with dead eyes that reminded them of the men below stood off to one side. The only desk in the place had a man with a thick head of hair and a prodigious mustache working on paperwork. He wore a suit with a very tall collar. He looked up at them expectantly when they arrived. Then he frowned.

 

“What … what’re you people doing up here?” he said.

 

“We waited for five minutes and no one came down,” Melvin said.

 

“Yeah,” Anne said.

 

She stepped forward to talk to the man, who softened a little bit. He introduced himself as Robert Bierce, Chief Skyway Administrator of the Civilian Aero Station.

 

“Civilians are not allowed up here,” he said. “I cannot be detained from my work. What do you want, anyway?”

 

“To talk to the Skyway Controller,” Melvin said.

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned turning towards him, much as the men downstairs had done.

 

“Yeah,” Anne said.

 

Bierce’s eyes went wide and his mouth opened in terror.

 

“Why would you want to talk to him!?!” he said. “He … he works up above, but you don’t want to see him. He cannot be disturbed! If there is something I can help you with, I’ll help you any way I can.”

 

Darryl was muttering to Anne to ask about the pilots.

 

“You don’t want to go up there,” Bierce said.

 

“Mr. Bierce?” Darryl said.

 

“What, boy?” Bierce said.

 

“Lady Anne Simmons would like to know what happened to our pilots,” Darryl said. “Our pilots got off the plane first and seemed to have disappeared. Could you locate them for us?”

 

“No!” Bierce said, looking at the black man with obvious distaste. “They’ve got to be around somewhere. I’m sure … what is your name? Anne Simmons?”

 

“Not just Anne Simmons, but Lady Anne Simmons,” Darryl said.

 

Bierce ignored him, going to one of the filing cabinets and rummaging around within. He finally pulled out a piece of paper.

 

“Anne Simmons, yes,” he said. “Your pilots … here’s your flight plan. You’re supposed to … Carcosa.”

 

A distasteful look crossed his face.

 

“Are you the rest of the passengers?” he asked.

 

“Yes, they are,” Anne said.

 

“Well, it’s … it’s … your flight plan’s for Carcosa,” Bierce said. “I’m sure your pilots will show up once you get back on board. That happens in many cases.”

 

“Where is Carcosa?” Melvin asked.

 

“Carcosa is … your destination.”

 

“But where?”

 

“I don’t know. I don’t care. I don’t want to know.”

 

“But we do. And I think the only person that has any information is the Skyway Controller.”

 

Darryl quietly tried to calm Melvin.

 

“You don’t want to talk to the Skyway Controller, sir,” Bierce said. “Trust me on this one.”

 

Darryl asked for a map and Bierce pointed him to an Atlas nearby. He said he was welcome to look through it.

 

“But the main thing is, we want to find our pilots,” Darryl said.

 

“Your pilots will show up!” Bierce said, raising his voice and pounding a fist on his desk. “They’re pilots! They go where they wish to go and do what they wish to do and when it’s time for you to take off, they will appear!”

 

“Well, if they did, we wouldn’t have spent half the flight flying the plane ourselves!” Melvin said.

 

“Easy,” Darryl said. “Easy.”

 

“I don’t know anything about that!” Bierce said. “All I know is if you wish to disturb the Skyway Controller, be it on your own head and you don’t want to do that!”

 

“How about I throw your name around?” Melvin said.

 

“It won’t matter. I’ll be punished either way. This flight plan says Carcosa. You can read it right there. Your pilots will show up when you get back on your plane!”

 

“Can you please tell us where the pilots usually go to when they disembark from the plane?” Darryl asked.

 

“I don’t know!” Bierce said. “My God!”

 

“Well, do they go to the bar?” Darryl persisted.

 

“Bar?”

 

“They have bars.”

 

“Alcohol’s illegal!”

 

They all looked at Morty who stood there swaying and didn’t say anything.

 

“Okay, to the lounge!” Darryl said.

 

“Okay, one question,” Melvin said.

 

“Stay civil,” Darryl warned him.

 

“How did the Germans get over here?” Melvin asked.

 

“What?” Bierce said.

 

“The Huns.”

 

“Are you talking about the German War?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“The … the Germans seized the Samoan Islands. Don’t you listen in your history classes?”

 

“Nope. Not at all.”

 

“It took place in 1920. It was a disastrous invasion of New Jersey. Ever since then, we’ve boasted an army of 300,000 organized men to protect our borders and keep our coastlines clean of the Hun. That was five years ago!”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Okay, if we see these things in the 1920s, we’d better go along with the history,” Darryl said.

 

“What?” Bierce said.

 

“Sir, where are some of the places that you know that the pilots usually like to hang out at in this airport?”

 

“I don’t know! The pilots go and do what pilots do. If you go back to your plane, I’m sure they’ll be along.”

 

“You need to regulate the pilots more,” Melvin said.

 

That is not our job, sir!” Bierce said. “Our job is simply to get planes on and off the ground.”

 

“You talk to the pilots.”

 

“Make sure the flight plans are filed.”

 

“Would the Skyway Controller know?” Anne asked.

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two dead-eyed men intoned.

 

“Probably,” Bierce said carefully.

 

“But you coordinate with the pilots,” Melvin said.

 

“We do not coordinate with the pilots,” Bierce said. “I coordinate with the Skyway Controller.”

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned.

 

“Well then, how the hell do they land planes?” Melvin asked.

 

“He knows where things are going,” Bierce said.

 

“Okay, then we should probably talk to him.”

 

“I talk to him!”

 

He pointed to a pneumatic tube that led down from the top of the tower.

 

That’s how I talk to him,” he said. “Only a fool would go up to that door.”

 

“Well, then, send him a message,” Melvin said. “Tell him to come out here.”

 

“Are you mad!?! He might do it if I do!”

 

“Good!”

 

“No!”

 

“I’ll send him a damned message then!”

 

Bierce was obviously terrified beyond words about the Skyway Controller.

 

“You just need to return to your plane,” Bierce said in a calmer tone. “It will take you on to your destination. Your pilots will show up.

 

“Well, what if they don’t show up?” Melvin said.

 

“They will.”

 

“But what if they don’t.”

 

“If you do not continue on to Carcosa, wherever that is, then … um …”

 

“Sir?” Darryl said. “Sir?”

 

“What?” Bierce said.

 

“Was a secondary stop supposed to be Kansas City?”

 

“What?”

 

“A secondary stop?”

 

“No. Carcosa. Final destination. It says it right here!”

 

“But we were told initially that we were supposed to go to Kansas City.”

 

“I don’t know anything about that.”

 

“Have you read this book before?” Melvin said, pulling out The King in Yellow.

 

Bierce looked at it and then recoiled in disgust from the sign upon the cover.

 

“Augh!” he cried out. “What the hell is that!?! What is wrong with you, sir? What is that? Put that away!”

 

“I don’t know,” Melvin said. “Read it!”

 

“What is it? I don’t want to read it! I don’t even want to look at it! What is it?”

 

“It’s a play!”

 

“It’s only a play, sir,” Darryl said.

 

“A play?” Bierce said.

 

“I don’t know,” Melvin said. “Have you ever read this play before?”

 

“What play?”

 

“It’s called The King in Yellow.”

 

“That is illegal! That play is illegal!”

 

“It’s illegal?”

 

“Huh?” Darryl said. “What happened to the Constitution of the United States?”

 

“The Constitution of the United States is set by the President of the United States,” Bierce said. “Ever since the Judiciary and the Legislative Branches were eliminated five years ago.”

 

“Say what?”

 

“And that’s illegal! That is an illegal item you have in your hand.”

 

“Well, I’m foreign and I didn’t know that,” Melvin said. “So, tell me why!”

 

“Put it away! Just put it away!”

 

“All right! Fine!”

 

“That is an illegal book. It’s been suppressed because it’s dangerous.”

 

“Why? Why? Why?”

 

“It’s dangerous! It’s a dangerous book!”

 

“Why is it dangerous?”

 

“There are terrible things in that book! Have you read it?”

 

“No!”

 

“I haven’t either and I don’t want to. I don’t wish to read it. There are things in that book that change a man, that taint a man. Don’t-Don’t … just put it away. Burn it!”

 

“I at least read the first act.”

 

“Well, you shouldn’t read past the first act!”

 

Bierce suddenly leaned forward conspiratorially.

 

“I’ve had friends,” he said, lowering his voice. “I’ll tell you something. I’ve had friends. They were smart when they stopped at the first act. To read past that could cost you your sanity!”

 

“I think I’ve already lost a bit of sanity with this place,” Melvin said.

 

“I think I have just talking to you people!” Bierce said.

 

“Anyways,” Anne said. “Shall we go up to the Skyway Controller?”

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two young men intoned.

 

“No!” Bierce said. “You shouldn’t!”

 

“He would know where are pilots are though.”

 

“That doesn’t - your pilots will show up! Once you get back on your aircraft … your destination is Carcosa from here.”

 

“What happens if we want to get on a different flight?” Melvin asked.

 

“Then you’ll have to … your flight plan can’t be changed,” Bierce said. “Your flight plan says Carcosa. If you want to stay in New York, I don’t care. But if you get back on your plane, you’re going to Carcosa. It’s set. It’s set in the flight plan. This is an original. You cannot change … well, I could and the Skyway Controller could.”

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned.

 

“So, wait, you can change our flight plan?” Melvin said.

 

“No!” Bierce said.

 

“You just said─”

 

“I’m not supposed to!”

 

“You just said you could!”

 

“I’m not allowed to. The Skyway Controller─”

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned.

 

“─set you for Carcosa. That’s where you have to go.”

 

“Then we talk to the Skyway Controller,” Anne said.

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned.

 

“No!” Bierce said. “No, you don’t want to talk to him.”

 

“Can we send a message through your tube ourselves?” Darryl said.

 

“No!” Bierce said. “No! He might come out. Nobody wants that.”

 

“What the hell is wrong with them?” Melvin said, looking at the two men.

 

“They went up to talk to the Skyway Controller,” Bierce said.

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned.

 

“Now, I’m going to put this back in the filing cabinet,” Bierce said, ignoring them. “Once you are back aboard your plane, your pilots will show up.”

 

“Well, do you have tickets to Kansas City?” Melvin said.

 

“No!” Bierce said, brandishing the flight plan paper. “This is your destination.”

 

“What if I don’t want it to be?”

 

“Then you can stay in New York.”

 

“Why can’t I just get a cab to Kansas City then?”

 

“A cab? To Kansas City?”

 

“Or how about we take a train?” Darryl said.

 

“You could take the trolley if you want,” Bierce said.

 

“There we go!” Melvin said.

 

“If you’re sure you want to do that.”

 

“Yeah!”

 

“Yes.”

 

“There is one problem,” Morty said to the rest, quietly. “Our cash is dated in the future.”

 

They realized their money might not be any good. Melvin asked if he could get an exchange for his foreign currency.

 

“That’s not up to me,” Bierce said.

 

“Well, where can I get it exchanged?” Melvin said.

 

“You’ll have to go into New York City. That’s an international port. This is an airfield. Nobody from other countries come here except for Canada occasionally. Very rarely.”

 

Darryl made mention that they had to go to Kansas City and if they had to take a train, they’d take a train.

 

“You should really tell that Skyway Controller off!” Melvin said.

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned.”

 

“No one tells off the Skyway Controller,” Bierce said.

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned.

 

“He is in control of the skyways,” Bierce said. “Now, if you board your plane, this is where you’re supposed to go.”

 

“We don’t want to board our plane!” Melvin said. “Okay, so yeah, Carcosa. We get it.”

 

“We were told we were going to have a conference in Kansas City,” Darryl said.

 

“What about the other two?” Melvin said. “We’ve got to go get them.”

 

“They’re still on the plane, I think,” Anne said.

 

“Yeah,” Melvin said. “We’ve got to go get the other two.”

 

Just then, Trevor and Denise came up through the trapdoor. They had been left aboard the plane but Trevor had decided to leave in search of the others. They learned from the Air Stewardess in the aero station where the others had gone and made their way through the administrative office and up the strange tower. They had heard arguing as they had approached.

 

“How do we have a flight plan and you don’t know where it is?” Melvin said.

 

“Because I don’t set up the flight plans!” Bierce said. “I can modify them, sure, but I cannot set them up.”

 

“But you checked the maps and you don’t know where Carcosa is.”

 

“Just one quick question,” Darryl said. “Do you know if Carcosa’s in the United States or Canada.”

 

“No!” Bierce said. “I don’t! Didn’t I just say that over and over!”

 

“Then look it up!” Melvin said.

 

“Yeah, look it up,” Darryl said.

 

“I don’t care where it is!” Bierce said.

 

“I just want to get out of here,” Denise said. “Let’s go to Carcosa. Let’s leave!”

 

“There!” Bierce said. “This young … this … where did you two come from?”

 

The two stammered excuses.

 

“This young lady has the right idea,” Bierce said. “You should just get on your plane. That’s where you’re supposed to be going. Obviously.”

 

“Obviously not!” Melvin said.

 

“That’s what this says!” Bierce said.

 

“What’s the worst that could happen?” Trevor said.

 

“Worst that could happen?” Darryl said.

 

“We could end up in Carcosa!” Melvin said.

 

“The things that just happened!” Darryl said. “Worms in the bottles. What do you think is going to happen? We’re going to Canada.”

 

“As long as this says Carcosa, it’s where you’ll eventually end up,” Bierce said, brandishing the sheet of paper like a weapon. “Trust me.”

 

“Eventually?” Melvin said. “Even if we take a train?”

 

“We’re supposed to go to Kansas City,” Darryl said. “That’s where the boss told us to go. We may have to fork our money over to these people too.”

 

“Can I borrow a dollar?” Melvin said to Bierce.

 

“No!” Bierce said. “Look the easiest thing to do is get on the plane.”

 

“Or talk to the Skyway Controller,” Anne said.

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned.

 

“You don’t want to do that!” Bierce said, looking at the door. “You don’t want to do that.”

 

“What if I do?” Morty said.

 

“No, trust me. You don’t.”

 

“Well, I don’t trust you fella. I’m guessing that stairway is … goes up to him.”

 

“That’s his office. You don’t want to go up there.”

 

“Let’s find out,” Morty said, heading up the stairs.

 

“No!” Bierce said. “You don’t! It’s just going to cause … sir, please!”

 

“Okay, how much would it be worth your trouble if I didn’t?”

 

“What do you want?”

 

“Well, I could use some money.”

 

Bierce got out his wallet, pulled out an oversized $20 bill with an unfamiliar man with a mustache on the front. The word Cleveland was under the portrait. The back said it was a Federal Reserve Note and had a steam locomotive and a motorcar on one side and a steamship on the other. It didn’t look anything like their own money.

 

“Okay, we’ll take that,” Monty said.

 

He came down the stairs gingerly and took the bill.

 

“How much are tickets to Kansas City, do you know?” Melvin asked. “Planes.”

 

“Plane tickets are arranged with the owners of the aircraft,” Bierce said.

 

“Where’s the main terminal where we can find which plane goes to Kansas City?” Darryl said.

 

“Downstairs,” Bierce said. “But as long as this says Carcosa, that’s where you’re going to end up.”

 

“Even if we get on a train?” Melvin said.

 

“I don’t know anything about a train but I’m guessing yes.”

 

“What kind of magical sky controller power─!”

 

“I don’t know! I don’t know! You don’t want to know!”

 

“We just want to get to Kansas City,” Darryl said. “That’s all we want.”

 

They discussed taking a train while Bierce waiting impatiently for them to all leave. They started to leave and Bierce muttered.

 

“It won’t change a thing,” he said. “Unless this gets changed.”

 

“How do we get that changed?” Anne said.

 

“The Skyway Controller!” Melvin said.

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned.

 

“The Skyway Controller,” Bierce also said. “I can change it, but I’m not supposed to. So, I’ll put it away.”

 

“Why not?” Anne asked him.

 

“I’m not allowed,” Bierce said.

 

“Why not?” Anna said.

 

“What can we do to get you to change it?” Melvin said. “What can we offer you?”

 

The man seemed flustered at that.

 

“I wouldn’t even know,” he said.

 

Melvin took off his wristwatch and some of his money, saying it was all one of a kind. He made a good case but the man was still on the fence, apparently terrified of the Skyway Controller.

 

“I have a baseball bat and we have the Skyway Controller,” Melvin said.

 

“Skyway Controller,” the two men intoned.

 

“Two and two,” Melvin said.

 

“Wait, what?” Bierce said. “What are you talking about?”

 

“Well, you’re obviously scared of him,” Melvin said.

 

“We … we could talk to him and mention that you sent us to him,” Anne said.

 

“No!” Bierce said. “You don’t want to talk to him and please don’t tell him that I sent you!”

 

“What if we were to say you were valiant in your efforts to try to stop us?” Melvin said.

 

“We could put in a good word for you,” Darryl said. “That we could do, right there.”

 

“I … uh …” Bierce said, looking at the yellow door.

 

“We could always say that you gave us that book,” Morty said.

 

“We could do that too,” Melvin said. “There’s a lot of ways we could go about this.”

 

“I feel like we want to settle this with you and not … the man upstairs,” Anne said.

 

“All right,” Bierce said. “All right.”

 

He picked up and pocketed the watch, looking nervously at the yellow door again.

 

“It’s Kansas City,” Darryl said.

 

Bierce took out a long erasure and nervously erased the ink that read “Carcosa,” scrawling “Kansas City” in its place. He was sweating nervously. Melvin patted him on the shoulder.

 

“We won’t tell if you don’t tell,” he whispered to the man.

 

“Okay, you have to─” he said.

 

The yellow door at the top of the steps creaked open. Bierce dropped the paper, which Melvin tried to catch. He missed, however, and it fell beneath the man’s desk. Darryl dropped to all fours and peeked under the desk, seeing the paper. He reached under the desk, grabbing the paper and pulling it out.

 

“Okay, let’s go!” Melvin said.

 

“My God!” Bierce shrieked like a man who had seen his own death coming for him.

 

Multicolored rags, mostly yellow, started to slip out of the door, reaching like tentacles. They slid out of the bottom, sides, and top of the doorway. They moved like they had purpose.

 

Anne fled the room, climbing down the ladder to the terribly narrow stairs. Trevor was right behind her, followed by Morty, Melvin, and Denise. Darryl, getting up from the desk, was the last out of the horrible room, following the rest.

 

Anne ran down the stairs at a sprint, heedless of the danger, and quickly reached the bottom.

 

Trevor, behind her, sat down and slid down the stairs as quickly as he could. Morty and Melvin followed suit. Denise, behind them, didn’t slide but went down slowly and was followed by Darryl.

 

Anne looked up to see the others slowly moving down the stairs.

 

“You dumbasses,” she muttered.

 

A hysterical man’s scream came from above.

 

“Thanks Bierce!” Melvin yelled, about halfway down the stairs by then.

 

The strange multicolored cloth came through the trapdoor, feeling it’s way before the terrible thing it was composed of floated down to the steps and began to head down them at the speed of a man running. The thing was a man with a pallid mask upon his face, the eye and mouth holes black. It wore tattered, multicolored robes, primarily yellow, and black pointed shoes. A streamer of silk fell from the pointed tip of its hood.

 

They were about 3/5 of the way down the stairs when the thing started to come down. It didn’t so much run down the stairs as glide down, feet barely touching the ground.

 

Trevor leapt up when he saw the thing coming and ran down the stairs to the doorway. Morty jumped up and ran down the stairs, taking a bad step near the bottom and falling about seven feet to crash to the ground hard, knocking the wind out of himself. He let out a shout. Melvin followed suit, leaping up to run and immediately falling from the staircase, dropping some 20 feet to the hard floor below. He crashed to the ground with a shriek and fell prone.

 

Denise was going to run down but then hesitated when she saw Melvin fall. She kept carefully making her way down the stairs. Darryl, impatient, grabbed Denise, swung himself by on the side of the stairs by the wall, sending her swinging out over the 20 foot drop, and deposited her on the steps behind him before running down to the door. She screamed as he flung her, fearing she would fall.

 

Anne held the door, waiting for them. The horrible thing was halfway down the stairs. Trevor ran past Anne, heading into the administrative office where he saw all of the men were simply gone. Morty stumbled to his feet and ran to the door, passing through as well. Melvin, likewise, struggled to his feet and ran through the door.

 

“You guys better get out!” he yelled as he entered the office. “The Skyway Controller’s coming!”

 

Denise started running, fleeing out of the terrible tower. Darryl and Anne were the last ones out of the room.

 

They saw that the men were all gone from the administrative office and they fled through, Trevor in the lead. As they reached the door at the far end, the strange and terrible multicolored, tattered rags started to come through, pulling the Skyway Controller with them. Anne slammed the door to the office closed behind her as she ran.

 

They fled down the stairs and towards the front of the aero station. The horrible thing was keeping up and actually gaining. When they reached the ground floor, the people there went crazy at the sight of the Skyway Controller. People screamed and fled or fell to their knees in worship of the horrible thing. Some went mad: fainting, fleeing, or laughing hysterically at the sight. At least one man ran into one of the Government Lethal Booths rather than face the terrible thing.

 

They fled the aero station, running across the street and between the two hangers. The thing continued to close the gap and they sprinted to the Learjet, which was where they left it. Trevor was the first into the aircraft, going all the way to the seats in the back. The others ran into the plane and Darryl ran to the cockpit, flinging open the doors there in search of the pilots.

 

Instead of people, there were two man-sized marionettes made of wood, one in the pilot’s seat and one in the co-pilot’s seat. The wooden devices had no faces and their strings were cut not far from the hooks embedded in the wood of their arms and legs. They wore no clothing. He stopped and stared at it.

 

Morty and Melvin were the last ones into the aircraft. They saw the horrible Skyway Controller coming, floating towards them far too close. They pulled the clamshell doors closed with a click and could hear the thing scratching on the outside. Then they heard the engines roaring as if they had never stopped and they looked outside to see the stars once again.

 

“You’ve still got the paper, right?” Melvin yelled.

 

“I still have the paper!” Darryl said. “Kansas City, here we come! I hope.”

 

He went to the windshield and looked forward and down but saw stars below the aircraft as well as above again. It was not a good feeling.

 

“Don’t look down!” he shouted to the others.

 

Trevor sat in the middle of the back seat and spread out his legs, taking up as much space as possible. Denise sat in the seat that faced the door while Anne took the forward-facing seat next to the door. Morty sat down, facing Trevor. Melvin went to Denise, apologizing and getting the bucket from under her seat. He’d almost urinated all over himself during their terrifying escape. He took it to the cockpit and closed himself in with Darryl.

 

“Don’t p*** in the cockpit!” Darryl said. “No way!”

 

“Sorry man!” Melvin said. “I can’t hold it! I can’t hold it, man! I’m sorry.”

 

He looked at the marionettes but then used the bucket. As he started, a terrible rending noise came from outside the Learjet. Denise looked around and then covered her ears and closed her eyes. Trevor tried to look unphased by it and Anne tried not to look outside. Darryl opened the cockpit door and dragged the marionettes out.

 

Only Morty looked out the windows. He was terrified to see a dozen or so horrible creatures outside. They were hybrid winged things … not altogether crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor decomposed human beings, but something like all of them at once! They stood on the wings and tore at the fuselage and it seemed inevitable the jet would be torn to pieces.

 

“I say let the pilots do their thing!” Melvin cried out.

 

Darryl had pulled the marionettes out and dumped them on the floor despite Melvin’s protests. They argued for a few moments and the black man finally dragged the marionettes out. Melvin put the bucket back under Denise’s seat. She moved to one of the backward-facing seats. Melvin was cherry-faced.

 

Darryl went back into the cockpit and then noticed something ahead of the aircraft. It was the planet Earth. He could see the whole planet as if they were in space. It was unsettling.

 

“Houston, we have a problem!” Darryl said.

 

“Put the damned marionettes back!” Melvin shouted.

 

The noises from outside had stopped.

 

Darryl sat down and found the controls locked again. Melvin put the marionettes back, sticking one in the co-pilot’s seat and leaving the other on the floor. Morty came into the cockpit to find some kind of manual for the aircraft.

 

Everyone noticed the upholstery was strange-looking. The pattern was strange and aggressively unpleasant. Something not noticed before. The pattern was emergently complex and every time they looked at it, seemingly, they saw things: faces, hands and things. Denise covered her eyes, but not before seeing. The others blinked and the images were gone. Were they ever there? Then something else seemed to be taking shape.

 

Suddenly, the three in the cockpit were in the cabin, just outside the cockpit doors as they slammed shut.

 

“This is your pilot speaking,” crackled over the intercom. “Please fasten your seatbelts and put away all drinks and snacks. We’ll be landing in Kansas City in just a few minutes.”

 

Anne groaned quietly.

 

Melvin found he still had the baseball bat and the book.

 

The three men found their seats as they all felt the aircraft was going down. Darryl told Melvin he needed to disintegrate the book as soon as he could.

 

“Move over, bitch,” Morty said to Trevor as he sat down.

 

The aircraft landed without incident and it taxied to the terminal. The cockpit doors opened and the two men came out.

 

“You folks were real quiet back here,” Captain Watson said. “Hope you had a good flight.”

 

“drat planes!” Melvin said.

 

“Oh,” the man replied. “Sorry. Sorry sir.”

 

Morty just laughed.

 

They opened the clamshell doors onto the darkened but normal-looking airfield and helped them out. Denise started crying when she saw how normal it was. She sobbed, tears flowing and makeup getting completely messed up.

 

“Is she all right?” Captain Watson said. “Will she be all right?”

 

“She’ll be fine,” Trevor said.

 

“Yeah, nah, this is uh …” Melvin said.

 

Morty checked his wallet and found the 1920s $20 bill was there.

 

As soon as Melvin got off the plane, he used his matches to immediately set fire to The King in Yellow.

 

“Sir, what are you doing?” Captain Watson said.

 

“Burning this book!” Melvin said.

 

Darryl helped him and the co-pilot went back into the plane. Melvin went to the plane and got some of the liquor to help the fire. As they finished and the book was little more than cinders and ash, a security guard showed up.

 

“Sir, you’re going to have to stop that,” he said.

 

He stomped out what little was left.

 

“Can you come with me, sir?” the man said.

 

He took Melvin away and he was questioned about what he had done and warned not to set fires at the airport ever again. He told them it was a terrible book and he didn’t like it and was warned not to do such things again. He got a lecture before they let him go.

 

* * *

 

They all attended the seminar on productivity in the workplace that weekend. Denise constantly broke down crying during anything that reminded her of what she’d been through. Darryl had a thousand-yard stare throughout the various classes and lectures. Anne internalized, pushing all her feelings down. Melvin took the bat everywhere and smoked his pipe constantly. Trevor smoked like a chimney.

 

On Sunday night around 10, their last night there, Morty went to Trevor’s room, having purchased a baseball bat at a nearby hardware store, looking for revenge. Trevor answered the hotel door, having looked through the peephole, and having the chain secured before he opened it up. Though he’d not seen the baseball bat through the peephole, he saw it when he opened the door though Morty tried to hide it behind his back.

 

“Whatcha need?” Trevor said. “Can I help you? It’s kind of late. What are you doing here? I was just about to get into bed.”

 

“Well, I’d like to play a little baseball with you,” Morty said. “How about that?”

 

“I’m sorry,” Trevor said. “I’m going to have to pass.”

 

He slammed the door. Morty said some uncharitable things about his mother and then headed off.

 

“My mother is a fantastic lady, thank you very much!” Trevor yelled through the door.

 

“Yeah, they said that at the glory hole behind the 7-11!” Morty called.

 

* * *

 

Monday, they were supposed to take a Learjet back to New York. All of them but Morty got bus tickets and took the slow road home. Morty took a Learjet back to New York, drinking all the booze in the plane and living it up in luxury all by himself.

 

When they returned, each of them was asked by their supervisors why they had taken a bus back when the Learjet had been paid for. They all claimed they got terrible air sickness, a lie which seemed to satisfy their bosses.

 

* * *

 

Over the next few months, Morty Finch tried to contact the New York Mob in the hopes of putting a hit on Trevor. He didn’t reckon on the cost, however, and couldn’t afford it, ending his hopes for revenge.

 

* * *

 

Melvin Bell ended up finally moving out of his parents’ house, buying the house across the street from them. He tried to find a girlfriend without luck but otherwise had a normal life. He did pursue astronomy and the occult, gathering a small collection of strange books and items as he tried to figure out what had happened to him on the Learjet.

 

* * *

 

When Darryl Jefferson returned to New York, he spent a lot of time in his girlfriend, Loretta’s, arms to get everything he’d seen and heard out of his head. He became more assertive, fighting against the racism that kept him as just a security guard and trying to climb the corporate ladder. He made contacts in the ACLU and the NAACP to help him fight the racism in corporate America.

 

* * *

 

Anne Simmons, after repressing all of the things she saw, ended up with some deep-seated issues. She went to therapy and eventually had some recovery. She also left corporate America and got back into the theater and modeling.

 

* * *

 

Trevor Stevens returned to his beautiful wife and his two kids and realized he had a lot of really deep-seated issues. He started to drink to forget and that turned into alcoholism. He ended up abusing his wife and his kids and eventually his wife left him. She took the children with her.

 

Morty watched the man’s descent into alcoholism with some satisfaction. He spread terrible rumors at work about the man in order to make even his work life as miserable as possible.

 

Within a year or so of the terrible Learjet flight, with his career in tatters and his life empty, Trevor Stevens hung himself in his lonely house.

 

Melvin Bell actually got his job within a few months after his death.

 

* * *

 

Denise Thompson never recovered. She went back to her boyfriend, Robert Henderson, but couldn’t tell him what happened at the seminar. Thinking she’d cheated on him, he left her. She went through cycles of abusive boyfriends after that and was never really okay again.

 

* * *

 

Except for Morty, none of them ever went on an airplane again.







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