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Fear Jet Part 2 - Strange Landing



Anne went back to her seat and thought she saw movement out of the window next to her. She looked and saw what looked like another Learjet flying parallel to their own. She thought she saw a face in the window and realized it was her. She thought it had to be some kind of reflection as it looked out the window at her. She waved out the window and the girl in the other plane waved back, reflecting her, but then the other her did something different, proving it wasn’t a reflection. The other Anne seemed to be trying to tell her something and was too far away to read her lips.


The other Anne disappeared from the window for a moment, returning with what appeared to be a piece of white paper, probably eight and a half by eleven. She fiddled around a little more and then held up the paper in the window. It read, in words just large enough to see: “SEE?†Anne nodded.


The other Anne wrote again and held up another piece of paper. This was read “DANGER!!!†She would write and hold up a single word each time, each just large enough for Anne to make out at a distance. They read: “MURDER,†then “BETRAYAL†and “CO-WORKER†followed by “SUSPECTS†and “GET OUT†followed by “BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.â€


As she was working on writing something else, someone out of view on the other aircraft reached for the double, slapping the papers out of her hand, slapping her in the face, and then grabbing her by the throat. The person choked her, slamming her against her seat. This went on for a minute or more before the other Anne stopped moving, her face purple. Then the window shade was pushed down slowly by someone out of sight of the window.


Anne stared out the window and the other jet was suddenly gone.


Melvin finally got through the first act of The King in Yellow. The named characters in the first act were the Unnamed Queen and her four sons and two daughters, who spent most of the first act worrying about the succession to the throne. The conflict arose due to the ancient legends that, at some point in time, Yhtill would name a new king who would herald the coming of the Last King and the destruction of the city and its entire people. A pair of evil noblemen also conspired to avoid the very possibility by poisoning the entire royal family and establishing a parliamentary form of government. At the end of the first act, the royal family heard that a stranger had arrived in Yhtill, born by winged demons. The stranger wore a Pallid Mask and bore the Yellow Sign which had been forbidden in the city for centuries.


In the cockpit, Darryl finally found the fuel gauge, which seemed to indicate the Learjet was still ¾ full of gas.


Morty, meanwhile, poked at the seltzer bottle but the tiny creature within didn’t react. The alcohol was getting to him and he was entering a more mellow state of inebriation.


Trevor sat down in the back and smoked another cigarette nervously. When Melvin told him what he’d learned from the play, the other man exploded.


“Why are you reading a book!?!†he shouted. “Figure out a way to get us out of here, number jumper!â€


“Well maybe the book has a number I can use!†Melvin said.


“The book doesn’t have anything! It’s a frigging play!â€


“Well, I don’t know!â€


“Is it a manual!?! Do you have a manual!?!â€


“Better than what you’re doing!â€


“Hey! At least I’m not doing nothing!â€


“Well, I’m doing something!â€


“I’m smoking. Shut up.â€


“effin dipshit!†Morty said.


“Shut the hell up!†Trevor yelled at him.


“Hey, you guys shut up back there!†Darryl called. “I’m trying to concentrate, man!â€


“Don’t turn on the radio!â€


“Okay, I won’t turn on the radio!â€


He’d found nothing moved in the cockpit. The control wheels were locked, as were the pedals on the floor below. The throttle couldn’t be moved at all either.


“Okay!†he called.


A knocking came from somewhere in the cabin. They all looked around. It was repeated and they realized it was coming from the outer door of the aircraft.


“Uh …†Melvin said, suddenly uncomfortable.


“Who’s going to answer the door?†Darryl said. “Please don’t.â€


“Did we hit a bird?†Melvin said. “We hit birds.â€


The rapping came from the door again.


“It’s birds!†Melvin said.


He looked out the window but couldn’t see anything except the stars. He pointed at everyone with the bat.


“Don’t touch that door,†he said.


“Yeah!†Trevor said. “Yeah. Don’t touch that door! That’d be stupid!â€


“But someone’s knocking,†Morty said. “We should let him in.â€


“No!†Melvin said. “No!â€


“No!†Darryl said.


“What if it’s the pilots?†Anne said.


“The pilots?†Melvin said. “In space!?!â€


“How’d the pilots get out there?†Trevor said. “What do you mean in space?â€


“It’s birds.â€


“What did you mean ‘In space?’â€


“Where do you think we are? Huh?â€


“We’re somewhere over the Midwest.â€




“Weird **** happens over the Midwest.â€


“Yeah, okay. That went out the window.â€


“Please stop fighting,†Denise said, tears in her eyes again.


“I’m pretty sure that went way out the window,†Melvin said.


“Ah …†Anne said.


The knocking came again.


“Whatever it is, it’s persistent,†she said.


“Okay, I’m going to open the damned door,†Morty said, reaching for the door.


“No!†Melvin said. “Damn it. Fine. I have the bat. I’ll open the door.â€


“Okay,†Morty said. “You open the door then.â€


“All right,†Melvin said.


“Oh my God!†Trevor said. “What are you doing? Don’t be stupid!â€


“What do you want to do?†Melvin said.


There was another knock at the door. Trevor looked around, confused.


Melvin went to the door. He handed Morty the book and leaned towards the door hesitantly. Then he moved to the nearest window and looked out but saw nothing. The knock came from the door again. He went to the door but then just stood there.


“Open the damned door already!†Morty said.


“Actually, you know what?†Melvin said. “Give me the damned book back. You open the door. And I’ll get ready to hit it.â€


“Okay,†Morty said.


There was another knock from the door.


“Wait a minute, guys,†Darryl said. “I’m closing the cockpit doors. If everybody gets sucked out, at least I’ll have the doors to protect me.â€


“I’m coming up there!â€Trevor said. “I’m coming up there!â€


He ran to the front and got into the cockpit, closing the door behind him.


“You open it,†Melvin said to Morty. “And we’ll see what happens from there and I’ll hit ‘em.â€


Morty looked around and then took the seat next to the door and buckled himself in. When the women saw what he was doing and buckled their own seat belts.


“Whoa whoa whoa whoa,†Melvin said as another knock came from the door. “What if I need to be buckled?â€


“drat you,†Morty said.


“Well, uh … drat you,†Melvin said.


He quickly buckled himself in the seat facing the door. Morty reached over and threw the lever to open the door, pushing on it. The clamshell door opened above and below with a momentary hiss of escaping air. The Learjet engine noises were suddenly silenced as a warm yellow light shined in through all the windows, almost blinding in its intensity after the last hour they’d spent in the terrible aircraft.


Darryl glanced down at the air speed indicator. It was resting at no movement.


A young man in a smart navy blue uniform with brass buttons and a tidy little cap perched upon his head was there to greet them.


“Welcome to Rockaway Naval Air Field!†he said with a grin. “Rockaway, New York. We are glad to have you with us. If you will follow me, I will take you to the aero station for processing. Don’t worry, our runway porters will fetch your luggage. Once again, welcome to New York.â€


“How about no?†Melvin said.


“I’m sorry?†the young man said.


“Hold on!†Melvin said. “Hold on. We were …


From the cockpit, Darryl and Trevor could see they were on the tarmac of an airport of some kind. There were a couple of hangers off to the left and more buildings far down the field ahead of them. A few odd-looking aircraft were sitting on the tarmac or in the hangers. One had a wing that was a great disk. Another had several wings but a round contraption holding all of them together like some kind of circular triplane. A third sat on the field, larger than the others and enclosed, with the letters G-EBTQ on the side and another G on the tail.


“We were just flying,†Melvin said.


“Well, yeah,†the youth said. “You came right down. That’s what airplanes do, sir.â€


“No, I don’t think you understand how we were flying. It was … it was the middle of the night like two minutes ago.â€


“I’m sure you’re just suffering altitude sickness. It’s very common, actually. It can mess with your head.â€


“We don’t have any pilots.â€


“Well, I’m sure they’ve already left the plane. Pilots are usually the first ones off in my experience.â€


“Yeah … okay, yeah … but, here’s the deal, we’re the ones that opened the door. So how did the pilots get off if we opened the door?â€


“Well, I don’t know. They might have slipped out.â€


“With us opening the door?â€


“I’ve never seen a plane quite like yours so … maybe there’s … there’s probably a hatch in the front.â€


“How have you never seen a plane like this?â€


“Anyways,†Anne said, smiling sweetly. “Did you say processing?â€


“Yeah,†the boy said. “Yeah yeah. No, not processing. Yeah, we have to get your names and everything for your tickets and everything. I’m assuming you came to New York or are passing through?â€


“We were heading west!†Melvin said.


“West,†the boy said. “Oh yeah. My folks are from out west.â€


“Wait a minute,†Darryl said, opening the cockpit door. “We were flying all this time and we’re back in New York again?â€


The youth seemed surprised to see the man coming out of the cockpit. Trevor looked over the black man’s shoulder and smoked a cigarette.


“Yes ma’am,†the youth said, turning back to the beautiful Anne. “Processing. We just need to make sure that you’re where you want to be.â€


“We are not where we want to be,†Melvin said.


“Well, I need to take you to the aero station and they’ll get you all fixed up,†the youth said.


“First we got to figure out how we’re back in New York.â€


“I don’t know, sir. Maybe you folks circled around. They’ll know in the aero station.â€


“‘Scuse me man … uh sir,†Darryl said.


The lad ignored him.


“There was no one to talk to though,†Melvin said. “The pilots weren’t even here!â€


“Now let me ask one very simple question,†Darryl said. “It’s a dumb one. What year is it?â€


“What year is it?†the youth said with a laugh, looking at the man like he was insane.


“I know it’s a dumb question, but please humor me.â€


“Uh … well sir … 1925.â€


“People, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.â€


Melvin reached forward to shut the door but the youth caught it.


“C’mon sir, we need to get you processed,†he said.


“No no no,†Melvin said. “It’s fine. It’s fine. Look, we’re just going to take off again …â€


“I don’t think they would like that. Now that you’ve landed, they need to know where you’re going and all that.â€


“Who’s they?â€


“The people at the aero station.â€


“Well, if they’re okay with us landing, they’ll be okay with us leaving, won’t they?â€


“Sometimes they get … they must’ve known you were coming.â€


“I mean, if we leave …â€


“I’m sure that your pilots have filled out a flight plan, telegraphed it ahead …â€


“Excuse me, Melvin,†Darryl said.


“Well, if you could find our pilots first and bring them back here and we could sort the situation out, that’d be great.â€


“Well, they’ve probably already gone in. You know how pilots are.â€


“No, I don’t.â€


“Well, pilots usually leave the plane pretty quick but the passengers are what we’re here to help.â€


“Well, then you can go find them really quickly.â€


“Well, I don’t even know who they are.â€


“I only saw them for a minute. Wait a second. What were their names? There was, uh …â€


“Would any of the rest of you like to please come out.â€


“No,†Anne said.


“I understand this gentleman being upset but …â€


“Let’s just go out and go along with it,†Darryl said. “What do you think?â€


“I’m going to come out,†Anne said. “I need to get out of here.â€


“I think we’d better see what’s going on here,†Darryl said. “Nineteen Twenty Five? Oh man, that’s not good for me.â€


“Aw, he’s lying,†Trevor said. “Kid’s lying. He’s making up lies.â€


“We’ll catch him in his lie and we’ll slam it right back in his face.â€


“Yeah. Slam it in his face!â€


“If this is 1925, I hope I’m not going to have to say ‘yessah’ or ‘nossah’ or something like that. I hope there’s no Ku Kluxs around.â€




“Trevor, let’s you and I go out, lead the pack.â€


“Actually, wait a minute,†Melvin said to the air steward. “What’s your name?â€


“Thomas,†the boy said. “I’m Thomas, sir. You can call me Thomas.â€




“Yes sir.â€


“Hey Thomas.â€


“I can escort you to the aero station lickety-split.â€


“Can I keep the bat?â€


“Yes sir. If you want to. Yes sir.â€


“Okay. Wait a minute. Look at this.â€


He showed the red-leather covered play to the boy. The young man recoiled from the horrible sigil on the cover.


“Ugh!†he said. “No! What is that? What the hell?â€


“It’s a book,†Melvin said.


“Have you looked at the cover of that thing!?!â€


“Yes. Yes, we have.â€


“Yes, we have,†Darryl echoed.


“Put that away!†Thomas said. “That’s … that made my eyes hurt.â€


“Sorry Thomas,†Anne said.


Morty looked at the cover and the strange symbol upon it.


“Man, bring that book with us,†Darryl said. “It might be something helpful.â€


Denise refused to leave the plane and so Trevor said he’d wait with her, a nasty little smile on his face. Trevor said he’d stay just in case they tried to steal the aircraft. Darryl was all for going and guessed Rod Serling was going to show up just around the hanger.


The four left the Learjet, following Thomas. They noticed some more strange aircraft in the hangers. There was an open propeller driven aircraft single-seater with no covering except for the wings and the tail, a single-seater with a pusher propeller engine, a small four-winged plane (front and back) with a propeller, a tiny one-man glider with bent wings like a bird, an aircraft with a strange disc over the wingless body of the craft, a strange device the size of an automobile with a large engine in the center and a seat in the back carrying a spinning umbrella-like propeller on the top, and a contemporary Cessna. A dirigible hung in the air nearby as well.


Melvin recognized the disc aircraft as something that had been flown in the early 1900s but had never really done well.


“How far have these planes flown before?†Melvin asked Thomas.


“Which one?†the youth said. “Some of these just landed. Others have been─â€




“Yeah, they’re on their way through.â€


“The disc one?â€


“No. That’s … I’m not sure who that belongs to. That one belongs to someone who lives near Rockaway here.â€


He led them between the two hangers. A large building stood behind them, across a paved road. A tower stuck out of the north side of the aero station building and a few automobiles that would be more at home in the 1920s, as well as a bus, and at least two vehicles that appear to be steam powered, and two carriages pulled by horses were all parked there. A couple of other horses with markings NMP were also nearby. A rail line set next to poles with an overhead line for a trolley led right up to the building.


As they walked, Thomas complimented them on their aircraft.


“ That’s the spiffiest thing I’ve ever seen,†he said. “It’s really nice-looking.â€


“Surprised he hasn’t asked where the propellers are on that thing,†Darryl hissed.


“Where are the propellers on that thing?†Thomas asked.


“This is a jet engine,†Darryl said.


“Never heard of that,†Thomas said.


“Never heard of jet engines?†Darryl said.


He noted they had to show him the things as they were easy to build.


“Nice aircraft,†Thomas said. “Nice aircraft.â€


They told him the blades were in the large turbines on the sides of the aircraft, noting there were many small blades within. He was duly impressed.


They crossed the road to the aero station, the ocean breeze blowing over them.


“What does NMP stand for?†Melvin asked as they passed the horses.


“What?†Thomas said. “That’s the National Mounted Police.â€


“Oh. Okay.â€


“Yeah. They’ve been doing great work.â€


“Wait a minute …â€


He wondered when the National Mounted Police had ceased to exist. He didn’t remember them at all.


“They’ve been around for … 10 years?†Thomas said. “Possible longer. I can’t remember exactly. I got a cousin works for them.â€


They entered the large building with the sign over the door reading “Rockaway Civilian Aero Station.†The building was rather large with benches and seats on the ground floor, desks and such for the people working here. There were more smartly dressed air stewards and, behind the desks stood women dressed in a similar fashion with brass buttons running up the front of their high-collared dresses. All of them wore smart little bellboy caps that matched their uniforms.


Thomas escorted them to a desk where a woman smiled at them. She asked which aircraft they were with. When they were unsure of it, Thomas spouted out the call numbers on the side of their Learjet. She thanked him.


“If there’s anything else I can do for you,†Thomas said. “Or find somebody else dressed like me. Welcome to New York. Hope you have a pleasant stay.â€


“Thank you very much,†Darryl said.


The woman had turned to a filing cabinet and looked through several files, finally returning with a piece of paper.


“Here we go,†she said. “Here’s your flight plan. Carcosa. Is that in Canada?â€


She showed them the official-looking piece of paper. It had all of their names typed upon it.


“I’m assuming that’s in Canada?†she said again.


“Assuming?†Melvin said. “What do you mean assuming? You don’t know!?!â€


“No. I don’t exactly. I just handle people who come through. We have other administrators who know actual locations.â€


“Well, who can we talk to who actually knows where we’re going?†Melvin asked.


“Well, you could go up to the second floor where there’s administrative offices,†she said. “If you’d like to go up there. Of course, the Skyway Controller, he’s the one who’s in charge of making sure all the planes are going where they’re supposed to. He works out of the tower.â€


“I think we should talk to him,†Anne said.


“Yeah,†Melvin said.


“You want … to talk to the Skyway Controller?†the woman said. “If you want to …â€


“Well, for one, we don’t know where our pilots went,†Melvin said. “No one told us anything. Our pilots are gone.â€


“Yeah,†Anne said.


“I’m sure they’ll turn up,†the woman said. “Pilots are so flighty.â€


“Oh,†Anne said, disappointed by the terrible pun.


“All the drinks had gone bad!†Melvin said. “All the food had gone bad too.â€


“No pun intended,†the woman said to Anne.


“Airline food is terrible!†Melvin said.


“Oh dear,†the woman said. “I’m so terribly sorry, sir. We do our best to try to help everyone out.â€


“There was a baseball bat on the plane!†Melvin said. “Who leaves a baseball bat on a plane!â€


“Oh, I’m sure it’s a child’s,†she said. “I’m sure that’s just some young boy who left it behind. I’m sure he’d be very grateful if it was gotten back to him.â€


“We’re not on a commercial plane. There’s no way a boy could’ve been on it.â€


“Hey man, let’s not worry about the bat,†Darryl said. “Let’s worry about this Carcosa place that’s supposed to be our destination.â€


“It’s a pretty name,†the woman behind the desk said.


“Well, I know it’s a pretty name and all that but we’re the passengers that’re supposed to go there. This is my first time I’ve ever flown in an airplane.â€


Darryl brought up the Skyway Controller again.


“Wait,†Melvin said. “We’re on a flight for American International Underwriters.â€


“American International Underwriters?†she said. “I’ve not heard of that company.â€


Darryl thought the Skyway Controller might have heard of it.


“He’s very busy but you’re welcome to go up there if you want,†she said.


She told them they had to go to the back of the building to the stairs that led up to the second floor and then bear to the left once they were up there. There was a door for the administrative offices.


“If you really want to talk to the Skyway Controller … I wouldn’t advise it,†she said. “Of course you can.â€


“Finish that,†Melvin said.


“I wouldn’t want to talk to him.â€


“Why not?â€


“I understand he can be a very angry man.â€


“I better let you do the talking,†Darryl said.


“What?†Melvin said.


“Unfortunately, angry people - I’m the wrong color to them,†Darryl said.


“I’d like to talk to him,†Melvin said. “Honestly, that was a horrible flight.â€


She again gave them instruction, noting they’d have to pass the Government Lethal Booths and up the stairs. They left her, heading for the back of the building. As they walked, they passed decorative posters on the wall. One showed a partial map of New Jersey with several arrows coming in from the sea, marked “The Hun.†The caption of the poster read “Never Again.†Melvin went over and pulled the poster off the wall.


“Hey, buddy,†someone said. “What are you doing?â€


Two men in military uniforms unlike any they’d ever seen before walked up. They wore blue with lots of brass buttons in two rows up the front, with a tiny cap on their heads. Each wore a sidearm.


“What are you doing, buddy?†one said.


“I … I … my flight was terrible and I wanted a souvenir from this place,†Melvin said.


“You can’t just take things off the walls!â€


“Well, I need a remembrance of … whatever this is …â€


“The invasion. Five years ago.â€


“Right. Yeah.â€


“When the Germans invaded New Jersey.â€


“Uh …†Anne said.


“Uh …†Darryl said.


They all knew nothing like that had ever happened. The uniforms were very unfamiliar as well and didn’t look like anything the military ever wore in the United States.


“What’s your rank?†Melvin asked.


“We’re … strangers in a strange land here,†Darryl said. “Let’s go talk to─â€


“I’m a sergeant,†the soldier said.


“All right,†Melvin said.


“What’s your rank?â€




“Some of us fought in the German War.â€


“I went to college.â€


“I fought in the German War.â€


“I’m an educated man.â€


Anne stepped forward, batting her eyes.


“You know, we don’t really know where we are, we’re just trying to make our way to the administration office,†she said with a sweet smile and a wink. “Do you think you could point us the way?â€


The man smiled at her, warming up to her very quickly. He glared at Melvin but then smiled at her again.


“Yes miss,†he said. “The administrative officers are towards the back. You go up the steps there. Tell your friend not to take any more souvenirs though, all right?â€


“Yes sir,†Anne said.


“I can keep this though?†Melvin said.


The sergeant looked at him and then took the poster from him. They quickly made their way towards the back, passing a painting on the wall of a man with an American Flag flying behind him. The little plaque on the painting read “President Herman B. Kettle.†None of them had ever heard of the man or any president of the United States by that name. Darryl urged them to hurry to the office and they continued, passing another poster with the caption “Join the National Mounted Police.†The picture was of a handsome man on horseback in a spiffy blue uniform.


They passed a little café as well.


They headed up the steps, passing two large, metal booths with doors like telephone booths. As they passed by them a man who was following them entered one of the booths. He had a drooping bouquet of flowers and looked very sad, tears rolling down his face. He entered one of the booths, each of which had the letters GLC on the side in art-deco lettering, and closed the door behind him. The entire booth, which was about six foot on a side and eight feet high, began to shake.


A man nearby with a very high collar smoked a pipe. They climbed to the landing and saw another poster there. It had a black man in homespun clothing and a straw hat with a pitchfork. The caption read “Suannee: Separate but Equal.â€


“****, that’s what I was afraid of,†Darryl said. “Don’t steal that one. I’ll swat your had if you do.â€


They headed up the steps to the second floor and Anne noticed the woman whom she had given change to in La Guardia standing in the passageway below, looking up at her.


At the top of the steps was a door to the left marked “Administration†on a frosted glass window in the door. Melvin knocked. When no one answered, he went in, followed by the rest.


The office was dark and dreary. Dozens of men worked at narrows desks pushed closed together, facing towards the middle of the room, only the light of their banker’s lamps illuminating the entire room in small pools of light. They were all busy filling out paperwork. On either side of the deep room were wooden filing cabinets. High windows were curtained and let in only little light.


“Where’s your manager?†Melvin said, slapping his hand on the nearest desk.


The man continued to scratch away at the paper with his pencil before he finally looked up at him, a perplexed look on his face.


“Uh …†he said. “Can I … can I help you sir?â€


“Yes! I’d like to know where your manager is!â€


“The … the manager?â€




“We’re all of equal rank here. If there’s something I can help you with, I’ll gladly help you, sir.â€


“All right. Well. I have a complaint about our flight.â€


“Oh, very well. What is the flight? What is the …â€


“Anybody remember?â€


“I don’t think anybody told us our flight number,†Darryl said.


“Well, what’s your name, sir?†the man at the desk asked. “What is your name?â€


“My name’s Melvin Bell,†Melvin said.


“Melvin Bell. All right. Uh …â€


He looked over some papers on his desk.


“One moment,†he said. “One moment please.â€


He got up, moving between the desks, and made his way to the filing cabinets on one wall, turning on a lamp over the section of drawers.


Darryl had been looking for another exit to the room. In the back, hidden mostly in the darkness, was another door with a frosted glass pane of glass on the upper half of it. A flickering light over the door barely illuminated it. It looked like it had a short or something. Something was written on the glass but it was too far away to be legible.


The man finally pulled out a piece of paper and came back to the desk, pushing his way past the other men, who had never once looked up from their own work.


“Yes sir, I apologize for your dissatisfaction with your flight,†the man said. “That’s really not our business. But … uh … it says here that your flight plan has been set. Uh … Carcosa.â€


All of the other men in the room stopped writing and, turned their heads, looking up at Melvin, staring at him.


“Uh-huh,†Melvin said. “Where the hell is Carcosa?â€


He looked at the men.


“What?†he said. “What is Carcosa?â€


“I’m … I’m not sure, sir,†the man said. “I’ve not heard of that place. Takeoff time is at your discretion, so long as you inform someone at the aero station. Failure to inform the aero station is a Federal crime with harsh penalties.â€


“Well, do you know our pilot’s name? Because they left us!â€


“Uh … it says …â€


“They didn’t even tell us anything!â€


“It says here that your pilot is Harold Watson. Your co-pilot is Clifford Bender and that the others in your party include Denise Thompson, Melvin Bell - that’s you - Trevor Stevens, Anne Simmons, Darryl Jefferson, and Morton Finch.â€


“If you find out where our pilots went, you tell them I am pissed that they left us!â€


“Well, I’m sure that … if you inform the ladies down in the front, one of the air stewardesses, and then re-board your plane, your journey to Carcosa … can continue.â€


The other men continued to stare at him.


“What!?!†Melvin said to one of them.


“Okay, Melvin … let’s see if we can find the pilots,†Darryl said.


Melvin ignored him, setting the King in Yellow down on the man’s desk.


“What about this?†he said.


“Uh … what about it?†the man said. “What is it, sir?â€


“This was on the plane.â€


“Ugh. Okay.â€


“And so was this!â€


He put down the baseball bat.


“Why in the hell was there a bat and this weird book on the plane?†he said.


“You’d have to talk to your pilot, sir, or the owner of the aircraft,†the man said. “I’m assuming they’re one and the same.â€


“Well, we spent half the flight flying the plane our damned selves.â€


“Well, let me ask this one question, please,†Darryl said. “What’s in that door behind you? Is that the manager or the boss of this place?â€


“Uh …†the man said.


He shuddered.


“Well … that’s the … Skyway Controller,†he said.


“Skyway Controller,†all of the other men echoed in a whisper.


“Uh … he’s through there,†the man said.


“Okay,†Darryl said, unnerved.


“Good!†Melvin said. “You do have a manager!â€


He picked up the book and the baseball bat and walked that way.


“Melvin!†Darryl said. “Let’s find the pilots first.â€


“You’re free to talk to the Skyway Controller─†the man at the desk said.


“Skyway Controller,†the other men whispered.


“─but I wouldn’t recommend it,†the man went on. “He’s … not in a good mood. He’s never in a good mood. But if you’d like, you’re welcome.â€


“Well, I’m not in a good mood either!†Melvin said.


“Well, listen man, show good mood to Skyway Controller─†Darryl said.


“Skyway Controller,†the other men whispered.


“You get more flies with honey than … uh …†Darryl went on. “What’s wrong with you people? Why you so upset about this Skyway Controller dude? I mean, he’s just a boss. He might be a bad boss but why you all upset like that? I never seen anyone like that before.â€


All of the men at the desks had transferred their stares to Darryl. The man they’d been talking to shuddered again.


“I’d better take this back and put it back and I’d better put this back in the file,†he said.


He got up and scooted between the desks again, heading for the filing cabinet.


“Okay, let’s see,†Darryl said. “Do we want to go see the boss man? They’re pretty darned scared. But listen, if you’re going to talk to him, I’ll try to talk to him, but you know how they’ll treat me. You try to talk to him but you chill out! Is all I’m asking. Please chill out. Be cool. Be nice. We’ll get more flies that way. You know that old staying about getting more flies with honey than vinegar?â€


“Fine,†Melvin said. “Fine.â€


“How about you?†Darryl said to Anne. “You put the charm on that guy down there.â€


“Uh-huh,†the beautiful woman said.


“You do the talking,†Melvin said to the woman.


They discussed what to do, Anne suggesting they talk to the main guy to get some answers. Darryl noted he’d seen some job situations where the workers were scared of the boss. Anne pointed out he was just a boss and just a man. Darryl noticed the men were all still staring at him.


“Let’s go, folks,†he said. “They’re kind of creeping me out.â€


“Yeah,†Anne said.


They went around the desks in the center of the room, finding their way between them and the filing cabinets that ran the length of the far wall. They stopped at the door which had the words “Skyway Controller†engraved on the frosted glass in gold leaf. The men stared at Darryl as they crossed the room, including the man they talked to.


“Now people, let’s all listen up,†Darryl said. “We have to ask the right kind of questions. What we want to know is where are the pilots? Okay? And then we want to ask … what do we want to ask?â€


“What the hell was up with that flight!?!†Melvin said. “First of all, what was up with the food, the drinks, where did the pilots go?â€


They discussed what to ask the Skyway Controller, including how they ended up in 1925. Darryl repeated everything again. He wondered if they should tell them they came from 1971 or they would think they were nuts. Melvin said he thought they were nuts. Darryl pushed the fact they had to be nice even as Melvin reiterated that it was all nuts. He turned to Anne and told her she was the pretty one and should probably do the talking.


“I’ve got an idea,†Morty said.


He’d been very silent ever since they landed, partially due being drunk on four little bottles of vodka, partially due to the sheer strangeness of everything that had happened to them, and partially due to the pain he still felt in his nether regions from being punched and then kicked in the crotch.


“I’m going to see if I can gather information by being foreign,†he said in a terrible British accent.


Darryl said they should let Anne do that, as she had been an actress.


“Oh, I know,†Morty said. “Canadian accent.â€


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