Rumours that the stranger was a spy grew quickly but actually he turned out to be a friendly and well-natured hobbyist with a love of aircraft.
Rumours that the stranger was a spy grew quickly but actually he turned out to be a friendly and well-natured hobbyist with a love of aircraft.
I was so lucky that my step-cousin part-owned a hot air balloon and was a member of a club. As we drifted upwards, I lend out of the basket and looked down at the field we were leaving. About four other balloons bobbed around us and there was twelve still on the ground waiting to take off.
The thought that always comes to mind at this moment popped into my head; this looks like a giant’s birthday party. I giggled then looked around at the other brightly coloured hot air balloons. They filled the blue sky and white clouds with a patch work of multi-colours, making them noticeable for miles. My step-cousin’s hot air balloon was purple, pink and yellow with lighter shades in between to blend the colours.
I had never been in the area we were travelling over today and my step-cousin had said there was something interesting he wanted me to see. Rising higher, the sound of the hot air balloon’s flame and the wind in my ears, I saw the world as I imagined birds do. The green, yellow and brown fields, patches of trees, the town with it’s mix of buildings and toy like cars and people.
‘We should be high enough now, Hanna!’ my step-cousin shouted.
I turned to look at him. He was an average looking thirty-odd year old, with a mane of light brown hair, a thin face and body. He wore glasses, a plain t-shirt and old jeans and boots. He wasn’t married, didn’t have any kids, bu he and his girlfriend were pretty steady. She had a fear of heights though which was why I was here and not her.
‘Where is this thing you wanted me to see, Alex?’ I called back.
He cut the large flame and most of the noise faded away.
‘Few miles west,’ he replied, ‘luckily it’s on the flight path today. Do you want to have a go?’
I had practised a few times now at flying the balloon. Alex made it look so easy and you’d think that would be the case, but sometimes it was hard to fight against the wind or to get the right balance when landing. I was happy enough to learn and carry on improving. Though I did get distracted by the wonderful landscape below.
You lose track of time when you were flying, so I wasn’t sure how long it had been when Alex told me we’d soon be passing over what he wanted me to see. He told me which side would be best and so I went over to look.
At first there was just pale green fields but then I saw something and even though it was far away, I could see it was a large part of a plane. I lend over to get a closer view, my hands gripping the worn leather edge of the wicker basket. It was clear the plane had crashed long ago and just been left there.
‘It’s a plane, Alex!’ I yelled then asked quieter, ‘what happened?’
‘No idea, Hanna,’ Alex called back.
I looked down again, keeping my eyes fixed on the plane as we flew over. It was a strange sight. Here we were in the sky where the plane should have been and yet it was forever grounded. My mind began racing, what had happened to that husk of metal? How can people just leave it there?
We drifted by and a strange silence sat on me. I tried to get my mind to turn away from the abandoned plane but I couldn’t. I had to know the truth of what happened.
She hadn’t flown in a plane since she was a child.
However, she wanted to see the world and this was the fastest way.
The nerves soon give way to joy and she found a passion she never knew was there.
(Inspired from; https://only100words.xyz/2017/03/17/three-line-tales-week-59)
He wanted to do some daring to start the new year off with. So, he jumped out of plane with nothing on his back.
The wind was rushing around Martin like a tornado and no matter how many times he closed his eyes, counted then opened them again, he was still here. Gritting his teeth, he looked towards the open door of the plane and the handful of people waiting to jump out. Martin was sit in his seat, trying to stop his knees knocking together with the fear.
‘This is great team building!’ someone screamed.
Martin shook his head, he could think of far better and safer things.
‘Go! Go! Go!’ Came the call and people started jumping.
‘I can’t, can’t,’ Martin mumbled.
Someone grabbed and yanked him upwards, shouting his name at the same time. He fought against them and the forceful wind helped and made him stumble backwards.
‘I can’t!’ he yelled.
‘Of course you can! It’s easy!’ A female voice shouted back.
‘I’m going to die, Amy!’ Martin responded.
‘No you’re not!’ Amy answered.
‘Go! Come on!’ a louder voice cut in.
Martin shook his head and tried to pin himself against the stomach of the plane, but the large bag strapped to his back would not let him. Amy’s iron grip did not let his wrist go and Martin was dragged behind.
‘You have to go separate.’
‘Him first then,’ Amy said and pushed Martin.
He screamed, wind hit his face and tore his words away. He windmilled his arms and squeezed his eyes shut. He felt himself spinning and just tumbling out of the sky. Someone grab him, helping him to stop the spin, but not the huge free fall. He opened his eyes, saw the world growing below him and freaked out.
Amy opened his parachute for him then somehow flung herself away enough to open her own chute.
Martin felt himself being tugged backwards and starting to slow down. He opened his eyes and looked up. The parachute hung above him a large red and white stripy bug against the true blue sky. Then he looked down and saw the beauty of the patch work countryside below.
The fear lifted and he left it behind as he embraced the sense of being alive.
(Continued from Obsolete)
April wasn’t sure how she even spotted the remains of a B-17, but as she scrambled up the top of a what had once been Boeing 747, she had seen it. Digging her binoculars out of her rucksack, she focused on the World War Two American Bomber plane.
It was laying in the distance on it’s belly. Its green war paint faded by the hot desert sun. April lowered the binoculars and began mapping a way over to it. Below her, the sound of voices and working rose and fell as the rest of the crew got on with removing anything useful.
Feeling the heat growing across her feet, April climbed down the ladder, that someone a long time ago had left balanced on the mighty wing. Carefully, she then climbed though a large gash of ripped open metal beside the wing and entered the plane. Where rows of seats had once covered the floor was now a vast empty space. Wires danged from the ceiling, there were large gaps on the wall, the floor and ceiling, were things had been removed. Small piles of sand, blown in during a storm lingered in corners and holes. The air was warm, stale and dry.
April looked around and spotted Trigg sitting on the floor in a tangle of wires. She walked over, feet clomping loudly and came to a stop before him. He looked up.
‘I’ve just spotted something and I want to go and take a look,’ April said through her mic.
‘Something better then this disaster?’ Trigg asked.
‘Yes. It’s quite far out. Likely not have been touched.’
Trigg give up detangling the wires and stuffed them all into his rucksack. He stood up and went over to Gun with April following him. The mountain of a man, made even more bigger by his safety suit, was removing a sink and plumbing from a tiny bathroom.
‘Hey,’ Trigg called out and tapped Gun on the shoulder. ‘April’s seen something and thinks its worth a look.’
Gun turned and through his mask, eyed the two kids. He turned his mic on and his soft, rumbling voice filled both their ears. ‘Sorry, but this was the target. You know we only have a small window before nightfall. Best to stick with the plan. Mark it down though and maybe next time we could check it out…’
‘Okay fine,’ Trigg said. He grabbed April and dragged her away.
Heading back to the large metal gash, which looked like a giant had ripped into a tin can, the other crew ignored them, deep in their work. Letting go of her hand, Trigg stepped out onto the wing and waved April to follow him. Stealing a glance back, she did so.
‘Where is it?’ Trigg whispered.
April looked out, trying to recall the shapes of the planes she had seen from above which had been before the B-17. Though there were too many metal skeletons blocking the view. She looked at the ladder and the smooth top of the Boeing 747, wondering how fast she could climb up and map the way again.
‘What was it anyway?’ Trigg asked.
‘A B-17,’ April muttered back, ‘I could make it. I spotted it with my own eyes, it couldn’t have been that far away,’ she said to herself.
She reached out of the ladder, but Trigg stopped her, ‘try to remember for next time. It’s too late now. Look.’
April turned her head and saw that the bright blue sky was fading. In half an hour, it would be pitch black out here. There was no time. April let go of the ladder and felt the excitement fading away. A part of her wanted to disagree with Trigg and demand they head off, when were they going to get another chance now she had spotted it? The thought of an untouched plane, full of useful things just waiting for them, was too much.
She looked at Trigg and even though the masks, she knew he was thinking the same thing.
‘It’s too risky,’ he said at last.
April opened her mouth, but was cut off by Gun over the mic calling them all back together. It was time to leave. Sighing, she ducked back inside the plane and saw the other men slowly gathering together. They were finishing up collecting scraps and packing them away with their tools.
After a few minutes of waiting and Gun double checking everyone, they left and went down to the desert floor again. April had a few looks over her shoulder, but could see nothing but the closet towering planes. Walking more slower then before, they reached the shaft as the darkness settled on the plane graveyard once more.
April pulled the mask down from her face and took a deep breath of dry, hot air. Small, loose strands of her dark blonde hair escaped and brushed against her red round cheeks. Her sharp blue eyes scanned the abandon desert scape, taking in the metal shells that had once been aeroplanes. She heard the sound of sand grains gritting across each other and the plane hulks, but beside from that there was nothing else.
Taking in another forbidden breath, April began to climb down the outside of the tunnel shaft. Gripping tightly on with her gloved hands and focusing on the pale grey concrete surface framed between the rungs, she went down, slowly. The rusty ladder creaked, but held her too small nineteen year old body weight as she placed foot after a foot on each rung. She glanced down at the last few steps and thought about jumping. The image of Cal twisting his ankle last time quickly changed her mind.
Her heavy metal and leather boots hit the sand, causing a small dust cloud. She turned and pulled her mask back on. The planes, which hadn’t seem so daunting from ten foot above, now took on a different form. They rose above her and April felt threatened by their giant emptiness. She sidestepped and wiggled out of the rucksack that was too tight on her back. Holding it, she looked through it and checked the items inside.
Above her, came the sound of more boots clumping on metal. April looked up and saw through the cloudy protective screen, two people standing on top of the shaft. One waved to her then began descending. April waved back. Dropping her eyes back to the inside of her rucksack, she made sure, for what had to be the hundredth time that the tops of her water canteens were on. Feeling they were, she fastened the straps and slung the backpack on again.
Not wanting to look at the decaying planes, April watched Trigg, who was the same age as her, came down the ladder. He was fast then she had been, more confident in his feet. Soon, he was beside her and they were staring at each other through the cumbersome masks. She watched him press the mic button and heard his voice hissing in her ear.
‘You took your mask off, didn’t you?’
‘Just for a few seconds,’ April responded back, ‘it doesn’t do any harm.’
Trigg shook his head, ‘beside from the fact that everyone is going to know. I can see it fogging up from here!’
She sighed deeply and looked away as he tugged off his rucksack.
‘I’ve a got demister…somewhere,’ Trigg muttered.
‘Joe’s almost here,’ April pointed out, watching the older man coming down the ladder.
Trigg held out a small plastic bottle with a spray top on it. April quickly took off her mask and let him spray it. She held her breath.
‘Problem?’ a voice crackled through the speaker.
‘No,’ Trigg replied back, ‘just condensation. April was breathing too hard.’
April bit her lip and held back a nasty reply. She put the mask on and took a deep breath of filtered air. Looking out her vision was now clear. She focused on the planes, disliking herself for it, but knowing she couldn’t meet Trigg’s or Joe’s eyes now.
‘You okay?’ Joe asked.
‘Yes. It was nothing,’ April said quickly.
Trigg reached out to pat her shoulder, but April dodged him and began striding across the sand. She left deep footprints behind as she approached the first plane. It was a small two person craft and looked like it had been over salvaged all ready. April remembered it from last time and walked past it.
Over the intercom, Trigg called for her to slow down, but she ignored him. Gun was the leader on this mission and the only person April planned to fully listen too. However, he had been late and so was the last to come up. Plus, she was the only woman on this eight man crew. So, she had to stay strong.
Coming to stop beside a discarded plane wing, April turned and saw Trigg and Jo trailing behind her. In the distant, there were two figures standing at the bottom of the ladder, another two at the top and one man climbing down. She looked away, out across the plane graveyard and wondered what they’d find today.
To Be Continued…
In his head, Phil could be anyone or anything. Bouncing on his bed, he dreamed he was a pilot in a fighter plane. The enemy was all around him and it was his job to take them down. Firing off the guns, he made a dive and swung about. He was an Ace pilot, the king of the sky in his bright red plane and nothing could stop him.
Tumbling off his bed, he swopped about the toy plane in his hand. Rushing by the slightly open window, a slice of red caught his attention. He stopped and went back. He lifted the net curtain with a grumpy hand and looked outside. He saw the pastel blue sky streaked with plane jet streams.
Frowning, he opened the window fully and looked further out. In the distance he could hear the sound of pounding engines. Biting his lip, he tried to not think any more about being a pilot and his red plane. However, it was too late and before his eyes a small collection of World War Two German Messerschmitts had appeared.
Phil watched them grow as the panic filled him. The Messerschmitts become completely solid, their engines droning loudly in the sky. They formed an arrow formation and aimed towards him. Phil clutched the window sill and quickly imagined the king of the sky back again. He couldn’t think of anything else to do. He thought hard and desperately muttered under his breath as he brought his imagination into reality.
The sound of rat-at-tat gun fire caused his eyes to snap open. Before him a bright red plane was darting around the brown Messerschmitts and it was raining bullets. Phil almost squealed in delight, but managed to keep his excitement in. A Messerschmitt exploded and a ball of fire lit up the sky like a smaller second sun.
Phil ducked down, but he held onto the window sill still and peered over the top of it. He watched plane parts tumble from the sky and heard distant voices shouting. The dog fight was heating up above him and eagerly, he watched things play out. The king should have easily been over powered by the mass of Messerschmitts, but somehow he was able to dodge their bullets and take them all down.
Jumping up, Phil watched the last two planes fall from the sky in smoke and flames. The bright red plane did a loop-de-loop and vanished into a cloud bank. Phil leaned out of the window and looked across the flat countryside that lazily stretched before him. Passed the pale brown fence of his garden, he could see the burning body of a plane. Further on and the scarred ground was scattered with twisted metal, crushed wings and components.
A screaming voice, sent goosebumps along his arms and Phil scrambled under his bed. He heard running footsteps on the stairs then his bedroom door was flying open and the footsteps came into his room.
‘Phil? Where are you? Did you do that outside?’ his mum’s angry voice called.
He stayed still, holding his breath and keeping his head as empty as possible.
‘Phil? Come out here now,’ him mum continued.
He heard her open the toy chest and the wardrobe.
‘I mean it! You’re in big trouble, mister!’
The footsteps came closer, he heard his bed being searched then his mum getting down on the floor. He opened his eyes to meet her’s and shrink back as he saw the fury in them and on her face.
‘How many times do we have to tell you?’ his mum snapped.
She put her hand under the bed and dragged him out. Phil didn’t protested, he knew it was far too late to even try. His mum pulled him up and they sat on his bed together. Phil could smell fire and oil drifting in from his bedroom window. He tried to steal a glanced outside, but the window was too far away.
‘You have to control it,’ mum sighed.
Unexpectedly, she hugged him and Phil snuggled into her. He could smell damp earth, summer flowers and sweat. He listened to her heart beating and her steadying breathing. In the background came the sound of sirens, voices and burning.
‘I didn’t mean to,’ Phil mumbled into her chest, ‘I really tried. Honest.…’
‘Hush. It’s okay,’ mum smooth as she pulled back and held his face in her hands, ‘you’re very special and you have an amazing gift. But you can’t just go willing fighter planes into life. That’s not right.’
Phil looked down and began to concentrate on the blue flower pattern of her dress.
A car horn beeped outside and Phil could hear muffled voices talking. His mum got up and went over. She fixed the net curtain and closed the window.
‘That’s Dr. Mandle. I better go. Stay here and wait for me to call you down. Okay?’
Phil nodded and watched her leave. She shut the door and he gave her a few moments to go downstairs. Then he went to the window and looked out. Four men were standing in the back garden. One was his father, the other was Dr Mumps- Phil’s doctor- and the other two he had been told were Dr. Mandle and his assistant, Mr Baxter. They were looking and discussing the destroyed planes, which were now surrounded by fire trucks, police and ambulances.
Phil came away from the window and after a few moments of looking around his room, decided to read a book. He selected one from his bookcase and sat on the bed. He knew as long as he didn’t think in too much detail, the world of the book would stay inside in the pages.
It seemed like too shorter time had passed when he heard his mum’s voice calling him downstairs. He went into the kitchen, taking his time to get there and slumped down at the table. Mum was preparing a pot of tea and some snacks. The backdoor was open and he could hear human voices mingling with animals calling to each other.
A young giraffe, slipped it’s head through the open kitchen window and starred at them. Phil smiled and watched the giraffe sniffing around the potted flowers and sink.
‘Get out of here, Jessie!’ mum snapped and tipped the giraffe’s nose.
Jessie withdrew and swung her head about as she walked away. The rest of her body passed the window and despite himself, Phil hurried to door. The giraffe stopped and bend down to his open hand. Phil rubbed her face then she was off again back to the other four giraffes. From the doorway, Phil could see a handful of buildings and fenced enclosures. A collection of animals, more commonly found in a zoo were gathered around.
‘Sit down, Phil. I don’t want you to go wondering off like last time,’ mum called.
Phil took his chair again and watched her set the table for afternoon tea, ‘that wasn’t my fault,’ he stated, ‘Aunty shouldn’t have brought me those books for Christmas. I didn’t know that walking through my wardrobe could make that happen.’
‘I don’t want hear it, okay? They’re coming, so just behave.’
The four men had seen outside before came and sat around the table. Mum began serving them tea, coffee and cakes. Phil got a glass of milk and a chocolate brownie. Whilst the adults talked, Phil studied Dr. Mandle and Mr Baxter. They didn’t look like doctors or rare animal specialists, they reminded Phil of polite gentleman.
Soon enough, they turned to him and encouraged, in the way that all adults do, for him to join in their conversations. Dr. Mandle started with, ‘What wonderful animals you have. Did you really bring them all into being?’
Phil nodded his head.
‘Of course, we had to get rid of the lions and tigers,’ his mum butted in, ‘we could hardly keep then around could we?’ she half-laughed as if it was a joke.
‘But the zoo wouldn’t take the other exotics?’ Dr. Mandle asked.
‘They took a few as did some other places, but when he was younger he really couldn’t help it, and we and they become quite over run,’ she explained.
‘And what happened this morning? Before we arrived?’ Mandle pressed.
‘Oh. He was playing with some planes and got carried away.’
‘It was very realistic,’ his dad cut in, ‘he even created German pilots!’
Phil bit his lip and stayed quiet.
Dr. Mandle turned to him with a soft smile, ‘you still like making animals though don’t you, Phil?’
‘I guess,’ he mumbled into his milk.
‘Well, we’ve got something very special for you to try and do for us…’
Placing down his glass, Phil watched Mr. Baxter take out a large photograph and hand it to Mandle. Who then showed the photo to him, it was of a small white fluffy lemur with a black face and hands. Phil looked at it and decided it was cute.
‘This is a Silky Sifaka. It’s one of the rarest animals on the planet and we’d like your help to bring them back,’ Mandle explained.
‘How?’ Phil asked.
‘By using that amazing imagination of yours.’
‘But, I’m not allowed too,’ Phil pointed out.
‘But this time it’s okay. It’s for a good reason. A true purpose,’ Mandle rushed out, ‘you could help save this cute animal. You wouldn’t like it if it was gone forever would you?’
‘Mr Mandle!’ Phil’s mum cut in.
‘Doctor, please,’ he countered back.
‘Doctor. We agreed we wouldn’t force, Phil, into it remember? It’s up to him.’
‘Of course, of course. I’m sorry.’
‘Phil, now,’ mum said as she came to stand behind him. She pressed a hand to his shoulder and they looked at the photograph of the Silky Sifaka together.
‘You don’t have to do this,’ she said with a hint of a threat in her tone, ‘it’s up to you. But your father and I would rather…you didn’t.’
‘It’s just a monkey, mum,’ Phil pointed out.
‘It’s a lemur,’ Mandle corrected.
‘That…doesn’t matter,’ mum chimed back in, ‘but I don’t want you to have to spend the rest of your life…dealing with people and their wants, okay?’
Phil pulled a slight face and thought back over the other things he had brought to life with his imagination. He’d never been asked to create something for someone else before. He wasn’t even sure he could do it. He looked down at the photo again and the cute black face staring up at him.
‘I could try,’ he whispered, ‘I don’t know what’ll happened though.’
‘Good. Good,’ Mandle cried with a clap of his hands, ‘then we must get you over to the wildlife park right away. We’ve built a home for the lemurs already.’
Phil felt his mum’s hand pressing deeper into his shoulder and her nails catching his skin. He wiggled out from under her and followed the men outside. Leaving her in the kitchen to tidied up, dad drove everyone to the park in the Land Rover. Phil looked at the photo for most of the way, thinking about how he was going to make that image real.
It was almost evening when they got to the park. Mandle led them over to the enclosure that had been made for the lemurs and they went inside.
Phil held the photo up and thought hard about the Silky Sifaka. The photograph give him all the description he needed, just like the photos of the giraffes, zebras and lions he had seen and thus made real when was younger. For a good few minutes, he thought deeply about the Sifaka under the watchful eyes of the adults.
He was on the point of giving up, when a tree branch close by started to shake. Phil opened his eyes and they all watched a Silky Sifaka appear in front of them. Phil heard Mandle saying ‘yes, yes,’ under his breath. The lemur became solid and after a few moments of watching them, moved off higher into the tree.
Phil thought about another one, imagining all the trees having a Sifaka on them. He shut his eyes and opened them seconds later to see that it had become real. The lemurs began calling to each other and playing together.
‘More, more,’ Mandle hissed.
Phil imaged more and soon enough the trees around them were shaking with white fluffy forms. He heard Mandle laughing and saw him spinning around under the trees. Phil began to feel dizzy and slipped backwards. His dad caught him and he fell into a deep slept. He dreamed he was in the forest surrounded by Silky Sifakas thanking him. When he woke up, Phil found himself in his own bed and it was the middle of the night.
He rolled over and turned on the desk lamp next to his bed. The light hurt his eyes and it took a few moments for him to blink sleep away. Sitting up, he looked around his room and wasn’t surprised to see the twitching tail of a Silky Sifaka on top of his wardrobe.
-musings of a wild book dragon-
Wrangling Literary Arts for Writers: Words for People!
...moments of unexpected clarity