By Porrick Rasdole
I’m in front of a door. It’s dripping with green ichor running from deep veins of engraved masonry. It’s growing each step I take towards it. It takes deep breaths and exhales a sickly mist from vents along its top. My legs trembled and I fall to my knees. My arm is weak as I reach to run my fingers along the door’s stone. My fingers make contact then my arm falls back limp to the mud. Sprawled, I watch the engraved shapes of the door ripple from my touch. Gulleys of stone grind across its noxious surface. Tessellating patterns form. A hole appears and a leathery hand reaches out. It pushes beclawed fingers into my forehead and my vision falters. Cutting through my skin, I can feel the fingers scraping along the inside of my skull, searching and grasping. The hand remerges from my open head holding a golden orb. The hand crushes the orb and a bronze gas spreads up across the door. The hand disappears as the gas forms into a rod which inserts itself into the door. The masonry tumbles away revealing an endless bridge spanning multi-colored nebula. I start to crawl onto the bridge when a hand shakes me.
I awake in the seat of a plane.
“Hey! Dinner is coming! Hey! Wake-up, you’ve been asleep since take-off”, my wife, Sarah continued to shake me as I opened my eyes.
The plane was dim. Dark, save for dull orange lights along the floor of the aisles. A legginged stewardess is bowing forward with trays of food several rows in front of me.
“Thanks. I’m starving,” I smiled at her, “I’ve got to go to the bathroom before I’m trapped by tray of food,” I squeezed Sarah’s shoulder as I got up and shuffled past her.
According to the screen above the chairs we were flying across the Atlantic Ocean. Outside the tiny windows there was no light save the blinking tip of the wing. As I groggily stumbled towards the cubicle I saw most of the passengers were asleep. Many were fitfully jerking. I wondered if they were having similar visions to mine. I ran my fingers along my forehead and was surprised to feel it burning with heat. I splashed water on my face as the violent sucking noise erupted from the plane toilet behind me. Did the plane just shoot out the waste into the ocean or save it all until landing? My thoughts were interrupted by a scream from the plane.
I peered out from the plastic door and saw a food splattered stewardess staring aghast at a man crouched in front of her. He was shoveling the contents of the upturned food tray into his mouth with a savagery that alarmed the passengers around him. He grunted and growled as he gnawed the food. I made eye contact with Sarah behind the shocked stewardess. Then my wife screamed as a hand reached at her neck and squeezed. A boggle-eyed man was behind her, staring at the back of her head as he throttled her. I ran towards Sarah, kicking past the man grunting at the food. To either side of me people were rising up from their seats. Maddened figures launched at their neighbors, veins popping out of their necks, hands tightly clawed. I punched the man with his hands around my wife’s neck. I punched him flat in the face. My fist stung as he slumped against the back of a chair, frothing at the mouth.
I put my arm around Sarah, looking around the plane. Pandemonium had broken out. Passengers madly clawed at one another or the furniture. Shreds of leather, clothing and food flew through the air. I looked for the stewardess but she was gone. The curtain sealing first class from economy was being pulled closed. I motioned Sarah towards it and we fled as the man I had punched woke up. He launched himself at a woman biting an armrest.
Behind the curtain, things were calm. Passengers slept fitfully and a group of stewardess huddled, their faces pale. Behind them I could see an elderly man intently poring over a scrappy leather bound book. My arm around Sarah I asked the group of stewardesses to explain what was happening. They were confused, upset and afraid at the eruption of wild behaviour, not having seen anything like it before. As I was asking them if the pilots knew what was happening, I felt my stomach turn and my legs brace. The plane had taken a steep dip in its altitude, dropping suddenly. One of the stewardess let out a sob and I could now hear a disturbing whining in the pitch of the plane’s engines. Looking over at the man reading his book I saw him completely unperturbed by the calamities around him. He was mouthing the words he was reading. Some of the first class passengers had started to wake after the plane’s jerking. I watched as they came to, wondering if they would act in the same madness as the jibbering people behind me.
The plane dipped again, this time causing the hostess’s to let out a slight shriek of panic. The first class passengers that had woken up looked befuddled, looking over at me and the shrieking hostess’s and hearing the jumble of chaos coming from behind the first class curtain. I told Sarah to wait with the hostess and I pushed past them towards the old man reading his book. He had yet to react to the dipping altitude of the plane. As I moved closer I could hear him reading aloud the words, a low mumble underneath the clattering din of the plane. I felt a hand clutch at my shoulder and it spin me around to face the bespittled mouth of a crazed passenger. His mouth was coming towards my face as if to bite it and I wrenched back, snatching the hand away from my shoulder. I pushed the crazed man back and he fell. His legs slipped up above his head and he squeezed into the gap between the two seats. I could see that some of the other first class passengers were in a similar mind frame to my attacker. I looked back at my wife and saw her eyes wide open with horror, realizing that we were no longer safe behind the curtain.
A hostess let out another shriek as the separating curtain was wretched aside, revealing a blood smeared face. I ran back towards Sarah and the hostess’s. The hostess’s had picked up trays and magazines as rudimentary weapons against the blood covered figures crawling towards them. I grabbed Sarah, kicking past the half asleep and crazed passengers that were starting to paw at us. One of the hostess’s had kicked the man from economy class and he was sprawled on his back. Behind him I saw a scene of carnage as the economy class passengers tore one another apart. Moving towards the cockpit with Sarah I saw the old man still undisturbed as he read his book aloud. To the sides of us the first class passengers had started to scrabble with one another, clawing, biting and tumbling over the plush leather chairs. Spittle and flecks of blood were flying through the air. We were ignored by the fighting passengers and the hostess too were left alone as the maddened passengers turned on one another. Reaching the old man I looked down at his book and saw the pages filled with a swirling script I had never seen before. He was tracing his fingers below each line, and mumbling out each word. I shook his shoulder and his head wobbled as he looked at me. As he stared up I saw he had a pair of old hearing aids, with the manual volume control pushed all the way down. He mouthed words and a guttural voice I could barely understand escaped his lips. He motioned at his ears and I could hear Sarah behind me say, “He’s deaf, get him up and we will move to the cockpit, maybe we will be safe there.”
The old man’s head was swiveling on it’s shoulders as he turned around to take in the scene behind him. I offered him my hand. He closed his book and I read the front cover, it was an ancient guide on learning short-hand. He stood up, clearly aghast and confused. As he stood the plane dipped violently a third time and started to rumble with turbulence. The lights flickered off, plunging the plane into darkness. The three of us, shaky on our feet, got to the cockpit door. I pulled it open and saw one of the pilots collapsed over the control panel, blood dripping across the buttons. The other was concentrating on steering, his face bruised and battered.
“What the hell is going on out there?” the conscious pilot demanded, “I had to knock him out,” motioning towards his passed out co-pilot, “he went crazy trying to fly the plane into the ocean.” I looked across the ocean, which the plane had got much closer to. I could see it churning and a massive dark shape moving beneath the waves.
The shape that lurked beneath those waves was much larger than the plane. We were on course to plummet beneath the dark ocean. I hoped that the thing underneath us was a submarine, but it’s angles and the twisting, grasping, tentacles lead me to believe it wasn’t. The old man looked out across the ocean in horror and when a purple hued tentacle broke the surface of the water and reached up towards the plane he feinted. I ducked to help him, turned him on his side. As I did so Sara yelled at the pilot, “Fly upwards! Get away from that thing!” I could hear him jostling with the controls, “I’m trying! I’m trying! She just keeps dipping!” The the floor of the plane was buffeting us around violently. I tried to keep the old man’s head and body still as we bounced through the air. I looked back down the aisles of the plane and saw that the hostess were fighting with the crazed passengers. One of them had fallen to the ground, her arm bloodied I reached out and grabbed Sarah’s hand. I held it just as a massive tentacle smashed through cockpit window. It squashed the pilots torso against the back of the cockpit and his chest exploded, splattering my wife with blood. I stood, feeling the plane finally move upwards through the air as another tentacle hit the side of the plane and raised it. I wrapped my arms around Sarah as the tentacles whipped the plane through the air. The plane was sideways and we were falling back down the aisles, I looked up and saw the cockpit window completely smashed. I looked down and was wrenched back in the other direction and felt icy cold air on my face as I was flung outside of the plane.
As I fell through the water, I saw a door obscured by a golden mist. Sarah stood next to me, holding my hand.