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The boiling hot sun beat down on his face. Perspiration wet his brow and the sand burned his left foot, where there was supposed to be a shoe but, there wasn’t. But something wasn’t right. It was like he was outside of himself, watching from a distance. But still feeling. Feeling every emotion. Every prickle of pain from the white hot sand. Loneliness that felt all too familiar and unmistakably real engulfed him like the waves of the icy blue sea.
Suddenly he woke.
Jolted from one life to another.
In his own bed with his own wife. Then the air conditioner kicked in and slowly began to hum him back into a sweet slumber.
“Hi sweetheart, pancakes?” his wife said.
“I had that dream again.”
“The one where-“
“Yea” he interrupted.
“Maybe you should go see the-“
“No.” he interrupted once again, “I’ll be fine, once we leave”.
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I think I will catch the next day flight so the kids won’t have to miss more school and be more behind. Besides you’d be in meetings the first day we’d be there.”
“That’s fine with me.”
They rode in the car in silence. The silence was nearly deafening. Then it was broken. Broken by the shattering of wind, by the cool steel blades that sliced through the crisp air.
“It’s a helicopter” she stated the obvious.
“They are probably still looking for him.”
“Chris, do you think that they will ever find him? It’s been three weeks…”
“Well he is a criminal so he is probably good at hiding.”
“I don’t feel safe” she whispered
“No one is ever safe” he said without thinking
She burst into tears, “I’m scared to be alone”.
“Chloe, sweetheart I would never let anything happen to you. I love you too much.”
He reached over and took her hand in his.
But then the silence came again. The only thing that could be heard was the constant beat of the helicopter.
“BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING.” Chris’s boss was a little too over excited for this trip. Chris was just glad that he took his vacation days right after this business trip.
“Chris? Are you ok?” his coworker jolted him from his train of thought.
“What? Yeah. Why?”
Chris reached up and touched underneath his nose. He felt a drop of warm blood trickle down his finger. He moved toward the door to get to the bathroom. He was starting to think the stress was getting too him.
He walked down the poorly lit makeshift tunnel that was seemingly endless. He finally boarded the plane and took his place towards the back. He wondered what it would be like to sit in first class, probably wonderful without fidgety children and sobbing babies.
He missed Chloe and the kids already and wished they would have come on the same flight with him.
An oversized man who really should have bought two tickets took the seat next to Chris. And as soon as the flight took off the man in front of him leaned his seat all the way back so he was pretty much laying in Chris’s lap. It was from that moment on Chris new it would be an uncomfortable flight. Despite his discomfort the hum of the plane’s engines brought sleep quickly to him.
The ding of the fasten seatbelt sign woke him, startled he reached for his seat belt. He knew it was too early to be landing. The flight attendants scurried checking to make sure everyone was secured in their seats as abruptly the plane shook up and down. The pilot started to mumble something on the intercom about an unexpected storm. People started to whimper as the plane rocked, shook, and jolted its passengers. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. But then it didn’t seem like the plane was going up again. Just down, down, down. Now the people began to weep and cry out for their gods.
The noise disappeared as the plane shook and dropped at impossible speeds. The silence was shattered by the sound of the hot steel fuselage slicing through the tranquil air. Oxygen masks dropped out of the ceiling and people began to tear and claw to get one over their face. Then it happened. The moment when everything changed.
He pulled himself out of the metal beast and stood. A trickle of blood dropped down his face. He walked away from the tangled wreckage and stood on the white sand. It burned his unprotected foot. But he really didn’t notice the missing shoe. All he noticed was the pain. And this time he wasn’t just watching.