Red-Eye

He sat down at the cafe in the middle of the terminal. It seemed as though the entire building had been recently renovated from the inside out, with wavy-white ceiling panels covering the shopping area, and the rest of the open space stretching up some 70 or 80 feet to the roof; albeit, it did little to stop the miles-long echoes of various travellers hustling to get to their gates on time. Dave drew in a sip of coffee, and put a dash of whiskey in from the flask he was able to get through security (as he usually did). He looked around again and rubbed the few bristles that had grown on his face since he shaved yesterday, motioning his palms up his face and coursing through his hair. He was exhausted. It's only 9 o'clock, he thought—at night, that was. He still had a fight to fly out to Frankfurt before coming back to Munich around tomorrow afternoon. The delays this week had been unbearable... hundreds of crew members stranded in Germany due to storms over Nuremberg routes. Dave put his arms back on the table¬, another dash and sip, a quick look around.
Pssh, Dave murmured quietly to himself. It seemed like such a silly thing. He threw a small tip on the counter and got up, draping his suit-jacket over his should, not really wanting to put it on yet. He noticed some others had sat down at stools near him; it was getting a bit late for something like coffee, but even the moderate travellers knew there was no bearing on time when there was a flight delay. He stepped back from the stool, grabbed his luggage (which had his crew back resting on top, as all the pilots seem to do), and started walking back towards the gate. The passengers there, whose population seemed to have risen two-fold since he left, were beginning to portray an increasingly frustrated predicament, with German words being bickered here and there. With some amount of confidence, and particular annoyance, on his mind from the whole thing of it, he entered the mob, on his way to the jet-way door. A seemingly stressed man worked his way up to him and started speaking something foreign;
"Tenemos que estar en esta avión," he kept saying. "Tenemos que estar. Por favor, señor, ¡los otros vuelos están completo o cancelado!"
Dave just nodded his head, let out a brief smirk at the obvious southwesterner, and continued to walk. Whatever he was saying..., he thought. He again nodded to the hostess at the desk as he showed his boarding pass, and once cleared, began the down-slope trudge to the aircraft. As he approached it, the ever so slight buzz of the External Power unit plugged into the nose of the plane hummed to prove that the aircraft in some sense was still alive, blood flowing. The unmistakable roar of a B747's engines came and went from the right as the sound escaped into the gap between the jet-way opening and the plane's main door.
As he entered the doorway short of 6-feet tall, he politely nodded to the flight attendants, and turned left to see the first officer already sitting in the seat to the right.
"Hey, Dave," he said. They had conversed about an hour ago about the flight before Dave had gone to get coffee. "Nothing like a night haul, eh?"
"Hallo. Long time no see, Frank, wie geht es dir?" he kind of laughed in a way that didn't really sound like a laugh, but more of a forced smile. Sure, he thought. They both spoke English but liked to keep up the dialect.
Dave sat down on the left seat, as usual almost tripping on the center pedestal and hitting his head on the glareshield as he had done on one of his first flights in command. He peered out the flightdeck window down the nose of the aircraft. It was a '320, Airbus. He had logged some 5000 hours as a copilot and had finished his formal training weeks ago. Three check flights later and a plane now under his command, he was well familiar with the systems. Finally a captain, he reminded himself.
"We should probably get started here," Frank noted.
"Yep. You did preflight, yeah?"
"Yeah."
"Okay, then we'll start with c***pit prep."

 

*     *     *

 

After what seemed to be 20 minutes of taxiing around Munich's airport, they finally reached the edge of Runway 08R. Dave, as he had done hundreds of times or more in the past, reminded the passengers over the PA system of the airline's gratitude "Lufthansa one-one-one holding short zero-eight right," Dave radioed to the departure frequency.
"Lufthansa one-one-one, cleared to takeoff zero-eight right. Climb five-thousand and maintain runway heading to Delta-Mike-Oscar eight four, then proceed IFR to Frankfurt, as filed. Squawk 2332," the air traffic controller swiftly, just understandably, replied.
"Cleared for takeoff to EDDF, up to five-thousand, squawk 2332 for Lufthansa one-one-one." With that, Dave eased the throttle levers forward a bit. The CFM56-5B engines screamed forward for a moment as the aircraft lurched forward and began to turn onto the runway. Both pilots quickly glanced over the flightdeck, ensure the flap position, check the landing lights, autobrakes, flight director, the standard peripherals. Dave alerted the flight attendants to prepare the passengers for takeoff. The Munich sun had faded away just minutes ago, a gentle haze still present. The lights illuminating the runway blended together as he drowsily drew his eyes farther and farther down the stretch. With that, Dave replaced his hands back on the idled throttle levers, and dramatically pushed them forward to the marked TO/GA position on the quadrant until they clicked. The engines roared as the two were pushed back into their seats.
"Power set," Dave declared. The aircraft accelerated to 80, 90, 100 knots. The white stripes below began passing faster and faster. Dave pushed through his exhaustion as the plane barreled down the runway.






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