24E

     Katie Massey saw that the aisles were finally deserted. Only the large pacing man was making his way up and down, back and forth, like a caged panther.

     She rose from her seat in 24E and made her way towards the stairs.

     Towards the cockpit. Towards her husband.

      Minutes ago, she had heard his strong, beloved voice explaining the AB340's predicament to the passengers. She had marvelled at Lance's calm and poise in what she knew to be the worst situation of his lifetime in the sky.

     His announcement had been brief. His steadiness had been huge.

     There had only been a few muffled screams, a collective gasp, some crying, and a few loud curses. Then the cabin had fallen into a rustly silence.

      "I've been flying for thirty years, folks," he had said in closing. "In that time, there have been other emergencies. We'll do everything we can up here to make this as right as possible. Trust us. Trust your God.

       I have work to do. Thank You."

       Katie reached the cockpit door and tapped twice, paused, then twice more.

      "It's me, Lance," she said more strongly than she felt.

      A lock snapped and Andrea opened the door. Katie could see that her eyes were red-rimmed but steady. She nodded quickly and spun back to her co-pilot seat.

       Lance turned for a moment and smiled. Actually smiled.

       How she adored him.

       "Sit, love," he said. "Stay."

       He turned back to the impossible mosaic of his controls.

       "Just keep looking, Andrea...keep looking. We need a calm patch. We need your eyes now. We need steadiness. This is not impossible. Keep looking," he told his co-pilot. "Hang in, Andrea."

       Katie looked at the back of his greying head. She saw his hands flying in a flurry over the lights and switches. Without turning to her, he briefed his wife.

       "We're lucky with the weather. Winds calm. No gusts."

       Only Lance, thought Katie. Only her brave, solid husband would thank luck in a powerless airplane spiralling into the Atlantic.

       "Great visibility, too. It'll help." he said.

        "Important thing, of course, is to maintain air speed. No flaps. We're just a big kite right now."

        He darted a look at her.

        "Bet you're sorry you came along this time, eh?" he said. She heard an edge of sadness.

        "No, Lance. Not at all. I want to be right here with you."

        He nodded, and turned back to his controls.

        "We've got a good lift to drag ratio, Andrea. We're good for another fifteen minutes or so. Find us a spot; we'll float her down real nice.

         "I've got to get the cabin crew on to the water-landing EmPross." He reached for a switch on his head-set and paused for a moment, looking straight ahead.

        To Katie's reflection in the cockpit window, he said, "We're lucky this flight's not even one-third full."

         Again with the luck.

         If we were any luckier, thought Katie, there'd be a bomb on board. She smiled thinly as Lance spoke again.

        "And I'm lucky to be your husband, Katie. I love you, hun."

   

  

    

      

       

The End

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