FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31ST 5:00 P.M.
HE HAD ALWAYS HATED HALLOWEEN. All those kids with bright shiny smiles wearing death masks. Death never smiled. He knew that from experience. It groaned, it screamed, it wailed or whimpered, and sometimes it even pleaded, but it never smiled.
As far back as he could remember, he’d always made death his own thing – his personal tool. A tool that over the years he’d lovingly honed and shaped to fit his hand, and it angered him that on this night – in particular – everyone wanted to play with it. Death was his! Always was! Always would be!
From the time he was a young boy he’d enjoyed a good kill. The metallic smell of the blood. Instinctively, he inhaled. “Crack a cat. Hang a dog. Beat a rat.” In the secluded woods behind the apartment building where he lived with the people he was forced to call his parents, death and play had become synonymous.
Now that he was his own man and unencumbered by other peoples rules, he didn’t want to play – not anymore. He’d grown older, wiser, and more skilled at his craft.
His goal now was to become Master over Death. He wanted Death to bow to his will. He wanted rule and control over it – for Death to go forth at his command. “Tonight,” he thought, would be the ultimate step towards that goal.
He could hear the low distant humming of her engines as she approached. He’d sat in this vacant lot for hours, waiting on her. “Good girl’, he thought, true to her ad campaigns, she was, ‘On time’. The, ‘she’, was Adventure Airlines Flight 404 departing from New York’s LaGuardia Airport in-route to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
He’d ridden her many times in preparation for this moment. So much so, that he’d developed a kind of ‘friendship’ with each member of her flight crew.
There was Caroline Aster, the head flight attendant. She was forty years old, but looked an incredible ten years younger. His lips smacked together at the thought of her.
She wore her deep auburn hair in a pageboy style with a side flip and her hair actually moved like the hair in those TV shampoo commercials.
It was her legs, however, that had commanded most of his attention. Some men preferred a woman with sparkling eyes, or perky breasts, but he was a sucker for a well-toned leg. Caroline’s legs started somewhere way up high. Her dimpled knees, led to curveous calves with just a hint of muscle. Then they sloped downward towards sleek slender ankles. He imagined her toenails were painted a deep luscious crimson red. Many a time, he’d been carried away on waves of ecstasy just thinking about how it would be to caress those calves and then to have the pleasure of sucking each little crimson toe.
After his first flight with Caroline, and those magnificent legs, he always made sure to secure an aisle seat for himself, just so he could watch her walk up and down the aisle. Too bad!
Adventure Flight 404 had a flight crew of five – three flight attendants, the pilot and co-pilot. Most likely the others on board tonight were Hilda Trent and Mark Smith. Even their names were as paper mache as they were. Hilda and Trent, he thought, were nothing but props or bit players on Caroline’s stage. The more he thought about it, the more he felt that they were hardly worth the thought and planning that had gone into killing them. However, this was for Caroline – not them. He took comfort in knowing that this way Caroline would always be remembered.
Hilda, in her late twenties, was a petite yet buxom girl with wavy blonde hair, dewy skin, and sky blue eyes. She possessed a rather unusual talent that he envied and practiced over and over in the mirror – she could smile with her mouth but not with her eyes. He’d looked into those cold unfeeling eyes while marveling at the whiteness of her teeth.
Mark, the only male flight attendant aboard Flight 404 was one of those ‘new breed’ of guys – a metrosexual, which he understood to be code for bisexual or confused homo. At least, that’s how Hilda explained the term. To him, Mark was just a guy who had a woman’s job. The guy loved traveling and he loved flying. He’d die doing the things he loved, he thought.
When, the crew, in turn, had asked questions about him, he’d told them that his name was Sean Grayson and that he’d recently been promoted to Regional Sales Manager for Acme Drive Shafts, which had offices in New York and Chicago. Traveling back and forth between offices was part of his new job.
It was from those flights, that he’d determined that this field was perfect for his mission. He’d spotted it while staring out the window on a particularly boring flight, made so by Caroline’s absence.
Checking his watch, he knew that the Captain was in the process of making his ‘approach announcement’. An announcement that the Captain made in a precise professional tone with no stilt or a hint of an accent in his voice. He was sure that the Captain must have rehearsed his ‘little speech’ at home while admiring his manly reflection in the bathroom mirror.
His announcement was always the same, “Ladies and gentlemen we are on approach to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. At this time, we would ask that you raise your seats to an upright position, turn off any and all electrical devices such as cell phones and laptop computers. Please make sure that any items that you may have stored in the overhead compartments are secure. We will make our final approach to O’Hare within the next twenty minutes and should be on the ground by six-thirty Central Standard Time.
I understand that weather conditions on the ground in Chicago to be thirty-five degrees, icy rain with blustery cold winds. This had been your Captain. I now turn your attention back over to the flight attendants who will assist you in further preparations for landing. Thank you for flying Adventure Airlines.” He mouthed the words with a sarcastic grin on his face. What a landing it will be this time, he said out loud to himself.
The passengers were, no doubt, being good little lambs and following the Captain’s instructions and were busy putting away things that might become lethal weapons in the event of a crash. Others were probably standing in line waiting their turn at the john one last time before it was locked for final approach. And, if they were anything like the other passengers he’d flown with, they were in the midst of congratulating themselves on having made the dangerous journey through hostile skies without incident. Few of them would be in their seats with their belts fastened. “Just that much more carnage,” he chuckled to himself.
He wondered if any one of them had even the slightest hint of what was about to happen. He’d read stories about people who had gotten off planes just before take-off because some benevolent spirit had warned them. How many of them, he wondered would die wishing that they had listened to that spirit as the plane bucked up and down, rolled, and then pitched downward at ever increasing speed, before crashing in this non-descript piece of No-where, Indiana.
Would any of those who survived the crash, be fortunate enough to free themselves from the plane’s tangled mass before succumbing to the flames. Flames were an absolute certainty. He’d made sure of that. Flight 404 was scheduled for an immediate turn-around trip back to New York. Both her fuel tanks were filled to capacity.
A small wave of pleasure tingled through his body. He followed the sounds of her approaching engines across the night sky. He couldn’t see her yet but she was getting closer.
Her captain and co-pilot were, no doubt, going about their instrument checks. Item by item, carefully checking everything – flaps, wings, hydraulics, fuel levels, and landing gear. He’d checked his list, too, and at the top of his list was Death. Penciled in underneath Death was Adventure Airlines Flight 404.
Leaning his head out of the driver side window, he listened for just the right moment. He wanted to get a clear view of the spectacular fireworks she’d make as she went down. His camera was loaded and ready. Ready to catch Death on film.
Tonight, he would crack open a bottle of his best wine and experience that exact moment over and over again as each person on board met the death he’d prepared for them. He could almost hear the screams and feel the terror. A terror so real it became an almost malleable thing that he could roll back and forth between his fingers. Tonight he would savor that terror like the fine wine he’d drink as he watched the film.
The noise of the plane’s engines brought him back to the moment. At last, she was right in the camera’s lens. “Now!” screamed the voice in his head. He picked up the little black box placed carefully on the seat next to him – a box similar to the one he’d placed aboard Flight 404 earlier that afternoon and pushed the button.