Flash Fiction Challenge: Thin Air

Photo by K.S. Brooks

I never liked flying. The pressure changes always gave me headaches and the way the turbulence buffeted the plane jangled my nerves. It was a little better on this flight. At first.

When I returned from the lavatory, I noticed a number of seats were empty that had not been before.

I sat down and resumed reading my book. When I looked up, more people were gone.

I nudged the shoulder of the man in the seat ahead of me and got no response. He was ice cold.

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

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5 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Thin Air”

  1. He was ice cold. Fear gripped me as I felt for a pulse. There was none. I looked around and notice even more people were missing. They had to be somewhere on the plane. I mean we are up in the air. Where could they have gone? I stood up and started to search the plane. People just don’t disappear in thin air. I walked from the tail end up to the cotpit. I checked the over head baggage…why I don’t know a person couldn’t fit in there. There were only two places I hadn’t checked, the cargo hold and the cotpit. I tried to open the cotpit door but it wouldn’t budge. I decided to check the cargo hold because let’s face it all those people couldn’t be in the cotpit. So I went into the cargo hold. It was dark down there. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Then I saw the light and went towards it. As I stood there something compelled me to enter the light. What was beyond that light I didn’t know but there was one way to find out. I stepped through and…….

  2. I peeked around his chair, at his face. Open eyes stared back at me, already glazed in death. I jumped back from the macabre sight, half fell into my seat. Then standing up, I turned toward the rear of the plane.

    About half the seats were empty. The other half were filled with staring eyes, just like the man seated in front of me.

    I turned back to face the front, and had another shock: the corpse in front of me had vanished.

    Gone. Not a whisper of sound.

    I sank back into my seat, trembling. Shuddering. But the hairs on my neck crawled. I could picture those dead behind me creeping forward, and I shot back up again.

    More bodies were missing since I’d looked moments before. I was sure of it.

    What was happening? And – why was I still alive?

    I rushed headlong down the passage to the front of the plane, meeting no one. I reached the door to the cockpit which stood slightly ajar. That struck me like a blow, because I knew that door should never be open in flight. I pushed the door open more, and stepped into the space beyond.

    Empty. Only the auto-pilot kept the plane aloft.

    And somehow I knew that behind me, the rest of the plane was empty now as well.

    My legs gave out beneath me, and I fell to the floor, shuddering. Panting. Crying.

    And the empty plane flew on into the night.

  3. I got up and felt for a pulse, but found none. The man looked like he was sleeping. I looked up and down the aisle for a flight attendant who could help. When I turned back to the cold man, there was only an empty seat
    I looked around at the remaining passengers. There were only about fifteen or twenty of them left in this section, and all of them looked like the other man. I moved toward the nearest one, a young woman four seats back, and could see she was breathing softly. I tapped her on the shoulder, but didn’t get a response. Grabbing her shoulder, I shook her, but her head just lolled back and forth. I couldn’t wake her.

    I moved back to the next person, a middle-aged man two aisles back near the window. His skin was almost frigid when I touched it, causing me to recoil.

    I headed forward, running as quickly as I could toward the pilots’ compartment. First Class was completely empty, and there was no one in the crew area right before the door to the cockpit. The inset handle of the door felt cold as I pulled it and the door opened.

    The cockpit was empty. The control sticks were moving as if someone was using them. I moved to the co-pilot’s seat and sat, looking at the panorama outside the windshield. I could see nothing but stars, everywhere.

    I began to get very drowsy and closed my eyes.

  4. I stood, he was gone. The lights from the row ahead of me forward had gone dark.
    It was then that I felt the cold grip my flesh. I had swum in a polar bear club a few years ago. It felt much like this, at first pain, then numb.

    A fog filled the plane expanding into the rows behind mine. The passengers from the rows ahead were translucent, part of the fog.

    The seat belt sign was flashing above our seats, but I no longer cared. I was unbuckled and no one would stop me from finding out what was going on.

    I marched down the aisle to the door to the pilot compartment. No one got in my way. The flight attendants were no where to be seen. I knocked on the door. It was only when I knocked again that I chided myself for bothering with politeness.

    I pulled the door open slamming it against the outer wall. There was no reaction. I might as well have been tip toeing around the cabin. The pilots were part of the fog, the fog that filled the rest of the plane now. They ignored me as well.

    This wasn’t my first time in the flight cabin. I learned to fly from my father, and knew the instruments. The altimeter had to be wrong. We were flying so far below the horizon we must have landed. Or was that below the water line?

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