Flash Fiction Challenge: Bird in the Water

The XD 880 was to be the first stealth passenger airliner. The idea was to make it harder for hostiles to use surface-to-air missiles to bring down civilian flights.

The technology was there. On some level, I suppose it only made sense.

After all, air control would still be able to track the plane locations from the transmitter beacon, right? They would have, as long as the transmitter beacon didn’t malfunction. But of course it did.

The rescue teams set out with only a general idea of the crash site from eyewitness reports. We were three days into the effort when team 12 found the first piece of flotsam. That was when the mystery began to unravel. Nothing was what it seemed.

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

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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4 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Bird in the Water”

  1. “Roger that. Team 12 has located debris field. Over.” The marine radio crackled.

    The first piece of wreckage was very odd. It was a dark gray tail panel with half of a white star barely legible on the rusted material. It seemed to be from an older plane, nothing like the lightweight tail panels of the XD 880.

    Team 12 continued their slow trolling towards more debris which bobbed aimlessly in the waters ahead of them. Several other panels, similar to the first one were located just a few hundred yards from their bow.

    “Team 12 to base, we have a strange find here. Five tail panels found. No XD 880 debris. Over.”

    “Roger, Team 12, proceed with caution. Over.”

    Team 12 wearily motored forward to an unusual spot in the water.

    The waves began to crash in a circular motion and pulled team 12’s rescue boat inward toward the center of the whirlpool. The engine strained under the load, then could no longer power against the gravitational pull of the vortex. The boat became hopelessly caught in a downward spiral.

    The next day, the news reported that rescue efforts for the XD 880 had been called off. No survivors or wreckage were found after an exhaustive four day search.

    The news neglected to disclose that the debris from Flight 19 (the “Lost Patrol” from 1945) had been found in the same vicinity of the last known coordinates of the XD 880 – in the center of the Bermuda Triangle.

  2. Eddie, fighting off his seasickness and fear of sharks, steeled his nerve and fixed his salt-stung eyes on the horizon. The plane had gone down fast and possibly drilled deep in the muck at the bottom. Maybe that’s why all they’d found so far was a bit of rope and a shred of red fabric. Until…

    “That’s weird.” Captain Ralph lifted his binoculars. “It’s—”

    Squinting down Cap’s sight line, Eddie said, “A survivor?”

    “Row!” Ralph bellowed, grabbing an oar. “Possible survivor at two o’clock.”

    The dozen men pulled as one, Eddie training his eyes straight ahead. Then he saw it. A pair of arms floated above the crest of a wave, almost as if they were clutching an unseen chunk of flotsam. Between the arms was a head, draped with tangled hair…or seaweed?

    Eddie’s stomach lurched. Cripes. Cap said you only see a body in that attitude when a shark has bitten through the rest.

    But then one of the arms lifted weakly; the hand waved. “She’s…it’s…still alive!” Ralph whooped. “Faster, men!”

    They pulled her in and found her whole but wearing some kind of weird bathing suit and bracelets. Heck, Eddie thought, people traveled in weirder things. Cap checked her vitals as she sputtered and coughed.

    “Do you know what happened, miss?” Ralph said. “Did something hit the aircraft?”

    She snarled up at them, eyes huge and angry beneath the tangle of black hair. “Yeah, I did. Stupid invisible planes. I thought I had the only one.”

  3. The flotsam had drifted with ocean currents. It took sonar to find the rest of the wreckage. Divers were sent down.

    They found the rest of the bird on the ocean floor. The left wing showed the marks of an explosion. She had been shot down. The question remained, “By who?” To make matters worse, the black box was missing.

    No one came forward to claim credit for the attack. Even so it didn’t take long for the incident to come out in the news. The headlines read “Stealth Technology so Good, You won’t know your attackers.” The articles ran for weeks.

    The plane was dredged back to the surface and taken back for study. There was little to learn with the black box gone but at least the stealth technology would be protected.

    It was a curious finding that the emergency escape door had blown before plane hit the water. The explosion hadn’t come from a missile attack. Traces of C4 were found in the forensics investigation.

    In the recovery of the plane the pilots were forgotten. Not that they were ignored but they were not found with the plane. Their bodies never found, were assumed lost at sea. The families were given full benefits and honors befitting the death of heroes.

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