Monday, March 24, 2003

Written Thursday, the 13th.

The from Phoenix to Denver was uneventful. I had a window seat. Once during the flight I looked out and saw white patches of snow. I had shivered involuntarily. Still, it was nice having a window seat.

The flight from Denver to Orlando was slightly more eventful. I was listening to some decent techno on the complimentary headset when I was rudely interrupted by the captain�s droning voice coming through my earphones. After observing the people around me looking up and around I assumed that it was playing over the loudspeakers as well. �Ladies and Gentlemen, I am now going to turn on the �Fasten Seatbelts� sign. I would ask you to please remain in your seats while we try to find a smoother path through this turbulence.� Hmm. It had been getting bumpy. I hadn�t really noticed. The sun had gone to sleep while ago, and I had been in kind of a half-dream state, listening to my music and making music videos in my head.

I was working on this cool one where a grim and determined-looking man is traveling across a vast alien wasteland. From time to time he would bend down and pick something up off of the dead ground, peer at it for a moment, put it in his pocket, and then look even more grim and determined as he walked on. The sun is beginning to set as he comes upon a sight that is shocking in its familiarity: Rows and rows of neatly made beds, warm and cozy and bright and incredibly out of place in this harsh landscape.
The expression on his face is unreadable. He walks among the beds. There are many different kinds here, but there is one trait they all share. They are all children�s beds. Brightly colored, some shaped like rockets and race cars, flowery designs, and some still with those little guardrails that keep the little innocents from rolling off the sides in their sleep. There are even a few bunk beds.
The man's step has grown wary. His eyes scan the rows. It is clear that he is searching for one bed in particular. The sun begins to set.
We are watching him now. The darkness growing underneath the beds around us is stirring. We can only see his dusty boots and legs approach as we peer out from underneath the beds. The boots stop. A hand reaches down to pick up a single strand of yellow yarn. While he is distracted, the first of us strike.

That�s as far as I was when the captain began droning at me.

The plane shuddered and rocked. The passenger�s heads all shook in unison like a hundred bobble-head dolls. The plane dipped sharply, and then veered to the right. It began to climb. I stared out my window as the frail-looking wings shuddered along with everything else. The people were getting nervous. The growing tension was almost palpable. The captain dipped, veered, and climbed some more. The turbulence got worse. The lady next to me hugged her child and buried her face in his shoulder. �Way to not frighten your 11-year-old,� I thought. The meal had been served earlier, (I asked for and received a vegetarian meal, which consisted mainly of some pathetic tomato and a few pieces of cheese) and some people were still nursing little plastic cups of soda or coffee. I watched them focus entirely on not spilling their beverages. �Yes, for the love of god, whatever happens, don�t spill the drinks!� I almost said out loud.
A man stood up and began to make his way down the aisle. The captain�s voice came on again. �I�m going to have to ask again that everyone please remain in their seats until the �Fasten Seatbelts� sign turns off. Thank you.� The man gave an embarrassed grin and sat back down. I grinned too as I thought. �I don�t think it really matters where you are in the plane if it crashes, just the fact that you�re in it when it does has already significantly hurt your odds.�
I don�t think I was scared. I�ve been scared before, and I wasn�t acting like I had been in any of those times. I was just waiting to see what would happen. Also, it was kind of fun. Planes are usually so boring. The way it appeared to me, the plane was either going to crash or it wasn�t. There wasn�t really any other option. If it crashed and I died, then I wouldn�t have anything to worry about. Since it hadn�t, at least not yet, I didn�t worry about it. I just thought of a plane crash as kind of a lazy way to skydive.
The turbulence continued for at least a quarter of an hour before it stopped. But, as I�m sure you�ve already gleaned from my subtle foreshadowing, we didn�t crash. I thought of a lot of things while the plane was batted about. I thought of Alyx and Kendall, and how what seems like a long time ago we had all wanted to go to San Diego just for the day. I wondered what they would be thinking if they were here.

Horrible beasts of all sorts of horrible shapes leap, crawl, drag, and ooze out from underneath the beds, howling, hissing, roaring, and sputtering. The man blasts the first few that reach him with a sawed-off shotgun he had underneath his long jacket. Those few monsters fall, but more are still emerging. An insane battle follows, the man running, diving, and even jumping from bed to bed, firing all the while. It�s pretty bad-ass. All the monsters get obliterated. All but one, of course. A black wrought-iron four poster queen bed with those leopard-print drape things is the hiding place of the largest one, a monster that looks like a cross between a gorilla, an octopus, and a wheat thresher. The man fires at it, but it leaps out of the way and the man only succeeds in shooting off one of the iron posts. The drapes fall and ensnare the creature, leaving it open for an easy shot. Click. Damn, out of bullets. Wielding the gun like a club, the man attacks. Entangled though it is, the monster easily knocks the gun away and grabs the man with one pair of its arms and begins to pummel him with the other pair. A girl�s scream cuts through the fetid air. The monster is distracted, and the man shoves it back, impaling it on the broken iron post. The monster screams, gouts of greenish-black bile spurt from its maw, and it slowly slides further down the spike.
The man doesn�t wait to watch it die. He turns towards the source of the scream. It is a little girl in a nightgown, peeking over the side of the top bunk of one of the beds. She has been crying, and when she sees the man the tears begin again. He reaches out his arms, sleeves torn and still bleeding a bit from some minor wounds. She climbs into them and buries her face in his chest. She had been clutching something, but drops it now. It is a doll. Most of its hair is gone, but a few of the yellow strands of yarn remain. Still holding her, the man begins to limp back the way he came. They disappear into the darkness. Having served their purpose, the doll and the shotgun lie together in the dust, forgotten and unneeded now.

I want Viggo Mortenson to play the Grim-And-Determined Man, Deon Sanders to play the Octo-Gorilla-Wheat Thresher-Pus, and Samara from �The Ring� to play the Little Girl. I�ll have a cameo as The Slug Monster.

I�m sure you see now why I try to keep busy.

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