TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:
The air pressure changed suddenly and the wind began to wail. Yawning to pop her ears, she glanced out the cabin window, and saw dark purple storm clouds racing over the hill. It looked like a bad one. Remembering the puppy was still outside, she ran to the door, and called him. He didn’t appear. She quickly walked outside, and found him frantically digging at the dirt near the rickety fence. She called him again and he looked back, whined, and continued digging. A blast of ice cold air slapped her in the face and then…
(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)
“Cut it out, Susan!” She refuses to stop sand blasting your face with the ice cold air jet mounted just above your head. Sisters are like that. “I’m not kidding.” Every time you nod off it’s the same.
“You can’t make me, Alice!”
You look at your watch. 2:34. More than two hours until you land at LAX. Dad moved out to San Pedro a year ago. You and your sister are making a first visit. Spring break. He promised Disneyland but who knows? He promises lots of things.
The plane begins to climb.
Across the aisle an elderly woman sits with a tiny dog kennel atop her lap, the beast within bent on digging its way to freedom. “Is the pressure change bothering you, Janey-waney? Settle down, good girl!” She places her coat over the box attempting to remove all stimuli and calm the animal. It isn’t working. The incessant click! click! click! of its nails against the molded plastic is impossible to tune out.
On comes the captain:
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you look out our cabin windows on the port side, that’s your left, you’ll see a storm cloud moving in from the southeast. It’s nothing to be concerned about, but we’re going to head up to 35 thousand feet and see if we can fly over it. Hopefully this will make for a more comfortable ride. May get a little bumpy, but we should level off pretty quickly. We’re going to ask that you sit tight for just a bit. Thanks for your patience. [Hard click]”
Your ears begin to pop at the dramatic change in altitude. Yawning helps but not enough. You reach for the stick of gum Mom gave you just before boarding. Mom thinks of everything.
Beneath the overcoat drapery, canine Janey-waney finally gives up her attempted jailbreak and ceases making any noise whatsoever. Compared to the impressive racket only moments ago, the dog is suddenly still as the grave. It almost worries you.
A man sitting directly behind you begins answering questions no one is asking. And he is in good voice today.
“Planes fly into storms all the time. Get struck by lightning even. They’re made for it. Oh, yeah. Read all about it. The skin is designed to conduct as much electricity as possible. Believe that? That way a bolt can pass right on through so quickly nothing gets damaged. Happens all the time! So if we’re not in any danger, why’d the captain bother mentioning it? I’ll tell ya why: ’cause he knows that storm’s gonna hit us, that’s why!”
Another man further back gives voice to the consensus opinion collecting in coach.
“Hey, buddy, pipe down, will ya?”
“No, I will not! Bought my ticket same as you. No one tells Bruce Wilson what to do!”
Speaking again in open forum:
“That’s a mighty weird looking storm. I don’t trust it! Flat out. Never seen a storm that shade a purple. What even is that?”
Your window seat gives you an oddly unobstructed view of the oncoming storm. The blowhard is right: it is very strange. Magenta at its core and erupting with countless internal lightning strikes. He’s also right about something else: it’s coming and the captain has no path to avoid it.
“Just look at it, will ya?! That’s a whole lot a energy localized inside a one cloud! Why, a single bolt a lightning can carry one billion volts, read all about it, and that thing has thousands of ’em! That’s probably enough energy to rip a hole in our reality!”
Bruce Wilson exchanges his general address for a specific one.
“Hey, Lady. You know there’s a theory in quantum physics sayin’ there’s another airplane flying around another universe exactly like this one? Yeah! Everything’s the same, just shifted a bit. And here’s the wacky part: in one universe your poor dog there stroked out in fit of hyper anxiety. Dead! But in the other universe she’s just fine! Sleeping like a baby. Both realities are true at the same time! But we can only live in one reality, of course. See, we won’t know which universe is ours until we land and you peak under your coat! When you take a look to see if she’s still alive, [claps hands] BOOM! Our universe decides which path it wants: dead dog or live dog. Isn’t that amazing?”
“Awful man! Is there a universe where you drop dead and both dogs live? Because I certainly hope this plane lands in that one!”
“There aren’t actually two dogs. You missed the point.”
Someone else: “Dude! Just shut up!”
“I went too fast, let me start over.”
A clap of thunder penetrates from every direction and the storm envelopes the plane entirely. All is purple and light and hailstones and sounds and chaos. You see a dark fissure at the center of the cloud.
All is calm.
You look at your watch. 2:34.
“Cut it out, Roger!” You can’t seem to stop yourself from sand blasting your brother’s face with the ice cold air jet mounted just above his head. Brothers are like that. “I’m not kidding.” Every time he nods off it’s the same.
“You can’t make me, Jonathan!”
Across the aisle an elderly woman sits with a tiny dog kennel atop her lap, the beast within bent on digging its way to freedom. “Is the pressure change bothering you, Brucey-woocey? Settle down, good boy!”