Short Story: Unidentified Flying Object

Of the 152 people on Flight 647, including flight crew, on that faithful day, the final tally stood like this, a year after: 31 suicides, 23 accidental deaths, 12 legally declared insane, 6 in jail for highly violent crimes, 41 simply disappeared off the face of the earth, 29 refused to talk at all about it, and 20 told and sold their story, all widely different from one another, to whoever would listen. Those 20 who did speak were deemed quacks, perhaps better suited to be in those nice white jackets 12 of their brethren were fitted for. The black box, which would tell the real story, or at least a part of it, passed quickly around appropriate government agencies, of which the FAA was not deemed to be one of. Yet, even if it was only for the briefest of moments, all 152 passengers on Flight 647, the decorated pilot, the child traveling to meet his father, the high school aged couple, knew what they were experiencing. Something unusual. Something terrifying. Something unidentifiable.

The flight started off with nothing unusual. Captain Stuckey got the plane off the runway towards the Bahamas only a few minutes behind schedule. There were only a few last minute cancellations, one at the gate even. That was not common, but it was not unheard of. The older gentleman had simply walked to the gate, took a look around, then told the nearby attendant that he would not be flying with them today. The attendant just nodded and pushed a few buttons. The man turned around and walked crisply away, a certain quickness to his step.
As Captain Stuckey taxied off the runway with his less than full plane, Chris Chamberish and Diane Wickers squeezed each other’s hands. The couple, barely eighteen, were jetting off for their honeymoon. They had secretly wed a few days earlier by a city judge and funneled their graduation money into this trip. Their parents thought they were going with a bunch of friends to celebrate. Chris and Diane were, but not with any friends and not for graduation. They were celebrating their holy matrimony and the new life growing in Diane’s stomach for four weeks.
Little Ricky Macintosh was on Flight 647 because a year earlier his dad had broken his sacred vows to his mother and ran off with Ricky’s babysitter to Nassau. This was the first time since then that Ricky would be seeing the pair. Part of Ricky hated his father for abandoning him. Part of Ricky hated his father for taking his favorite babysitter away from him. The eleven year-old by was nursing a crush on her for quite a while when the drama exploded. Ricky was nervous and afraid which was compounded by the fact that his mother wanted nothing to do with the elder Macintosh and sent Rickey on his on to the foreign country, passport in hand.
There were others on that flight. Twin sisters Wendy and Jo, already giggling about the guys they were going to meet on the beach. Pete Decklin, former big time gambler, desperate to get out of the country at any cost. Little old ladies and strapping young men. Families and bachelors. Flight crew, like Roger and Sarah, who had just completed the safety instructions that no one ever pays attention to. Roger and Sarah were planning something wicked a little later in the flight, after they served the beverages, something they could get fired for, but nothing that would be too memorable. The usual eclectic bunch that populates a flight was on Flight 647. All the passengers, all the flight crew, all of them played a key role in the events that transpired that day. Because without them as witnesses, the madness would have never caught on like wildfire.

The sun had set behind the plane and the beverages had been served. Roger and Sarah eyed each other nervously. What began as a joke in the airport lounge was about to become a reality. They knew about the risks to their jobs. But being a flight attendant was boring work. Barely anytime to spend in the cities and dealing with cranky customers. Roger called to the front of the plane, saying he and Sarah were going to check the garbage as a passenger said she lost a watch/ It was going to be smelly in the back near the bathrooms, so no one should come near. It was a lie, but one that would keep the other crew members away. As for the passengers, well they treated Roger and Sarah like wallpaper, so they wouldn’t notice their absence. The pair slid into the bathroom and clicked the door shut.
Captain Stuckey, unaware of the shenanigans of his crew, sat back in his chair, letting the atuopilot work, and admired the emerging stars. Stuckey fancied himself of an amateur astronomer. He felt it romantic that a pilot could still navigate and guide himself by the heavens in this century. There was Orion and there was his belt. The Big Dipper. Mars.
Except Mars was moving. And in the wrong part of the sky. His co-pilot was checking some gauges when Stuckey nudged him.
“Hey, Bob, what do you make of that?”
Bob, the co-pilot, looked up. “Probably another plane.”
Stuckey shook his head. “We were the only flight out of the airport to be heading this direction at this time of day in this flight plan. We are over the ocean. I doubt we would have any commercial traffic.”
Bob glanced at another gauge. “I suppose.”
The moving light slowly came closer. It was no longer one solid color. It seemed to be running through a gamut of colors. Stuckey was amazed.
“Anything no the radar, Bob?”
Bob glanced up again, then down towards the instrument panel. He then sat up straight, suddenly interested. He stared intently at the object.
“No, and we should be getting something at this point. Maybe there is a malfunction in the-”
Bob didn’t get to finish his statement as he immediately suffered a seizure and collapsed, dead in his chair.
Stuckey stunned as the ball of light came even closer to the plane, filling the entire cockpit with pulsating illumination. If anyone was looking from the main cabin to the cockpit door, they would swear there was a spotlight inside. Stuckey, shielding his eyes with his hand, grabbed the radio and tried to call out. First to the object, but there was no reply, only a single, low-toned hum. Stuckey then switched frequencies to emergency channels but only got static back. Then that low-toned hum from the main channel infected the other frequencies leaving Flight 647 in total communicative blackout.
As the light moved away from the front of the plane towards its left side, Stuckey once again squinted. He could almost make out a pair of beings amidst the light. But he didn’t know if that was the truth or just his eyes playing tricks on him. He shuddered. He didn’t have much time to think about it as he slowly realized the autopilot had turned itself off and shut down, leaving him alone to fly the plane. Despite the unbelievable fear gnawing in his brain Stuckey shakingly resumed his pilot duties. It never occurred to him to warn any of the passengers or the crew.
Back in the main cabin Chris and Diane were huddled over a magazine. It was Chris who first noticed the UFO. He watched it uneclipse itself from the front of the plane. He watched it silently, enraptured.
Diane noticed his lack of focus. “Honey, what is it?”
As if in response, Chris’s eyes grew wide. He slammed his head repeatedly against the back of the seat in front of him. He didn’t stop until he passed out, blood over the floral pattern in front of him, his eyes no longer wide, but dead. Diane opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out. She had seen the craft by now and tried to scream again. Nothing. A million thoughts raced through her brain then they all seemed to disappear at once. Diane went catatonic. She wasn’t even aware 9 months later that she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
It wouldn’t have mattered if Diane made a sound in terror, no one would have paid her any attention. The light, still cycling through every color in the spectrum, had caught the attention of everyone in the main cabin. Seemingly basking in the attention it was now receiving, the light performed some quick loops around the fuselage, impossibly close, and making a rainbow around the plane. In the bathroom, where Roget and Sarah were punching their club card, the light spilling in around the door was something of a coitus interruptus. Roger couldn’t perform any more. For some reason, unbeknownst to even herself, Sarah found this hilarious. She madly laughed. Roger put his hands to his ears to block out the cackling and to temper the suddenly boiling blood in his veins.
“Stop that, you bitch!”
Sarah did not stop. In fact, she laughed even harder and louder, becoming overwhelmed by it. She started to cry around her laughter. All Roger could see was red, from his rage and from the outside light. He grabbed Sarah by the temples.
“I said stop!”
He then snapped Sarah’s neck. She fell silent, her mouth opened in a permanent guffaw. The rage had given Roger the strength to take another person’s life. Looking down at the sprawled body of the girl who was only a few minutes earlier his lover, Roger began to weep. Later, he had to be forcibly removed from the compartment by the officials.
Wendy and Jo, upon seeing the light, immediately swapped personalities. Wendy was previously the more outgoing of the sisters, with a quick wit and saucy comment. She now felt the need to draw up within herself, to become more quite and shy. She didn’t want any embarrassment. Jo, the mousier of the two, would suddenly feel confidence to be more outspoken and speak her mind. It would lead to much confusion upon their return home. They looked so much alike that even before Flight 647 that is was not rare that they would get mistaken for each other. But it increased hundred-fold. So much so that Wendy and Jo swapped lives. Jo was now Wendy and Wendy was now Jo. Not even their parents knew the difference. And over time, it did seem like they acquired each others memories. Wendy remembered going to computer camp when it was Jo who went. Jo remembered the first time a boy kissed her, which was really Wendy’s first time. The psychic connection twins seemed to have under normal circumstances was irrecoverably twisted by the UFO.
The old woman in Seat 11B thought she saw Jesus in the light. She immediately got down on her knees and prayed. When the man seated next to her started talking in German, she took this as talking in tongues and fell further into her religious stupor. The man, to his own astonishment, kept on talking in German. The man could never master a foreign language, having failed high school Spanish twice, yet it seemed like he could now give a speech in German that even the Kaiser would be jealous of. He would never return to speaking in his native English language.
Pete Decklin looked around the cabin is dismay and confusion. He saw all the chaos and did not know what to make of it. He tried to shake awake the person who was seated across from him in the aisle, but the man turned away. When Pete grabbed the man and forced him to look at Pete, Pete instantly recognized who he was: Johnny Nice, Pete’s bookie. The man who had spooked Mr. Decklin so much that Pete jumped on the first flight out of the country and landed on Flight 647. He had once seen Johnny Nice punch out a lackey, send him to the hospital, for forgetting the car key. Pete stumbled backwards.
“No! How’d you know?”
Pete turned and ran down the length of the plane. He ran into another passenger: Johnny Nice. He turned away and yelled out in horror. Faces, serene and calm, turned to see what the commotion was. The faces of a dozen Johnny Nices. Pete clawed out his own eyes to avoid looking into the scarred face of the man with the misnomer of the last name “Nice.”
Ricky Macintosh was on Level 5 on his Min-Gaming-System when the UFO approached. The light from the craft joined the glow from his game and a certain calmness came over him. He found himself no longer mad at his dad or his former babysitter. He felt he had no need for anger. His worry over the big test in school next week was forgotten. He was sure he would pass. He put down his MGS and say back in his seat. Ricky instantly fell asleep despite the high wattage of the UFO and the screams of his fellow passengers. He dreamed of grand things: graduating high school at the top of his class, running his own company, his Presidential inauguration. But first he saw himself becoming the mascot of the doomed flight. He saw press conferences and reporters hinging on his every word, not believing him, but waiting to hear what the cute preteen would say happened. He smiled in his sleep.
Eventually the craft slowly left the eyesight of the plane and disappeared into the night, silent. In its wake it left psychos, sociopaths, and death. Disbelief and shock. Captain Stuckey, still haunted by the death of his co-pilor, managed to send out a message for an emergency landing fifteen minutes after the UFO left. The craft had accompanied Flight 647 for 82 minutes, though for the people inside, it seemed much shorter. Stuckey was hailed as a hero and the fuselage as a chamber of horrors. The initial consensus of the authorities was that a terrorist released a nerve agent on board, leading to mass hallucinations. That was the cover story given by someone in uniform when the plan landed. Then it was said there was a drug cartel operating the airline and they were trying to ship LSD to the Bahamas. Some of it leaked into the beverages and caused the horror. Finally, the blame was pinned on Roger, the flight attendant. It was reported that he went by another alias, one that linked him to a serious of serial killings in the Midwest. Story ended up that he went on a murderous rampage on the flight, sending the witnesses into shock. The tale went from being an attack, to an accident, to one raving lunatic. In none of these explanations was there a mention of a bright light or a UFO. Something extraordinary happened on Flight 647, but something that the general public accepted as occurring within the realm of our known reality.

The clack of military boots on a tiled surface echoed down the hallway. The older gentleman who once cancelled his ticket on a plane entered an unmarked room.
“Status report!” he barked.
“Sir, it seems like the experiment work. More than 75% of the subjects have been adversely affected. The hysteria ray was successful.”
“Good. My scouting paid off. Can you imagine it? We don’t need to send troops into a warzone anymore. Just flash a couple of bright lights and the enemy will destroy themselves from within. International law can’t get to us if we aren’t doing the actual damage. Just a shame we have to test it on our own civilians,” said the older man.
“How should we proceed?”
“We need to make sure this wasn’t a fluke. Let’s run it again.”
“Under what conditions?”
“Any plane, fling at night, over a stretch of the earth that is desolate. A good scientist always repeats the experiment as exactly as one can.”

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