Captain Martin Crieff knew that food in Canada was different than what he was used to. But he was fairly sure that whatever meat was on the dish in front of him probably wasn’t actually meat. Well, maybe it was a walrus. Were walruses grey? He used to watch a cartoon walrus as a kid, but it was brown. It was probably best not to chance food poisoning before a flight. He really should be used to Carolyn putting them in hotels with terrible food choices.
Pushing the plate away, he leaned in his chair and glanced up to the television in the dining area. The news shifted from the local weather in Newfoundland to a feature story. The anchorwoman perked up her voice to an overly cheery tone, “It’s one of the wealthiest brands in the world, but by far one of the most mysterious. Devil Moon Designs is considered the best of the best when it comes to handmade furniture. Established almost two hundred years ago, the company expanded in the age of the internet. Only the elite, people like the royal family of Britain and a handful of celebrities, can afford the work of this artist. But even through all these years, the company remains secretive. The current owner has never released his name or an image of himself. He has only been heard by a few clients. It is known that the company is based out of Canada, but the exact location-“
“Looking to redecorate?” a voice interrupted the story. Douglas Richardson, Martin’s first officer, sat in the seat across from him. He was an older man with a tongue smoother than velvet that annoyed the living daylights out of Martin. Once a captain himself, Douglas constantly believed himself right, and in Martin’s eyes, he always wanted to shove all the work on the younger man.
Martin poked his discarded meal with a fork, “Just killing time, really. I would have thought that Arthur and Carolyn would be here by now.” Suddenly, he snapped his head up. “Oh God. Oh God, oh God… Carolyn is only late like this when she’s rescheduling us.”
“Right you are, sir,” Douglas lightly clapped his hands together in a sarcastic celebration of Martin’s deduction. “Instead of going back to Fitton, we have become the bearers of a rather large wood carving of a bear.”
“To Barrow, Alaska. Apparently they’re having some party and need a bear,” Douglas finished.
“A bear carving to Barrow?” Martin’s voice broke. “Arthur must be piddling himself in excitement. But we can’t go to Barrow! I have a job tomorrow with my van. I can’t miss this.”
Douglas frowned sympathetically, “I’m sorry, Martin. It seems that Carolyn has already pushed through the paperwork. We’re going to be flying out soon. She wanted me to come tell you. If you want, you can borrow my mobile and see if you can reschedule.”
“That would actually be really great. I don’t have service on mine,” Martin accepted his first officer’s phone and hopped up. Stepping outside where it was quieter, he wondered if anyone actually cared about his need to work back home.
He named himself Adam a long time ago. If his creator wanted to be God, then he might as well be Adam. It was an improvement over “the creature” or “monster.”
About two hundred years ago, he traveled to the new world. He didn’t actually mean to end up here. The constant journey of leading while his master pursued ended up here.
They crossed over the North Pole and continued south on the other side. Finally, the journey proved too much for Victor Frankenstein. At the bottom of ridge in the wilderness of this land called Canada, Victor drew his last breath in the arms of his creation. His poor lost soul was left to whatever was in the afterlife.
Adam couldn’t bear to leave his master’s side. After burying Victor, Adam had taken in his surroundings. It was relatively flat area but surrounded with trees. Nearby was a stream that could provide water and fish for him. The cold had never bothered him. Here he would start his new lonesome life.
Much had changed for Adam in that time. A small town had popped up nearby. It was easy to get to by snowmobile if he needed anything. And people in this day and age seemed much more tolerant than the peasants in Geneva so long ago. With technology, he was able to make upgrades to the cabin he built. Through solar panels and wind energy, he powered his home allowing him to enjoy the things he come to love so much such as his record player. His additions outside helped his comfortable life as well. He added on a workshop about twenty years ago to craft larger items to sell. Over the years, he had been bored and took up hobbies to pass the time. Once he realized he could make furniture, trading with those in town became his staple to make money. Adam saved up enough funds to add a greenhouse in his backyard. His succulent fruits and vegetables were a hit in town where fresh produce came few and far in between.
But not just his living situation had evolved over time. Adam’s physical appearance changed too. His master must have been a God in a way. Adam found that slowly his cells continued to reanimate and heal over time. The sutures that originally held his body together fell out long ago leaving behind scarred but intact skin. Maybe that’s why people were more tolerant now. He didn’t look like a jigsaw mess, but more like he had some unfortunate accident in his younger days. His strength never faltered over the years, but he could tell he was getting older. Faint age lines had appeared recently, but he still never look over the age of thirty five. Even a lot of his hair eventually grew in, though he missed patches here and there. He mostly kept it covered with a hat.
Adam stepped out of his workshop for the night and stretched towards the sky. The moon peaked over the ridge spilling its light on the snow around him. Gazing up, he sighed breaking the silence. Even with technology like the internet where he could talk to anyone in the world, he was still such a lonely creature like the solitary moon above him.
Martin squinted against the setting sun. Artic flights like this were always the worse. He had flown them before, and each time was never better. “You would think that Carolyn would wait thirty minutes to make sure we could actually see to fly!”
“Well the thing about her, old chap, is she’s never actually flown a plane,” Douglas shook his head. “We might as well do like last time and try and slow down. Then the sun can set, and we’ll be much happier pilots.”
“No, we’re actually on a set schedule,” Martin checked their time. “Do you think we could fly a little lower to avoid the sun?”
Picking up a folder, Douglas checked the weather report, “There would be an awful lot of turbulence. Looks like there’s a storm ahead just below us. You could risk it.”
“GERTI would never hold up in a snow storm,” Martin gripped the wheel a bit tighter. “We’ll just have to continue on as we are.” He shook his head to try and regain his focus. He hadn’t been able to reschedule his job for tomorrow losing what would be his food money. Maybe if he chatted with the dorm supervisor, he could be a bit short on rent this month just enough to get groceries. Speaking of food…
Martin smirked, “People who have food names: Stephen Fry.”
“Good one!” Douglas pursed his lips together. “This is going to be tough… Oh! Fiona Apple.”
“You’ve been preparing this game for a while, haven’t you Martin?”
Douglas tapped his chin for a moment, “Christina Applegate.”
A blast echoed through the plane as all of the alarms shrilled into life. GERTI shuttered around them as her metal body squealed under the pressure.
“Christ!” Martin gripped the wheel trying to keep the old plane steady.
“Fire in the number one engine, Captain!” Douglas cried out the checks.
“Normal fire procedures! How did- We’re too high for a bird strike!”
“The thrust level is malfunctioning and will not close! Fuel control switch is malfunctioning. Fuel still flowing into engine!” A look passed Douglas’ face. It was one that Martin had never seen in the man he secretly admired so much. It was unabashed fear. They were on fire and going down. The nearest airport was over a hundred miles away. “Do you have control, Captain?”
“Yes!” Martin bit his lip. He prayed that Arthur and Carolyn weren’t tumbling about in the back. At this rate, the plane could break on impact. Carolyn was old and Arthur was…well, Arthur. “Douglas! Go back into the cabin and strap in with the others!”
“That is an order from your Captain!” He lowered his voice to be barely heard above the sirens, “They’re going to need your help. I… I have control.”
Douglas inhaled slowly knowing that Martin was right. But it didn’t make it easier to leave his young companion. Rubbing his shoulder, Douglas gazed at his brave friend. He squeezed Martin’s shoulder trying to keep his hands steady. With that, he unbuckled himself and teetered back into the cabin.
They were losing altitude and dipped into the snow storm. Martin flipped on the radio, “Mayday, mayday! Gulf-Echo-Romeo-Tango-India! We have one engine on fire and unable to extinguish-“
Another explosion rocked the plane as more bells screeched in the cockpit.
“Both engines are now on fire! We are losing altitude and… and…”
We’re going to crash…
“Mayday, mayday! There are four crew members on board! We are at 4000 feet!”
No one answered him back.
They emerged under the storm. Even with the snow, Martin could see the dark mass below them that could only be the ground. Switching over to the cabin radio, he tried to keep his voice steady as possible, “You three need to be buckled up back there! Brace yourselves!”
GERTI groaned under the pressure as Martin tried to keep her steady from a straight nosedive. He flipped the radio back over hoping anyone could hear him, “Mayday! We are at 2500 feet and falling! Please send help! We are going down! Both engines on fire!”
They say that your life flashes before your eyes in times like this. But Martin didn’t consider his family in these moments…
He never got along with his siblings. His father thought his dream was a waste and never saw him become a pilot…
His mother surely loved him, but Martin wasn’t as successful as his brother and sister. Why would his mother ever pay more attention to him than she had to?
The people who crossed his mind in these final moments were the three people in the cabin that he was fighting so hard to protect in this moment.
Spotting a clearing in the trees, Martin screamed out and veered GERTI towards it. The ridge was steep, but he could possibly avoid killing them all if he could land GERTI on it.
He squeezed his eyes shut only moments before impact.
Adam rose from tending his garden. A rumble shook the glass panels of his greenhouse. It was far too loud to be thunder. Through the clear roof, he spotted a flickering light in the clouds. A plane swooped down far too low to be safe. Both of its wings glowed violently with fire. Adam’s mouth hung open as it grew closer to his home.
It suddenly veered sharply away. Slamming into the ridge, it slid up the bend and turned with its tale facing the sky. The back of the plane rose up over the bank. Even from this distance, Adam heard the loud groan of the metal. The weight was far too much for the plane to handle.
It split in two. The cabin of the plane continued to slide away and over the top of the ridge. Adam gasped. Recalling the trails he used while hunting, there was a slope on the other side where one could see the town in the distance. The cabin vanished out of sight down that steep hill.
At the split, the cockpit slowed for a moment appearing that it might balance at the top. But the round nose of the plane slipped on the rock. Rolling back down the ridge, it crashed into the trees only several hundred yards from his house.
Adam flung open the door of the greenhouse and sprinted to his workshop. He pulled out his snowmobile and hopped on. Though he had no clue if there was anyone in the cabin of the plane, the cockpit always had at least a pilot. He prayed as he sped that way that whoever was flying would still be alive.
Martin never thought that death was both warm and cold at the same time. He could feel a sticky and wet heat on his face and his leg. At least he could still feel his leg in death. Both of them actually. It would be a shame to not be able to walk through the pearly gates of Heaven. St. Peter would probably make fun of him and use Douglas’ voice to do it. He could feel both of his hands, his arms, his chest. Though, his chest and stomach ached with a deep dull pain.
But the rest of his body still felt cold. He could hear the wind whistling gently around him. Maybe in his version of Heaven, he would have a bit of a breeze to fly in. He wouldn’t want his perfect plane to have perfect conditions all the time. Martin loved a bit of a challenge in flight.
A bit of snow slipped off the broken metal around him and plopped on his cheek. Cringing, he slowly opened his eyes. So he wasn’t dead, but he certainly didn’t know where he was. That was a lie. He was still in GERTI… sort of. Though he was still strapped to his pilot’s chair, Martin knew there wasn’t much more of the plane behind him. He wasn’t sure how he knew, but he did. Above him, the widows had been shattered and the snow fluttered around him.
And pass that far above was the sky he loved so much. He couldn’t tell if the sun had fully set a few minutes ago or hours. Blinking several time, Martin had trouble focusing on the clouds.
He loved clouds. As a child, he wanted to touch one. Fog never counted. Though it was a type of cloud, it wasn’t up in the air.
Ignoring the pain passing through his limb and chest, Martin reached up as far as he could. He wanted to touch those clouds. He needed it.
Another hand appeared. The fingers reached out and slid across his open palm. Strong fingers slipped between Martin’s and gripped his hand. Turning his head, Martin could barely make out a person.
His eyes blurred as his head lolled to the side. Martin fell back into the darkness.