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(not) swallowed in the sea

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The fact that Lena almost slips off to sleep could be considered normal. After all, she's been awake for over forty-eight hours. She's had a semi-permanent migraine since earlier in the week, and when she'd glanced in the mirror just before leaving the plane bathroom, her normally bright green eyes had been dull, lined with red, and her skin had been a colorless, paper white pallor. She was usually pale, yes, she'd spent too many hours inside of conference rooms and shadowy black cars, but she didn't normally look this bad. But she looked it today, and the caffeine crash was long overdue. And, oh, how her muscles ached.  

All this to say, she'd love to sleep, she's yearning for it, but it isn't the time.

But what time was it? What day was it?

Right. Wednesday. 2 PM. The meeting with the Japanese investors. The transcontinental flight.

This is why she can't sleep and, frankly, why it's unusual that she wants to. More than unusual, it's unnatural the way her eyelids hang heavy, threatening to flutter closed. Lena hates flying, but she doesn't dope herself up. She wants to remain completely alert while she's hurtling through the air in a death trap, a flying machine that embodies everything broken about the hubris of man. So, the chemical feeling, the wave of involuntary relaxation that washes over her in these last few moments, she knows… something is wrong.

Lena's eyes snap open, her knuckles clutched bone white over the armrest. Her fingers hurt when she stretches them open, her hands aching. She tries to turn quickly, but it feels slow and groggy as she throws open the window screen, eyes zig zagging over the horizon. The sun hangs in a different portion of the sky. The waters are lighter than they should be, glinting in the sunset. They're way off course.

She lurches out of her seat, still woozy from… from what? A sedative? She glances at her abandoned coffee cup, a perfect outline of her lipsticked mouth staining the opening. She thinks of the pilot who handed it to her, Paul, the man she's known for years, as far back as when her father was still alive. A man she trusted.  

She takes another step, bolstering herself on the headrest of the chair in front of her. The pilot is waiting for her, standing at the end of the plane just outside the cockpit. Why isn't he in the cockpit? He's just there with a guilty, devastated look on his face.

"Paul?" she asks, for lack of a better question. Her mind is still reeling and cloudy.

“Ms. Luthor, you were always kind to me," he says to her, and she swallows, dry. He's holding a gun.

Her hands fist at her sides. She has an uncharacteristic desire to cry. It's not the first time she's seen a gun. It's not even the first time one's been pointed at her, but it's the fact that this man is holding it, that it's his fingers itching near the trigger.

"I don’t want you to think that I—that I'm doing this because you weren’t—because you deserved it. You don't.”

“Then, why?” she says, because what else is there? "Why, Paul?"

“He knows," Paul shudders. "About everything. The gambling, the debts. He threatened my family.”

He places his hand on the exit door then, but Lena raises her own in appeal. Anything to stop what feels like the fast approaching inevitable.

"You could've come to me," she pleads in a tone of begging she can't stand to hear in her own voice. "I can still help you. I can protect you."

He hesitates.

"I can double whatever he's offering."

"It's too late," he says with an air of finality that Lena mourns to believe.

She expects him to raise the gun, it's time, but he doesn't. He reaches for something hanging on the wall instead. He tosses a parachute vest towards her, landing with a thump at her feet. She stares down at it.

"No," she argues. "It's not too late."

"It is for me," he replies. "But maybe not for you."


She's not sure what she was going to say. She'll look back years later and wonder… could she have changed the outcome? Should she have fought harder? Should she have tackled him right to the ground and taken control of the plane? Was it really too late? But, as it stands, she doesn't finish. She's cut off by a gale force roar of wind. Paul has thrust open the emergency exit door, and the cabin instantly loses pressure. The force of it sucks Paul from the plane, he's there one moment and gone in the next. Lena herself is slammed into the chair in front of her, ears popping, hair whipping, the world coming apart around her.

Scrambling, she pulls the mask from the overhead chamber over her face and clutches hard at the seat, tears streaming down her face. Her grip is slipping, but she has to reach it, she has to get to the parachute vest. The wind is so strong, but she manages to kick it towards her hand. Grasping it, she spares a fleeting thought for what else she can grab, a phone? A computer? She goes for the seat behind her that doubles as a flotation device. But before she can get to anything else there's an explosion, deafening, a bomb if Lena is to guess from her vast experience with assassination attempts. There's a screeching metal noise, more air, smoke, and fire.

Through the military training her father forced her to endure and nothing else, she manages to get the vest on. There's no time for anything else. The plane breaks in half, and she's hurled out into the wide open blue. She's still holding the seat cushion, and she has the presence of mind, somehow, to activate the parachute. It springs open, her world spinning. And then the parachute fails.