Flash Fiction Challenge: Travel Woes

So, yesterday, I went to the airport to catch a flight. I was there appropriately early (I think at this point they ask you to be there 72 hours before your flight), and I waited around and fucked about on my phone. Then I went to the bathroom because boarding was going to begin soon.

When I came out, the departure time increased by 20 minutes.

No big deal. Tiny delay. Doable.

Then the time changed in front of my eyes and it became two hours.

The gate did not announce it (it’s United, after all, which means I should probably just be happy they gave me a seat in the plane and not on the wing), and I went to the counter to see if it was real or just some kinda funky glitch.

The woman behind the counter made a face. Not a good face.

Do they know what’s wrong, I asked her?

Another face. No, she told me, but whispered: I think it’s mechanical.

By now, a small line of people had gathered behind me. (One guy said last four United flights he was on had mechanical trouble, and were delayed or canceled. Another guy told his friend, “WHAT IF WE TRY TO GET ON THE DETROIT FLIGHT, THEN WE RENT A CAR IN DETROIT AND DRIVE TO CHICAGO.”)

Then she said that they were authorized (and told) to rebook passengers where possible — problem is, it was a small airport, so I had to rebook for today, a day later. All told, not a giant woe for me, because the airport isn’t far from my house, and the event at my destination (the Elgin Lit Fest) doesn’t actually require me until tomorrow anyway — so, ideally, all good.

But it did prompt people to share various travel woes, of being stuck in places for hours or days, of dealing with Planes, Trains & Automobiles levels of frustration. So, I thought, that would make a good cornerstone for some flash fiction.

So, do that.

Write a piece of story which revolves around travel woes of some kind.

How you interpret that is up to you. Get inventive. Any genre is fine.

Length: ~1000 words

Due by: February 2nd, Friday, noon EST

Write at your blog.

Drop a link to the story in the comments below.

17 comments

  • Ummmmm… You are a genius. To take an everyday thing, sadly yes it is, and make it a writing challenge. I accept your challenge. Even though I suck at short stories. I will do my best to make myself proud.

  • Um…I don’t know how to “drop the link.” Here’s my little story. BTW; it’s true.

    August.
    1979.
    Eagle, Alaska

    Sometimes a favor isn’t a “favor.”

    I tuned to the remote radio frequency of the day; 123.74, and listened for any real-time weather briefings from my fellow Bush Pilots. I was trying to navigate my way over the ridges and ranges, back to the base camp to deliver the pain meds needed for the pipeline worker who cut two fingers off yesterday. Even though I cleaned and trimmed up the edges of his wounds, started antibiotics and stopped the bleeding, he’s still in a lot of pain. The sudden bounce of the right wing reminded me that the weather was changing and since I’ve flown this route many times and knew the weather changed minute to minute, I tightened the strap around my right thigh so the clipboard I use to write shit down on wouldn’t twist during the turbulence.
    I could see the outline of a dark grey cloud over Pastor’s Ridge so I read the birds and trees to see what they had to say about the weather.
    As I turned due north away from the cloud it came loose. The pinball machine the fuckers had strapped on my right wheel struts started shimmying and clunking against the fuselage.
    The guys at the airport are always trying to strap things on my plane so I can deliver it to the different logging camps I visit daily, and I was super pissed when I went out and saw the moving straps and ropes holding the pinball machine tied to the struts.
    “Who the fuck needs that?” I asked Sarge, the sheriff and airport manager.
    “Dave from Exxon brought it over for some guy at Miller Camp.”
    “No way. Last week is was a goddam refrigerator. Slowed me down.”
    “Listen, the weather’s good. Relatively short flight.”
    Then he dropped his chin and turned his face and smiled his googly-eyed smile at me and like the stupid woman I am, acquiesced.

    Once upon a time I was a sweet little nurse working in the suburbs of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, who had her private pilot’s license. I hitchhiked to Alaska and on my way stopped in Eagle. I don’t know how it happened–it was probably the excessive amount of money they offered to pay me–but all of a sudden I was flying powerful tail-draggers out of Eagle and doing physicals, light suturing of wounds, signing death certificates and being flirted with in the logging camps along the pipeline and rivers in Alaska and the Yukon. I’d flown tail-draggers and WWll military planes at home, and my instructor–Bob Hall, was one son of a bitch. When I was his student, he’d put me in all sorts of emergency simulations and all I would get is a nod or crooked smile as he shook breath mints into his mouth. All he had to say to me is, “I don’t believe you’re serious and want to fly. I think you’re just having fun; this is entertainment for you.” His manipulative doubt infuriated me and I’d fly even more precisely the next time we were together.

    So the weather is crashing, the pinball machine is loose, I’ve got forest, rivers and rocks around me. I. Am. Pissed. I climbed to 3,500 feet, set the autopilot for a heading of 269 degrees, slowed my airspeed to seventy knots, climbed over the passenger seat, slightly opened the door and used an Exacto knife to cut that pinball machine loose! As soon as the machine detached from the struts the plane tilted to the left which conveniently put me back in my seat. I overrode the autopilot and landed safely at Camp. The dude with the fingers was resting comfortably after having drank a fifth of whiskey; his bandages still intact. After checking a few lumberjacks for concussion, giving tetanus shots to three new guys and setting two broken fingers, I departed for Eagle.

    Good memories. Thanks for eliciting them.

    • To post a link, locate the place where you have written your story on your website or blog. Go to the top of your browser, where it will say something like “https://somethingsomething” or “www.somethingsomething” in a long box, click in that box and highlight the long string of text using your mouse button or other pointing device (eg, laptop pad) and once it is highlighted, use the right click function and select “copy” by left-clicking it. Once you’ve got it copied, head back here, right-click in the “reply” box and select “paste”. You should see the URL (long string of text) now in the reply box, and you can just click the Post Comment button to submit it.

      HTH!

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