by Ken Dean
forum: Fate
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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           Andy Prolocek was dreaming…a dream that he had had several times now in the past month. One could describe the dream as extremely surrealistic, as dreams go, and entirely implausible. 

          He was standing in an empty field of very low, rolling mounds that resembled a golf course. His outstretched arm was raised up at a forty-five degree angle, holding back an enormous weight that defied all logic and reason. Pressing against the palm of his hand was a full-size, 767 passenger jetliner. 

          The impossible plane wasn’t resting on the ground or even touching it, but was being entirely supported by his own strength. This defied all normal reasoning, Andy thought to himself, since the weight of the plane had to be grossly exaggerated by gravity and its enormous thrust and speed. But there it rested…. held back from crashing down on him by the palm of his hand. 

          Andy was terrified, of course, but intensely curious and amazed. He seemed to have all the time in the world, since he was able to hold back fate as if it weighed as light as a feather. He studied the plane closer to try and discern what this all meant. What had started out as a fuzzy dream state was becoming sharper and more distinct. 

          He saw thick, black smoke off to the right. Stretching as far as he could, while still keeping his hand on the nose of the plane…but then his hand slipped off the nose of the aircraft! Andy cringed for a second…until he realized that the plane was still hanging there, about six feet from the ground. 

          Walking a few steps to the right, Andy could see smoke and flame pouring out of one of the left wing engines. The engine in question was mangled…as if by an explosion. Something terrible had also happened to cause the rear of the plane to be shattered into a mess of metal skin shards, ripped hydraulic lines and pieces of fabric. Possibly flying chunks of debris from the exploded engine? 

          He could smell the overwhelming odor of kerosene associated with jet fuel. There was also a high-pitched, keening whine you would usually hear with jet aircraft, but it seemed exaggerated by the one ruined engine.

          He also studied the cockpit, which was fairly close to him, and noticed the pilots. These were the only people he could see in the plane since everyone else was hidden from his view. The pilots seemed to be frozen in time, with their faces highly expressive masks of the terror he was sure they felt. The pilot had his hands pressed against the cockpit window, as if this would hold off the sure destruction that was imminent! The co-pilot displayed a look of blank resignation that oblivion was only a second away. 

           Being in a dream state, Andy wished there was someway to see the inside of the plane. Suddenly he was inside the passenger compartment, even though the plane was still frozen at a standstill about six feet from the ground. 

          Everything was totally frozen in time now. There wasn’t any noise or vibration. In fact, it was strangely quiet. What was blatantly obvious was the reaction of the passengers to the fact that death, though quick and merciless, was an instant away. 

          There was a mother holding her infant to her chest so tightly that she must be smothering it. He noticed a man in a business suit gripping the armrests so tightly that the fabric was ripped, his mouth open in what had to be a scream that was about to extinguished forever. What was most unnerving was the woman in a window seat who looked totally oblivious to the process happening around her, having a peaceful look on her face that was beyond comprehension.

          Enough!!  It was too much for him to bear. Too much terror…too surreal…he wanted to wake up now!!! He could hear a faint on and off buzzing noise that kept getting louder…and he was trying to figure out where it was coming from. He looked around the planes interior…but it was actually (his alarm!)  The regular reality of the real world came floating into his consciousness, causing the dream state to disappear as if it was thin smoke in a high wind. 

          But this was Saturday…why was his alarm going off? Oh…he had forgotten to turn it off for the weekend. Stupid!!  He reached over and pressed the alarm off. This was the day he, his wife Ruth, and the kids Emily and Katy were going to the giant combo mall at Tuddleberry, to shop and just goof off in general. Being a project manager for a large, successful software company left him little time to spend with the family, so he had to use it wisely. 

          He heard his wife’s voice. “Andy…what’s wrong?” She obviously noticed him jarring awake and now the sweaty look of dismay on his face. “The dream”, Andy said. “I had it again.” “That’s the third time now in a month, right?” asked Ruth. “That is very weird. Are you OK?”  “Yeah”, Andy replied, “Just shaken up. It all seemed so real…it seems more real each time it happens.”  “Maybe it would be a good time to check with Jim, you know, to make sure everything’s OK.” replied Ruth. 

          Jim Bochi was a good friend of theirs, a psychologist. It might be a good idea to talk to him…try to figure out what was going on. 

          The dream was already fading, just like the mid morning fog races away from the sun. 

          “Lets get up and get going”…”it’s a nice, clear summer day and we should make the most of it at the mall” “Good idea”, Ruth said. “I’ll go make sure the kids are up. It’s about eight, right?” “Yup”, Andy replied. 

          The kids will love this, Andy thought. The three level mall was one of the family’s favorite hangouts. Plus they were making a lot of improvements and additions that they were all eager to see. Especially some outdoor additions…like a water park and miniature golf course. (Miniature golf course!?) Andy shook his head, as if to clear it. Now where had that déjà vu- like thought come from, tugging at the corner of his consciousness?

          Andy went ahead and got ready. Shaved and showered.  Ruth got ready next…the kids had showered the night before, so they were set. Teeth brushing, face washing and some deodorant were enough for them after the nightly shower. 

          He had quite a family in the three girls. Ruth was the perfect wife, at least to Andy. They were on their second marriage each, as so many American families tended to be, but as far as he could tell it was perfect. 

          Ruth herself had a great Marketing position with a reputable firm and seemed content with her position.  With both their incomes combined, life was fairly comfortable. 

          The two girls were quite amazing also. Both were their own children from this marriage. 

          Emily was the other techhead in the family. Andy had seen her write some pretty hefty code in the programming class at her high school. Plus he could always depend on her to help with the wireless network at home if he wasn’t around. Katy had more of an artistic bent and it showed in her Saturday sessions at a local art college. He and Ruth had both been highly impressed with some of the drawings she had produced so far. Some of the art savvy people they knew had been impressed also, and had suggested that she begin a portfolio now to build on in case she decided to go to an art college later.

          It was about 10AM by then. “Do you guys want to get something to eat on the way?” asked Andy. Yes was the consensus. So they all jumped into the SUV and stopped for breakfast sandwiches before leaving for the mall. 

          After that, they hopped on to the freeway to head for the mall. The modern freeway system had to be one of the modern marvels of the day as far as travel went…comparable to the ancient roads of the Romans. You always had a feeling of power and speed while driving on them, especially in the brand new SUV. 

          “Now don’t drive too fast, sweets.” Ruth commented. “Right.” Andy answered, as he knew he had a predilection for fast driving. He had received his fair share of speeding tickets. 

          It only took about fifteen minutes of travel to reach the exit for Tuddleberry. 

          Andy slowed down and was making the turn on the exit that veered almost in a full circle as most freeway exits do…right up to the stoplight before the entrance to the mall.  He could see the mall from the stoplight as they were waiting on the light to change. The construction for the new outdoor additions could also be seen. On one end Andy could see the beginnings of a water park which looked to be of moderate size. It was a miniature version of a water park which sat next to the city’s zoo on the north end of town. On the southern end of the mall it seemed they had the miniature golf course about halfway finished, with the greenery laid down along with some low rolling hills for realism like an actual golf course might have. 

          None of the fixtures were present yet, such as windmills, funny little buildings, etc. One had to admit…it would look nice when finished. But…there was something peculiar about the way the miniature golf course looked…something oddly familiar.

          “Andy! The lights green!! The person behind us is honking!!” cried Ruth. 

          “OH!!! Right!!!” replied Andy, being jarred back to the present by his wife’s urging. He gunned through the green light into the mall parking lot and suddenly realized he needed to watch for pedestrians and slowed down. 

          Andy was shaken and sweaty…the vision was so real! It looked so clear! 

          “What happened back there?” asked Ruth. “You really looked to be off in frickin’ LaLa-land.” 

          “You OK Dad?” asked Emily. “Yeah, I’m fine…was just day-dreaming for a second.”

          (Is that what you call it…day-dreaming? That was not an accurate statement. It was more like being inside a shootum-up explosion flick, except up close and very, very real!!) 

          “Well be careful!” Ruth insisted, “That’s a good way to have an accident.” 

          “You’re right….sorry.” Andy knew she was right, but he didn’t like to be nagged. 

          “Here’s a parking spot” Andy said as he swung the SUV into the angled space, and not to far from the malls south entrance, where the golf course was being constructed. 

          “OK…everybody out” Andy said, and added a little joke of his own he used whenever they went shopping, “and remember…nobody gets to buy anything!” “Yada, Yada Dad” Katy quipped. “You say that every time we come here, but we still get to buy stuff! Hah!” 

          Yup…standard answer, Andy thought to himself.

          They proceeded to walk to the south mall entrance, Ruth holding his hand as always with the girls in tow.  “Want to get a cup of coffee in a few minutes?” Andy asked. “Sure” replied Ruth. “White Cappuccino, as always.” There was an espresso cafe about halfway down the mall’s interior where they usually stopped at. Great coffee. 

          They were inside now, and Andy noticed a new software store called Comp Accessories at this end of the mall. He would like to stop and check for a new project manager software package he had been looking for, but decided to do that on the way back. 

          “Where to, girls?” asked Andy. “Can we go to Pantene’s first?” Emily asked. “They have a sale going on and there are some clothes that Jackie and Sarah were talking about at school yesterday.” 

          “Sounds like a plan.” said Andy. “We’ll stop at the java café on the way there.”

          Andy looked up as they were walking and noticed the large rectangular skylights the mall was famous for. Tuddelberry was different than most others, in that they had a V-shaped roof instead of flat. On both sides of the roof were skylights that were quite large and were spaced evenly down the whole length of the malls ceiling. Large amounts of open sky were visible and the clear sky outside was letting quite a lot of sunshine come through. 

          Visible also were several jet contrails high in the sky, a couple quite close together. But there was something peculiar about one of the contrails, the one he could see traveling east to west.

          “Dad…what was that?” asked Katy. “There in the sky. It looks like one of the planes stopped.”  Andy hadn’t realized Katy was looking at the sky also. 

          Stopped was one way to describe it…the jet contrail had suddenly terminated in a bigger puff of steam or smoke. It was hard to tell what had happened from this distance. 

          “Just a minute Katy, I’m not sure either” Andy replied. Andy kept looking at the strange jet signature in the sky, but he couldn’t see any wreckage trail leading anywhere. It was as if the jet had stopped suddenly…but that wasn’t possible! He thought of one possibility…but it sent chills up his back! 

          Andy came to a sudden, chilling revelation. The jet airliner was coming directly towards them! He knew all at once where he absolutely had to be! In his dream the plane crashed where HE was standing. To him that was a clue that it was somehow homing in on where he was.  But he had to make sure his family was out of harms way also.

          Trying to keep from shaking and appearing nervous, realizing he had to hurry, Andy spoke to Ruth. “Listen Honey…do you mind if I go back to the new store at the south entrance, the one called Comp Accessories? There’s some software I’ve been looking for.” “Sure.” replied Ruth. “Is everything OK? You look like you saw a ghost.” “Nah…everything’s fine.” Andy said. (Stay calm…don’t look nervous!!) “Just wanted to look for it now and catch up with you girls at Pantene’s.”  It wasn’t the truth…but he had to make sure his family headed to the north end of the mall. 

          “OK” Ruth said. “Call us on the cell when you’re headed back so you can find us.” “Sure…no problem. Just take a minute” Andy replied. 

          Suddenly Andy realized that he would never see his family again. But he had to be at that certain place…to ensure their safety! 

          “Listen girls…I’ll see you shortly. I love you” Andy said. “We love you too, Dad” the girls responded, looking a little puzzled. “We’ll see you in a few minutes, right?” 

          “Yup…be back in a flash” Andy replied. “Love you,” his heart sinking as he spoke the words.

          The girls headed on towards Pantene’s, at the north end of the mall, where it was hopefully safer. 

          Andy turned and walked hurriedly back to the other end of the mall, wanting to get their as quickly as possible. He wasn’t sure how much time he had, but it couldn’t take very long for a plane to plummet to the earth at a forty-five degree angle. 

          As soon as he was out of sight from the girls he began to run, hoping they wouldn’t turn to look and possibly see him. 

          There! The south entrance! He slammed through doors as quickly as possible and ran towards the construction site for the miniature golf course. 

          He had to jump the fence around the construction area, and fell in the process. Bumped his knee and elbow pretty good, but that didn’t matter. As long as he got to the place where he was meant to be. 

          He looked up quickly and could see some movement now. The smoke trail seemed to be coming towards the mall. It was still hard to tell though, with the head on perspective. Hurry!!

          He ran/limped towards the center of the course, in the middle of some low mounds of fake, green landscape. This had to be the place…it looked exactly like his dream. He stopped, winded, and looked up. There was the jet…racing towards him…its shape discernable now and growing in size.  He might have twenty –thirty seconds at the most. 

          Time seemed to slow down and stretch out. He thought of his family, friends, and all the people he had known in the past forty-two years. All would be gone from him soon! He felt a terrible loss. But he had to be here to ensure the safety of the people in the mall…especially his family! He knew in his very being that the plane would crash down exactly where he was. 

          The time was up!! The plane was suddenly there…about 2 seconds away!! He caught a quick glimpse of the pilots in the cockpit…looking exactly as he remembered.

          He quickly raised his arm, as if he could stop the plane just like in his dream. He was hoping against hope that somehow Fate might find another way.

          But Fate being Fate was unstoppable…

The End


copyright 2005 Ken Dean.

Ken Dean

My name is Ken Dean and I live in Hilliard… a suburb of Columbus, OH.

Previous publications have been The Intelligent Master, Fate, Direct Line, The Gift, The Quickest Way, and Tattoo Ink at www.silverthought.com. Also published several stories in different issues of Down in the Dirt magazine, the anthology collection Chaos Theory, both from Scars Publications (http://scars.tv.)

You may contact Ken Dean at: kdean4485@hotmail.com