Ozzie Ausband


The airline pilot taxied out onto the tarmac and requested permission to liftoff from the flight tower. It was given. He throttled up and adjusted the flaps. The passengers were given a burst of speed & pushed into the backs of their seats as the 737 hurtled down the runway. A momentary glimpse: blurred fields, buildings burning by…  a drop in the pit of the stomach then– weightlessness. There was a dull scrape as the landing gear lifted & concealed itself beneath the belly of the huge aluminum tube. People relaxed & craned their necks peering at the earth dropping away beneath them. Clouds. White mist. The heavens opened up their majesty around them. The religious –on board– felt closer to God.

Suddenly, a dull throbbing, a crunch, a shriek of metal then smoke. The engine on the right side stopped– fired back up– then spun in reverse. The plane shuddered and banked sharply. Rivets shot like bullets as the metal groaned under the torque. Screaming. A wail of fear rose in the plane. Overhead compartments bounced open like school doors at the end of the day. The plane inverted and drove towards the earth at 500+ mph as luggage, papers, jackets & drinks flew about the inside of the plane… the shrieking continued. A sixteen ton angel fell to the earth. It took over two minutes for those inside to be driven like a gigantic nail into the earth. Cataclysm. Oblivion. What was that like? Eardrums bursting, tears, gnashing teeth. The horror. Two minutes of unbearable terror? Listen. What would you think of ? What could you think of ? Could you ponder anything at all? Listen. Would you be ready? I bet the name of God was on more than a few lips during that long bleak ticking of the clock!

One mile away. A farmer heard a dull crunching and felt the earth tremble… his kitchen windows rattled. The horizon lit up. He saw smoke. He drove his battered Ford truck down a dirt road. His neighbors streamed along the road pointing & crying. Flames licked at the trees. He pulled over & looked on in mind-bending horror & disbelief. He fell out of his truck & the heat from the jet fuel was scalding even from this distance. The air felt angry. Metal, debris, ash and rubber –all smoked blackly. Soot & the acrid smell of burning hair caught him. He vomited and fell on his knees as he saw a boot and the lower part of a leg.  The smoke bit into his lungs & he felt the world sway beneath him. He heard a woman screaming- “Oh my God! Oh Sweet Jesus!”  There was no God here. He was no longer on the job. Sirens wailed & he felt hands on his shoulders pulling him. The bile rose up in him. “Listen!” - a voice said. He couldn’t & wouldn’t. He didn’t think he would ever sleep again. As he was led away, he saw a skateboard charred & blackened in the grass…     - Ozzie