Almost everything I write starts with a “What if?” question. For example, the manuscript I have out to editors right now began with the question, “What if those mushroom fairy ring things really were supernatural?” And thus, The Clearing was born.
For my current WIP, I asked the question, “What if a plane got hijacked – but the bad guys were actually the flight attendants?”
The story begins on a flight to LA. My protagonist, a girl who has just graduated high school, is going to stay with her dad for the summer – but as the plane passes LA and continues to zoom over the Pacific, mayhem ensues – especially when the passengers realize the flight attendants are the ones hijacking the plane.
So, my murder scene comes from these first few chapters, as the girl and her fellow captives are becoming aware that the flight attendants are not their friends. Enjoy!
* * *
“How about everyone just takes a seat, and no one will get hurt.”
The male flight attendant – a pretty stacked guy, I realize with a start – is aiming a freaking gun at all of us. Without looking around, I can tell everyone is wearing the same expression as me: Mouth open, eyes wide, face drained of color. One by one, people start sitting down. I slump as low as possible in my seat without actuallygetting under it.
“You gonna tell us what this is all about?” a man calls from the far right side of the cabin. He’s got a thick Texas accent, and when I find his face among the other passengers, I’m a little surprised he’s not wearing a cowboy hat and chaps.
Everyone looks back to the flight attendant. He shifts his eyes to one of his colleagues, and that’s when I notice the attendants are all spaced out around the plane. Four are standing in the aisles, two are up front (including the dude with the gun), and two more are guarding the bathrooms.
“Yeah!” booms the fat businessman. “What in the sam hill’s going on here? We want some answers!”
A few people vocalize their agreement, but most of us keep trying to blend in with the blue polyester we’re sitting on.
“Shut up! Everyone shut your mouths!” the flight attendant shouts, waving the gun in an arc around him. Silence falls on the crowd of passengers like a tidal wave. “You’ll find out where you’re going when you get there. Now make yourselves comfortable, ‘cause we’ve got a long flight ahead of us.”
“Oh no we don’t!” Texas Man bleats. Before anyone can process what’s happening, he leaps out of his seat and launches himself at the burly flight attendant with the gun.
“Doug!” the woman next to him cries, right before the gun discharges into Doug’s chest.
She screams, and it’s the most awful noise I’ve ever heard. She’s in the process of flinging herself towards Doug when another flight attendant – the one closest to her – pulls a gun from beneath her jacket and places the barrel on the woman’s skull.
“Don’t. Move,” the attendant barks. I recognize her as the tiny blonde woman the fat businessman was yelling at earlier.
A terrible thought seems to dawn on all of us at the same time. Everyone shifts their gaze from one flight attendant to another and registers the uniform bulges beneath their jackets.
Every single one of them is packing heat.
“Like we said,” the man at the front of the plane smirks, “if everyone stays in their seat, no one will get hurt. But if you’re as stupid as this poor idiot – ” he flicks his head towards Doug’s lifeless body – “we can’t be held responsible for our actions. Now, we’re going to be in the air for a while longer, but rest assured you’ll have a gun pointed at your head the whole time. Understand?”
No one moves a muscle.
“Good. Now sit down and don’t say another word. Oh, and if you have to pee?” He pauses for dramatic effect. “Hold it.”