Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hacker or Virus (computer) (12/15/11)
TITLE: Virus on Flight Number One
By Troy Manning
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The attendant gave me a peculiar look as she scanned my three-way ticket. She directed me to the seats between second class and the luggage compartment. One has really lost it when they don’t merit VIP seating on their own flight.
I popped in some earplugs as I became both queasy and ashamed by the sound of all the passengers vomiting as we hit a few of my more turbulent parts. Insult was added to injury as the boy at the window seat gestured for me to switch him places. The little cars and buildings swirling in the deluge below looked like so many floating remnants refusing to be flushed. For a moment I thought I saw myself down there knocking at the door of a great wooden barge before the plane entered a cloudbank.
The white cumulus quickly turned gray then black. I pulled the plugs from my ears as the sense of visual and aural emptiness overwhelmed me. It seemed as though an impassible gulf had situated itself between the dead and the quick, the luggage and the living. I unbuckled my belt and crawled across listless passengers toward the lone sound of barking behind me.
Having evidently unlatched the door of the wrong cage, I froze as a large reptile began encircling my body. I shouted for help but the thing seized this opportunity to insert itself in my mouth and sqeeze through my esophagus. Fumbling blindly among the cargo, I was able to locate my suitcase and some mouthwash.
Retaking my seat, I waited for my stomach to settle. The child at my side regarded me strangely, as though he knew full well that we were on a flight toward the core of my being and that at some point there would be a snake to contend with. I stared back at him in total denial until my feelings of shame began to resurface. I could see the triumph rising in his eyes and I despised him for it. The serpent started to stir.
A woman, who I learned to be the boy’s mother, relieved the tension by taking out a deck of cards and beginning to deal. Seeing the hand I was dealt consisted of a two of clubs, a four of spades, and a six and a three of diamonds, I flung the cards back and refused to play. Even worse, the snake appeared briefly and bit her on the cheek before withdrawing back into the pit of my stomach. Tension was indeed relieved momentarily as the mother then smartly slapped the returning triumph off her son’s face.
As if on cue, serpents arose from both the boy and mother’s mouths and started to wrestle. Knowing my snake to be the biggest of the three, I began hacking to cough it up, so that it might put a stop to the craziness beside me. Finding it unresponsive, I called for one of the attendants. The woman who had earlier scanned my ticket—I now saw from her nametag that she went by Jessie—approached briskly and took the mother and child’s snakes away from them.
“You know these are supposed to be kept with the baggage,” she said, heading toward the back. A few moments later she returned and washed out their mouths with soap.
I swallowed a mild sedative to keep my beast at bay. The remainder of the journey was relatively without incident.
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