In Debbie's words, "Daughter of Lir is a re-telling of the celtic myth surrounding one of the old gods who allegedly turned his children into swans. I’ve always been fascinated by celtic mythology (as told by Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising trilogy, through to Tom Deitz’ Windmaster’s Bane & follow-on novels) and the idea of parallel worlds and alternative universes."
Connect with Debbie on her blog where she says, "I talk rubbish occasionally, but otherwise not much happens."
And at Authors Electric in the UK where Debbie blogs on the 6th of each month in the company of mostly traditionally-published authors who are releasing their backlists as ebooks,
I just brought out a new collection of short stories, Ghost Plane and Other Disturbing Tales. Several of the stories were inspired by my job at an airline. And Blue Angel was inspired by a particularly bad boss. The stories range from Flash Fiction to Gothic. And, of course, all of them were inspired by my own insanity.
Durango Airport at Night
She preferred the airport at night after all the passengers had gone. Preferred the quiet.
Out here on the high plateau wind swept away the jet fuel and brought the pungent scent of sage. A tumbleweed, spindly and skeletal, cart-wheeled across the tarmac. Miles away in town lights twinkled against a backdrop of the moonlit
Carrying her bucket of paper towels and Lysol, she trudged back inside the terminal.
It was her job to clean the planes, empty out the seat pockets, vacuum popcorn off the floor, dump the lav--jobs the
Computers glowed along the ticket counter. Fly High. Fly High. Fly High. Purple letters floating in a sea of stars as the screensavers kicked on.
"G’night Chuck," she called out to the maintenance man.
He didn’t seem to hear her; no nod of his cowboy hat, just kept walking down the terminal past the car rentals.
He paused to check the automatic sliding doors, making sure that they were locked. Small town, small airport. Come midnight everything shut down. When he reached the bag belt at the far end of the lobby he switched off the lights.
“Leave ’em on, Chuck. I’m still here.”
She hated when men did that--pretended not to hear you, ignored you like you were invisible.
Her ex had been like that.
The door clicked behind him and he headed for his truck.
She ran down the terminal calling, “Wait!”
Through the glass doors she saw a gray plume of exhaust, red eyes of the taillights growing fainter in the dark.
She snapped the light switch on and nothing happened. She had no idea where to find the breaker. Walking back through the terminal she searched the gloom for familiar shapes--a potted palm, cushioned benches, unlit signs of Avis, Hertz, Budget. Behind the ticket counter, she fumbled for the doorknob, pushed open the door leading to the SIDA area where a badge was required.
The garage stunk of diesel. The electricity was working. A single bulb swung from the ceiling, casting shadows on the floor.
Her footsteps echoed on the concrete as she hurried to her locker. Soon she would be home, putting up her feet, watching television.
No aircraft should be calling in. The last plane had arrived an hour ago.
She skirted an empty bag cart, squeezed past the Ground Power Unit--the GPU’s heavy electrical cord snaked across the floor and nearly tripped her. Fighting to maintain her balance, she scrambled to the radio.
She depressed the button, spoke into the microphone, “This is
“In range,” the radio crackled.
She turned up the volume. “What flight is this?”
“Emergency landing...” More crackling.
Opening the door, she peered out at the ramp. Planes perched on the tarmac like great winged beasts, and the crane of the deicing truck loomed like a dinosaur. A string of blue lights glimmered along the runway.
A plane would be landing soon.
She grabbed the telephone, punched in the numbers for dispatch. Waded through prompts, punched in more numbers. The phone rang and rang and rang.
She slammed down the receiver, hurried to the emergency radio, and tried to reach the fire station.
“Anybody there? Pick-up!"
Gone for the night.
Across the runway a coyote howled.
The Navajo say coyote is a trickster.
She glanced down the cabin’s aisle, saw thirty-seven empty seats. No flight attendant.
“I couldn’t get a hold of dispatch. Do you need a mechanic?”
She pounded on the cockpit door.
The door squeaked open, revealing a deserted flight deck. The control panel flashed yellow, red, and green--a Christmas tree gone haywire.
What was that annoying dinging sound?
She backed out of the cockpit and surveyed the galley. Pressed her hand against the coffee canister. Still warm.
Could the crew have left by some other exit?
She stood still, listening.
Heard moaning. High-pitched keening.
The noise came from the lav.
The door said vacant.
She turned the knob, pulled open the door. The toilet gurgled, and she peered into the bowl. Not blue juice. Crimson. A rotten stench attacked her nostrils, made her gag. The toilet lid fell with a thud.
Bending over the tiny sink she splashed water on her face, glanced at the mirror and thought it odd that she didn’t see herself--only the reflection of pale plastic walls splattered with what might be blood.
She bolted back into the galley, slammed the lav door shut and leaned against it, listening to the grumbling GPU.
The cockpit’s ding, ding, ding.
Her thumping heart.
Nerves frazzled she wanted to scoot, to clock out and go home. But the securing the aircraft was her responsibility. And she needed this job.
An automated voice called from the cockpit, warning, warning, warning.
From the aft of the fuselage, she heard knocking on the thin wall that separated the cabin from the baggage pit.
“Who’s there?” she called.
Knees trembling, she clutched seat backs, steadying herself as she walked along the aisle. 3B, 4B, 5B. She glanced at a overhead bin. Heard scratching, someone whispering.
She turned and ran back toward the cockpit. But as the she reached the galley, the cabin door slammed shut.
The GPU groaned and sputtered. Died.
Even the incessant dinging stopped as the cabin swallowed her in darkness.
She pounded on the door. Tried to release the latch, but the handle didn’t budge.
“You’re one of us,” a voice whispered.
“One of who?”
The engines fired, and the propellers turned, faster, faster, becoming invisible.
“This is your captain,” a voice announced over the intercom. “Sit back and enjoy the ride.”
She glanced around the cabin. Every seat was occupied by faceless passengers.
One seat remained empty.
The aircraft rolled out of the gate, and with a lurch she sat.
“Prepare for takeoff.”
She screamed. Kept screaming as the aircraft accelerated. Screamed louder when the wheels left the ground.
Wind carried her shrieks up into the mountains, up into the stars.
And in the distance a coyote howled.
Ghost Plane will be included in a short collection of short stories to be epublished in September, 2011, Ghost Plane and Other Disturbing Tales.
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