The day had been a long one and she was wasted at last. With such hectic schedule, she barely managed to board her flight on time. She was almost out of breath when she flopped herself on her seat by the window. She thanked the heavens internally as her two long hour journey would not be at least crammed between two strangers. A migraine was about to start and she closed her eyes in anticipation. There was commotion all around and the attendants were starting with the usual instructions but she hardly cared. With her eyes tight shut, she again unwillingly went over the proceedings of the day. An unusual day, as it was filled with rushed interviews, rushed briefings in the office and the overload of paper works. And then the sudden trip to cover a story. With such hectic schedule, she wondered if she would last another day. But then, the past few days had been surreal to the hilt. Who would have thought if such a man really exis —
Loud gasps from the several throats around her broke her reverie. Her eyes flew open sharply. Her senses were already heightened and as she looked around for the source of shock, every eye was transfixed outside the plane, in the sky. With a crease between her eyes, she turned automatically as well. And she almost gasped loud although a little late. Her eyes could hardly believe for a moment. There, not very far away, with the clouds playing hide and seek, was a man flying. For a moment, she believed she was hallucinating. She blinked several times to erase the unwanted and yet, he was still there, flying, the cape flapping madly. A man in blue and red. She almost pressed her face against the window, the tip of her nose touching the glass. A minute passed by and only then she realized she had not moved an inch and her mouth had been hanging open all this while. There, her problem of the day was flying outside in a sub-zero temperature and super thin atmospheric pressure defying all the laws of physics.
The story of a flying man was published in a leading daily newspaper, three days back. It took up the whole front page and so it was impossible to miss. A picture had accompanied but it was just a blur between the skyscrapers and too far up in the sky. She had smirked back then and mocked about the sanity of the people. She had nodded and agreed with herself as she thought it was all a publicity stunt. The journalist who covered the story had instantly shot to fame. After that, stories had been pouring from various parts of the world about a flying man, as if on cue. These last days, her newspaper had been nothing but the same story. Her face had screwed up in distaste while turning the pages. ‘What utter rubbish!’ she then declared. The rumors were like a wildfire burning up cities after cities. Uproar had built up in her workplace with people running frantically to get the story covered in as little time as possible. Cut-throat competitions was increasing between the various media houses as each tried to cover a different story of the same flying man. And so, she was being sent in almost two hours notice to fly to another part of the continent and get a new or any story in that case.
“I am hoping against hope that our destination is a mutual one,” she murmured to herself and strangely saw the figure turning his head towards her as if in response. Bewildered, she sat back and tried hard not to stare outside. Exhaustion was overpowering her at last and before long, she was fast asleep.
A violent jerk woke her up. Something was off and she couldn’t understand the source. She was still reeling under sleep inertia. But the strange noise was getting louder and louder and a strangled cry escaped her throat as a violent tilt almost took her breath away. Her stomach was pressed tight badly against the safety belt. Confused and frightened, she realized that the plane was plunging head on somewhere and she might be counting her last moments any minute then. All the throats were crying in unison and she felt light headed and sick. Food trays and people were flying and crashing loudly. Someone was hanging for dear life by grasping on one leg of the seat. With all the mayhem around, she could hardly keep calm and started to sob frantically. May be, she should have at least bidden a proper good bye to her parents before she started for the journey. Tears were streaming from the sides of her cheeks and she was almost choking. She felt she was about to faint. Someone pushed the oxygen mask over her mouth and she held it tightly as if it were her only savior. Everyone shrieked when one of the wings broke away. She was almost certain of death when something caught her eyes. And through her tears, she saw a blurred vision of him flying more near, as if he was racing with the plane or in pursuit and then he was gone. The current scenario was a deja vu moment as she had read similar accounts in the newspaper and then miraculously getting saved at the end. The newspaper had promptly declared that it was the flying man who saved the day. Her heart lifted a bit as a flicker of hope kindled even though the situation was gloom. As the minutes passed, more things flew and the screams grew. Her ears felt as if it would pop off any minute. Suddenly, a black cloud of smoke billowed out of the engine on her side of the plane. Some more sparks erupted and the engine caught fire immediately. She was taking breathes in gulps and her shriek was muffled by the oxygen mask. ‘One down’ was what she counted in all the chaos. But the head-on fall wouldn’t just stop. It felt like forever. The other wing broke away in pieces bringing more loud sobs and shrieks. She could hear children calling out to their parents and wailing. She could hear adults calling out to their God. ‘Please’ was what she could hear the most. Her hands were hurting from straining them on the seat in front of her to keep the excess pressure away from her mid section. And ‘Please’ was what she prayed to God, to save her, miraculously, this single time. And then, she heard the burst of the other engine. At that, the momentum increased suddenly and the plane did a spiral twist sending many luggage flying and hitting random people. She hit her head somewhere, the pain numbing her and was almost thrown out of her seat if not for the safety belt. Everyone was hollering at this point and she could almost hear the nerves throbbing in her ear. She knew the end was very near and closed her eyes waiting for that fall and the impact that would take her only life away. She was almost ready for death. Seconds felt like hours and she waited. But even after a minute or so had passed; the final fall didn’t just come. Were they still so up in the sky? That was not possible. Wasn’t gravity supposed to act much faster on bigger and heavier objects? So, how come were they still air-borne? Not only that, the speed of the fall has been constant for a minute or so. How was that even possible? And out the window, she saw the approaching ground and at last, the plane touched the ground as they landed. Not in several pieces but as one. Everyone had the same question in their eyes and a bewildered expression. Everything went eerily quiet and suddenly, it was dark and suffocating inside. Each of the passengers inside wore a puzzled expression and looked around frightened as if the plane might start its fall again. The realization hit slowly but abruptly as everyone was starting to clamber for the exit. She was reaching to unclasp her safety belt with trembling hands when the main exit door was pulled out of its hinges with an ear splitting noise. And framed on the doorway appeared a tall man with a ground sweeping cape, billowing in a hypnotically captivating way. The little light that entered was blinding and everyone shielded off their eyes as they squinted to look at the man. All the mouths fell wide open at the scene that greeted them. He entered slowly but surely and looked around as if trying to remember each one of them. When his eyes did the same to her, she realized how piercing blue those were. As if, such eyes cannot be owned by a mere human. After a minute or two, he spoke to all the stumped silent spectators.
“You’re on ground. Please, go home safely,” that deep warm voice assured in a calming way.
And as he smiled again reassuringly and turned to leave, a mother who had been holding on to her child for the treacherous past minutes, came forward abruptly and clasped his wrist with her both hands. He looked down at her a bit puzzled.
“Thank you!” she whimpered inaudibly.
“Thank you!” her throat rasped and her lips wobbled violently, as fresh tears streaked her face again.
His kind eyes wrinkled in a soft smile as he wrapped his huge hands over hers again in warm assurance.
“Have a good day, Madam!” was what he wished back and out he went and with a ‘whoosh’ of the air, took off and disappeared into the sky.
All this while, she watched seated unable to come out of the shock at once. Her knees felt weak and her whole body like a rubber from the adrenaline that was spent. She would’ve too wanted to take a closer look of the strange, flying man that became a hero for saving her life and all the people around. But all she could do was marvel at the power that he had and the generosity with which he made use of it. She looked around herself and saw the anguish tears of gratitude in each eye. This might had been a nerve-wrecking day but ah! She had found her story after all. She was instantly reminded of a quote she had heard sometime back from one of her acquaintances and she knew exactly what the next day’s headline would read.
WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
P.S. Always been an ardent fan of Superman.
#shortstory #story #writings #fanfiction #superman #anunusualday #prose #piece