SHORT HAULS

A collection of short stories

Don't have time to get into a whole book, but just want to escape for ten minutes? Well you've come to the right place!
Sometimes I don't have the time to write novels either, so instead I pen short stories, all flying based, of course!
Make sure you subscribe to my site for updates about when I publish new stories and read them here first.
Now grab a coffee and prepare for flight...

 

DIVERSION

What would happen if you missed your flight? Would the disruption in your timeline lead to your life taking a whole different path? Will you arrive at a totally new destination?

Thursday November 27, 1998.

0600hrs

Julia groaned, reaching over to press the snooze button on her alarm clock without opening her eyes. It was still dark outside, and cold… and nothing about it made her want to get up. She drifted back into the warm coziness of sleep, a small smile of contentment on her face.

Beep!! Beep!! Beep!!

It seemed like only a second had passed. ‘Phone in sick,’ Liam breathed on the back of her neck as he ran his hands up inside her pyjama top to her breasts. She could smell the stale odour of alcohol on his breath and wondered what time he had come in from his night out with the boys. No, she wouldn’t be staying home just to watch him on the sofa suffering all day, sucking all the joy out of her life like a sponge. She loved him, but after five years together she knew him too well.

‘I can’t,’ she said putting one leg out of the bed and feeling the cold air on her foot. Maybe one day he would get a decent job and they could have the heating on a bit more often, she thought before stopping herself; it wasn’t his fault that luck was never on his side with work, was it? ‘I need the allowances, and a few bits from the shops,’ she excused herself. ‘It’s Black Friday,’ she added hastily, before he moaned at her for wasting ‘their’ money, ‘and it will be fifty percent off everywhere. I should be able to get some Christmas shopping done and still bring some money back.’

Liam rolled over without a word, she knew he would rather she just didn’t go away at all.

‘And I’ll get your fags, you’re nearly out,’ she added, extracting a small grunt of appreciation.

Julia went into autopilot, dressing in her uniform and scraping her long dark hair into her usual up-do, a slick of red lipstick, jacket on, and she headed downstairs.  The clock in the hallway read 0628, for once she was running early, even if it was only by two minutes.

Something caught Julia’s eye as she carried her for-now almost empty suitcase past the living room door. She gasped and stopped in her tracks. On the coffee table, amongst an overflowing ashtray and empty beer cans she caught sight of her new passport… she must have left it there last night when she was filling out the forms she needed to hand in today. Julia shook her head and thanked her lucky stars that she had noticed it, avoiding what would have been a huge problem. She quickly swiped it out from underneath Liam’s mess, while thinking how no doubt the same mess would be there when she got back in three days’ time.



Thursday November 27, 1998.

0628hrs

Julia sighed in resignation as she glanced sideways at the mess Liam had left in the living room. No doubt it would still be there when she got back, she thought as she headed quickly for the front door with her suitcase, taking her winter coat from the hook and putting it on. Landing days had once reduced her to tears when she would come home to that kind of thing, until she had decided to appreciate her trips away and accept that being a good wife involved doing most (all) of the housework. Once she had accepted this the arguments had pretty much stopped, and for the sake of a bit of extra work her life was much less stressful. It wasn’t that the resentment didn’t still linger there in the background, but her mum had told her that most women felt the same, and she had also pointed out that Julia was one of the lucky ones who got to have little breaks. Julia knew she was right, while all her friends had failed to find a lasting relationship so far, she couldn’t help but think it was because they expected too much, and she had succeeded because she was a ‘realist’… like her mum, wise beyond her twenty-five years.

The ice was thick on her car and the cold wind bit at her cheeks and fingers as she scraped it off the windows. The thought of the Orlando sunshine and the Black Friday bargains in The Florida Mall made her smile despite it all and she drove out of their road without looking back. This was her time, the time when she got to be just her.

As she turned into the next road she felt the excitement for the trip start to grow, and she reminded herself that she needed to stop by the manager’s office to drop the forms about her new passport in…

Julia’s stomach flipped and she quickly checked that no one was behind her before putting her foot down hard on the brake. In a couple of turns she was facing the direction of home and careered back into her road, relieved that she had only been around the corner when she realised she had left her new passport on the table.



Thursday November 27, 1998.

0715hrs

Julia couldn’t stop smiling as she sang along to the car radio. Her mind was already in Orlando, her arms full of shopping. Her flight was almost full, a Jumbo Jet laden with people as happy as she was to be getting away. The traffic was beginning to get heavier, and slower, all four lanes of the motorway filled with cars. She looked into the windows of those she passed, wondering if any of them were going to the same place that she was, if they were as happy as her. By the looks on some of their faces she was pretty sure that most of them weren’t. She looked at the clock, 0715, as long as it didn’t get any slower than this she would make it in good time.

Looking over her shoulder, Julia indicated and pulled into the fast lane. She pushed down on the accelerator, relieved to finally be moving at over 30mph. She rolled her eyes as brake lights flashed in front of her… why was it that whatever lane she got in seemed to become the slowest? Impatiently she swerved into a gap to her left, and then over again, traversing the traffic like a boy-racer. She laughed out loud at her unnatural behaviour, finding enjoyment in the weaving in and out that she had always hated Liam for doing.

Absorbed in the moment she wondered whether anyone around her noticed how clever she was being, catching an old man gesturing wildly at her as she cut across and in front of him. She laughed and tossed her head back theatrically at him in the rear-view mirror, bringing it back up too late to notice the car in front of her coming to a sudden stop.

Julia could feel the adrenalin coursing through her body, her legs trembling as she pieced together what had just happened. Someone was knocking on her window and asking if she was okay, but she couldn’t answer them just yet, not for a moment, not until she knew whether she was or not. She moved only her eyes, looking down and around her. She tuned into her body, checking for any pain, before daring to move her hands, touching her face, circling her feet under the dashboard. The steering wheel seemed much closer to her now somehow. Julia sighed in relief, sinking back in her seat, from what she could tell she wasn’t hurt.

The old man was at her window. She expected him to be angry with her, but his face was full of concern when she finally looked at it. He opened her door and Julia shakily undid her seat belt, letting him help her out of the car. She looked in horror at the front of her beloved old Ford Fiesta, all crumpled up into the back of the Land Rover in front, which had crashed into the car in front of it, and that one into the car in front of that. With the old man’s car just touching her bumper, Julia counted five cars in total that were not going to be making it to where they were heading any time soon. People were standing all around, their cars abandoned at funny angles across the motorway as they had tried to avoid being one of those that now stood in need of rescue. More cars crawled past them at a snail’s pace on the inside lane, people staring out at them to see what had happened, before putting their foot down and taking off into the now empty motorway ahead.

Julia sighed. She wouldn’t be going to Orlando today, that was for sure.



Thursday November 27, 1998.

0720hrs

Something was definitely going on up ahead, Julia thought with frustration as every lane slowed almost to a standstill. She still had plenty of time but not if they stopped completely. She looked over to the inside lane, the only one that seemed to be moving, and wished that she hadn’t tried to be clever when she had come over into the fast lane. Checking her wing mirror she waited for the opportunity to move over; she avoided eye contact with other drivers who were no doubt frustrated too, but she had a flight to catch and politeness wasn’t going to get her there on time. One last quick tug of the steering wheel and she had made it, ignorant to the beeping of the driver she had cut in front of. He had plenty of time to slow down, or he would have crashed into the back of her after all, she thought in silent argument with him.

It wasn’t long before she saw the cause of the traffic jam, as she slowly drove past the cars that had not been as lucky as her, four in total stacked one behind the other in various stages of disrepair. People were stood out of their cars, bewildered looks on their faces, and she was pleased to see that no one seemed to have been hurt. An elderly man whose car was parked in the back of a Land Rover caught her eye as she drove past, and she smiled back sympathetically. There was nothing she could do to help them she told herself as the motorway opened up in front of her. Of course, if there had been injuries she would have stopped and helped, she was trained for everything from broken bones to CPR, but there hadn’t been any, had there? She put her foot to the floor, her old Ford Fiesta excited by the chance to open up and show what it could do. By the time they reached 90mph Julia had forgotten the crash and the smile was firmly back on her face.



Thursday November 27, 1998.

1030hrs

Liam was standing at the door with a strange expression on his face as Julia got out of the taxi. She had called him from the garage as soon as the rescue truck had dropped her and the car off, and told him that she was okay, so why did he look so worried?

‘Thank you,’ she said, handing the driver a five-pound note for the short journey and taking the still empty suitcase from him. Liam was walking down to meet her, completely out of character for him, usually he didn’t even get up off the sofa when she got back.

‘Here, let me take that,’ he said, taking the case. She looked at him suspiciously, she wasn’t hurt and she hadn’t been gone five minutes, so why was he acting like this? ‘I’ve put the kettle on,’ he said with a small smile, but he couldn’t look at her and she followed him up the path slowly, wondering if something else had happened in the short time she had been gone.

Julia shut the front door behind her and kicked off her high heels, taking off her coat and hanging it on the coat hook.

‘Sit down love, I’ll just get you a nice cuppa,’ Liam called, heading for the kitchen.

Yes, something was definitely up with him.

‘It’s okay, I’m fine honestly,’ she said cheerily, ‘I’ll just tidy up a bit first.’ She walked into the living room and started to pick up the rubbish from the table, at least she had the whole day off now to sort this all out, she thought, although she still had to figure out how she was going to do the standby they had reassigned her tomorrow without a car. It was times like this they could really do with both driving, but Liam was still banned for six more months… not that it had really been his fault, he’d only had a couple of cans that night, other people could get away with that but he always seemed to be unlucky.

The TV was on, but the volume was down, and she glanced at the screen for a second. Breaking News was written across the bottom, and she stopped to watch when she saw Heathrow Airport behind the reporter. Julia reached for the remote control from the arm of the chair and turned the volume up to see what she had missed.

‘…at this time we have no more information as to why the plane came down just a few miles from here, but it is presumed that sadly all on board flight OS811 have perished,’ he said gravely to the camera.

Julia felt the hairs stand up on her neck, and the room seemed to wobble. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Liam stood frozen in the doorway. OS811, the flight that she was supposed to have been on… For the second time that day her legs went weak.


Thursday November 27, 1998.

1000hrs

‘We should probably do Macy’s tonight, and then meet super early tomorrow for the others,’ Julia was speaking fast with excitement to Julia, the girl next to her on the jumpseat. ‘Target opens at six I think. Then we can do the mall, and we’ll definitely get candles last, they are too heavy to lug around…’

‘Sounds amaaazing,’ Julia said, her eyes wide as Julia told her all about the bargains she had bagged last year, and the year before. She would make sure that she showed this new girl how to do Black Friday in the states properly.

The plane pushed back from stand and they were soon moving slowly along the frosty taxiway. Julia looked out of the window and gazed along the huge wing that stretched out from where she was sitting halfway down the plane. Her mind was running over her ever-growing list but despite her preoccupation something caught her eye.  In the distance she could make out an unevenness on the wing’s surface, something colourless seemed out of place on the part of the aircraft she had looked out at countless times before.

Julia reached above her left shoulder, hesitating for a moment before taking the phone from its stowage, she was probably wrong, but if that was ice on the wing then she couldn’t afford not to report it. Better safe than sorry, she thought, as her mum always said. Julia took a deep breath and dialed the Flight Manager, hoping that she wasn’t making a mistake and causing a big unnecessary fuss over nothing.

Forty-five minutes later the plane rumbled along the runway, gaining speed before lifting up and taking flight. Julia looked at her watch, sighing at the lost shopping time. She had done the right thing though; the captain had said it was a good job she had noticed the ice, and thankfully the deicer truck was still close by after already deicing them once that morning. Maybe they would make up some time en-route, she thought hopefully.



(20 Years Later)


Thursday November 29, 2018.

1700hrs

‘Love you mum, I’ll see you at the airport,’ Julia said, hanging up the phone and smiling. She was looking forward to her mum coming over, the woman deserved a nice long break.

‘We’re off, Mum,’ Ellie said, walking towards her. Julia opened her arms up for a hug, looking around for the new boyfriend, Josh. He had gone out already.

‘Aim high, and never make do,’ Julia ruffled her daughter’s smooth, sun-bleached hair.

‘I know, I know,’ Ellie rolled her eyes. ‘I can have the world,’ she said, repeating what she had heard a million times before.

‘Yes, my love, you can,’ Julia smiled. ‘Now go grab some bargains,’ she said, handing her sixteen-year-old the keys to her car.

‘Thanks Mum,’ Ellie hugged her tightly, before skipping through the door that led into the garage.

Julia sighed, remembering when she had been that excited. She walked to the window and watched her precious only child drive down the street, her boyfriend sat beside her. He was sweet, and very polite, but she wasn’t sure if he was quite good enough for her yet, only time would tell.  A shiver went down her spine as she remembered this same day twenty years ago, how her friends had been so excited to go shopping but had never made it.

‘Honey,’ her husband always seemed to know when she needed to be snapped out of a moment.

‘Coming,’ she answered. Outside, Ben sat in the sunshine at the table by the pool, with a bottle of expensive champagne opened and two glasses poured. Despite the tragedy that had happened so long ago they marked it with champagne every year, because without it she wouldn’t be here now. What had happened that day had made her wake up from the bubble she had been in. It had given her the courage to leave Liam when he was so insistent that she left her job, the one pleasure she had, even when her own mother had sided with him.  It had given her the courage to accept that invitation to dinner from a passenger six months later, and then move to America just to be with the same man who now sat in front of her as her husband. It had given her the courage to chase the dreams she dared to have, and now she lived in this beautiful house in Malibu, with the most wonderful husband and a child she had raised to believe that she could have the world, just like she did. She was sad for those who never realized this, people like her mum, who had been so sure that life was meant to be a little bit hard.

‘To us,’ Ben said, raising his glass.

‘To us,’ Julia raised hers and smiled. ‘And where we are now.’



Thursday November 29, 2018.

1700hrs

Julia looked up at the plane that flew overhead as she walked up the path with her arms full of balloons and felt the familiar twinge of longing she got every time she saw one. She still missed being crew so much, even after all these years.

‘Maybe it’s time for you to put your husband first,’ her mum had said kindly when she had gone round there in tears that day almost twenty years ago. Landing day was always hard at the best of times, but after you have done a Black Friday shopping marathon followed by a full flight, coming home to such a mess had led to a huge argument between her and Liam. ‘Perhaps it’s time to stop flying love? We all have to make sacrifices in marriage, and maybe it’s time to settle down now. Not many men would put up with their wife galivanting off like you do...’

She’d been right of course, as soon as she’d given in and stopped flying, started behaving like the devoted wife, Liam had really upped his game, and he was a good, hard-working husband and father. Julia smiled to herself and turned her key in the lock of her smart three-bed semi. She pushed the door open and immediately heard the thunder of footsteps from upstairs.

‘Mum, I love them,’ shouted Jacob, throwing his arms around her as soon as he was close enough. He was growing so fast, she thought, his arms around her at chest height now.

‘I’m sure you have grown since yesterday,’ Julia said, standing back and looking at him, her hands on his shoulders. ‘Look at my birthday boy, all grown up and in double digits now!’

Jacob laughed, looking at the giant 1 and 0 balloons behind her.

‘Right,’ Julia said briskly. ‘That is the last thing I needed to go out for, let’s get this party ready.’

‘Right-ho,’ Jacob marched behind her into the living room where Zoe and Emily were sprawled out on the floor playing computer games. Jacob dived in between them, making the girls groan at their sometimes-annoying younger brother.

‘You have to be nice to me today remember, it’s my birthday,’ he said smugly. Julia caught the look shared between the girls a moment before they both pinned him down and started to tickle him. She stood and watched them, her heart almost bursting.

‘Love, is that you?’ Liam called from the kitchen at the back of the house.

‘Coming,’ Julia called back and reluctantly left the happy scene.

In the kitchen Liam had poured her a glass of Prosecco and she kissed him as she took it. ‘What’s this in aid of?’ she asked.

‘Nothing, just to us and our wonderful family,’ Liam said, raising his glass.

‘To us,’ Julia raised hers back and smiled. ‘And to where we are now.’


The End

 

THE COFFIN

Did you know that in the middle of the night, half of your crew sneak downstairs or upstairs to get some sleep in a crew rest bunk? The smallest and most hard to climb into of these bunks are affectionately known as 'the coffins,' perhaps though, the name may be fitting in more ways than one...

Johannesburg – London (JNB – LHR)

Aircraft: Airbus A340 – 600

Time: 0100 UTC

‘Right, I’m off,’ Brooke said over her shoulder as she stepped out of the back galley and into the cabin.

‘Sleep well,’ called Stephen from where he was tidying up the aftermath of the dinner service which had just zapped the very last of her energy.

‘Oh, I will,’ she said. She paused, reaching out to the panel next to the door and switching off the cabin lights, plunging Economy into darkness. There was no subtle, slow dimming of lights tonight, they needed to know that it was sleep time now, it was a non-stop flight from Johannesburg to London and not a non-stop service.

She walked quickly up the cabin, avoiding the eyes of anyone who looked her way in case they should dare to ask her for something. Reaching the crew rest door that stood invitingly in the middle of the cabin she took the key from its hidden pouch and turned it anti-clockwise in the lock before stowing it again. Inside Brooke swiftly descended the stairs into her favourite of all crew rest areas, that little piece of heaven that was loaded amongst the suitcases in the cargo hold. It was a personal preference, but for Brooke she could get to sleep in the tiny bunks under the stairs that were known affectionately as ‘the coffins’ in minutes. Others hated having to contort their bodies just to get into one, rushing down to secure the bigger bunks at the end, or pulling rank and reserving one with their name-badge rudely pinned to the curtain long before breaks even began. For her though, she had always been quite flexible thanks to her love of gymnastics as a child, the snugness of a coffin was perfect, and since they were always the last ones left there was never a need to rush down.

Brooke fumbled for her torch that hung from the belt loop of her skirt, someone had already turned out the lights, probably presuming that since first break started five minutes ago everybody was tucked up by now, just the dim glare of the control panels cast a grainy light at the bottom of the stairs. Brooke ran her left hand along the wall and felt her way around the stairs and to the back. All the curtains were pulled, and she was surprised to find that both coffins were occupied too. Brooke shone her torch around, confused for a moment. There were six bunks, with six crew on first break… so why wasn’t there a spare one for her? She pulled the corner of each curtain back gently, revealing the shapes of bodies behind, all cozy underneath their blankets, just as she wanted to be. Defeated, Brooke stood at the bottom of the stairs and shook her head, someone had obviously messed up the breaks, and her tired body was going to have to wait another three hours before it got a chance to sleep.

‘What happened?’ Stephen asked, as she walked back into the galley. He was wiping down the galley sides, order restored quickly to the chaos she had left just a few minutes before.

‘All the bunks are taken,’ Brooke moaned.

‘Oh no.’ Stephen looked at her sympathetically. He knew how tired she was, he had been at the room party with her until 3am, and right now she wished that she had left when he did and not when the sun had come up. Despite having the whole day in her hotel room to recover, sleep had been fitful, and she really just needed to press the reset button… crew rest had been her only shining light as she had powered through the first two hours of the flight.

‘Somebody must have been confused,’ Brooke said. ‘I guess I’ll be on second break then.’ She rolled her eyes.

‘Here,’ Stephen pulled down the jump seat at the back of the galley and patted it, indicating for her to sit down. ‘I’ll make you a cuppa.’

‘’Make it strong,’ Brooke said, if she had to stay awake for another three hours she would need a huge dose of caffeine. ‘And don’t ask me to do a juice and water for at least an hour,’ she warned, her flight-attendant smile was unavailable for the foreseeable future.

********


‘Right, get yourself off,’ Stephen said, gently shaking Brooke’s shoulder as she sat nodding off on the jump seat. She heaved herself up and nodded, actually struggling as she tried to find the energy to talk.

‘Aren’t you coming?’ she asked.

‘No, I’m not tired,’ Stephen answered nonchalantly, cleaning the galley side again as he had seemed to be doing for hours on end. Brooke shot him the most shocked look that she could muster. Nobody declined a three-hour break on a twelve-hour overnight flight… nobody. Clearly though, Stephen was one of those superhuman types that could just keep going, and she wasn’t hanging around trying to persuade him what his was missing out on.

She followed one of the other girls in through the door and pulled it closed behind her, sliding the latch across to lock it. There was excited chatter below as the others quickly undressed and climbed into their bunks that were still warm from the previous occupants. Calls of ‘night all,’ were followed by the swish of a curtain and the extinguishing of the light behind… no one was wasting any time. Brooke waited patiently on the stairs until she could squeeze through and to the back again, having seen all the other bunks be filled and so knowing that both the coffins must be free since Stephen wasn’t coming down.

This time she could see, she was the last one in and as such was responsible for turning out the lights. Turning the corner behind the stairs Brooke was surprised to see the curtain pulled across one of the undesired bunks. Another day she wouldn’t have questioned it and would have just climbed into the other, but today she had had time to do the calculations. There was no way that she could ignore the injustice that not only had she missed out on her first break, but now someone had almost got away with staying in bed through them both; she didn’t care how tired they were.

Brooke leaned down and pulled the thick curtain of the bottom coffin back on its runners with a whoosh, hoping that the sound would disturb the inhabitant. She could make out a large man’s body, clothed and laid on his back, without a blanket to cover him. She knelt down to see better, unable to recognize who the culprit was, and trying to remember the rest of the crew… but apart from Stephen she couldn’t recall another male.

The light overhead didn’t quite reach into the bunk and Brooke reached out for the shoulder that she could make out closest to her, shaking it at first gently and then not so. The ferocity of her shaking increased with her annoyance, until she couldn’t help herself any longer and unclipped her torch from her belt.

‘It’s time to get up sleeping beauty,’ she said abruptly, clicking the button and shining the light rudely into his face… Brooke dropped the torch. She could hear herself making a noise, a strange involuntary mixture of a scream and a gasp, as she jumped up and backed away. Her eyes were fixed to the shape of the body that lay motionless still… the dead body that had just taken the once affectionate term ‘the coffin’ to a whole new level.

**********

Landing into London Brooke wondered how she had managed to hold it together these past six hours, knowing what she knew about what was below the cabin floor. With no intentions of diverting over Africa, they had pushed on to home, pretending to the passengers that things were just dandy, smiling with gritted teeth. She sat now in First Class with the others, adrenaline still keeping her on high alert, and with an overwhelming urge to run off the plane. That wouldn’t end well though, not with the dozen or so police officers that had boarded as soon as the doors were opened. With the passengers long-gone, they had had what she assumed was a debrief and were now feebly answering whatever question the police officers could think of next.

‘Do you usually check the crew rest area before leaving?’ A lady officer asked Anita, the Flight Manager, her notepad open and pen poised.

‘Yes, Chloe?’ Anita turned to the new girl who had been responsible for that, who was sat bolt upright with a petrified look on her face.

‘It’s my fault.’ Stephen held his hand up before Chloe could speak. Brooke could see the worry on his ashen face, the face of someone who knew that they had really messed up. ‘I wanted to show Chloe how to do the checks, so I went down with her to test all the equipment. I said I’d check the back bunks but I couldn’t have done it properly. I’m so sorry.’ He shook his head slowly, knowing that he had just committed the heinous crime of not doing his pre-flight checks properly. It wasn’t that they all didn’t skip the odd thing occasionally, but he had just been caught out in the most spectacular of ways. Brooke looked at him with sympathy and hoped that his honesty would go some way towards them in the office forgiving him, that he hadn’t just ended his career in this way.

‘Right folks,’ an older policeman who looked like he was in charge, appeared behind them and stood by the opened aircraft door. ‘You can all get off home now, you’ve had a long night.’ Sighs of relief were followed by crew and pilots standing and gathering their bags together quickly.

‘We are pretty sure the poor bloke was just trying to stowaway,’ Brooke overheard him saying to the Captain as she passed them huddled together in the galley opposite the door. ‘He was an airport employee, and we don’t suspect any foul play. That’s all I can tell you, but we’ll get in touch if we need any information from you.’

Brooke looked down the cabin as she made to get off, just as a black body bag was lifted through the crew rest door and into the empty cabin. Her body turned cold and she shivered, turning her eyes away quickly and walking hurriedly off the plane. All the way at the end of the jetway she could see Stephen walking with giant strides, obviously desperate to get away; she was glad that it wasn’t her that had slipped up and hoped that she would fly with him again one day so that they could talk about what had happened with hindsight; he was a nice guy.

**********

Stephen sank back into the soft leather seat of his car. It was a beautiful day and enough of it had been wasted. He put on his sunglasses and turned the key in the ignition, the throaty roar of the Porsche engine making him smile. Brighton would be alive this afternoon, and he would be there in an hour if he put his foot down.

As he drove towards the carpark barrier he pulled up alongside Brooke who gave him a supportive wave. He tried to look worried and hoped that she bought it. No, he wasn’t worried about not doing his crew rest checks, he was quite sure that they wouldn’t sack him, maybe a painful bit of retraining and a warning… but that would be all. No, he had just got away with so much more than that.

That taught him, he thought as he sped along the M25, the speedometer passing 110 mph. No one got away with stealing from him, and especially not some jumped up South African ground staff guy who thought he was all that. He laughed as he remembered the look of shocked recognition when they boarded on the plane. There he was, his Grindr date from the previous night, mindlessly cleaning the cabin with Stephen’s Breitling watch proudly on his wrist.

Perhaps he had gone too far, okay so yes he had, but the scum had deserved it. He had been grinning like an excited child when Stephen beckoned him down into Crew Rest when no one was looking, thought Stephen was too dumb to notice the watch… had actually believed he was so special that Stephen wanted a repeat of their actions from the night before. No love, I wasn’t blind drunk like I had been then, and no, the pillow across your face as you lay on the crew rest floor wasn’t some part of the game you stupid piece of shit… and you realized too late…