5 PM. Two hours since the delay was announced. An imposing marble clock sits over the departures board, looking down the length of the lobby. Man, it sucks to be stranded at an airport without any kind of technology on you. There’s nothing to do but sit and ponder the meaning of life. So I sit, and wait and look at the people around me. An anxious woman talking to a security guard, a little girl pulling at her jacket and making pleading sounds. A businessman in a black suit and grey tie talking on the phone, irritation showing in his voice as he paces nervously the walkway between the seats. A couple of teenagers sitting in the nearby coffee shop, tapping on their tablets fully concentrated. A kid, snoring peacefully on the front row. Lucky bastard. Most people seem tired, exhausted from the long wait. On my left are the window walls covering the side of the lobby, looking towards the airstrip. A small plane emerges from a nearby hangar, maneuvering towards the runway. Small pools of light reflect off its dark wings as it moves away, red stripes shimmering with the orange tint of the afternoon sun. It is kind of beautiful. Peaceful. I get the strange feeling of déjà vu.
I shake it off and look away, towards a nearby tourist shop selling souvenirs and basic supplies. A young girl with long auburn hair and a white jacket is arguing with the shopkeeper, a burly middle-aged man with a bald head. The girl, apparently very pissed, is waving something in her hand and shouting, fragments of speech reaching my way, not making much sense…
Déjà vu, again. Weird. I don't think I've ever experienced multiple déjà vus in a short time. I've always wondered what triggers them. How is it possible to have experienced something twice in exactly the same way? And the certainty that you get, that you know what follows - you play it out in your mind, waiting for it to happen - yet it never does. Probably means nothing, some trick your mind plays on you, synapses firing the wrong way... Maybe I'm having déjà vus all the time and I notice only when I get really fucking bored.
A high pitched noise. “Attention, passengers of flight 659…”, the announcement speaker crackled to life. Then it died, midsentence. Startled people around me, look confusingly towards the board. No new announcements, no last minute delay. No flight 659 either. Well, if that’s not a successful prank… “…we are sorry for the inconvenience.”, the speakers blaring again, followed by a short sound, signifying the end of the announcement. This time the usual crackle was missing and the announcer was already speaking, like suddenly being unmuted. Bewildered stares all around me. One man stood up and started walking towards the nearest information desk. This should be interesting…
I glance towards the airstrip again. The view ahead is clear all the way to the horizon, where the sun is almost touching the distant mountains. There are hangars on each side, stacked close to each other in regular intervals. The ground shimmers, like the surface of a lake, in the empty space between. An aircraft appears from behind a hangar on the right, its wings almost touching the uneven surface of the steel wall. It’s a small plane, maybe some millionaire’s private jet, come for a visit. As it fully emerges from the shadows I notice it’s angling towards a closed hangar on the far side. Wait a minute, that’s the same jet I saw earlier! The red stripes, covering its wings, coming down the spine of the black hull. Light still reflects off the top of the craft. A strange circular symbol adorns the tail.
As the plane is moving across the gap, I get a sense of euphoria. An uplifting sensation originating from my chest, butterflies spreading out. It feels amazing but also very wrong. The feeling is gone as quickly as it came. Still shaken up, I see that the plane has almost reached the closed hangar. A sense of foreboding overcomes me, a world of difference from my previous state of mind. I stand up as the plane is within inches of the steel door. Unable to say anything, I watch as the seconds are ticking away, anticipating the moment…
It doesn’t connect. The craft reaches the entrance and pushes forward, the parts that should have crashed into the door simply vanishing, as if someone is cutting the plane into neat pieces, surgically removing them one by one. Only the rear part remains now, the circular symbol on its tail gone, replaced by a yellow flag with crossed red stripes. The plane’s surface color is milky white. I watch paralyzed as it disappears into nothingness, sucked in by the invisible void.
Blankness. A sharp pain in my head, originating from the center and spreading outwards, steadily increasing in intensity. I close my eyes. It feels like someone is inserting a needle into my skull, penetrating the brain and continuing downwards…
Where am I? What is going on? I open my eyes. I’m lying on the ground, people circling above me. I hear voices speaking in a strange language. I sit up, supporting my weight with my elbows. A man kneels beside me, grabs me by the shoulder and says something. I turn around to look at him. A muscular guy with a bald head, wearing some kind of uniform. Beside him is standing a young girl with auburn hair falling to her waist, wearing a sleeveless white jacket. Where the hell am I? As the man helps me up I realize I’m in an airport. Not ten seconds ago I was in my living room, snoring on the couch. Next thing I know I’m in this place. I pinch myself just to make sure I’m not still in dreamland. I feel a twinge. Nope, shit is officially fucked up. Worried faces all around me, talking to me. I have no idea what they’re saying. I make a gesture with my hand that I’m ok, hopefully they understand that. A few people back away, letting me through. There’s a window nearby. I stumble towards it.
Golden mounds of sand are covering the entire view. Rising almost to twice a man’s height they seem like they haven’t been disturbed in ages, the silky waves broken and reformed by the winds. High up, a scorching sun is burning in the cloudless sky. The only sign of life is a small trail snaking up between two smaller sand formations. A lonely figure is standing at the top, a long staff in its hand, looking towards me. What in the world…. I turn around and notice everyone else is also looking out the windows, towards the dune. Surprise, fear and confusion showing on their faces. This isn’t real, it’s some kind of a joke, some fucked up trick my mind plays on me, synapses firing the wrong way…
A high-pitched scream. A woman nearby, her eyes wide with terror, her hands pulling on her dark hair. The terrifying wail lasts for a few seconds then she collapses on the ground as if the invisible strings, supporting her limbs, have been cut off.
I flip. A burning rage is inside me now, the veins on my neck popping out, my heart violently pounding out of my chest. I sense the stares, the curious looks, like an adult being amused at a child’s silly games. The hate and anger are getting stronger. I want to lash out, grab someone, punch him right in that condescending smile. I finally lost it, but I’ll take them down with me…
Flash.I had the strangest daydream.
I’m back at the airport, the garden smell still lingering in the air. All those beautiful colors, strange flowers bending at different angles. Overwhelming sense of peace and serenity. This has to be a dream. It’s too complicated, makes the least amount of sense.
The lights fade out. There were no lights. Outside is midnight dark, stars blinking beneath the airstrip. The strip… its facing the lobby building! An airplane is headed directly towards me. A smoky mist gathers beneath its hull, the brakes burning the wheels up. It’s not gonna slow down in time! It’s blotting out the sky now, this enormous bird form towering above me, so close to the window wall.
A flashback, the black jet heading into the closed hangar, the sense of dread. I instinctively turn around and start running as fast as I can, towards the opposite direction. People are panicking, the situation just now registering in their brains. Some are already running towards the exits, pushing, knocking down others. Screams fill the tall empty hall, the echoes even more terrifying. Strange sounds are reaching me. Above the constant background noise of panic and terror I hear the hum of an engine, as loud as if it was right next to me. A swooshing of a spinning turbine. Further back I make out something resembling a bird cry, high and deep at the same time.
A deafening impact is felt throughout. I glance back in time to see the thick windows shatter, little tendrils starting from the point of impact and extending, a maze of small irregular shapes covering the surface of the glass, dislocating, breaking free, falling outwards. The plane charges through, headed for the supporting columns of the dome, barely slowing down. I’m near the exits now. A crowd of bodies is gathered in front of me, everyone trying to get through the small openings. A teenager is banging with a heavy object on the transparent wall, trying to create another way out. A couple of people join forces and start hammering on the weak plexiglass. We are all gonna die. I have the certainty of a time traveler that came back from the future. I turn around and face the incoming giant. The supporting stone pillar brakes in two like a match, the plane continuing relentlessly on its path, towards the human bodies stacked ahead. Little pieces of marble are hurtling in all directions, like bullets from a machine gun. The explosion happened shortly after.
An enormous fireball originating from the cockpit. The heat wave hits me full force lifting me off my feet and sending me into the glass wall. Something in my spine cracks. A sharp pang and the pain is unbearable, bringing tears to my eyes. I collapse on the ground, bodies all around me. I’m on the verge of losing consciousness. Screams everywhere, death and despair. I manage to open my eyes, squinting. The fire is contained but the destruction is devastating. The airplane is stuck in the center of the lobby, its front melted and bent, like hit by an invisible wall.
The pain hits me again, this time a dull throbbing, not letting go. I try to sit but my hands aren’t obeying me. People lie sprawled, some moving, trying to get up, others eerily still. So many people. I realize that now, people by the hundreds in all directions. And animals. Lots of strange animals. A dead creature lies in front of me, it’s torso a mix of dog and something else. Blood is gathering in a pool beneath its deformed face, the expression a combination of pain and fear. Above me a flock of birds circle the hall, all kinds of colorful wings beneath a canopy of green leaves. The leaves are simply hanging there in mid air, without any branches to support them.
I’m desperately trying to wake up.
The ground below my fingers suddenly shifts, the substance becoming soft and grainy. I lift my hand. Silver grains of sand fall through my fingers. My eyes are welling up, tears bursting out as the little particles hit the ground. I feel myself sinking, being sucked in by the soft bed. The pain isn’t so bad right now. It actually doesn’t hurt at all. As I look above, the ceiling is disintegrating, a blackness as deep as the darkest black hole eating away at the structure, chewing inch by inch on the matter, replacing it with an impenetrable void. I take my last look around, taking in the twisted horror scene, the death and destruction, the merging of human bodies and animals, the pools of blood, birds falling out of the sky like heavy raindrops, disappearing into the void that is eating away at the fringes, slowly progressing towards the center. There’s nothing left now. The huge marble clock continues to tick the seconds away. I smile.
5 PM. Two hours since the delay was announced.