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The Unexpected Luxury Flight

The Strange Contraption that Could Fly

By aly suhailPublished about a year ago 14 min read

Sarah, a representative from the airline at the departure gate, informed Dad that he had missed his flight. Despite seeing the plane waiting outside on the runway, he was informed that the gate was closed due to being 25 seconds late. Dad's 14-year-old daughter, Jessica, expressed her frustration about his delay while Dad inquired about the next available flight. He was informed that the rebooking fee would be £200 for each ticket, which he found outrageous. Sarah commented on the expensive rebooking fee and suggested that she hoped they had found a bargain at the Book Store. She then recognized a woman standing behind Dad as a television series actress and made a comment about it.

“Say, weren’t you in that series … what’s it called? My mom loves it, she still watches the repeats every afternoon on Channel 98, er… you know, it’s caller, er”

“Three Sisters.”

“That’s the one. You were the daughter, surely? Well, it was made a long time ago I suppose.”

“Yes, I was younger then.”

“Weren’t we all? Well, Mrs. um,” she glanced at the name on the passport, and then at the date of birth: “Mrs. Brown, oh my, it’s your birthday. Congratulations! You were born on Halloween! That must mean you're a real sweety!”

“Or a witch,” said Mum, with a wink.

“I’ll call the captain and let him know we have four late arrivals. One moment please.”

Mum smiled graciously. She hadn’t acted for TV in over 9 years, but it was helpful that traces of her celebrity lingered on and could still win her favour's from fans of old soaps.

“They don’t make shows like that these days,” said Sarah, the airline woman, still smiling. “Here are your tickets. I’ll just escort you to the steps. No need to run, but we had better get a move on ..”

They soon received a much warmer reception. The air stewardess who greeted them at the top of the aircraft’s stairs smiled with perfect pearly white teeth and bright red lipstick. She was wearing a pair of red devil’s horns. Well, it was Halloween, after all.

“Hello! Welcome aboard, I do hope you enjoy your flight.”

Once they entered inside a steward approached them with a warm smile. "May I show you to your cabin?" he asked. They nodded eagerly, and he led them down a luxurious aisle lined with plush seats and elegant décor. They were amazed by the spaciousness of their cabin, complete with comfortable beds, personal screens, and plenty of storage space.

“Is this an aircraft or a ship?” asked Mum, somewhat baffled.

“We like to think of it as a luxury cruise liner with wings,” answered the steward.

“Wow,” squealed Oliver, who was looking out of the window. “The wings are huge and they’ve got propellers!”

“Let me see,” butted in Jessica, pushing her brother aside. “Gosh, it’s big alright, but extremely old fashioned - like out of a black and white movie. Are you sure this contraption can fly, Dad?”

Dad shrugged his shoulders. “I really wasn’t expecting this,” he said.

Mum put her arm around him, “Well it’s a gorgeous surprise darling,” she told him. “Even if it doesn’t fly, I don’t mind staying here for the whole holiday. Smell these roses … Hmmm. And there’s a bottle of bubbly on ice. This is going to be a luxury.”

“If you are ready, I’ll show you the rest of the aircraft,” said the steward. They wandered further down the corridor to a part of the plane that opened up into a dining room for about 30 people. It was illuminated by a large crystal chandelier and pumpkin Jack O' lanterns on each table.

“Dinner will be served once we are on our way,” said the steward. “I can book your sitting now if you like. Would 9.00 suit you?”

Jessica by now assumed that they were really staying in a hotel that looked like a plane. This talk of going anywhere was a kind of fiction, but there was no way the whole thing could take off the ground, in her view.

They continued on their tour of the long tube.

“And this area,” said the steward, showing them a bar and comfy sofas, “Is the cocktail lounge. Drinks will be served at any time other than take-off and landing.”

And finally, when they had passed through the cocktail lounge, they came to a cinema with seats. “Later on, we will be showing a cartoon followed by a movie entitled, ‘The Black Mutated Wolf.’ I’m told that it’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is Halloween after all.”

They returned to their cabin and sat down in the deep chairs.

“Well this is the strangest hotel ever,” said Oliver.

“It’s quite a surprise,” said Mum, “And it’s all very nice, but I haven’t seen a bathtub or a shower yet.”

“Who ever heard of an airplane with a bathtub?” asked Dad with a smile.

Jessica thought he must be kidding them. He had promised the family a trip to New York for Mum's 40th birthday, but instead, he had booked them into this weird hotel that looked like an airplane.

“Dad you cheapskate!” she said, “Were the plane tickets too expensive?’

“No, honestly,” said Dad, throwing up his hands. “I booked our flights to New York. I wasn’t expecting anything like this. I’m as curious to see what happens next as you are.”

A velvety voice resonated from the loudspeaker, "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain, Edmund Rike, welcoming you aboard this spectacular Bristol Brabazon. We are presently awaiting clearance from the Control Tower and anticipate taking off from London Airport in about 15 minutes. Our flight to New York is expected to last approximately 14 hours, and we hope you will relish every moment of it. Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a joyous Halloween."

“Ooh, it is exciting,” said Mum. “A birthday mystery just for me. But I don’t think this thing can fly. If there was such a thing as a flying hotel, I think we would have heard of it, don’t you?”

“It’s like the Titanic, only with wings,” said Oliver. “We’ve been learning about it at school. It was a huge ship that people said could never sink, even though it was really really heavy, and then it went and hit an iceberg.”

“Oh do shut up,” muttered Jessica.

A waiter came in and poured champagne for Mum and Dad, and fruit cocktails for the kids. “Would you care for caviar?” he asked.

“Rather,” said Dad.

Soon the waiter brought a silver plate of little pancakes called Blini and another silver bowl containing little shiny black eggs of Beluga Caviar.

“ERRRRR!” exclaimed Oliver. “This is yuk!”

“All the more for us then!” replied Mum greedily, while wiping a little piece of caviar from her lip using a starched white napkin.

The steward knocked on the door: “Sorry to bother you,” he said softly, “But the captain is requesting that everyone fasten their seatbelts as we shall soon be taking off.”

“Thank you so much!” said Mum, glancing down to find the seat belt which she had not noticed before.

“And by the way, the life jackets, which of course we hope we won’t be needing, are in the bottom of the cupboard with the mirror,” said the steward. “That’s all I have to tell you about safety, enjoy your flight, and just ring the bell anytime you need anything.”

When he had gone, Oliver asked, “Is he joking or are we really going to fly?”

“We’ll soon find out,” said Dad.

Another ten minutes passed before the propellers spluttered into action and the aircraft taxied along the runway.

“Wow!” said Jessica. “It feels like we are really moving.” She had to raise her voice because the engines were rather loud.

“Hey look!!” said Oliver. “All the other planes at this airport are kind of weird.”

“Isn’t that one a Spitfire?” asked Dad.

Mum was looking blankly ahead of her. She wasn’t a good flyer at the best of times. Dad held her hand. She said quietly to him, “Tell me this isn’t real?”

“Honestly,” said Dad, “I’ve no idea.”

The enormous plane paused at the top of the main runway for a moment, before moving off and starting to pick up speed. The walls of their cabin began to shake and the glass in the cupboards jangled.

Jessica gripped the arms of her chair. She thought: “This game is VERY realistic. But there’s no way this huge hulking tin can take off, is there?”

But it did. A few moments later, there was a tremendous judder as the wheels left the tarmac. Jessica felt like she had left her stomach on the ground. She closed her eyes. “We’re gonna die,” she thought. She felt the aircraft tilt sideways as it changed course in the sky above London.

“And all because Dad was too stingy to buy a ticket on a real airline. Even BargainJet wasn’t cheap enough for him.”

She knew that her thoughts made little sense, but it didn’t matter, she just wanted to blame her dad for scaring the living daylights out of her.

It wasn’t long before the steward’s voice came over the loudspeaker and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, now we are safely on our way, Captain Cook has advised that you can loosen your seatbelts. Our first sitting for dinner will be starting shortly, and the cocktail lounge is now serving drinks. Our program of movies will be commencing in the cinema in approximately 15 minutes.”

“Let’s go and see the cartoon,” said Oliver.

“Jessica, can you take him?” said Mum. “I’m feeling a bit queasy. This simulation is very convincing.”

Jessica thought a cartoon might take her mind off her nervous thoughts. She and Oliver went back along the corridor toward the Dining Hall. There were half a dozen other passengers heading the same way.

“Wow!” they are really dressed up!” said Jessica. A lady in a shimmering green evening gown was walking arm-in-arm with a gentleman in a dark suit. Some had the most elaborate hairstyles, full of thick curls.

Upon arriving at the Dining Hall, the family noticed that the other passengers were equally sophisticated in appearance. Halloween masks were set beside every plate, and the travellers were enjoying trying them on. The waiters and waitresses were outfitted in black capes with scarlet linings, and some had donned eerie makeup to resemble zombies or witches' cats.

“We had better go back and warn Mum and Dad,” said Jessica. “She’ll die of shame if she wears her jeans to dinner.”

They ran back to the cabin and told Mum and Dad what they had seen.

“Well thank goodness they gave us our luggage!” said Mum. Dad had warned her that they would be going to a fancy restaurant to celebrate her birthday in New York, so thankfully she had packed her little black dress.

The family arrived at the dinner dressed elegantly, although not as extravagantly as the other guests who were dressed "up to the nines" as Mum remarked. They were seated around a table adorned with silver cutlery, spotless linen, and crisp napkins. A waitress served them a basket of piping hot bread rolls, while Dad perused the wine list with wide-eyed amazement. Mum was gazing at the dazzling crystal chandelier suspended from the ceiling. The menu was vast and overwhelming, featuring unique dishes like pumpkin brain soup, casserole with saucisson made to look like severed fingers, foie gras, devilled eggs, sirloin blood steak, witch's escargots, coquilles St Jacques, and pasta shaped like eyeballs.

“Can I just have chips?” asked Oliver, who was baffled by what most of these dishes actually were.

The waiters and waitresses were busy coming back and forth with dishes and hotplates on wheels.

“What a frightfully delicious birthday treat!” squealed Mum in delight.

Their table was next to a window, and Oliver spent a good bit of time looking out at the wheeling propellers and the fluffy clouds below.

Mum said to her husband, “Thank you darling for a lovely birthday treat, even if it is somewhat strange.”

“You mean spooky,” said Jessica. And then she leaned over to her mother: “Have you noticed the waitresses? They all have the same faces. Just different hair and eyes and makeup. It’s like they are cyborgs or something.”

Mum looked around: “You’re right. They do look alike. The waiters too. There are about two or three different types, but that’s it.”

“Proof that it is all a simulation,” said Dad.

“You knew all along, didn’t you?” said Oliver.

“No, I promise,” said Dad.

Suddenly, the lights flickered and went out, causing the plane to tremble and the chandeliers to rattle. They were plunged into almost complete darkness, except for the light filtering in through the windows and... the eyes. The eyes of everyone else in the room, including the waitstaff and diners, gleamed like those of a cat. After a few moments, the lights returned, and everything resumed as usual.

“This is the last straw. I want to go home,” Jessica exclaimed. “Dad, this is the worst birthday vacation Mom ever had, and you were too cheap to take us to New York. This is insane. I feel like I'm going insane! I might never get over your ridiculous prank."

“Honestly Jess, I know nothing about it,” pleaded Dad.

“Well I’m quitting this bad dream,” said his daughter standing up. “Where’s the exit?” she asked the waiter rudely.

“The way back to the cabins is this way,” said the waiter pointing back down the corridor.

“I mean, how do I get out of this flying bin?”

“We have emergency parachutes, but I do not advise that you try one, Madam, because it is rather cold outside, and only sea down below,” said the waiter.

Jessica felt somewhat helpless. When she got back to the cabin she climbed up the stairs and got into one of the beds on the upper deck. She left the light on because she was too afraid to lie in the dark.

She missed the biggest treat of all at dinner. The waiter wheeled in a deathly white chocolate cake in the shape of a skull and crossbones. A green, mint-scented mist was wafting out of the eye sockets. You could see that it was lined with red on the inside.

Oliver, still feeling hungry despite having two plates of chips and ketchup, exclaimed "Yummie!" However, the waiter who was attending to them asked for a moment and proceeded to light a taper. Perhaps he was going to present them with a flaming dessert, but it went terribly wrong. The whole skull-shaped dessert exploded, sending fragments of chocolate and orange sauce flying in every direction, causing everyone in the dining area to gasp in horror. Waiters rushed over to apologize and offered napkins to clean up the mess on the diners' faces and clothes. While everyone was in shock, Oliver found it amusing and couldn't stop laughing. He even asked the waiter if he could do it again.

They returned to the cabin and at first could not find Jessica, until eventually, Mum discovered her asleep upstairs. “Aw she looks like little Goldilocks in the story,” she sighed with relief. It was time for Oliver to brush his teeth.

He was supposed to spend two minutes brushing, but he hardly managed 30 seconds before he came rushing back into the cabin.

“You look like you just saw a ghost,” said Mum.

“I didn’t see a ghost. I heard one. The.. there was a voice coming out of the toilet like this, “JESSSSS, Oliver!” I’m not going back in there, even if I pee in my pants.”

Thankfully, the beds on the flight were exceptionally cozy, and the steady hum of the engines provided a strange sense of comfort. Despite having slept for nine hours, the flight was so long that there was ample time for the family to get up and stretch their legs. They eventually made their way to the dining room, where they were served freshly-made pancakes with a plethora of scrumptious toppings. As they were wrapping up their breakfast, the captain requested everyone to return to their seats and fasten their seat belts, as he had received a warning about inclement weather conditions en route to New York.

“I think this simulation is going to end with a bump,” said Dad. And almost as soon as he had spoken, the plane went over an air bump.

“What was that?” asked Oliver, his eyes open with surprise.

“Nothing to worry about, just a touch of turbulence. It’s routine,” said Dad. “But keep your seatbelt fastened just in case.”

Thud! They hit another mid-air lump of turbulence causing the plane to jerk. Jessica gripped the arms of her chair just as they hit another one.

“This is worse than Thames Ditton!” she complained. Thames Ditton was a small town they moaned about every time they drove through because it was full of bumps and potholes.

Now they were gently descending, through dark clouds. “Look!” exclaimed Oliver, “There are goblins flying on broomsticks!”

“There are?” asked Dad, “then this must be a simulation. I was starting to think that this thing was for real.”

“I can’t see any,” said Jessica. A moment later, a sheet of lightning caught the tip of the wing and there was a brief blaze of light.

“Aha!” she screamed.

“It’s Ok, don’t worry, we’re still flying,” said Dad, soothingly.

Jessica couldn’t speak. She was shaking too much because her little brother had been right, there were weird creatures flying alongside the plane - not one, but lots of them -ugly green goblins on broomsticks.

Horrified at what she’d just witnessed, Jessica quickly drew the blinds. In shock, she said to herself, “Did I honestly just see that?” And closed her eyes.

After some more terrifying jolts and flashes of light, that seemed to go on for eternity, they broke cloud cover and were flying over a stormy sea, and not long after that Oliver called out:

“There she is, the Statue of Liberty!”

“Oh, thank goodness,” replied Mum.

They cruised through the rain over the illuminated skyscrapers of New York and gently descended until:

Boom! The wheels bounced off the tarmac. And then, with a less violent contact, they managed to connect to the ground.

“Are we alive?” asked Oliver when they eventually came to a halt.

“I think so,” replied Mum.

“I can’t wait to get home,” said Jessica. “This has been the worst night of my life. Thanks for nothing Dad.”

Dad was used to being blamed for everything. He was more worried about what Mum thought and squeezed her hand.

“Well thank you, darling,” she said. “My 40th birthday has been, er, interesting to say the least. And now I’m looking forward to a nice cup of tea.”

The captain’s voice came over the loudspeaker. “Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats or just a couple more minutes. We are taxiing into our birth here at LaGuardia Airport on this wet and stormy morning in New York. I do hope that you have enjoyed your flight with us and we look forward to seeing you again soon.”

Jessica expressed her disbelief, as the steward appeared and asked them to disembark from the plane. He informed them that their luggage would be available at the arrivals hall. As they stepped out of the plane, they were expecting to still be in London. It had been a bizarre flight, and even Dad was taken aback. Upon showing their passports to a New York official, they couldn't help but wonder if it was all part of the elaborate prank. The yellow taxis waiting outside were a stark contrast to the black cabs they were used to back home. As they drove through the bustling streets of Manhattan, surrounded by towering skyscrapers, they all agreed that reality would never be the same after this Halloween. Despite the rainy weather, they had a fantastic week in New York and returned to London on a typical airline, complete with video screens and slightly cramped legroom, and food that left something to be desired.

familyYoung AdultShort StoryHumorHorrorHistoricalFantasyAdventure

About the Creator

aly suhail

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