It was more than unusual, it was bizarre to see a giant aircraft; a jumbo jet flying so low over the desolate country lane. Its wingspan spread beyond the avenue of overgrown emerald trees that hung either side of the potted and uneven road. The angelic white body of the body was highlighted by royal blue and bright red stripes. The nose sunk slightly like a bird of prey seeking tiny vermin below. The lack of sound made the visual exhibition somewhat unnerving for the three people below.
Janet and her teenage daughter Lee sat cautiously in the van of a burly man who had kindly offered to take the hitch-hikers to their destination. Only carrying a small holdall and wearing the clothes they stood up in the two women had abandoned their home, one of violence, when Janet’s belligerent and cruel husband finally succumbed to an excess of alcohol. The previous night he had turned his hand from his wife to his daughter and in that moment his wife found the power and strength to leave. She had no car and the two fled the scene in hope of reuniting with Janet’s mother in Carlisle.
The prison paradise of Windermere had not calmed the brash soul of her husband, the beauty of the lake and awesome hills shrunk and disappeared as Janet found herself trapped by community expectations and gossip. Faking a trip to Kendall she took the bus out of the area and then whilst hiking the pair thumbed for a lift in hope of escaping undetected.
The risk of getting into a stranger’s car was significantly outweighed by the risk to her daughter had Janet remained at home. Both mother and daughter exhibited bruising toned down by an excess of make-up. Their matching red hair and pale skins gave them a surreal and vulnerable look, which made the driver stop. His usual delivery runs were somewhat simpler.
After some persuasion and given the story of her plight the driver agreed to follow the smaller country routes to avoid the risk of mother and daughter’s escape from being thwarted. They had stopped briefly for some soda and nuts at a remote service station and then took to the country lanes. The jet had appeared from nowhere.
Initially they seemed to have moved into the plane’s path. Bright rays of sun bounced from the pristine whiteness of the body. It hung far too low shocking the two women who at first thought that it was destined to crash. The huge carcass then shot forward and spun, rolling into the sky in a display that seemed impossible for such a huge eagle. The beast turned and swung again over the vehicle before swooping rapidly upwards into the increasingly blackening storm clouds.
As the flying monstrosity disappeared into the clouds rain began to fall heavily belting on the windscreen. An urge filled Janet’s heart to follow the flight path, to see the irregularity again. The deeper the vehicle travelled into the breast of the mountains the heavier the storm beat down. No other vehicles passed. Houses seemed to fade into the horizon and farmlands scattered further away.
Thunder rumbled and clattered as a river formed streaming down the road and shaking the van with splashing eruptions of water. To break the silence Janet attempted to tune the radio, but her endeavour failed as only white noise crackled through the air. Eventually she relented and switched the power off. The driver looked ahead focusing on the road. In the rear Lee sat huddled in a removable side chair. Both assumed the driver was on his way to collect his cargo as the large rear space remained empty.
Surreal lightening forks belted the land in the distance and small tornadoes formed and danced beneath the swelling clouds. Something shook; the ground shook and cracked from behind. The cracking tar chased the travellers avidly as the van accelerated. A darker cloud now hung behind them, seeking them out. The shape of the silhouette was a gigantic passenger carrying bird. Fearfully Janet turned her head to see the jet hurtling towards the insignificant van. Its huge velocity ripped up the road and its nose stared down into the rear windscreen.
Then the apparition merged with the van, entered the van without causing any damage. The monstrous beast headed towards Janet. In her seat she rose and turned petrified, her form turning to stone. The colossus glittered gold as it passed through Janet’s form. She felt its phantasmal form disintegrated into the night air as it cleared the windscreen and entered an invisible portal.
Lee held up the shopping bag which had been tarnished by the machine and the once solid contents fell as dust on the floor. Shimmering echoed from inside Janet’s body, sensitive, painful as if she had been stabbed repeatedly. She shuddered as her daughter’s body crumbled into dust before her eyes. Her own hands dripped like grains of sand and her form became a pillar of dust, which waned and collapsed as the driver slowed the vehicle and pulled the handbrake.
The noise of the previous night had proved intolerable for old Mrs Mise. Her neighbours were often noisy; arguments would ring into the night air. People in Windermere liked to keep themselves to themselves and not interfere with domestic problems. This night though the man of the house had come in late from the tavern, he had staggered into the door before struggling to pull the handle.
Lights went on and it seemed that he had woken his family. Within minutes his incoherent voice could be heard ringing through the open windows and into the stormy night. Then came the screaming, both mother and daughter were screaming, crying out for help. Reluctantly the widow reached for her phone and insisted the police came to investigate.
By the time they had arrived the shrieks had faded into nothingness. The lights remained on, but no movement was visible. Two pale red-headed women were found lying arm in arm on the floor lacerated with multiple stab wounds. The drunk sat in his reading chair, tears of regret streaked his face. Unbeknown to the mortals a courier had come to collect the deceased, to release them from ignorance of their own demise and assist their journeys to the beyond.