HE WOULD BE DEAD SOON. It was only a matter of time at this point. Death was coming and there wasn’t anything he could do to prevent it.

Don Parker had always figured that when his time was up that he would face his fate with a smile on his face and contentment in his heart. Or at least screaming his defiance at the top of his lungs. But now that the intangible had become as solid as a box full of reality, he seriously worried for what might befall of his underpants when all was said and done.

Sweat poured off of him like a waterfall during monsoon season. He shifted in his seat for the fifth time in the last thirty seconds, his hands straining to find a place to rest comfortably. He rocked from side to side and his teeth ground together as his eyes darted about the cabin. He caught Gene smirking from the seat next to him and scowled.

“This isn’t funny,” Don said. “This is anything but funny.”

“I didn’t say anything,” said Gene, his face that of chuckling innocence.

“You didn’t have to,” said Don. “The smile on your face speaks volumes.”

“What?” Gene said followed by a laugh.

“Okay, yeah,” said Don. “If that’s how you want to leave things between us. If you’re okay that your last action in this world was to mock me, then that’s on you.”

“Would you relax,” Gene said. “Nothing’s going to happen.”

“You don’t know that,” Don gripped the armrests so hard that his knuckles were white. “Chances are, if something’s going to happen, it’s going to happen now.”

“How do you figure that?”

“Thirty-six percent of all plane crashes occur during final approach and landing.”

“Seriously, dude,” said Gene, then he laughed again. “You really have to stop reading statistics before you get on a plane. Earlier it was twenty-three percent of all crashes occur during liftoff and then it was sixty-eight percent during cruising. Your math doesn’t add up, man.”

“Ladies and gentleman,” said a voice over the cabin’s PA.

Had it been possible for Don to sit up straighter at that point, he would have done so.

“Welcome to Piedmont Triad International Airport. Local time is 11:12 PM and the temperature is fifty-nine degrees. For your safety and comfort, please remain seated with your seat belt fastened until the Captain turns off the Fasten Seat Belt sign. This will indicate that we have parked at the gate and that it is safe for you to move about the cabin.”

Don’s belt had remained buckled the entire flight and he would not be moving about the cabin until the plane came to a complete stop and had powered down.

The announcement continued. “Please check around your seat for any personal belongings you may have brought on board with you and please use caution when opening the overhead bins, as heavy articles may have shifted around during the flight. Thank you for flying with Nationwide Discount Air.”

“Well,” said Gene, a look of mock despair on his face. “I guess this is it. See you on the other side, buddy.”

“Not,” Don said, gripping the armrests so hard now that they threatened to break beneath him, “funny.”

To be continued . . .

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