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The Pilot

David Gane
David Gane
3 min read
RC plane with smoke on flyby filmed from above.
Photo by Andreas Gücklhorn / Unsplash

☠ Readers beware: This story is from a writing project I did between May 24 to June 24, 2021. The goal was to write a new story every day. Although I'm happy with them, they are first drafts and many could use some work.

Billy raced his bike down the prairie road, the sun hot on his back, the air crackling around him. Above him, a bi-plane swept over the rolling fields, swirling and twirling figure eights like a dancer.

The pilot had come to town the previous week to offer his spraying services to the farmers. Soon the rumour spread among the kids that if he saw you as he finished up, he might take you for a ride.

No one had actually gone up yet, but someone’s cousin a town over had said it happened to their friend. The trick was to wait until he was done, or all you’d get was an ass-whooping.

So, when the plane reached the end of the last row, Billy raced down the hill, zig-zagging between the gopher holes and the occasional garter snake, until he got close. He slammed on his brakes and skidded to a stop and waved as the plane roared overhead.

The plane didn’t slow down or dip its wing, and he was sure he’d missed out. But then, almost halfway down the field, it pulled up and twisted in an arc and headed back towards him.

The pilot saw him! He was going to get his chance.

Billy pedalled again, following the plane as it came into land, but the pilot misjudged his surroundings and the tail caught a power line. The whole thing jerked like a skipping rock, before dropping fast and hard. It hit the ground and tumbled end-over-end in a cloud of dust.

Billy leapt off his bike and ran towards the wreckage.

The plane lay upside down at the end of a long scar torn in the earth. One of the bi-wings had collapsed in on itself and oily smoke rose from the engine.

The pilot lay in a crumpled heap beneath the cockpit, his head bashed in, his neck twisted at an unnatural angle. Billy didn’t need to get closer to know that he was dead.

He looked back to the empty road and knew no one was coming for this man. So, he sat in the dirt beside the body, listening to the grasshoppers' chirp, and the wrecked engine sizzle and tick as it cooled.

And he was still there when the firemen and the policemen arrived, and he fought them when they pulled him away from the crash. He could hear them talking about calling his parents and worrying how it would affect him after seeing the body.

But he knew he was fine because he felt something after the crash that he’d never felt before. A high that he couldn’t get from any airplane ride.

And he wanted more.

Writing Notes:

This story began with a boy (not Billy yet) who came across a wrecked car in a field and the dead people became zombies. Then I decided to switch it to a plane to make it different and then by the time it crashed, the zombies didn’t really feel like they’d been set up.

Because of that, I didn’t really know how to finish this story. I piddled around a lot with Billy sitting by the body. I felt there was some sort of trauma, but it never really turned into something.

I ended up reading three-quarters of it to my daughter, and she asked if it was either Billy’s trauma or a villain arc. Fortunately, I had written a few sentences that would work with the villain arc and that’s how we got to the ending.

Again, not perfect. This one felt like I was just trying to get across the finish line. But again, another story is done.

Fast Fiction

David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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