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The Tower (standard:Psychological fiction, 1848 words)
Author: kendall thomas Added: May 09 2004Views/Reads: 2383/1287Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Story of a business man on a camping trip who crashes his plane in the wilderness and undergoes an outre experience. Plus a short poem.


by Will 

The Cessna was somewhere over the Aleutian Chain headed toward Alaska
and lost in a dense fog and heavy winds.  Ted Mayner, a businessman on 
a camping trip, peered out the windshield praying that a mountain peak 
wouldn't suddenly loom up in front of him as blinding tendrils of the 
fog swirled through the propeller and funneled rapidly over the 
fuselage.  He had been flying on instruments when, without warning, the 
electrical system failed.  The voltage regulator or the alternator had 
gone out, and foolishly he had never got around to installing any 
backup systems. 

All avionics and panel instruments were gone.  In the turbulence the
magnetic compass oscillated erratically by as much as 15 to 20 degrees 
making it, for all practical purpose, useless.  All that remained 
functional was his vacuum-driven artificial horizon -- which wouldn't 
be enough in the present circumstances. 

Flying manually, he was having a hard time maintaining his spatial
orientation; then, to compound his problem, ice began building up on 
the wings, and the plane started dropping fast, buffeted by the strong 
winds coming off the North Pacific and rising up the rugged shoulders 
of snow-covered peaks. 

He tried his radio in a frantic attempt to send out an emergency call,
but the transmission was blocked by the mountains.  He hung up the 
mike; it was pointless; even if he got through, no one could help him.  
He set the transponder to 7700 -- the squawk code for a flight 
emergency -- and turned it on, then switched off all electrical 
equipment to minimize the drain on the battery. 

After a tense minute or two, the plane dropped through a break in the
fog.  To his right, not more than a hundred feet, he saw a snow-covered 
ridge and down beyond it a white, level clearing among a forest of 
pine:  a lake that was frozen over. 

He banked the plane over the ridge, barely missing the tops of pine
trees.  And, then, before he could grasp what he was seeing, a 
monstrous, insect-like thing on thin legs appeared out of a fog bank. 

He swerved the plane barely avoiding a collision and hurriedly pulled
back on the yoke as the plane skidded down onto the surface of the 
lake.  There was a crackling sound, as ice broke under the impact.  A 
wheel caught in a fissure; the plane nosed over, twisting the props and 
snapping off the left wing, as it spun around and came to a shuddering 

Ted shook his head, unable to quite believe he was uninjured.  A
gurgling sound was coming from the ruptured wing, and he realized he 
would have to act quickly.  He unstrapped himself from his harness and 
climbed out.  Sure enough, as he feared, gasoline was pouring onto the 
surface of the ice and flowing toward the ultra-hot engine.  With only 
seconds to spare, he yanked open the luggage compartment and pulled out 
his backpack and began a hasty withdrawal from the plane.  He had gone 
no more than fifty feet when there was a loud WOOSH and the plane burst 
into flames.  Black smoke full of orange plumes rose into the morbid 
sky.   Billows of steam shot up with loud hissings as the ice parted 
and the plane slowly sank into the abyss. 

After slipping on his parka, Ted made his way toward the edge of the
lake.  Above, on the ridge, he could see that what had appeared to him 
as a huge, insect-like creature was in reality a fire watch tower 
appearing and disappearing at intervals above the tops of the pine 
trees in a wispy fog. 

Angry, purple clouds were building over the rugged peaks, the wind was
picking up, and Ted knew that as night approached the temperature would 
drop drastically.  That meant he had to find shelter; so he began a 
long trek up the ridge, hoping to find it at the tower. 

After struggling up a steep slope for several hours, he came to the
remains of an overgrown donkey trail cut long ago through the pines, 
and in another hour, he arrived at the base of an abandoned fire 

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