David knew it was going down, lights were flickering in the cabin and the angle of the plane meant you had to hold on to the seat in front of you otherwise your head would smash into it. So much for the brace position, thought up by some twat in an office with no imagination or common sense, just for a moment anger flicked through David’s brain “that fucking idiot was still alive tucked up in his bed ready for another useless day of life while he plunged towards the sea in darkness”.
But David realised that at that point of time the thing that stood out most was the noise of the passengers around him, it was virtually silent just the odd sob or prayer and people quietly talking on their cell phones saying their last goodbyes. Nothing like the movies at all, no screaming or shouting just the orderly calmness of people who knew they were going to die. So much for the seven steps of grief, another limited view myth dispelled, straight from shock to acceptance, just like that.
For some reason David looked down in his lap where his boarding pass had fallen open. Flight 1313 Friday the 13th why hadn’t he noticed that before, but now a new sound occupied his brain changing his focus like a faint alarm clock. The alarm clock noise reached a crescendo and David sat bolt upright in his bed, fuck it was just a dream, a freaky mind numbing dream, all was well he was alive.
It was over breakfast that David’s wife dropped the tickets in front of him. “Don’t forget these” David looked down Flight 1313 Friday the 13th.
Now I don’t know about you but the first thing I would have done is change those tickets for another lot and I mean different day even different week. But that’s not what David did, he didn’t re book for another flight on a different day on a different week, no there would be no flying for David after that dream.
David settled into the train seat and stared out the window with an idle curiosity of someone who was settling in for a long journey when his focus sharpened on a man struggling to cram himself and his large suitcase into the carriage next to him. David’s idle curiosity was now gone and replaced by two new thoughts, “I hope he is not going to sit next to me and, God I hope he’s not going to sit by me”.
The man of course was, and as he sat down he offered his hand.
“Hi I’m Peter” he said “sorry about the baggage, I know, it’s big enough to fit a body in”.
This response had an immediate effect on David in two ways firstly he was now quite interested in chatting to Peter especially around why he mentioned bodies in baggage, and secondly he had caught the name tag Peter Frampton.
“You’re not that author bloke are you?” David blurted out “can’t abide with peddlers of filth”.
Peter measured up David before responding.
“Actually I am”.
David now had a sinking feeling this was indeed going to be a long journey.
For the first hour or two the two men managed to avoid talking by amusing themselves by reading and the like, but curiosity finally got the better of David.
“You don’t write that stuff through your own experience do you”?
Peter looked up from his laptop and smiled “look at me man I’m not exactly an athlete and hardly a ladies man, I make it up”.
With that sentence David visibly relaxed and offered his own hand.
“David, David Wollerman” and with that the bond was complete. Peter explained how he had been a writer of training manuals until someone had actually tried his instruction, the result had been his loss of employment. David told him about his dream and the safety manual Peter laughed “I knew a bloke once who wrote those, but I think they are published in China now”.
It seemed that after Peters sacking that he had spiralled into a deep depression, so deep that his wife had started an affair, not with one man but two and then a woman. His wife’s name was Elise and up until his depression she had been a shy and unassuming woman but this had all changed. And the more Elise experimented the more outrageous she became until in a fit of unbridled boldness she had confessed to Peter.
Most men going through a depression when confronted with this information would have snapped but somehow it had the opposite effect for Peter and it triggered something deep inside him as if it was the birthing pains of this new person, and it was.
Instead of demanding that his wife stop her philandering Peter decided he would record her experiences and so a new relationship grew with Peter’s wife telling him of her escapades and Peter putting them into a story. And as Elise filled his note books with her escapades Peter too had a renaissance and his story telling ability grew albeit in a particular genre. It was about this time that Peter started to ask Elise to do certain things so he could embellish out his stories. Nothing to risqué to start with but as Elise became involved in the game they became more daring and quietly other people were invited to play. Sometimes they knew and others, well sometimes it best people don’t know the whole story.
It was after about six months that Elise first read one of Peter’s journals and she was surprised how tender yet erotic it was and so unbeknown to Peter she had taken it to a local publisher and a deal was struck. The result was about every woman in the country had read at least one of his books and his stories had become some of the most famous adult films of the decade. Peter was indeed a wealthy man.
And as the two men settled back in their seats a port in hand after a fine train dining experience David look out of the train window into the darkness and wondered if he would ever have a life changing event.
It was the sound that hit David first, that screaming tortured sound of steel on steel followed quickly by the sound of carriages buckling and leaving the rails, and then quite but his body was rocking to and fro violently.
“Wake up wake up” David’s wife was shaking him hard, “you were screaming in your sleep, what’s wrong are you alright”.
David calmed down slowly and finally he told his wife about the dream and the man on the train and then he told her about the flight dream. “It must be a premonition or something or you must be really stressed about something, maybe your speech” his wife offered, but David was not so sure.
David by now was somewhat fearful of anything that involved travel, but as the guest speaker for his publisher’s end of year dinner not going was out of the question. “I’ll drive you” his wife announced the next morning. And so David set off for his appointment still fearful, but happy for the company to take his mind off the journey.
The journey was starting to be fun and David started to take in the surrounding countryside when a thought struck him. It just started in the back of his consciousness and slowly moved forward till it sat in the front of his mind, “fuck” David’s wife shot a glance “what’s wrong” but David wasn’t talking he was looking out the car window with a look of terror.
“It’s the scenery; it’s the same scenery from my dream last night” David choked “when I was looking out the train”.
David’s wife took her eyes off the road to look where he was staring, it was only a glance but that split second of time was long enough for her not to see the truck pulling out from a side road. The impact was astounding David’s wife felt almost cut in half as her seat belt took up the sudden stop.
David was not so lucky, his belt stopped him for a moment then let go with a crack, the next crack was David’s neck as he catapulted through the windscreen. Then there was silence.
This time David couldn’t feel his body and slowly as his vision cleared he saw the faces of the crowd gathered above him, somehow they all looked familiar but David couldn’t think where he had seen them before, then his focus fixed on one person and the others seemed to melt away, it was Jenny his lovely wife and she was saying something to him.
“Wake up David wake up”
David looked round he realised he was in their bedroom, something was indeed up.
“Maybe you should see a psychiatrist”
These words were not the words David wanted to hear. “I want your support, not to talk with some shrink who will give me a few pills and ask me to forgive my father”
The words were his but the voice seemed different almost as if he was hearing himself from outside of his body. But David wasn’t hearing himself from outside his body David’s voice had indeed changed and that wasn’t all his hair had turned white, I mean bright white.
Jenny looked at her husband it was if he was changing before her eyes and a guilty thought flashed through her mind “who was this man” then she was back her concern showing in her voice.
“Maybe you should cancel the speech, maybe we should get away you know a real holiday”
But as the words left Jenny’s lips she knew what his answer would be. This speech was a reward, a reward for one of the hardest working people in the industry let alone his company. For it was David’s job to sell books, not the best sellers or kiss and tell of the famous, no David’s sales were the hard kind, the new authors, the books of scientists and books written by people who had already died.
These were the hardest books of all to sell as there would be no book signings, no appearances on chat shows, nothing; just money to the publisher and maybe if there was an agreement in the will a few dollars to the family.
But David had thrived in this area and his company had started to buy up books of dead authors from other publishers who had been only too pleased to let them go. And now he was to be rewarded by giving the opening speech,
David had worried about what he was going to say for the past several months but he had finally crafted a speech he knew would go down in the annals of publishing history, he had made a mark and he intended to be remembered for it.
The car arrived at David and Jenny’s door, it was huge, the company had spared no expense and it showed David that he was indeed valued. A small smile passed his lips.
“Good evening Sir”
David turned to look at the driver, a handsome man maybe in his late thirties with a swarthy, if not dark complexion.
“We best be getting on, we don’t want to be late”.
David climbed into the limousine and slid across the seat turning to extend his hand to help Jenny in, but his wife didn’t get into the car she stood there for a moment looking at him. Suddenly there were people grabbing her and dragging her back from the car he could hear her screaming his name desperately reaching out for him.
The door slammed shut and the car tyres fought to get traction as the driver accelerated away. David looked up and glanced at the man’s eyes in the rear view mirror, there was something familiar about them. David felt the blow, not like in the movies when the hero wakes up shakes his head and back into it, no this was like someone had slammed his head in a car door and the darkness was enveloping, it seeped into his pores.
The limo ride was terrifying with the driver swearing to himself as he flung the huge car into corners at a terrifying pace but no matter how fast he went he always managed to control it, drifting I think they call it and this man was champion.
“Yo stole from my Mary” he snarled “she was all I had and yo stole from her”.
David tried to think who Mary was but he could not remember her through his terror.
“Your gonna pay and pay big”
As David looked at the eyes in the mirror he could have sworn there were tears in them.
This time David awoke to a very familiar sight, he was in what the company laughingly called the ballroom. A huge room that usually held all the company stock but that had been cleared out to facilitate the annual event.
And as David looked around the familiar smells and voices greeted him. David stood and listened to the voices and he realised they were talking about him, obviously they hadn’t seen him arrive so he decided to keep hidden and listen to what they said.
It was as if every person in the company was talking sometimes over the top of each other and sometime singularly but what they said warmed his heart, but the biggest and best speech was from his boss telling the staff just how hard David had worked and how he had almost single handed saved the company and given it a new direction.
From the corner of his eye David saw the sign, out of sight of the crowd but in his view “Dead Men’s Books “.
David smiled it had been the joke of the business but now they were opening up another company and they were giving it the name David had brought up all those years ago and David was grinning, he would indeed be immortal in the annals of publishers.
Jenny looked down at David holding his hand as he lay there.
“Oh David you gave me such a fright, you have just had four heart attacks but the doctor say’s they got you in time”.
David looked up at his lovely wife and tried to talk but no words would come out and if they had how could he tell her anyway.