Flash Fiction Story 013: "50 Seconds to Somewhere North of Cambodia"

Jörg Groß had the upper hand, and the day would be his. His Luger still held four rounds, whereas Agent Clarke had completely exhausted his Beretta 418. The fool clicked the trigger uselessly half a dozen times just to confirm the assessment.

One final shot, and the meddlesome Clarke would be no more, Groß would take control of the Antonov An-124 Ruslan, and change course for Cambodia. Plentiful beaches, no extradition treaties, and affordable airplane hangar rentals. It was all Groß could ever ask for. 

Well, if Groß could have had everything he wanted, then the nerve toxin he had developed to necrotize England’s collective crops, and the Prime Minister would have handed over control of the United Kingdom… But Cambodia was sufficient consolation prize.

He cocked his Luger and tried to dwell on the details of the moment. He wished every sense could contribute to the tableau, but with the wind rushing out of the rear hatch of the plane, he could only feel it.

“You should be commended, Agent Clarke. My larger plan has not reached full fruition, but it does appear we have reached the end of our little game,” Groß shouted before settling into a smile.

Clarke matched his grin, inexplicably souring the victory. “I will certainly miss this gun…” He sounded wistful through his own shout. Maybe he had come to accept the fate at the end of Groß’ Luger.

“Wh—?” Groß’ question failed to fully leave his mouth before Clarke threw his empty weapon at him. The resulting surprise forced Groß to lose his footing, and from there all was sky.

He reached around for some new foot or hand hold. Clarke couldn’t have regained the upper hand! The day was his!

Damn that Clarke! Groß shouted wordless curses into the heavens that had swallowed him, flailing against the wind that cared little for his predicament. Aside from clouds, he could not even strike terribly with his anger, it was just destined to become a permanent part of the sky along with the moon, the sun and Agent Thad Clarke of MI6.

Groß rallied suddenly, casting aside thoughts of fury and Clarke in favor of a solution. All was not lost! When he had initially released the rear hatch in his fight with Clarke, a plethora of equipment preceded his exit. He needed only to find a parachute and latch on. Assuming the plane was cruising at the standard 40,000 feet, and a standard rate of acceleration towards the ground, he had about 50 seconds before hitting the ground. 

It was possible! He would give every ounce of his fortune for that possibility. Groß even made a half-formed promise to a deity he had detested when he even bothered to believe in him, but it became clear that any parachute would be to far away to do him any good.

He tried to remember the last time he had called his mother. It had been too long. He wondered if she would ever hear of his fate. She had long since written him off as a ne’er-do-well ages ago. She probably already thought he was dead. At this point, he figured he would have been better off dead back then as well. He wondered when the best time would have been to die. Maybe when he was ten, and had fallen off the roof of their farmhouse in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern while trying to spot Father Christmas. Mother would have been sad then. It would have been nice to have mourners.

He wondered how long he had been falling. He supposed about 45 seconds. He might have spent those last few minutes allowing his mind to continue to wander, but he also realized the time for that had passed. He was beyond troubles, beyond Agent Clarke, beyond his mother, and beyond death. He had died the moment he had fallen out of that damned plane, and this protracted fall was borrowed time. And for that, he couldn’t help but be gratef— 


Art by Eris O'Reilly

Art by Eris O'Reilly