RONOVAN WRITES Prompt Challenge #3 –Friday Fiction

This is the first time I have ever tried writing a piece of fiction to share.  I am understandably nervous about the prospect of rejection and ridicule. Luckily I am emboldened by the feedback I have received from previous postings about family memories, poetry, photography and Ronovan’s Haiku challenge.  So nothing gained shall be my mantra.

“Number 26”

-Clarence Holm


For two days, the 757 has occupied the runway, commanding the attention of the world. The great Rolls Royce engines stood silent, yearning for the sky. Camera lenses capture the unmoving exterior of the plane, the stillness broken only by the sudden drop of a body to the tarmac below the cargo door.

The latest body was identified only as “Number 24” “Number 26” by the press, continuing the two-hour cycle between killings.

To the outside world, it seemed so surreal. The rear exit door would open and a body would tumble out. A few minutes later an armored vehicle would approach, towing a steel canopy allowing medics to retrieve the lifeless corpse under metal cover. It was an intricately choreographed dance preformed without words or music for a captivated national television audience.

Oddly there has been no contact with the hijackers, no list of demands, and no proclamation of a righteous cause. It was a silent picture, punctuated by rhythmic death.

Unseen by the public were the 200 remaining passengers and flight crew. Mixed in were the 6 hijackers who brandished weapons and bombs planted by a confederate who worked for a catering company, providing pre-packaged passenger meals. They had waited till the plane was airborne before retrieving their automatic weapons. Once armed, they rounded up the flight attendants and brought them to the closed cockpit door and began shooting them in their knees, within sight of the locked door. The sound of their screaming could be heard throughout the plane. Only than did the hijackers demand to have the door opened or they would kill the wounded attendants, one by one.

After the sounds of two more shots, the cockpit door opened and the pilots surrendered. They were given orders to return to the Dallas airport to await new instructions.

Upon landing they taxied to the middle of the runway and shut down the engines. Then the first of the two attendant bodies were thrown from the plane, followed by the second, two hours later. The next four victims were chosen at random every two hours, with no attention to age race or sex. Then the hijackers added an additional cruel twist. They threatened to start killing children unless the passengers themselves chose each new sacrifice to their unknown cause. So it had gone for the next 36 hours.

I was one of the remaining prisoners who could easily be chosen to be executed next. I could be Next! I remember our decision to place our names and seat numbers into a bag of potential sacrifices. In exchange we were given a promise from the hijackers to allow the 25 children under 16 to not be included in this macabre lottery.

Each succeeding lottery brought the same sense of terror, relief and shame. Terror that I might be chosen, followed by relief that I wasn’t, than shame at my realization that someone else had been selected and was about to die.

As the time approached for the next lottery, the cabin of the airplane was calm with soft sobs filling the air. The remaining untreated attendants who had been shot, had long ago passed out from blood loss and were tossed into the galley where they awaited their almost certain death. The smell of their blood was in the air. It reminding me of the butcher shop our family lived above in our small town in North Dakota. The salty sweet smell reminded me of the pleasures of youth, but at the same time caused me to be repulsed at the senseless slaughter of these innocent humans.

I thought to myself if I were to die it should be for some noble cause, but these people had not given us a reason for their actions. It appeared they were soldiers following orders from some barbaric group. Perhaps if I thought they were avenging some atrocity it would make more sense, but no words were exchanged as the next name was drawn.

They called out a seat number and a name and I thanked God it wasn’t me. Then a young woman screamed “No!” and buried her head into her sister’s shoulder. The hijackers came down the aisle and grabbed her by the hair. A big white bearded male dragged her to the back of the plane and she continued to scream until a shot rang out.

The rear door opened and “Number 25” fell from the plane.

I and a number of people vomited from the horror of the show. It was not the first time I had thrown up and I was sure it wouldn’t be the last. My mind went into a type of shock; friends I had known in childhood surrounded me. They offered me comfort as I drifted with the memories of the old school yard. Rodney and Paul spoke to me for the first time since their death in that car/train accident on the way to the junior high game. They told me I would be okay, that this was only one part of me.

I fell asleep for the first time in over forty-eight hours and dreamed of my parents.

I woke from the deep slumber as I heard my name and seat number called. I was confused, was I still dreaming? The big white man grabbed my shoulder and pulled me to my feet and shoved me to the rear of the plane. I fell to the floor in front of an open cargo door. and as I looked up to see his gun posed in front of pointed at my face then it went off and he smiled at me.

“Number 26” fell from the plane.

23 thoughts on “RONOVAN WRITES Prompt Challenge #3 –Friday Fiction

  1. From the story side of things, it has excellent pace, tone, and fleshed out idea. There were only a very few little editing things that are easily corrected. Editing is why I turn to other people at times. I have a difficult time seeing the problems in my own work, but I can see it in others. The main thing here is you have the storytelling gift. People take classes and still can’t do that. A great first shared story.

    • I aware of my editing problems, my aphasia carries over into my written work. I am constantly thinking one thing, but writing another and when I do, it is invisible to me. Can’t tell you how many times that has got me in trouble… Thanks for the comment!! I agree that editing will always be a two person job.

      • Hope you didn’t mind the comments too much. I want to begin giving constructive feedback to help everyone move along that I see promise in. You were the guinea pig. 🙂

      • With that storytelling you have going for you, you need to keep doing more of this. The only part of the story that jumped out to me as being kind of didn’t go with the flow, so to speak, was the last part where number 26 fell to the ground. The story was told in first person. The narrator of the story wouldn’t be alive to tell that last part. Unless he was still alive for a few seconds as his body fell and hit the ground, which would be kind of cool.

      • That would have been a great ending- loosing consciousness as he fell backwards out the door. My original thought was a post-mortem comment. (BTW – I’ve decided comments should have a spell checker built in. I hate writing them in Word and pasting over)

      • Ronovan, I made some changes per your suggestion. What are your thoughts about the revisions. (Revised portions in red) I think your suggestions improved it a lot! Thanks

      • Maybe change-I was one of the remaining prisoners who could easily be chosen to be executed next. to-I could be next.

        I think it drives the story forward in an immediate way. The reader knows what he means by saying that. Short sentences like that add urgency to the story. Don’t change too much.

      • You are one smart guy! I like that suggestion a bunch. I know now why I pay you those big bucks. By the way, I am going to leave the corrections and changes as they are now, showing our collaboration — if you want to use it as an example.

  2. I agree with Ronovan, keep doing what you’re doing because that was great! I was hooked from the first sentence. The descriptions are wonderful, many times sublime – like ‘It was a silent picture, punctuated by rhythmic death’ – beautiful imagery.

  3. Pingback: Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes Prompt #3 Entries: THE LINKS | ronovanwrites

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.