My seat rumbles. The whole plane does, though only a bit, but it still wakes me. I always fall asleep on airplanes. I take a deep breath and squint before releasing that first conscious, pained exhale and stretching as best I can in my limited personal space. I look around. The plane’s cabin is quiet except for the hum of the engines. I want to go back to sleep, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to. I wonder where we are and exactly how much longer we have until we land. I do not know how long I’ve been asleep and have no sense of the time. I look out the window, as if that will give me any sort of accurate idea. Everything seems normal enough. I’m thirsty.
I look around for a flight attendant. I spot one a dozen rows ahead, talking with another passenger. I am groggy. Maybe I am less awake than I thought. I still have no sense of time. In fact I can hardly remember the airport, or takeoff. I can’t make much sense of anything except my most immediate surroundings. I am in a chair, on a plane, way up high. A woman and man sit next to me. I must have really been out of it. I decide I’ll need a coffee with that water.
Just in time, the flight attendant walks past my row.
“Ma’am,” I say hoarsely, with my hand up to get her attention.
The flight attendant turns to me and raises her eyebrows.
“I’d like a drink, please. Two, actually,” I continue. “Could I please have a water and a black coffee?”
The flight attendant stares at me and narrows her eyes, as if she is somehow, for some inexplicable reason, having trouble processing the ten words I’ve just spoken to her.
“Café?” she asks, confused. She has an accent. It is soft and smooth. French, I realize after a moment.
I wonder if she is just being cute.
“Um yeah, café. Oui,” I tell her with a laugh, pronouncing the French in my flat, dull, Midwestern tone.
Then she rattles off a string of words so garbled and half-pronounced that it would be a miracle if a natural Francophone could understand them, let alone me, the guy who failed a college French course. I think I hear the word for cream. She is listing off options for my coffee. More importantly, why is she speaking French? What flight am I on, again? Why can I not remember?
“By God!” an Englishman in the window seat a few rows behind me shouts.
“That’s Vladimir Putin down there! Shirtless and operating a missile launcher that’s aimed right at us!”
There is a commotion on board now. A smattering of curses and gasps in more languages than I can identify chorus up and down the cabin.
“Aye dios mio!” a Spaniard shouts from somewhere.
“Merde!” the flight attendant declares with a stomp that easily punctures the floor of the plane, which I realize is falling apart for no discernible reason as I look at the window to see one of the most impressive and terrifying sights imaginable in Vladimir Putin sans shirt, operating a weapons system. Pieces are simply falling off of the plane. At one point a cloud rips away part of the wing that I realize was held together with reeds and glue.
Then it hits me. My worst nightmare has been realized. I am flying on a foreign airline, which means that certain, violent death awaits me.
I frantically wonder how I could have made such a terrible mistake. How and why did I get on this plane? Foreign jetliners have been going down left and right. I might as well have put a gun in my mouth, or given myself AIDS and taken a one-way time machine to the ’80s.
“He’s fired them!” the Englishman announces. “Putey is going to kill us all!”
Sure enough, below, there is Vladimir Putin, sitting on top of a missile launcher in a wake of missile exhaust, laughing like a madman as he chugs vodka and impregnates a ballerina.
“That is crap!” a German man shouts from up front in broken English. It’s the co-pilot. “I was supposed to kill all of us today!”
Suddenly the plane begins to descend. The co-pilot intends on crashing us.
Before I can even begin to comprehend my fate, a man wearing nothing but Kansas Jayhawks gear, standing up on his seat and shouting, interrupts my thoughts and prayers.
“SUCK IT BITCHES KANSAS JUST WON THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF! ROCCCCKKKKK CHAAAAALLLLLKKKK JAYYYYYY HAAAWWWWKKKK!”
I scream in soul-wrenching agony.
“What’s wrong little boy?” a chilling voice from behind asks me.
I turn to see a sharp-toothed, naked clown twirling his penis with one hand, like a happy-go-lucky man in a musical would with his walking cane, and holding a leash in the other. My eyes widen and water. I tremble violently but cannot move my limbs, for I am filled with paralyzing terror. I follow the leash to its other end and discover the clown’s pet: a spider the size of a St. Bernard. It’s eating out of a dog bowl full of teacup pigs.
Also the clown has one of those little angry mouths that the Xenomorphs in the “Aliens” movies have and both of them start laughing at me. Then I realize “Crash” is the in flight film.
I scream again.
I wake up once more. My body shoots forward. I am covered in cold sweat. I’m still on a plane — I always sleep on planes — but now I realize I am truly awake. It was all just a dream, a terrifying dream. A nightmare.
I ask my neighbor what flight we are on.
“Dallas to St. Louis,” he tells me, annoyed by my dumb question.
I sigh, relieved. The intercom buzzes and the captain begins to speak.
“Well everyone we were going to begin our descent into St. Louis but it looks like we just completely forgot to tell them we’re coming, so we’re going to go ahead and fly you to Boise, where you’ll be laid over for the next twelve hours. We thank you for choosing Delta Airlines.”