Monday, 29 December 2008

Happy Endings

Oh yeh, here's the next part of Happy Endings, in case you're interested. If not, well, it's here whether you want it or not. :D

Chapter 2 (Shadow)

I distrusted him the moment I saw him. He was red-faced, red-haired and overweight, and the sprawling, ranch-style mansion was newly built. He was most likely one of those people who’d got rich off the War while the best of all humanity was butchered. On the ground or above it, it makes no difference once you’re dead. People think of being a war pilot as being more glamorous, more noble, but it wasn’t. I’ve shot at men on the ground, and I shot men in the air, and they’re all equally dead. On the other hand, being a spy is an evil profession. Supposedly. I was a spy once, when I was young and carefree and had no idea how to fly a plane. Both were equally hard work, equally dangerous and meant killing people.
People also say Germans are evil. Personally, I can’t see the difference between them and us. We had different tactics formation wise, but other than type of machine and language we’re all the same people, pilots. Just as likely to be killed by a bullet or archie (anti-aircraft fire) as by a machine deciding to disintegrate or engine failure. Actually, the other difference was that their archie was a different colour, so you could see which side was shooting at her. I’m probably one of the only people who’s been in the rather interesting position of being fired at by both sides at once.
As I said, I disliked him at first sight, but I needed the money, and he had a proposition and I’d agreed to listen, so I went with him. He leads me in and I sit at a table in the big kitchen. A young black girl comes in, but Abe shoos her away and removes a tray from a cupboard.
“Glass of something Mr. Silverdale?” he drawls, looking at me like to him I’m on about the same level as that girl he has locked away in a tower.
“Water would be fine.”
“I can’t tempt you to some cider, or beer perhaps?” So I told him I don’t drink, not bothering to tell him why, but it’s not because of Prohibition. I’ve seen too many pilots go to an early grave, and all down to the bottle. The stress of war got to be too much for them and they drowned their sorrows with drink. Stupid things it always was that got them, like coming in to land without checking the wind, forgetting about the little hole and turning over, misjudging a gap and sheering off a wing. I even saw someone fly into the side of the hill after they’d been at the bottle. Scary thing was, they were all decent pilots, twenty, maybe thirty kills to their name.
“Mr Catlington. You brought me here for a business proposition. I have a feeling it has to do with transporting alcohol. Well, just for the record, I certainly don’t approve of alcohol. However, I’m in a bit of a fix. I was, as I think you’re aware, working for a company that did pleasure flights and air shows. They went bankrupt. I don’t know why, the accountancy wasn’t my business, but I haven’t had a pay check in over three months. I need money to keep flying, because petrol and spares cost money, and I guess you could say I’m getting homesick. There is one thing you must understand though. I will not commit to anything for longer than six months.”
“Fair enough. All I ask is that you try it for a month, and if it isn’t to your liking… Well, feel free to leave after a month. I shall supply aviation spirit, of course, and the gardener was a mechanic during the War, he’ll be able to see to your aeroplane I’m sure.” I nod. “Now people of your type rarely bother about the law, do you?” I shake my head.
He’s got me sussed completely, knows that I’m desperate to keep flying, knows of my reputation, knows that I’m not overly enamoured with governments of any form. He probably knows I’d like nothing more than to emigrate to Russia. In fact, if I can get there, I’ve been offered a position heading up a new Air Force initiative. What ‘planes the Russians have are sadly dilapidated, and they didn’t stay in the War long enough to get to need an air force as such, so they don’t exactly have one. Just a smattering of requisitioned private aeroplanes of pre-War antiquity that were owned by a couple of the rich enthusiasts. At the start of the War, it was second only to France, but it’s fallen into disuse and there isn’t much of a structure to it.

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