Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mercy: An Excerpt

Dear Georgina,
This is a note from your husband reminding you to please, please, please write in your journal this time, so you can tell actual stories about what happened on your mission trip instead of incomplete tales that begin: Well, on Tuesday, or maybe it was Wednesday… no, Friday…
But seriously. I love you, and I will miss you, and so will Mercy, and we will see you soon.

Whoops! Forgot to journal again!
Stuff to remember from Monday:
Seeing the mountains with the mist on them.
Stuff to remember from Tuesday and Wednesday:
“That goat’s gonna have a bad day.”
Coffee ceremony. Popcorn without butter.
How to cook injera.

Dear, um, Journal…
Well, I blew it again - I promised Rob that I would totally keep a journal this time, and he even wrote me this really sweet note that I didn’t read until Wednesday, when I finally got this thing out of the gorgeous waterproof bag Rob packed it in, because it’s the rainy season in Ethiopia.
In a lot of ways, this mission trip was better than the last one.
I’m tired, though, so I should probably scrawl some more memories down before I fall asleep. At least I’ve got dates this time, which hopefully will help me to organize my stories.
And I took more pictures, too. So that’s something.
But now it’s after midnight and I’m sitting on a plane that’s headed to Germany, and I can write more in the morning when I’m awake.

Slept for nine hours, finally starting to feel a little less like the living dead.
Lucked out on the last flight, though, because I was by myself, in a two-person row, and no one was in the other seat, and none of the flight attendants stopped me when I curled up against the window and stretched my feet out.
Maybe they figured that if I was sleeping they wouldn’t have to give me any service. Whatever works.
So now it’s morning and I’m flying from Germany to Chicago, which is a long time in the air, so maybe I can flesh out some more of what happened during the week.
I guess I’ll tell the injera story, because it’s short and I’m still tired and I think they’re going to bring out breakfast soon, and after that I’ll be all warm and full and sleepy again.
So the injera story. Now that I’ve been to Ethiopia three times I figured that I really should finally sit down and learn to cook some of the traditional Ethiopian dishes.
I talked to M, who had some cool Ethiopian name that I kept saying wrong so I just started calling her M, but I’ve got her information somewhere, so I’ll fill it in later.
I wanted to learn to make injera. So I asked M if I could watch the cooks before dinner, and she said, “Sure,” but gave me a kind of strange look.
Which I totally understood once I got to the cooking area.
Injera, before you get to eat it, is made like a huge pancake. They pour it out from the edges to the middle, and then cook it until it’s solid all the way through. But the thing of it is, they don’t make it on a stove, or over a fire.
They have this HUGE thing that looks like a big, round griddle (actually, it reminded me of a kiln, like I used to use to fire pottery in art class) and that’s what they cook the injera on, which is why it’s so huge.
So there’s a mystery solved, but I was kind of embarrassed for asking to see it cooked because that’s all I saw - them cooking these giant pancake-looking things.
Maybe you had to be there.
I see the food cart moving, so I’m going to put this journal into its really cool waterproof holder in case I spill something on it, and then I’m going to eat and sleep and try to wake up in time to see one of the movies and I’ll write some more.

My name is Georgina Fulci, and I am writing this all down in hopes that even if I don’t see my husband Rob and my daughter Mercy again that somehow this book will find them.
If you find this journal, and if the world hasn’t fallen apart, please send it to the address on the inside front cover.
Thank you, anonymous person.
(I’ve noted the date, but I’m only kind of certain it’s accurate.)
I don’t know where to start, so I guess I’ll just list some details about our location.
I don’t know where we are. No one does, really. On TV shows and in movies, when a bunch of people are in a plane crash, there’s always a doctor and a ninja, but we don’t have a cartographer here that I know of, or anyone who knows the ocean that well.
We’re somewhere in the Atlantic, between Europe and the United States.

I didn’t mention in my last entry that I love my husband and my daughter, so this is me saying it.
My brain is fuzzy from multiple days of eating… whatever it is we’re eating. Or maybe it’s the water, which tastes fresh, but when you really concentrate, has a salty undertaste to it. So it’s possible we’re all dying of dehydration.
I was going to try to pick up from where I left off last time, like no time has passed, but, time has passed.
I got called away by one of the other people on this island. One of the living ones, anyway. Because…
I need to stop getting ahead of myself.
The person who called me over was the stewardess. Or rather, the flight attendant. Her name’s Sharon.
My hand is going to cramp. I’ll come back to Sharon.
This is what happened on the plane, as near as we can tell. I’ve talked to the other people on the island (those who can answer, anyway) and we put this story together.
It started with the pilot, we think.
We had two of them, and one of them was a little bit of an older guy, with something of a belly. Sharon, the stewardess, says that she kind of knew him and kind of liked him, or rather she said “He was okay, I guess,” which is code for “I knew his name and he never did anything I disliked.”
Since nobody here is a doctor, the best we can figure is that he had a stroke. Or maybe it was an aneurism. It had to be something that was instant, something that would kill him before the other pilot could stick the plane on autopilot and yell for a doctor.
Maybe that’s what he was doing, because Sharon said the door at the front of the plane opened a bit, and then closed a bit, like maybe a pilot was coming out to use the bathroom and then changed his mind, or something.
I have my own theory. I think the dead guy grabbed him.
I think it went down exactly like this:
Bob the pilot had a stroke, and died just about instantly.
Chuck, the other pilot, watched it happen, and maybe he set the autopilot, or maybe he panicked. I think he panicked and forgot. And maybe he shook Bob a little bit, on the shoulder.
And then he got up, and went to open the door, to look for a doctor. And Bob grabbed him, and pulled him back into the cockpit, and bit down on his neck as hard as one human can bite another.
I can’t prove that. Bob and Chuck were the only two people in that cockpit, and both of them are dead, for whatever version of dead passes for dead, now.
Chuck pulled free and ran out into the plane, with blood shooting from his neck. That’s when Sharon saw him for the first time.
She said he looked like he was screaming, but that there was no sound coming out. He didn’t make it far, maybe three or four aisles into the plane, where a bunch of first-classers were sitting and drinking their mimosas as blood shot out of Chuck’s neck and hit everyone and everything.
People a few rows back tried to get up, but planes aren’t really designed for fast exits, and anyway, there’s nowhere to go but farther back.
I remember hearing screams. That’s when I woke up, with a few blood-spattered passengers running back into business class.
Sharon was pushed into the laps of a couple of passengers as people tried to get up - her drink cart kept her from running down the aisle, she told me.
Chuck collapsed onto one of the rows, covering passengers in gore. A couple of people started to laugh, maybe thinking it was a joke. Or maybe it was that scared laughter you get when you know that something has gone wrong, and there’s no way to fix it. Because it’s so impossible.
Like when you find out that you have cancer, maybe, and less than a week to live.
It’s so absurd.
That’s when Chuck bit one of the passengers he was lying on.
Sharon doesn’t remember much more. She heard the woman who got bitten scream louder than she already was, and then the plane lurched.
That much I remember. By then there was screaming in my section, too, as the passengers back in coach tried to shake information (sometimes literally) out of the blood-spattered refugees who were in our section.
After that, things get more and more hazy.
I remember the plane lurching.
I remember people trying to hold on while the plane spiraled down at an impossibly hard angle.
I think I remember oxygen masks, but by then, people were sliding down the aisles. You could see who had their seatbelts on, because they weren’t falling out of their seats and hitting the ceiling, or the walls, or landing in the laps of their fellow passengers.
I remember closing my eyes.
I remember a loud bang. Maybe it was the sound of us crashing. But I crawled out of my brain-pool of black just long enough to hear something so loud that I stopped hearing again.
I remember trying to hold onto something, anything.
I remember being in water. Floating, maybe.
Thinking I was going to drown, even though my head was above water.
I remember someone floating by me. Something floating by me. Something dead. But not dead. Its arm was missing, and it was sinking, and looking at me. Trying to get to me, looking like it was hungry.
My hand is tired and it’s hot and my head is hurting and none of this makes any sense.

To Read On:

Mercy on the Kindle

Mercy on the nook

At Smashwords

Free Kindle Apps for PC, Mac, Smart Phones, and the iPad

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