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Mystery Flight Over Java (Short Story)
Of my fatherland and my friends I have little to say. Perhaps the length of years I have lived, now sixty-one, have motivated me if not obsessed me, from the one to travel the world and find its mysteries, and alienated me from the other, for few can I find to trust, befriend, without self-interest at every corner, and at my expense.
I have thought a suitable hypothesis might befit this story-in some instances, thus not much, lest the hard to believe tale I have to tell should be considered: a crazed and unfinished account of my imagination, more so than a constructive experience of my mind and its reality, to which daydream or fantasy might form: henceforth, I wish to nullify that right here and now.
From the small and concrete airport of Guam (in the summer of 1999), I was halfway around the world on a voyage to Java, to see Borobudur, the old Buddhist ruins, in Indonesia, constructed from some two-million volcanic stone blocks. The jet landed in Bali, it was a kind of nervous restless flight that haunted me, as if I had witnessed a fiend from my port window, cape and all, with a huge snake around its neck, and its long thick body, hung along the ghost’s abdominal.
The plane I took from Bali to Java was a beautiful old looking heap, with four propellers, and only two rows of seats, each on one side of the belly of the plane, it was, or appeared to be freighted with supplies of some kind, the back seats of the plane were taken out, used for stowage of boxes upon boxes, with signs ‘fragile,’ on them, and the name of several brands of whiskey, which I had not noticed at first, but did when I went to the restrooms, prior to take off.
Once in the air, the ride was a tinge clumsy at first; I even held my breath as we ascended through some clouds and encircling winds.
It was near-evening when we took off, and it was remarkable, that the heavy loaded plane got off the ground in the first place, as well for the colors of twilight seeping into dark, and out of daylight. Attentively I watched it, until sunset disappeared, to a fine strip of a mist.
The moon was a dusty orange, with a peculiar cloud, or shadow of charcoal, likened to that figure I saw on my flight from Guam to Bali, then when I blinked my eyes, and zoomed back to get a second glance, it underwent a rapid change, and the moon seemed transparent-as if I could see through it.
The air in the plane became hot and muggy, not intolerable, just steamy hot. It seemed the wind I had noticed outside the plane was gone, died and went away, or else we, in the plane, left it behind us.
It became so hot at the end of the first hour in flight, I felt as if someone lit a candle inside of me, and it was burning all the way from my stomach through my chest to my throat, it hovered, vibrated inside my lungs. The twelve passengers on the plane with me were appearing to be in the same condition I was in, experiencing the same ailments.
The crew-consisting of pilot and copilot, one of them, principally of Indonesian stock, was pacing the passageway between the two sets of seats, stretching his feet I suppose, deliberately not looking at us, as if he did not want to deal with complaints. I simply turned my head back to the moon, perchance I could see the full picture, or perhaps it was a premonition or illusion of the evil angel, or messenger.
To be sure, every emergence of that fiend, gave me some kind of acceptable if not apprehending a possible dooms day message, or perhaps a nocturnal open-eyed nightmare.
I was uneasy, which kept me from falling to sleep, I was startled a few times by the choking of the loud engines of the plane, and with it returned to its humming noise, a smooth purring, which occurred by a rapid and steady revolution of the propellers, I found myself un-quivering, and the centre of the plane, more balanced as folks got up to head to the bathroom.
Then the plane hurled as if it hit a rock in the sky, and several more rocks hit the plane, they swept the entire top of the plane, from the cockpit to the tail end. Extreme fury, of a blast, came out the side of a propeller, and it came completely off, after a minute, the heaviness of the back of the plane seemed to be dragging, pulling the plane down, it was staggering trying to hold itself above the sea of green below us. Immense pressure on the three engines still at work, a tempest of frustration grew among the twelve.
‘But what miracle could save us?’ I asked myself.
Everyone was stunned by the shock of the loss of an engine.
I found myself, holding on tight to the seat in front of me, firm, not with great difficulty, but stern, as the heat caused some dizziness inside of my head.
Below me, I knew there was a sea of green, a vortex, and a current of wind pulling the plane down into it, trying to pull it down, it was as if the plane was becoming engulfed in a whirlwind, I was hoping it was short lived, but the strength of it was staggering the plane from behind.
I expected the pilots could do little to comfort us; their efforts were going down faster than the plane. I felt like a packed sardine, in one of those cozy tin cans they are smothered in. Everyone looked a bit overwhelmed.
We now were into the second hour of the flight, of a two and a half hour flight, we lost velocity, and the sea of green, the tops of trees, was under us, we were excessively close, sometimes I thought as close as fifty-feet, and at the speed we were going, I figured if we crashed, there would be considerable injury to the passengers, and of course me.
The violence of the wind, brought considerable danger to the back of the plane, with dismay I well believed at any moment, the hundred or so boxes of glass filled whisky, was going to fly every which way. And in our besieged condition, we might unavoidably depart this life right here and now in the belly of the plane before we crash and to no avail, this premonition was soon verified.
For five entire minutes, during the flight, the substance in the boxes-its quantity, flew with no great difficulty forward, in the direction of us passengers-twelve hundred bottles of whisky defying calculation, rapidly flew like a tornado, rolled like a tempest, with insignificant dissimilarity-glass and bottles, like clubs, smelly yellowish liquid flying everywhichway, emitting no decisive direction, just clouds of broken glass, and unsteady fury in the belly, and the plane started to sink to the green sea. We all became paralyzed.
As nearly as I could guess, we had an hour left in flight, and there was no landing until we got to Yogyakarta: at this point, attention was given again to the appearance of the overhead trees, the lights from the plane gave a dreary and grim glow without much evidence what we were seeing was really what we thought we were seeing, within this pretentious green dark massive garden.
An emotion kept dwelling in my inners, I have no name for it, it was just there, as if it had hands and squeezed, and squeezed, and then tried to nullify my soul. I have no psychoanalysis I can give beyond that, save, we go into parapsychology, and then the sensation I was getting had a key. To a theological, and psychological mind as mine, the best consideration I can give, is to an evil being, involved with this flight, the snake woman, the one with cape like wings, with a snake around her neck, the one that appeared to me-at this juncture, three times or more, and would appear a few more times. I would not have told anyone at the time, of my indefinite intuition, lest I add another origin to this mysterious flight, but nonetheless, an utterly new entity was added into my mind, and was tugging on my soul.
This being, even had a hat on, tight against her head, covering just about everything, to include her ears and neck, yet you could see the tips of her ears extended beyond its mask, and the face, thin, but lovely, a devilish loveliness.
As the plane settled back down, I thought about my destiny, trying at least to focus on it, kind of trying, this whole matter, this flight that is, being incomprehensible. As I looked now about, everyone appeared silent, as if they were wrapped up in prayer or deliberation, contemplation, meditation, in essence, concealment, they did not want to see, explore what was happening, they wanted to land and go to a hotel, and call it a night, and do whatever they had plans to do, once landed; thus they remained in their own private cabin, within their minds.
I took a few minutes, and wrote into my journal on this very matter, this flight, figuring at the time, I would not have the opportunity to share it with the world, should I delay, hoping someone might find my journal notes.
As I looked outside the porthole window of the plane, I thought of the ungoverned chance of landing this plane safely, noticing also the structure of the plane was, how it was built and its general equipment, all negative within a belief it could be landed safely, other than at its original destination, what she was not, was a sturdy plane, not at this point anyhow.
Scrutinizing the moon again, or towards the moon, a haze around her, like overgrown shadows, an aberration, then appeared that sensation in my stomach again, the imp woman, flashed insight, amongst the shadows, an unaccountable memory of old fairytales of devils, and stories of long ago, came to mind. She seemed to be looking at the metal of the plane, its engines, the old material she was made out of, it was tender, unfit for this extreme weather and chaos, its torture.
The imp seemed over-curious, perhaps characteristic of imps, or perchance, she was distended with anger, by the fact the plane was still in flight. It was you know an old weather beaten boat of a plane, surely full of recollections of years past, but a lovely plane as I mentioned before, lovely in that it was antique and still running.
About a half hour was left before landing. The main pilot came walking through the aisle; he paid me no manner of attention, although I stared in his direction, wanting some kind of information, but he was utterly unconscious of my presence, like his friend who had walked this same aisle an hour ago or so. I noticed his knees trembled, his shoulders and back bent somewhat, as if in despair.
I looked out the porthole again, and in shock, the imp’s eyes were glistened, gray, looking into mine, face to face.
The plane now seemed stone dead, my mind, ears, could not hear the humming of the engines, the propellers in motion. It appeared to me, we now needed that miracle I was talking about a while ago. This plane was an enormous bulk of doomed weight, hovering over the last miles before descending; the final plunge might be into the abyss I murmured.
The female imp, the snake devil woman, looked like a surprising sea-gull, but on the other hand, I accepted her as an allusion, a demon from the deep, confined somehow to tell me a forbidden story of soon to be doom. Confusing as it may sound, I can’t account for her effect on me, but she was in the influence of this plane’s impetuous current, which was pulling the plane down, and now all four engines stopped; what was keeping it afloat?
I had now seen her face to face, but as I expected she paid me little attention, more on a casual observation, but still that feeling was grabbing my inners, which I regarded as her impact on my psyche. Her forehead became wrinkled, her skin turned gray, sibyl in feature, as if she could read my mind, as if she was an obsolete long-forgotten obstacle in my life, wanting to keep me alive to individually bring me back to her monarch, she had lost me somewhere along the way, but in-between she wanted to rock the plane, if not in a state of confusion, on destroying it and me along with it.
She even muttered to herself, as did the two pilots as they paced the aisle, as if in a trance. She said something in a somewhat low peevish foreign tongue; her voice reached my ears, from the distance of her being outside the plane, looking in. Her eyes had had an ill at ease meaning to them.
When I looked around me, everyone seemed formless, like water or sky, like the blank emptiness of the universe, and now a wind, and its current, like a crashing tide, came with a horrid velocity and thunder, likened to an iceberg crashing off its ends into the sea. To understand this horror is utterly impossible to describe, it was obvious the plane now was under the control of the elements, some I had no existing knowledge of, and to be honest, I confess that the wild evil thing had most of the control at this very moment.
The crew now, both of them paced the aisle, their countenances were expressionless, loss of hope, gloom in their eyes. We had fifteen-minutes to landing, thus, in the meantime, the wind was still bringing the plane down, but something was lifting it up. Lights appeared to the right of us, then to the left, and we were whirling in a tornado like windstorm, in circles, faster and faster, and the walls of the plane started to cave in, and somehow I became lost in darkness, I was up in a tree looking down, my body being on the ground, not in the tree though.
What I remember was: the plane started to roar, as if the engines started back up, and the thundering of the wind, its tempest, stopped, and the pilots went back to their cockpits, and I heard voices say, “Oh God! We’re going down!”
Let me conclude for the present. Now lying before me, was my real description, for the horror had gone, but to the earth forever dead, were the twelve passengers, and the two pilots. Dense was the jungle before me, limitless with its foliage. I could not, or would not, write of my unspeakable misery of that unpardonable crime, the imp-I do believe, had a hand in.
(As years went by, this epoch, was kept silent, even by the officials in Bali, and Java, because there was no windstorms to speak of that day, during that flight, and they were as confused as I was I suppose, or at least that was what was written down in the report, saying, in essence, the plane crash due to unknown circumstances.
I strongly felt-in time, a need to develop this story, for many reasons, perhaps a cause of too much disquietude: propensities to do so, thenceforward my pen in hand, with age abandoning its previous actions, and now you have my recollections.)
Hence, it appeared, I say, appeared, I am in the hospital, so I was told, and now I have a visitation, a visitor, mask and cloak, draped to her knees, she whispers, her name, “Azalea” Her friend, the snake, is thrown around her neck like a collar.
It is Azalea, she no longer speaks in a whisper, she says,
“In me, in my death, people don’t know, is their own, how utter-as a result, slowly they murder themselves. You have conquered early death: but for me, I am dead-dead to the World, Heaven and any Hope that might have been. Henceforward I must go, and in my death, you can see by my image, which was mine so long ago, how I am who I am, you say, murmur under your breath, ‘antagonist,’ a gigantic paradox indeed, riveted and studded with iron truths, but misleading, I am in a prison-like domain, limited you might say, steeped in misery, I am, as you were, now you know how I felt, how death approached you like a shadow, you were thrown in the valley of sympathy, I am a slave of my own circumstances, beyond your human hope, control, or pity, your comrades were a little oasis of fatality, a fatal accident, had they prayed to God, as you did, to Christ, to remind Him, certainly he would have stopped their fall, thus, they ended up dying a victim to the horror I created, one you call it a mystery, or visions, mankind forgets, my kind, are descendants of a race-imaginative to many-a race with temperament, and remarkable, fully inherited from the family of angels, although our character-strongly developed, became addicted to the wickedness, ungovernable passions, even stronger than man’s, thenceforward we abandoned our first household, and its law, and at an age, where man was guided by my kind, and our wills, we became the master of your ancestral actions.”
I noticed I was in a square enclosure, comprising of a bed, curtains, and some medical equipment, that looked antique. The building I was in, or room, did not look like a solid structure. The dark guardian angel, paced about the room, intermingled with another voice, unseen, thoughts of mine piled like a stack of books, much-bethumbed, entirely lost.
This morning’s meeting with the dark angel, named, Azalea, was like a morning-summons from my bed. Some kind of mental sorcery appeared to take place: being a Christian had its benefits, its exceptions, yet on the other hand, its demise was, the superior and shadowy world chased you a like lost cattle, and chased you a little longer than normal, and tried to put out of mind, their existence, so they can use you for a play-ground.
In spite of my so called bravado, I was scared. All this was psychologically trying on me, to be confronted directly and indirectly by this side of the world, its perpetual struggle against mankind, and not to be overcome, I told myself I had to face it moment by moment, if need be to modify myself for the moment, observe, listen, but never did I think I’d have to mingle with them, in any affectionateness of manner.
I was torn, strange that may seem, in spite of the continual anxiety, the rivalry this intolerable spirit intrigued me, this was the dangerous part, their quarrelsome world was if anything, ill-tempered and carried hatred, feelings of such toward all living things, living in an anomalous state of affairs, they lived with a determined hostility, but I was interested in it nevertheless. And now she was gone.
I think she was satisfied with having produced in me, that effect, as it was, during the passing week in the hospital, this little jungle hospital, some fifty miles from Yogyakarta, I at length grew extremely distasteful of her not showing up again, in consequence, showing her intolerable arrogance. I was told in my secret sleep, by Serr’el, my holy guardian angel, to let it go, to stop dwelling on that world, infinitely remote was his voice, perhaps because I was trying to block him out, making him a delusion, more than a reality, yet however faded his voice was, I heard it.
My evil destiny, I knew was in the hands of Azalea, and I knew somewhere along life’s line she’d pursue me again (perhaps soon), as if in ecstasy and to prove, indeed prove, her mysterious dominion, and domain, infatuated me, but I knew on the other hand, I had to flee her, for it was in the long run hopeless, vanity perhaps, but flee nonetheless. Officiousness, she had stepped into my life, between me and her ambition, where in truth I had not sought her out, and now would have to run to the very ends of the earth to avoid her.
Again and again, in my secret sleep, during the second week of my stay at the hospital, for my wounds and cuts, bruises and so forth were healing nicely, Serr’el, came into my mind, there was a war going on around me, and I was panic-stricken, Azalea and Serr’el.
“I know who he is,” said Azalea, one morning, “…whence came he and why?” she asked.
I gave no answer, and her form burned with hate, lit up like a burning heath. Serr’el had been blocking her, and she was frustrated. And in her eyes was bitter mischief. Poor justification for sticking around my bedside, and she forced me to notice her.
The last day in bed, just before I was to be released, I woke up, and she was in my bed, naked, and her huge snake at the end of it, she was affectionate, and full of folly. She whispered to me, her body and bosoms an inch from me,
“Who thwarted my ambition that in this, inherits an arch-enemy, give yourself to me, and show your recognized rival, you are mine.”
I replied, “Evil genius, with much majestic wisdom, the omnipresence of God, and Christ, and my guardian angel are watching (assumptions inspired me), you have forced your way into my bed, beautiful as you are with the ages behind you, with unscrupulous confidence, be cast into the Prison House of Angels, or to the abyss, but out of my bed.”
She was now feeling terror, as she looked in my face and saw firmness. An absolute frenzy of fury came about her. Then Serr’el interrupted, he had chains with him, and she saw this, a crimson burning belt to bind the Doer of evil. A facade of black horror covered her face.
She became helpless, and in front of my eyes, utter weakness befell her, and submission to his subjective will. And as he wound the burning chain around her, and in its maddening confinement, her hereditary temper went out of control, a murmur came from her lips, under her reduction in power and influence, the chain burning through her, to be enslaved.
At this point, I knew the masquerade was over, and I now indulged more in free breathing, no longer in a suffocating room, she was gone, let me not say with no ‘I’m sorry,’ or contemptible motive, she was a scoundrel, yet she taught me, I also could be one, a villain in the making, if Serr’el was not there to help, she would have dogged me unto death, to follow her.
Upon leaving this little clinic of a broken down infirmary, I headed onto my destinations, I staggered against the hospital walls, and they asked me to stay a few more days, but no, I commanded my spirit, and headed on out to the grounds beyond the hospital walls. Brief indeed was this moment to be, as I turned back only once to see the hospital, and sheer strength kept me walking forward.
“Latch the door,” I murmured, “I’m not coming back.”
I no longer was outright, or wholly confused, as I stood waiting for bus, to take me to Yogyakarta, so I continue my visit to the great shrine, the boldest Buddhist shrine in the world, and there I found an extremely calmness walking its grounds, Borobudur: I must claim it to be the second site in the world, where I have felt these impulses of peace and gratitude, and calmness.
“The Hotel Room”
And so the once fleeing shepherd casts back his shadow, to the once pursuing wolf, now in a garment of burning chains. The she-wolf, Azalea (whom in the process of this story, the writer has given so many names to her), was thrown-as if a leper-into an abyss, a prison house for angels, with no door to escape from. And he, who once breathed in coeval, left it with its immortal agony. He was not denied at the end, any opportunity, whatsoever, being a Christian. In-between, between the flight and hotel, for better put, between the flight and the crash, his angelic friend (Serr’el), had never left his side. Perhaps it was his pride, that brought him into the reel of Azalea, yet he did show a capacity for endurance when confronted, tolerating the alien force within its anguished dust, in its own land. Thus, out of that enduring dust, as if fighting on a river of ice, at times soundless, he did face the supernatural, yet now it had almost faded into a zenith.
Here was an encounter he thought, an angelic force who did not fling its power over old Jerusalem, or for that matter, old Rome: who did not knock on temple doors, which appeared to come out of some Gothic dream, an arch-enemy of God himself. In addition, passing by Bishops and Saints to subdue him, whom was of little value to his old friends, and perhaps to the world at large, and here in his hotel room-his last day in Java, after seeing the sites he had come to see, he turned from the window, it was as if he anticipated her voice, the sound of her voice, motionless, a thin look across the room, curiosity arouse in him again, as if hoof beats galloped in his heart: he became weightless, and all that curiosity dissolved like a mass of burning autumn dead leaves, he remembered the words of Serr’el, “Let it go!”
As he sat on the edge of his bed, he remembered-the many corpses that lay in his path, in the dark vacancies of the Indonesian jungle, where the plane had crashed, a month or so prior. The bodies were cut up pretty bad, he thought at the time, as if the bodies were used for bayonet practice.
He remembered now the ugly sight of them, the un-stitched flesh!
He was in, had been in a spiritual contemptuous war, with all the ramifications of a real war, the one he was in, in 1971, in Vietnam, was less (for he knew who he was fighting, and he knew the odds, and he had the upper hand, the newer weapons, equipment).
Faithful he was, and never insubordinate and he tried to be invisible; likened to this little war, now an old event.
Gleaming and glinting he sat on the edge of his bed, watched the news on television. Crumbled some crackers in his hand, and slowly ate them, piece by piece. He knew somehow, most people could not escape their fate, destiny, or doom; but he learned in this odyssey, it was faith that brought him through, just having one little muster seed, did it.
I confess that I busied myself the rest of the day, thinking about the flight in the morning, back to Guam, then Japan, and onto San Francisco, and then home to, St. Paul, Minnesota; also thinking about this matter of resolving this enigma, that dwelled in the supernatural realm, and dwelled inside my head. I said: “what a fool I had been, not to have gone directly to Serr’el in the first place,” although in fact, it came to mind. I now said to myself, “I didn’t want to be put into a hold with not knowing more about this enigma.”
The morrow having arrived, I caught a taxi from the hotel to the airport, owing to circumstances, I was told, that the plane would not fly. This I thought strange, for there were no forthcoming storms that I had heard about, just a smooth southerly breeze; but I could do nothing about it, only return to my hotel room and take leisure.
The following day, the plane was ready, and crowded with passengers, everything was as it would seem to be, with a normal bustle for an airport, and plane readying for a voyage, the attendants were checking everyone out to insure they had seatbelts on. I arrived, I noticed ten-minutes late, and got a little especial attention for doing so. As I sat down in my seat, my old inquisitiveness now returned-obviously, not quite a settled point yet with me, I wondered what the she-devil was doing, where she was, although I had my ideas. “Why do we think like that,” I asked myself, and now the plane was on the runway.
One thing however, annoyed me not a little, this plane had an odor to it, an exceeding discomfort, it emitted a strong, disagreeable stench, evidently one I could detect one that brought me back to the she-devil, for everyone was talking and enjoying themselves, thus, evidently I was the only one detecting it.
Now I was aware that Serr’el was somewhere around me, and this odor was intended especially for me, to remind me of my misanthropic friend, which took immediately my inquisitiveness, if not prying, away.
Thus, no sooner had I dropped the idea of guessing where she was and what she was doing, reaching the conclusion I did not want to know, the odor vanished, as fast as it had appeared. Now and hereafter, I knew.
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