The girl flying the plane is very pretty. I love blondes. But this one looks to be smart. Her pilot’s uniform is highly decorated: “Captain” is displayed proudly on her arm and is shiny from over-polishing. I have to have her. No one else will do. The woman who brought me on the plane is old and frail, but this new one will be a joy. She’s strong, she’s smart, and she’s got authority.
I cackle to myself as I seep into the woman’s skin. My formless self vibrates as a chill goes down my host’s spine. The hot sense of power flows through me as I search her muscles for a way into her mind, a way to get past her walls.
I sense her name through her flesh.
* * *
The chill down my spine started it all. I panted as an overwhelming feeling of dread enveloped me. My heart was pounding, and one by one, my muscles began to twitch. The taste of something putrid and acidic rose up in the back of my throat as a rotten scent hit my nose. I grabbed the underside of my seat as I shook and shuddered.
“Cap, you okay?”
“Yeah, Michael, I’m fine. Let me go to the bathroom.”
I ran from my copilot, from my cockpit, and I tried to run from myself. As I dashed down the aisle, passengers on the commercial airline stared. Something sinister in me didn’t care.
Let them watch.
* * *
“Let them watch,” I hiss as I work through her spinal column and closer to the base of her skull.
She’s a tough one, hard to control. Her strong will pushes against me unconsciously. But there’s no hope for her. The muscle spasms are already taking hold, my presence rising up in her throat. She is barely able to lock the door to the bathroom before I am in her mind.
* * *
My breath came in short spurts as I leaned against the bathroom wall. My heart seemed to beat a thousand times a minute.
“Why is this happening?” My head drooped and my voice broke.
Then I realized: why was I just sitting there, doing nothing? I was better than that. I stood up straight, splashed some cold water on my face. Looking in the mirror, I said, “You’re gorgeous, you’re smart, and you’re the best pilot in Massachusetts.”
With that moment of encouragement I began to leave.
The taste in the back of my throat suddenly intensified, and I felt as if I had swallowed a mouthful of decayed flesh. I bent over the toilet and wretched, emptying my stomach of my lunch. But the taste would not go away.
With a jolt, my all my muscles tensed at the same time. I felt my back forced to straighten, and I found myself rigid, hands at my sides, knees locked.
The light around me began to dim around the edges, until all was dark. The light was replaced by my memories: a little girl, fighting the people who picked on my little brother and winning; years in high school, seeing through every boy who tried to make me a woman before I was even eighteen; college years; flight school; life flashed before my eyes.
A sinister voice from within me whispered. Yes!
* * *
I’ve done it! Every action, every memory is mine. My new host is tough, smart, and every bit the fighter. But she’s prideful, believing she’s above herself. That was my way in, the spark of darkness in everyone that allows me to take over. I chose well. I can feel her emotions now. She is scared, but somewhat determined and relaxed. I have never encountered a host such as this, one not panicking as I gain control. She thinks she will pull through this. This will be fun.
I’m done looking at her petty memories. We stride out of the bathroom. I can feel her pushing against the movement, but the resistance won’t show in our gait.
At the door to the cockpit, I raise our hand to open it, only to find the door has been locked. I raise our fist and pound on the thin plastic. Our voice comes out as a raspy cackle. “Let me in!”
We howl as I throw us against the door. We scream, wail, and shout every noise we can sound to open that door.
A man places his hand on our shoulder.
“Ma’am, calm down.”
“I’ll show you calm,” we snarl as I force her to grab his arm.
He screams as we snap-kick his stomach and step on his neck with our feet.
I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t…
Don’t fight it.
* * *
I can feel some resistance building up in my new toy. “Don’t fight it,” I whisper to her as I use her body to snap another passenger’s neck.
No other passengers dare to rise against us. We look around, and our eyes meet several wide-eyed weaklings who immediately look away for our harsh gaze. An elongated “s” escapes from our mouth as her lips are forced up into a snarl. With one brutal kick, the door to the cockpit flies open.
The copilot is sitting in the pilot’s chair, hands on the controls, trying to turn the plane around to land.
“Not so fast,” We whisper.
“Stop, Captain! You have to stop! Please! Clare!”
As we rush at the copilot, he stands and tries to dodge us. I use the girl’s leg to knee the copilot in his groin. As he doubles over, we grab his hair and slam his head on the back of a chair until the chair is red with his blood and his eyes are blank.
I stare at the grotesque mess of grey, sticky matter oozing from the man’s head. I love it, and short-lived satisfaction wells up in me.
“You can’t do this.”
And then I find myself without control of the girl.
* * *
“You can’t do this.”
I had to do something. Then the taste in my mouth began to fade, and I found I could move little by little again. Michael’s death had angered me, tortured me, and made me hate the evil thing that was somehow occupied me and tasted like spoiled meat. My pride hurt, and I had to somehow get back at this . . . thing.
I sat in the seat, the controls under my hands. I steered the plane back on course, convinced the battle was over. I relaxed into the back of my seat as salt began to stain my cheeks. I wet the inside of my mouth, trying to forget its taste. Despite my pain, the corners of my mouth weakly pulled up into a smile.
* * *
I shove against her mind. I grapple for control as I growl again. Not yet.
I’m in. With a mental shove, I force her to once again stop moving. But I forget the plane. I forget Michael had turned off the autopilot. I forget the earth below.
The passengers behind us, once in a quiet shock, are now screaming.
The ground approaches fast. I can’t stop the plane.
Desperately I search the girl’s memory, trying to find some way to stop her, stop the ground from flying toward us. If she dies, so will I.
Nothing comes. I have not taken the time to search her mind well enough, to know what she knows. I stare at the ground with a resigned sense of hopelessness. I give the pilot just enough control to move, hoping she will take the plane back on course, hoping she will turn on the autopilot. But she does no such thing. She moves her hands, tenses up, and relaxes back into the seat, ignoring the controls.
Fear wells up in me. The cold sense of demise hits me as I sit in the back of her mind, waiting for her to take control.
I hear a sweet voice in my head rise up from everywhere and nowhere.
“You can’t hold me anymore.”
* * *
The ground was coming fast. I didn’t know what else to do, and with that admission, my heart sank. Whatever was within me had control and didn’t know how to fly a plane. Like a slap in the face, the realization hit me.
If I died, so would this force.
I smiled. And then I realized I could smile! My hands moved. I could flex my muscles and control my own actions. My automatic reaction was to grab the controls to the plane, pull back hard, and turn the autopilot back on. But I hesitated.
If I lived, so would this thing. It would continue to terrorize people long after my time. Now was my chance to stop this. I could stop this. The families of the passengers would be devastated. My reputation as one of the greatest woman pilots in the east would be ruined. But the world’s sanity and safety means more than one plane-full of traumatized patrons, most of them elderly or full of themselves. Like I had been.
I relaxed back against the seat, and the wracking pain of suppressed sobs beat my ribcage. The taste in my mouth grew strong again.
A manic giggle escaped my lips as I murmured to it, “You can’t hold me anymore.”