Brian staring out the window of a Cessna 406, a small airplane from New York to the tundra of Canada oil fields to live with his father for the summer. He is thirteen years old and the only passenger on this plane, piloted by a man named either Jim or Jake, a name Brian cannot remember. His parents have just divorced. He is overwhelmed with what he calls the Secret, something he knows about hismother that makes him sad. The pilot shows Brian how to fly the airplane. He recaps of the divorce and remember his custody was placed with his mother except for the summers when he would live with his father.Brian sees the pilot rubbing his shoulder and smells a fart. The pilot seems to have no control over the gas he passes, and he rubs his arm and shoulder.Brian remembers the ride to theairport with his mother taking to him about the divorce. He couldn’t tell her the secret. She gives him a hatchet. She told Brian to try it one, even though he didn't want to, he didn't want to se his mom angry.The pilot had tells Brian that he has never felt anything like this pain before. Tells Brian that he thinks his chest is coming apart. Brian knows now that that man is having a heart attack.Brian knows he is totally alone in a plane with no pilot and the horror that thought brings utterly stops him.
Brian is frightened, His thinks about, giving the pilot CPR, and trying to figure out what he should do to land the plane. He asks for help on the station 221. He knows that he has to get the headset off the pilot. In the process his elbow bumps the wheel, pushes it in, and starts theplane on a shallow dive. He levels off once again. He puts on the headset and microphone switch and calls out for help, but no one answers. he hears a voice telling him to do. He loses contact.
He throws the headset to the floor and thinks that all is hopeless. He realizes that he only has two choices: wait for the plane to run out of gas and fall or push the throttle in and make it happen sooner.He continues to keep it level and try the radio periodically. He thinks the steps to land as safely as possible: glide down towards a clearing, slow the plane by pulling the nose back up, and then hit. With so many lakes below him, Brian knows that he will have to land there, especially because the trees would be certain death.The engine coughs, roars violently for a second, and then dies.
Brianrealizes that there aren’t any lakes now below him. He fears turning the plane to find one. He sees a L shaped lake, he begins to fall slowly, and then everything seems to happen at once. The plane slams into the lake, bounces once on the water, and Brian can hear someone screaming. He doesn’t realize it’s his own voice. He pulls himself out of the front window and swims for the surface. Hevomits, then swims without knowing what he is or what he is doing. He is still screaming when his hands reach the grass along the shoreline, and he blacks out.
While unconscious, Brian remembers the Secret. He and his friend, Terry, had been riding bikes, he saw his mother sitting in a station wagon with a strange man with blonde hair. Then, he opens his eyes and screams. His legs are still in thewater. And he feels pain in all his body. However, he also is happy because he is alive. He blacks out again and doesn’t awaken again until evening. He lays on a couple of bushes and sleeps again.
He awakens in panic, because it seems so dark. He is in pain all over, bruised with pain in his head. However, nothing seems broken. He thinks for a moment about the dead pilot. He comes vividly awake whenthe mosquitoes begin to attack. Only when the sun is fully up the mosquitoes disappear.
Brian finally stands up and looks at his surroundings. He realizes that if he had come down just a little to the left, he would have hit the rocks and destroyed. He wonders if it was just good luck, but reflects that if he had good luck, his parents wouldn’t have divorced, the pilot wouldn’t have died, and...
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