The roar of the engine frightened the natives, causing them to take cover on the ground. The propeller sent wet leaves and vines like miniature missiles flying in their direction, forcing them to stay prone until the plane pulled away.
As he taxied down the strip, John cranked the flap setting to full in preparation for a short field take-off. As the wing’s trailing edges lengthened, he turned to check on Steve. His buddy was still restless, and not of much use. John set the brakes, running the engine to maximum power. The brakes groaned and the wheels longed to be free. John saw a blur pass before him as he realized the arrow assault had resumed. Something else caught his attention, and he saw how a character ran full speed toward the plane, a stone axe raised in attack.
John released the brakes and plowed full power toward the end of the runway, but not before the foe released his ax. Striking Steve’s window, it splintered the glass like a complex spider web.
John held the yoke back as far as possible to keep the nose wheel up. So far he had eaten a lot of ground and still hadn’t gotten off the strip as the long wet grass slowed them. He pulled the throttle to idle and crawled to a stop. At the end of the runway, he increased power to turn around before setting the brakes again. “I’ve got to make it this time,” he groaned, clenching the yoke with his left hand. With his right, he pushed the throttle.
John released the brakes and began rolling. It wouldn’t be too hard to pick up speed as he headed down hill. He looked down the runway to see four people running in defiance toward him. As the plane lifted, he was encouraged as the sound of grass scraping the wheels was replaced with silence.
“We’re flying!” John shrieked.
As he neared the end of the runway, still only five feet above field, he tried to pull the yoke back. Nothing, it wouldn’t budge. He glanced right and noticed the unconscious Steve slumped across the controls.
“Oh no, you don’t,” John said. He pulled Steve upright.
Steve came to and yelped as the plane headed straight for the natives. He closed his eyes, anticipating the deadly propellers slashing them. Instead, the equally horrified people ducked to the ground as John pulled up and to the right. The plane responded with a slow roll as it climbed higher into the late morning sky.
Jeffrey W. Bennett, is the author of Commitment-A Novel and other non-fiction books, novels and periodicals.