Flight of the Phoenix
(Again I don't own anything.)
I am in charge
Things were going well. The new body of the plane had been reconfigured, but before they had started, the fuel had been drained into several metal barrels and stored together a short distance away. The generator, filled to capacity with some of the fuel, was started by Davis in order to supply electricity for the many tools they would be using. Now the task that stood before them was removing the broken wing. Part of the landing gear had been found when Towns went to search for Liddle and was being reattached to the underside of the good wing. When he finished, A.J. then proceeded to cut through the metal remnant of the broken wing in order for them to be able to mate the new wing to the plane.
Elliott and Towns were on top of the fuselage watching A.J. cutting away the stump of the broken wing with an electric saw. Two strong willed men with equally strong egos, they began to argue. This was not just a disagreement, it was more like two bulls fighting for dominance.
"The wing has to be removed at a precise angle or it won't fit correctly!" Elliott yelled.
"I know that, Elliott," their noses nearly touching "A.J. knows what he's doing!" Towns yelled back, clearly irritated at the smaller man, who dared to supersede his supposed sense of authority.
"It should have been removed by now! We're already behind schedule!"
"We're going as fast as we can!"
No one noticed the oil soaked rags that laid on top of the fuel barrels. No one noticed that the cool night breeze had caught some of the sparks from the fire and deposited them on the rags. No one saw the rags ignite. No one suspected what would happen next.
The explosion was so powerful that both Elliott and Towns were blown off the top of the plane landing several feet away on the sand with a thud. Had there been a city or a village close by they would have seen the fireball as it rose from the dunes. Luckily no one was seriously injured. All they could do was try to protect the remaining fuel and wait until morning to assess the damage.
Wandering through pieces of burned paper and charred barrels, all they could do was protect the remaining fuel barrels by storing them behind a dune and well away from the work area. Now there was no choice, they had to work during the day to conserve what fuel was left.
The heat was searing as the day wore on but the crew made the best of it. After mating the recycled wing to the opposite side of the plane (not withstanding the near accident when the wing broke the rusted chains that held it and very nearly took out Sammi) everyone seemed to be in a celebratory mood – everyone, that is, except for Elliott.
To Elliott, the micro-managing obsessive genius he was, this activity was a waste of time and energy. No one seemed to care if they ever got out. Never had he felt so socially ostracized as he felt right now. Didn't they realize that dancing around made them hot and perspire more? Their water was limited and would soon be precious enough to kill for. There would be enough time to celebrate after they flew out of this hell hole and made it to safety..
Watching from just inside the fuselage, he could see Kelly dancing with Towns to a tune from A.J.'s CD player, a beautiful smile stretched across her tanned face. Secretly he wished it was him dancing with her, that it was him she laughed with as she spun, her ginger hair catching a few rays of the sun.
Shaking his head in disgust he retreated into the fuselage to continue his calculations, changing a few specifications on the small face shields to make sure they were aerodynamic. The force of the wind coming across the wings could not be compromised or it could seriously hinder the flight of the plane.
As he tried to write in his notepad he found his foot tapping to the music. It was difficult to keep his mind on the problem he was trying to solve. Taking off his glasses he rubbed his eyes and sighed.
"Elliott?" he heard Kelly's voice behind him so he turned to look at her. "Come and join us," she invited.
"Oh," he looked at her pleasantly surprised. "Ah, well thank you, Kelly, but I really need to keep working. The sooner we finish the plane, the sooner we can get out of this awful place and back to civilization."
"Yes, you're right, ofcourse, but sometimes you have to let off some steam. I mean, we really did something great today. All of us. Even you, Elliott. If it wasn't for your knowledge and skill we'd have no hope. Thank you, Elliott."
Her warm expression made him smile. "Thank you, Kelly," he nodded, touched by her gratitude. Under her gray coveralls she wore a dirty pink tank top that complimented her lightly tanned cheeks.
"Well, come out if you feel like it. I'll save a dance for you," she smiled sweetly and left. Elliott watched her walk away and smiled to himself. She was a sweetheart and he really liked her. Like her? Everything in him wanted to hump her like a dog. "What if I did?" he thought. "What if I threw her on the ground and humped her till I was blue in the face? What would she do?"
"Ridiculous," he scoffed, shaking his head as though the thoughts would tumble out his ear and crash on the floor. Had it been the local tavern he wouldn't hesitate dancing with her. The thought of it aroused him and he closed his eyes. Taking deep breaths he closed his eyes controlling himself. Kelly was his friend, not his lover, although he'd be happy enough being her lover. But now was not the time nor the place.
Shortly they were all back to work on the new plane. Using Elliott's new modifications, the crew set out to put the face shields on the wings and secure safety straps for each person. Elliott's patience was beginning to wear thin. The "crew" worked slowly taking several breaks, which was a constant irritation to him. If they hadn't spent the greater part of the morning partying they would have been done long before now. As he scolded them, their resentment for him seemed to grow but he ignored their looks and remarks.
As they took another break Raddy, the only one of the workers that, according to Elliott, had a lick of sense, found some black paint and wrote the new name of the plane on its side – PHOENIX. As far as Elliott was concerned there was no need for a name but he said nothing. His concern was the plane and whether or not it'd be able to fly and if there was enough room for a take off.
With his notebook in hand he walked the length they had that was not barred by dunes. It was short the necessary length, dangerously short, for a take off. If the right speed was not achieved by the time it made it to a certain point they would plunge to their deaths over a cliff. Looking over the side of the cliff he felt dizzy. There was nothing below but jagged sandstone.
"Oh, dear God!" he exclaimed as his legs collapsed under him
A kind of peace came over the crew as the day wore on. They were all tired from their days work. Towns was finishing up tightening some bolts on the engines as he talked with Kelly, or rather flirted., as a cool breeze blew in from somewhere, making them feel somewhat better, when the peace was shattered by A.J.
"OKAY I NEED EVERYONE OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!!" he demanded loudly
When they went to see what was wrong, A.J. stood holding an empty plastic jerry can in one hand and a pistol in the other.
Elliott heard the ruckus from inside the fuselage and could see A.J. as he confronted the group, waving the pistol threatening in the air.. Now the ball was in his park. Walking out he gave him a stern look.
"Planning on shooting someone, A.J.?" All eyes were on Elliott. "While you all have been sleeping I've been working," he informed them sternly. "And, therefore, I require more water."
"Couldn't you have just ask?" Towns stuck his face in Elliott's.
"Because I am in charge of building MY plane and I don't need to ask anyone for anything," Elliott scolded the Captain, emphasizing his dominance. .
"We could all die of thirst." Towns growled, as he grabbed his shirt and shook him. He was the pilot and he as in charge, how dare Elliott attempt to supersede him.
Throwing his notebook in Towns face Elliott shoved him away. "You NEED me, Towns," Elliott pointed, his voice was one of warning. "You all need me," he waved his finger in their faces. "Everyone here is dispensable, except for me. Don't forget that," he finalized loudly.
Looking them over, his point being made, he returned to the inside of the fuselage.
"I can't believe he said that to you," A.J. said to Towns as they sat at a table made from metal storage chests and doors. "Let's kick his ass."
"Yeah, that pipsqueak isn't the boss of us," Sammi scoffed.
"No," Towns shook his head. "Not yet. Let's wait until we get the plane built before we do anything."
"You wouldn't!" Kelly gasped.
"Oh, wouldn't I?" Towns cut his eyes at her.