Excerpt for The Lost, the Found, and the Grail Within; a parable of length by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Lost, the Found, and the

Grail Within

A Parable of Length

Ross C Miller

Skye Run

While the people and places in the parable included in this book are supposed to resemble groups of people and a number of places, generally, any resemblance to any specific person or place is purely coincidental and unintentional.

All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2018 Skye Run

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system without expressed permission in writing from the publisher.

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Cover Design by RC Miller

Cover Construction by RC Miller

First Edition

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 069206608X

ISBN-13: 978-0692066089 (Skye Run)

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Author’s note:

I’ve written this book conversationally, so it’s not as dry as it could have been. I have a little bit of an accent. Although mostly Mid-Western, it also includes some Southern, and that shows. I also use ellipses to show hesitancy, uncertainness, qualifications, amendments to statements, and additions to what was just said. Some people can talk in a constant string. Their verbal punctuation, however, is questionable, at best. Most people can’t. While many people don’t tend to think while they’re speaking, my characters and I do. That’s the way I write.



Part 1 - The Parable

Chapter 1 - The Beginning

Chapter 2 - During

Chapter 3 - Before

Chapter 4 - After

Chapter 5 - The … Continuance

Part 2 - The Explanation


Chapter 1 - Jannik

Chapter 2 - Maggie

Chapter 3 - Chris Christian

Chapter 4 - Tayna

Chapter 5 - Danny

Chapter 6 - Nicky and Regina

Chapter 7 - Erich

Chapter 8 - Mike

Chapter 9 - Carol

Chapter 10 - Matthew

Part 3 - Fact and Fiction

Chapter 1 - The Whys

Chapter 2 - History

Part 4 - Fighting the Good Fight

Questions 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Part 5 - Controversialities


Touchy Subjects 1 2 3 4 5

Epilogue - Summing Up


This book is very different from what I normally write. I’ve been writing some pretty dark stuff, some humor, a gaming tactics guide, and I’ve started a science fiction series. On the other hand, that makes four different categories, right there. So, maybe different for others is more same for me.

The Lost, the Found, and the Grail Within is a mixture of fiction in Part 1, nonfiction in Parts 2 and 3, and undiluted Christian Philosophy in Parts 4 and 5.

The word undiluted might have gotten your attention. I hope so. I’ll explain about my choice of that word in a little while.

While Jesus’ parables were always short and direct, they carried a moderately veiled meaning, well-hidden for those who were the subject, and for those who didn’t care to hear truth. Or, maybe, they refused to understand the parable. …or at least claimed not to. If they admitted that they understood it, they might also have had to admit that they were deficient according to their own standards. …if not admit it to others, then to themselves, at least.

My parable is in five chapters, averaging about nine small parts each for the last four of those. So, it isn’t all that short. The meaning isn’t really all that hidden, either. The moral is even included.

That being the case, I suppose you could call my parable a failure. Technically, I suppose it is. I can’t and won’t argue that point.

But, here’s a thought.

Does considering my parable a technical failure actually have anything to do with my parable, my writing, or me?

Each chapter in Part 1 deals with a particular timeframe.

Rather than specific made-up people, the characters are supposed to portray a number of different mindsets that people have where Christianity is concerned. These mindsets are quite real, in fact. Some of the characters are designed to include more than just one of those mindsets, as do many people. In doing it this way, it’s entirely possible that some aspect of any one, or more, of the main characters could resemble you or some specific person you might personally know.

This is unintentional, of course.

It’s not any given person, living, dead, or fictional, who should be recognized, as much as it is just the general category. As you read my parable, it’s probably better if you don’t think in terms of trying to recognize anyone you might know. Hopefully, you’ll recognize that one or more of the characters could possibly be a reflection of you. If you don’t see yourself, and only see others, then you’ve probably missed the point. But if I can get you even that far, then I may be coming close to what I’m attempting to accomplish. And I have to admit that, at one time or another in my life, I can see a little of myself in just about all of them, and a whole lot of me in some. …like Erich, Mike, and Matthew.

Except for one character, I haven’t added much of a physical description for any of them. Some are given a few minimal personal characteristics. Most items of description are only implied. This is entirely intentional. The specific color, race, geography, economic class, gender, age, names, and whether they might be a redheaded stepchild (like me, according to some), or whatever, isn’t what’s really important about any of the people in this book. Adding physical descriptions could help you see someone you know. If you can’t specifically visualize most of the characters at all, then you might be on the right track.

The situation in my parable notwithstanding, this book is about Life. And it’s about looking inside you, at the core of your being.

I’ve done this. …looked at my own core. …a number of times. I didn’t much care for what I saw when I actually started looking. I’m improving, and I very well know that I’m far from perfect. And I know that I’m not the ultimate authority on anything. Not even close. …particularly on Jesus or Christianity. I know a large number of things about me where I absolutely need to improve a huge amount more. …which isn’t to say that there are only that many. I need to improve in all of them. All of them need work. A lot of work. Some just need a heckuvalot more work than others.

So, life. Yes.

Life is a process of learning. We all make mistakes. I’ve made plenty of my own, and I still do. I’ve probably made enough for me and the next five people, as well. If everything works on averages, then somebody out there is doing great!

But, we learn from most of those mistakes. Or should, anyway.

It’s not just the mistakes we don’t learn from that are the most dangerous. …regardless of whether we (or anyone else) consider them mistakes, or not. …or whether they actually are mistakes, or not. The accuracy and truthfulness of the information that we’re given … regardless of when it was given to us, or by whom … on which we base the choices that we make, however, is right up there close to the top of the list of dangerous things to learn from.

That by whom thing is going to be a tough one. But, we’ll get to that.

That’s something thing else I want to address, though … accuracy and truthfulness … using nothing that isn’t already open and available to everyone. …not just to Christians, but to everyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear. In a nutshell, I’m talking about the Christian Bible, with nothing added or removed. That would be why I chose the word undiluted. I am going to try, however, to point out how a few items of current wisdom aren’t quite as accurate as we think.

While this book initially appears to be about Religion, that isn’t exactly so. It is, however, about Philosophy and Truth. …the Truth according to the Christian Bible, without being watered down, or modified to be contemporarily palatable or politically correct. …and without 2,000 years of baggage that has been added onto it.

Ouch! That one may have gotten your attention.

But, yes. Truth. The way that it appears that Jesus intended it, according to New Testament. However, even if you’re a lifelong Christian, it’s probably not quite the same truth you grew up with. It’s certainly not the same truth I grew up with, being raised Catholic, in a small town in northern Vermont. This is the unassuming and unadulterated Truth straight from the New Testament, in Jesus’ words where possible, without focusing on any one part, sentence, verse, chapter, or book.

My purpose is to bring up some of the misconceptions and half-truths that have been allowed to accumulate over the centuries, and present the information as it seems it was originally intended. I will bring up passages from the entire Bible, though, to illustrate my points.

The Old Testament is the same as the Tanakh. …although there are people who will point out nitpicky details and claim they don’t resemble each other at all. Since Jesus was a Jew, the same as most of the earliest Christians, it was included to give us a basis for understanding for Christianity. While the Old Testament contains the origins of everything, it’s mostly the history of the ancient Jews. It tells about their own origins, what was required to be or become a Jew, and how most of them were incapable of remaining focused on and trusting in the Lord. More importantly, it foretells the coming of the Messiah. …the Christ. It also illustrates many abject lessons in Faith. …the rewards the Jews received for having it firmly in place, and the consequences if they didn’t.

It wasn’t Moses getting lost that had the Jews wandering around in the desert for forty years, as the old joke goes. The Lord was leading them as a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. They had a reliable guide. He could have brought them into the Promised Land at any time. And, in fact, he did. They were afraid to go and claim that land from the giants. They didn’t trust that the Lord would help them, as he’d specifically promised them. That lack of trust was what turned them back into the desert, and kept them wandering until the decision-makers, almost the entire older generation, were dead.

Much of the Old Testament, after the writings of Moses, relates events just like that one.

The Jews wanted a king, just like everyone else had. The Lord had always said that they were to control themselves. …govern themselves with only him as their guide. But he assigned them their king, as they wished. Saul, who was questionable, at best.

He didn’t give them their king because they asked for one. He gave them their king to teach them an important lesson. He used the situation to be a catalyst for other events, the same as God will use both good and bad things to teach us all, and to usher in the fruition of his plan, when it becomes time.

So. The ancient Jews were … deficient. Okay. Great. I don’t think I’m going to dwell on that point. I am, too. We all are. Anyone who doesn’t understand that one single, simple thing is going to be in for a pretty big surprise, sooner or later.

God still does the same things now as he did then. He gives us plenty of opportunities to figure it all out, and put our faith and trust where it ought to be. In him. Some of us do. Most of us don’t. …pretty much like the ancient Jews.

However. Just because the Old Testament has to do with the Jews, that doesn’t make it entirely invalid. It applied to a different time and people, and a different set of circumstances. …and it was always intended to be built upon.

Matthew 5:17 - Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

The later prophets, when they weren’t trying to bring the ancient Jews back to where they were supposed to be, were often foretelling … and quite accurately, I might add … the coming of the Christ. The Messiah. Jesus.

Jews, before the time of Jesus, were very big on History. Reciting lineages was evidence of this, and they could recite them at length. …those lineages being moderately equivalent to a person’s credentials. They didn’t have movies, TV, internet, or phones. They didn’t even have books, for the most part. Information, for most people, was passed by word of mouth on a daily and nightly basis over the course of millennia.

History was told and repeated so many times before Moses, it’s possible that there could have been some data erosion. But data erosion doesn’t exactly matter for our purposes.

The Old Testament has its greatest relevance if used as a reference to understand how the coming of Jesus matched the foretelling of it. Jesus was born a Jew, and he was a model of what they were supposed to be. But … the same as in so many things, if we can actually see them … the Jews were only part of the journey. They weren’t the destination.

Most political statements made in the last two decades have been presented without context. As opposed to those political statements, I’ve tried hard to keep my Bible citations within the original context. But, regardless of whether I’ve stated things to your satisfaction, or not, you should research and verify anything I say about the Bible and Christianity. Come to your own conclusions.

I’ve found that I like the New International Version Study Bible the best. Notes and comments are included to make it easier to understand the more difficult and obscure concepts and verses. They also make the Bible far easier to read, considering those explanations. I’ve read it completely through, including all those notes, more than a half-dozen times.

While I’ve also included a few opposed opinions, I’ve proceeded on the assumption that anyone hostile to Christians, or not open to a reasonable discussion of this sort, probably won’t be reading this book. Subsequently, I won’t be heaping abuse on myself in these pages the way Erich, from the parable, probably would.

So. That’s the point we’ll start at.

That all being said… Please expect and excuse any foul and harsh language the characters in the parable may use. While I don’t use that kind of language, personally, I do tend to make my characters as lifelike and believable as possible. I’ve included it in my parable only to illustrate a number of valid points.

February 2018

Part 1

The Parable

Chapter 1: The Beginning

“Who’s onsite doing the pre-vals?” The man in the charcoal grey pinstriped silk suit asked.

The stiffly starched cuffs of his white broadcloth cotton shirt showed past the ends of the jacket sleeves only far enough that the sparkle of the 24K gold and black onyx cufflinks could be seen. You would have had to get a little closer to see that the image on the cufflinks and the matching tie tack and lapel pin had all been engraved with a likeness of the Archangel Michael preparing to drive a spear into a serpent. Small but noticeable differences in the images would have been proof enough that the onyxes had all been hand carved. The creases in his pants looked like they’d been pressed nearly to the point of being able to shave hair.

He reached to the side without looking. He knew the tray would be wherever it needed to be. It had better be there, anyway.

The young woman had to reposition the tray quickly as he dropped the empty glass onto it. Then she had to reposition it quickly again so when his fingers closed, they would close on the next whiskey on the rocks in a lowball glass waiting for him, replacing the one he’d just finished.

The glacier-ice cubes in the glass were so cold they had already brought the temperature of the otherwise straight three fingers (four of hers, and the amount had to be exact) of Johnny Walker Blue Label to an almost painful level. That was, however, the temperature at which he preferred it.

Even though the dehumidifier ran constantly, the glass had condensed enough moisture out of the air that water began to pool around the base. Setting the glass on a napkin was unacceptable, because the napkin might stick to the glass. Instead, the coasters contained a well of silica gel pellets to absorb what excess moisture they might.

If the glass dripped as he took it, he wouldn’t be pleased, and he would say so. …and probably harshly. But if it did, it also meant the Johnny Blue would likely be watered down enough by the melting ice that he’d probably say something about that, too. She would have to time it closer for next round … which should be in about twenty minutes … or she wouldn’t likely stay in this job much longer. She hadn’t had it that long, as it was.

He was not a patient man. She’d found that out quickly.

His impatience was already showing. …not at her, yet. It probably would, shortly though, unless he started getting some answers that he liked. The rest of the staff was aware of that, too.

He normally drank an entire fifth in one sitting; a little more than three shots in each glass, with imported ice from the icebergs floating in the Antarctic Ocean.

There’s a market for everything. …if you can afford it.

This was only his second round. He wouldn’t notice if it was watered down after this one.

“In Orlando?”

“No, genius. In Texas. Get y’alls head outta y’ass. Of course, in Orlando! Where did you think I was talking about?”

“Bart, Jimmy and Pete.”

“Who did them up in New York?”

“Jimmy, John and Johnny.”

“And who did the guy that didn’t fall?”


“Good.” He pointed at Silas with his index and little fingers, while the other two and his thumb held the glass of whiskey. “Y’all can tell Jimmy he better get it right this time, or he’ll find his godforsaken-self in the unemployment line quicker’n snake shit. They’re supposed to fall! Every goddamn one of them! If they don’t fall, then the folks don’t have their revelations. No revelations, no donations. No donations, and all’a’y’alls salaries will take the first hit. They know what I need. …the people whose disabilities are all in their heads. Either that, or the ones that are so deep into it they believe they’ve been cured until we can get them out of sight.

“This ain’t a faith measurement they’re supposed to be putting them through. It’s a whole damn psych evaluation! I got bills to pay, and if there’s nothing left after the bills, I can’t very well give anything to all those poor, suffering, underprivileged children in South America! And I gotta give ’em something, or it looks very bad for me.” He added after a short pause, “…and it’s y’alls job to make sure I always look like a Saint.” He narrowed his eyes with a glare and poked the still pointing finger directly at Silas as the glass dripped its condensation onto his pants. The whiskey sloshed enough to make the ice clink against the leaded crystal, but not enough to add to the spot the drip had created.

The attendant had been watching. She’d held her breath, trying to keep his drink in his glass by sheer force of will.

Silas could tell the evangelist was starting to feel the effects of the alcohol. He thought a second time, and didn’t go so far as to comment on the fact that they really didn’t normally send all that much to South America. There wasn’t a lot left after paying for the private jet, the crew, the fuel, all the insurance, the restaurants and hotels, and then the ground transportation to get from the plane to the stadiums. …much less commenting on the daily cost of Chris Christian’s twenty million dollar estate. …that he was very rarely in because of all the travelling required to do all the shows to pay all of those bills.

Chris wasn’t in a good mood to begin with, and as much as the man was a fraud … a genius, but a fraud nonetheless … Silas liked his job. Most of the time, anyway.

“I nearly had to push the sunuvabitch over! At least he staggered backward, and it looked like he almost fell. It’s a real damn good thing there wasn’t a mic anywhere near him, and the crowd was too busy and loud doing the oooh and aaahh thing. No one heard him get mouthy.”

“I was able to escort him away quickly, though,” Silas added. “Fast enough that he didn’t have time to give anything away.”

“And THAT’s a goddam good thing, too! I’d have had y’alls ass on the grill, cooked medium rare, and served at some homeless shelter where they don’t care what the meat tastes like, so long as they get to eat!”


George shook his head as he stood there listening to the discussion between Chris Christian and his right-hand scam. …er … man. …Silas. George had been with the company for a while. …long enough to know that the whole thing was a total fraud to the point where none of them even used their original names. The name he was supposed to go by was Thaddeus. Aaron’s, his copilot, was supposed to be Matthias.

Yeah. Right?

But piloting the private jet paid very well. So, he kept his mouth shut, and just flew the plane to wherever it was Christian wanted to go.

In a few more years, he’d probably be able to retire. Then … maybe he’d write a book.

or not, on second thought.

He’d likely be tarred, feathered, and run through a half-dozen states if he ever tried to expose the real Chris Christian. Christian was absolutely loved-loved-loved by so many people. And those people tended to be fanatic zealots. …not for God, but for Chris Christian. Christian had somehow managed to replace God in all those lives.

But, hey! It’s a great job!

The pilot thought no more on the donations, the people doing the donating, or the fraud that he was helping to perpetuate.

That’s his problem. I’m just paid to fly the plane, not make religious commentary or analysis.

He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. The pain in his neck had been getting worse all day. It just started hurting really bad, right behind his eyes. Maybe it was a migraine.

He’d never had a migraine before, but he knew people said that migraines hurt worse than giving birth. Being male, he’d never had the opportunity to give birth, even disregarding the logical consequence of all the times he’d been screwed by the commercial airlines he’d worked for, over the years.

This headache was way worse than any hangover headache he’d ever had. He’d already taken more Tylenol and Extra Strength Bayer aspirin than he thought was a good thing, and certainly more than the FAA would have tolerated before they yanked him out of the cockpit. Nothing was cutting through it.

That was why he was having Aaron fly. He decided an hour ago they’d probably be a whole lot safer with Aaron holding the yoke and him filling out the readings sheet every ten minutes rather than the other way around. He didn’t mind flying with a hangover, even if the FAA didn’t like it, but the pills dulled the reflexes and thought process, and that could easily lead to a landing crash.

Besides, Aaron had plenty of sim and flight-hours logged. He just needed more time actually landing the jet.

It felt like the plane dropped.

He knew that it hadn’t. It couldn’t have. His pen would have gone flying. It must have been the migraine. He looked at the metal box clipboard that contained all the filled out and blank sheets for the readings. When he started writing again, he saw some blood on the pen. There was a cut on his finger. He must have sliced it on that one sharp corner on the box.

They should probably get the box replaced when they landed. …if Christian let them spend that much. Christian didn’t spend on anything he didn’t have to that didn’t directly concern himself, particularly on these flights. …even the food onboard. Most of it wasn’t exactly what you’d call gourmet. Christian’s own meals were prepared fresh by his own private chef, who went everywhere Christian did.

More than likely, he’d just have to find a hammer and pound the corner in by himself.

He stood up to go to the medical kit on the wall by the door. He wasn’t sure which he wanted more. …a bandage for his finger, or another aspirin.

His eyelids seemed to close from the sides as it felt like a knife had been driven into the back of his skull. His eyes rolled up and back, as he lost consciousness.

Ironically, his body was on autopilot at that point.

In reaction to the pain, his hands went up. The pen dropped, but he still held the metal clipboard. After he started to fall and rebounded off the open cockpit door, he staggered backward.

He hit the door with enough force that the lock engaged. He turned as he bounced off the door.

Still holding the sides of his head, he fell backward onto the console. The hand holding the metal clipboard flew out to the side as he lost his balance.

The sharp corner of the metal clipboard slid across Aaron’s throat, slicing deep. With George’s weight behind it, the sharp corner had enough force to open the carotid artery. Aaron looked up quickly, torn between yelling at George for farting around extremely dangerously, and knowing George wouldn’t have done anything like that unless something was drastically wrong.

Aaron couldn’t have looked more surprised if he had just been shot. …although, he might as well have been for the amount of blood spraying out of his neck. He saw the spray and put his hand to the side of his throat. When he looked at his hand, it was dripping with his own blood. He tried to stop …at least slow the bleeding, but George was lying across the flight yoke, and the jet was in a dive. The plane had lurched when George hit the console. The engines whined at full throttle.

He couldn’t move George with only one hand.

His blood sprayed when he used two.

Between the dive and the engine acceleration, they were closing very fast on a passenger jet in the distance, going nearly twice the big plane’s speed.

Aaron tried hard to move George …to get him off the yoke, so he could turn the little jet. …or even reach past him to the throttles. He realized that one hand wasn’t going to do it as he discovered that George’s belt had caught on something. He couldn’t dislodge George unless he could move the yoke first. He couldn’t move the yoke without moving George first. And he had to use both hands to do either.

The blood sprayed as he yanked desperately at the limp pilot.

Just before he passed out, he felt the jolt. He knew he’d been too late. They’d hit the other jet.

“God help us all,” was his last thought.


“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT! TELL THOSE ASSHOLES IN THE COCKPIT THEY’RE FIRED!” Chris Christian screamed as his glass of Johnny Blue hit the carpet.

The glass bounced without breaking, sending the whiskey and ice flying freely. He grabbed and held on to the arms of his seat with both hands, straining to keep from sliding out of it and afraid that he would go flying himself if he let go long enough to find and hook the safety belt. He never used it, so it was always tucked down, out of the way.

Chris saw the tray his girl had been holding zip across the cabin, and crash into the wall. He watched her bounce off that same wall and land sprawling with her legs in the air for a fraction of a second. He would have very much enjoyed that view, straight up between her legs, if he hadn’t been more concerned about what the idiots in the cockpit might be doing. But the door had slammed shut just before the plane started to dive. He looked quickly away from the heaven that her legs went all the way up to, trying to see out any of the small windows.

The whine of the engines increased to a piercing scream as the nose tilted farther downward.


Chapter 2: During

The jet jolted, and the Fasten Safety Belts indicator lit up. A shrieking whine from the back end began. The oxygen masks dropped from their compartments.

“And so it begins,” thought Jannik, holding onto the arms of his chair.

Jannik had darker skin than most of the people on the plane, but that didn’t have anything to do with anything. His family had been in the United States since the pioneer times. They were from Norway before that.

But he had been born different.

Jannik had big bushy eyebrows that nearly ran together in the center over his nose. His irises were so dark that no one could tell they were even there. His salt and pepper curly beard and hair grew so fast that he stopped trying to keep up with it all the time, and just let them grow. He’d cut off a bunch at the end with kitchen shears, every now and then, when it got too long.

The John Lennon glasses he wore only served to complete the look that made him seem like, and very often caused him to be mistaken for, someone from the Middle East. Long ago, he’d given up correcting that mistake, and just quietly forgave them for the comments often directed at him because of it.

His observation hadn’t been because he thought someone would suspect he had anything to do with the collision that just happened. No. It was, rather, his acceptance of the circumstances at hand. His newest … and final … task began now. …now that they only had a few short minutes before the jet they were on would slam into the ground.

He’d known something was going to happen on this flight. He didn’t know exactly what, but he knew that this plane ride was going to be the last one for all the passengers aboard. …including himself. He’d known that everyone on this flight was going to die. But he’d also known that he still had to be on it. …that he had work to do here. …that this was his last task before the next step in his journey.

Time stopped for him, as did the falling of the jet. He unbuckled his seatbelt and stood up. The flight attendant that had been standing in the aisle had been thrown forward. She was about three feet off the floor, hanging in the air. She was one he had to speak with. He would get that chance a little later, when he was done.


Tayna, one of the Flight Attendants …the one that the male passengers, and sometimes the females, flirted with most often …jumped up when she’d felt the jolt. The passengers were going to have to remain calm, so the crew and staff could get everything done right that might need to be done to fix whatever had just gone wrong. A jolt like that one wasn’t going to be a small thing, and panic wasn’t going to help anyone.

She threw back the curtain separating the kitchen area, which also served as a very small break room for all of the attendants, to the coach section. The pilot’s shriek came over the intercom for everyone to hear. It surely hadn’t been intended, as the Captain wasn’t speaking straight into the microphone.


Someone started to say something else, but the mic cut out.

Tayna only had enough time to know exactly what it meant.

The tail carried not only the vanes to steer them left and right, but also the ones to keep the jet level from front to back. The principle that kept a plane in the air was that the bottom of the wing is flat, while the top is rounded. Air has to travel farther over the top of the wing to get to the same place at the back edge, and that creates a partial vacuum above the wing. The higher pressure below the wing pushes the plane up. Having the air move farther in a curve to get over the wing, aircraft want their noses to go down. Along with making the jet go higher or lower, the horizontal vanes on the tail push the tail down to keep the nose up, and allow the wings to do their work the right way. Without the tail, the jet would go into a vertical spin, tail over nose, and there could be no doubt that it was going to crash.

This was one of the few kiss your ass goodbye scenarios that were discussed at the training classes. But, this was one of those scenarios that could never happen because of all the flight towers and air traffic controllers watching everything in the skies. In air traffic control terms, a near miss meant a matter of a few miles between. …a distance where you might be able to see the other aircraft, but most likely not. A direct hit … something that could take the tail off … could only mean a missile and been shot at the jet. It had happened before. And it had happened in United States airspace. Only missiles didn’t normally just take off the tail. The target usually exploded in the air.

The tail was gone. Everyone on the plane was dead already. It was only going to take a few seconds for everyone to understand that.

That realization took only a fraction of a second to form and run through her mind, before she was jolted off her feet and hit the floor. Then she was catapulted into the air, flying for the rear of the main cabin.

The passengers began to scream.

She tucked and covered her head with her arms. Her back hit the ceiling, and she slid a few yards before she started to slow.

She knew that the centrifugal force was holding her against the ceiling. She also knew that in a very few short seconds, she was going to be thrown back toward the back wall again, and it really didn’t make any difference if she survived that impact or not.


The kids were arguing again. They always argued. Regina was the oldest, going on fourteen, and should know better. She was always on Johnny’s case. Danny always had to step in and break it up because Marcie, his wife and their mother, wouldn’t. Marcie just let them do whatever they wanted.

Wortless bitch. If she’s gonna have kids, she might wanna actually do sometin’ to raise ‘em.

He was going to have to stop ‘em. …yet again. Someday, he’d have to have it out with Marcie. It wouldn’t be pretty.

If she ain’t gonna do nottin’ with these fokkin’ kids, an’ let ‘em all be spoiled fokkin’ brats, den she can take ‘em all an’ go some-fokkin’-where else. Den she’ll have to fokkin’ deal with ‘em.

“Johnny! Gettafok over here and si…”

Regina was whining at him.

“I swear, Regina … if you don’t leave yer brother ‘lone, I’m gonna bust yer fok…”

The plane jolted, and it seemed like his scotch on the rocks jumped straight up out of the clear plastic cup. It landed all over his front.

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