A/N: Inspired by Joseph Heller's Catch-22
Light flashed behind my eyes, blinding me like a paper-cut on my eyelids. My eardrums imploded into the sides of my brain and down into my throat. I felt the world tilt, and a split second later, it plummeted.
It was sickening. It felt like as if my stomach had floated up to the bottom of my tongue.
The pressure against my lungs stopped my breathing. My eyes were dry and I didn't want to open them. But I had to; I was the navigator, wasn't I? Wasn't I supposed to see where we were going?
"Stop it," I wanted to cry out, but I couldn't. Anyway, the flak was too loud; they were a thousand angry hornets, buzzing around us like a whirlwind of hell.
"Please, stop it."
I shut my eyes. I knew we couldn't drop forever. I knew we soon would hit something, and it would be all over for us. But I was powerless. I knew not how to navigate vertically. I didn't know where we were; I didn't know anything. Our lives were in the hands of the pilot now, but he was so young and fragile that we were done for.
I braced myself for death and soon, darkness covered me like a sweet, brooding blanket.
Was I in heaven?
"Please, help me."
It was the bombardier. I fought my eyes open; I pried them open with my freezing fingertips. The bombardier was lying on his back at the base of the plane.
"Are you hurt?" I said, trying to reach him, but realizing it was futile because we were still falling in the same sickening speed.
"No, but help me."
"I can't help you if I don't know what's wrong."
"Nothing's wrong," he said.
"Then why do you need help?"
"I don't need help; you do."
I heard the pilot scream suddenly; he had given up. Big, shiny tears had welled up in his delicate, youthful eyes.
"I don't need help," I said. "We're all going to die in a few seconds anyways."
The bombardier was silent. The plane convulsed back and forth as if it was a live, writhing monster, knocking us around like toys. I knew we were approaching the face of the mountain fast, and there was no stopping us.
I wondered if death was painful, or was it beautiful, as in those fairy tales about magical princes and noble knights who die brilliantly painted deaths and die beaming. I wondered if our deaths actually meant anything at all.
Where were we? Who were we? What were we?
We were tools, weapons, machines. We were to extinguish without a sound.
The plane shook harder and harder until I had to shut my eyes and hold onto the pilot's controls for fear of…what? The mountain was clear in view. The cliff bared its jagged teeth at us. We weren't afraid. No, we weren't afraid of death. We were afraid of silence.
"Let me help you." The bombardier spoke again. It was hard to see where he was now, but when I saw him, there was no forgetting his eyes. His pale blue eyes, yes, those the color of the calm blue sky from which we had fallen, were brimming not of tears but of liquefied hope.
He looked like a sad angel. I couldn't help but stare at those eyes.
"It'll be alright," he said. "It'll be alright."
I held onto those sad, blue eyes until the world turned grey. I held onto the hope until all was red. Then black. And black, black forever. I never heard his final words. I didn't want to.
"They can always find more."