Frontier Flight 167

📅 Published on December 23, 2021

“Frontier Flight 167”

Written by Dan A. Cardoza
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 8.86/10. From 7 votes.
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No one in the support group thought recovery would be easy.  But Morrison couldn’t even get past step 1: I admit I am powerless over alcohol/drugs, and my life has become unmanageable.  Unlike most in the group, no one hadn’t been court-ordered to attend.  In that situation, hope was a dim spark in the otherwise bleak darkness of the landscape.

Morrison had committed petty crimes, but mostly against himself.  A kind judge had ratcheted up Morrison’s punishment in an attempt to save his life.  He’d referred to it as tough love.  Group therapy was part of the healing process.  But, a scab is a scab, and mostly worth scarring over.

He knew he could outsmart everyone, including himself.  That’s one of the reasons he quit the group.  “I can quit anything I need to on my own.  After all, I’ve done it many times before.”

He was smarter than most, more clever, the best, someone who’d never met his most elementary objectives.  When you can blame the ills of your life on others, there is never a reason to commit to success.  Success was for others, the sheep of the world.  Playing things safe wasn’t in Morrison’s make-up.

And so Morrison committed to make another blunder.  If he failed, well, he could always blame it on someone else.  Excuses were something he kept handy, like Zig Zag slow-burning smoke paper.

He’d left his ankle monitor back at his apartment, in bed with the flu.

Morrison purchased a one-way ticket to surprise his ex.

She’d feared for her life and had moved back home to Omaha, Nebraska, near a family who barely cared for her because of how much she’d hurt them.

It was in Omaha where she’d at least have half a chance to engage in her personal struggle and maybe get well.  She had no one left to turn to except family, nowhere else to make a fresh start.  Marci thought of her family as cod liver oil, but she’d considered them her last choice of medicine.  She’d taken a detour in life, the one that reads, “What doesn’t kill you has the potential to make you stronger.”

Like most things in his life, Morrison hatched this half of a half-assed plan to win Marci back.  Hell, he had lots of plans.  It’s not that he wasn’t intelligent.  He’d blown the Stanford-Binet IQ test out of the water.  The psychologist in college had said he was like a brand new red Ferrari but without any wheels.  “One of your problems, Morrison, is that you have a big cowboy hat and no cattle.”  Morrison had come close to punching the shrink out.

He had plenty of time to workshop his idea before he landed in Omaha.  First, he had to figure out how to explain his surprise arrival.  He’d always been quick on his feet to get Marci back.  He’d done it so many times before, but this time, the stakes had been raised.  It was life or death for both of them.  Marci knew very well that they were never going to work.  It was just that Morrison hadn’t gotten the memo.  Marci was the fortunate one.  She’s already said her final goodbyes to survive.  And this time, she meant it.

“She’ll understand; she’s always given in before.  She’s weak-willed.”  Morrison mumbled to himself under his headphones.  He’s grown accustomed to seeing her as hapless and helpless, just where he’d wanted her.

Upon his arrival in Omaha, he’d make sure the first thing she heard was, “I’ve really changed, honey, I promise.”

He’d convince her to love him again.  Maybe she didn’t mean it when she’d said, “I will die if I don’t go.  It’s either you, Morrison, or me who’s going over the cliff.”  But Morrison was a narcissist.  If anyone was going over the cliff, it wouldn’t be him.  But in truth, Morrison hadn’t thought that far ahead.  He was jittery and pensive.  Morrison’s foot itched; he scratched it.  The twitch in his right eye hadn’t quit.  The cocaine in his pocket was calling him a ‘little bitch.’

He had this god-damned craving he needed to calm the hell down.

To steel his nerves, a couple of lines seemed in order.  To Morrison, breaking rules was normal.  Laws and rules were for the riff-raff in life.  Only the crazy and strongest survive: Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Alexander the Great.  Compassion and empathy were crutches for cowards.

The aircraft lavatory in the rear of the airplane was the only place to catch a blow.  It was in there he’d get his thoughts on straight and scheme the rest of his impulsive plan.

His flight was going to last a little over an hour after all.  He’d have time to think in the tiny, claustrophobic room.  Morrison had some explaining to do.

Once he’d manipulate Marci into returning with him, the two of them would need to return in a hurry.  He had an ankle monitor that needed hot chicken soup.  Maybe Marci’s creepy parents would pay for their return flight.  Morrison would figure it out once he had his black boots on the ground.

After passenger 23-D exited the head at the stern, it was Morrison’s turn.

At thirty thousand feet on his thinking stool, he’d remembered Omaha, Nebraska.  Omaha was where they’d met poor, he and Marci.  It was in grade school, each a farm child.  They’d had litters of brothers and sisters.  Each farm their respective daddy’s worked had been a new beginning…a beginning of the next failure.  The only things the farms really grew were leveraged loans, witchweed, broken equipment, dead cows.  Oh, and lest one forget, poverty of crops and spirit.

Morrison recalled his family as a pack of miserable, mangy coyotes.  He visualized his youth in his dizzy head.  It was a forced labor camp under the supervision of his oppressive homemade wine-guzzling father and their defeated mother.

When he left Nebraska for good, it was in desperation.  He’d left toward an unknown future…any future, really.  He chewed off a foot to get out of the family’s varmint trap.  Morrison was OK with that; being the walking wounded would draw sympathy.  At least he’d set himself free.

Marci, who left with him, thought he could be fixed, like maybe a cheap watch.  Over time, she turned into his salve before it would turn into mutual poisoning.

During the last six months, Morrison’s self-esteem had been cut into pieces.  Everything he did in life seemed to come up short.  There was part of him that made certain of that.  Each cut of failure had turned into a keloid scar of denial, a hypertrophic healing as thick as any meth line he’d shaved with a bad credit card.  He had his reasons for not to look deep inside; it was too painful.  Inside was where failure had been incubating.

Morrison stood and bent over.  He used a dollar bill to straighten out the white lines.  He rolled it into an E. Pluribus Unum straw.  Morrison snorted, first left, then right.  Morrison sat back down on the rim of the bowl.  His head nearly exploded.

Morrison clenched his teeth while sitting on the toilet.  He’d recalled his most recent nightmare; only, this one was real.  He hoped the dark thoughts would scare him straight somehow.

“Hell nah, there’s always a tomorrow!”  he mumbled to no one except for the thrumming sound in the aircraft’s bathroom, all the hissing.  He fastened on his best defiant smirk.

It was then he heard the faint rapping at the door, the polite voice of the Midwestern flight attendant.  “Everything okay in there, sir?”

Morrison recognized the regional dialect; how could he ever forget?  Her voice was as sweet as unsalted dairy butter.  “Yes,”  he shouted over the whine of engines and speed.  He hasn’t felt this relieved and relaxed since the last time he’d broken the law.  The aircraft had finally reached 30,000 feet.

“That moment, up here, everything was possible.  To hell with tomorrow!”  he hollered.”  The knocking got louder.

“Just a damn minute!” he’d said.  The whole damned world could wait on him.

Morrison’s lighter slipped out of his hand.  He’d missed his hip pocket.  He turned himself into a pretzel and telescoped his long arm and hand down to the floor to grab it.  He smelled piss.  He paused.  Something had caught his attention.

* * * * * *

Morrison exploded from behind the lavatory door.  The door’s edge was a dull knife.  The fresh out of training flight attendant buckled to her knees.  After, she fell sideways on the low-cropped carpeted floor.

Morrison turned away from her, to his right.  He quickly headed down the tired, dark aisle with tracking lights on the floor.  As he quickened, he reached out, hooking his flailing arms at strangers.  He attempted to yank the sticky flesh out of their cloth crab shells.

Passengers woke, thinking they were in a miserable nightmare.  Some clawed back at Morrison, imagining him all pincers and bite.  Nearly everyone panicked.

Morrison’s throat had parched raw.  The only noise to escape his pie-hole was a crepe paper flitting sound.  When he inhaled, the sound was paper catching fire.  Everything he’d ever know was about to come to an end.

Layla, the dazed flight attendant, forced herself up off her ass.  A few of the passengers at the back of the plane had gasped in dread and disbelief as they gazed into her eyes.  Layla was bleeding from her nose and mouth.  There was a fresh cut from the bathroom door edge.  Crimson oozed bright red from her left cheekbone.  Her training instincts kick in.  She grasped the hand-held microphone after they’d helped her to stand up.  Just as she’d been taught, she shouted, “Squawk 7600!  Squawk 7600.”

That’s an internal aircraft code that means the plane has lost communication with the tower.  She was, of course, incorrect.  She’s made her first mistake.  Hardly anyone had noticed.

It was then the aircraft hiccupped and dropped ten feet.  It jerked the passengers out of their seats.  The pilot’s knee had jerked this hard during his last annual neurological exam, like how reflexes go spastic after being hit in the crazy bone, or the knee cap with one of those Dr. Flintstone rubber hatchets.

Layla was quick to self-correct.  “Jim Wilson,”  she quipped.  “Jim Wilson aft,”  she quipped again.  Unfortunately, that was the cool kid’s code for dead bodies in the cargo hold, yet another rookie mistake.  The aircraft jiggled and shook a tad.

Passenger 23-C was all Cheshire.  He was a seasoned flight attendant.  Donny Chamberlon was making his way back to Omaha for a surprise birthday party he’d already known about.

* * * * * *

Halfway down the aisle, two Hereford cattle bulls wrestled Morrison’s grip away from the emergency door handle.  They’d slammed him to the floor, bloodied his lips.

“Jesus, that was close,”  said Sumo wrestler #1.

Both of the hulking sumos could taste the acidity of fear at the back of their throats.

In his fall to the ground, Morrison lost most of the air in his stomach.  The only sound to escape his lungs was a bleating sound, not unlike the sound a sacrificial goat makes before the slaughter.

A retired, peacenik hippy who’d been stretching his blood clot legs had filled his eyes with too much watching.  He couldn’t control his rusty, protesting tongue.  He blurted out, “He’s crazy as fuck and crawling in Meth.”

His wife tugged at his blue floral shirt until he plopped down beside her again.

The floor of the aisle was a tipped barrel of eels.  Morrison wriggled free somehow.

Passenger 23-C kicked at him as if Morrison was a cur dog, but missed.

Next thing they knew, Morrison was at the captain’s door, pounding and clacking at the door’s thin latch.  Thankfully, the FAA had made sure the door was locked as tight as a frog’s ass underwater.

The second flight attendant, in with the pilots, pushed back at the aircraft pilot’s door as if she was saving the world.

Morrison cracked his now bloody knuckles against the metal door.  He pulled at a flimsy locked handle.

In the pilot’s galley, Texas Marla hung onto the doorknob as if she was riding Red Rock, the famous bucking bull she’d seen at the Folsom Rodeo.  “Giddy-up cowgirl!”  the co-pilot had told her.

It wasn’t long before the brewing witch mob forced Morrison into one of the empty first-class seats.  Someone passed a roll of duct Black Gorilla duct tape along to the sumos.  It was like they’d taken a course in applying a straitjacket.  They’d wrapped the sticky tape around and around his flailing torso and the tall seat back.

Passenger’s 23-C and 23-D exchanged flash drives.  23-C pecked at the iPad’s keyboard.

Layla, who had composed herself managed to hip-bang her way up to the front of the aircraft, exactly as she’s been instructed.  She was taking charge now, goddamn it.  Her new feelings felt more natural, something she hadn’t been taught.

She grabbed the mic again.  This time the loudspeaker code was at least half-assed correct.  She yelled from someplace deep in her gut; it was visceral and violent.  “Possible 7500 in progress, 7500 in progress!”

Hearing the rookie flight attendant, the pilots knew for sure that there was a hijacking in progress.  The co-pilot pissed his pants and stared into the glassy darkness in front of him.

Finally getting it right, Layla slipped Morrison the slender needle.  It entered his left shoulder as smooth as silk stainless steel.  The jacked-up liquid began to infuse him with all the calming goodness the almighty FAA allowed: Antihistamine @ 50 milligrams, single-dose equivalent.  By God, the antihistamine would act as a tranquilizer and calm the crazy bastard down.

Layla couldn’t wait to surprise her parents with her heroism.  They were waiting for her at Eppley Field in Omaha, too.  Her daddy was paying too much for an airport hamburger at the time.  They’d be so damned proud of her.  Thankfully, Morrison, at last, appeared calm, but that was only because Sumo #2 had knocked him out a few minutes ago.

Layla, triumphant and exhausted, flopped into an empty first-class seat, the closest.  She fully reclined the seat.  To hell with decorum and protocol, she’d earned a break.  After all, she’d just saved this fucked up world.

* * * * * *

The medication Morrison had been injected with had the opposite effect on him.  Instead of calming him down, it jacked up his heart rate.  As his heart jetted, he’d begun to rock back and forth in his duct tape cocoon.  It had become a chrysalis.  He wanted free.  His thoughts were a synapse insane asylum.

The veins in his neck appeared blue and swollen as they pulsed.  Morrison began shaking in his seat as if he was attempting to break some sort of speed barrier.  Tears roll down his cheeks as clear as nitroglycerin.  He couldn’t stop trembling, his rattlesnake rattling.  He became speechless, his mouth full of fear.

In the back of the aircraft, next to the ticking toilet door, an empty injection vile rolled gently, to and fro on the blue carpet.  It was so empty it appeared to float as the plane yanked down again.  The Lilliputian label seemed to vibrate.  It read: Epinephrine, 1:10,000 (0.1 mg/mL)  single-dose 2-mL equivalent.

Layla had made her final mistake.  She’d be taking her last break, ever.

Morrison’s eyes grew explosive.  At Mach-4 in his mind, he could hear everything, including the pitch and yah of the aircraft, the rolling vial at the back near the head.  His eyes popped out of their sockets as he recalled what he’d seen taped under the lavatory cabinet.

Morrison shrieked at last, “Bomb!  Bomb!”  he yelled at the top of his lungs.

In the metrics of Planck quantum physics, digital words blazed across what was Morrison’s gray matter.  In his darkness, he stared into this bright yellow neon signage.

This massive quote looped across the intersection of his psychic marquee.  The unforgettable quote was from the novel Zeitoun, written by Dave Eggers.  “Yes, a dark time passed over this land, but now there is something like light.”

Morrison knew this as a reference to surrender and redemption, a quote often used by Morrison’s group therapist.

Then, and only then, you could hear a pin drop as the top of Morrison’s skull blew off.

Someone or something over the dark skies of Omaha, Nebraska, had switched the lights on.  The sky had turned unmanageably bright.

Rating: 8.86/10. From 7 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Dan A. Cardoza
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Dan A. Cardoza

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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