I am in re-writing mode, trying to tighten everything up and make it more engaging. The Prologue was my first victim. From an original 1,061 words I whittled it down to 622 words. That’s a decrease of 41%! And I don’t think it lost any pace. Actually, I think it reads a lot more fluid now.
I wrote the prologue in order to jump right into the midst of the action. If you can’t capture the reader within the first couple of pages, you have lost them. Of course, the prologue does play a part in the plot, but that is for later.
Since it isn’t too long, I decided to post the prologue in its entirety. Did I achieve what I set out to do?
“Trans Air 185, descend to 5,000 feet, turn left heading 0-1-0. Report established on the localizer runway 34 center”, the air-traffic controller’s voice crackled from the headset.
Unconsciously pilot and co-pilot of Trans Air 185 sat up straight. The final approach into Seattle’s Sea Tac airport hat begun and required their full attention. “Roger, down to 5,000, 0-1-0 on the heading and we’re all set for ILS runway 34 center”, delivered in a smooth baritone timbre that apparently all airline captains are born with.
The co-pilot shot a brief glance at his captain, “Seems we’re looking at an on-time landing on this one. God, am I glad to be home again!”
“Let’s just keep everyone happy and bring this bird down first. It’s only over, once the wheels kiss the ground.”
The sun had just set and the flight displays in the Boing 737-800 basked the entire cockpit in a mellow red glow. Tom McFloyd, the captain on this flight, and his copilot, Jason Lurie, had been jetting up and down the west coast between San Diego and Seattle more often than they cared to count over the past years.
“Tower, we are established on the beam”, reported McFloyd as he rolled the wings level, the aircraft pointing straight at the beckoning lights of the runway with only a couple of miles left to touchdown.
“Trans Air 185, roger, you are cleared to land runway 34 center. Caution, simultaneous approaches on runway 34 right.”
Looking out the starboard window the flashing lights of another plane on final approach loomed close. Even though he knew that the autopilot was engaged, McFloyd’s grip on the yoke instinctively tightened. There was not a big margin for error. The other plane was a bit ahead, below, and slightly offset to the right, staggered closely for maximum efficiency operation of the airport. Nobody appreciated delays.
Suddenly, the other plane banked sharply left and pulled up into their flight path. On a collision course, they were only seconds from colliding in mid-air.
“What the fuck is this idiot doing?!” yelled McFloyd as he pulled hard on the yoke, forcing the plane’s nose to rise and veer to the right. His knuckles turned white as he fought the autopilot which still tried to keep them aligned with the runway. “Disengage, disengage the damn autopilot!” he yelled at his co-pilot. It took Lurie several precious moments to process what was unfolding before him as he stared wide-eyed and disbelieving at the rapidly growing shape converging upon them.
“Full power! Full power! We need to keep the speed up!”
If a plane flies ever more slowly, there comes a point where not enough air is rushing over the wings to create the needed lift keeping the aircraft aloft. When this happens, gravity wins and the sleek shape of shiny metal plummets out of the sky like a frozen turkey. It is drilled into the brain of every pilot from his first hour of training onward to keep up the speed and never let it drop too low.
Just as the Boeing 737 was reaching this point of no return, the vertical tail fin of the rogue plane impacted their starboard wing. Already precipitously slow, the impact of the other plane pushed it over the edge. It took only about five seconds to hit the ground at an almost inverted attitude. A couple of seconds later, the other plane impacted a mile south-east of their spot.
Other planes nearby had followed the radio exchange and witnessed the impact fires. There was a few seconds of disbelieving silence on the ether before all hell broke loose and the controllers tried their best to divert planes to other airports nearby all the while doing their best to keep something like this from happening again.