[Originally posted at Slacktivist. Fred Clark has started re-posting old Left Behind posts, and so this is back at the very beginning. Book one, chapter one.]
People can't go missing on a plane. They can't. You can't just open the door and walk out, even if you could people would notice the sudden change in air pressure and the violent vortices caused by the air outside the plane moving up to a thousand miles per hour faster, relatively speaking, than the air in side the plane.
One person might somehow get lost between the bathroom and their seat, but this many people? It was impossible.
Hattie had to be wrong. There was no way. It just wasn't possible.
If anyone else were saying it he'd think they were setting him up. They'd heard him complain one to many times about Irene's-- no. He couldn't think about that. It couldn't be that.
Regardless, Hattie wouldn't play a trick like that. If it were a trick then she'd need to have been tricked too, and who could fool her about something like this? She knew how many people were on board at takeoff and she knew what seats they were in. And what seats they weren't in. If people had simply moved to the wrong seats she'd never mistake that for people being missing, and there wasn't standing room for people to hide.
It didn't make sense.
He had to see for himself what was going on.
Please let it be a prank.
Please let there be some hidden camera somewhere and have all of this be a sick, disgusting joke.
He prayed, please God-- and then he decided that it was best to leave God out of it. Let God be nowhere near this one. Let God be elsewhere. Please, please let this not be the work of God.
He walked toward the passenger cabins so he could see for himself. Maybe if he talked to the people who said that members of their parties were missing the truth would come out.
There were still a lot of people who wouldn't think twice about lying to a flight attendant that would never lie to a pilot.
When he entered the first class cabin, and saw the empty clothes in a seat, he became weak. He stumbled back to the bulkhead and tried to support himself with it, but his body was too heavy, and his limbs to weak. He sank to the floor.
He barely noticed as Hattie ran to his side. He didn't even hear the first thing she said.
She shouted, "Ray!" and he noticed, but didn't respond beyond turning his head to look at her. "What's wrong?"
"She was right," he mumbled.
It was impossible. It couldn't be. There was no way. And yet it was. Irene had been right.
That meant that Ray, Hattie, Chris, and everyone still aboard the plane were all damned. Perhaps even literally. Was there even any hope left? Was their any point in landing rather than letting the plane fall from the sky?
Irene was right.
At any other time he would care that his behavior had made the passenger's mood worse. Uneasy before he arrived, they were now on the verge of full blown panic.
You never showed that you were anything less than completely confident in front of the passengers. Never. No matter how bad things really were, they had to think that you were in control. If the pilot was afraid then they'd be afraid. You couldn't let anything, any tiny bit of doubt, ever show.
He'd let himself cross several lines by allowing emotion to overcome him here instead of making it back out of sight before it hit.
It didn't matter.
Irene was right. Irene was right, and that meant that missing people were the least of their worries. Those were the lucky ones. Those were the ones to be envied.
The world as he knew it--as everyone knew it--was over and the worst was yet to come. Irene had been right all along. Why hadn't he listened?