Imagination, the News, and Especially Flight MH 17
(I don’t want an image at the head of this one. The news has more of those than I’m happy seeing, thankyouverymuch)
I often have strong reactions to news stories. Between having the active imagination of a fiction writer and cultivating the empathy I need to keep the urge to become a perpetually raging anger-beast at bay, it is easy to imagine myself in the situation news stories describe happening to other people.
The airplane shot down over the Ukraine recently is a case that’s especially alarming. Imagine being on that one.
You’re reclined the entire 3 inches that a standard airplane seat allows. Luxury. Headphones on, eyes half closed. You’re around halfway through your flight, maybe you can nap for half an hour before the meal is served.
And Thor punches your entire body with his giant lightning hammer. Your eyes fly open. The whole other side of the airplane is crumpled inward; Thor squeezed your people-packed can of Pringles too hard. Thin sunlight winks through rents in the crumpled fuselage. The air is thin, freezing, shrieking out through the shattered windows. Oxygen masks unroll flaccid flailing tentacles from above.
The sound of the engines has changed; it’s… less, somehow. The floor tilts. Still more screams flail through the wind. The tilt of the floor turns to a whirl turns to a tumble. You and 297 other people rattle around the interior of the fatally wounded can as it tears itself apart into shreds and chunks, some of which twirl through some of the people, drawing out long red streamers from their guts.
Concussion, rattling, thin air, cold; your lungs ache. They crave substance that isn’t there. Your vision narrows, dims along the edges. You’re spinning, slowly. The clouds spin below, far away. They’re white, fluffy, soft. The world is white, all white, and consciousness leaks away.
The world is cold, battering your face with a thousand annoying little slaps. Your lungs hurt, but now there’s something for them to breathe. Too much; it forces itself into your nostrils, into your mouth, under your eyelids. You narrow your eyes to slits.
You’re in a cold hurricane. The wind tears at your clothes—wait, your clothes? Where’s your shirt? Your pants? An embarrassed flush makes your face prickle, but the heat you’d expect it to bring is ripped out of your freezing skin before you can feel any of it.
The tears clear from your irritated eyes. The world resolves itself through a deep squint.
Everything is bumpy green; a Ukrainian cabbage farm seen from half a mile in the air.
Falling at over 200 miles per hour, it doesn’t take long at all to span that gap. A blink. GREEN.
And then, you’re pretty sure you’ve bounced. And that’s it.
Yeah, the news creeps me the heck out sometimes.