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Chantal Boudreau – A Wing and a Prayer
Disaster – EMP Blast
Location – Airplane
Helpful Item – Rubber Tubing
Disability – Pregnant
On a Wing and a Prayer
What sort of cretin clobbers a pregnant woman?
That was my first thought as I came to, my mind foggy and my head throbbing incessantly. It would take one hell of a scumbag to knock out a lady who’s been knocked up. And with me, my current “condition” is pretty damn obvious.
I then recalled that I had been en route to Winnipeg in a small plane when I had been struck upside the head. I listened for the drone of the engines, but aside from some shuffling and mumbling in the rear compartment of this dinky toy of a machine, there was only silence – silence and the sensation that we were falling.
Instantly, my heart was in my throat and beating a million miles a minute. I don’t get scared easily, but I had always hated flying for a reason, and this was a prime example of it. Having things crap out on you in the middle of the sky really sucks. The plane was going down. Memories of what had happened to me before the blow to my head started flooding back to me.
I had been working in the field office of a mining excavation site in Northern Manitoba when my pregnancy had started to show – the results of having a little too much to drink one evening and getting too friendly with a co-worker. I didn’t want to leave, but the bastards insisted I had to go – something about occupational health and safety regulations, liability issues, and the availability of health services. Bah! There were men on site with problems worse than mine. You didn’t see them shipping those guys out. I tried to fight it, but in the end, I lost.
We were on our way south, just the pilot and me in this tiny plane, when there was a sudden message on the radio from a nearby remote military base, warning about an anticipated nuclear strike. “What the hell?” I asked myself, “Why in Northern Manitoba?” Right after that, a vibration shook the plane, a pulse that made everything that used power just come to a dead stop. The pilot’s face went ghost white and he mumbled something about nuclear weapons and an EMT blast. As the plane started to plummet, he scrambled into the back. I started to follow, only to notice, just as he did, that there was only one parachute hanging on the hooks in the back – one chute, two of us. That was when he had turned on me without warning and hit me in the head. I saw stars and the lights went out.
He hadn’t noticed that I had regained consciousness and he was in the process of trying to hoist the chute onto his back so he was ignoring me completely. The asshole probably figured that because I was preggers, I was some sort of fragile flower he could beat into submission with one pretty pathetic blow. I’ve been working up North since I was nineteen, a good fifteen years, and I can promise you if you’re not tough when you start, you certainly are after your first few weeks there, never mind a decade and a half. I’m as tough as nails, and my head is even tougher. The jerk clearly had no clue who he was messing with.
I crawled forward as quietly as I could, searching the compartment for something that I could use as a weapon. The only thing that struck me as potentially useful that was within reach was a coil of rubber tubing. I closed my hand over it and waited until he had his back turned to me, as he reached to slide part of the strapping into place to secure the pack for the chute. Then I thrust myself up onto my feet in one swift but awkward movement, looping the tubing over his head and around his neck. Working around my bulging belly, I yanked the tubing tight across his throat and held on for dear life.
He fell to the floor, maybe expecting he’d have better leverage there, or that he’d be able to shake me off in the process. He was wrong – I guess I’m a lot stronger than he was anticipating for a pregnant woman with a head wound. From that angle, I could actually manage to wedge my knees in his lower back, underneath the pack for the parachute, and pull even tighter. He tried to reach back and grab me as he gasped and choked for air and when that didn’t work he clawed at the tubing that was strangling him. That didn’t work either.
Do you want to know what was the most annoying thing during all of that? It wasn’t the fact that my head was pounding like someone was thumping it with a hammer or that my ankles were so swollen I figured I was going to have to cut my boots open when it would come time to take them off. Nope – the worst of it was that the nuisance of a little parasite in my belly decided he or she wasn’t too happy about the whole situation. All the while I was throttling this guy with the tubing, the pest wrestled around inside me like he or she was trying to shove a way out. It’s really distracting when someone jabs their toes in your liver or lung while you are trying to keep a grip on your strangulation method of choice.
In the end, despite the constant distraction, my stubbornness prevailed. The antagonistic pilot stopped thrashing around underneath me, his face blue, his eyes bulging and his tongue lolling out of his mouth, kind of like one of those nasty slaughterhouse pictures of a dead cow or sheep. I got to my feet, gave him a couple of hearty kicks to the head for good measure with my painfully-tight steel-toed boots and then started pulling the chute pack off of his back.
Now I’m just praying I can get the pack on and launch myself out of the plane before it’s too late. I’m not sure if I’ll have time to get clear of the plane and pull the ripcord with enough distance between me and the snow-covered ground. I’d prefer not to turn into a splotchy red puddle of goo when I hit bottom.
And the wriggling pest inside of me? Well I guess I can consider my predicament punishment for not watching out just who I got drunk with. I’m hoping whoever’s inside of me is as tough as I am, considering all this mess. That little one may have survived a beating and a brawl, but that’s just the beginning of the problems we’ll have to endure. As I fling myself out of this doomed plane, I’m just wondering how he or she is going to handle a super-long hike in subzero temperatures in the hopes of reaching anything resembling civilization. And if we make it that far, if we actually find refuge, then we’ll probably run into the issue of fallout and radiation. I guess we’ll just have to handle that crisis if and when we get to it.
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