Excerpt from Sky Titans

   

Aeron reacted instantly, throwing a flow of air underneath the creature to prevent it from crashing. The insect righted but continued toward the land, gliding along the current. It struck the ground with its belly and slid through a large cornfield. Stalks flew upward and outward as they were sheared off by the wings. But the plants slowed the creature’s advance, until it finally came to a halt in mid-field.

He watched with a mixture of curiosity and fascination as humans slowly emerged like live hatchlings from the insect’s body. One by one they jumped onto what appeared to be a bouncy cushion before scrambling off of it and sliding to the ground so the next person could have a turn. Once they were out, they put some distance between themselves and the creature before gathering in small groups.

Aeron remained alert for sign of the dark-haired woman who had seen him…or maybe she hadn’t. He glanced over his shoulder. Perhaps she had reacted to the sight of the storms he had created. Regardless, he had to know for certain.

Because if she had truly seen him…

She finally appeared. Another mortal helped her jump down to the ground, but her legs buckled underneath her. Aeron started toward her, but stopped himself and waited. He continued to keep his presence unknown to the mortals, but he had to know if she had truly seen him.

The woman managed to get to her feet. She staggered a few more steps, then fell heavily onto the downed stalks. No one approached her to see if she needed help. No one spoke to her, and Aeron felt irritated that she was being ignored.

Someone called out and pointed overhead. Glancing in that direction, he noticed one of the wind spouts approaching. With a quick wave of his hand, he dismissed it, causing the mortals below to exclaim with relief.

Aeron’s gaze returned to the woman, and this time there was no denying the fact that she was staring directly at him. Her eyes roamed over his whole body, from his face, down to his feet, halting momentarily at his groin, then back up to his face. Her mouth hung open slightly as she took him in.

He took a step toward her, then thought better of it. He couldn’t concern himself with her. Not right now. Not when he had work to do.

But she sees me. I do not know how or why, but…she is a mortal! And she can see me!

The impact of this miracle was difficult, if not impossible to ignore. Nevertheless, he couldn’t remain here and abandon the work that must be done.

I will return, he silently promised. And when I do, I will find out why you are able to observe that which no mortal should.

Giving her a final glance, he turned his back to her, grabbed his rope, and quickly climbed back up into the clouds.

* * *

Ceris felt a scream rise in her throat as the giant reached for the airplane. Before she could utter it, the plane suddenly jerked sideways, tilted to the right, and the sense of total freefall came over her and the rest of the passengers. Screams, including hers, filled the cabin as the aircraft began spiraling in its descent.

She clutched the seat in front of her and squeezed her eyes shut as she fought the need to throw up. Her stomach fell to her feet, but her gorge rose into her throat to where she couldn’t make another sound.

She expected… She didn’t know what to expect. Would she feel any pain when the plane crashed? Would it explode into flames? What if she survived the initial crash, only to burn alive?

A joke she’d heard ages ago came back to her. But instead of laughing this time, it sent chills through her.

It’s not the fall that kills you. It’s the sudden stop at the end.

She tried to pray, but her thoughts refused to congeal. She could only hope that it would be over quickly and with as little pain as possible.

The screaming suddenly lessened. At the same time she sensed the plane slowing down, but that had to be impossible. It had to be a trick of the mind.

“We’re slowing!” someone yelled. “We’re leveling off!”

“Dear God, what’s happening? How is this happening?” a woman cried out.

Ceris gasped for breath. Somehow she managed to turn her head to look out the window. Incredibly, the ground wasn’t coming up straight at them. They were moving over it. Gradually dropping lower, most definitely, but also gliding sideways. If she didn’t know any better, it would appear as if they were on an approach and getting ready to land. But land where? There was nothing beneath them but open fields and plots of land.

“Please brace for impact!” a terse voice announced over the PA. “Brace for impact! Make sure your seatbelt is tightened securely around your waist. Bend over or lower your head, and clasp your hands behind your head.” The voice repeated the instructions, but Ceris managed to take one last glance out the window. Her brain registered the fact they were coming down over a corn field before assuming the crash position.

Seconds later, she heard a series of what sounded like small explosions coming from the belly of the plane. The aircraft waggled from side to side as its wings skimmed through the stalks, slicing through them as the pilots fought to keep the nose up.

When they came to a sudden halt, the tail lifted up, hung momentarily suspended in the air, then dropped onto the ground. Everyone gasped, and the cabin became eerily silent.

“Open it! Open the door!” The man next to her gave her a hard push.

Ceris tried to get to her feet, but the plane was lying on its left side. She tried to shove against the emergency exit, but something was blocking it. “I can’t!” she argued. “It won’t budge!”

“Here. Let me get in there.” A large man who looked like he could be a defensive tackle held out a hand to her. She allowed him to pull her away from her seat and into the aisle so he could take her place. But he was also unsuccessful in opening the exit.

“I think it’s blocked,” the guy finally announced. “We have to exit on the other side.”

Ceris noticed the flight attendants were already one step of ahead of them. They had deployed the air chutes on the other side of the plane and were helping the passengers with exiting. She turned to go back to retrieve her purse, but she was shoved forward, toward the opening, preventing her from getting it.

When she reached the opening, she jumped down as instructed, landing on her bottom. She slid to the end of the slide where a man helped her to her feet. She made it less than a dozen feet away from the plane when her legs went out from under her, and she collapsed onto a pile of crushed corn stalks.

The wind was gusting, sometimes fiercely. If she hadn’t fallen, it would have knocked her over. Believing she might be in the way, she struggled to stand and keep going, when her feet went out from under her again. She fell a second time, throwing her hands out to help break her fall. Gasping, she fought to catch her breath. Her body was singing from adrenaline.

Several strands of hair blew into her eyes. Brushing them away, she glanced up…and almost stopped breathing.

The glowing blue man stood several yards away. He was scrutinizing her, almost studying her, a frown on his arresting face. He wasn’t a giant any longer, but at ten to fifteen feet tall, he wasn’t what she considered to be normal-sized.

She continued to stare up at him. Again, she wondered if her mind was playing tricks on her. If she was hallucinating. If her medication was creating this image. But if it wasn’t, damn!

Unabashed, she let her eyes roam over his body. His nude and undeniably fine-looking body. Even his slightly flaccid dick was impressive.

If he was real, who was this guy?

He moved as if to come toward her, but hesitated. Ceris watched as a humongous rope dropped from the overcast sky. The man grabbed it and cast her one final unreadable look before hoisting himself upward.

She kept her eyes on him as he pulled himself hand over hand, until he disappeared into the darkening clouds. An instant later, lightning forked across the sky, and enormous drops of rain began to deluge the survivors.