Tag: Pilot

PILOT: Pilots of Time by G Ackman

Word: PILOT
Word Count 500

Pilots of Time
by G Ackman

Mabel didn’t really want lunch, but she knew if she didn’t eat some of it, they would give her grief about it. She really was too excited to eat. Today was Tuesday, and on Tuesdays Oscar came to visit. Dutifully, she swallowed another spoonful of soup and took two bites of her sandwich. She thought maybe it was tomato soup and grilled cheese, but she wasn’t quite sure. Her mind was on Oscar’s visit.

Mabel wiped her mouth and put her napkin on her plate, as she was taught to do when she was just a little girl. She slowly and painfully used her arms to wheel herself to the front door, so she could be there when Oscar arrived. There he was, coming in the door now. Her trembling hands reached out for him and when the woman – Mary? Sarah? – No, Carol, that was it. When Carol put Oscar in her lap, her years and infirmities melted away like ice on a summer day. Oscar’s head nuzzled sweetly against her neck and one of his little paws was lying protectively on her chest. After he said hello, he gave her cheek a little lick – just one – and then settled into her lap, his brown eyes looking up at her and telling her that he was back, and for just this moment, it was only the two of them. Mabel came alive on Tuesdays. Oscar took her back to better days, when she had her little Gretel to jump up on her lap, and Frank was snoozing in his own chair beside her. In those days, they traveled, they entertained, they square danced – they were active. Her hands didn’t shake uncontrollably, her mouth could form the words that her brain wanted her to say, and her feet took her where she wanted to go. Those days shone like jewels in Mabel’s mind and it was the normalcy of holding little Oscar that illuminated those jewels. The rest of her week was spent counting down the days until Tuesday when she would come alive again.

Today’s duty nurse was new and this was her first Tuesday. When they told her Carol would be bringing a dog in for the residents to spend time with, Karissa was skeptical. Dogs were not clean and maintaining a hygienic environment was vital to the health of the residents. However, one look at Mabel’s eyes, usually dull, dry, and lifeless, now sparkling with life and love changed her mind. She walked over to Carol and introduced herself. “What made you start to do this,” she asked.

Carol, watching the line of residents waiting for their turn to hold Oscar, smiled gently. “I know what my dogs mean to me and how it would destroy me to not be with them. I wanted to give that feeling back to these people, so I started the pilot program two years ago and now a network of dogs all over the country fly nursing home residents back in time.”

PILOT: PILOTING LIFE By Beverly Jones

Word: Pilot
Word Count: 464
PILOTING LIFE
By Beverly Jones
Some days my life is as placid as the end of the harbor on which we live. Some days are a little rougher. Today I needed a ship’s pilot, the harbor master, tugboat, GPS and Coast Guard to navigate. In other words, it was not a good day.
“Sweetie, you have dog breath.” I opened one eye. The warm body snuggling against me was not Steve, but our 120 pound Leonberger, panting and drooling at me.
“Oof.” I shoved him over the edge of the bed, peeled the cat from my head and sat up. I wished I hadn’t.
Eighteen hours at the hospital, an advancing weather front and three hours sleep triggered the onset of a magnificent, massive headache.
“Where is everyone?” I muttered. Oh yeah, Steve took the girls for the weekend to my sister’s where the kids would run riot around the back yard while the adults yelled at whatever team was playing football on TV.
The cat thundered down the stairs; the dog’s nails clicked on the bare rungs as I gingerly stepped, one cautious step after another down toward the first floor, where I stepped on a jack. Hopping on one foot, I yelped a most impolite word. Why can’t I have normal children who play video games and write on the walls? Instead, I have one who plays with jacks and the other who colors inside the lines.
Steve had undressed the paper from its plastic coat and thrown the wrapper on the floor. I stepped on it. I hopped and slid down the hall toward the kitchen, skidding around the corner. I finally smacked up against the counter, shoved the tea pod into the Kuerig® and reached into the back of the cabinet for my blessed pain killers.
I limped to the table, juggling hot tea, water glass and drugs. By the time I swallowed the pills, drank water and tea and stared at the neatly colored page which said “Momma, I love you. Feel Better” I was ready for a hot shower and bed.
With scalding water running over my head, I reached for the conditioner. It was just as foamy as the shampoo. I squinted at the label.
“Oh, expletive deleted. What idiot decided to put both shampoo and conditioner in the same shaped container? AND the same color label in teensy, teeny tiny print?”
I rinsed the shampoo out again, reapplied conditioner and finished my shower.
Towel drying my hair I wandered into the bedroom where the cat sat on my pillow. The dog peered at me with sad eyes.
“Oh, all right! Come on, dog breath.”
I crawled into bed. The dog snuggled against my back; the cat perched above my head; I sighed. My little corner of the harbor was peaceful again.

PILOT: “Recalculating” By Peg Scarano

Word: PILOT
Word Count: 502

Word: PILOT
Word Count: 502

“Recalculating”
By Peg Scarano

We all go through it – teenagers learning to drive. “It was the best of times,” because they could start running errands and drive themselves to and from practices. But “It was the worst of times,” because you had to let them go and suffer the internal bleeding that occurred every time they backed out of the driveway.

Julie was a week shy of 17 and had had her license for about six months when I got the dreaded question, “May I use the car to drive to the sectional game in Cooperstown?” Dear, God, what do I do? Her boyfriend was the star pitcher and it was a really important sectional game. “What time does it start?” I asked, hoping it was 9 o’clock and too late for her to be driving. Her eyes were shining with anticipation, “It starts at 7. I will leave at 8:30 no matter what. I promise. That leaves me 30 minutes to get home without breaking the law.” (They couldn’t drive past 9 without an adult in the car and if she got within the city limits, I think they would leave her alone as long as she wasn’t driving like a jerk). “Is Erika going with you?” “Oh, yes! I would never go alone.”

OK. So she had a co-pilot. And she had driven by herself out of town on two other occasions, but they were to places she had co-piloted with me countless times before. My thought process continued. This was Cooperstown. Only 35 miles and it was a beautiful day. I finally decided it had to happen at some point and reluctantly said yes.

The internal bleeding started immediately. It was slow and relatively painless at first. I kept myself busy while never taking my eyes off of the clock. We had no GPS or cell phone in 2001. Nine p.m. came and went. The internal bleeding was making me nauseous. 9:30. Nothing – my pounding heart increased the bleeding. 9:45. Nothing still. By 10 o’clock I was hemorrhaging and my heart was leaping out of my chest with every beat.

The call came at 10:15. “Mom?” (She’s alive! I am so happy! I am going to kill her!). “We’re at the Thruway in Schenectady and I don’t know whether I should go east or west to get home. Do you know?”

Stay calm. She still has to drive home…I sounded like a very composed Horace Greeley when I said, “Go west young lady.” “OK. Don’t worry! I’ll be home in a little while.”

The hemorrhaging slowed, but the internal bleeding continued until I saw the car pull into the driveway a little after 11 – only two hours late. Julie hopped out of the car and announced, “Boy, my co-pilot sure needs some more practice! We left Cooperstown right at 8:30 and ended up in Schenectady. I have no idea how that happened! I like it better when you’re my co-pilot!”
I was going to kill her, but I hugged her instead.

We all go through it – teenagers learning to drive. “It was the best of times,” because they could start running errands and drive themselves to and from practices. But “It was the worst of times,” because you had to let them go and suffer the internal bleeding that occurred every time they backed out of the driveway.

Julie was a week shy of 17 and had had her license for about six months when I got the dreaded question, “May I use the car to drive to the sectional game in Cooperstown?” Dear, God, what do I do? Her boyfriend was the star pitcher and it was a really important sectional game. “What time does it start?” I asked, hoping it was 9 o’clock and too late for her to be driving. Her eyes were shining with anticipation, “It starts at 7. I will leave at 8:30 no matter what. I promise. That leaves me 30 minutes to get home without breaking the law.” (They couldn’t drive past 9 without an adult in the car and if she got within the city limits, I think they would leave her alone as long as she wasn’t driving like a jerk). “Is Erika going with you?” “Oh, yes! I would never go alone.”

OK. So she had a co-pilot. And she had driven by herself out of town on two other occasions, but they were to places she had co-piloted with me countless times before. My thought process continued. This was Cooperstown. Only 35 miles and it was a beautiful day. I finally decided it had to happen at some point and reluctantly said yes.

The internal bleeding started immediately. It was slow and relatively painless at first. I kept myself busy while never taking my eyes off of the clock. We had no GPS or cell phone in 2001. Nine p.m. came and went. The internal bleeding was making me nauseous. 9:30. Nothing – my pounding heart increased the bleeding. 9:45. Nothing still. By 10 o’clock I was hemorrhaging and my heart was leaping out of my chest with every beat.

The call came at 10:15. “Mom?” (She’s alive! I am so happy! I am going to kill her!). “We’re at the Thruway in Schenectady and I don’t know whether I should go east or west to get home. Do you know?”

Stay calm. She still has to drive home…I sounded like a very composed Horace Greeley when I said, “Go west young lady.” “OK. Don’t worry! I’ll be home in a little while.”

The hemorrhaging slowed, but the internal bleeding continued until I saw the car pull into the driveway a little after 11 – only two hours late. Julie hopped out of the car and announced, “Boy, my co-pilot sure needs some more practice! We left Cooperstown right at 8:30 and ended up in Schenectady. I have no idea how that happened! I like it better when you’re my co-pilot!”
I was going to kill her, but I hugged her instead.

PILOT: Yearning for the Pilot Seat By B.A. Sarvey

Word: PILOT
Word Count 499
Yearning for the Pilot Seat
B.A. Sarvey
The Navigator. A lofty name for what she always considered a loathsome job. She wanted to be the pilot. The one in control. Not the one who found the information the pilot needed. The navigator doesn’t even get to determine where the vehicle is going; only how to get there. It was a job she hadn’t asked for, yet seemed to have been stuck with since childhood. The name and face of the pilot had changed a few times over the course of her life, but she was still the one in the navigator’s seat.
That squiggly squizzle of black lines across a map, meandering like skinny little centipedes searching for a path out of the car, meant nothing to her as a child. Dots and mile-markers and route numbers—oh my! Add up those miniscule figures to determine the mileage? She was already car-sick, her stomach lurching with each acceleration and bump, her throat constricting to keep it all down. Now the muzziness in her head, the stabbing pain behind her eyes, choking on salty tears because she let her father down. She couldn’t read a map right-side-up. How was she supposed to read it when they went south and she had to turn it up-side-down?
A necessary skill. That’s why Daddy wanted her to navigate. It was a math lesson, a reading lesson, a chance to communicate without having to say much.
Maps aren’t just for driving. Maps are for life. You can’t get lost if you know where you are and where you are going.
But what if you don’t know where you are going? Or worse yet, where you are? Never a numbers person, landmarks were how she negotiated everyday life. Yank her out of the familiar landscape and she would wander aimlessly—sometimes happily so, other times fearfully—yet always, like a compass swinging north, she would be pulled to what she knew. Didn’t need a map for that. And if you didn’t go far, poor navigation skills didn’t matter.
Now, suddenly, she was in the other seat. The longed-for pilot’s position had been vacated. She was the one who had to fill it, and not just in the car. Nothing, not mile-markers or map legends and scales, or compass points, had prepared her to steer.
Looking in the half-empty closet, she mentally filled it with her own shoes and shirts. Was that his after-shave lingering in the sheets—or her imagination? Dust bunnies leered from the corners of the room where his hobbies had been housed. Maybe, she considered, I could move my sewing in here. If he doesn’t get annoyed.
The navigator looked in the mirror. Looking back at her, the pilot said loudly, “This is my house, now. The destination is my decision. So is the route.” She wasn’t used to hearing her thoughts spoken. The new voice was like a street sign in the woods.
You can’t get lost, if you know where you are, and where you are going.

PILOT: HEALTH DEPARTMENT WARNS OF INVADING SPECIES By Nan Ressue

Word: PILOT
Word Count: 240

HEALTH DEPARTMENT WARNS OF INVADING SPECIES
Nan Ressue

Good evening Central New York. This is your announcer, Lyle Boseley , reporting from WKTV, Utica, New York with current news of interest to all householders in Central New York.
A federal pilot project is underway to study a recently reported invasive species detected in upstate New York’s homes as described in last month’s public service bulletin. It is described as a small, mucus covered slug which enters the household via the plumbing, first invading singly and then in colonies. They have an intense addiction for human earwax and will probably be first detected in your shower, seeking out those individuals with lush accumulations.
Officials recommend two circles of double sticky tape around your waist to confine them to the navel area.
Studies have shown that these animals can be retrained to reject ear wax and develop a taste for belly button lint. Also proven is that their route to the ear can be redirected to the navel area once they encounter the sticky tape barrier. Once a preference for the alternate product has been developed and they consume their fill, they become buoyant and specimens can be gathered for further study.
Be aware that negotiations may be required with individuals who have been previously saving belly button lint for pillow making.
Householders willing to participate in this pilot study should call the Health and Human Services Department at the White House.202-456-1111.
This has been a public service announcement.

PILOT: Encore By Sharon Collins

Word: PILOT
Word Count 563
Encore
By Sharon Collins

Every autumn we re-enact a Comedy of Errors before the proscenium arch of our propane fireplace. It really does have a proscenium arch, as it’s what’s called a Bed and Breakfast Unit, and sits high on the wall of our comfortable farm kitchen.

After the first year of ownership, when we did not shut off the gas for the summer-season, we discovered a pilot light can burn approximately 30 gallons of propane between the final frost of spring and the first frost of fall. We learned to throw the switch after that. Of course, we do so now with deep trepidation, as we realize that at some point the cold nights of September will require we undo, what we’ve done.

Undoing, that simple flick of a wrist requires the tools of a master mechanic, the skill of a surgeon, and the courage of a Saint George the Dragon Slayer. None of these do I possess merely, so I must request the assistance of my husband. Bull in a China shop. Need I say more? So I usually wait until the wearing of a stylish blanket serape becomes a necessity before asking. Once the plea for help goes out, he leaps into action. Before I can say, “Please don’t get your fingers on the glass fire-plate,” he’s already smudged it beyond easy repair. The specialty cleaner must be procured and utilized. But I get ahead of myself. Before we need to clean and replace, we must actually reignite the pilot.

Our B and B fireplace is not only extremely functional, it’s quite attractive. Said attractiveness requires, ugly inner workings be camouflaged. The itty, bitty, teeny-weeny, impossibly small opening where the propane emerges, is accessible only by reaching under, between, and behind some very realistic looking logs and over some oh-so-light-as-air steel wool artificial embers. As the average adult human hand cannot deliver flame to the gas jet, this maneuver can be accomplished only by taping a long handled wooden match, you know the old-fashioned kind, to a sacrificial chopstick. If we are lucky, re-ignition takes under a dozen attempts, we retain our eyebrows, and we have to open just one window to clear the air of propane and profanity. If we are incredibly lucky, we don’t jostle said realistic looking logs or embers. We are not often lucky and so must consult the iPhone photo I have learned to take for proper placement. Improper placement results in ghostly smoke smudges obscuring the cheery flames. The only thing worse than having to perform this Comedy every September is having to repeat it in October.

Once the pilot is lit and reliably burning, as reliability seems to be a factor of air bubbles in the line, the logs are aligned, the embers artfully arranged, and the glass is sparkling, we begin the final act, the replacement of the face-plate. Together we maneuver the 35 pound wrought iron and tempered glass flush to the wall and hope the fasteners line up. The only way we know is to let go. If they are lined up, the curtain can come down and we can take our bows. If however, they haven’t lined up, the whole thing threatens to crash to the floor and we have to catch it, which of course requires us to start all over. Maybe 30 gallons of propane is cheap price to pay…

PILOT: Pilot By Anne Nassar

Word: PILOT
Word Count
Pilot
By Anne Nassar
Ella couldn’t go to school. And so her world was very small, and Tessa was at the center of it. But Tessa was mysterious, alien, unknowable. Ella knew her father. He answered questions. She’d seen the house he was born in, and the church where he was baptized. She’d seen the Christmas tree ornament that he made for his mom when he was in kindergarten. His best friend when he was little was still his best friend. But Ella could not know her mother. There was simply not enough information available.
One day, when Ella was putting her mother’s folded white underwear in a dresser drawer, she found an envelope. She knew that she ought not open it. But, heart pounding, she did. And inside were photographs. On impulse, Ella tucked the envelope into her waistband and buttoned up her long sweater. She smuggled the envelope to her room. She didn’t shut the door, because she never did, and if she had, her mother would have become suspicious.
The first picture was of several redheaded kids sitting under a Christmas tree. She recognized her mother right away; she was skinny, browless, and lashless, but she essentially looked the same. She stared at the photographer with bruised hostility. The other kids wore similar expressions. It was as though the person taking the picture was a colonizer or a gulag guard. There weren’t many presents, either. Ella counted: four boys, two girls, besides her mother. Where were they? Maybe something had happened to them. Maybe there had been a fire, and they had all perished, except her mother.
In the next picture, a fat woman with cat eye glasses and stringy hair fed a tiny, red-faced baby a bottle. At her side was a stained Samoyed. Could this be her grandmother? She hoped not – the woman looked like a trash bag. The last photo was of a pilot, standing in front of a dark green helicopter. He was shirtless. He had his hand on his hip and he had one of his feet propped up. He looked proud, cocky. She liked him right off. Maybe it was her grandfather?
“What are you doing!”Her mother descended upon her like a dragon. She snatched the photos away from Ella, and with her free hand, she grabbed a pillow off the bed and hit Ella in the head with it. It didn’t hurt, but Ella began to cry, anyway.
“How dare you steal my things! How dare you? I don’t have anything in this whole house, nothing is mine and the few little scraps that I have, you just had to take from me!”
“Mom, I’m sorry!”
“You’re a terrible kid, Ella. You’re a traitor.”
Ella wanted to protest, but she didn’t know how. She wasn’t sure what she had done.
But it couldn’t be undone, that she knew for sure.