It started with me being on a flight to Oslo. I had a mild fear of heights which had resulted in a fear of flying, so I had opted out of a seat beside the window. And there sat a gaunt-looking business man fiddling with his wristwatch, constantly checking the time per second.
I shut my eyes as the plan chugged giddily into the atmosphere. “Fear of flying?” he asked, I nodded and looked away from the window.
He gave a small hum. “you would have been better off on the 2:30 flight to Stockholm. I was supposed to be on that godforsaken plane you know” he said with an irritated little groan, checking outside the window. I looked at him, trying to avoid concentrating on the clouds gliding by the window behind him and asked “what do you mean better off?”
“Literally,” he elaborated, “godforsaken. There was a terrorist on board.” My brow creased into a frown. “How could you possibly know that?”
He heaved an angry sigh, “the boss is going to murder me, the terrorist was off to Stockholm. 2:30.”
“Boss?” I tried to imagine what line of work he was in. “Hades” he muttered. I couldn’t help but feel curious, “hades, as in god of the underworld?”
“God?” he chuckled. “This is the twenty first century. We say CEO now.”
I was too nervous and tired to question the logic behind it. “So if your boss is hades, what does that make you?” I asked, a mixture of sarcasm and inquisitiveness etched on my face with a grin.
“Death” he replied cheerfully, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a business card. Where his profession should have been, it read, ‘Destroyer of worlds’. Nodding slowly I pocketed the card.
“Any last regrets?” he asked offhandedly. “You know, before you die?” “Die?” I repeated. “What do you mean die? You said the terrorist was on the other plane?”
The man shrugged, “By getting on this flight I screwed up Fate.” he said with a little remorse. At the moment, Fate is probably trying to fix things to ensure the terrorist gets caught.”
“That’s nice,” I said slowly.
“Yes, No its not really. You see, when the terrorist gets caught, the engine of this plane will fail and you’ll all die horribly.” “The boss will have me working overtime for days” he grumbled.
There was a brief silence between us as he silently lamented over his ruined free time and I anticipated a camera to pop into my view with chants of “you’ve just be punk’d”. At that moment life felt short and baseless.
“So!” he said, suddenly perking up as he remembered his previously novelty conversation starter, shuffling around in his seat to face me better. “Regrets. What’s you greatest one?”
Every time I thought of something to say, words failed me. I opened and closed my mouth, like a fish out of water. There were many things that I hadn’t achieved, no love, no extraordinary achievement. My life flashed through my eyes in HD. It was quite hard to narrow it down.
Glancing around I took a survey of the passengers enjoying their unknown last moments and, “I’ve never tried sushi”.
“That’s it?” “That’s your biggest regret? Ever?” he was curious. I shrugged. “Probably”.
He gave a small hum of acknowledgement. “I haven’t heard that before” he admitted.
My mouth managed a little grin, somewhat against my will. He was startled. Then after a little pause he asked, “Aren’t you afraid?” “Not really,” I admitted. “More disappointed”.
He was poised to reply, but his thoughts were cut short by a metallic ring and he dove into his pocket and fished out his phone.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, checking the screen briefly. “Fate’s just texted, the engine is going to blow in less than a minute.” He looked at me with a vague apologetic shrug.
There was a tiny pause in our conversation before I turned a
little to face him and asked, “Well, what about you?”
He gave me a funny little look. “What about me?”
“What was your greatest regret?”
An odd expression clouded his usual look of cheerful
disinterest. He scratched his chin slowly with his thumb and
said, “Well, I don’t know. No one’s ever asked.” He gave me
an odd, searching look and repeated, “No one has ever
I just looked out uncomfortably to the scene framed in the
aeroplane window behind him. I silently observed the drop
that would mark the end of our flight and lives.
He frowned deeply, pulling my attention back to the
conversation and away from my impending death. “I’ve
seen a lot. I mean, my intern period was during the Crimean
War. That’s a big question.”
In a quick, elusive little moment, I could see him consider
everything. Heroes riding into doomed battles, soldiers
brandishing flags heavier than a thousand words, and bullets
racing through back alley. The roar of the people as empires
collapsed, cities burned and martyrs fell all flickered by.
The man slowly twisted the lid back onto his empty flask of
coffee. “My biggest regret?” he asked, tucking the phone into
his pocket as a siren started screeching above us and the
plane’s left side jolted. “Probably getting on to the wrong
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