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The Last Flight to Freedom
By Kenneth Lawson
The sound of an airplane woke him up from his reprieve.
The low rumble of the machine above him seemed to echo off the sides of the tall buildings he was hiding in between. He knew he couldn’t stay hidden forever, but he had been putting off moving until the sound of the engines reminded him of the urgency of his mission. Ducking under cover of an awning, he hoped he avoided being seen by sensors he knew they were using as the plane made another pass.
A few minutes later the plane changed its flight path, searching closer to his location. Time to move. He shifted his equipment and found a door and slid into the abandoned building. The marble floors and halls echoed of another time and place. The sound of his boots stepping on the stone floor echoed in the large lobby. It took a second for him to realize he was hearing his own footsteps and calm down enough to relax for a few minutes.
By the time he reached the stairs, his breathing was normal, but he knew the climb to the roof was going to be long and hard. He needed a tall building to make his stand, and this one was as good as any structure in the city. A stand to save what’s left of the country.
The long climb up many levels of stairs gave him ample time to review how the city and maybe the country had gotten to a situation such as this.
The truth of the matter was he wasn’t sure exactly what had happened.
Somewhere along the line, good intentions became personal intentions, and what was right for the world became what was right for the few, a very specific few. People charged with cleaning up the pollution and preserving what little resources the world had left became power-hungry. They embarked on a personal mission to acquire as much as they could with no regard for the people or countries they destroyed.
He had become an “outlaw” because he spoke out and tried to warn people about what was happening long before it became apparent. Now he was fighting to save them all.
His mission, at first, was to publish classified reports with disregard for their authority and flagrantly make them look bad in spite of their propaganda and the tales they sold to the peoples of the world. He had become a minor annoyance at first, then a thorn in their sides.
When the apocalypse came as he had predicted that it would, he was deemed people’s hero. He organized the resistance and found ways to get much-needed supplies and equipment to places where it was needed. No one had money but it didn’t matter, there was nothing to buy. They reverted to the barter system, and over several years they worked it out among themselves, learning to survive. However, not without bloodshed and death but eventually, the divisions were healed and they came together to fight a common enemy.
Meanwhile, the climate systems began to completely degrade and now the air was barely breathable most days, and through the polluted haze, the sun baked everything in its path.
As the resistance grew, what passed as a government insulated themselves in their own little world within domes in sections of the county that they didn’t destroy and kept all the resources remaining to themselves. They kept a full-fledged rebellion in check with bombing runs on resistance strongholds.
But the government’s resources were dwindling, they had the ability to farm but they were running out of refined fuel and were scurrying to bring the refineries in their territory online. The aircraft and fuel tanks were not protected by domes and the latest resistance raids successfully destroyed the aircraft and blew up the fuel tanks. Resistance spies later learned there was one plane left but had yet to learn of its location.
This was the last plane they could fly and harrassed the resistance members.
It was time.
It was past time.
The plane had to go.
The problem was he didn’t have a weapon to take down a plane in mid-air. Until now.
A search team looking for resources found it in a hangar on an old military base, still in its crate. Its ammo stored nearby, they now had a shoulder-launched, anti-aircraft, surface-to-air missile. No one had seen or used one for many years and they looked to him, their leader, to figure out how to operate it. A movie buff in his young years, he remembered an old war movie that used such a weapon. Hoping he had a clue how to use it, the resistance put a plan in place.
He had to be the target. So with communication equipment that they managed to get operational, he sent message after message to the government taunting them. Telling them he would take out their last plane. His last words were Come and get me. I’ll be in old New York City waiting for you.
So it was on this day word came that a plane was headed for the city.
He reached the roof of the abandoned skyscraper and uncrated the missile launcher.
Everything hinged on him.
He had one shot.
He didn’t have long to wait. He heard the low roar of an airplane. An old commercial jet if he remembered correctly. It was on a direct path toward him.
He stood braced against the strong winds and doubled checked the controls. Aiming to take the wind into consideration, he took a deep breath and held it as the plane rapidly approached. He caught movement, a hatch underneath the plane opening. They were prepared to fire on him. A calmness settled over him. He was not going to let that happen.
A loud noise erupted as the missile streaked from the weapon, louder than he imagined it would sound. He watched as the missile arced toward the plane. On impact, the plane exploded, the red-orange glow blinding in the hazy sunlight.
The remnants of the plane fell from the sky, crashing into the ground in the city canyons. The building he stood on swayed slightly as the echos of the crash reached him.
And the rebellion began.