The Fighter Pilot's Nightmare

Author | PJ Stephenson

They come at night.

The images.

Again and again
swirling round my head

like a reel of sepia celluloid.
A blurred surrealist film
snippets of my life. Repeating.
Repeating.
Repeating.

Long-buried feelings bob to the surface
like barrage balloons
in a turbulent sky
waiting to explode.

I fly through clouds and conflicting sensations.
I’m a graceful swallow with elliptical wings.
My contrails are white paint strokes
caressing an azure canvas.

Then I’m frenzied, frantic.
A grey curtain descends over my salt-stung eyes
as I dive for my life
a snapper on my tail.
Screaming.
Screaming.

The iron-crossed behemoth looms
in the red glow of my gunsight.
His slipstream hits me
rippling, bumping, bucking.

Tentacles of tracer are probing, grasping, clawing.
As they touch my wings
pebbles rattle in a tin can.

I feel my thumb pressure
and my Spitfire spits fire. 
Burst after burst.
After burst.
After burst.

A storm explodes around me.
Thunder is the throbbing engine
named for a medieval wizard.
Raindrops are bullets smashing Perspex, 
holes riddling a fuselage.

A bundle of life is born from the dying machine, 
blooming as a mushroom of silk.
Then as a collapsing funnel. Falling. 
Falling.
Falling.
Gone.

Flames caress wing roots.
As the bomber cremates
smoke paints the sky with fuzzy grey lines.

And a screenplay is written
for my nightmares to come. 

Again.

And again.


About the Author | PJ Stephenson is a British writer living near Geneva, Switzerland with his wife and Parson Russell Terrier. He sees the Alps every day but misses the Cairngorms. His fiction is inspired by history, nature and human nature. He has had short stories published online and in print in outlets such as Writing Magazine, Writers’ Forum Magazine, Dream Catcher Magazine, The Fiction Pool, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Frontier, STORGY, Edify Fiction, The Sunlight Press, The Short Story and several anthologies. Follow him at @Tweeting_Writer.