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Gate 21



There are planes that arrive in the night. There’s a voice in the control tower that no one can hear, speaking of crafts that no one can see, arriving at a gate that does not exist.

This is where your ticket leads. The agent looks away when you hand it over. With it in your pocket, you pass the quiet newsstands and empty cafes while the gate numbers tick along.

18.

19.

20.

The hall ends. You must have taken a wrong turn.

You check the ticket again, just to be sure. With it in your hand, the hall quietly falls open, and the blank wall unfurls while shadows solidify.

The hallway is long- too long- and the tapping of your travel-worn shoes echo with each step you take. Windows open up to a frigid night where snow-topped planes sit still and empty. The snow drifts so slowly you could scarcely say it was falling. In the distance, you see the number 21 glowing in the faded fluorescent light.

You arrive at the gate. It is vast with hundreds of nondescript, empty seats graced by only a few fading souls. Under their hoods, their hats, and their weariness, you cannot see their faces. The gate displays the departure time but is a time so distant, you cannot read it.

You take a seat at a coffee shop with a single seat. It’s for you. The man at the counter brings you what you want without asking and, after he disappears behind the counter, you forget his face. The coffee is lukewarm with the same heat as the air. Drinking it feels like breathing. You swirl the foam around the little cup and are dragged through time until your flight announces that it is boarding.

The others vanish through the jetway before you approach to present your ticket. The gate agent takes it but keeps holding out his hand. You feel through your pockets and find something that wasn’t there before. You pull it out and see something with the heft and sheen of gold in your hand. You pass the obol along and the agent beckons you on.

As your round the bridge and board the plane, you see its cabin reach along farther than you can see, bathed in an ambivalent blue. You walk and walk and walk down empty rows until you find the seat that is yours. You take a seat and look out the window. The snow is still floating. The white noise deafens you.

The rumbling of takeoff puts your weary mind to sleep. A plane that no one else saw disappears into the sky.

Recommended1 Simily SnapPublished in Adventure, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Sci Fi

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