To Die on a Thursday
Jill didn’t plan to die on a Thursday.
She hated crosswind landings and her Cessna wasn't a fan either. Mateo had warned her and even begged her not to land at the village today. It had rained for days and the airstrip would be a swamp. He wore many hats: village doctor, policeman and mailman. And even the matchmaker. It was no secret that he had a crush on her, but she wasn’t interested. Her goal was getting the village the medication and supplies they needed, that was her job.
The village airstrip just ahead, she cut power and prepared to land, aiming the Cessna at the thin green stripe cut into the forest canopy was like a carrier landing at sea.
But something was wrong. Smoke was rising from the village and at 500 feet she saw the fire. Suddenly the plane was struck from below. An explosion rocked and rattled the plane, then everything went dark as smoke engulfed her. Flying blind, she pulled up and went full throttle to fly clear of the smoke.
But as she began the climb out, a series of impacts hit the fuselage like a dozen steel hammers. Two bullets tore through the floor and exposed daylight while the rattle of automatic gunfire continued. "Fly the airplane. Breathe!" She told herself.
A second later the gunfire faded as she scanned the gauges and leveled out. A searing pain caused her to look down. A bullet had torn a gash in her leg and a steady trickle of blood was dripping from the wound. Below the village was burning and bodies were scattered everywhere. The stories and rumors about Chacon's men were true, he took no prisoners and spared no one.
She keyed up the microphone to call air traffic control, but got no answer. The gunfire must have hit the radio. Her heart sank with the thought of her friends in the village. "I hope Mateo and his daughters knew to run and hide."
She tied a spare shirt around her leg to slow the bleeding, but it wasn't working. Now feeling woozy, things got worse. The needle on the oil pressure gauge had started to drop.
"Life isn't fair," she said to herself, "I always wanted to die on a Friday."