January 3rd, 2007

Snakes On A DVD

Snakes on a Plane came out on DVD today, but I didn’t buy it. There are lots of reasons not to – it’s violent, it’s foul, it’s gory, it probably won’t hold up to repeat viewings, yadda yadda yadda – but there was only one real reason I didn’t buy it:

I didn’t have to.

The fellow over at Snakes on a Blog put up a post saying New Line had given him ten copies of the DVD to give away to his readers, so he had people submit an “If I were on the flight…” story of 500 words or less, with the top ten stories winning a copy. I was “Winner #3,” a place I was more than comfortable with. There were about 40 entries submitted, so I had a 1 in 4 chance at winning. Pretty good odds, so not really an entry for the “Big Win!” column. Still, winning stuff’s always fun and I haven’t done much of that in my life.

Anyway, here’s my entry. You don’t have to have seen Snakes on a Plane to “get” it, but there is another movie you will have needed to see. And if you haven’t seen that movie, you need to get crackin’, as it’s a classic.

I am tired – bone-tired. This trip hadn’t gone like I’d planned and my future wasn’t looking so bright. This time yesterday I was looking forward to going home, but after the voicemail I got last night… well, now I’m not so sure what I’ll find there. If my key still works in the lock I’ll take it as a good sign.

I stow my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment and sit down. I don’t like aisle seats, I like windows seats even less, and just thinking about the idea of sitting in-between two other people makes me claustrophobic. The fellow in the brown leather jacket by the window is already asleep, by the look of his fedora pulled low over his face. I’m jealous, as I know I’ll never be able to get to sleep, even as tired as I am. After all this time, I am still hyper-aware of every noise and movement, sure that every one signals the plane’s doom, and there’s no way to shut my brain off and fall asleep. It’s days like today that I seriously consider taking up drinking.

I’m halfway done with my crossword puzzle when there’s some sort of commotion up by the bathroom. We’ve been in the air for a while, so I figure it’s just someone feeling cooped up and needing to vent a little. Then I notice the lady on the other side of the plane slumped over in a weird-enough way to suggest she isn’t sleeping. I’m about to call for a flight attendant, when the lights go out. I’ve got an LED flashlight in my bag, so I stand up to get it.

When I open the overhead compartment, something falls on my shoulder. I figure it’s a strap to someone’s bag, so I pick it up to put it back in the compartment. It’s right about the time the end of the strap is on eye level that I realize it’s no strap. Staring me in the face is a green mamba, today’s answer to 32 Down. I’m surprised enough to be seeing a snake on a plane that when it hisses and strikes, I barely have time to dodge and it’s not enough. I feel the fangs sink into my ear. And then again into my cheek. And then my neck.

I fall into my seat, stunned that this is happening and no one seems to notice. I can’t speak, and I’m flailing my arms around like an amateur semaphorist, and in the process I smack my sleeping seatmate fairly soundly. He comes to with a “Hey, buddy…,” sees the snake attached to my neck and scrambles to flatten himself against the window.

“Why snakes? Why did it have to be snakes? Anything else,” he says.

He reaches under his jacket to get something, and I have just enough time to wonder how he got that bullwhip through security before everything goes black.

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