While he's Trey's younger brother, it's Hilary that he looks up to now that he has his legs under him. She tirelessly answers every question, while holding the pack to unyielding standards. Trav's respect for her command and dedication is unparalleled, and Trav would do anything Hilary asked of him to prove his loyalty.
There's a lot of terminology in this one, but I hope you understand him even through the jargon.
It all started with the motherf&*$ing ’ sky. It’s just so pretty, see? And who doesn’t want to touch it, or explore it, or just know MORE about it? I know that for as long as I can remember, it’s all I cared about.
I mean, I got Trey and Mama, of course. And sure, they’re important. But I don’t live and breathe for ‘em like I do the sky. Everything I ever did was to get to the sky. Early morning runs, workouts till I puked, endless math drills, joining ROTC – all of it was for that dream that was on my tongue, in my ears and in my heart every day.
I did ROTC in college and then IFS and became an SNA. They sent me to API in Pensacola. I did all right there, and then they sent me to Primary Flight Training at NAS in Corpus Christi. From there, I went to Tailhook at NAS Kingsville, TX.
I’m a good southern boy, and all these stations being near Georgia made it easy for my family to come to see me. Somehow, being away so much brought me and my brother closer. We really grew to like each other, and we’d talk for hours about what life would be like when I got out. We had plans, y’know. Trey’s a typical older brother, and wanted the very best for me – he was always pushing me hard to kill it so I could make something of myself.
We decided to go in on a little prop plane, and I was teaching Trey to fly. He was pretty good, but he had to work at it. I was patient, and kept teaching. It gave us something to share, y’know, and that was pretty important. We kept it back home, so I wouldn’t be tempted to do some dumb sh&t – cause as much as I planned every little detail of how to get to be a pilot, I love the sky. I just can’t resist flying.
The training and practice flights were everything I thought they’d be- hard, grueling, challenging; and exciting. I was a natural behind the stick, and I could taste my life right in my mouth every time I flipped on the jets of my bird- things were good.
And then. Something was twisting; turning- changing. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was ansty all the time. I just couldn’t stand anything; everything was crowding me. I kept having the strangest bouts of nausea- I could literally taste my girl’s fuel and the horrible chemicals in it. Everything around me made me mad; and I just wanted to get away. I felt a terrible homesickness I’d never felt before, and I knew that I had to be back near my family- or something terrible was going to happen.
I decided to go home, to the quiet of Georgia. I got a weekend pass, and grabbed my little prop and flew to a buddy’s farm. I put her in the barn for a while, and decided to take a walk, a nap- anything to settle my mind. I was just overwhelmed from all the stress of flight school- I’d be all right once I got my head on right.
I fell into a terrifying and fitful sleep. I dreamt of voices speaking a language that called to me, but I didn’t understand. I felt things like teeth tearing at my skin; but it wasn’t real. It couldn’t be real- it was a dream, right? I was running, and hiding. I was invisible, unseen by anyone around me. But I could smell them and taste their terror. I knew their weaknesses and breathed on their cold, fear soaked bodies.
I woke as the night was crowning, the sky empty and bleak. I had a sticky wet spot on my thigh, the pants ripped, but nothing but scratches on my leg. I must have torn at myself in my sleep- it’s the only explanation, I think. I saw the stars as I’d never seen them before, and I felt an incredible sense of longing, and for just the quickest of moments, I felt a connection to Trey - stronger than anything I’d ever felt before. Hilary, Trey’s “one that got away”, lingered in my head , touching and melding with my very core for a searing second. It was gone in a flash, and then that empty face above was looking down at me again. The sky was lonely; missing something that belonged. An unstoppable urge rushed over me and I was in my plane before I knew it, flipping switches and running down the dirt road, waiting to soar.
An unfiled flight plan is bad enough, but one in the dark, in the country, with no one around- it’s suicide. I started to feel the terror of my choice, just as I was in the wind, like the hair of an unseen woman above me. I felt a desperate need to get back, to flee, to hide. That’s when the hallucinations started- those voices calling to me, in that garbled language. I heard the air moving around me and my plane, loud and uncaring; I felt the vibrations of the plane like thunder about to rip my bones from the inside out. The lights on the dash seared into my eyes, like lasers seeking a target. And the fuel- that disgusting, sickening taste was back in my mouth. It was all flooding me at once, in waves and waves of restless and unending sensations- and the sky was lonely. I could feel my one true love calling me, and all I wanted to do was run away and hide.
I grabbed the controls, and my touch was violent and spasming. I couldn’t hold onto the grip, or I forced it too hard, or both; I don’t know. I was suddenly spinning out of control. I could see every twist, every turn, every rotation. I could feel every thrust, my body rocking and wild in the seat. I tried to grab control, to reach out and get my plane back in the sky- but I could see the ground coming too fast and too hard.
I smashed into the top of a forest, the treetops twisting the plane, flipping it like a child’s toy. I bounced and jerked and thrashed, something wrong with every muscle in my body- I was breaking from the inside out, and I hadn’t even crashed yet. My plane got hung up in a huge tree, as old as the forest itself, and I hung nose down. Every system was broken and blaring, and I could hear trickling, and smell something awful.
It only took a moment. A flash – a spark- something caught the fuel, and the loose electronics which were smoldering and whisping lit up. The fire raged, and so did I. As the fire consumed the plane, whatever was ripping me up from the very depths of my bones exploded, and I felt torn and stretched, but I was locked into my seat by the straps. Twisting and turning in my seat, I saw myself become something inhuman- something deeper and more in tune with the world around me. I watched myself burn alive. I smelled my own body, which was covered in some kind of protective fur, be fried and scorched beyond recognition; my senses screaming from the agony of every moment-
I woke, strapped to a bed, with Trey pinning me by straddling on my chest. Somehow his face conveyed everything without saying a word. I felt something brushing my thoughts, and I was connected to him again- but this was like a live wire shocking through me. His emotions and fears were just as loud as the sensations he experienced; he saw it. He saw it all. Hilary brought him to where I’d be- she KNEW it was coming but had to let it happen. He found me, upside down in my plane; melted to my seat as the fire raged out of control. He saw me screaming, awake but witless, and braved the flames to and cut me down.