There is another leg to the Dirty Goggles Blog Hop, around Diesel Punk. This is a genre that I don’t understand as well, but love to see it growing. There is a lot of excitement in the art deco, tight military lines on the uniforms and equipment, and general sense of bleakness right around the corner, held back by honor and duty. I couldn’t pass up a chance to get another story in before the Hop closes.
“…I’ll always love you, but I just have to move on.”
Matthew folded the letter precisely, making it small enough to fit inside the sunglass pocket on his flight uniform’s vest. Right against his heart, where he always kept the latest letter that Maddie sent him. The perfume she dabbed on the note made it up to his nose, even through the oil and fuel scents. This note had no perfume, though.
The stresses at home had been too much for her to keep waiting, he thought. With the rationing and the destroyed cities sending refugees into homes that weren’t at full occupancy. Still, if she thought it was bad there, she should see it here at the front lines. With planes being shot down almost as fast as they could be built, and the men flying them barely able to reach the pedals, the Allies were in a bad way ever since the enemy put ray guns on the newest Fockers. Once their armies got established in Greenland, their bombers were nearly unstoppable and kept dropping bombs on American cities. The whole East Coast was dark, and the fighting had pushed up into the Midwest, not far from where Meredith was. Or at least, where she used to be. He didn’t even know where she lived anymore.
Running through his preflight automatically, his hand passed over patches and fresh welds. The engines were brand new, after the last pair were destroyed, and the patches rung solidly when he rapped them with his knuckles. He couldn’t afford one to blow loose during a tight turn and fly right into the propellers. Even a Rolls Royce couldn’t keep him in the air without blades to grab the wind.
As he was completing his walk around, a woman approached from the control tower. Heavy boots were an ill fitting addition to the tight uniform skirt and blouse, fitted a little too tightly and straining across the top buttons. The beret on her head did little to keep her dark curls from blowing across her shoulder and into her face. She crisply handed Matthew a folded piece of paper. He glanced inside to see orders and targets, along with the most current weather and troop positions available.
“Thanks, Janice. Always count on you.”
He glanced at her and almost smiled. She had no idea what was in the damned letter, but every time he read it his ice blue eyes glistened with unreleased tears. Just once, she wished he would look into her smoky dark eyes and really see her. She smiled a sad smile and saluted him.
He turned to face her, returning the salute. She added, as she always did “Fly safe, and come back home to us.”
He nodded, already in another world, then turned and climbed up into the fighter cockpit. As he locked the canopy, he watched the ground crew, and checked that his rotors were clear. Starting the engines, his expression changed from pained to peaceful as soon as he felt the comforting vibrations. No matter how dangerous the mission, he always felt safest in the cockpit. It was on the ground that things were really risky.
She stepped back off the flight line, and watched the arcane hand signals passed between pilot and crew. Finally, the wave to take off was given, and she watched the engines pull against the braked wheels, hungry to leap into the air. Sunlight glinted off the clean lines, and for just a moment, there was a perfect pause as Janice was able to see the precision machine working at full power, living as it was meant to, before the brakes were released and the whole thing shot down the runway.
Walking back toward the control tower, the exhaust from the departing plane must have blown into her face. What other reason could there be for her eyes to be watering so much?