The Last Flight of the Liberator

tabithatabsbarclay

Tabs pulled on her leather flying cap and buckled its chin strap. Big John, her sponsor and co-pilot, strode across to her from the aircraft hangar; he wore his shiny and new leather flying suit which creaked slightly with each stride.

“So, little Miss Tabitha, what do you reckon—do you think that we will break the two-seater altitude record?”

She smiled. “With the work I’ve done on the Liberator—the aerodynamic grooves I’ve cut—I’m certain sure that we’ll do it. Do you trust me?”

“Of course.”

Tabitha Barclay felt fantastic. Finally, she would show her family what a competent pilot she is. When they read in the newspapers about her achievement… She thrilled at the thought–goosebumps peppered her bare arms. She slipped into her flying jacket. “Stay focused—no daydreaming!” she resolved. At last, her moment had arrived.

“Big John, let’s do it!”

“Today is a good day to fly!”

She swung herself into the rear cockpit, strapping the safety belt across her shoulders, and then she checked the dials, tapping their glass face with her nail. Big John clambered into the observer’s seat “Whooping” as he did so. Tabs pulled down her goggles.

“Contact! Chocks away!”

The Liberator began to taxi over the grass; Tabs’ head leaned over to one side so that she could see. She pointed her ship’s nose into the headwind, glancing across at the windsock repeatedly. Big John gave her the “thumbs up.” She grasped the joystick with both hands and pulled it backwards, the throttle opened and the engine roared, one bump, two, and its wheels let go of terra firma, they were off!

Tabs stepped upon the left pedal, the rudder swiveled, and the Liberator banked. She unfroze a grin which had fixed itself upon her face.

And that is when disaster struck—the propeller sheared off.

The ship nosedived, spun, and then belly-flopped into a pond. Tabs lost consciousness.

She stirred, aware of a swishing sound—it was a wave oscillating between the water’s edge and the dead ship, and click-click-click-click-click. A green felt fedora bobbed behind a bush on the pond’s bank. It was a reporter, snapping numerous photographs of the wreckage.

Big John pushed his goggles up, and stiffly, as if he had slipped a disc, he turned round.

“I’m sorry, Tabitha, but I asked someone from the national press to come and record our historic flight.”

The reporter called across the pond to Tabs.

“Miss! Miss! have you anything to say to the readers of The Globe?”

“Fuck off!”

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