Emergency Landing

Bethany heard the door open and closed. Meg, looking a bit disheveled and more exhausted
than was normal after her return shift, flopped onto the couch without looking up.
“Weren’t you supposed to be back yesterday?”
Meg sighed. “We had to make an emergency landing.”
Bethany nearly dropped her phone into her lap. “Oh my god, Meg, was everyone okay? Are
you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m here, I’m fine.”
It was so Meg to act like this was nothing. “Come on, what happened,” Bethany asked her,
empathy as plain as in her voice as the concern.
“Well, Joseph, one of the other stewards, was the first to smell it.”
“Smell what?”
“We didn’t know, something bad though. We thought at first it was coming from one of the
bathrooms, but it wasn’t going away, and we started hearing the passengers asking each other
about it.”
“Oh god, so it stank in the plane? Was it a gas leak?”
“No, but some of the crew thought it was. You can’t actually smell gas.”
“What? Of course you can. Haven’t you ever seen those giant billboards around town that tells
you to call if you smell gas?”
“Yeah, but they add a chemical to natural gas so you can smell it.”
Bethany looked skeptical. “I don’t think that’s true.”
“It is, look it up.”
Bethany pulled up wikipedia and scanned through the article on natural gas.
“Huh. You’re right, they add something called ‘mercaptan’ to make it smell like rotten eggs.”
“Right, and there’s no natural gas on the plane, so it’s not that, jet fuel smells like kerosine
which isn’t what this smelled like, and it kept getting worse. The passengers were getting
scared, and the pilots were even smelling it through the security door. They deployed the
oxygen masks as they announced we were making an emergency landing.”
“The masks came down? That’s so scary, everyone must have been freaking out.”
“Oh yeah, they were. People were screaming, some were crying, and we had to fight to keep
them in their seats as we dropped altitude quick.”
“I would have been losing my shit if that had happened, and you sat down like this wasn’t a big
“Let me tell you, passengers are not good about getting their masks on in a panic, We had at
least one guy pull it out, and that was a mess. So don’t repeat this next part, and they definitely
weren’t telling any of the passengers this, but they told us they feared it was a terrorist attack.”
“Oh my god! So someone was releasing toxic gas!”
“You could say that.”
“Meg, what the fuck!”
“So forty-five painfully tense minutes later the plane lands. Thankfully we weren’t that far from
the nearest airport, and they cleared the air and runway for us. It was a good thing too,
because it was getting bad. A couple people vomited, and that kind of thing is infectious. It set
off a chain reaction and it reeked something awful. And the whole time everyone was getting
more panicked.”
Bethany was too riveted and shocked to reply, and her mouth hung open as Meg continued.
“An emergency response teams was there along with ambulances, police officers, and the fire
team to help out. They had us pop the emergency exists and use the slides in addition to the
main door which they brought a mobile staircase to get people out with. I found out later that
since they weren’t sure if the gas was heavy or not, and not all the emergency crew members
had gas-masks, they were taking a risk by venting the cabin that way because it might have
sickened them too.”
“Did it?”
“No, they were fine, but we ended up with a number of injured passengers as people started
fighting and climbing over each other to either get themselves or their children out of the plane
faster. There are going to be so many lawsuits by the time this is all over. It ends up taking
almost an hour to get everyone off the plane between special needs, safety precautions, and
the injuries and fighting. It was such a mess.”
“So what happened? Was it really a terrorist attack?”
Meg was trying to fight grinning
Bethany gave her a sideways glance. “Why are you grinning.”
“So I left something out. There was a guy on the flight that was still asleep even when all the
shit hit the fan. The guy sitting next to him was so freaked out hat it took him awhile to realize
it, and when he tried to wake the guy he couldn’t. He started shouting that the guy was dead,
and we almost lost control over the situation.”
“That’s not funny!”
Meg held up her hands and signaled her friend to wait for her to finish.
“So we’ve been instructed to not take our masks off or to leave our seats, so we talk the
passenger through checking the guy’s vitals over the intercom. He’s got a pulse and he’s still
breathing, so we have the passenger get the guy’s mask on and that helps keep everything
from boiling over.”
“I still don’t see what’s funny.”
“So this guy still isn’t responding to emergency crews. I don’t know who
it was, but while one of the paramedics in the ERT was getting something to bring the guy
back around, one the others figured out that the smell was coming from him.”
“…You don’t mean…”
“They give the guy something and he wakes up and is fine — he apparently had narcolepsy
and had taken too much of his prescription GHB — but yeah, this guy had been non-stop
farting the foulest sleep shits imaginable.”
Bethany started shaking, then couldn’t keep it in any longer. She started outright laughing, and
Meg followed until they were both in tears.
“So yeah, that was my day. How was yours?”