Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Drop The Needle 30

Flying Grounded (Romantic Suspense)

As soon as the indicator light showed wheels-on-ground, Penn felt the cockpit bob as someone climbed the steps and hovered behind him. He glanced at the mirror. Finch, with his ever-present clipboard. Two, in fact. The familiar electric blue plastic clipboard Finch never seemed to be without and a battered brown pasteboard one tucked under his armpit.

“You’ve got injuries, Captain Penn. You’ll want one one three four,” Finch said, reaching over Penn’s shoulder to punch in the code to start the new recorded message to the passengers.

Batting the hand aside, Penn entered the code, leaving bloody fingerprints on the keypad. Finch hissed and grimaced. You’d think he had to personally clean the cockpits, Penn thought.

In the mirror, Penn watched Finch check his immaculately starched and pressed shirtsleeve for blood smears, then glance at the dangling harness in the right-hand seat.

“Who was your co-pilot?”


“Which Russell? We have three on payroll at Gant-Hang.”

Payroll, Penn thought. It had taken less than a week for him to realize Gant-Hang administration considered pilots mere employees. Not the highly trained, career professionals they truly were.

He turned to look at Finch. “I’m new here. His name tag said Russell. We didn’t take time to introduce ourselves.”

“Oh, that Russell,” Finch said, not responding to Penn’s dig, nor making a note on his clipboard.

“Here are the reports you’ll need to complete, Captain Penn.”

Penn hadn’t yet figured out how Finch managed to make the honorific sound like a put-down.


  1. Well... Finch is the secondary character.

    He works for the most part, but I think I would have liked him to have more presence. This could have been accomplished with a little more description of the cramped conditions of the cockpit. Maybe the warmth and smell of Finch standing behind Penn, the rattle of the clipboards when he reached over Penn's shoulder, maybe he bumps Penn's shoulder... details like that solidify him a little more.

  2. I still love this piece. Finch comes off really well as a snide, pompous jerk.

  3. I like this, but more because of what I get from the MC, Penn, than from Finch, who seems just an anal snob. Love the thought about the payroll. That's great!

  4. I was drawn in by the story, and Finch was compelling mostly by what he's not doing - there clearly was some kind of accident or horrible thing happening, and he's so nasty about it. It made me suspect him.

  5. I think Finch makes a strong SC. I find him unlikable and pompous. It's also intriguing that he's more concerned about blood stains than the dead or injured pilot.

  6. Very good job. I can just picture the pin-faced paper pusher.

  7. I really liked this. Finch's SC status, and uptight-edness come through loud and clear. He's the kind of character I'd like to throttle, and you write that aspect for him really well. Penn's voice also is fresh and engaging. Good job!

  8. Finch is great here! I love his 'stick to the rule book' attitude, and his pushyness. He really comes across as a jerk. I want to know more about what injuries happened and why. Nicely done!

  9. Ooh! That Finch is a snooty, officious SOB, isn't he? I've hardly met him, and already I was looking for a way to push him backward down the steps he just climbed.

  10. I'm guessing Finch is the SC. He sounds like a really annoying pencil-pusher. I already want to strange him. I particularly liked Finch's line "Oh, that Russell" - so simple and it says so much about Finch.

  11. Finch is the SC. He seems pretty full of himself, like he knows so much more than everyone else. That certainly came through, as well as Penn's dislike for him. Good job.

  12. I don't know Finch's rank or authority - probably that's clarified before the excerpt.

    But he's well-drawn and you've concisely made him officious, haughty and a boor in 250 words. Good job!