Janice was on an airplane headed to a conference she didn’t want to attend. The woman next to her spilled a cup of wine on Janice’s lap and then, a few minutes later, turned her nearly empty bag of miniature pretzels inside out to get at the broken bits in the corners, showering Janice with salt and crumbs. Behind them, a child howled for an entire hour. Above, one baggage compartment door kept coming unlatched. A flight attendant shut it several times but it wouldn’t stick, so she moved the luggage to another compartment but the door kept flapping around as the plane trundled on.
About halfway through the flight, the seatbelt lights flashed on. The attendants whispered in a cluster at the back of the plane before buckling themselves into fold-out seats. A disembodied pilot’s voice brought warning of severe turbulence. Soon, the cabin went dark. A rush of air swept through the aisle.
In the end, the plane made a fiery crash landing in an icy field. Janice remained conscious throughout the entire event. About half of the passengers survived. Janice untethered herself from the wreckage, managed to find her suitcase, and emerged onto the ice where some of the uninjured survivors wandered aimlessly, their sooty faces contorted in disbelief. Emergency personnel arrived along with a television crew. As the unaffected loaded people onto stretchers and set up their cameras, Janice stood off to the side behind a pine tree. She realized this was her one chance to disappear entirely, without questioning or investigation. Everyone would assume she had been killed in the crash. A team of men hoisted large hoses up to the smoldering debris. Janice pulled a cigarette from her cape and walked into the snowy forest, dragging her suitcase behind her. She had always enjoyed the cold.