Write It Sideways

Excerpt Critique: “Final Flight,” Action

For those of you who enjoy a little action, here’s another anonymous excerpt ready for your constructive criticism. Please read the piece, then leave some feedback in the comment section below.

Final Flight


The autopilot-controlled Mooney gracefully banked into a coordinated left turn to the new southeast heading of 131 degrees. By Roy’s preflight calculations, in 34 minutes his airplane would turn back to the southwest over Catalina Island and climb out to sea.

Roy planned to be unconscious by then. He briefly fondled the Percocet bottle, and then swallowed six pills with a generous swig of Glenlivet. As numbness rushed to his brain he reminisced about Jordan and their last night together, ten years ago during Desert Storm.

Their F-14 Tomcat had just gone feet wet returning to the aircraft carrier after a routine combat air patrol over southern Iraq. Once beyond range of Saddam’s depleted air defenses, the two friends relaxed into casual conversation.

“What do you hear from Rachel?” queried Jordan from the backseat.

“Starting college next month,” Roy answered. “I don’t hear much from her these days.”

“Probably another guy in her life now, man. Time for dear old dad to take the back seat.”

“She may have a boyfriend,” said Roy, “but Daddy will always be first in my little girl’s life.”

Jordan laughed. “You talked like that about her mother. Viv had no trouble finding someone new.”

“You are a real jerk, Jordan,” Roy barked. Then suddenly, “Hey, what the–” A flashing yellow light on the instrument panel captured his attention. “Shipmate, we have a fire light, right engine.”

Larry recited emergency procedures as Roy shut down the troubled engine. The Tomcat yawed forcefully. He jammed the rudder to the floor, desperately trying to keep it in control.

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