It was a small plane, a Cessna 406—a bushplane—and the engine was so loud, so roaring and
consuming and loud, that it ruined any chance for conversation.
occurring at the beginning
There had been the
initial excitement, of course.
elevation above sea level or above the earth's surface
He had never flown in a single-engine plane before and to be sitting in the copilot’s seat with all the controls right there in front of him, all the instruments in his face as the plane clawed for
altitude, jerking and sliding on the wind currents as the pilot took off, had been interesting and exciting.
a steady flow of a fluid or gas
He had never flown in a single engine plane before and to be sitting in the copilot’s seat with all the controls right there in front of him, all the instruments in his face as the plane clawed for altitude, jerking and sliding on the wind
currents as the pilot took off, had been interesting and exciting.
an unchanging intonation
But in five minutes they had leveled off at six thousand feet and headed northwest and from then on the pilot had been silent, staring out the front, and the
drone of the engine had been all that was left.
pass gradually or leak or as if through small openings
Instead his eyes burned and tears came, the
seeping tears that burned, but he didn’t cry.
give evidence of
On the dashboard in front of him Brian saw the dials, switches, meters, knobs, levers, cranks, lights, handles that were wiggling and flickering, all
indicating nothing that he understood and the pilot seemed the same way.
get on top of; deal with successfully
He leaned over and lifted the headset off his right ear and put it on his temple, yelling to
overcome the sound of the engine.
move obliquely or sideways, usually in an uncontrolled way
slewed suddenly to the right.
a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation
But the pilot had put his headset back on and the
gratitude was lost in the engine noise and things went back to Brian looking out the window at the ocean of trees and lakes.
move haltingly and unsteadily
Now the plane
lurched slightly to the right and Brian looked at the pilot.
a vast treeless plain where subsoil is permanently frozen
He was working in the oil fields of Canada, up on the tree line where the
tundra started and the forests ended.
uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
Now there was a
constant odor, and Brian took another look at the pilot, found him rubbing the shoulder and down the arm now, the left arm, letting go more gas and wincing.
draw back, as with fear or pain
Now there was a constant odor, and Brian took another look at the pilot, found him rubbing the shoulder and down the arm now, the left arm, letting go more gas and
a small ax with a short handle used with one hand
Inside there was a
hatchet, the kind with a steel handle and a rubber handgrip.
slightly fat or bulky
The head was in a
stout leather case that had a brass-riveted belt loop.
And he would normally have said no, would normally have said no that it looked too
hokey to have a hatchet on your belt.
contort the face to indicate a certain mental state
Brian turned again to glance at the pilot who had both hands on his stomach and was
grimacing in pain, reaching for the left shoulder again as Brian watched.
heard or perceptible by the ear
The pilot’s words were a hiss, barely
a painful and involuntary muscular contraction
He stopped as a fresh
spasm of pain hit him.
an abrupt spasmodic movement
And now a
jolt took him like a hammerblow, so forcefully that he seemed to crush back into the seat, and Brian reached for him, could not understand at first what it was, could not know.
fixed and unmoving
The pilot’s mouth went
rigid, he swore and jerked a short series of slams into the seat, holding his shoulder now.
an instrument that measures the height above ground
Down beneath that were dials with lines that seemed to indicate what the winds were doing, tipping or moving, and one dial with a needle pointing to the number 70, which he thought—only thought—might be the
altimeter. The device that told him his height above the ground. Or above sea level.
He had seen the pilot use it, had seen him
depress the switch at his belt, so Brian pushed the switch in and blew into the mike.
make a thrusting forward movement
He felt like a prisoner, kept in a small cell that was
hurtling through the sky at what he thought to be 160 miles an hour, headed—he didn’t know where—just headed somewhere until...
a valve that regulates the supply of fuel to the engine
Or he could pull the
throttle out and make it go down now. He had seen the pilot push the
throttle in to increase speed. If he pulled the
throttle back out, the engine would slow down and the plane would go down.
not clearly understood or expressed
He had a
vague feeling that he was wrong to keep heading as the plane was heading, a feeling that he might be going off in the wrong direction, but he could not bring himself to stop the engine and fall.
rough to the touch
Pulling until his hands caught at weeds and muck, pulling and screaming until his hands caught at last in grass and brush and he felt his chest on land, felt his face in the
coarse blades of grass and he stopped, everything stopped.
become less in amount or intensity
When he opened them again it was evening and some of the sharp pain had
abated—there were many dull aches—and the crash came back to him fully.
deep and harsh sounding as if from shouting or illness
He mumbled it, almost in a
His forehead felt massively swollen to the touch, almost like a mound out over his eyes, and it was so tender that when his fingers
grazed it he nearly cried.
a small part remaining after the main part no longer exists
He pulled the torn
remnants of his windbreaker, pieces really, around his shoulders and tried to hold what heat his body could find.
a vast multitude
With it came some warmth, small bits of it at first, and with the heat came clouds of insects—thick, swarming
hordes of mosquitos that flocked to his body, made a living coat on his exposed skin, clogged his nostrils when he inhaled, poured into his mouth when he opened it to take a breath.
intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain
In the end he sat with the windbreaker pulled up, brushed with his hands and took it, almost crying in frustration and
confusion characterized by lack of clarity
Brian watched them for a time, still in the half-
daze, still not thinking well.