F7 South Dakota

By, Ashley Ellen

Chapter 1


We sat on the landing pad, preparing for a short flight over the Atlantic. It was 14:22, with winds at 32 East, alpha leopard. I was strapped in back. I always am.

“Deeter did you know I’m in training to fly this thing?”

“Oh yea?.” He lifted his arm and slugged me.  

“Yea. I am. But Cooper hasn’t passed me yet. Have you Cooper?”

“Neal… no, you’re not through with training yet. Are you fastened back there?”

“Of course I’m fastened. Ally, are you R-E-D?”

“Yes Neal, I’m R-E-D.”

“Deeter, are you R-E-D?”

He turned to Cooper, “Fuck, man, I’m not doing this today. Let me out.”

“Deeter, we’ve already engaged—Cooper has locked and engaged. We are set for takeoff in 13 seconds.”

“Cooper, I’m not fucking copping you, I need to get out. I’m fucking nauseous!” He reached for the hatch.

“Deeter! No! R-E-D! R-E-D! Fasten! Cooper! Disengage! Disengage! Ally—help me—can you reach his belt? Deeter, stop moving! Let—”

“Cooper, I swear if you don’t unlock this door–I am going to fucking vomit all over the goddamn floor.”

Cooper smiled, pulled back and engaged the jet, we hurtled forward. I strapped on my goggles as I prepared for the first 10 g’s to hit. My head always feels the pressure, pretty intensely. Don’t get me wrong- I’ve been through some tough shit; one time in China we were flying real low, followed by fifteen XX17’s—the kind with triple barrels, a whole squadron of ‘em. We kicked back at 280 degrees, that’s a move that takes training. Not that I can pull off something like that, but I can navigate like a freaking hawk.

We maxed at 16 g’s, in a near-vertical incline, the sun was piercing the damn nose-I could barely see. Deeter was gripping his forehead. He started banging at the window hatch- pounding his fists, smashing hard. “Cooper–I fucking said–”

And then he hurled all over the cockpit. All over Cooper.

“Ahh, God Deeter!”

The windshield was covered in a spray of fucking custard. Coopers hands were slipping all over the steering. We were decelerating. Dropping air fast.

“Cooper! We’re swerving–do something!” Ally jumped forward, flailing her arms and pulling her hair out. Deeter was still blowing chunks.

“Fucking shit man, unlock the door, pull over, let me out, I’m going to punch your face out.” Deeter reached over to the steering wheel and jerked it right.

“Cooper–F7, eject, eject, we’re going down!” Deeter turned and knuckled me in the jaw with his stinky, soupy hand.

“Shut your fucking face kid. I can’t fucking take it!”

“Don’t! He’s just playing! You don’t have to be a stupid jerk Deet!” Ally cried. “Cooper, please, please! Slow down! Dad is going to kill you.”

Cooper swerved off the road and into the field, spinning shitties, dirt was flying. A heard of cows scattered before the truck. Deeter spewed again. Ally shrieked. Deeter smashed the window out. Cooper accelerated hard, heading towards a slow calf ahead. “No, Cooper! No!” Ally was cupping her face, sobbing under a tangled mess of hair.

The breaks slammed. Cooper jerked the keys out, swung the door open. “Stupid kids.” He tossed the keys at Dad and wrenched the front door open. Dad barely looked up from his beer.