Jack, a bush pilot, charters tours of Alaska’s terrain that includes night flights to view the aurora borealis from the sky. One fateful October night, when forecasters predict an exceptionally vivid aurora, Jack embarks on a solo flight to fly closer to the multicolored lights. Drawn to a fingerlike funnel that stretches toward the ground, Jack ignores the concerns in the back of his mind and flies through the anomaly before it dissipates back into the night sky. As Jack returns to the airport, he has no idea that his life is about to change.
Only a few days later, Jack is sitting in a local bar with friends when he suddenly realizes something is different. For a moment Jack seems to come out of himself – he can feel the pain of others, and sees brief flashes cross his mind. It is not long before Jack discovers he has developed a strange ability to entangle his mind with others. With his newfound gift, Jack soon finds ways to aid friends, uncover falsehoods, and even intertwine his mind with an eagle.
In this intriguing science fiction tale, a fearless pilot must come to terms with his telepathic ability and somehow weave his unintended gift into the course of his life.
He pointed the nose of his airplane toward the funneled aberration and flew straight through it. Despite the funnel shape of the aberration, the wind was calm as he passed through the aurora. The colored light danced all over his airplane like multicolored fireflies that were swarming around his plane. It took him just over a minute to fly from one side to the other. As he flew through it, he thought to himself, Are you nuts, Jack? What are you doing? But he continued on, seemingly oblivious to his inner thoughts, which emphasized caution. As he exited the funnel, he turned his plane to the left and circled the aurora funnel, staying a few hundred yards away from its edge. He checked his instruments and radios to see if anything unusual had happened to his plane. Everything appeared normal. He turned sharply and headed back into the aurora and began a spiral climb up through the center of the aberration, climbing steadily as the colored light danced across his wings. It was much brighter in the aurora than in the night sky, but it was not as bright as daylight. It reminded him of an amusement park ride at night, with flashing lights that lit up the ride and made the rider forget that darkness was only a few feet away. He kept climbing until he was close to his maximum altitude of eighteen thousand feet, where the plane struggled to gain additional altitude. Then he turned his plane to the right and began a long spiral descent through the aurora. As he picked up speed, the display of light across his wings was spectacular. The air flowed more quickly across his wings, taking the light from the aurora with it, appearing almost like colored caramel that flowed across the wings as they sliced through the air. He descended until he came out of the bottom of the funnel at around twelve thousand feet, and then he turned his plane around and began another ascent back to 17,500 feet. When he got to altitude this time, he pulled the nose up at a steep angle and waited for the airplane to stall; then, as the nose dropped, he applied full left rudder and sent the airplane into a controlled spin. He had done this maneuver many times, first as a student pilot twenty years prior as part of his training, and then periodically throughout his time as a pilot to keep his skills intact. In fact, during the check rides he needed every two years to keep his license current, several examiners had asked him to demonstrate entry into and recovery from a spin. It was a common maneuver, one any good pilot could perform successfully. Beyond that, Jack mused, it’s also a lot of fun. Jack spun his airplane down through the auroral funnel. With the spectacular display outside his window and the sensation of g-forces as he spun, he began to laugh. He was on a natural high; in fact, he felt a little giddy. “I haven’t had this much fun flying in years,” Jack laughed as his plane descended.
James Michael is an aeronautical engineer and an avid science fiction reader and writer. The former pilot has lived in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Seattle, Montreal, Munich, Germany and London, England, but now happily resides in Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife and daughter.