Fortunate Son

Jane Harper

RATING: R for language 

SYNOPSIS: Leo and Sarah get away for a _long_ weekend. 

ARCHIVE: Sure! Just let me know where. HTML version available, email me. 

DISCLAIMER: I'm just a stowaway on the USS Sorkin. Please don't toss me overboard...


Leo opened his eyes. Everything was dark; even the normal eerie glow of the instruments had gone. He was still strapped in, and when he reached down to open the buckles he winced. Gingerly, he leaned forward, pushing the yoke back off his lap, systematically flexing and relaxing to see what hurt. Reaching under his seat, he pulled out the fire extinguisher and the Mag-Lite. Then he turned to Sarah, shining the flashlight in her direction.

She was still strapped in as well, but leaning sideways into the broken door. Her eyes were closed and there was blood on her forehead, but she was breathing freely. He reached over to feel the pulse in her neck, then turned to survey the rest of the cabin.

Several of the instruments were smashed, including the GPS receiver. Remnants of their dinner were scattered everywhere. Turning around, he tried to reach his briefcase but couldn't; his right arm didn't seem to want to bend that way, and he winced and cursed in the attempt.

Finally he managed to get the door open on his side, and slide out onto the ground. He had managed to bring them down blind on a level patch of rock, but the landing gear were mangled and one of the propellers was bent; they weren't going anywhere. There was a nearly-full moon hanging low in the sky, giving the surroundings a ghostly glow. As he stood beside the wreckage he heard Sarah's voice, first weakly, then stronger.

"Leo? Where are you?"

"I'm over here," he called back, walking around what was left of the plane.

She reached up to wipe away the stuff that was in her eyes, and her hands came back red. "Oww!" she cried, pulling the gash back open as she tried to clear her vision.

"Are you OK?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said, "but we're done traveling for tonight."

"Where are we?"

"Beats the hell out of me, the GPS is dead. Last fix I had we were about 75 miles east-northeast of Tucson, so my best guess is that we're somewhere in the Coronado National Forest." He laughed out loud. "I guess I should have listened to Jed when he was babbling about National Parks and Forests, I might know how to get us out of here."

She reached over to unfasten her restraint and open the door, then looked down the two-foot drop to the ground. "How am I gonna get out of here?" she asked.

Leo laughed. "Alley Oop, to the rescue!" He walked over to her and held his hand up for her to wait, then opened the door behind her and tried to grab her folded wheelchair. It took both hands, and when he stretched out his right arm to pull, he lost the grip, and flinched, hard. "Shit!" he said, then turned toward Sarah. "Well, Toots, looks like I've got a busted wing."

"OK," she said. "Come here, let me lean on you." Then she turned to the side, pulled her legs around to dangle them out of the door, and eased herself to the ground. As she slid down, he turned to support her with his good arm, and together they managed to get her several steps away from the plane and onto a safe spot nearby. Wiggling herself into a reasonably comfortable position, she beckoned for him to squat down next to her so she could examine his arm. Squeezing softly from the shoulder on town, he grunted when she got to the wrist. She smiled. "Good news. You've only got a broken wrist, it doesn't look displaced, and you won't have a big honking cast when we get back."

"And the bad news?" he asked.

"No handsprings for a couple of months," she responded.

"Well there goes my future as an acrobat."

She winked at him. "Shut up and go get me your briefcase."

He rummaged through the rear seat area until he found the well-worn leather valise, and brought it back to Sarah. She pulled several thick stapled papers out of it.

"I hope these aren't classified," she said, grinning.

"Me too," he echoed.

"Now," she went on, "take off your socks."

"Take off my what?"

"Your socks, Leo. I need something to tie this onto your arm with, and socks are stretchy."

He started to sit down on the ground, but she yelped. "Not there!"

Instinctively, he jumped up and back, then looked down. There was nothing at his feet except a nondescript green-gray scrubby plant, about a foot long, maybe an inch high.

"That's a jumping cactus," Sarah said. "You would have had a butt full of needles."

He looked skeptical.

She reached in her pocket and pulled out a scarf, then flicked one corner of the material across the little plant. The scarf came back full of spines. "The needles have little hair-like things on the end. When these are disturbed, the spines are launched in the direction of the disturbance."

"Are you channeling the President?" he asked.

* * * * *



Fortunate Son - 3




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