I was on a flight to LA, and could see dark clouds in the distance. I was about to doze off when I noticed him. He was two rows ahead of me and across the aisle. He was staring at me, smirking.
I'm afraid of flying, and he knew it. I could tell by the way he looked at me, taunting me with that smile.
Then I noticed his odd clothing: a gray jacket hanging open, exposing his black waistcoat that partially obscured his white dress shirt. And he had a hat, gray like his jacket and pants, which looked like the kind of hat reporters in the '30s or '40s might have worn. Or Dick Tracy.
I began to sweat. He continued to stare straight into my eyes, unblinking.
I turned away, looking again out the window. From where I sat I could clearly see the wing of the plane, which was kind of a blessing, as it somewhat blocked the view of the far away ground.
Absentmindedly, I glanced back toward the irritating and unnerving man. To my endless relief, his head was turned in front of him. He was looking down at something. He moved a bit and I could see that it was a pocket watch attached to a chain running from the pocket of his waistcoat.
At a certain point he seemed satisfied and put the timepiece away. He looked at me again, still smirking. His eyes flicked toward the wing that extended beyond my window. A finger scratched his brow.
Then, as though on cue, I felt a strong compulsion to look back at the wing along with him, like there was something important that I couldn’t miss out on; a morbid curiosity of sorts.
A bolt of lightning hit just outside my window. One of the engines erupted into a ball of orange flame, consuming a sizable portion of the wing. The tongues of flame licked toward me, a helpless feast.
Everyone panicked and screamed. The plane dove, descending at an exponentially increasing speed. I didn’t feel the crash.
I awoke on the ground, every inch of my body screaming in agony. Flames and debris surrounded me; it almost seemed like drowning in the middle of the ocean.
My vision was a bit blurry. I managed to turn my head to the side a little, and I saw his silhouette standing over me.
I blacked out again.
I've been in the hospital for weeks now. The doctors tell me that I shouldn’t be alive. They also say that this mysterious man is just some kind of hallucination brought on by the trauma I’ve experienced, and that the mind can fabricate false memories.
I know better.
This evening I’ve done nothing but watch television. Some reality show or other--I’m not really paying much attention.
Just now that annoying weather alert erupted loudly from the speakers. Text scrolled across the bottom of the screen, informing viewers that there is a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch until 7 p.m.
It is 6:59.
I know what happens next. He's standing in my room now, smirking while staring at his stopwatch. His hand is reaching up to scratch his brow.