“Pulpit duty, Bill!” called Major Jack Larson. It was August 1915.
Shit! William Miller lowered Ransome’s biography of Oscar Wilde.
“Orders. Sorry.” Nicotine-stained fingers tossed Miller a small envelope containing white powder.
With cocaine surging through Miller’s brain, their BE9 experimental biplane roared upwards, leaving Farnborough far below. Before long, the English Channel sparkled, silver and luminescent beneath them.
Hitting the French coast they turned northwards, soon spotting their target, the ominous cigar-shape of a London-bound Zeppelin.
Miller’s body vibrated with the thunderous noise of the engine directly behind him. Mounted in the wooden pulpit before him lay the powerful Lewis gun, its magazine loaded with incendiary rounds, ready to ignite the airship – and its occupants.
Suddenly, hearing a high-pitched whine, Miller looked upwards, shielding his eyes against the sun. Something silver flashed and for the first, and only, time in his life he saw the glint of a Fokker Eindekker. He felt his guts emptying.
Then came the wasp-like buzzing of bullets and Miller and Larson were spiralling down towards the sparkling waves. Miller knew Larson was gone and he cursed the BE9’s designers, knowing that in one minute’s time, the RAF-1a engine would impact his spine.
Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories
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