About the Author

Robert McGill

Robert McGill is a novelist and associate professor of English at the University of Toronto.

Books by this Author
The Mysteries
Excerpt

“Hello?” she shouted. “Is anybody out there?”

As she moved out of the headlights’ glare, she began to see the shapes of white objects scattered across the dark field. A wheel, a door, a portion of the aircraft’s tail. Dozens of unidentifiable metal pieces. Farther ahead was the main section of the plane, and she realized that it must have slid more than fifty yards to have left wreckage behind it for such a great distance. She called out, and when there was no response a sickening ache grew in her gut. She stepped forward with dim horror, afraid of what she might trip over.

After the litter of parts that preceded the bulk of the fuselage, she was surprised to see the body of the plane was almost undamaged. The windows had shattered, but it was still upright and otherwise intact. Perhaps the burst of flame was simply from the friction of impact, the resulting fire only burning grass, so dry and dead along the runway that it had been consumed quickly.

From beyond the fuselage she heard sounds of movement.

“Who’s there?” she said.

There was no answer, but the sounds continued: the clatter of metal against metal. She moved slowly around the plane, thinking against all probability of the tiger. When she reached the far side, her chest contracted at the sight of a figure on all fours. It wasn’t any animal, though. It was Stoddart Fremlin.

He looked up at her.

“Help me,” he said. “Help me gather it all up.”

“Dr. Fremlin, are you all right?”

“I don’t want them to see what happened.”

“You shouldn’t be moving. You could be injured.” She went up to him and put a hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off. He smelled of alcohol. “We shouldn’t be this close to the wreckage. The fuel could ignite.”

“There’s no fuel,” he mumbled. “Damn thing ran out of gas.” He continued to slide around on his hands and knees, picking up pieces of debris and throwing them into a pile. It was difficult to tell in the darkness, but she couldn’t discern any wounds — no gashes in his clothing, no contorted limbs.

“Dr. Fremlin, you were just in a plane crash. You’re in shock. You need to go to the hospital.” But she almost believed that he didn’t.

“They’ll put me back in jail,” he said. “I wasn’t supposed to be flying.”

“Don’t worry about that. The important thing is that you’re all right.” She heard the sound of engines and looked back to see headlights approaching from the road — her hatchback, and then the other Ferry cars behind it. “Please try not to move, Dr. Fremlin,” she said. “There’ll be people to help you soon.” She ran to meet the approaching vehicles.

“I called the emergency numbers and then your mother took over,” said her father from the hatchback as she drew near. “The whole town will be coming now.”

He was right. Within fifteen minutes, it seemed like everyone had arrived. The peace of the night was replaced by the flashing lights of ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks. Esther Fremlin and her boyfriend were on the scene, and Harry Midgard was talking to them. But Stoddart Fremlin was nowhere to be found. In the interval when Bronwen had run to speak with Hamish and her father, he had vanished.

From the Hardcover edition.

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War Is Here

War Is Here

The Vietnam War and Canadian Literature
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover Paperback
tagged : canadian
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