Paul was snapped back to reality by the sound of burning metal. At least, he would have if he could have heard the fire over the whining turbine engine.
He realized he was face down on his seat cushion; his hands tightly gripped the woven nylon straps on the bottom. His gut reaction was to begin kicking wildly to shore, until he realized there was no shore to kick to – he was in the middle of a grassy clearing surrounded by trees. Without catching his breath, he began to look around.
To the north was a long path of scarred earth, which he knew was where the plane came in, as dust still danced and swirled in the wind at least thirty feet above the ground.
His senses returning, Paul had a moment of shock as he connected the loud whistle of the turbine with spinning metal blades of death. As he turned, however, the turbine was already winding down.
“Out of gas, heh.” Paul mumbled to no one.
The flames surrounding the airliner grew higher. The engines might have been out of fuel, but the fire was far from it.
Paul made no effort to look for survivors; he wasn’t a hero, not really, never had been. He sat down on the seat cushion and watched the flames.
As he heard sirens approaching, Paul suddenly remembered to take off his parachute, and threw it onto the rising flames, which made quick work of the thin material. The media would have a hard time making him into a miracle man when they found out he was the only one on the flight who packed a parachute into his carry-on. The feds would start asking all sorts of questions, too, connect the fire back to him.
“Close one,” he said.