The Fall of Bottoms Up Betsy
I wrote this story sometime back around 2009 which incorporates a few of my favorite things into it, airplanes, history and zombies. After I finished I posted it on the Library of the Living Dead forum were Dr Pus read it and decided to work some magic on it for use in the now defunct LOTLD Podcast. When I first heard what he did with it I was floored so I’ve included the audio version along with the written version.
Anyhow, this is what you get for free…..
The Fall of Bottoms Up Betsy
Metal slugs punched their way into the aircraft with a fury. Glass and metal exploded inward, the shards punching into the soft flesh of all those in its way. With a howl of delight the wind forced it’s way in through the newly created holes sharing it’s cold forcefulness.
Captain George Mitchell rose back up in his seat and reached forward for the controls. Eyes quickly shut as a laceration drained blood into his eyes. Squinting as the salty mixed stung at his eyes he reached up and attempted to clear his vision. With his vision clearing he quickly glanced at the gauges on the console before him while grasping the yoke with both hands. The console before him lay broken and battered, in sections daylight was visible. A clear result of bullet holes that had made their way into the cockpit. His hearing started to return and was flooded with the howl of the wind and abusive echoes of metal slugs peeling their way through the interior of the ship.
His mind snapped back to reality and he looked over towards his co-pilot. Lieutenant David Baker was slumped over to the side, his right shoulder and head dropped towards the side window. George reached over to shake the young Texan to try and bring him back to consciousness. The violent shaking caused the man to fall towards George who jerked his hand back in horror. The young Texan was clearly dead. One of the incoming bullets that had punctured their aircraft had torn into the man’s skull. Everything to the right of his nose had been removed leaving pieces of skull and brain scattered onto metal around him. George screamed in horror at the sight before instinct worked its way into his hands.
Training took over and George tore his eyes away from his co-pilot, the vision had burnt it’s visage into his mind and he could still see it as he fought to regain control of the huge aircraft. The controls fought back at him, the plane did not want to level out. It had accepted its fate and was preparing to roll over onto its belly to spiral down into the sea below. Not wanting to accept this fate George slammed his left foot to the floor forcing the huge tail rudder into the wind. Muscles in his arms strained in protest as he fought to pull back on the yoke Slowly the aircraft responded as three of the four engines on the aircraft smoked furiously.
Outside of the huge aircraft swarms of smaller fighter aircraft made their way around the wounded plane. Burst of machine gun fire erupted from their wings only to punch holes into the Fortress. Each shot that hit home release metal, fluids and blood into the freezing air. Most of the time it was a mixture of all three.
In the height of the attack, when it was clear that they attacking aircraft would claim a victory that would cause the large bomber to fall into the open waters below, they broke off the attack. George was looking furiously out over the port wing at one of the tiny white planes that had flown up besides them. He could have sworn that the pilot was viciously shaking his head right before broke left into a tight turn. The white wing with the red dot on it was the last he saw of the attackers.
““Cap! Cap!” yelled a man in a bloodied flight suit as he made his way towards the cockpit.
“Yeah Mickey, how is everyone back there?” George replied to the top turret gunner as he fought with the controls.
“Jesus Christ!” the man said when his eyes meet by the destroyed skull of his former Lieutenant.
“How is the crew?” George yelled back over the rushing wind.
“Their dead Cap,” Mickey said hysterically , “they’re all dead!”
“We ain’t doing that well either Mickey. Betsy is hurting bad.” George replied as one of the engines gave a final cough and started to die. Pulling back a handle on the throttle column the propellers on the dead engine changed their pitch allowing the wind to cross over them with little resistance.
“We must be nearing something though Cap, they left us.”
“Your right Mickey, get your chute ready, we are going to have to jump.” George commanded.
“Awe shit Cap, into the water?” the man replied while tightening the straps on his parachute in the confined area.
“There’s a island about five miles out over there,” George said as he pointed through the broken glass at the small brown dot in the ocean of blue.” I’m heading that way.”
Dark black smoke trailed behind the lumber B-24 Liberator as the three remaining engines fought for life while flame tried to consume them. Slowly they were being overcome though by the wounds they had suffered. As the ruptured oil and fuel lines feed the fire they also cut off the much needed fluids that gave life to the engines. Bottoms Up Betsy, as she was lovingly named by her crew, was dying.
“Shit, there goes number 3.” George yelled as the engine lost it’s battle for life. “Mickey, open the bay doors we are getting ready to leave.”
Standing on the thin metal walkway behind the cockpit Mickey pulled a lever on the bulkhead. For the second time today sunlight filled the aircraft as the huge bomb bay doors slowly opened. This time however, the ground was not visible below them. There was no military outpost below that the 8,000lbs of bombs that had filled the bomb bay would be destroying. This time there was just the empty blue ocean awaiting the two surviving crew members of Bottoms up Betty.
The muscles in George’s arms burned with fury as he fought to keep the aircraft aloft. It did not want to fly anymore and with each passing second it attempted to plunge to its fate. George wasn’t going to let the happen. He was going to get Mickey to safety. Everyone else had died but they would live. He had managed to keep the plane in the air with only two of the four engines barely running.
“Mickey, this is it, jump!” George yelled back to the young man standing behind him.
“Not without you Cap.” He stubbornly replied.
“Jump now, when I let go she’s going to pitch” yelled George, “GO..GO Now!”
In one swift move George released his hands from the control yoke while quickly jumping from his seat. Turning to leave he was able to catch a glimpse of Mickey jumping out through the empty bomb bay. The explosion of the number 1 engine slammed George to the metal floorboard of the aircraft as the plan pitched violently to the left. With the remaining strength left in his body George pushed off of his surroundings and jumped to the bomb bay as the plan slide over on its side. Flipping his body through the opening George bounced off one of the opened bomb bay doors and tumbled into the open sky.
With a of the ripcord the canopy escaped into the wind and slowed George’s decent as the parachute opened fully. Hanging in the straps George looked around quickly for another open chute below him. As he worked to spin his parachute around the vision of Mickey’s chute came into vision a few hundred feet below and behind him. The sound of an explosion jerked his eyes skyward.
Her port wing had just been blown off as the fire that engulfed the number 2 engine had finally reached the wing tanks. Betsy had already rolled over onto her side and as the wing separated from the rest of the aircraft as she began to spin violently as the fire spread through the gas lines. Within seconds the Betsy was crumbling apart on its trip towards the sea.
“Goodbye Betsy.” George said to himself as he watched the broken bomber fall into the sea.
Below him the island was coming into view on his rapid fall to earth. The you make it to the island, Betsy had at least got them that far so there was hope. There appeared to be some troop movement on the beach line as well. It was hard to tell from his vantage point but it looked like a Marine landing party had already hit this island from the shapes of the vehicles.
It would only be a few more seconds before he would be on the ground. Landing was always the worst. Thinking back to his training George prepared himself. His training never involved landing in a group of trees however. Looking back towards Mickey he saw the young boy land on the beach and imagined the surprise on the Marines faces when he dropped in on them.
Pain shot through George’s body as he slammed into the tree line and broke through to the limbs on the way to the ground. The parachute rigging was tangled up in the upper growth causing George to be suspended a few feet above the ground. A bloodied white bone poked through his flight suit coursing the pain of the break throughout his body. His screams echoed out into the jungle as the unbearable pain washed over him before passing out.
With a scream George opened his eyes as additional pain ravished his body. Looking down he noticed the figures below him were biting into his legs and tearing the flesh from them. He screamed uncontrollable at the site of these men chewing on his legs. Between bites their shriveled dead faces looked up at him. Insects swarmed their decaying bodies crawling in and out of the open wounds on their bodies as they chewed on George’s body. Limping and crawling more of them drug their decaying bodies towards the screaming. There was nothing George could do as he hung there screaming while his life was taken away, one bite at a time.