"Will I dream?"
"Oh it's so much more than a dream," said the woman in a mint green uniform with navy piping and a yellow and blue cravat.
"You're very...vivid...am I unconscious already?" A young woman leaned back in her plush blue chair, her eyelids drooping. Long hair flowed down her shoulders and pooled on her chest. She wore a pink cotton shift.
"Would you like some coffee?" said the woman in the uniform.
"I can offer you a wide selection of beverages, to make your journey more comfortable."
The young woman sat straight up and thrust her hands towards the woman in uniform, grasping at the lapels of the uniform.
"Who am I?"
"Please, miss, just relax." The woman in uniform peeled off the young woman's hands.
"Why am I on an airplane?"
"It's a suitable analog metaphor. It makes the situation easier to accept. Are you feeling better? It's perfectly normal to experience some disorientation after takeoff." The woman in uniform smiled pleasantly.
"Who am I?" asked the young woman groggily. She glanced out the window to her left shoulder. "And why is the sky green?"
"Your name is Carmella. A very pretty name."
"Really? It's a bit weird. Seems familiar though. I guess it must be my name. Who are you?"
The woman in uniform pointed to the winged name badge over her heart.
"Madge? Your name is Madge," said Carmella, slurring the words.
"Yes," said Madge.
"I'm really tired. Why are you so awake?"
Madge leaned towards Carmella and whispered, "I'm you too."
"How is that?" asked Carmella after a moment. "Is this a dream?"
Madge sat down in the empty seat beside Carmella.
"No," said Madge seriously. "This environment is a metaphor you've constructed to protect your sanity for the duration of the journey."
"Maybe it's not doing a convincing job of being...a metaphor."
"It's good enough. Are you sure I can't get you some coffee? You can even smoke on this flight if you like. There's no one else here."
Carmella pulled herself up unsteadily and looked around at all the empty seats in the passenger cabin.
"It's a big empty metapor," she said, slumping back down into the seat. "Pilots?"
"You're the pilot."
"Am I. Where am I flying?"
"The future. You have to pass through the night first. The darkness."
"What's that an analog for--oh. I see. I think I've lost something Madge. Something that broke my heart."
"Everything spilled out," said Madge ruefully. "If you don't smoke, do you mind if I do? I suddenly feel the urge."
"If it's metaphor smoke, I guess it won't hurt my lungs. Have at it," said Carmella, flicking her hand lazily.
"I knew you'd understand," said Madge. She reached into her jacket pocket and took out a single cigarette and a stainless steel lighter. She put the cigarette between her mouth and flipped open the lighter. Carmella turned and looked out the window. She leaned in and pressed her face to the glass.
"There's nothing out there but green," she said.
Madge took a puff and blew out a thick cloud of smoke.
"Everything's out there," she said. "The whole universe. All of time and all of space."
"All the pain and all the love."
"What's waiting for me in the future?"
"A correction of the past. The thing you lost. The thing you want more than anything else."
"The one I love?"
"The one you love," said Madge, looking at Carmella beatifically.
Tears began to stream down both their faces. Both smiled.
"Then I want to fly faster," said Carmella.
"You have decades to fly through. Centuries. Millennia. You must go to the end of the universe."
"It's not so far away. It's just one night away."
Carmella turned back to the window and looked at the wings of the plane. She put her arms out and closed her eyes, and put herself into the wingspan.
"I can't see my love's face any longer. It's a blur. I need to keep moving."
"You will arrive at your destination when the flight ends," said Madge.
Carmella's eyes fluttered open.
She leaned forward and tilted the wings down. The engines started to groan. The cabin lights flickered. Madge clutched the armrest, grinning. The cabin titled fully vertically. Their hair floated out like wide haloes. Madge let go and floated freely up.
"Terminal velocity!" screamed Madge triumphantly.
An orange light formed below and in front of them, from the flight deck. It was fire, an explosion roiling up in slow motion. It consumed the seats ahead of them.
"I hope you had a pleasant flight," said Madge, just as the flame reached them. Carmella felt suddenly filled with love and memories and life.