Too Close to the Sun on Wings of Plastic (from The Colossus of Rhodesville)

Watching the earth rush past beneath her feet, Sasha was unfettered from gravity’s surly bounds. Technically, her feet didn’t touch the floor for several seconds, which was more than enough. The spell was broken, however, each time she kicked against the floor to increase speed. The aisles flickered past, as the toy section approached rapidly.

Someone who sounded remarkably similar to her mother shouted on the edge of her high-speed universe. Picking up speed again, a mountain of trouble loomed on the horizon. But Sasha didn’t care. She was flying. Flashlights, rifles, baseball bats and basketballs blurred past her as she pushed her fighter to supersonic realms. Picturing the F16s at the airshow, she held her breath for the rumble of a shattered sound barrier. She imagined herself strapped into her own sleek jet, screaming through the clouds on the tail of enemy fighters.

As she whizzed across the store, she glanced rapidly at the wings on her shirt. The nice pilot at the airshow had pinned them on, and she swore then she’d never take them off. Even now, her mother’s derisive laughter cut through the fuzzy memory. Pumping her legs faster and faster, she felt the imaginary g-forces against her. I can so be a pilot! She defied her mother, as tears streamed down her face.

Something was wrong, though. Throttling down, she drove her feet into the tile, but the front wheel of her craft began to shimmy. She was topping out. Willing her fighter to slow down, she checked her yaw and adjusted the imaginary ailerons, but there was nothing she could do. She was caught in a tailspin, and her only recourse was to eject or risk burning up in the ensuing crash.

As she caromed into the Toy Department, a well-stocked Star Wars display loomed before her. She tried to pull away, but it was too late. The display erupted with shards action-figure shrapnel as she ejected from the wreckage. Gleaming, plastic packages scattered across the department. Several light sabers collided with an old couple, causing some shock but minimal damage. A Chewbacca figurine scraped the chin of a haggard employee. A barrage of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker figures struck a woman right in the gut of her NASCAR t-shirt causing considerable wincing. After a tuck and roll maneuver, Sasha wound up beneath a small avalanche of toys but walked away unscathed. Flameouts were just one of many risks for a fighter pilot.

Now that she successfully survived a supersonic flight, the future looked bright but only for a minute. Before long, an angry shadow approached her, blocking out the harsh fluorescent glow. Arms flailing and eyes ablaze, her mother was coming. A guttural dread coursed through her as her mother ripped her from the action figure heap.

“Sasha Marie Paterson! You’re in deep deep shit young lady.”

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