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Collision with Car

Aaron DaMommio is a husband, father, writer, juggler, and expert washer of dishes who lives in Austin, Texas. You can find him on the web at aarondamommio.blogspot.com.

Really, Harry shouldn't have been surprised. It was one of the most common death predictions. Still, they said no matter what your verdict, it was hard, seeing it in print. So yeah, it bothered him when the machine spit out his: a little slip of paper, like you'd find in a fortune cookie, with three words: Collision with car.
Oh, it certainly could have been worse. It could have been something slow and lingering, like AIDS (he hadn't exactly been careful), or tawdry like Beaten to death by ex-wife. That wouldn't have surprised him either--she blamed him for everything. He was a handsome guy. He was supposed to resist every woman that threw herself at him?
The machine was never wrong, though. Give it a blood sample, and it would tell you how you'd die. Just usually in so few words it was almost useless. He should probably count his blessings: at least the thing had played it straight with him.
Still. Sales was a traveling job, and he'd really put in the miles the last couple of years, despite how he'd been finding it harder and harder to make himself get on planes.
Didn't matter how big the jet was, they all looked flimsy to him. It was like strapping yourself to a rocket and hoping it was a dud. He'd been turning down trips, taking assignments to places close enough to drive. His boss was starting to get annoyed.
What was Harry supposed to do now, quit driving too?
It wasn't long before he saw the block-lettered note as a kind of salvation, because he no longer had any reason to avoid flying.
It wasn't easy. Fear wasn't reasonable. But he took a flight, and then another, and it got easier. He went to the Ottawa convention; they loved his presentation.
He was back, baby, back.
He laughed through the train ride to the airport, watching the hoi polloi suffering through traffic eight lanes wide and then watching it again as the plane carried him higher and higher.
Then they were falling, diving. No time for breath. People were screaming. A steward bounced around the cabin like a Superball.
Harry was still laughing, thinking Collision with car, until he looked out the window and saw the way the plane was lining up for a run at the freeway below.
The pilots were amazing. They pulled the plane out of its dive, found a clear patch of highway, and painted it with rubber.
When they stopped, people were shook up, but they were all smiling, laughing. He lined up like a robot with everyone else to use the slides that the flight attendants activated.
Then he stood on the shoulder, waiting for the airline to send a bus. He edged back from the road, cringing as the cars whizzed by, close enough to touch.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Author Comments

This story was inspired by and uses the "Machine of Death" concept created by Ryan North in Dinosaur Comics, and later used for the Machine of Death anthology.

- Aaron DaMommio
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