Excerpt from

The Third Passenger

Far away in upstate New York, Diane's little son lies in a coma. He needs a transfusion and only Diane has his rare blood type. It's Thanksgiving and the airlines are all booked. Help comes from her old boyfriend Travis, who has rented a small plane to take his daughter, Shelley, to her grandparents for the holiday. At the last minute they take on another passenger, Arnold Dearborn, who must reach his sick wife in Montreal.

They were flying over the long arm of Sacandaga Lake. The noonday sunshine, pouring in through the plane's windows, made the interior quite warm. Travis turned down the heater.

Shelley was pointing out the next landmarks on her chart. A series of streams. A highway. There was not much to go on. At least he had a compass, and the day was clear, with good visibility. He would be in Plattsburgh long before dark.

"How far is it to Plattsburgh from Massena?" asked Diane.

"About half an hour flying time, plus takeoff and landing."

"That's good, then. You're almost home."

She saw his cheek crease in a smile. She could not see all of his face, but the smile was attractive.

She remembered Mike and how she had loved him. Were Mike and Ellen still happy? Little whore. She was glad she had called her that. Not that it had changed anything, but she was glad.

She looked out again at the wilderness of mountain peaks. There was something cold about it. Terribly cold. Then she realized that the interior of the plane had cooled as they gained altitude to clear the mountains.

"There's snow!" she exclaimed. "They've had snow up here."

"Not too surprising, is it?" said Travis. "Almost the end of November."

"And co—"

She never finished her simple comment. At that moment she was roughly shoved aside as Arnold Dearborn leaned toward Travis. She stared, her mind running slowly, not quite synchronized with what was happening.

"Land the plane."

Travis half turned. "What's that?"

Dearborn repeated, "Land the plane. Now. Right down there."

"I can't," said Travis. "You're crazy, I can't land here. What are you talking about?"

He hadn't seen it. He didn't know, and it was pointed at the back of his head.

"Travis," she said, as calmly as she could. "He has a gun."

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