Tuesday, April 17, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: Altitude

2010, Kaare Andrews (comic book artist & writer) -- download

Ever heard of sky squids?  No, either had I. But apparently they are one of those cryptozoological creatures covered by the Fortean Times that stretch the limits of believability.  They are supposed to be a flying version of those giant white squids that few believed Newfoundlanders were finding for decades. Ancient gods of the flying sphagetti monster religion?  Cthulhu's illegitimate children? Whatever they are supposed to be, they do make for a rather novel creature that goes bump in the night, especially when the night surrounds your small, light aircraft and you are not the only thing in the sky.

Like the Campbellian archetypes of horror movies, we are given a small group of college students on their way somewhere for the weekend, destined for dark events.  We have the usual group: the jock, the skank, the dweeb, the average guy and the good girl.  A short flight later Sara, the pilot and the good girl of this story, loses control of the plane to an errant nut (as in screw) and the control of the cabin to the other errant nut, her boyfriend the dweeb. His fear of flying and the storm they have just flown uncontrollably into ignites a panic attack. It doesn't help that he is being teased by the jock and the average guy over his fondness for classic comic books.  Then, in flashes of lightning we are given glimses of ... something.  OK, not something, but a very obvious giant kracken of a sky squid.

This is your usual closed room horror given a spin by containing it to the cockpit of the personal aircraft.  Our characters shout at each other, cry, fight and blame each other as the fear mounts. Not only are they at odds with the monster but the environment and each other.  There is no slasher to take the kids out one by one, but tentacled nastiness definitely does begin to take the kids out... of the plane.  But the fun of the story is not in the cliches of the genre but the flip it does. In the end, we are given more a Twilight Zone style story of mental abilities and effecting the timestream. Oh, we get that this squid is not flying in the same world as we are, that the plane has flown into some place ... else... but even though, as the ending's proximity alert sounded, I expected what was to come, it was enjoyably not what I expected when I clicked play.