Putting your faith in the hands of someone else, can be fortuitous. Point aside, the experience encountered by our unsuspecting volunteers will definitely last a life-time. And maybe, just maybe, a little longer.....
"Welcome to the ‘Airbus 797 Simulator.’ All of you have been selected to participate in the final configuration and placement of our economy and first class compartmental amenities before going into production. This layout is strictly a mock-up, but your input will determine the final design. My name is Ari, and I will be your host for this evaluation. We have six hostess’ which will look after your every need. Our goal is to make each participant feel they are flying in the world’s most modern, comfortable and technically advanced commercial aircraft ever built."
And so, sixty-seven randomly selected earth-bound passengers took their designated seats in the "797" simulator. Hydraulics and pitch controls were attached to the bottom of the training device, giving the participant the sensation of an actual flight. The cabin was designed with two wide aisles and the seats were a red plush velvet with matching head rests. The windows were overly large giving an almost panoramic view of, in this case, an aircraft hanger at Airbus’s Toulouse, France assembly plant.
The normal flight instructions were given over a loud speaker system to the symbolic passengers, while the air hostess mimed the directions. Playing throughout the internal a P. A. were sounds duplicating engine startup with the simulator’s movements mimicking the rolling down a runway and eventual take off. Each auditory and sensual nerve were actuated in the participants, making for an unparalleled experience.
Passenger 41 looked to his right at the passenger designated as passenger 42, and commented, " Can you believe this? I feel as if I’m actually flying. This is incredible. The only problem is, I can see two small corporate jets just sitting on the hanger floor outside that window next to you."
Passenger 42 responded, "Oh well. Just think you are thirty-five thousand feet in the air and enjoy the attention and services of the stewardess. Think of white clouds and your tropical destination. Or, on the other hand, the ocean below and those dots that are ships."
"Good idea." responded 41. Hostess number four arrived at their seats and asked, "May I get something for you two? A drink or sandwich? We have………."
In the simulator’s control room, engineers and technicians were monitoring via concealed miniature video cameras, the responses and actions of the flight attendants and passengers. Everything was functioning perfectly. Smiles and facial satisfaction were predominant for both cabin crew and participants.
Programmed into the massive banks of computers, were instructions to end the flight and bring everything back down to earth, per say. Hydraulics and motion detectors indicated the slowing of flight and a sense of descending. What the simulator personnel and those inside the cabin were unaware of, was a slight vibration between the mechanisms below the cabin and the cabin itself. Almost imperceptible, was the quivering’s increase in intensity and strength. The specific direction of the intencity was directed between the cabin and the hanger floor. Neither internal nor external employees were aware of it’s existence. The oscillation gave way to a more rapid flare expanding to the undercarriage and external parts of the simulator. This manifested into a grayish mist which completely surrounded both simulator and bonded mechanisms.
"Hey, look at that?" announced number 41. "I’ve never seen a mist form inside a hanger bay before, have you? I can’t even see those two jets anymore."
"Now that is strange!" commented 42. "I hope nothing is wrong! Maybe something below is smoking. The outside personnel will take care of it, I’m sure."
"Well, I don’t like the looks of that. I’ve seen fog before but this kind, I’ve never seen. Doesn’t look like smoke, mist or fog. Don’t really know what to make of it. We had better let our hostess know."
Below the seats of passengers 41 and 42, a transformation of unfounded proportion was taking place. The vibration was not only increasing but doubling in magnitude, causing the separation of the cabin from it’s operating mechanisms. Waves of miniature concussions were dispersing and surrounding the structure, sealing any possibility of exit or entrance.
Anthony, the "Head Honcho" of the simulation test, was furious. As the project’s director, he had never encountered such a failure. "Okay, that’s enough. Shut everything down. Abort the sequencing and open those damn hanger doors before someone suffocates in that smoke, or whatever it is. And turn the fans on. Peter, get company personnel here "stat" and be prepared for injuries or hysterics. And get me the programers who wrote the software for this infernal simulation. Heads are going to roll over this and that’s a fact. Damn! Bloody damn!" Anthony had no idea as to what he was getting into. Every dial, button, computer function and back-up were checked and rechecked for malfunctions but everything indicated a green light. Through the master control room view ports, the technicians were shocked at what they were witnessing.
The simulator was now becoming a faint image to the controllers and not because of the mist. If fact, the mist had disappeared leaving a spectral image of what used to be the aircraft’s cabin. And to those inside the cabin, gray was all that could be seen of the outside world.
The hostess, now cognizant of a serious malfunction, tried to open the aircraft doorways with no affect. They refused to budge. The "emergency" windows were non-functional as were other escape exits as they were felt unnecessary during such an exercise. The stewards comforted the attendees and reassured them, that everything was being taken care of, and that "Control" was monitoring and correcting any and all problems.
"Ari, come here! Look at this." exclaimed one of the cabin staff. "Look at the edge of the door and the cabin floor! What do you make of that?"
"Rhonda, I’m not sure, but whatever is happening, should not be." responded Ari.
"Either the floor is disappearing or it’s my imagination!" Rhonda remarked.
"I don’t think so." Ari said with a reassuring tone. "There would be smoke or some kind of smell and I can’t sense an odor or anything for that matter. One thing is for sure, I can’t see anything out of the cabin's windows. Now "that" really concerns me." Rhonda, like the rest of those attending, had complete confidence in Ari’s abilities to comprehend and problem solve. Multi-tasking was his forte as were many other of his attributes.
And with that, Rhonda watched Ari kneel down and touch where the cabin door met the plush carpet floor. The shimmer, separating both floor and door, engulfed Ari’s third finger. With widened eyes and shock on her face, Rhonda witnessed the lower half of Ari’s digit vanish. Without a word, Ari stood up, looked at the amputated finger portion and with a look of confusion on his face, just cocked his head to the right and scanned the missing appendage.
Rhonda screamed. "What have you done? Oh my God. Are you all right? Where’s the blood? There’s no bleeding. What is that protruding out of your finger? Is that what I think it is? Are they wires?" Her screams were heard through out the cabin and the other crew members rushed to her aid. "Ari badly injured his finger. He severed it. But I don’t see any blood!" Rhonda blurted. "We have to get out, and now! Someone must help break down the doors or windows. I’ve tried but I’m not strong enough."
With the independence and suavity of a senior dignitary, Ari stood and faced the crew and passengers. With a tonal nature, lacking any sensitivity, he spoke.
"Please, everyone. Take your seats. The crew will continue to look after you with whatever you require. Everything is under control. Absolutely nothing "can" or "will" go wrong….." "Go wrong"….. "Go wrong"….. "Go wrong"……..