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Darkening Skies

Oliver Buckram, Ph.D., lives in the Boston area where (under an assumed name) he teaches social science to undergraduates. His fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Interzone, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF), among other places. He urges you to keep watching the skies. Find out more at oliverbuckram.com.
Welcome to Dystopian Airlines. We now request your full attention as our flight attendants demonstrate the safety features of this Boeing 666 aircraft.
Should we experience a loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the compartment above your seat. Place the mask over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band, and breathe normally. The flow of oxygen will start once you swipe a valid credit card into the credit card reader. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, swipe your credit card first, then assist them with their credit card. Tampering with, disabling, or destroying the credit card readers is prohibited by law.
Overhead bins are shared space. Specifically, they're occupied by passengers traveling feral class. Please use caution when opening bins, as the feral class passengers can be aggressive when startled. Dystopian Airlines is not responsible for damage to personal belongings or fingers.
This aircraft has six emergency exits, all of which are reserved for the exclusive use of our first class passengers. In the event of an emergency landing, please remain comfortably seated until the first class passengers have been safely evacuated to the nearest Admirals Club.
Your seat cushion may be used as a flotation device. In the event of a water landing, please pass your seat cushions forward so that the flight attendants can assemble them into a life raft for the exclusive use of our first class passengers.
Your fellow economy class passengers may also be used as flotation devices. Please take a moment to locate the most buoyant-looking passenger seated near you, keeping in mind that the most buoyant-looking passenger may be behind you.
Rows 22 through 25 mark the designated urination section of this aircraft. Should you wish to urinate, please do so directly on any one of the passengers seated in the urination section. If you are seated in the urination section but do not wish to be urinated upon, you may purchase an umbrella for $50.
Rows 26 through 30 are the designated slapping section of this aircraft. Once the captain has illuminated the slapping sign, a flight attendant will repeatedly slap you in the face. If you are seated in the slapping section but do not wish to be repeatedly slapped in the face, you may purchase a no-slapping upgrade for $75.
Our complimentary in-flight entertainment today is a continuous loop of Canadian children's television played at maximum volume. You may purchase earplugs for $100 or barbiturates for $150.
For your safety and the safety of other passengers, federal law requires your compliance with lighted information signs, posted placards, and crewmember instructions. Failure to comply is punishable by death. You will be charged $200 for each bullet that we fire at you.
We know you have no choice when it comes to air travel, so we thank you for flying Dystopian Airlines.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, November 4th, 2015


While this piece may read like fiction to those who haven't recently traveled by air, frequent fliers know that this piece is 100% accurate. If anything, I've painted an overly rosy picture of air travel.

- Oliver Buckram

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