Gate 13. I didn't give it a second thought as I meandered through the sparse airport crowd. The 107-degree temperature almost guaranteed there wouldn't be much movement anywhere. It seemed like it shouldn't make much difference in an area where the summer temperatures averaged above 97 degrees, but it did. Still, the difference between a 95-degree day and a 105-degree day exceeded the mere addition of ten degrees. Once the temperature hurdled 100-degrees, weather measurement came in degrees of discomfort. After 100-degrees, each additional degree increased the discomfort geometrically. As I neared the gate, I became aware of the rivulets of perspiration rolling from beneath my arms, across my ribs and into my already damp waistband. At this temperature, it seemed like the air-conditioning served only to move stale, damp air about making it even more uncomfortable. Finally, Gate 13. No one was there. Every seat was empty. Behind the ticket counter, the departure light flashed "Now Boarding" but no one was there. I waited for a few minutes, then walked down the jet-way to the plane. As I entered the jet-way, a fresh blast of air-conditioning relieved my overheated mind. With renewed energy, I strolled quickly to the plane's entrance. As expected, there was a pleasant young woman waiting to take my ticket. As I extended my ticket, her unusual beauty made me do a brief double take. She was deeply tanned, with dark eyes and hair. Ethnically, I couldn't place her. "Seat 13B, Sir, she said with a noticeable accent that I couldn't place. "Thank you," I said, and moved on to my seat in the business section. The plane was empty except for the few passengers in first-class and the few who sat near the plane's exits and restrooms. After I put my bags in the overhead and sat down, I became aware of how cold the plane felt. I wished I had worn a jacket. No sooner than I sat down I felt the plane taxi and takeoff. I don't remember the attendant coming on the intercom giving the aircraft safety spiel and I didn't care. I had heard enough announcements that I knew them all by heart. All I remember was soft lifting sensation and then it vanished. There was no noise and no sensation of flying, yet, I could tell we were moving. It was strangely soothing and relaxing. I drifted off to sleep almost immediately. A flash of lightening brought my eyes fully open. The plane was totally dark except for the flashing lightening and the glowing red eyes of the no-smoking and seatbelt warnings. I gazed out the window watching as the black wings fluttered silver in the storm. It was evident we were flying in rough weather but the jet continued smoothly as if gliding on ice. I felt no fear, only a mild interest wandered at the back of my mind. Occasionally, a blue-white flash of lightening would momentarily disorient me leaving ghostly apparitions dancing on my retinas. A chilling draft circulated about an inch from the floor sending a shudder to my stomach. Instinctively, I lifted my feet only to find that trying to lift my feet was almost impossible. It wasn't that I couldn't move them, I could, but lifting either one required maximum exertion on my part. I quit trying. It was not frightening-just unusual. I felt unusually heavy almost like I was glued to my seat. I pushed against the armrests to get up but I couldn't. I tried again, but I couldn't budge. I felt my heart begin to beat faster. Again, I tried and again, nothing happened. Panic began to set in. Just as I was about to lose control of myself, a sudden euphoric lightness eased the building tension. I felt a strange quiver in my stomach but it passed. Suddenly, the flight attendant appeared at my side with a cold can of Canada Dry ginger ale. I took the cold drink and gulped it greedily. For some strange reason, I was unusually thirsty. It was like being dehydrated after losing large amounts of body fluids after exercising or the dehydration caused by the loss of blood. I turned to ask for another can but she had disappeared into the darkness. However, she returned with another ginger ale before I could turn my head back. Her jet-black hair pulled straight back emphasized her dark complexion and the almond uplift of her eyes. Though she seemed pleasant enough, her eyes gave no hint of anything that she might be thinking. She was extremely sexual in a non-sexual way that unsettled me. Her smooth and efficient motion mesmerized me. I found it oddly stimulating. The white-gloved hands, the black suit and the coal darkness of her eyes at once comforted me and seduced me. When she reappeared to take my empty cans, I started to speak but nothing escaped my lips. She probed my eyes with an ebony gaze, smiled and disappeared again. I rode on in smooth silence with only the lightening for company. Suddenly, a loud roar came from outside the once quiet plane. Flames streamed from the starboard engine as the lightening and rain picked up. The groaning and whining of the airframe shattered the eerie silence as the plane began to bump and bounce in the turbulence. I pulled my seatbelt tightly around me and gripped the arms of the seat as tightly as possible. This was it. I knew it was the end. No one survived these things. I wondered if the pilot could pull it out as I felt the angle of the nose drop. It occurred to me then that I'd never seen a pilot when I boarded. Slowly, my jumbled memory played it all back. A bruising air pocket shook the entire plane as it continued its dive to doom. For a few seconds, I wrestled frantically with my seat belt trying to get out of my seat when suddenly it came free. Rising, on unsteady legs I staggered toward the flight deck hoping to reach it before it was too late. I was a licensed pilot although I never flew anything larger than a single-engine prop; I knew how to fly. By the time I reached the flight deck, I could hear the plane's moaning structure starting to give. Strangely, the flight deck door was unlocked. When I opened it, I stood frozen in place, unspeaking and unmovable. There was no one there. In fact, there was nothing there. No instruments, no seats. Nothing. Nothing except polished metal and some material that cast no reflection. It was warm to the touch and generated a faint vibration. Everywhere I looked, it was the same. Nothing. Outside, I heard the howling of the injured plane as it plummeted from the sky toward the ground. I ran to the back of the plane hoping in some distant part of my mind that I might survive. I knew that in many crashes, the tail structure often survived the impact and in some cases, it suffered little damage. Of course, there was little chance of human flesh surviving such a crash but I could always hope. As I strapped myself into the jump seat, I realized the plane was empty. I had seen no one as I went up or down the aisle. No one. My mind raced as the shrieking engine spewed flames and metal parts into the stormy atmosphere. As I glanced around the cabin in the emergency lighting, I couldn't help but photograph it in my mind. Everything was black like the inside of a hearse. A black shroud covered the window where I sat before. Each seat was padded and draped liked the inside of a coffin. Satin pillows were connected to the seat backs. A sharp crack sounded above the roar and a gaping crevice opened in the floor less than fifteen feet from me. I felt the blackness of night suck my breath away as it tried to pull me from my seat and into the tarry gloom. I felt the straps loosening and my breath being drained from my lungs. Perhaps, I would suffocate before it sucked me into the night or before the wounded plane slammed into the ground. There was nothing I could do except let it take me but I was not going to go peacefully. I would rage against the blackness until that moment when it sucked my life away or my body shredded on the rocks below. Whatever the case, there would be no easy victory. I gripped the straps and raged against the night. "I spit in your puny face. I'm not afraid of you. You can't do better than this? Kill me if you can. Kill me. I don't surrender. I'll never surrender. I won't . . . " In the darkness, the sharp aroma of something burning caught my nose. Bewildered, I looked around me. Tendrils of flames leapt into the night sky, crackling with mad laughter as I slid into unconsciousness. "Sir. Sir. Excuse me Sir." I awakened to look into the eyes of the mysterious flight attendant. "Sir. We're ready to board for San Francisco." I shook myself awake, stood and looked about me. The airport was packed. People crowded all around me trying to make the flight. In the stale air and heat of the airport, I looked at the flight attendant again. She looked right at me as if she knew me. I turned, walked a few steps and then turned around again. She was gone. I didn't board that flight. I went home instead. As I rode toward home, I listened absently to the radio letting it calm my mind. In the background, my mind filtered in an announcer's voice saying, "hikers discovered the remains of an airliner in the Arizona desert today. The plane, which disappeared in 1956, originated from Dallas headed for Los Angeles. Originally, it was believed to have vanished into the sea off the coast of California. To add to the mystery, searchers found no remains although records indicate that at least 20 people were aboard Flight 613.