The Red-Tail (A Short Story)

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Mar 23, 2019
Hello people of the forums! I realize that nobody posts in the SFW forums, but I suppose I'll be the first. I wrote this short story a few years ago and while there are some things I would likely rewrite nowadays, I prefer to keep it as it is. Since I don't usually write NSFW stories, you will probably see me a lot in this forum. Now withought further chatter, I present "The Red-Tail."

I wish I could fly like that, I thought to myself as I watched Wilson in the sky. The guy had been flying for years. He spent more time in the air than on the ground. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought he was born in the sky. I sucked in a sharp breath as he loop-the-looped over his flying partner. I could just imagine the excited and happy woops he was making and it made me smile. "Alright Red-tails, bring 'em in," Michael told them. They landed and Wilson and his best friend, Troy, stepped out of their planes. The Hawks were nothing fancy. Grade-A metal, top-of-the-line radar and radio, and a great set of landing gear, all courtesy of tech-savvy Michael, the creator of the Hawks and all its add-ons. Both planes were dirt brown, had a pure white underlining, and a rust-red tail. For generations, the pilots of the Hawks have been called Red-tails. On the helmets of both Wilson and Troy is a Red-tailed Hawk. On the left breast of the flight suits and on the back of their jackets is another. Under the hawk on Wilson's jacket read the words W. Hilton. In the same spot on Troy's jacket read the words T. LeGrand. Both Troy and Wilson were handsome men who were often mistaken as brothers and I, a stranger. The two men had met as scrawny and gangly kids, but now had almost identical features. Strong chiseled jaws, farmer's tans that would make Johnny Appleseed cry, eyes the color of melting chocolate, and hair the color of rust. The only thing that set them apart was the freckles that dotted Wilson's whole body.
"Hilton," I yelled.
Wilson turned to see who had called and saw me. He rushed over, taking me up in a sweeping hug. He mussed my straw blonde hair and looked deep into my sky blue eyes. "What are you doing here Veronica? You know you shouldn't be so close to the runway in your condition, something could happen to you. I know that you want to see me and Troy, but you know better."
I nodded. "I know, but when has that ever stopped me before?"
Wilson rolled his brown eyes and I felt two strong arms wrap around my stomach. I leaned back to see his face and Troy kissed me, Spiderman style. His eyes widened. "It kicked me," he said as I turned in his arms to face him.
"They," I corrected.
"They?" He looked confused.
"I went to the doctor today. Troy, we're having twins." I watched his handsome face turn from confusion to pure joy.
"Twins? Two boys or two girls," Wilson asked.
Wilson looked surprised. He turned his attention to my husband and clamped his hands on Troy's shoulders, looking him straight in the eyes. "You'd better be a good father to my new niece and nephew or I'll..." he trailed off because the threat was an empty one.
"Relax big bro. You know Troy better than almost anyone. You know he'll make a great dad."
Wilson smiled. "I know, but I just wanted to get my point across." Now it was my turn to roll my eyes. Michael walked over and I smiled at him. He was a kind man with a lot of electronic knowledge, but at first look he seemed to be the one who should be in the plane. Michael was a large man with skin the color of rich dark chocolate. His eyes were so dark they appeared almost black. His head was bald and he wore tattoos all down both his arms. When I first met him, I thought he was a bouncer for the club down the street who had come to the airway to smoke, but it turned out he was the brains behind the entire Red-tail operation.
"Hello Veronica. You know that you are always welcome here, but I really need to get these two in the air. We have a job to do. The people in Phoenix aren't going to live any longer with the Hawks sitting on our runway." Phoenix, I thought. The worst place on this planet that was still habitable. All the major cities on Earth had been destroyed by the Wilds, these terrible animal-like creatures with bloody boils and peeling skin. They can only survive by eating flesh of living humans. One bite will Turn a normal person into a Wild. Recently the Wilds have started moving towards Phoenix. The job of the Red-tails was to fly around the world, saving those in the path of the Wilds and many times, putting their lives in extreme danger. Now was one of the worst times to be doing it, after all, they had discovered firearms.
I shook my head. "Michael, don't send them out there. It's too dangerous and the twins can't lose their father and their uncle before they are even born."
Michael thought about it for a moment and said, "Fine. I'll see if the Bugs will take on this mission. They might just save more people with their larger planes anyway."
I gave a sigh of relief and gave Michael a hug. Well, as good of a hug as a pregnant woman can give. "Thank you Michael."
He smiled warmly at me. "You're welcome V, but remember that I can't always ask the Bugs for help just because you are too afraid to let the men take the risks that come with the job."
I nodded, understanding what he meant. My fear could keep thousands of lives from being saved. Michael went to contact the Bugs, the other flying crew, and Wilson, Troy, and I waited in the break room and traded ideas for the twins' names. "What about Sarah or Grace," asked Wilson.
Troy and I shook our heads. "Too common," I said.
"What about Warden or James," said Troy.
I shook my head. "No. Warden LeGrand? James LeGrand?"
Troy nodded. "I see your point." Just then, Michael ran into the room.
The sadness and anger was plain on his face. "The Wilds took hold of the airway the Bugs were on and destroyed them. The Zena boys were Turned. It's up to Hilton and LeGrand now V. I'm sorry." He shook his head. "I hate these things. Someone needs to take a stand and wipe these guys off the face of the Earth."
I nodded, agreeing with him full-heartedly. Wilson stood. "That much is true, but for now we just have to survive until the right person comes along and saves our sorry asses." He gave me the largest hug he has ever given. "If something happens and we don't make it, you know what to do." Wilson ruffled my hair once more, gave me a peck on the cheek, hugged me again, and left the room.
Troy stood as Michael followed my brother out. He took me in his strong arms and smiled softly at me. "I shouldn't be gone for too long V. I'll be home before you know it." I shook my head, tears forming and threatening to spill over. He tilted my chin up so that I was looking at him with his index finger and wiped my tears with his thumb. The touch was so soft and loving, I almost lost my bearings.
"What if you don't come back?" I was terrified of becoming a widow and the twins not having a father. "I don't know if I can do it alone."
He grimaced. "I know, but you have to be strong for them." He placed his other hand on my belly. "Just remember that I gave you that trunk just in case something happens to me." I nodded. My husband stooped low and gave me the sweetest, softest, most love-filled kiss ever. "I love you Veronica and the kids as well." With those words, the love of my life turned on his heel and gave my fingers a squeeze. His fingers slowly trailed across my palm until he was too far away to reach me and just like that, he was gone.
The news came to me when I was at home eating dinner a little over a year later. The communicator beeped twice and I got up to see who was calling. I pushed a button and Michael's face appeared on the large screen. His black coffee colored eyes were bloodshot from the lack of sleep. I smiled up at him. "Hi Michael. I take it we have news now?" The big man nodded his face solemn. My smile slid off my face. "What happened Michael? Where are Troy and my brother?" I was beginning to panic
He pursed his lips. "Phoenix was a total disaster. It turns out, the entire city was Turned. The distress signal was a fake." He was holding back something.
"Michael where are they?"
His eyes brimmed with tears. "They landed in Flagstaff and left the Hawks with our backup pilots. Once they crossed into Phoenix, the van was attacked. Everyone who was in it was Turned, including Hilton and LeGrand. I'm sorry."
I shook my head, my eyes watering so much I could barely see the button to hang up. I pushed it, began walking towards the bedroom, and broke down halfway down the hallway.
Three days. For three days I cried. For three days I waited to go into the storage room to get the trunk. For three days Michael and his wife watched over the twins while I recovered. They did not even have names yet. After three days, I ventured into the storage room and took out the old brown trunk. Taking a deep breath, I opened it. Inside was a small Hawk flight suit. Troy had made me get fitted for one when we had first met. He thought it might be a nice touch for the public to see a couple both in the suit. I had agreed to it for propaganda reasons. Under the suit were a couple pictures of the two of us and some of us with my brother. My eyes began to sting with salty tears once more.
No, I thought. I must not cry anymore. I held them back and returned them to the trunk. There were hand-written manuals on how to fly a Hawk. Underneath all of those things was a letter. I opened it with shaking hands. Printed on the paper in my husband's handwriting were three words. "Learn to fly." I gasped. He had never wanted me in the air before. It was so sudden that I felt myself shaking and tearing up again. I turned the page around and saw the words, "P.S. I love you Veronica."
Smiling, I placed the letter back into the envelope, picked up the manuals, and began to read. Back when he was nothing more than my big brother's best friend, Troy and Wilson had taught me the basics of flying. I studied for a few years. When I finally spoke to Michael about me flying the Hawk, he didn't object. Soon, I was performing tricks in the Hawk at Tracy and Wilson's fifth birthday. I got out of the plane and the looks on their faces was one I will never forget.
Wilson had traces of his father's chiseled jaw, his father's brown eyes with my blonde hair, and freckles all over his body like me and my brother. Tracy had my oval face, my blue eyes, freckles all over her body and Troy's red hair. They look so much like their father it almost makes me cry.
I took my helmet off, shaking out my hair. I pressed the button to open the door and stood back. As the door opened, a thought ran through my head. My next move is to cure my family and return them to normal. After all, what was the point of finding and bringing them back if I was just going to let them stay Wilds, I thought. I stepped out onto the first stair with the kids crowded around the Hawk. I raised my chin high and tucked my helmet under my arm. "I am the Red-tail."
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