Page 24 of Runway Zero-Eight

“George Spencer!” Treleaven was calling. “George Spencer! Are you there?”

Outside there was now a rising crescendo of sirens from crash tenders and fire trucks and ambulances. Spencer heard voices in the passenger compartment behind him.

“Yes,” he said, “I’m here.”

Treleaven was jubilant, caught in the general reaction. Behind his voice there were sounds of excited conversation and laughter.

“George. That was probably the lousiest landing in the history of this airport. So don’t ever ask us for a job as a pilot. But there are some of us here who’d like to shake your hand, and later we’ll buy you a drink. Now hold everything, George. We’re coming over.”

Janet had raised her head and was smiling tremulously.

“You should see your face,” she said. “It’s black.”

He couldn’t think of a thing to say. No witticism; no adequate word of thanks. He knew only that he was intolerably tired and sick to the stomach. He reached over for her hand and grinned back.