I’m sitting in a chair, or a bench really, made of orange webbing that runs the length of the cargo hold in a US Air Force C-130 Hercules. We’re flying over the arctic tundra when suddenly a loud alarm sound pierces through my earplugs, a kind of honking that’s even louder than the bone-rattling hum of the four turboprop engines.
The alarm is honking because the big hatch in the back isn’t closed right. Not that I can see very much, crammed in there next to cargo stacked almost to the ceiling, but I figure it out when I see these Air Force guys go back there, climbing across the cargo like monkeys, and I hear them banging away at something. In the meantime the plane descends to about 100 feet off the tundra, which I reckon is a precaution so we won’t fall so far if the cargo door pops open and everything flies out the back, throwing off the plane’s balance. Finally the alarm stops and I assume the hatch is secure although no one actually says one way or another, and the plane goes back up to it’s normal altitude, which is still only a couple of thousand feet. 45 minutes later we land on a barren airstrip next to a radar station on a cliff at the edge of the arctic ocean, and as we get off the plane nobody says anything about the alarm or the cargo door.
The strangest thing about this story — at least for me — is that it’s a memory, not a dream.