By Leia Fee

"I.F.R." is pilot shorthand for "Instrument Flight Rules" for reasons which will become apparent.


I can hear rotor blades outside.  I fold my last sheet of paper into a plane and throw it at the wall in front of me.  I'm ignoring the rotor noise.  It isn't real.  Not sure if it makes you less crazy or more crazy when you know what you're hearing isn't real.  Richter says it's an improvement, and when I'm thinking clearly I know he's probably right--a few months ago I'd have been practically climbing out of the window to get to the Huey.  The one that isn't there-- couldn't possibly have been there, as anyone with an ounce of sense would have realised.  Sometimes I think I really must be the fool B.A. says I am.  That pretty smooth lawn would make for a sweet landing though.  Stop it, I tell myself firmly.  An automatic defensive reaction.  I'd made these little rules for myself as soon as I was with it enough to decide anything--no thinking about flying and no thinking about the team.  But it was like picking at a scab or prodding a bruise to see how much it still hurt--I couldn't stop myself.  So I hid.  Curled away inside my own head. 


Things have got better since then.  Better in the sense of 'less bad' though, not in the sense of  'I'm better, I can go home now.'


During the first appearance of the Huey That Wasn't Here I remember being able to guess from the sound how close and high it was and explaining this very calmly to one of the nurses.  I remember how worried he looked.  I thought he was just concerned about missing the flight out of here.  I told him to relax, that this end was the easy one.  It was when we got to the other end and people started shooting that we needed to get worried.  He looked at me like I was crazy but I was used to that--pretty much all grunts thought all pilots were insane to be doing what they were doing and vice versa.


Looking back at it now I don't understand what I was thinking.  I could see perfectly clearly where I was but I knew as well that I needed to get on that Huey and get going.  Crazy.  Which is the point I guess.  But I know how real it was at the time.  Hell, how real those rotors still sound.  Like, I remember being told about what happened to the team but I remember not remembering it too.  It's all mixed up.   How can I be sane enough to think about this stuff and still nuts enough to have it go on happening? 


Down here it's all fog and turbulence and I need to get above it, to where things are clearer, but I can't see where I'm going and I can't tell up from down anymore.  It strikes me suddenly that reality is just instrument flying.  Flying by what the needles and numbers tell you is real, not what you see and feel.


I look around the room, tallying what I know to be real.  Not that many reference points here, the room's pretty empty, probably they're still afraid I'll break something and try to hurt myself.  This room is real, the Huey outside is not, the bed is real, the posters on the wall, the dresser.  The rather scruffy looking dog sat near the door, probably not but it'd hurt his feelings if I told him that, so he stays.


I hear a knock at the door and in accordance with my newly developed policy of life by IFR. I stop to consider whether it's real or not.  I wasn't due any visitors but then my visitors do tend to be unexpected.


It sounds like Face.  If you can identify a voice from one word.  The door opens and I watch the dog bound across the room and sit watchfully next to the bed.


It looks like Face too and I don't think even my imagination would have picked such an awful suit.

"It's me, Murdock."

Am I that obvious?

"I know," I say quickly.  "Where are the others?"

"Outside.  Today we're all visiting high school buddies."

As pretexts for these visits went it was better than some.  Though I think someone on front desk has to be more confused than me not to recognise them.


In a secluded corner of the garden Hannibal and B.A. are waiting and I suddenly realise I've chosen the wrong reference points for tying down reality.  This is what is real.  These three people.  They are my compass and my horizon and everything tying me to the world.

"Can you hear that?" I ask Face suddenly.  Against all logic the rotor noise was quieter out here than indoors.

"Hear what?"

I smile.  "Nothing.  Never mind."


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