“Hold formation,” Wil’s flight commander radioed again. Despite the static such an old headset communicated, she could still hear his New England upbringing in the vowels. Somehow, it had a grounding influence on them all.
They held position.
The Mitsubishi bombers and their escorts hummed nearer.
“Ready guns,” crackled quietly to twelve anxious American pilots. Her hands felt sweaty inside their gloves as Wil adjusted her grip on her control stick. She inhaled deeply and focused on the cluster at eight o’clock.
She saw the slight aberration in the Zeros’ pattern the instant before Flight Commander suddenly yelled, “ALL UNITS ENGAGE! ENEMY AWARE OF OUR POSITION! GO, GO, GO!!”
The roar of twelve Wildcat engines grew even louder in intensity as twelve pilots immediately dropped altitude and accelerated toward their targets. The Zeros, holding to their groups of three, drew near in deadly tandem.
Wil leaned forward over the controls, carefully maneuvering the floor pedals.
“Winters!” Wil heard the warning from a distance. There was no turning back now.
Wil sat up, and quickly wiped the drool at her mouth. She blinked in surprise at the glaring, bespectacled toad so near her face, confused at why it was there.
“Huh?” She managed, groggily. The class laughed, and she felt her cheeks get warm. Mr. G. allowed a more pleasant version of his grimace before returning his face to its usual self-approved smirk.
“Ms. Winters, nap time was in preschool,” he joked. A few of her peers snickered a bit, though most disliked encouraging his ideas of wit. “Kindly return to page niner niner, and this time use your eyes to read and not your face.”
Wil nodded a bit, and felt relief as he turned and squat-strutted his stumpy walk back to his desk.
She turned her attention back to the text on the page. Meanwhile, a twirling model Wildcat swooped erratically in the current from the heat register.