Aviophobia (Flight HA1710 #5)

Aviophobia (Flight HA1710 #5)

Richard Abbott finally overcomes his debilitating fear of flying, boards Flight HA1710 bound for Chicago, and when it crashes discovers that aviophobia isn’t the worst of it...

All his life Richard has been afraid of flying. He has no idea what caused it, but nothing and no one will convince him to get on a plane of any size. His job as a member of a major bank’s IT department in London does not require him to fly—until he gets promoted. If he wants to keep his job, he has no choice but to deal with his worst nightmare.

Camden Marsh is a certified life coach who enjoys helping people redefine their priorities and their life. He is on his way to Chicago to attend an international conference for coaches and trainers when he begins a discussion with the extremely nervous man sitting next to him.

They have barely begun to explore their mutual interest when Flight HA1710 crashes and everything comes to a screeching stop.


ISBN-13: 978-1-909630-16-1
Pages: 84
Words: 29,000
Cover Artist: Meredith Russel
Editor: Erika Orrick
Heat Index:Heat Index
Book Type: EBook
Average Rating: rating

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Chapter One

Monday, June 8, 2015
Crash minus 13 days

“Certainly, sir. I’ll be there in five minutes.” Richard Abbott replaced the receiver on his desk phone with slightly shaky hands. Shit! His boss’s boss never called anyone to his tenth-floor office unless it was extremely bad news like a critical comment about a project, an official reprimand, or possibly getting fired. Each scenario in Richard’s head was worse than the last, and he clenched his teeth with the effort to stop himself from screaming in frustrated anger. What had he done wrong now? Why could nothing ever go his way?

Richard might not be exposed to the frontline of global economic combat like his colleagues in trading or investment banking, but even working in IT for a major international bank like KR Aventus PLC held certain risks. After all he and his coworkers in network security were responsible for the speed and impenetrability of Aventus’s proprietary computer network. If anything went wrong with the trading software, it was a real issue, since the loss of even half a second of functionality due to some glitch or bug could cost the bank millions. Getting hacked by a competitor, some criminal, or a terrorist would be even worse and didn’t bear thinking about.

Receiving a call to see the big boss? Bad news any way Richard looked at it.

He mentally ran over a list of the projects he’d completed in the last few days trying to find any mistakes he might have made as he rose from his chair, grabbed a notebook, and made his way to the bank of elevators at the center of the office building. The few colleagues who noticed him walk past gave him curious glances, but nobody made a comment. Worker bees were not encouraged to engage in “unnecessary social exchanges,” and with more people than jobs in the current economy, nobody wanted to stand out as breaking even an unwritten rule.

The elevator ride from the seventh to the tenth floor didn’t take much time. When Richard exited on the executive level with its plush carpets, expensive artwork on the walls, and well-dressed personal assistants, he had not made any progress toward identifying what could possibly be wrong with his work. He refused to consider any other reason for upper management getting involved in his life. By the time he made it to the VP’s office, his palms were sweaty and he had to force himself to breathe slowly.

“There you are.” Melissa was one of the friendliest personal assistants in the building, and her smile calmed Richard down a little. She pointed at the heavy wooden door to her left. “Mr. Harrington is ready for you, so you can go right in.”

“Thank you.” Richard did his best to return her smile, took a deep breath for courage, and knocked on the door. Once a barked “Enter” sounded, he turned the doorknob and walked into the lion’s den.

Peter Harrington—VP Technology and Innovation, Europe—didn’t look dangerous at first glance. Of average height, he preferred dark suits and conservative ties in line with official bankers’ uniform. He was only a few years older than Richard but far more politically astute. He’d been sent to London from Aventus’s head office in Chicago, and as a consequence his actual position was less important than the fact that he was one of the up-and-coming managers being groomed for a main board position. The real problem was that Mr. Harrington had only a passing acquaintance with anything resembling IT—he was a manager, an administrator, above all else. He excelled at risk assessment and the art of managing his own career. Richard could only hope whatever he wanted to discuss was not too technical; Peter Harrington hated to feel stupid, and anything “too techie” fell in that category.

“Glad to see you’re on time.” Peter nodded briefly and pointed at the visitor’s chair in front of his imposing mahogany desk. “Please take a seat.”

“Thank you.” Richard sat, forcing himself not to fidget.

“You know I’m not a man of many words.” Peter’s grin looked artificial, not reaching his eyes. Richard suspected Peter regarded it as a “tool” some management course or HR guideline had taught him to use to make employees feel at ease. “So I’ll come right to the point.”

Richard swallowed and nodded. He still had no idea what this was all about, and he felt more nervous by the second.

“We like your work. All your evaluations since you joined us three years ago have been stellar, and your performance on the recently completed design stages of Project Maroon has caught Chicago’s attention.” Peter even managed a real smile this time.

What the hell? Someone in head office noticed me? That can’t be good. All Richard was able to drag up was a timid smile in return, a little unsure what this effusive praise was leading up to and more worried than ever.

“Let me be the first to congratulate you.” Peter rose and held out his hand across the appropriately busy-looking desk. “Effective immediately, you are promoted to team leader level with a focus on implementing Maroon globally.”

“I-I…. Promoted?” Richard shook Peter’s hand on autopilot while his mind went a hundred miles an hour trying to comprehend what this meant for him. More money—check. Focus on his work rather than being a jack-of-all-trades—check. International responsibility—oh shit!

“Well done.” Peter retracted his hand and sat on his executive throne. “The kickoff meeting is in two weeks, at head office of course, and representatives from all the major offices will attend. You have plenty of time to prepare, and I expect nothing less than a perfect result. I know you can do it.”

Richard opened his mouth to reply, but what was he going to say? This was a brilliant opportunity. He knew Project Maroon inside out, and he’d wanted to be involved in the implementation phase of a major project as long as he could remember. There was only one problem. Chicago meant air travel—and probably not just for the kickoff meeting. And if there was one thing Richard hated…. The mere thought of getting on an airplane made him shudder. He’d only ever told one person about his biggest fear. At the end of his degree course, his best friend from uni, Theo Rayder, had suggested they take a holiday on a tropical island to celebrate. Richard had been forced to admit the truth to get Theo to give up, but had sworn him to secrecy. So far Richard had managed to avoid any and all air travel.

There was a name for his condition.


He could easily avoid flying for pleasure—as if!—since there were plenty of nice holiday spots in Britain. And with no need to fly for job-related reasons, his “condition” hadn’t seemed like a problem he needed to worry about. But now? What the hell was he going to do? Jeopardize his career by admitting he had a mental condition most people either didn’t know existed or would laugh about? Aside from not wanting to admit he was a coward in front of his colleagues, any sort of weakness like that would disqualify him from further advancement with his employer. Not officially, of course, they were too clever for that. But there were ways of getting rid of “unwanted” employees….

“Richard?” Peter was frowning at him.

“Yes.” Richard forced the abject terror he could feel rising into a back corner of his mind for now. “Thank you. I’ll get right on it.”

“That’s the spirit.” Peter cast a longing glance at the papers on his desk.

Richard knew a dismissal when he saw one and rose.

“I look forward to your first status report. Be sure to tell your boss to let me have a copy. I’m taking a personal interest in this one.” Peter nodded briskly.

“I’ll remember that.” Richard refused to let more panic into his thoughts. He could have a meltdown later. To have a VP interested in his work added another level of stress to an already horrible situation. “Thank you again.”

Before Peter could say anything else, Richard raced out of his office, barely nodded at Melissa on his way to the elevators, and entered the next available car. He kept telling himself to keep calm, but it was an uphill struggle. He sagged against the wall as the elevator’s doors swished shut and closed his eyes. He needed to find a solution to his problem, and fast. Rather than admit defeat and look for a different job, maybe he’d better man up and follow Theo’s advice.

It was time to get help.

©Serena Yates, 2015
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