I had a friend named Paul Glanville. We were both authors and had connections to each other through Amazon’s writer’s forum, WriteOn, and later through Wattpad. I don’t know if I’d read any of his work before we began conversing on Facebook Messenger. He was working on his horror story, Mirage, and I had self-published two suspense/thrillers and was working on a third.
He asked if I would read his work-in-progress and I agreed. Over a year or more, we would discuss writing, books, publishing, marketing, cover designs and a multitude of other topics related to our work. I knew he lived in California, and he spoke lovingly about his wife, Claudia. He considered himself a lucky man to have her in his life.
I know he had a generous spirit. When he learned that I had recently traveled to Cali to see my son and his wife, he told me that the next time I planned to go to LA I needed to let him know. He wanted to invite my husband and me to dinner.
Paul wrote his stories with courage, bringing the reader into a horrific world where sadistic people hurt the powerless for the thrill of doing it. It takes courage to write something some people would condemn as too graphic, too violent. He wanted his front cover to have a human skull on it. I thought it would be best to not have it be so obvious. He compromised and put it on the back cover. I believe I’m not as brave as Paul.
His writing does what it should do — it brings out an emotional response in his readers. I experienced revulsion, anger, and sadness as I read his scenes. This is every writer’s goal. I wanted to see his characters get revenge and cheered his protagonist on. He didn’t sugarcoat the horror in his story. He didn’t skirt around the darkness that belonged to the serial killer who preyed on women in his book.
He gave me a signed copy of his book, and I’m humbled at being included in the acknowledgments. I was shocked to learn of his death. I still have him included in my list of Facebook friends and miss his evening posts on Messenger looking to chat about writing.
I miss him, but I’m not the only writer I know who feels his absence. Below are some others…
I never met Paul in the real world, nor did we discuss much about our personal lives, but it is the same for many of us who consider one another friends far more than just FB friends. I think that I can say that I was a friend of Paul’s and felt a deep sense of loss, hearing of his passing. In addition to our interaction through Amazon WriteOn, we had a number of personal conversations through email. Paul read and critiqued many of the short stories I wrote for the Weekend Write In. In addition to Mirage, I read many drafts of Paul’s books and short stories, about which we had some deep and honest exchanges.
Paul sent me a printed and signed copy of Mirage, for which I’d just started writing a review when I heard that he’d passed. I’ll happily pass that on. I’ve had no interaction with Claudia, other than her acknowledgment of comments I left on Paul’s FB page following his death.
I think his novel Daphne was excellent. It was as provocative as Mirage in its own way, as explicit, while not as dark as some of his other material. Paul wrote some dark stories about the monsters that are real, but most us shy away from, the human monsters. He did not shy from looking into the souls of those monsters. Mirage was only one of those. I don’t know whether any of Paul’s other short fiction are still online anywhere, but he wrote one that ended with a woman, still alive, in a lobster trap as bait. One of those most chilling and vivid images I recall reading.
I never felt I had to soften anything in my discussions with Paul. I could be as dark as I wanted, without ever being judged. Although Paul wrote about evil, I sensed he was a good man. I liked him and miss him.
The text for the draft of my review of Mirage is below:
The first thing I’ll say about Mirage is that it is a finely crafted story. It is riveting. It is dark. It is edgy. It is graphic. It is disturbing. It is not for everyone. But the author makes that crystal clear in his disclaimer in the front of the book. Could he have backed off on the graphic content just a smidge? That’s a hard call and it was his to make. I think that may have made the book more accessible to a wider audience and possibly more commercial. But, if you are into stories about serial killers, who, if you haven’t figured that out, are sick, sadistic animals who care nothing about their victims and do sick, horrendous things to them, then perhaps a less diluted and sanitized offering is in order. I think this author provides you exactly that.
I found this a short compelling and interesting read. I highly recommend it.
I, too received a signed copy of Paul’s book ‘Mirage’ as thanks for a small part I played in advising about some Aussie-isms.
In between help and advice we shared about our writing, I discovered a side to Paul that not so many may know – his love and knowledge of music… particularly Latin American.
In his book ‘Mirage‘ he had his beautiful MC, Celeste, softly singing a popular song to her rescuer. We are all familiar with the traditional version of Cielito Lindo, played by mariachi bands everywhere and Paul sent me a link to a fine rendition, but he wanted a sweeter version and went searching.
I still have his words from a private message –
That’s the only way I ever heard this tune, although for Mirage, I imagined it sung as a ballad. And then I found this:
Such a beautiful version has an added dimension to its poignancy now that Paul’s gone.
I leave you with a short story Paul wrote for the One Million Project’s Thriller Anthology —
The Detour ￼
by Paul Glanville
A routine day takes a detour when an airliner is hijacked. Paul is an Embedded Systems Engineer by day and has been writing for himself since WordStar was popular. He has only recently begun to share.
I am a glorified bus driver.
I start every day in Jakarta. My passengers get on, and I take them to Banda Aceh, with a stop halfway at Pekanbaru. There’s about an hour traveling between stops. We pull up to the terminal; a few passengers get off and some cargo from under the floor is unloaded. Then new cargo is loaded, some passengers get on, and after about a half-hour, we’re on to our next stop. When we get to Banda Aceh, we turn around and do it in the opposite order on the way home.
Banda Aceh is a resort town. You may recall hearing the name; it was hit by a tsunami in 2004. That was a terrible disaster, but it’s all cleaned up now, and we’re the cheapest way to get there from Jakarta. We take longer than the others, who go there directly without stopping three times, but if you’re one of my passengers, we’ll get you to within a short taxi ride of the resorts before noon.
I’ve been flying for decades: first for the Indonesian Air Force, ferrying men and supplies all over the country. Now I’m the captain in a small regional carrier, doing almost the same thing as before.
The job is not nearly as glamorous as people think. It’s mostly preparation for an awesome responsibility, every day.
My favorite part is taking off. You push those throttles forward, and the engines gradually spin up to full power. The A319 strains, but you have the brakes on. Finally, you release the brakes, and you’re pushed into your seat as she leaps forward. About halfway down the runway, you pull on the yoke slightly, the nose gently rises, and the world disappears from view in the main windscreen. The feeling… the rumbling sound of the wheels on the tarmac goes away; it’s suddenly quiet as you lift up. “Wheels up!” you command, and your copilot flips the lever. Three green lights turn red then extinguish altogether. “Wheels up!” your copilot responds. Above the clouds, the sun shines brilliantly. She wants to fly. There’s no feeling like it, and I get to do it several times a day. You look over to the man in the right seat. “She’s yours.” You feel him take the controls and you let go. Now you can relax a bit and enjoy the ride from the best seat on the plane.
Landing is the tricky part. If you just aim the plane down, it’ll accelerate like a roller coaster, and you can’t land if you’re going too fast. Getting up is easy, but it’s a delicate balance, getting back down.
I’ve got thousands of hours more experience than my copilot, and he’s not going to get any more if I fly the plane all day every day, so I hand it off. I usually let copilots land, too. Again, they need the experience more than me. After a while, the company changes my crew: new copilot, new cabin attendants. I’ve had the same flight crew for months, and we talk about each other. We know each others’ personal lives: who’s married, who’s dating, what’s happening in their families. It’s less of a boring grind than it otherwise would be.
We just took off from Sultan Syarif Kasim II International at Pekanbaru—next stop: Banda Aceh—and we’re climbing through broken cloud past 5,000 meters, up to our cruise altitude of 8,000. Ninety-seven passengers, mostly tourists. I’d just handed off the controls to my copilot, Martin Ramirez, when I got a call from the forward flight attendant’s station.
“Captain, there’s a disturbance…”
Then, I heard a lot of noise. “What’s happening?” I asked.
The cockpit door suddenly burst open. It’s not supposed to do that after I lock it.
A lot of screaming and yelling. A stewardess fell backward, landing hard on the cockpit floor, and three men followed, stepping over her as they barged in.
“We’re taking control!” one of them said. He held up a hand grenade. That got our attention like nothing had ever before. I looked over to Martin. He was looking at the grenade as if he was watching his life count down.
My copilot ignored me, still focused on the intruders and the weapon.
“Martin!” I yelled.
He jumped and looked back at me, his eyes wide-open like saucers.
“Martin, I’ll handle this. You fly the plane!”
He blinked then nodded. “Yes, sir!” He gulped and turned to face the controls. He was scared but doing his job.
“I give the orders here!” the leader said.
I turned to him. “Sir, I’m the captain, and I can order everyone to cooperate with you.”
“Fuck you! I give the orders! Do you hear me, asshole?” He was still excited.
I had to calm him down. “Loud and clear. You give the orders. I have the authority to do whatever you want, okay? Just tell me what you want, and I’ll make it happen.”
The leader’s demeanor seemed to relax a bit, although the other two still looked pumped to their eyeballs with adrenaline.
In the calmest voice I could, I asked, “Tell me. What do you want?”
“Take us to Mecca!”
A hijacking. I was almost relieved.
“Martin, we’re going to Mecca.”
We’ve had more than our share of radical Islamic-inspired violence and terrorism, but we’ve been in relative peace for most of the last decade. I looked at the three again. They were certainly “True Believers,” but were they part of some radical group? They got a grenade aboard somehow and the door might have been weakened—was someone in the ground crew involved?
“Uhhh.” The stewardess began to stir. “Sorry, sir.” She got up to her hands and knees. “I couldn’t stop them.”
“Get her out of here,” ordered the leader.
The two other men grabbed her, roughly lifted her up, and shoved her out of the cockpit. She fell on her belly and slid down the aisle. I wanted to get up and stop this—a hijacking is one thing, but nobody abuses my crew! What could I do without getting everyone killed?
The leader spotted the jump seat and sat where he could keep an eye on us. “I’ve got everything under control here. You two, guard the door.”
“Okay.” They left.
By now, even the passengers in the tail knew something was wrong.
“Good morning. This is your captain speaking. We’ve had a disturbance in the cockpit, and we’re working on it, so there’s no cause for alarm. In the meantime, please remain seated. Thank you.”
We settled in for an uneasy ride.
Fifteen minutes later, we started our descent into Banda Aceh. The way it’s done is by reducing the engine power, usually all the way to idle; when you reduce power, the plane slows and you maintain the proper airspeed by gently descending. You can hear the sound of the engines drop, and this alarmed the leader.
“What’s happening? What are you doing?”
I turned. “Don’t worry, we’re just starting our descent into Banda Aceh.”
“No! We’re going to Mecca!” He waved his hand grenade around.
“We can’t make it all the way to Mecca. We have to land and refuel.”
“Don’t fuck with me. I saw the fuel trucks at the airport. You already refueled!”
I looked at the papers from Pekanbaru.
Four hours ago, when we did our preflight preparations at Jakarta, Martin noticed that the price of jet fuel was lower at Pekanbaru, so we made sure to have enough to get there, plus the mandated reserves, of course. You have to understand that planes fly more economically when they’re carrying less weight, and fuel is heavy, so you try to take off with only as much as you’ll need, plus a little extra for emergencies. So, when we stopped there, we partially fueled while we unloaded and loaded passengers and cargo. We knew we’d be back in a few hours on our return trip. The plan was to completely fill our tanks on the return leg and ferry the cheaper fuel back to Jakarta for the airline. The economics of running an airline is a boring part of the job. But today, it became a real problem.
I did the math. The gauges were showing about a quarter full. Forty-eight hundred kilograms. I guessed about 1500 km, give or take. I saw Martin glancing at the gauges. He glanced over to me and shook his head. We didn’t need to say a word. We’d done the same arithmetic and came to the same conclusion.
“We can only go about 1500 kilometers before we have to refuel.”
“I saw the plane getting refueled.” He waved his weapon. “We go to Mecca or else everyone dies!”
I turned and sat back. “Martin, set cruise at 10,000 meters. Point seventy-eight Mach.”
“I know,” I sighed. “Just do it.”
I told the flight controller about our situation. Minutes later, we were passing Banda Aceh. I started praying for a friendly runway beyond the horizon.
Every airport in the world has a four-letter code name that our flight management autopilot understands. I asked traffic control for the airport code for Mecca. A few minutes later, I was told that Mecca has no airport, none at all, which surprised the hell out of me. Actually, I was so far beyond surprised that I can’t think of a word for it. Imagine, more than a million pilgrims come to Mecca for the Hadj every year, and there’s no airport in town.
The controller added that the closest airports are Jeddah and Medina; Jeddah is closer; only about eighty kilometers from Mecca.
“You heard the guy,” I said. “We can’t take you to Mecca, but we can get you close, so where do you want to go?”
“Medina!” he answered.
I relayed that to the ground and was given a code to enter: OEMA. I punched it into the Flight Management Console. It’s more than 6300 km away.
No way we would have made it, even if we had been fully fueled, especially not with the plane loaded with ninety-seven passengers and four cargo containers.
“What makes you think we can go all the way to Mecca with this plane?”
“We looked it up on the Airbus website—an A319 can go 6750 kilometers. Banda Aceh to Mecca is less—we looked that up too—so we go to Mecca!”
Martin and I exchanged bewildered glances. This plane can do about 6000 kilometers, if she was topped off. Maybe 6300 if we exhaust the reserves—in light air, or with a slight tail wind, maybe—but a headwind would force us down early. 6700 kilometers? No way!
Martin spoke up, “Hey, boss, that plane you saw in the Airbus site, was that the A319 Neo?”
“I dunno. Who cares?”
Almost whispering, Martin addressed me, “I think Airbus is promoting their newest model on their site. The Neo’s got sharklets.”
Of course! You might have noticed how, on many new planes, the last couple of meters of the wings are bent to go straight up. They’re called “winglets” or “sharklets” because of their shape. They dramatically improve a plane’s performance by roughly ten percent.
Ours is not a brand-new plane. We don’t have that feature, and even if we were full of fuel, we wouldn’t make it to Mecca. As it was, we couldn’t even make it a quarter of the way there. The next land, beyond the horizon, was India, and I was worried that it was too far away. I silently prayed for a stiff tailwind…
We don’t carry international charts that include the Indian Ocean. Why would we? We’re regional. So we really didn’t know where we’re going. We didn’t know which waypoints to program into our Flight Management System (a super-fancy controller for the whole plane, including an autopilot), the frequencies of the navigational beacons along the way… nothing. We were lost in a big sky.
“Regional two-niner two-seven.” It was the flight controller.
“Regional two-niner two-seven. Roger.”
“Hi. We understand you’re en route to Mecca.”
“Vector directly to AKINO.”
A waypoint! Thank goodness! We had someplace to fly to! I entered AKINO into the Flight Management Console. Course 274. Almost due west. Sounded about right. I hit the program command button. I felt the plane respond to the autopilot, banking slightly to the right from 270. “AKINO, copy.”
“At AKINO, contact Colombo Control for further instruction.”
“Thanks, Jakarta!” Sri Lanka! I’d forgotten, and it’s closer than India! Maybe, just maybe…
“You’re welcome. Good luck!”
Years ago, we only had radio beacons for navigation. After a while, they started naming the intersections of the beacons; if one beacon was at a particular angle with respect to another, you could tell the controller that you were at a particular waypoint. They’re on the charts. Today, with GPS, we can program our autopilot to go anywhere, and we have a new set of waypoints that are simply latitude and longitude coordinates. Nearly all of them are five-letters long, just as most of the beacons are three and airports are four. AKINO is a GPS waypoint.
It took thirty minutes to get to AKINO. We said goodbye to Jakarta Air Traffic Control, they wished us luck, and we contacted Colombo Control. They were expecting our call and gave us more navigational waypoints in order: TEBIT, HC, MTL, VCRI. That last one grabbed my attention—four letter codes are airports! I glanced over to Martin. He looked as surprised as I felt. Dare we hope? I steadied myself and looked over my shoulder at my “guest” in the cockpit, Mr. Hand Grenade. I entered the codes into the Flight Management Console. The airport was about 80 km further than our fuel estimate.
The controller continued to give us letters and numbers. Mr. Hand Grenade didn’t seem interested.
Have you ever driven your car on “E,” certain that you’ve got another two or three liters before your engine starts sucking air and dies, certain that the gas station a dozen kilometers away is close enough? There is a big difference between certainty and knowledge, isn’t there? No matter how certain you are, you still sweat up until the moment you roll into the station and stop in front of the gas pump, don’t you?
Cruising at ten thousand meters and point seventy-eight Mach, it took about an hour to get to TEBIT. An hour of watching the needles slowly drop, little by little, lower and lower. Ahead, open sea, open sea, and more open sea. The closer we get to TEBIT, the more nervous I got. I watched the gauges and waited, listening for a sputter, a hiccup, anything to hint that an engine is about to cut out, and then the other. I waited for a hint that our quiet glide down to the water was about to start.
TEBIT disappeared from the console screen. I felt the plane gently change course towards HC, another waypoint…
“Take the controls, Cap,” Martin said. “I’ve got to use the restroom.”
“Bird’s mine,” I replied as I took the controls. Before our guard realized what was happening, Martin had released his seat belt and was out of his seat.
“Get back! Get back in your seat!”
“C’mon, man. I’ve really gotta go.”
She yawed slightly then straightened out. An alarm went off. An alarm I’d been dreading.
“Shit! One of the engines stopped,” I said, clearing the alarm.
“What did you do? Start it back up!”
“I didn’t do anything. We’re running—”
Another alarm sounded as the screens went black.
Clearing the annunciator, the cockpit was eerily quiet. No whine of the twin turbines; only the whoosh of air.
I was piloting a 55-ton glider.
I heard something slam against something else. The cockpit door slammed. There were sounds of a struggle. I glanced quickly over my shoulder—they were on the floor—and I got back to work. More struggling and then pounding on the door. This time, it didn’t open.
Martin got back in his seat. His clothes were in disarray, his tie and belt missing altogether. He smiled. “Look at this,” he said. I glanced over. He had the grenade! “Notice anything?” He handed it to me. She was flying smoothly, and I didn’t need my right hand for the throttles, so I reached over.
There was something, well, odd. Something caught my eye, and I turned it over—there was a hole in the bottom. “Martin, are you telling me we’re going to ditch in the ocean and my passengers are in mortal danger because of a fucking practice grenade?”
Martin nodded, laughing. “Hard to tell them apart, especially when the bad guy doesn’t give you a chance to examine it.”
There was thumping on the other side of the cockpit door. It stopped, and I got a call on the intercom. It was Sally, one of the cabin crew.
“Some passengers took out the bad guys. We’re good in here,” she said.
“All clear in here too,” I said, looking at our hijacker, lying on the floor, hog-tied with a tie and a belt.
“Cap,” Martin said, “with all the excitement, I forgot why I got up in the first place.”
I laughed. “I’ve got her. Go do what you have to do.”
“Oh, and get our ‘friend’ out of my cockpit!”
He opened the door and cheers erupted from the passenger compartment.
I heard something being dragged on the floor, and the door closed.
When the engines died, hydraulic pumps and the generators died with them, taking out the flight controls and the computers. Fortunately, planes like ours are fitted with some very basic emergency backups. When the engines’ hydraulic pumps fail, there’s a little windmill that pops out of the fuselage called a Ram Air Turbine, and it works a small hydraulic pump. It’s just powerful enough to control the plane. There’s also a set of six old-fashioned instruments so we can know how high we are, what direction we’re going, and so on. So, we were flying old school.
One of those instruments, the VOR receiver, came to life. It had picked up the MTL beacon. The receiver showed the direction and the distance to the transmitter; we were 200 km away. At our altitude, that was too far to glide, but if we headed straight for it, we’d be closer to land and maybe some shipping…
It was a long fifteen minutes. Altimeters look like clocks, and I spent the whole time watching ours spin backward.
We’d been in radio contact with the Sri Lankan Air Traffic Controller, and they had us on RADAR the whole time. And, of course, the flight attendants had prepared everyone in the cabin—we didn’t want a repeat of what happened to Ethiopian Airlines 961, another hijacking where half of the initial survivors didn’t even make it out of the plane before it sank.
We were down to our last one thousand meters when Martin spotted a plane coming towards us. I just got a glimpse of it in the right-hand side before it disappeared up and to our rear.
Before I knew it, a big C130 was flying on my side. “Sri Lanka Air Force.”
“Good afternoon,” came over my headset. “We’re here to help. We’ve got divers, medics, and a few power boats from the Special Boat Squadron ready to drop and help your people until more substantial help arrives. A navy cutter should arrive in about half an hour.”
“Roger, and thanks!”
Our angel, in the form of a military transport, flew alongside us, talking us down. I can’t begin to say what a help that was. They told us how close we were getting to the water.
I pitched the nose up and slowed the plane. The other plane gently floated away, apparently unwilling to follow us into a stall and a ditching. Then I felt the tail skimming on the water. This is what we’re paid for. You’ve got to keep the wings absolutely level. You can’t let one engine hit the water too soon before the other. If it does, it’ll stop while the other is still going 200 kph, and the plane will break up.
Water washed over the windscreen. When both engines hit the water at the same time, the plane stopped, quite suddenly, from 200 to zero instantly. The nose bobbed up. I could see the sky! I looked around. We were okay. Martin and I went through the shutdown sequence and were out of the cockpit in a minute. The cabin crew didn’t need any prompting. All the doors, including the two, one over each wing, were open, and the passengers were filing out onto the inflatable ramps that double as rafts. Nobody seemed to be seriously hurt. A few scrapes here and there, but everyone was moving on their own. All in all, pretty good. I think my cabin crew is the best.
So, no casualties—except for the hijackers, that is. Nobody had thought to untie them, put them in their seats, and clip their seat belts. When the plane stopped, they didn’t and they met bulkheads.
The Sri Lankans even managed to save the plane—this plane! The divers attached floats to her, preventing her from sinking before a crane and a barge could be brought to the scene. They didn’t have to do that. I think they’re geeks and just wanted to show off that they could.
It took a few months, but she was declared air-worthy again. Well, I hope you liked my story. We’re approaching Jakarta, and it’s about time to start the descent checklist, so you’ll have to leave the cockpit. Nice meeting you. Goodbye.
Another wonderful story, Paul! Rest In Peace, my friend…
Paul Glanville’s book — Mirage — can be found at these online retailers.