Tehran To Kyiv

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story that takes place across ten seconds.... view prompt


Suspense Thriller Drama

I promise I will kill him if he doesn’t stop. 

What happened now, Em?

Have you gone deaf? That kid is shouting at the top of his voice for an eternity.

Em, he will stop once the flight takes off.

Lucas, get our seats changed. What kind of parents raise such kids?

Em.. Dear.. Calm down a bit now..

Oh God! What have I done to be seated in the same row as a bratty child in every single flight?


Reza stole a look at the clock. He wished for the shift to end now.

“Want to go home?” The sarcasm in Kamran’s voice was biting. Reza kept quiet.

“Who all among you sissies want to sleep? Who all here don’t know about the assassination of the Supreme Commander?”

Neither Kamran nor the crew in the monitoring room had slept in the last 16 hours. As soldiers, they were trained for it, but the situation was worse than just sleep deprivation. Reza knew better than to try to reason with the commander-in-charge under those circumstances.

“Reza, do not take your eyes off the radar screen.”

“Yes. Sir.”

“Account for each of these to me,” Kamran pointed to the blinking green dots.


“How gorgeous she looks in blue and yellow.”

“Whether they wear blue or yellow or maroon or crimson red or pale turquoise, you would find all of them equally attractive.”


“Let me not interfere with your gawking.”

“What are you even made of? You prefer looking at the booklet instead of these gorgeous ladies?”

“I have been at the airport for the last 3 hours. The flight is delayed. If I want to eat and sleep, is that so bad an idea?”


“..and these are for the airport area,” Reza finished his briefing.

“Saeed, what is the positioning report on the missile launchers?”

“No update on the last one, Captain. They have not responded.”

“We are on a high alert here, and these buggers are not responding.” Kamran sounded anything but calm and happy. “Try the other line.”

“Yes. Sir.”


“Sorry, Mr Shevchenko. The gates are closed. You were supposed to report at least 45 minutes before departure,” said the blonde handing the passport back to Andrew.

“There’s still 45 minutes left.”

“43 on my watch.”

“Look lady, 2 minutes doesn’t make any difference. Just let me take the goddamn flight!”

“Sir. Please control yourself. The check-in for your flight has been closed.”


“Capt. Kamran from monitoring. All launchpads ready?”

“Yes, Capt. Ready and on stand-by.”

“No alerts. Standby for now.”


“Hello.. Miss..Excuse me.”

“Yes, Madam.”

“Please give us seats away from shouting kids.”

“We are fully booked, Madam.”

“But I can’t tolerate… “

“Ladies and gentlemen. This is your Captain Vasilenko speaking.”

“Let me see what can be done after the take-off.”

“Welcome aboard the flight from Tehran to Kyiv. Apologies for the late departure. We will cover the distance in about 4 hours and 30 minutes. Please sit back and enjoy the flight. Cabin crew to demo stations please.”


“Capt. Kamran. The radar just picked up something.”

“Confirm the identity and movement.”

“Identity not confirmed. Moving west.”

“Signal source?”

“Originated from the airport.”

“A passenger aircraft?”

“It is moving off the air corridor.”

“Contact air traffic.”


“We are already in the air.”

“Thanks for letting me know, Matt”

“Ryan, are you sleeping already?”

“I am trying.”

“Have you been to the Imam Mosque?”

“Didn’t get time. Next time maybe. I will go.”


“Tower. Come in. Tower….. No response, Captain.”


“Still headed west.”


“Can’t decode the signal.”

“Keep trying air traffic.”

“Tower. Come in. Tower.”



The radar beeped, beeped, and beeped again.

And then the impact made the aircraft shift and tilt.

What just happened? 


The cockpit crew instantly knew something was terribly wrong. Several of the displays turned red and alarms started blaring.

Captain Vasilenko quickly went through the possibilities.

A bird hit? No. The impact was too strong. 

A mid-air collision? No. The radar did not suggest another aircraft. Nor was there any warnings from the air traffic control tower.

And the movement was just too fast.


“What was that horrible jerk?”

“Em..I don’t know..”

“Look..The wing’s on fire,” shouted the brat in the row ahead. The other passengers didn’t raise objections this time around.

“Lucas.. We are going to die.”

“For God’s sake, woman, shut up.”

Too late. Panic and screams from other passengers drowned his wife’s complaints.


Captain Vasilenko and both of his two co-pilots were not yet clear what had hit the aircraft. But the damage was critical. The onward flight plan had to be abandoned.

“IKA Tower, Papa Sierra Seven Five Two, Captain Vasilenko requesting an emergency landing.”

“Seven Five Two, report to Pavet. Explain your emergency.”

“IKA Tower, Seven Five Two, Reporting to Pavet. We have a hit. Engine two has caught fire. Request fire fighting and medical help.”

“Seven Five Two, Fire services and medical help to be on standby.”


“Missile one has made contact with the target.” 

The environment in the control room was tense. Very tense. Neither the limited information could be verified nor the instructions from the air command were unambiguous. Take a balanced and informed call was not the answer Captain Kamran was looking for. 

Reza continued, “Target is still moving westward. Missile two en route to intercept target in five..”


The way they were handling the panic-stricken passengers and trying to create some order in the howling and wailing masses made Matt look at the stewardesses with newfound respect. He would certainly propose to one of them once the crisis was over, but which one he was not yet sure.


As the flight jolted in the mid-skies trying to stay afloat, Ryan suddenly regretted not taking time off to go visit the Imam Mosque even though he visited Tehran four times.

Ryan thought about his to-do list: the connecting flight to Canada, the results of the client presentation they just finished, the appraisal next week, the promotion talk with his boss, getting his car back from the service centre, his mother’s birthday tomorrow.. wait, was it today? A sudden and intense urge to call his mother overtook Ryan, but there was no mobile signal at this height.


Kamran felt his pulse racing and blood throbbing in his ears. Years of international combat training had hardened him, but a faint flicker of humanity still remained.  

Cold wars were many times more complicated and more difficult to deal with. In open wars, enemies were clearly defined, air spaces cleared and civilians cleared out. There had been a drone attack on the intelligence headquarters 48 hours back. In absence of full information and wartime protocols in effect, Kamran had to rely on his instincts to decide the course of action in dealing with the hostile target presumably on it’s way to the army base camp.


“Hello Marina! I am sorry,” Andrew sounded dejected. “ I missed the flight.”

“What about Evgen’s birthday tomorrow?”

“I am trying to get a ticket on a morning flight.”

“How can you afford to be so irresponsible?”

Marina and Andrew did not know yet that Evgen was lucky that his father had missed the flight.


“IKA Tower, Seven Five Two, We are losing height. Preparing for forced landing.”

“Seven Five Two, Forced landing. Confirm co-ordinates.”

“..Request alerting ..”

“Seven Five Two, Confirm co-ordinates.”


“Seven Five Two, Do you copy?”


Saeed typed out the final lines of the report before heading out of the shift. “Presumably hostile target. Predicted path charted to intelligence headquarters. Intercepted by missile 2.”

3 days later, the Iranian government apologized for the unforgivable mistake of taking down a passenger aircraft with 176 people on board. Further investigations found an incorrect calibration of air defence equipment and improper communication had resulted in the fatal consequences. A full investigation is still underway.

Disclaimer : I used the various reports and bits and pieces of knowledge from the internet to fictionalize what might have happened before and during the plane crash. The story is mostly woven out of my imagination and uses only a bare minimum of the facts. I obviously don’t know anything about standard communication protocols or verifications and probably just filled in with space fiction.

Also, I apologize in advance if the story triggers painful memories.

December 28, 2020 16:34

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