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by Dan Brotzel

Is that a plane daddy?

Yes, darling.

Is that a plane daddy?

Yes.

Is that a plane daddy?

Yeees. That too. It’s got a duck’s face, that one, hasn’t it?

’Nother plane daddy?

Yeeesss. There’s lots of them. It’s a lovely airport, isn’t it? And look — all the planes are animals …

Probably wants his mummy.

Yeees. Well, we all love our mummies, don’t we?

Is that a plane daddy?

Hard to say, darling. Giving it a hippo face and body has sort of masked its key features. I suppose it could be a sort of stylised version of an Aero Spacelines Guppy.

Big one daddy!

Indeed — NASA used it to carry bits of Apollo rockets and other aircraft components. That thing could hold up to …

Is that a plane daddy?

Oh yes. That’s … Goodness me, that looks like an A-10. Extraordinary! Basically Grumman developed a massive anti-tank gun and built a plane round it. The firepower on that thing is capable of taking out …

Jellycopter, daddy?

Yes, again the proportions are all wrong, which is easy to do when you want to make it look like a cockerel. But I’d say it’s a Mil Mi-8.

Daddy funny!

Don’t believe me? Ah, you’re probably thinking you recognise it from the movie Behind Enemy Lines, but that was actually a Mi-17. The trick is to check the tail rotor location, which …

Is that one two three planes daddy?

Those ones in a row that look like tigers? Yeeeeees. Going by the roundels — very strange, this — they look like a flight of Shenyang J-16s, a central plank of the Chinese air force’s front-line offensive capability.

Is that a seal daddy?

Yes. It’s also an oddly accurate rendition of a Lockheed SR-71. Flagship of USAF’s clandestine reconnaissance missions for over two decades.

He’s talking to the tigers.

I know! But the idea that an American black-ops stealth craft would share an airfield with Chinese strike fighters simply beggars belief. Was there a consultant on this book? Let me just check the front …

Daddy cross.

No, darling, no! It’s just that this whole scene betrays a complete lack of understanding of today’s geopolitical and military-strategic realities.

Daddy read me Ladybug Book of Bugs!

OK darling. Though of course technically, ladybirds aren’t bugs at all. They lack the appropriate beak-like mouth parts and have no larval stage, so they’re actually better classified as …

When’s mummy coming back, daddy?

That I don’t know, sweetie. Or indeed, why she left.

Daddy go now. Night-night daddy.

Ok, darling. Night-night.


Dan Brotzel was runner-up in the Flash 500 short story competition 2017, and has been shortlisted in competitions run by Sunderland University/Waterstones, Wimbledon BookFest, Fish and Retreat West. He has made the shortlist of the To Hull and Back comic-writing prize twice. His first novel, #Unforgivable, is currently under consideration. His agent is Geraldine Nichol. Follow him on Twitter here.

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