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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Malpass

On Board

My name is Andrew Matheson, and I'm having kind of an unusual day. Um, for example, I think maybe I just quit my job as a high school biology teacher. Hmm, make that probably.

This morning during fourth period, I'm leading a discussion of the evolutionary concept of survival of the fittest. You know, small variations in phenotype among some members of a population that result in some sort of an advantage to those members. So more of them survive long enough to reproduce. Like peppered moths that blend in with tree bark, or sea turtles that can hold their breath underwater for a long time.

Then my student Daniel asks if survival of the fittest ever results in an optimized population. That is, he's wondering whether a species can get so completely adapted to its habitat that there's no further room for improvement. Meaning it's a really fit species—a real survivor, able to weather any storm.

So then Daniel asks are supernatural beings like ghosts and demons the fittest? And I get really creeped out, and then my college friend, billionaire tycoon Aaron Mackenzie, sends me this text saying go to the airport and get on the jet I'm sending and don't tell anybody what's going on.

The "don't tell anybody" part is really easy, because I don't have any earthly idea what's going on. I just know I'm on this Citation Sovereign business jet, hurtling towards an uncertain future at more than 500 miles per hour. Like I said, I'm having kind of an unusual day.

A view of the cabin of the Cessna Citation Sovereign business jet.

I, Andrew Matheson, am having kind of an unusual day aboard this Citation Sovereign business jet, hurtling towards an uncertain future at more than 500 miles per hour.

And I have questions. Like:

  • Why does a seemingly normal freshman biology student think supernatural beings exist and are good examples of survival of the fittest?

  • How does Aaron Mackenzie instantly know what is going on in my classroom, even to knowing Daniel's name?

  • Why am I on board this company jet this afternoon, leaving behind everything familiar—including my job, to meet with a friend I haven't spoken to in at least eight years?

  • And finally, why can't I tell anyone? What's the big secret?

Now the copilot keys the mike on her headset and announces, "We're ready to descend, Mr. Matheson. Time to buckle up. We should be on the ground in just a few minutes."


(Image of Cessna Citation Sovereign cabin by - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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