This is an excerpt from the end of Chapter 7:
It was as though their ends were predestined. Every move they made seems to have had no determinative bearing on the outcome. They had been chosen for sacrifice, and the decision had been made without them; they had been reduced to irrelevancies in their own destinies. There had been the coincidence of the original flight plans collectively spelling converging courses; and then the coincidence of both planes being held up on the ground so that they took off only three minutes apart rather than fifteen; and then TWA 2's ascent to 21,000 feet, turning the converging courses into actual collision paths; and then the cancelling of the impending disaster by TWA 2's northward detour, wherever they made it; and then, as if in obeisance to the principle that fate cannot be revoked and must be satisfied, the two had separately turned from their benign courses, TWA 2 from their northerly detour course and United 718 from their proposed course east-northeasterly, to again converge on each other.
They were helpless ~ helpless because they were unaware, helpless because every path they could take led to the same place, and helpless because they had no voice in the decree.
Somewhere over the wilderness of northern Arizona, they left the known and assumed and predictable world behind them. They left the familiar world of human endeavors and of mundane laws, and they entered the dominion of the heavens. Destiny may be preordained from eternity, or decided only at some definable moment in time and only thereafter irrevocable. If it is as most of us conceive of it ~ impossible to alter once it has been set, whether decreed from the beginning of creation or only just a moment ago ~ then it defies material laws, which always allow for what is impending to be changed. Obviously if there is any time remaining at all before an event, then it can be averted by the application of force, and there is no limit to how much force may be impressed, nor to how comprehensively what would have been can be rewritten. This is simply a matter of observation. Or is it? No amount of evidence consistent with a given belief can prove that it has no exceptions.
When inexplicable events occur, it is only humble and honest to surrender and call them destiny, and to defer their cause to a vague, intangible, all-encompassing will, which has been given the name fate. As the motive power behind events that seem to have an unlimited capacity to carry themselves out, because they resist or elude any and all of our efforts to prevent them, fate becomes undeniable and absolutely convincing. It seems as real as anything tangible, and no doubt it is. Fate is axiomatic ~ its reality is inescapable, and it is a timeless theme in which mankind has believed throughout history.
Given that there is fate, then its laws operate outside of physical laws to unfold destiny; and yet because fate is impressed upon and expressed within material reality, its laws must operate within and through physical laws. A plane crashes not by the Earth rising to strike it, but by falling to the ground, in conformity with the laws of aerodynamics and gravity. But because fate has made its absolute pronouncement, no physical force or object or act can stop it. A limited physical thing, the plane, would thus seem to have been imbued with infinite power, or to be shielded from the laws of cause and effect that govern the entire material universe, both of which are impossible; and yet there appears to be no denying that fate is real. Fate, in its collusion with material reality, becomes a paradox, breaking physical laws by preserving them. The freak of nature that results is at once undeniable and unbelievable, a thing that is both whole and broken at the same time, like an intact vase lying shattered in pieces.
On a midsummer day in 1956, two groups of air travelers imperceptibly slipped from this world and entered onto a frame of reference where they were hardly more than metaphors. They existed for a time in a paradoxical place that was real even though it couldn't be, a space that gained its principles from a paranormal volition that manifested them or dissolved them to suit its designs. Though they were not yet absolutely gone, they were also definitely no longer here. They had been removed to a place unlike any natural place, somewhere as figurative as it was literal, from which it was impossible to exit. They were elsewhere.