Esther DeLinko, more commonly known by Delilah Arain and, later, Delilah Hardy, is a fictional character and protagonist of Nathaniel J. Nelson's 2017 horror novel Quantum Flight 888. She was a passenger onboard the eponymous trip, and one of the night's survivors.
Esther DeLinko was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, in 1993 or 1994. Her father, Jordan DeLinko, was a Fundamentalist Christian, and her mother – Marika Arain – was an immigrant from Pakistan, who met her father and converted to Christianity, subsequently marrying him and being awarded Canadian citizenship.
At nine years old, Esther was taken to a nursing home by her parents, who were performing charity work for the old folks. While looking for the bathroom, she found an older man sitting with his wife, apparently struck with dementia. The old man was reminding his wife of a date they once had, though Esther realized he was just describing a painting across the hall.
Esther was raised with extremist Christian beliefs. One of her father's most common teachings was that any sexual contact before marriage was inherently sinful, and might not be forgiven by God. Because of this, Esther avoided kissing or even holding hands with any boys. Her conservative beliefs and natural shyness led to Esther having very few friends throughout middle and high school, with her even recognizing that she knew everyone else at school by their face, but not by their name.
During Esther's senior year of high school, a new minister, Pastor Wells, arrived at her family's church. Endowed with fairly liberal views, this pastor began to annoy Esther's father. She later discovered that the pastor had a son her age, Elijah Wells, who had inherited his father's liberal mindset. He challenged her beliefs, claiming that, though a devout Christian himself, he was open to other people's opinions. Esther was surprised and offended, with no way to counter his arguments.
In the last week of their senior year, Elijah invited Esther to a party, despite them hardly ever talking. With her parents out of town, Esther attended the party, where Elijah scandalized her by kissing her in greeting: her first kiss. Later that night, he encouraged her to shed her Fundamentalist mindset, which led to them sleeping together.
Soon after graduation, Esther's father discovered that she had had sex. He became incredibly angry, likening her to the legendary Biblical whore Delilah. It was then that Esther's mother revealed that she had never truly believed in Christianity: she had pretended to convert so Esther's father would help her gain citizenship.
Unable to stay around her father anymore — and no longer sure that she believed in Christianity — Esther left her home in the Chevy Uplander that her parents planned to give her for graduation. She began to go by the name Delilah Arain: Delilah, because her father had referred to her as such, and Arain, because it was her mother's maiden name.
Esther only returned briefly to Nova Scotia, allowing her mother to transfer the minivan into her name. She offered to take Marika with her, but Marika refused. She gave Esther their family cat, Lily, as a traveling companion.
Delilah spent several months living in Centennial, Wyoming, with a roommate named Jon, with whom she began a physical relationship heavily involving BDSM. While at Centennial, Delilah began posting daily vlogs on YouTube, which gained her a number of views. One day, her father contacted her to tell her Marika had died. That same day, Lily ran outside and was killed by a car. Heartbroken, Delilah left Centennial and resumed living in her minivan.
While on the road, Delilah began posting travel vlogs, which earned her a following of 300,000 subscribers by June 2016. She was often at odds with the sexually explicit vlogger Brandy Michaels. At one point when she was desperate for money, Delilah began selling nude photos of herself to her subscribers, which she considered the true end of her chastity. She felt immense internalized guilt, but believed she had done what needed to be done.
On a trip to Los Angeles in 2016, Delilah hooked up with a movie producer named Johnny Martin. After discovering her interest in acting, Johnny offered Delilah an audition for the new Ralph Woodsmith film, Demons in Dover. She took it, but did not do well. On the news that a different actress was chosen for the role, Delilah left Los Angeles and drove to Boston, on the sole reason that she had never been there.
While in Boston, Delilah was contacted by Johnny, who informed her that their leading actress had discovered she was pregnant, and the role would go to Delilah. Unfortunately, her second audition was to take place in LA the next day: not nearly enough time to drive across the country. Delilah bought a plane ticket and abandoned her minivan in the parking lot of Portland International Jetport.
Aboard Flight 888
Minutes into Quantum Flight 888, an unassuming passenger dropped dead, bleeding from her nose and eyes. Delilah, in the next cabin, tried to help flight attendant Eva Van Savage deal with the situation, though she was pushed away. At one point, she snuck into the premium economy and sat with Joshua Teller, who she'd met at the airport and was also from a different cabin. They discussed the deaths, then lapsed into regular conversation.
After the second passenger died, Delilah began asking around about the deceased. She interviewed Doctor Robert Noran, who was sitting with the first victim's daughter, as well as Caleb Munster and Agent Kowalczyk, who acted suspicious. When the other several passengers died, Delilah began to wonder if she was to blame for the deaths: she had broken her chastity promise before God, both by having sex and by selling nudes, and wondered if He was punishing her by making her watch others die.
Delilah and Joshua were joined by Jessi Gibson, who Delilah had met in her original cabin. They discussed possible causes, though Delilah became more and more convinced she was being punished by God. Seeing Neil Munster act suspicious, Delilah asked him about the deaths, but realized he was losing his mind. She also befriended Eva, who had quit her position, and they discussed possible connections between the victims. Delilah became more worried as the situation became more intense; she even began to fear Joshua, whose anger was taking control.
Delilah admitted her theory to the entire cabin, explaining her history with religion and chastity, how she had slept with Elijah and sold nude photos. She was countered by Joshua and Eva, who both believed they were to blame. When Neil Munster killed Eva through supernatural means, Delilah helped Joshua move her body, though she thought the situation was spiraling out of control. She watched in terror as Joshua stole Agent Kowalczyk's gun and threatened Joan Kravitz, then was assaulted by Craig Bennecker, who was apparently succumbing to the paranoia, and wanted to kill her the same way he had destroyed Joshua's Terracotta hand and Eva's binder. As Caleb's powers reached their climax, Delilah saw her father appear among the corpses and berate her for breaking her promise.
When Caleb suffered his breakdown, the living passengers were all sent into fantasy worlds due to the Psyche's Last Chance theory. Delilah's fantasy world took the form of a tropical island ruled by a tyrant king. While there, she met a man made of wood, reminiscent of Papa Ghede from Hatian folklore. She then entered a "castle," really a church, where she saw several items and images from her life both before and during Flight 888. She met the "king," really her father, who demanded she confess her sin. When she refused, he chained her up by his throne, half-naked, for others to gawk at. A crowd gathered, made up of the men she has slept with, who didn't approve of the king's treatment of her. Though initially willing to accept her punishment, Delilah came to the conclusion that she was under no obligation to follow her father's beliefs, and freed herself from her chains.
Delilah woke up on the tarmac outside LAX, Caleb having landed the plane himself, with no memory of her fantasy world. Though the government agents and doctors ordered everyone to stay put, Delilah and Joshua left the airport together. They spent several days together in his apartment, ignoring the elephant in the room, until they both suffered extreme emotional reactions. Eventually, Delilah left Los Angeles, and it is unknown what she did in the immediately aftermath, but she did not end up appearing in Demons in Dover, nor did she pursue her acting career. She did not continue making YouTube videos.
After Flight 888
After the events of Flight 888, Delilah read Eva's novel The Mile-High Murder Club, posthumously published by her father, and concluded that Eva wasn't a particularly good writer. Still, Delilah rewatched the film adaptation religiously – though it starred her old nemesis Brandy Michaels – along with a documentary about her experience titled Flight 888: A Study in the Supernatural.
At one point over the next ten years, Delilah was contacted by Truman Hardy, a very wealthy fan of hers who had begun watching her videos after his brother's death. He claimed she had helped him through the experience, and he had developed a crush on her, despite being several years younger. They began to date, and Truman proposed on top of the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower, having rented the entire monument for the evening. They were eventually married in Amherst, at her old church. She made amends with her father, having accepted their differences while in her fantasy world, and he finally agreed that she couldn't be forced to share his beliefs. Delilah and Truman were married by Elijah Wells, now a pastor, and Truman was not made aware of their history. Jordan died shortly after, with Delilah selling her wedding dress to pay for his funeral. Delilah and Truman moved into a penthouse suite in an unspecified city and shared a happy marriage, though Delilah was still not fully over the events of Flight 888 ten years after the fact.
Delilah is short, with striking blue eyes and jet-black hair. She has darker skin than her father, but considerably lighter skin than her Pakistani mother, due to growing up in a cold and sunless environment.
Personality and traits
Delilah is quiet, shy, and unassuming, with her soft voice reflecting these personality traits. Even before being denounced by her father, she seemed to hide a deep resentment towards the world, though she managed to focus that resentment onto her upbringing. She usually tries to help whenever she can, and rarely acts selfishly. Though easily frightened, Delilah shows a resolve and inner strength that allows her to push through difficult times, both living in her car and experiencing supernatural events. Despite his rejection of her, Delilah doesn't seem to hate or resent her father; rather, she ignores his attempts to reconnect with her, choosing to avoid confrontation.