September 15, 6:00 AM (11:00AM CDT)
“Can you believe this?” Frank shoved a letter into my hands as he started the rental car. It was wrinkled. Frank must have crumpled it up in anger. I unfolded it and began to read it.
Mr Frank Smith,
Your many years of dedicated service to our company has not been overlooked. Due to your continued success at our Minneapolis facility, I feel that it is time to challenge you. Someone with your excellent management and delegation skills is what we need in our Salt Lake City location. You should feel honored that you are looked upon so highly that you have been hand picked for this task. In your stead, Miranda Jacobs shall be taking over the day to day activities in Minneapolis.
Once again, I thank you for your service, and may you continue success in your new position. Safe travels,
Takashi Asano, CEO
“Something along these lines were talked about during our meeting yesterday. He had a lot to say about how Minneapolis was being run.” I smiled. Though it wasn’t the case, Frank would take it as a compliment.
“I can’t believe he would do this to me. What did he say about me during the meeting? This isn’t a promotion! Nothing goes on in Salt Lake! What am I supposed to do there? I wanted nothing more than to just ride my years out there and retire!” The more he talked, the louder Frank got. His face was getting red too.
“He seemed nothing less than impressed with our facility. Look at the letter. He was so happy with the job you were going that he wants to you repeat it in Salt Lake. He doesn’t give complements often, so if I were you, I would just go with it.” I was really enjoying him like this. I would almost be sorry to see him go if he can’t keep his composure anymore.“If you think it is so great, then why don’t you do it? I’ll stay in Minnesota instead.” “I could do that, but you get to tell Mr Takashi.” Nobody questioned Mr Takashi. The last time someone refused a similar promotion, he was fired on the spot . Frank would rather a demotion over no job at all.
“No, I don’t think that is an option.” With this he shoved the letter back into his pocket.
That letter was the final piece to wrap up my plan. I waited most of the afternoon outside of Frank’s door after my meeting with Mr Takashi. I bribed the delivery boy to give me the letter and come back later. Then I had opened it, read and rewrote it, and had my new letter ready to deliver when he returned. I finally had my proper position in Minneapolis.
Our trip to the airport was mainly silent, save for Frank’s cursing when someone cut him off or wouldn’t let him pass. I was too busy thinking about what I would do with his office.
Getting onto the plane was as painless as it could be. I was the first person to board and took my seat in first class. It was the furthest back aisle seat on the side opposite of the door. This was my most hated part of flying. I get to sit here and listen to the flight attendants chatter like monkeys as I wait for all of the peons in coach to get on.
While the lowest ranked flight attendant (because who else would want that job?) greeted everyone with the over the top “Have a great flight!”, the other flight attendants began talking while hiding on the first class side of the drawn curtain.
“I wish we could get more than a day here!”
“Oh my god! I know! I barely got any time on the beach!”
“I love what you did with your hair Jenny.”
“Thanks, Becky. What’s up with the bandaid on your wrist?”
“It’s nothing. I was at the hospital yesterday trying to get something for a migraine. The nurse was being a B-I-T-C-H, so I got frustrated and was moving my arms a lot while talking and I accidentally slapped the guy behind me in the mouth.”
“Wow, are you ok?”
“Yeah it barely broke the skin, but it hasn’t healed at all yet. It was the guy’s fault anyway. I don’t care how pale you are, it isn’t any reason to stand so close to me.”
“I know! People are so rude!”
“Right? I just can’t wait to be home. I have been so sleepy today and I think I may have a fever. I just...”
At this another voice broke in, “Girls, we’re ready to go.”
The third voice broke over the loudspeaker, “Thank you for flying Delta. We hope to make your flight as comfortable as possible. Our flight will be in the air approximately five and a half hours, landing in LAX. We will be flying...”
I stopped listening. I might as well relax. It was the same spiel as always. The only difference was the duration. I will sleep most of it and then the stewardess can wake me up with my meal. I registered it ahead of time so there are no complications. As the plane started down the runway, the person next to me tapped on my arm.
“Hi. I’m Jennifer Paisley. I figured we should get introductions out of the way since we have over five hours together.” She reached out to shake my hand.
“Hi Jennifer, I’m Miranda. So you know, I usually get sick on airplanes, so I need to sleep so I don’t get sick.”
Jennifer withdrew her hand, trying with little success to hide the disgust on her face. I just closed my eyes and tilted my head toward the aisle.
I awoke with a start. A woman was screaming. It was one of the annoying flight attendants from before. She was a tall shapely blonde. Her name tag said “Jenny.” Jenny was standing over another flight attendant. The woman on the ground was a short brunette. I had to assume this was Becky. Everyone in first class was craning their necks to see what the problem was. Jenny looked up at the plethora of confused faces and tried to explain through short breaths.
“We were talking...and she fell...she’s not moving...is there a doctor...” She was hyperventilating. I can’t believe they woke me up because of this.
“I’m a doctor,” said a man two rows in front of me. He stood up and made his way to the woman on the floor of the plane.
Man, I really have to pee. I stood up and grabbed my purse as the noise continued in the background.
“She’s not breathing. Can you do CPR?”
“Yes,” Jenny replied. She began to bend down as I turned around to go to the restroom.
As I washed my hands, I heard more yelling.
“She’s alive!” That was Jenny.
“Oh my god! She is biting her throat! Help me get her off of her!” That voice was the doctor's.
That sounded strange. I hope they deal with that quick. I just want to sleep, not deal with all this ridiculous melodrama.
I opened the door and started to step out, but stopped when I saw the scene in front of me. The blonde was now on the ground, with the brunette kneeling over her. Jenny’s eyes were open, though quite glazed over. Two men, one of them being the doctor, were trying to pull Becky off of Jenny. I couldn’t see her face because of the way her hair had fallen, though I could see something odd dripping from underneath it. After watching it for a few seconds, one drop fell on Jenny’s pale skin. It rolled from between her eyes, up into her hair, leaving a red trail. The screams in the cabin grew continually louder. I returned to the bathroom and locked the door.
Ok, this isn’t good. Is it terrorists? I hope they don’t check in here. I finally ousted Frank. They can’t do this to me now. I finally did it. This isn’t fair. Maybe if I am really quiet they won’t think to check in here. I just need to wait until we get to LAX. There will be people waiting there. If they end up killing someone, I hope it’s Frank.
“This is the pilot. I don’t know who you are, or what you are trying to do, but I can tell you that the door to the cockpit is locked. We are in the process of radioing ahead to LAX. If you surrender now, you may see leniency. I repeat, there is nothing you can do to keep us from continuing on our current flightpath. Please return to your seats because trying gain control of the plane is futile.”
The screams were growing louder. Someone was pounding on the bathroom door.
“Let me in! I don’t want to die!”
I couldn’t speak. I wouldn’t unlock the door. She wasn’t going to trick me. There are plenty of other bathrooms to hide in. This one was mine. The screams were getting worse. Coach must see what is going on. I wish I knew. No, I don’t. I just need to stay here until everyone else gets off the plane. Then I can sneak away. All I need to do is to hide for the next five hours.
After about twenty minutes the screams subsided. Groans were growing louder. I could hear a soft sloshing sound not far outside the bathroom door. It was like hearing someone walk in sneakers after they stepped in a puddle. I could hear people congregating in the back of the plane. I could hear shuffling footsteps heading in that direction. Only five more hours.
“We have alerted the airport of our situation. They have informed us that Homeland Security shall be awaiting our arrival and will be overseeing the SWAT Team in securing the plane. We request that you give up your hostile actions and allow this to come to a peaceful solution.”
The plane was getting quieter. I am glad I’m in here. I might as well get more comfortable. I stood up off of the toilet and turned around, sinking to the floor with my back against the door. I tried to stretch my legs, but the hit the other wall before my knees were straight. I yawned. The adrenaline was subsiding and the tiredness from being startled awake was kicking back in. I closed my eyes.
“We are beginning our descent toward LAX. This is your last chance to surrender. I take the lack of response as a negative. Is there anyone alive out there? Whoever you are, I don’t know what you did to those innocent people, but I hope the SWAT Team kills you.”
What was that? Where am I? I opened my eyes to the ugly blue and off white hospital style of the airplane bathroom. I must have dozed off. That’s good, though, I am almost safe. I wonder if I can get this horrible flight refunded. First class and I spent the trip on the bathroom floor. If I’m the only survivor, maybe I can get a book deal out of it. As long as I stay quiet until they clear the plane, I will be safe. I should get ready to get off
I pushed up from the bathroom floor, but my right hand slipped out from under me, dropping me back to the ground. I looked down to see that a red liquid had seeped under the door, pooling where I placed my hand. I smelled my hand...blood.
“Ewww!” I screamed. I jumped up using my left hand only and rushed to wash my right hand. After it was thoroughly scrubbed, I grabbed my purse and put it in the sink, rescuing it from the growing pool of blood.
I sat down on the toilet, bringing my feel to sit on the edge of the seat as my mind raced. What happened out there? Why was there blood? Am I safe? What happens if they start shooting? We were descending rapidly now. I shook the thoughts out of my head and began to talk to myself.
“There is nothing I can do. I can’t change anything, so I shouldn't worry about it. This isn’t constructive. I should just sit here and wait.”
Outside the door was a groan not unlike what I heard five hours earlier. I stopped talking. Our descent was slowing. I have flown enough to know that we are about to be back on the ground. I braced my feet against the door.
A sharp jolt sent a strain through my legs, but I didn’t move much. There was a loud series of thuds from inside the plane. It sounded as if many people were less prepared than myself. We were completely stopped. It was disconcerting. We must have stopped right after landing. I have never felt like this before, we always go to the terminal. Instead I heard sirens. That must be the welcoming party.
Loud voice came from outside the plane, “I am Agent Caulkins with Homeland Security. You are to open the door and leave the plane peacefully. If you do not comply, we will remove you by force.”
The groans were starting again, slowly growing, but no vocal reply came from within the plane.
“You have one more chance to comply. If you do not respond, we will be storming the plane with deadly force.”
Groaning came from outside the bathroom door. I could hear the doors to the plane open as the eerie chorus grew louder. I could hear a dull thump, followed by an odd hissing sound. Two more thumps and the hissing grew louder. I began choking. It was hard to breathe and my eyes were tearing up. They must be getting ready to board.
This was my last rational thought. With the tear gas, the only thing I could thing about was breathing. I didn’t want to make any noise. I don’t want to be found out so close to being saved. I stuck my head in my purse and focused all thought on not coughing.
Outside the bathroom door there were no noises besides the hissing of the tear gas. Then there was shouting and heavy footsteps.
“Put your hands up! Nobody move!” The groaning was growing louder.
Then the voices became less sure, “What happened to them? There’s so much blood.”
I heard the voices, but with my lack of focus, I didn’t register the words. I just needed to breathe. That and not make noise.
“What are you doing? He bit me!” BANG. A gunshot. I will be safe soon, I hope.
“They have Jenkins!” More gunshots.
“Did everyone read Caulkins? Shoot for the head! If you want to stay alive, stay in your seats!”
The gunshots rang out. I wondered if anyone was alive. Maybe they aren’t going to save me. What if they just shoot me to? What if a bullet accidentally flies through the wall? I crawled next to the toilet and hunched as low as possible.
The gunshots stopped. There was no more groaning, only the loud footsteps.
“Tyke, secure the cockpit. Use force only if necessary. You three, check the bathrooms. Weapons ready.”
I stayed in the corner. There was a knock on the door.
“If there is someone in there open up, or I will kick the door in.”
“Don’t do that! I’ll open it.” I was yelling the response before I could stop myself. I scrambled up from the ground and unlocked the door, dropping my purse in my haste. I opened it to a horrific image.
A large man was standing outside of the door. His gun was pointed straight at my face. He was wearing a black uniform, though that was barely recognizable with the amount of blood that was on it. Across his chest and helmet in big white letters was S.W.A.T.
“Follow me. Don’t delay or act unusual. If you do, I have the authority to kill you.”
I couldn’t find my voice, so I just nodded. He turned and lead me to the exit. There was blood everywhere. Bodies were strewn around the plane. Many of them had odd oval chunks of flesh missing on various body parts. I stepped over the blonde stewardesses body and out into the sunlight.
There were people everywhere. In front was the tactical team. At a safe distance away were emergency vehicles. There was a man in a black suit with a Bluetooth earpiece, who I guessed was Agent Caulkins. I was lead to a couple of nearby ambulances. There were a few EMTs there attending people. Three of them were around a gurney.
As they moved around, I caught glimpses of the man on the gurney. He was one of the SWAT team members. It looked like an animal attack. He had bite marks all over his neck, face and hands. Did he get those on the plane? Nearby, there was another SWAT member, watching his friend with concern while an EMT wrapped a bite on his hand. I was lead past them to the back of one of the ambulances.
“Stay here. If you run, you will be shot.” With this, he turned around and walked back toward the plane. As I watched him go, I saw six other people being lead over. Three of them were the pilots and the other three must have hidden in the bathrooms like I did.
A female EMT called me into the back of the ambulance and closed the door. She told me that her job was to check me over and make sure I wasn’t injured. I stripped completely and let her give me the physical.
“Good, you are safe. Please step outside and send the next person in.” I nodded and did as I was told. There are times to argue and any time with armed men was not one of them. I watched in silence as everyone was checked. When we were all given a clean bill of health, the man in the suit approached us.
“I am Agent Caulkins with Homeland Security. You will be taken up to security here until we can move you to somewhere more secure. You shall behave and there will be no problem.” At this he turned around and returned to giving orders.
We were lead to a series of rooms that belonged to security. Each of us was taken to a separate room and one member of security was left with each person. Following me into my room was a short, overweight man. He had a tussled mop of red hair and a face covered in freckles. As I turned to face him, he introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m Aaron Inkley,” he squeaked. He must be really young. I wasn’t going to waste any time. As he sat down, I took the seat next to him, placing my hand on his forearm.
“You are so brave for going into that plane and saving me.” I smiled at him.
“I wish I was able to. They didn’t let us join in. It was all SWAT.” He frowned in response, causing his freckles to shift outward. I began to rub his forearm in response.
“But I bet you wanted to.”
“And you’re here with me now. I was stuck in that bathroom all alone for five hours. It was so lonely in there.”
“Well, I’m here now so you don’t need to worry about that.”
Now I had him. He’s fallen for it. So what do I need? Information and to get out of here.
“So, how long have you worked here?”
“I’ve been here three years, came here right out of high school. By the way I didn’t catch your name.”
“Oh, my name? My name is Jennifer Paisley. I’m just so nervous about this whole ordeal that I forgot my name for a minute.” I punctuated this with a chuckle. I didn’t want him to know my name. So far he was the only one to ask it and hopefully I can get through this whole ordeal without getting on any government lists.
“I wish I had my lip balm. My lips are so chapped.” I licked my lips while Aaron watched. He jumped up.
“Did you want me to go get you some?”
“I wish you could, but I can’t just get anything. I have sensitive lips and I need to import a special lip balm. I left it in my purse.”
“Well they brought in all of the belongings from the plane. If you describe it to me, I can go get it for you.” He placed his hand on mine. I, following suit, flipped my hand over and held his.
“Could you? I would be so grateful! I just can’t remember which one I had. I’m sorry, but it was either brown or black.”
“That’s ok. I will take care of it. Just don’t get scared since I have to lock you in here alone.”
“Whatever you say, just please hurry back.” With that he was out the door.
Five minutes later, the door opened. Aaron was holding over a dozen purses. He dropped them on the table, smiling.
“Oh my god! You are such a life saver. It has to be in here.” I ran over, kissed him on the cheek and continued, “Could you please do me one more tiny favor?” Aaron put his hand up to his cheek and stared at me.
“Could you find out what happened to those two hurt guys? I just won’t be able to properly relax until I know what happened to them.”
“Of course, I will be back in a minute.”
As soon as he left, I grabbed my purse from the pile and put it on a chair. Then I started through all of the other purses, taking the cash out of the wallets and putting it in my own. As soon as I finished, the door unlocked. Aaron stepped in and closed the door behind him.
“The one with the injured hand is back patrolling the airport. Since nobody is sure what happened, they are going to be sticking around for a while. The other guy isn’t doing so well. He has been put in our infirmary. It isn’t much, but they don’t want to move him until he is stabilized.”
“Thanks. I found my purse!” I held it up as I ran over to Aaron and hugged him.
“Glad to hear it.” At this I leaned over to his ear.
“Is there anywhere we can go that would be a bit more private? I really want to thank you properly.” I winked at him.
“Um, uh. Let me think...yeah. I know where we can go. Follow me.”
I followed Aaron down the corridor. We turned and I just caught a glimpse of people lined up trying to get through security. We followed two more corridors into a roped off area.
“Don’t worry, they have been doing renovations here. The new break area is done already.”
Aaron led me into the new break room. It was a simple room with a lunch table, vending machines, and a cot. I followed him over to the cot.
“How is this for private?” He smiled.
“Very nice. Do you have protection?”
“Yeah.” Aaron pulled out his wallet and reached inside. He pulled out a condom that looked like it was a high school graduation present. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the only one he ever bought.
“Let me see it.” I took it from him and inspected it. “Sorry, but this won’t work. It can’t be lubricated. The lubrication gives me a rash and it would never work. Is there anywhere around where you can get a different one? It would give me time to get more comfortable.”
“Sure. I can run to the pharmacy. It will only take a minute. Don’t be going anywhere.” I could barely see his wink as he nearly sprinted out the door.
After about two minutes, I stood up and headed for the door. Retracing our recent steps, I found myself by security, which I walked past and out of the airport. Now I needed to get out fast, before they realized I was missing and started looking for me. I made my way to the rental cars.
Surveying the receptionists, I eventually found one in what seemed to be his early twenties. I approached him when nobody else was around. He was tall, tanned man with styled hair. As I approached him, he greeted me without looking up.
“Hey, how can I help you.” I leaned against the desk, getting as close as I could. I placed my purse on the counter with the top of it facing him. He looked up at me as I spoke in a whisper.
“Look, I need a car, but I don’t want to want to sign the paperwork. If it was found to be stolen in, say, a week or so, they wouldn’t lose any money because of insurance. Plus, it would be really worth your while.” At this I opened my purse to show a thick wad of cash.
He looked at me, then at the cash, and back to me again. He stood there without saying anything for a full minute, then whispered back.
“Ten minutes, around back,” then yelling, “look lady, if you don’t have ID, I can’t rent you a car! How many times do I have to say it. Please leave now before I call security.”
I started my best fake cry and ran out the door, proceeding around the building. Like clockwork, he arrived in ten minutes.
“We couldn’t do that in there. There are security cameras by the door. So how much were you planning to pay me for this?”
“One thousand dollars, cash.”
“Sounds like a nice bonus to me. Here are the keys. It’s that green one in the corner,” he said pointing to a sedan across the lot, “it is due for an inspection, so it has been taken out of the rotation, but maintenance is so busy that they won’t be getting to it for at least a week. Just don’t get pulled over and we won’t have a problem. Also ditch it by then so that you don’t get caught. I would rather this stayed quiet.”
“No problem,” I replied, trading a wad of cash for the keys.
With the transaction completed, he began walking around the building. I went to the car and started the engine. It had a full tank of gas, perfect. I drove away from the lot and out fo the airport.