Flight 418 to Maryland

November 25, 2007
By
Jack Riddle fingered the revolver in his pocket, thinking about just how easily some of the weaker minded security guards at the MacDonell airport were bribed. He pulled a wrinkled piece of paper, which served as his ticket from his pocket.

418 to Maryland, it read. The letters were stamped into a rectangle at the bottom, and the ink had faded a little, but it was still readable. It would not make it all the way to Maryland, assuming that Jack’s plan went through. He would try to make the flight stop right in the center of Molly’s hometown of Cooperville, South Carolina.

It was Molly’s fault, however, that the plane would stop early; it was her fault that he was doing this. Jack would not consider himself to be a martyr by any means; he was nothing like the religious extremists that he saw on the news each day. Her disloyalty to him, though, was as good a reason as any for him to bring a Colt handgun onto the airplane.

“All passengers please board for flight 418 to Maryland.” came a metallic voice over a loudspeaker sitting on the wall. Jack always hated those; voices simply sounded to alike, to uniform, when projected through the intercom.

He stepped away from the wall that he had been leaning on for ten minutes and walked directly across the room to a desk on the left of a small metal door. The term ‘GATE 6’ was printed proudly across the front.

“Could I see your ticket, please?” asked a small, elderly woman from behind the desk. She smiled at Jack, and he faked a smile back. It annoyed him when older people smiled at him. The wrinkles that formed beside their eyes made him angry, although he didn’t know why. Crows Feet, his mother used to call them.

The lady began to sign her name in an illegible scrawl on the bottom of the ticket, but had hardly finished three letters when a man tapped Jack on the shoulder.

As he turned around, Jack’s heart began to pound twice as fast as usual. It was a police officer.

The uniformed man was not phenomenally big, but he was pretty muscular. He could definitely beat Jack in a fight, and that was all that mattered.

“Hello, sir.” The man said. He paused only long enough for Jack to return the greeting, and then continued. “I’m Deputy Wells, and I’ve been noticing some suspicious behavior today.”

Jack swore inside his head. He had planned this day for three months! He had quit his job and huddled around the computer for three months. How long had it taken his to earn the cash needed to buy the gun, and the airplane ticket? He could not have bought them with a credit card; he needed to keep any evidence to a minimum. Had he merely wasted all those precious hours of his life?

More importantly, would the remaining ones be spent in prison?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Jack moved his arm, to block the revolver’s slight bulge from Well’s view. He shifted it back in a moment, once he realized that the position looked unnatural and may attract attention.

“That suitcase over there.” Wells looked over his shoulder to show Jack which one he was talking about. It was small and black, and Jack had forgotten it where he was standing. “Is it yours?”

Jack swore again.

“Sorry sir. I forgot—I was too eager to get on the plane. ”

“Thanks. I’ll go get it.” Wells walked away and returned with the bag. “Be sure not to do that again. Some guards will get you in a lot of trouble for that.”
Jack grabbed the bag, whipped his head around and was confronted with his signed boarding pass. He grabbed it and walked through the metal ‘GATE 6’ door.

It lead to a metal corridor with a small turn roughly halfway through. As Jack walked around this corner, a blinding ray of light came in through a crack in the floor. A brief felling of vertigo came over him as well, after he noticed that the asphalt runway was more than thirty feet below. He took a sharp breath and moved on.

The interior of the plane was much darker than the terminal had been. He had to duck as he walked through the doorway. (That was another thing that annoyed him—doorways that were too short. He was only six feet, three inches tall; why was it so hard to make a door larger than that)

“Hello, sir, and thank you for traveling with Haverford Airlines today.” It was a female flight attendant, who’s nametag read ‘Emily’ that had spoken.

Jack remembered a time when he was a little boy and his flight attendant aunt lectured him on how much airline workers hate when people pass by without a polite comment.

So, he made direct eye contact with Emily and said “I hope you have a nice day as well.”

That was a lie, and Jack Riddle knew it.


Twenty-five minutes later, a light above Jack’s head, in the shape of a seatbelt mad a ding-ing noise and turned off.

“You may now feel free to move about the cabin.” stated the intercom voice that Jack hated so much. He knew that even if he did want to get up, the four year old in the seat next to him would stick his legs out in his way. He had done that when Jack had tried to come and sit down. He then commenced to poking Jack in the face for almost ten minutes.

Jack hated the little brat—what was he whining about now? More importantly, why wouldn’t the mom, one more seat over, shut him the heck up? She just sat there and asked him to ‘please be quiet dear’. Why, Jack’s mom would have smacked him

Finally, she got an aggressive tone to her voice, and her pleas became commands.

“Be quiet NOW, Erik!” she said, in a whisper, but the toddler shut up. Then the mother turned to Jack. “Excuse me, sir, but my son would like the window seat. Would you mind trading seats with him?”

Jack did not say anything, but picked up the kid and switched seats.

He would not be sad that that particular boy was going to crash with the rest of them. Heck, Jack should go to heaven after the incident. Most of these people would just end up in Hell, anyways, right?

Jack knew that St. Joseph and the angels at the Golden Gates would not see it that way. Neither would anybody who saw this story on the news; they would call him a sinner.

“You look familiar,” said the woman. “Have I seen you somewhere?”

Jack thought for a moment.

“Did you go to high school in Detroit?”

The woman shook her head.

“Did you go to college at Colgate University?” she asked. Jack remembered the campus well. He had never enrolled, but he had spent innumerable hours there with Molly.

“No, but I had a friend who went. Do you know Molly Philips?”

“Yes, actually, I just got off the phone with her an hour ago.”

“Oh.” Jack felt a little sick, and wanted to hit the woman. He did not, however. It would do no good to get in trouble before he
Jack stood up and made his way to the bathroom. On his way, he saw a newlywed couple with their baby. The child had vomited, and it nearly broke Jack’s heart to see the way both parents helped clean it up. Apart from Molly, he would destroy the lives of some innocent people; wasn’t that worth consideration?

A tear came to Jack’s eye, but he wiped it off and reminded himself that nobody was innocent.

Nobody.

Jack did his business in the bathroom and began to walk towards the cockpit. Suddenly, he felt the need to pull the operation off that moment.

This was the most important moment of his life, and he knew it. His mom always told him to ‘make a mark on the world, not just on his underwear.’ Today, he would make more of an impact than she had ever dreamed.

Somehow, he knew she would not be proud.

Jack saw the thin metal door that blocked the pilot from sight, and began to take the last several steps of his life.
Or, he thought, it might be the first steps towards his death.

“Watch it, Buddy!” Jack had not noticed the man who he had walked into.
He wanted to reach out and hit the man, though. He hated it when people who he didn’t know, especially people who hated him, called him ‘Buddy’. Very few people actually liked Jack (he could not figure out why this was); why would a complete stranger call him a friend?

Jack did not hit the man like he normally would have. He would get his revenge soon enough.

He continued to walk until there was less than one yard remaining between him and the door. Then the woman who was sitting next to him rushed up.

“You look just like somebody Molly described in the phone. Are you Jack Freeman?”

Jack was about to say ‘no,’ but remembered that he had given Molly a fake name on their first date. He hadn’t thought it would turn out to be a long relationship.

“Yes.”

“I’m not supposed to tell you this, but,” she looked back and forth, and then spoke quietly, as if Molly might be somewhere nearby. “Molly’s pregnant. You’re the father.”



Jack swore as loudly as he ever had before, not caring that there were children around. He went back to his seat, leaving the revolver untouched in his pocket.


As he sat down, Jack realized how much he hated the thought of orphaning a child, particularly his own. The newlywed couple with the vomit on their clothes; he hated the thought of killing them, too.

Jack hated terrorists.


Twenty minutes later, the annoying voice came over the intercom. It sounded different this time; the speaker was crying.

“The pilot of your flight has suffered a fatal heart attack.” nobody screamed, they just sat silently, waiting for the voice to start again. Even the four year old shut his mount for once. “This was a single pilot flight.”





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