Jack woke up, dreading the day to come. He has hated flying ever since he was fourteen when he was flying across country with his entire family and the plane crashed. The only survivors were him and his uncle. He barely knew his uncle but since they were the only family either of them had they became quite close. His uncle took him in and basically became his father. Now, nine years later, Jack has to fly again to attend his uncle’s funeral.
About an hour later Jack arrived at Articus Airport. He approached the counter to pick up his tickets. They had been bought for him by his uncle’s wife Susan. They got married three years ago while Jack was in college so he has only met her a few times. Apparently she made a mistake ordering the tickets so Jack had to pay using his own money, practically obliterating his checking account. After he got his tickets he proceeded to the security check. His turn finally came and he put all of his belongings on the conveyor belt and stepped through the metal detector. It beeped.
“Excuse me sir, please step over here.”
“Oh, it must be my hip; it was broken in a plane crash, years ago.”
They pulled him to the side and scanned his body. The wand beeped as it moved over his hip.
“Yeah, like I said I broke my hip, they put a metal…”
Before he could finish they directed him into a room and closed the door.
“Take off your pants.” A man said as he put on a rubber glove.
Meanwhile, across town, a man named Jim was at the store buying some cereal and ketchup when he saw an extremely obese man answer a phone call and then run out of the store. The man he saw was named Arthur and he had just been told something extremely alerting. He got into his car and sped all the way to the airport.
“Sorry for the inconvenience, sir”
Jack picked up his belongings and tried to find a place to sit while he waited for his flight. He found a nice secluded section of chairs overlooking the planes taking off. He took out a book and started to read. After he had been enjoying his story for about twenty minutes Arthur was arriving at the airport. He waddled up to the ticket agent and asked for two tickets to Chicago on the soonest possible flight.
“I’m sorry sir, there is a flight leaving in a half hour but there is only one seat available. The next flight after that is not until two o’clock and there is only one seat on that flight available as well.”
“Oh no, this simply will not do. As you can see I am slightly overweight so I require two seats to fit on an airplane. Can you tell me the name of the person who is next to the empty seat on the next flight?”
“That’s not something we would normally…”
“Please, its an emergency.”
“Well if its an emergency…his name is Jack Smith.”
“Thank you very much, I’ll buy the one seat that is left.”
“Very good, sir.”
Jack finished his chapter and was about to start the next when he saw a man walking toward him.
“Excuse me, is your name Jack Smith?”
“Uh, yeah. Do I know you?”
“No, my name is Arthur, it is imperative that I get to Chicago right away, but I need two seats to fit on an airplane and there’s only one left. Your seat happens to be next to the one I bought so I was wondering if I could buy it from you.”
“I don’t know man; I’ve got to get to a funeral. When’s the next flight?”
“That’s cutting it a little close for me, I need to be at the wake by five and the flight is about three hours long.”
“Let me just tell you that I am a very wealthy man and this is very important to me. I would be willing to offer you well over what you paid.”
“How much more?”
“How about a thousand?”
“Um, yeah sure.”
The two of them walked back to the counter to sort it all out. As they were approaching the counter a man ran up behind them and knocked Jack over by accident.
The man got to the counter ahead of them and bought a ticket. Then it was their turn. Jack had to return his ticket then Arthur bought it. Arthur left to catch his flight and Jack asked to buy a ticket on the two o’clock flight.
“I’m sorry sir, that flight is full, that man bought the last ticket.”
“Alright, when’s the next one?”
“Okay, I guess that’s my only option then. I’ll take it.”
He walked away and took out his cell phone as he walked outside.
“Hey Susan, I’ve got some bad news. Looks like I’m gonna miss the wake but I’ll be there tomorrow for the funeral…it’s a long story, I’ll tell you about it when I see you…okay bye.”
As he was returning the phone to his pocket it was grabbed out of his hand.
“Hey!” Jack yelled as he ran after him. The thief knocked over a newspaper vendor and Jack had to jump over it. Eventually the mugger turned into a dark alley. Jack went in too but he couldn’t see where the guy went. He looked behind a dumpster and then checked if a door was unlocked, but it wasn’t.
“Hey, where’d you go? Give me my phone back!”
The door opened and two guys holding sub-machine guns stepped out, one of them being the man who took his phone.
“Empty your pockets.”
“Oh that’s just great. So what, you just steal stuff from people to lure them here?”
“He said empty your pockets!”
Jack pulled out his wallet, took out the thousand dollars, and handed it over.
“Ooh, very nice. Now give me the rest.”
“That’s all I have.”
“All that’s in there is my license and a picture of my family, what could you possibly want with those?”
“He said hand it over” the phone thief said as he put his SMG against Jack’s temple.
“Okay fine, be careful with that thing. That picture is the only one I have of my family, they all died.”
He handed over his wallet to the second guy who inspected it.
“What’s this then?
He pulled out his bank card.
“You know, I was gonna give you the picture back but since you lied to me…”
He took the photo out of the wallet and then took a lighter out of his pocket and flicked it. The flames engulfed the picture as it fell to the ground.
“Let’s go Steve.”
The thief takes the gun away from Jack’s head and they both walk out of the alley with their guns stowed under their jackets. He stood there for a moment while he pondered what he should do. He was going to go home but now he had no money for the train, but he remembered that there was some in his luggage. Then he realized that when he ran after the thief he left his suitcase in the middle of the airport on the floor. He ran back and could not find his bag anywhere. After checking with lost and found he sat down on a bench.
“Oh well, I guess I’ll just sleep here.”
After Jack had been lying down for about ten minutes the woman from the ticket counter approached him.
“Excuse me, sir what are you doing?”
“I’m waiting for my flight.”
“Sir, that’s not until seven in the morning. Do you plan to stay there for almost twenty hours?”
“I guess, I’ve got nothing better to do.”
“Well wouldn’t you prefer to perhaps stay in a hotel.”
“I was just robbed so I don’t have any money.”
“Oh, that’s terrible! Hold on, wait here.”
She rushed away and then came back about a minute later holding an envelope.
“Here, I got you a voucher for a hotel for passengers whose flights are delayed due to weather or some such event.”
“Don’t mention it. Really don’t, I could get fired.”
“Oh, okay. I won’t, I promise.”
“Good, well I’m sorry about everything. Remember, if you need anything my name’s Michelle.”
She walked back to her desk and Jack made his way across the street to the Samwell Hotel. He walked into the lobby and was greeted by the bellhop who recognized the voucher and ushered him into a room.
“Enjoy your stay at the Samwell Hotel, my name is William, please call the front desk if you need anything.”
William left and slammed the door behind him. Jack sat down on the bed and felt something in his back pocket. It was the book he was reading earlier. He opened it up to where he had left off before being interrupted by Arthur and began reading. After finishing off a few more chapters he drifted off to sleep. At around midnight his sleep was interrupted by the sound of breaking glass. His eyes shot open and he saw someone climbing into his room through the newly broken window. He shut his eyes and pretended to be asleep hoping that whoever it is would pass through his room and leave him alone. He would not be that lucky. He heard the intruder land on the floor, followed by another person. He heard them walk up either side of his bead.
“Well if it isn’t our old friend, the liar with the dead family.”
Jack opened his eyes to see the same gun pointed at his face.
“What do you want? You know I don’t have anything.”
“You’re right, and do you know what our policy is when we try to rob someone who doesn’t have anything?”
“You leave them alone and go find someone else.”
“No, we kill them.”
“Come on, the only reason I don’t have anything is because you already took it.”
“Well, life’s not fair.”
“Wait, please don’t kill me, I, uh…”
He tried to think of what to say when he saw his book laying on his chest.
“I really want to see how this book ends.”
“Really, what are you reading there? Oh, that is one of my all time favorites, you know what, go ahead.”
“Yeah, that ending’s so good I would hate to deprive anyone of it.”
Jack picked up the book and began to read it. He kept going until he only had five pages left. As he turned each page it was like a countdown to his death. Finally he finished and put it down.
“How’d you like it?”
“It was good.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
After the thief said this two things happened almost simultaneously. Jack quickly sat up and the gun was fired. Luckily Jack was a little bit faster and the bullet missed him and went right into the head of the other thief. The thief who was still alive ran back to the window and left while the other thief fell to the floor with a loud thump.
“Hey,” came William the bellboy’s voice from the door. “What’s going on”
Jack looked at the dead body and then at William and then at the gun left sitting on the bed right next to his hand and he made a quick decision. In order to avoid becoming involved with a police investigation and possibly being held responsible, he grabbed his book, pulled his money and wallet out of the dead thief’s pocket, and ran right past William and out the front door. Once outside he ran down the street trying to get as far away as possible. Eventually he stopped and sat on a park bench where he sat for five straight hours before heading back to the airport to check in. He walked up to the ticket counter and was happy to see Michelle.
“Hey, nice to see you again. Did you enjoy your stay at the Samwell Hotel?”
“Yeah, it was alright. How was your night?”
“Not bad, I just stayed in and read a book. Oh wow, you have the same book.”
“Oh really, what a coincidence. I just finished it last night.”
“Too bad, now you have nothing to read on the plane.”
“Yeah, well that was the least of my worries at the time.”
“What do you mean?”
“Never mind, it’s a long story.”
“I see, well enjoy your flight.”
“Okay, thanks Michelle.”
Jack walked over to the security check and waited in line.
“Hey, remember me?”
Jack turned around to see Arthur lumbering toward him.
“Hey thanks again for that seat, that was a life saver. I just got back.”
“What exactly was your emergency in Chicago?”
“Oh, I collect rare Happy Meal toys and there was one up for auction that I absolutely had to have.”
“Are you kidding? That’s not an emergency!”
“I don’t think you understand, it was a 1979 McDoodler stencil, do you know how rare those are? Oh, hold on I’m getting a call, probably another lead.”
Arthur answered his phone and walked away just as Jack got to the front of the line.
“Please step in here sir” he heard someone say to him as they put on a rubber glove.