The Terrorist’s Game
“Never have doubted it, even when the plane crash happened. I wasn’t mad at God. I just knew that there was a reason that I didn’t know about why it happened.”
Cameron thought about the situation as they sat in the Niva at the stop sign. The driver didn’t quite know what to do any more than Talia or him. He didn’t know how her plane could have gotten to Lviv before them or who was in it. She stared out the windshield, asking herself many of the same questions as the men.
“How did your plane get here?” Cameron asked.
She stared, tears welled up in her eyes. “I don’t know about anything anymore. I went to all this trouble with the taxi and the border guard, so I could sneak up on Percival,” she sniffed. “What I don’t get is why no one told us that they were going to fly my jet in here and announce our arrival. He’s sure to know that we’re here now. Why would anyone put me in this position? Where’s Eduard’s phone?”
Cameron looked around and found the phone stuck down in between the seat cushion and the back of his seat. He picked it up to discover that it wasn’t on again.
Talia rolled her eyes at him. “I guess that answers that question.” She snatched the phone from his hand. “I’m calling Eduard to see what I’m missing.” She made a call. “Hello, Leonid? It’s Talia. Where’s Eduard? What do you mean, why? I just saw my plane fly over my head, that’s why. Where is he? Let me talk to him, or I’ll come back there and kick your ass! Do you understand me?”
She glanced at Cameron, staring at her with his mouth open. She winked at him. “Eduard? What’s going on? What do you mean, you don’t know? I just saw my own plane fly over my head.” There was a pause. “What do you mean, where am I? I’m in Ukraine, like I said I would be. Just outside of Lviv. Yes, it was my plane. It flew right over my head.”
The ground shook, ever so slightly, and the horizon in front of them lit up with mushroom cloud like flames from an explosion. In the seconds that followed, there was one explosion after another.
“You don’t think…” Cameron stammered.
She gaped at him. “Oh, God.” She looked at the phone and listened to the words on the other end. “Okay.” She ended the call.
“I’m pretty sure that my plane just exploded,” she said.
“You really think so?” Cameron asked.
“It flew over so low,” Talia started. “Eduard thinks my mother was in it.”
No one knew what to say. They could only guess what was happening, as they weren’t at the airport and couldn’t see what it was that had exploded. She couldn’t believe that her mother had come to Europe, and she was sure that if she was there that Tyrell was by her side.
“It can’t be,” she muttered.
“I’m sure it’s not what we think,” Cameron tried to soothe her.
She looked to the driver. “Get me to that airport. Now.”
Meanwhile, Tyrell had tried everything that he learned in thirty years of piloting, to no avail. The plane would need to make an emergency landing.
“Prepare for emergency landing,” the voice on the radio told Tyrell. “We will apply foam to the runway and send out emergency vehicles. Have you ever landed a plane without gear before?”
“Yes, unfortunately,” he replied.
“God be with you,” the voice said.
“Thanks,” he replied. “Where exactly should I aim for?”
“Keep your nose up as far as you can, and try not to hit the terminal. It is at the end of the runway.”
He looked at Clarissa. “Don’t worry. Tighten your seat belt and get some pillows to hold onto.”
She did as he instructed without comment. She got the pillows from the passenger compartment and brought them back to the navigator’s seat in the cockpit. She fastened herself in and hugged a pillow. “You’ve done this before, right?”
He wanted to allay all of her fears, but he couldn’t lie to her. He had always been honest with her, no matter what. He smiled as much as he could at her. “Don’t worry about it. I’d never done a lot of things before I met you and your little girl. I’m sure I can do this as well as I’ve done anything else. It’s been a long time, but I remember. I had to do it in Afghanistan once.”
She smiled. “Thank God for multi-faceted men like you. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“With any luck, you’ll never have to find out,” he replied as he grabbed the mike. “Okay, here we come tower.”
Tyrell saw the end of the runway and that they were coming in far too fast and far too low. The runway was long enough to accommodate an Airbus, so he wasn’t worried about running out of tarmac. He felt confident that they would survive the landing. This was not the way that he wanted to end it all. He knew that he had to come out of it unscathed, because he still had things that he had to do. One of those things was sitting right next to him. He was determined not to leave the Earth until he had his chance to be with Clarissa Anderson. He wanted nothing more than to grab onto her and never let go. She was his soul mate and his main reason for living. He wanted time. The one thing he never had was time.
After helping out the woman who would soon become his step daughter, he was determined to take time and enjoy the love of his life. He wanted to help Talia finally put this chapter of her life to rest, so she could get on with her life as well. He wanted to make it so that Talia could mother her daughter and he could watch over her mother. That was his perfect vision for their family. He wanted nothing more than to spend his golden years having holidays with three generations of Anderson women. It was his vision of his perfect future.
Tyrell approached the very tip of the runway and pulled back as hard as he could on the stick. He had to pull the nose of the plane up in order to keep the nose off the ground and keep them all from being killed. If the nose landed hard on the tarmac, it could cause the jet to flip and if that happened, they would most likely not survive. He braced his feet against the instrument panel as he fought with the stick, attempting to pull it back and bring up the nose of the jet. He pulled harder and harder until he thought that he couldn’t pull anymore. Suddenly, the plane jerked as the nose snapped up and the rear end of the plane struck the runway. They were still going way too fast to land, but they were on the ground irregardless.
Everyone in the cockpit was thrown about like stuffed animals as the plane fishtailed its way toward the terminal building. A parade of red and blue flashing lights atop emergency vehicles waited for them at the end of the runway. Tyrell fought to keep hold of the stick in a meaningless attempt to guide the jet. Clarissa kept her eyes shut, not wanting to see what was happening. Michael held on to the instrument panel and braced himself for whatever might come.
Tyrell held onto the stick. He watched the flashing lights come closer and closer. They were still sliding at a alarming rate, and he feared that they wouldn’t stop in time. The building loomed closer each second, but the speed didn’t decrease. He was afraid that if the vehicles didn’t move, the jet would crash right into them and possibly the buildings behind them.
Michael reached the controls and threw the plane into full reverse. The engines were still operational, and when he did so, there was a loud noise for a moment, before the plane finally started to slow.
“By God, you are going to do it! Now, hold that stick and hopefully you can bring it to a full stop,” the radio said.
Tyrell held onto the stick as tight as he could. He brace himself with his foot and prayed a little bit. He looked over to Michael and saw that he was standing on his brake. Michael looked at him, smiled and gave him a thumbs up. Tyrell shook his head and smiled back, then turned to watch where he was going.
The vehicles grew larger as the plane skidded closer to them. Tyrell saw that it was going to be a close call. He squinted his eyes as he approached the emergency vehicles. Just in time, the jet came to a stop next to the first fire truck on the runway.
Tyrell opened his eyes to discover that he stopped the plane without hitting anything. He heaved a heavy sigh and turned to the others. “Okay, get out of here quick. You never can tell what might happen after a crash landing.”
“What do you mean, you never can tell?” Clarissa asked.
“Just move,” he said as he pushed her along to the exit. He didn’t say another word to her about the situation, he simply moved her along. Michael followed closely behind them. The three of them worked together to open the hatch and drop the stairs. Then, they all ran down the stairs as fast as they could.
As they rode away in a baggage car that was waiting when they deplaned, they heard people yelling behind them. Tyrell couldn’t tell what the people were saying, but it seemed urgent. The men ran to the emergency trucks. In seconds they were driving across the tarmac after them, closing the distance easily as the baggage car wasn’t designed for speed. They motioned to the man driving the baggage car and yelled something to him.
The baggage car, which was a slow moving vehicle, stopped and the man said, “Get out and run.” He then jumped out and ran away from the crashed plane on foot.
“Come on!” Tyrell yelled. Clarissa and Michael didn’t argue. They all exited the vehicle and ran as fast as they could toward the terminal building’s door.
As the group arrived at the door of the bottom floor of the terminal, the Lear jet exploded behind them. The explosion lit up the sky like an overdose of fireworks on a very cold Fourth of July. The windows rattled as though they might break. The group covered their faces as they ducked behind a section of waiting area plastic seating, and feared the worst. Somehow the windows held, despite the series of explosions on the runway that had been a chain reaction following the first.
“Welcome to Lviv,” the familiar voice from the plane’s radio said from behind them. The controller was standing behind them, smiling.
Tyrell couldn’t help but let out a little giggle. “Thanks,” he said, putting out his hand to shake the controller’s hand.
“You certainly know how to make an entrance,” he replied. He saw Clarissa collecting herself as she stood. “But I see you have learned from the best.”
“Why thank you.” Clarissa flashed him her million dollar smile. “I don’t suppose there’s any way that we could get a ride into town, is there?”
“What is the rush? We have yet to extinguish the fire. You should take a moment and have a cup of tea or simply catch your breath,” the man told Clarissa. “We have emergency personnel to examine you.”
“What a dear you are.” She smiled at him again. “I so wish that I could, but I have someplace that I really have to be. Be a doll and find us a ride, please?”
“But Madame,” the controller said. “We must be certain that there were no injuries in the crash. We also must assess the damage to the airport and the jet.”
“I realize that there are details to consider,” she started. “But I feel absolutely fine, and I have an emergency in the city. I really must leave. I will be happy to pay for damages. Just send me a bill.”
“But maam,” the man started.
“She won’t listen,” Tyrell told him.
Clarissa smiled at the man, with a smile that was known worldwide as her perfect method of manipulation. The controller was powerless against her beautiful smile and her puppy dog eyes. As much as he wanted to say no, he couldn’t, and a few minutes later, a car arrived to drive them into Lviv.