12. 00 P.M.
MARCO POLO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, VENICE
From a distance, the massive bells of Vatican City tolled the angelus bell.
Two Swiss Guards boards the plane with an Italian man who will serve as the pope’s double, a septuagenarian serving a life imprisonment.
An air hostess closes the door behind Amara as she walks to one of the exotic Italian leather seats and sits down.
“Get ready for takeoff missus. We’re taking off any minute from now,” the elegant air hostess whispered to Amara.
Amarachi Bradley was lost in the simplistic yet magnificent appearance of the Papal plane.
Just like the United States President’s jet ‘Air Force One’, the Alitalia Airbus A320 nicknamed ‘Shepherd One’ is an outstanding beauty. The headrests had the papal crest on them.
Thirty minutes before they boarded the plane, security experts had run a thorough check on the plane and she was given a little tour to the papal chamber.
The Swiss Guards were with the Italian subject, a septuagenarian serving a life imprisonment in an adjoining cabin. An air hostess closed the door behind her and Amara walked to one of the exotic Italian leather seats and sat down.
Derek flashed her mind and she thought about calling him, the jet was just taking off. She could barely feel the throb of the jet’s engine as it took off.
Soon after the plane took off, the overhead television came on, signaling that it was safe to use her phone. She pulled out her camera and stole a few snapshots of the plane’s interior. This was going to be one big story in her career, probably the biggest.
She called Derek.
“Hello, are you guys safe?” she asked anxiously.
“Not exactly, we we’re just attacked by some gunmen,” Derek said breathlessly.
“What? Where are you now?”
“We’re in the exhibition museum. The curator is an old friend and he’s helping us figure something out.”
“Oh my God, you are trapped in there. You need to get out of there and go to the embassy”
“Going out there right now is suicide. There’s a manhole that can lead us to the underground laboratory. From there I can easily find our way out of here.”
“Thank God. That’s good news,” she heaved a sigh of relief, “CTAN would be there in a few hours, just hold out as long as possible, okay.”
“We’ll survive; thanks for the heads up, those shooters would have gone inside the hall guns blazing if they knew she was still there. What’s that noise?” he asked.
“Oh, it’s the in-flight TV,” she said.
“You seem to be having a swell time over there. Where are you right now?”
“You won’t believe it, Derek. I’m flying aboard the ‘Shepherd One’’
“Wait, you mean like the Papal jet?”
“Yes! I’m so excited.”
“Wow. Are you with the Pope?”
“No. Just a couple Swiss Guards.”
“Where are you guys headed?”
“I’m flying back to Nigeria. I really don’t know what to expect there but I’m covering for the CTAN for the mean time.”
“Hold on a second,” he said and put the call on hold. “Yeah, since when did you go back to being an agent?”
“You must have heard of the crisis going on in the Vatican City. I just got tangled up in all of this.”
“Hey, I know this is a big story and all that, but Amy, your life comes first before your career or any other thing for that matter.”
“I know, boo. I’ll be careful, I promise. But it’s not just about the story, I feel like I want to go back to fighting crime – I think I want to go back to being an agent for the CTAN.”
She heard the sound of gunshots on the other end before she finished talking.
“What was that, Derek?” the phone went dead.
Her heart skipped three beats. She tries to call him back but his line is switched off.
On the television, a reporter is speaking on the rumored Pope’s decision to go to Africa following the terrorist’s threat. She appraises the Pope’s courage in the face of danger, but questions why the Pope should deal directly with terrorists and throw caution to the wind. Another scene showed the Academy of Sciences in flames, with fire service men working tirelessly to douse the flames.
“What is all this?” she wondered.
The thought of her dying mother came to her memory and she shuddered.
And for the first time in a very long time, Amara closed her eyes and prayed…silently.