Memento Mori

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12

I found a whistle and moist towelettes in the kitchen drawer. I gathered bottles of water and my freeze dried entree buckets. Dad had a hand crank radio and flashlight in the garage. I remembered my cell phone charger, my medication, my wallet, and my toy guillotine.

"You sound like you're preparing for the apocalypse," Memento Mori quipped.
"This is serious," I told her. "I don't know what to do."
"Place two fingers on the thumb side of her wrist. See if she has a pulse."
"I tried. I couldn't feel it."
"If she's injured or ill, the pulse points may be harder to identify."

It was too much. I was in full-blown panic.

"Why did you call me? Shouldn't you have called an emergency number?"

I was completely overwhelmed. I felt overpowered by guilt. My body was paralyzed with fear.

"Are you there?" Memento Mori asked.
"I could be incarcerated for involuntary manslaughter!" I panicked.
"No you couldn't. IM is commissioned as a low-level criminal act. You didn't do anything wrong. She's probably not even dead."
"What should I do?" I asked. "What should I do!?"
"Well, there's a nonstop red-eye to Louis Armstrong International Airport. You can be my accomplice when I murder the historian."
"That's not funny! That's not funny. This is serious," I cried.
"I am being serious. I just booked you a ticket. I sent the itinerary to your email. Your flight is in an hour. Don't be late."
"Wait… what!?"

Memento Mori hung up. I checked my email. She sent the flight plans and travel documents. There was a boarding pass for Airbus NK680. Terminal 4, gate G13.

What the fuck? She was serious. The girl was mental. I couldn't commit to this. Could I? She was a basketcase. A lunatic. A whackjob.

And I had feelings for her.
I thought, what do I have left to lose?

I printed the email. I filled a backpack with t-shirts, boxer briefs, and ankle socks. I grabbed my cell phone charger, my medication, my wallet, and my toy guillotine.

I felt a sense of independence. I didn't feel constrained anymore. My happiness was no longer prevented by a negative force.
I checked on mom before I left. She was lying on the vinyl tile floor. The scene of the crime was slathered with ivory cream and pale lime colors. She was laying on her side. Her right arm was draped above her head. Her pruney hand was in Muttley Cru's food bowl.
I whispered goodbye, told her I loved her and then walked out the door.

I was scared. Scared and excited. I had never been on a plane before.
On average, 72 people die on a plane each year. The annual risk of being killed in a plane related accident is about 1 and 11 million. Let's consider in-flight fatalities being equivalent to a Chesterhindes' diagnosis in Wuhan, China. Wuhan has a population of 11.08 million. If I lived in Central China’s Hubei province, I would be the one resident that's completely fucked.
I always told mom that I was cursed with bad luck. She would say, "bad luck makes all of the good stories in life."

The A Line bus service provided a convenient and affordable way to get to the airport. The overall passenger experience however, was a nightmare. The bus was empty when I boarded, but a couple of stops down the road, a group of enthusiastic, drunk females sat right next to me.
Out of all of the empty seats?
Really?
One of the liquored-up ladies was discussing with her friends, her unintentional behavior of running her fingers through her pubes in a nonsexual way. As she was explaining her peculiar habit, another one was squeezing a pus worm out of a pimple.

Nasty.

The airport was empty. Only a few travelers were commuting with their travel backpacks and pulled rolling carry-ons.

I wasn't familiar with airport security. I was nervous to go through the baggage screening. I opened my bag and dumped my collection of t-shirts and underwear into the bin.
"That's not necessary," a large, burly man in a uniform told me. "Have liquids, aerosols and gels ready in a clear, resealable bag. Remove shoes, belts, and outerwear and neatly place them in the bin."
I piled my belongings onto the conveyor.
"Please step in the scanner and place your hands above your head," the security officer instructed.
I stepped on to a mark inside of the machine. A bright light scanned me and transmitted an image of my body to a monitor for review. I should mention I was sweating profusely. The wetness poured from my forehead like the cascading of a waterfall.
"Please step over here sir." I was directed to stand next to the gate. Another agent pulled out a swab and wiped my hand.
"Your excessive perspiration makes me feel like a cat on hot bricks." The female officer said. "Body temperature rises when the body releases stress hormones. Stress sweat comes from nervous excitement. Are you nervous or excited about something, sir?"
"I don't have explosives," I reassured.
I have Hyperhidrosis, a condition that makes me excessively sweat in unusual situations."

I've never been to an airport or traveled on a plane before.

The female officer looked at me with disdain and told me to enjoy my flight.

It was a long way to the boarding gate. I stood on the slow-moving conveyor sidewalk and blankly stared at the gift and souvenir kiosks.
The airport was littered with brick hammers and bump cutters. Circular saws, sledge hammers and ladders. Fatigued men wearing safety goggles and hard hats walked around pushing wheelbarrows and carrying jack planes.
The airport recently began a $3.5 billion construction project. Many of the terminals were walled off with accordion privacy dividers. On the dividers were banners with sacred symbols that read, What's happening behind this wall? Beneath the bold font was bullet points that playfully read,
A secret Masonic temple
An underground bio-weapons research facility
An awesome, new airport experience

For the last 20 years, people have wondered if the country's largest airport is home to something far more sinister. Throughout the massive complex, there's strange symbols similar to periodic elements. Conspiracy theorists believe the symbols are clues that unlock an underground weapons facility.
When the airport was built, it was a year behind schedule and cost billions more than anticipated. Theorists believe the funding came from a secret, apocalyptic organization and it's true intention is hidden beneath it's runways and terminals.

The banners were a play on the conspiracies.

I arrived at gate G13.

An overtired agent at the desk mumbled into the microphone, "passengers with young children, military, and special needs, please come forward."
She pressed down on her eyeballs to stimulate her nerves. She took a deep breath and repeated the memorized request.
I looked around. There were only nine people in the gate area. None looked disabled, like children, or military.
"Group 2, elites and premium-class seating, please line up."
I was in boarding group 2. I anxiously walked up to the agent. She scanned my boarding pass and unenthusiastically told me to enjoy my flight.
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