Slippery Slope

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Bombing Part 5

Bombing: Skiing recklessly without regard for the safety of others or oneself

As it turned out, Terry was right about Tom. After about thirty minutes, he showed. Their little group had moved onto the beach and Kristy stood on its periphery, the four men in line behind her. She watched as Tom approached, saw them and stopped short. He seemed to assess the situation, then with a brief look out over the ocean, continued to walk toward them, slowly and casually, as if on a Sunday stroll. Kristy gave him a warning look and shook her head as he came up closer but there was nothing she could do. Chuck and Jalen held her arms fast and her back was up against the chest of the big man behind her. To her right, Terry shuffled his feet back and forth in the sand. Tom walked right up to her as if there were no one else there and smiled. He put his hand to her cheek and looked into her eyes. “You never came back with breakfast,” he said. “I know” was all she could say. The realization that they were virtual strangers hit her like a fist. He could have easily turned around and walked away from the obvious danger. She was so relieved he had not.

Jalen spoke first, “You are both coming with us.”

Tom continued to look only at Kristy and then slowly turned his eyes to the man. As they turned, his face changed as well, completely foreign from the one that had just seconds before comforted her. It was hard, cold, menacing.

“Now why would we do that?” he asked.

Chuck smiled, and it was the smile she had seen the night before but it had lost its affability and entered into the bizarre. “Kristy,” he said, “Why don’t you tell Tom why?”

When she failed to answer he gave her a shake, causing Tom’s eyes to darken even more. Kristy swallowed hard and found her voice, “The government is still trying to negotiate with the men who took over the airport. Chuck’s mother is a local politician and because the men are young, Chuck has, has…” she faltered in her script, “has magnanimously offered to lend his assistance. Some of the men are hurt so they are bringing in two trained American medics to help and another two citizens to assist them.” When Tom looked back at her, his eyes softened but when he looked back at Chuck they darkened once again. He nodded slowly.

“So you need me to fly these men out.”

“You see?” Chuck laughed to the other men standing there. “He totally gets it! I told you he would.”

“And if I refuse?” Tom asked.

Chuck’s face abruptly changed, “Kristy?”

“They’ll kill us, Tom,” she whispered.

Tom nodded again and in his best Texan drawl said, “Well, boys, what’s the plan?”

Jalen and the big man, Mike, took Kristy back to her room to get her things. She had with her a small first aid kit, the flashlight she had retreived at the bar, and she gathered some towels and sheets and what toiletries she could. It was true that there were some men hurt, mostly with burns from the Molotov cocktails they had thrown, one with a gunshot wound. She was unsure that she could do anything to help them, despite her emergency and first aid training but she realized that now was not the time to downplay her skills. They were all that were keeping her alive at the moment. The men were scrutinizing her movements. She desperately wanted to get her phone, but didn’t want it confiscated. She saw her chance as she swept things into her backpack. Somehow, she found the nerve to throw her pack at the men and command them to get the shower curtain and liner from the bathroom.

“Why?” Mike asked suspiciously.

“First,” she said, “I can’t carry all this stuff by myself.” She tried to sound as peevish and authoritative as she could, “Second, I have no scrubs and I don’t know what’s at the airport. If someone is going to bleed all over the place the shower curtain liner will make a decent tarp and I can make field dressings and bandages with the curtain.” They both stared silently at her, not moving. She stamped her foot, “Come on!” In the five seconds that it took Mike to rip the rod from the wall and for Jalen to balance her bags and the towels she threw to him, she was able to swipe the phone and stick it in her underwear. The last time the phone had worked was at the airport and she hoped she would be able to get a message out to someone about what was happening.

Kristy rushed the men along - she was now impatient and angry. Angry with herself at the situation she was in and impatient to get back to Tom. She found she was more worried for him than herself. She figured they would probably leave her behind at the airport, if they didn’t kill her, but he would remain with them, and who knew what would become of him.

Back down at the street, a limousine was waiting and had attracted a small crowd. Chuck was hanging out of the back window, chatting and joking with some people. She could see Terry sitting sullenly in the driver’s seat. She did not see Tom. Mike and Jalen walked her to the car and opened the back door. As she got in she saw that Tom was seated across from Chuck, watching him. Mike backed his head out of the car for a moment, also joking with someone in the crowd. Jalen got in the passenger side next to Terry and the privacy window rose upwards slowly. Tom slid over the seat to her.

“Have you seen a gun on any of these men?” He asked casually, as if they were on their way to a cocktail party.

“No,” Kristy replied, “have you?”

Tom nodded, “Chuck there has a Desert Eagle – total piece of crap.”

“Really?” Kristy said, eyeing Chuck, who was laughing. The guy was obviously enjoying his moment as a big shot. She looked back at Tom, “Well, any gun is better than no gun.”

“True,” Tom agreed, “But my Colt Mustang is better by far.”

Kristy’s eyes widened, “How is that possible? You can’t fly with one.”

“You can’t fly with one,” Tom said raising and lowing his eyebrows comically.

He placed his hands over hers, “Once we get into that airport, you hit the deck.”

“Hey!” Chuck said, pulling his head back into the car and pushing the button to raise the window, “Move back over.” He pulled his gun from his jacket and waved it at Tom. Tom winked at her and moved back over. Big Mike jumped into the car and took a seat on the same bench as Chuck.

The twenty minutes drive to the airport seemed like an eternity. Tom’s eyes never left Chuck’s face and with each mile closer, Chuck seemed more and more agitated. The car slowed and then stopped. Kristy listened. She heard Terry speaking with someone. They started up again and she could see a barricade that was set and the policeman that waved them through but nothing else. The next time they stopped a soldier rapped on Chuck’s window and asked him to get out. Chuck refused.

“I’m on a diplomatic mission, man. You are holding us up.”

The soldier stuck his head into the window. He looked from Tom to Kristy to Mike. He spoke to Kristy, “Who are you?”

“I’m a medic,” she replied feeling her voice shake a little, “We’re on a diplomatic mission. There are people who are hurt.”

The man stared at her a moment then addressed Tom, “And you?”

“The same,” Tom replied.

“Do you both have identification?” he asked. Kristy and Tom nodded their heads.

“What’s your story?” he asked Mike and it seemed to fluster the man.

“He’s helping us with our equipment,” Kristy answered for him and Mike nodded as well.

The soldier pulled his head back out. It was a few moments before he returned.

“OK. Safe travels,” he said and waved them along.

Chuck smiled and seemed relieved. “Next stop, the airport,” he said and he and Mike did a fist bump.

About five minutes later, they arrived. A man with a gun greeted then and directed them toward the airfield. The moment they pulled through the fence, Tom moved in a fluid movement. He relieved Chuck of his gun, and kicked Mike straight in the face, crumpling the man’s nose. Mike collapsed in a heap on the floor of the car as Chuck tried to recover. With one more punch, Tom neutralized Chuck completely. With both men on the ground, Tom knocked on the privacy window. As it was being lowered, he thrust his hand through, knocking Jalen’s head against the windshield. Jalen’s tongue lolled out of his mouth and he slumped in his seat as Tom held the gun to Terry’s temple.

“Drive straight to Hanger C,” he said to Terry. Terry swallowed hard and turned left, driving past a small group of men who looked curiously after the vehicle.

Terry screeched the car to a halt in front of the hanger.

From behind her Kristy heard a moan and moved quickly to kick Chuck in the head. He didn’t move again.

“Let’s go!” Tom pulled her through the back door as she grabbed her pack. He ran straight for a small plane and jumped aboard it. Kristy sprinted around to the other side and clambered up. As Tom started it up, the limo pulled up and back into their sight and then tore off.

“We don’t have much time,” Tom said. He taxied the Cherokee Piper to the runway and turned it into position. Kristy’s pulse was racing hard. Over the noise of the engine and with her obstructed view, it was impossible to know if they were being pursued. Tom accelerated down the runway and she felt the craft lift and turn toward the sky. They were free. Simultaneously, her phone began to receive and buzz with texts and calls. Kristy quickly scanned them. There were more than a dozen, and they were all from Brent.

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