By Richard Bleil
Regional airports are easy. Few people, quick baggage checking, friendly service. He checked his bag, and continued up the escalator to the gates.
The job interview was an important one. He had been out of work for too long, and the position was lucrative. His experience and education has him well-prepared for the position, and this was in the field to which he had dedicated his life. As a second interview, he had to show up in person, but it also means that he is one of few finalists.
Life was exciting again.
He doesn’t fly often, but he understands physics well enough that it doesn’t scare him either. He’s just one of those people who prefer to drive, enjoying time behind the wheel, stopping where he wants, and taking in the sights. Too much is lost when you fly over it rather than passing through it. Unfortunately, the last time he had an interview, mechanical difficulties forced him to beg for a video conference interview instead. He was determined to avoid this problem this time.
“Thank you for your service,” he says in a friendly greeting to the TSA agents. “I know you get too much flack, but I know you’re just trying to protect us.”
“Thank you, sir,” she replies. “We don’t hear that very often.”
Placing his personal items on the conveyor belt, he steps into the scanner, smiling at several people, and engaging in friendly banter along the way. “The machine hit on an area, sir,” the agent says as he steps out of the scanner. “I will have to pat you down on the abdomen.”
“Sure,” he replies with nothing to hide. “But what on earth could have caused it?”
Finding nothing, the agent steps back. “It’s nothing,” he replies. “Sometimes it’s just scar tissue.”
After a triple bypass and emergency appendectomy, yes, there is plenty of scar tissue inside and out of this body.
Not flying often, he made sure that he showed up early to have time to deal with any difficulties, but things are progress very smoothly. He finds himself with a couple of hours, and has lunch at the cafe. It’s certainly not a busy airport, and except for the low volume of a television and the humming of the cafe refrigerator, there is very little noise at all. The night before, he didn’t get a lot of sleep, probably because of excitement for the impending trip.
He closes his eyes for a moment, and enjoys the unexpected peace.
He is startled by the blood curdling scream. He sits bolt upright, looking around, heart pounding, trembling from the adrenaline rush. He’s more startled when he realizes that the source of the scream was himself.
The waitress rushes over to him. “Are you okay?” He hears the jingling of keys from the hallway as two security guards rush to the source of the noise.
Wild eyed, he looks at her, with sweat beading at his temple. He looks quickly as the security guards arrive, hands on their service weapons ready to unsheathe them.
“What’s going on?” one of them says in a serious tone.
The waitress motions towards him.
“Are you okay, sir?”
“Y…yes, fine,” he stutters. “I…I guess I…I fell asleep. I…I think I had a dream…”
The officers approach him as the waitress backs away to give them room. Hands still on their service weapons, their body language starts to relax.
“Just relax, sir,” the senior officer says. “Can you collect yourself?”
He sits back, and tries to breathe. “I’m fine,” he insists as cooly as possible, but still breathing hard.
The older security guard looks back and nods to the younger one. He remains as the younger guard leaves to return to his duties. The older guard takes out his note pad for the report. “What happened?” he asks.
The guard is kind, but talking with police cannot help but feel interrogative in nature. “I must have fallen asleep. I…I had a dream.”
“Want to tell me about it?” he asks.
“The plane, the plane is going to crash.”
“You mean,” the guard corrects, “that in the dream the plane crashed.”
He looks back over his shoulder, and realizes that the plane is at the gate. “That plane,” he says, “I saw it crash.”
“Please calm down, sir,” the guard says taking notes. “You mean you had a dream that it had crashed.”
“No. Yes. I mean, I guess it was a dream but, no…no, it wasn’t a dream.” His heart rate and breathing begin to rise again. “It was a dream, but…but it was more…it…it was a vision.”
“Sir,” the guard starts.
The man stands up, looking over the glass barrier. He sees people sitting at the gate waiting to board.
“DON’T DO IT!” he shouts. “IT’S GOING TO CRASH!”
“SIR! You’re causing a panic!!! You MUST stop NOW!!!” the guard puts back his notes and his hands again move to his belt.
“You don’t understand…I was there,” he says urgently. “I was in my seat, the engine caught fire, the masks fell, the plane…the flames…the smoke…” he shifts his focus again to the passengers who are all looking at him. “DON’T GET ON THAT PL…”
His muscles tense up, and the pain shooting through his body is numbing. A clicking noise is emanating from his left side, as the taser makes its connection, shooting millions of electricity through him.
The holding room is small, small enough to feel claustrophobic even to those who don’t suffer from the condition. The table and two chairs occupy nearly all of the space, giving very little room for maneuvering. The mirror on one wall is clearly half silvered, and three cameras are in the corners near the ceiling.
Finally, the investigator enters the room.
“I guess I should thank you,” he says before the investigator can even introduce himself, side still aching from the burns caused by the taser.
“Why is that?” the investigator asks.
“It crashed, didn’t it?” he asks. “That plane, it crashed. How many survivors.”
“No, sir,” the investigator replies. “There were no plane crashes anywhere in the country today. As far as I know, there were none anywhere.”