Read Flight 12 to Rome: A Nick Bracco Novella Online

Authors: Gary Ponzo

Tags: #General Fiction

Flight 12 to Rome: A Nick Bracco Novella (4 page)

BOOK: Flight 12 to Rome: A Nick Bracco Novella
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Gunnar wanted to tell him that he had a bad feeling about it, but a weak signal and a missing check-in wasn’t exactly tantamount to a level-one condition.

“No,” Gunnar said.

“Okay,” Kurtze looked up at the clock on the wall. “Give him another ten minutes. If he doesn’t call in, we’ll report it.”

“Yes sir,” Gunnar said. He examined his empty cup of coffee and realized he wouldn’t need any more to keep him alert. He was already on the edge of his seat for this one.

* * *

Nick found the crash cart in the back of the plane containing the emergency medications needed to revive passengers who’d suffered a medical condition during the flight.

The black container resembled a small plastic luggage bag. He rifled through the tiny ampules of epinephrine and diphenhydramine until he came to a box labeled “ammonia inhalants.” He pulled open the box and removed a small inhalant.

Nick slid into Kyle Church’s row and snapped apart the ammonia capsule. He waved it under Kyle’s nose and immediately the ex-FBI agent yanked his head back, slapping his hands in the air as if fighting away a vicious wasp.

Nick removed the capsule and grabbed Kyle’s hands. “Relax,” he said. “I need your help.”

“What’s going on?” Kyle said, rubbing his eye.

“The plane has been taken over by terrorists. Your friend Lisa is one of them.”

“Told you,” Kyle said, wiping a hand over his face.

“Yeah, well, they have more than I suspected.”

“You mean you knew this would happen?”

“No,” Nick said, “I just get these hunches and sometimes I’m righter than other times.”

Kyle turned his head and saw Jess Kimball sleeping next to him, then saw Kirk Weston detaining Lisa from her seat.

“How many guns are there on board?” Kyle asked.

“As far as I know, two,” Nick said, holding up his pistol, then pointing it at the air marshal across the aisle.

The plane engines were rumbling with a monotonous tone, signifying cruising speed. Wherever they were going, the pilot had them on a direct course.

Nick waved the ammonia capsule under Jess’s nose and watched her head jerk back, then come alert with wild eyes.

“What happened?” she asked, reflexively feeling the side of her neck.

“We were all drugged,” Nick said. “There’s been an attempt to hijack the plane.”

“Attempt?”

“Yes, well,” Nick held up his pistol, “so far it’s just an attempt.”

A woman with long, dark hair and ruby red lipstick approached Nick at the end of the row and held out her hand. “My name is Adriana,” she said in a rushed tone. “I need to get to Rome to see my son. He is sick and needs me. I want to help you.”

“Sure, Adriana,” Nick said. “Can you point out any of the people on board who behaved suspiciously?”

“I think I can, but,” she turned around and Nick followed her stare, “I think they are here already.”

Coming down both aisles were a group of six men, three on each aisle. They were varying shapes and sizes and looked like your average airline traveler, but Nick knew there would be nothing average about these passengers.

Nick grabbed Adriana and placed her into his seat. “Stay here,” he insisted.

The first guy on Nick’s side of the aisle was the scraggly-haired guy and his scowl was in recovery. He stopped only because Nick stood there with his pistol at the ready.

“That’ll only get you so far,” Scraggly-hair said.

“I’m only going to Rome,” Nick said.

Scraggly-hair frowned. “Doubtful.”

“I saw you when I got on the plane,” Nick said. “I had you pegged for the leader of the group. Is that right?”

The guy squinted. “Dude, you think you’re in charge of the situation, but you’re so wrong.”

“Dude? Really? Forget about that leader comment.” Nick looked over the guy’s shoulder at the other zombies standing there, waiting their turn, and didn’t see anyone with the type of clarity in his eyes worthy of negotiation. Nick folded his arms across his chest. “Let me know when the real boss wants to talk.”

The guy didn’t know how to respond. He stood there looking stupid, so he did the only thing he could do to save face. He climbed into an aisle of two teenage girls and grabbed the one closest to the window. He had her in a headlock while crazily holding a syringe with a short needle hovering an inch from her neck.

The cabin erupted with shrieks and people scrambling to protect their family members.

“This isn’t exactly a sleeping formula, Dad,” the kid said. “I would give us the guns if you want the passengers to remain alive.”

Nick was all ready to shoot the guy. He could do it. But the kid was directly in front of a window and that would create too many fatalities, including possibly himself. Nick wondered whether the kid was smart enough to know his position, or if it was just dumb luck.

“Now,” the guy said with a maniacal grin. “Or we start eliminating passengers immediately.”

Nick glanced at Kirk Weston, who looked more like a cowboy than an air marshal, ready to fire regardless of the consequences. Nick shook his head and Kirk gave him a look of disgust. It was too early to make a stand. There were innocent citizens in the way and Nick wasn’t prepared to sacrifice anyone for an arrest. He held out his gun in surrender and one of the terrorists yanked it from him.

On the other side of the middle three-seat row, Kirk seemed to be arguing with himself over the decision. Nick glared, and Kirk reluctantly handed his weapon over as well, looking at Nick as if he’d just stolen his Christmas gift.

“Nice,” Scraggly-hair said, shoving the teenage girl back into her seat and receiving Nick’s gun from one of the other minions. He pointed the gun at Nick and motioned for him to move to the front of the plane. “There’s someone waiting to meet you.”

Chapter 5

First class was made up of three rows of seats, each row separated by an aisle on each side of two seats. There were eighteen seats in all and ten of them were filled with terrorists. It seemed the section had been evacuated by everyone except the people who were now in charge of the plane. Four of the remaining eight seats were filled by those who would be considered antagonists to their cause. Kyle Church, Jess Kimball, Kirk Weston, and Nick.

Nick and Kirk sat in the right section of the front row, while Kyle and Jess sat in the two middle seats. Standing in the front of the section was a businessman with a long lean build. He wore a beige summer tweed suit with a purple tie and a purple handkerchief hanging from his front jacket pocket. He strode up and down the aisle in his designer shoes with his hands behind his back, like a principal about to address some misbehaving students.

Nick didn’t recognize the guy right away, until he opened his mouth, and instantly it caught up to him.

“You know me?” the man asked in a flat tone. It was neither an arrogant tone nor a prying one. Just a simple question from a simple man from Nebraska who’d started a digital camera service ten years earlier and pioneered a system of linking everyone’s life into a digital file with a push of an app. Vincent Bennett was a tall man with bright blue eyes and a deep tan.

“Yes,” Nick said. “I know precisely who you are.”

“Good,” Bennett said. “I’d hate to start from the very beginning.”

“No need,” Nick said, now knowing exactly how the operation had made it this far. It took tons of money to run a terrorist operation and the more money it took the more hands were involved. A government is constantly fighting against leaks from within the organization, but when a single entity like the CEO of a profitable corporation was running the show, there were very few middlemen involved.

“You’re quite the pest, Agent Bracco,” the CEO said, pacing in the open space fronting first class. “But that’s all immaterial now, isn’t it?”

“I’m sorry,” Nick said. “Was that a question? Because I believe it’s all very material. Especially during your trial.”

The rest of the minions waited for their boss to chuckle before they decided to join in. A chorus full of first-class sycophants letting their boss know how amused they were.

Bennett was interrupted by the flight attendant who whispered something in his ear. Nick looked over at Jess and Kyle to be sure they were still all right. Jess silently nodded, while Kyle rubbed his hands together as if scheming something at that very minute.

Bennett directed the flight attendant to the back of the plane then returned his attention to Nick.

“You see, Agent Bracco, running a giant corporation and having an economical influence over hundreds of thousands of lives is a rush. It’s what Warren Buffett called an ego boost.”

“He also called for CEOs to have a moral compass and fight off arrogance.”

Bennett seemed intrigued by Nick’s knowledge of a fellow Nebraskan’s philosophies. “There,” Bennett pointed at Nick, “that’s where I’m going with this. I’m trying to acquire the ultimate moral compass. I’m about to control the fate of the free world. I’m about to create a scenario which would preclude arrogant nations from recklessly attacking other countries just because they have the political and physical might to do so. Call it my own personal peace plan.”

Nick looked at the two terrorists keeping their pistols trained on Nick and his associates. “Are they part of the peace process?”

Bennett chewed on the inside of his cheek. “There will always be sacrifices made along the way to achieve our goal. Fortunately we will be able to mitigate those sacrifices as long as you and your cohorts play nice and don’t force our hand.”

Nick knew quite a bit about Bennett from magazine articles he’d read. The guy was a media darling, jumping out of airplanes and serving Thanksgiving meals at homeless shelters. He was a pure attention whore who craved notoriety. Donald Trump was shy in comparison.

One of the articles Nick had read discussed Bennett’s fascination with D.B. Cooper. Cooper was legendary for hijacking a 727 back in 1971 and demanding two hundred thousand dollars in cash when the flight landed in Seattle. Once the money was delivered, the plane took off and he parachuted from the aircraft during the night somewhere between Seattle and Portland. The mystery of D.B Cooper still remained unanswered and Nick wondered just how much Bennett would try to duplicate the feat.

“Are you going to be leaving us anytime soon?” Nick asked.

Bennett seemed to consider the remark, then nodded in understanding. “No, Agent Bracco, I have no intention of skydiving over the Atlantic. Once we have the device, we will be landing on a remote island used as a fueling station during the second World War. It’s completely uninhabited and barely large enough to land this plane. Once there, we will be leaving Flight 12 behind and taking off with another jet waiting for us. No one will be looking for anything but a 767.”

“And what happens to us?”

Bennett shrugged. “There’s enough supplies on board to survive a few weeks. We’ll send an anonymous message to the authorities once we arrive at our destination.”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

“I want you to know our story. You’ll understand better once this plays out.”

“Well, it just seems that you have one of the nation’s best journalists sitting right here, why not take advantage of her audience? Offer the public your side of the story.”

There was a mild show of delight on Bennett’s face, which he tried to restrain with little luck. Bennett looked at Jess Kimball, who was already furiously jotting down notes like a good student. When she looked up and saw the narrative move in her direction, she stopped writing.

Bennett nodded. “Not a bad idea.”

Nick said nothing.

Then Bennett’s demeanor changed. He went from curious to severe in a flash, snatching the microphone from the wall and glaring at Nick as he spoke into the PA system.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Bennett said, “it has come to my attention that a very dangerous device has been stowed onboard.”

There were some gasps and shrieks from the main cabin.

While continuing to stare at Nick, he added, “Therefore we must begin a very extensive search for this device. It is very important that we recover this mechanism before it is used for a terrorist act. I am here to ensure your safety for the remainder of this flight, and I take my responsibility very seriously. Therefore we will begin a complete strip search for every passenger. The women will be searched by our trained strip-search specialist, Lisa, in the back of the plane.”

Lisa straddled the entryway between the main cabin and first class, stretching on a pair of blue gloves and smiling like a deranged psychopath.

“And the men,” Bennett continued, “will be tended to by our resident strip-search specialist, Cory, in the front of the plane.”

Cory, the straggly-haired kid with a gun mark on his forehead, glared at Nick with a pernicious scowl.

The announcement caused an uproar throughout the cabin and Bennett pressed the microphone tightly to his lips and shouted, “This search will be done orderly and systematically with your full cooperation, or some of you may not survive the process.”

Right on cue, Cory held up his pistol and moved closer to the entryway where Lisa stood so the entire cabin could get a good look at his weapon.

BOOK: Flight 12 to Rome: A Nick Bracco Novella
2.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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