A shuttle carried them out to a gleaming, expensive-looking jet. There were exclamations and a couple of high fives were exchanged. Nate had to admit that he was excited about the idea of riding on a private jet. He’d never even been this close to one before.
A male flight attendant was standing at the top of the stairs as they got off the shuttle and he smiled and waved to them. Arnie stopped at the bottom of the stairs.
“Sadly, this is as far as poor Arnie gets to go. I do envy you all. I wish I was flying away to an exotic locale.”
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For the most part they ignored him, hurrying past him, eager to see the inside of the jet. They were not disappointed. The interior was all white. Plush, reclining leather seats, glass tables, couches, flat screens on the walls and deep carpeting.
“Swank!” the blonde guy said when he saw it. “A fella could get used to this.” He had an Australian accent. He plopped down in one of the seats and spun around. “What more do you want?” The blonde woman took the seat closest to him, just getting there ahead of the other woman he’d been drinking with at the bar. The female flight attendant came walking by and he grabbed her hand, pulling her close. He peered at her name tag. “Kelly. I’m Caleb. A pleasure to meet you, lass. How’s a man get a drink around here?”
She pulled her hand away and gave him a professional smile. “He asks. We have a fully stocked bar. Once we’re in the air I’ll be happy to bring you whatever you like.”
“Lovely,” Caleb said. “But that sounds far away. How about a little something right now?”
“Sorry, Caleb. Can’t have you spilling everywhere during takeoff.”
“I’ll finish it fast, I promise.”
She patted his shoulder. “I’m sure you would.”
Nate took a seat in the back, near the galley, and buckled himself in. He got his phone out, wanting to find out more about the attempted terrorist attack before they took off. Before he could get very far the pilot’s voice came over the intercom.
“This is your pilot, Captain Carl Rogers. Welcome aboard. We are cleared to take off just as soon as everyone gets buckled in. Please turn off all electronic devices at this time.” Reluctantly, Nate turned his phone off. Each seat had its own tablet computer. Probably he could get on the Internet once they were in the air. He sat back and closed his eyes. It was a very comfortable seat. Not at all like being crammed into coach.
He was sitting there with his eyes closed, when he heard the two flight attendants talking in low voices in the galley.
“Are they grounding flights?”
“That’s what I heard. LAX will be shut within an hour. That’s why they’re rushing us like this. They want to get this plane in the air before it happens.”
“How bad is it?”
“I don’t know. They said it’s contained at O’Hare and only a half dozen people are sick, but that’s one of the busiest airports in the world. It could have spread anywhere already.”
Nate sat up, alarmed. “What’s that?” he asked loudly.
Kelly broke off and turned around. “Can I help you, sir?”
“I want to know more about the terrorist attack in Chicago,” Nate said. “What happened? How bad is it?”
“It’s all under control,” she said. “There’s nothing to worry about.”
“There’s been a terrorist attack?” Jenna said. She was in a seat across the aisle from Nate. Others broke off from what they were doing to listen.
“It was an attempted attack.”
“You said half a dozen people are sick,” Nate said.
“The authorities caught the man responsible. It’s been contained.”
Nate was watching the male flight attendant while Kelly spoke. From the look on his face it was worse than Kelly was letting on. He felt a twinge of fear.
“Terrorist attack?” the blonde woman said, just hearing about it. “Where? Is it a bomb?”
“No,” Kelly said, walking through the cabin. “There was no bomb, just one man with some anthrax or something. It’s nothing to worry about.”
“Then why are you keeping it a secret?” the blonde woman asked.
“We’re not keeping it a secret. We just didn’t want to alarm anyone. Once we’re in the air you can watch CNN on your tablet. You’ll have all the details then. We’re just trying to get in the air before someone decides to shut this airport down and we’re all stuck here on the tarmac. For who knows how long. Nobody wants that, do they?” There was a chorus of no’s. Everybody had heard horror stories of passengers stuck on planes on the runway for hours and hours. “Good,” she said, moving back to the galley. “Then we can get in the air and get out of here.”
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