When the movie he was watching ended, Nate looked out the window and was surprised to see ocean below. He got up to stretch his legs and walked to the back of the jet. The two flight attendants were in the galley, talking about something in hushed tones. They broke off when he walked in and for just a moment before she got her professional smile in place, Kelly had fear in her eyes. Adam turned away, fussing with the coffee pot.
“Can I help you?” Kelly asked brightly, brushing stray hair back from her face.
“We’re not landing in Florida are we?” he asked. She shook her head. “Don’t we need to refuel?”
“We will be refueling in the Bahamas,” she replied.
“That seems odd.”
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“It’s not what I expected either. I’m sure someone, somewhere has their reasons.”
Nate got a bottle of water and went back to his seat. About half an hour later the jet began to descend. Out his window Nate could see the island getting closer. Oddly, he couldn’t see any towns or cities, though he walked to the other side of the jet and looked out one of those windows too. A few minutes later they put down on a landing strip in the middle of nowhere.
“This is weird,” Nate said to Tony. “Why are we stopping here?”
Tony had just awakened from a nap and he looked around groggily. “Where are we?”
“Somewhere in the Bahamas.” Kelly came by and Nate waved her over. “Can we get off and stretch our legs?”
“Let me check with the pilot.” She returned a minute later and announced to the passengers that they could get off the jet if they wanted to, but that they shouldn’t go anywhere as they would be taking off again in just a few minutes. While she was speaking Adam opened the door and hit the button to lower the stairs.
A few of the contestants got off the jet. “I don’t think she had to warn us not to go anywhere,” Tony said, looking around. “There’s nowhere to go.” It was true. The air field was surrounded by palm trees. There was a dirt road leading to it and a single, rusted tin shack with some fuel tanks sitting by it. There weren’t any other planes. The sun was setting.
Nate checked his phone. No signal, but that wasn’t too surprising.
“What are we doing here?” Tamara asked. She’d been drinking pretty steadily with Caleb and she was weaving visibly. She took a cigarette out of her purse and lit it. “We’re not there already, are we?”
“Really?” Jordynn said sarcastically. “You think we can just fly from California to Africa in seven hours?”
Tamara gave her a dirty look. “Hey, how am I supposed to know how far it is? I’ve never even been out of the country.”
“You could try looking at a map. Madagascar is on the other side of the world from California.”
Tamara waved her off. Her fingernails were very long and very red. “Who cares where Madagascar is?”
“You’re going to be spending two months there,” Jenna put in. “Didn’t you even Google the place?”
“I’ve been busy,” Tamara said. “It’s boring out here. I’m getting back on the plane.” When she turned to head back to the plane she stumbled on her spike heels and fell against Santiago. He caught her gracefully and she hung onto him for a few seconds longer than she needed to.
“Thank you,” she said, a little breathlessly it seemed to Nate.
“It is always my pleasure,” he said graciously. After he let her go she stayed standing beside him. Nate thought he caught the hint of a frown on Jordynn’s face but it was quickly gone.
Jenna rolled her eyes and walked over to Maha, who had gone to the edge of the air field and was looking into the trees.
“Maybe we landed here because of the terrorist attack,” Nate suggested.
“You are getting too worked up about the terrorist thing,” Santiago said. “It is nothing. Look around. We’re on an island. Primitive facilities. They’re just getting us in the mind set for the show. Don’t read too much into it.”
“So you think they’re doing this on purpose?” Caleb asked.
“It’s a possibility. Reality TV is, after all, about putting people in abnormal situations and watching to see how they will react.”
“Or maybe the terrorist attack wasn’t as contained as they thought. Maybe the Miami airport was closed off and we had to come here instead.” They all turned to look at Jordynn who quickly grew nervous at having them all stare at her. “I’m not saying it is,” she said defensively, “just that it could be.”
“But if that was true then they would have sent us back to LA, wouldn’t they?” Tamara asked, her eyes growing very big. “I heard that’s what they did on 9/11. They made all the planes turn around and go back to where they took off from.”
“There’s your proof this has nothing to do with the attempted terrorist attack,” Santiago said. “They didn’t make us turn around and return to LA.”
“Or…” Nate said. He hesitated and they all looked at him. “Or the producers of this show really want to start filming tomorrow, no matter what happens.”
“That’s loco,” Santiago said. “They wouldn’t ignore Homeland Security. That’s illegal.”
“If there’s enough money on the line they might,” Tony said. “It depends on their investors. It depends on whatever contracts they have with whatever station is going to carry the show. We don’t know what delays they’ve already experienced. If the deadline is tight enough, the sums of money large enough, a corporation might be tempted to bend the rules.”
They all thought about this for a minute. Nate spoke next. “People shoot each other over a pair of shoes. They’ll do a lot for millions of dollars.” He gestured at all of them. “Look at us here, now. Look at what we’re willing to do for the chance to win a million dollars.”
“Don’t forget the fame, mate,” Caleb said with mock seriousness. “And the chicks.” Tamara let out a cry of false dismay and slapped him on the arm. Caleb gave her a big grin.
“I think you are becoming excited over nothing,” Santiago said. “We’re just refueling, that’s all. Nothing’s happened. Everything’s going to be fine.”
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