Authors: Kurt Horning
Text copyright © 2013 by Kurt Horning
All characters and names are purely fictional and in no way represent any living persons
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the author.
Dedicated to my friends and loved ones who have always been there for me.
All United States Citizens
Mandate F5 has been voted on and put into law. Effective immediately all people living in, and visiting the United States of America must go to one of the dedicated mobile labs or your health professional and get a F5 flu vaccination. This vaccine protects humans from all 90 flu variations plaguing the public these last several years. If you do not comply, the government will come vaccinate you at their discretion.
Thank you all,
United States President
Cade Mellor sits staring out the window on his long flight home. His third changeover and his last, Houston to Indianapolis is the home stretch. Cade had spent the last few weeks in Tokyo, Japan at an electronics and video games convention. These airliners had become a second home, as he runs a website that has him traveling to various shows and meetings to see the next big thing.
“My name is Keiko would you like a drink,” said the flight attendant.
He looked past the empty seat next to him and smiled, “Just a Coke please.”
She got a can of Coke out and Cade saw just how gorgeous she was. Tall for a woman, slender, jet black hair just past her shoulders, Keiko was stunning.
“Here you go sir, let me know if you need anything,” she said. He smiled and cocked the can in a ‘cheers’ salute and she went on her way. Cade returned his gaze out the window and sipped his Coke, thinking about the other passengers on the plane.
“What a peculiar bunch we are,” he said to no one in particular.
The plane was rather small, but it was a short distance flight. It held maybe forty people if at full capacity. This flight carried no more than half that. Houston to Indianapolis must not be a popular flight.
Behind Cade by two rows were a man and young girl probably fewer than thirteen years old. He had heard them talking earlier and decided they must be father and daughter. Honestly they looked like farmers; very out of place. Autumn as he heard the girl called, was actually wearing what looked like farm clothes he had noticed when they boarded. The father dressed a little more formal, with button up shirt and slacks. He did have a hard look about him however, like he had lived a hard, rough life.
A young African American woman who looked like she was in her mid-twenties sat across the aisle from Cade. She did not look out of the ordinary, most likely a college girl and had not spoken at all. The young woman had kept her nose in a book since boarding the plane. He checked her out for a minute to see if they’d have eye contact, but no.
The strangest fellow Cade had noticed was three aisles in front and on the other side of the plane from him. The man was huge, nearly taking two seats by himself. He had to be close to seven feet tall and pushing 300lbs. The huge man had been slamming drinks since the jet took off. He kept to himself though, and all Cade could see was the back of him and the long blonde hair. The guy looked pretty familiar for some reason, maybe a movie star.
Having gotten bored with passengers, Cade slipped out his tablet and began going over an article he was writing for the website. They only had about an hour of flight left and he wanted to get some work done.
Suddenly, the captain’s loudspeaker crackled. “This is your captain, Dwayne Russo speaking. We have approximately 50 minutes until arriving in Indianapolis.” There was a shuffling sound of some kind, then a pause. “I have been told to play this message to all passengers before landing. It is from the United States government.”
I hope everyone is enjoying their flight; our airlines are the best in the world. This is your President, Glenn Danielson. Depending on your travels you may have been out of country during the past week and unaware of the Mandate passed. All American citizens and visitors to our land must get the F5 vaccination upon landing at their destination. A great breakthrough in science, this injection will protect you from all strains of the deadly flu virus the country has been fighting. As soon as you land you will be escorted to a mobile lab in the airport. If you already have the vaccination, please show your papers. This injection is mandatory. Myself, and the country thank you for your time and loyalty. Enjoy the rest of your flight and rest easy.
“Is this for real,” shouted the farmer. “Anyone here have this so called cure already?”
About three fourths of the plane raised their hands. Oddly enough only the people who Cade had noticed earlier did not. They must be world travelers as he is. Cade looked around. Most of the faces had worried looks. Government intervention in people’s lives was a dangerous freedom bursting thing. Next they will take guns away. Cade wondered how big the needle would be. “God, I hate shots.”
No longer able to focus on his project, Cade put away his tablet and began his people watching again. At 23, he had seen a lot of the world already. His shyness kept him from making too many friends along the way however.
His parents often thought him gay because of it, though he was far from it. He did have a few homosexual friends in the UK but never told his parents because they were so old fashioned. It’s funny where people’s thoughts can wander after so many hours on planes. What did this have to do with anything at all?
He noticed the stubble and thought about going to the lavatory to shave. Cade rubbed his face, but stayed in his seat instead contemplating his flu shot.
“Want another Coke?”
Cade looked up and saw that Keiko had returned. He smiled and accepted her offer.
“Are you staying in Indy when we land,” she asked.
“I live a couple hours away, but might get a room depending on how that shot feels,” he replied.
Keiko smiled at him and said, “Would you, maybe, have dinner with me?”
She fidgeted a little, kind of shyly. “I don’t have another flight until morning and I do not know anyone.”
“Yeah that would be great. I know quite a few places we can pick from close by.”
“Ok great. I will hook up with you after our shots and I check in at the desk.”
“Ugh, if I survive,” he replied chuckling.
She walked on down the aisle with a smile on her face. Cade was stunned but happy. It had been awhile since a woman showed interest in him. Maybe they had but he was a bit naïve when it came to females. Low self-esteem doesn’t help much either.
Cade settled into his chair and ran his hands through his dirty blonde hair and closed his eyes thinking of Keiko and the night ahead. Maybe things were working out for the better, finally.
The plane had started to descend. Cade opened his eyes and peered out the small window. Corn fields were everywhere with a city in the middle; Home sweet home. He stretched and looked around the cabin. Everyone who had not gotten the injection looked nervous and fidgety. The huge blond man was still drinking hard and heavy. When he turned you could see the sweat on his face. He must be scared of needles too.
Behind him he could hear the farmer reassuring his little girl that it would be ok. “Don’t you worry Autumn. We aren’t getting any sort of shot. I do not care who orders it.” Autumn looked up at him, “Oh daddy, you can’t fight the President.”
“The hell I can’t!”
The African American girl had her books put away and was tapping her left leg quickly. She definitely was nervous. Keiko even had a strange look on her face as she walked by for the last time. They exchanged smiles and she passed him her cell number, “in case we get split up,” she said.
The fasten seat belts sign lit up. Everyone rummaged and clicks were heard around the cabin. One fearful man even had his oxygen mask on. Cade watched out the window as the ground closed in, inserting her digits into his cell phone.
The captain came over the loud speaker, “Please remain in your seats. A problem has arisen at the airport. All communication has ceased. I do not know the situation but we are going to circle the airport a few times and hope it gets sorted out.”
Well isn’t that odd thought Cade? He had seen this in movies and it was usually a terrorist plot at the airport or something. Hopefully it was just a software glitch, it happens. He was not really worried, just curious.
Several minutes had passed. The captain came on speaker again, “There is still no communication with the towers. However the planes can speak to one another. We are drawing straws so to speak on who lands first. There are only two others up here besides us so it should not be long. I am sorry for the inconvenience.”
A strange noise began around the cabin. It was not panic or whispers. It sounded painful; guttural. Suddenly a woman screamed in front of Cade. Then another scream rang out, this time male. Teeth began to click and grind in unison, like a sickly chatter.
He saw Keiko at the head of the plane with horror stricken across her face. She wiped tears from her eyes; then her hands covered her mouth. Instinctively Cade unbuckled and hurried towards her without looking around. He reached her, “What is it?”
“Look,” she said.
He turned slowly around to look through the plane. This time it was Cade who felt horror. Row after row of passengers sat straining at their buckles. Each one’s eyes were rolled back only showing white. Their teeth chattered in a scary tone, almost song like.
“Get the captain,” he said. “Go, go!”
Keiko turned and began beating on the captain’s door. “Open, open please.” The door’s lock clicked and she disappeared.
Now Cade studied the passengers. He could not figure out what was happening. Instead of going row by row he shouted, “If any of you are alright, please unbuckle and come to the front with Keiko and I so we can figure this out.”
The burly blond man stood and approached Cade. “Name’s Victor. What in hell is going on?” Cade did not answer but watched as the pretty college student stood. She half sprinted to the front and clung to Vick. “I’m Trina, what’s wrong with them?”
The farmer and his daughter stood to move. A man across the aisle grasped the girls arm. “Eeeeeeeeee.” The dad stomped the arm and then smashed it over and over into the chattering man. After five blows to the head the teeth grinder relinquished his hold. The farmer grabbed his little girl up into his arms and ran to the front.
“My God what is happening,” he screamed.
“We don’t know honest,” replied Cade. “Everything was fine a minute ago, then all of a sudden most of us started freaking out.”
Keiko emerged from the cockpit frazzled. “The co-pilots are sick too,” she said. “I have to help Dwayne with the instrument panels, we are landing NOW.” She turned to Cade, “Make sure all of you get low and hold on to each other up here.”
“We will be fine,” he replied. Keiko grabbed him by the shoulders tightly gripped and kissed him. He felt dizzy and warm but broke out of it quickly.
“Go on, we will make it.”
The group huddled down low on the planes floor. They each held one another and waited. The chattering had died down but all the passengers were still trying to free themselves from the seat belts. Cade closed his eyes and actually prayed. It had been awhile.
In the cockpit Keiko stood behind the captain and out of reach of the two co-pilots. The plane itself was fine but turbulence shook it back and forth violently. Several times she almost lost her balance and fell into the lap of one of the co-pilots. They would gnash their teeth and expand their mouths looking blankly around with the whites of their eyes.
“We are descending, can’t wait any longer,” said the captain. He had been a pilot for years and this was his first near disaster. He only hoped the runways were clear. The small plane would be easy enough to land but if anything was in the way, there’d be a problem. The captain had Keiko monitoring elevation gauges while he did the flying.
Suddenly Keiko had a brainstorm. “Isn’t there an auto-pilot feature?” She scanned the instrument panel and found it. “My God, with my nerves I’d forgotten,” said Dwayne. He thought a moment and pushed the button. Auto-pilot was engaged.
“I’ve got an idea,” said Keiko. “What if we get these two into passenger seats, and get those people up here with us.”
Dwayne thought a moment and looked at his friends at his sides behind him. “They don’t look dangerous do they?” He reached out and touched Luke, the one on his left; he was buring hot. Nothing happened. Luke just turned his head back and forth and chattered. “Ok let’s try it one at a time.”
They stood and got on either side of poor Luke. Dwayne reached down and took off the seatbelt. Still nothing stirred in him. They stood him up. His legs worked but seemed slow and disjointed. He staggered to the door as the pushed him along.