My feet slap on the hard floor of the terminal. Max has dropped me and is pulling me into a fast run holding my hand. Colin is behind me. I know we are making too much noise. Colin’s dress shoes are clicking and although Max’s trainers are silent he is breathing loudly. I’m not sure where we are going, but I can’t catch my breath to ask. All I keep seeing is the blood. Where are the others?
Max veers to the right and I follow him. There in front is a pair of double doors. They look as if they swing both ways and as Max extends his arm and hits them they swing silently inward. We dash in and they close behind us. Max slows to a jog and then stops. Colin is by the doors peering out of one of the squares of Perspex set into the doors.
“See anything?” Max whispers.
Colin holds up a closed fist. I’ve seen enough TV and read enough books to know that it means hold. I assume in this case it also means quiet. They must have heard us. I lean my hands on my knees and breathe heavily. My legs ache and I feel as if I have run a mile. I really wish I had gone to the gym I’d joined. It was a new year’s resolution. To get up early and go for a jog or walk to the local gym and work out, all before work. It had never happened. On my first morning of my ‘new life’ I’d rolled over, turned the alarm off and gone back to sleep. All I’d gained was to be late for work and a disapproving look from the boss.
“I hope you are only late here,” he said. He never used my name. Most of the time I’m sure he had no idea who I was.
Odd, that I’m thinking of him in the past. But I have a feeling that after today nothing is going to be the same.
Colin takes a step toward us and then turns away from the doors. His face is grim.
“They heard something, but I don’t think they saw us. They are sweeping near the desk.”
“Sweeping?” All I picture is two men doing housework. I can’t help a smile.
“This is no joke. Didn’t you see the blood?”
I feel as if Colin has just hit me in the stomach. How can I smile when all that blood must mean that someone is dead?
Max sees my face and he looks as pale and shocked as I must.
“Do you think…?” I ask, not able to finish the sentence.
Colin looks away and Max nods.
“We have to help them.”
Both men stare at me, and I know that I am saying we have to risk our lives for the people on the plane, but I don’t think I can live with myself if we don’t.
“I’ll go alone…”
“No,” Max says. “I’ll help.”
Colin still has his back to us but I see his shoulders slump. “Same here.”
“I’m sorry.” I can’t help but feel guilty. “But I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t try.”
Both men nod. Colin turns and studies us. “We can’t help like this.”
“What?” Max asks.
“Bitsy, you need trousers and I need a pair of shoes that don’t make a sound.”
“Let me just go shopping,” I say, allowing the sarcasm to leach into my voice.
“Easy fix,” Max says. He walks deeper into the room. I notice that we are in the staff area of the airport. There are bags everywhere.
“Bags…” I say.
Max gives me a grin. “Exactly.”
I don’t hesitate but go for the nearest bag. It’s a green haversack with a daisy on the front. I just hope it was outbound. As I open it I notice that the clothes are folded and don’t smell. I am right as well, this is a young female backpacker. I reach to the bottom until my hands touch tough cloth. I pull out a pair of jeans. Please be a size fourteen…
They are a sixteen. That’ll do. I look up and notice that Max is peering out the door and Colin is on his second bag. It is a shame that there are no hiking boots on the one I’ve chosen. But then if you are flying you wouldn’t tie them to the outside. Pushing my hand in again I go to the very bottom. Shoes, no, trainers. I pull them out. I am a size six, a normal size and I’m hoping that this girl is the same. I sigh with relief. She is. I thank my luck and grab a black t-shirt as well.
Standing I move to a pillar. Using it as a shield I quickly change, glad to be rid of my pencil skirt and tights. I stand in the unknown girls clothes and feel grateful. I send a quick prayer to the girl, hoping that she is still safe.
Walking over to Colin I see he is changing into a pair of deck shoes. The rest of his clothes are the same.
“Done?” I ask.
We go over to Max. “What’s the plan?”
He looks at us and his face is pale and I notice that his hands are shaking. “They are sweeping the airport.”
I rise on tiptoe and look out. There are about ten of them. All in fatigues, all with guns. They are definitely military.
“What are we going to do?” I breathe.
Neither man answers me.