The Beholden

Chapter Three – Diverted.

Madison could no longer wait for Stephan to call.  She knew he was alive.  John had phoned her the day after the crash to report the media had been incorrect.  Stephan was the only survivor.  Although the story told by John was incredible, it was believable.  As the plane rolled over, it broke apart.  Stephan’s seat had been torn free and he was hurled out of the plane.  He landed in a soft, damp area off the runway.  He was still strapped in his seat as the plane tumbled and burned far away from him.  Madison sensed a hint of patchwork to the details but her longing for welcome news overpowered any skepticism.  No matter the circumstances, Stephan was alive and she needed to be with her love.  She tried contacting John but there was no answer at his home.  John explained that Stephan had gone through a terrible ordeal and he was shielding his son from the media.  Therefore, he must be monitoring incoming calls and not picking up.  However, she could not explain away why Stephan had not reached her.  All kinds of terrible thoughts raced through her mind.  Complications must have arisen and he was back in the hospital.  Or, he is suffering from confusion and he is wandering the streets of Munich in a manner that John could not find him.  She began packing a carry-on bag to take with her to Germany.

Madison was a tomboy at heart.  She had an eternally young face supported by brown eyes and long, black hair.  Looking flawless was not on her mind.  Instead, she focused on hockey and taking taekwondo lessons.  Sprinting off to Europe was just another challenge.  The trip would get her out of the office and rekindle the relationship that had seen too many recent breaks.

Stephan and Madison had a committed relationship for two years.  They met at one of the Tough Mudder challenges.  The event is an obstacle course designed to test strength and endurance while wallowing through mud.  Both of them signed up as individuals that led to the formation of a dynamic team.  During their initial meeting, they learned they worked on opposite ends of Boston.  She was a graphic web designer for a small firm while Stephan worked in a related field as a web developer.  Stephan landed the job after he completed his military service.  The revelation of them both working in Boston caused Madison to make a mental note to circle back and determine if this was coincidence or the work of other hands.  At the onset of the event, Madison quickly became identified as the team leader that encouraged and pushed every member to finish.  This is how Stephan took notice of her.  Stephan did not waste any time asking her out.  Naturally, his love of history brought them to an exciting, interactive date at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.  Stephan had arranged to get them both to role play as American Colonists instead of just being visitors.  Later that evening, a dinner at the Rialto sealed their fate.

Madison arrived at Logan International Airport. After fumbling for her e-ticket at the Delta check-in kiosk, she passed through security with ease.  She sat down at her departure gate and decided to give John one more call before she left.  Once again, there was no answer.  She left the following message, “John, it’s me Madison. I am on my way to Germany. I’ll be there in about ten hours or so.”

John got up from the back porch where he was sharing an after dinner drink with Stephan.  He entered his home and noticed the light flashing on his answering machine.  With the volume low, he listened to Madison’s message.  This was not good timing.  He wanted to spend a few more days with his son alone and did not want any tension and drama that would eventually preside.

The flight to Germany would make one stop in Amsterdam. While approaching the coast of Great Britain, a passenger became unruly by ranting and making small threats.  The attendants tried to subdue him. As soon as they grabbed for him, he pulled a hand made knife.  Now holding a stewardess hostage up against the cockpit wall, he demanded to go to Tangiers.

This request was relayed to the captain. However, the captain responded that the plane did not have enough fuel to make it that far.  The copilot was busy contacting the closest airport, London Airport, to inform them of the situation.  The terrorist, as he would be later known, settled for Barcelona.

Madison kept a keen eye on the situation.  Although trembling from the fear of the unknown, she would not give in to any terrorist.  The best way to resolve her fear was to act.  She was certain others would join her.  The terrorist demanded the lights be turned off.  The lights went out and several pleading sighs were heard.  Madison was confident this maneuver was a mistake.  She asked for the passengers nearest and to the left of the terrorist to turn on their overhead lights when queued.  This information was whispered and passed up the rows in secret.  She thought the best time to attack the man was when the plane was about to land.  He would let his guard down as he approached his goal.  Besides, the plane would be much closer to the ground if anything went wrong while taking back the plane.  Along with the passengers’ stress level going up, so did the body temperature. The air in the plane became heavy and stale.   Passengers started to squirm from being uncomfortable. The terrorist tried to follow every little movement.  Madison thought that this now would be easy. He would simply exhaust himself with all the distractions and pass out.  She began mentally controlling each breath she took to keep herself alert.  Fresh air came on through the vents for a few minutes and then went back off.  Obviously, the crew was aware of the conditions and tried to make things bearable.

After two hours, the captain announced they were making descent preparations.  The window passenger next to Madison knocked hard twice on the window and the lights upfront went on.  The terrorist pressed the knife firmly against the stewardess and threatened to take down the plane.  Madison crouched and began duck walking up the aisle but she had been seen.  She stopped, stood up, and forcefully yelled at the terrorist. This actually surprised him but he quickly regained his composure and returned to making more threats if she did not sit down.  However, as he was talking, he unknowingly moved away from the wall.  In fact, he had about four rows of passengers between him and the cockpit. Now, the passengers realized they had the upper hand.  To continue the distraction, Madison started to call him out on his threats.  The passengers picked up on all of this and rushed the man.  They wrestled with him and got him free from the stewardess.  However, not before the knife had cut her neck and nicked her artery.  Blood began squirting rapidly out of her.  Madison grabbed the woman and placed her thumb on the wound.  She got her to lay down in the aisle.  Madison kept firm pressure all the way through the landing.  The plane stopped on the runway. Armored vehicles and police surrounded the plane.  The airport medics boarded and took over for her.  Her swift actions and first aid knowledge saved the woman’s life.  Madison spent several hours with airport security and law enforcement giving debriefing statements.  The authorities made arrangements for her to stay at the Renaissance Barcelona Airport Hotel.  Here she found herself alone and unaware of what she had become.

Later, the phone rang at John’s home.
John picks up and a voice announces, “We have done what you asked.  She has been diverted.”
Calmly John asks, “Is she beholden?”
“Yes,” the voice says.  The phone call ends.

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