Flight BA 765

Posted: August 12, 2011 in SciFi

 Aboard the giant Airbus, Mrs. June Hailey and her two daughters were quiet. The thunder of the aircraft’s massive turbines was but a whisper toward the rear.

Rachel, twelve years old, was happily concentrating on her little Camcorder. It was the latest technology could offer. Its M-13 cling wrap-thin lithium-ion polymer batteries were powered by either solar power or with a plug-in charger. They were guaranteed to last a life-time and were the result of the latest nano-fabrication technology, the publicity splurge had said. She had taken pictures of her father at the airport. As it was a present from him, she would show him the results of their trip which she stored on the massive memory chips the camera used and could be inserted straight into their laptop and be e-mailed to him. Elizabeth, her senior by two years, was reading the latest edition of True Confessions, much to her mother’s disgust.

Her daughters were both tall for their age and sported their father’s shocking red hair with the ubiquitous freckles so common with light skinned persons. June Hailey was well built and quite athletic. She enjoyed jogging and kept herself in good shape. Rachel tried to keep up with her mom when they went jogging in London, but ’Lizbeth was not that way inclined at all. She was more interested in boys and the gossip columns of the tabloid press.

June was thinking about Mike. She missed him already. She knew he was convinced he was right, he usually was, but still it would have been so much better if he had come with them. The decision to fly to South Africa had been an emotional one but was based on solid research and took account of a variety of factors on the expected effects of earth crust displacement as well as seeking a relatively safe haven for the Hailey women folk. So many things were however totally unpredictable. This made their departure from Heathrow particularly poignant. The only reason she agreed to leave Mike behind was for the sake of the girls. She knew Mike would not leave his computers. Flight BA 765 was their Ark and the Drakensberg Mountains on the eastern seaboard of Southern Africa, their Mount Ararat.

During their last night together she pleaded with him to come with them.

“I’d love to and my heart says I should, but I must see this through. If I’m wrong and the comet passes earth without incident I’ll have you back on the earliest ’plane and we’ll have a long holiday together with the girls because I’ll be unemployed and virtually untouchable; but if I’m right, I suspect we may never see each other again.”

Those words would ring in June’s ears for many years to come.

Their landing at Frankfort International went off without a problem and they were back in the air after taking on at least fifty further passengers.

A family of four, the Lockhats were returning from a tour of Germany prior to which they had been to Islamic religious sites including Palestine, Jerusalem, Istanbul, Mecca and Medina. As is fitting for a devout Islamic family, the wife was clothed in a dark blue but well tailored sohier abaya while the husband was wearing his traditional white khurta and toppie. Their young children, a daughter of about fourteen years and son somewhat younger, probably around twelve years, were dressed in the normal manner of children according to the hijab prescriptions of Islam. They were from Johannesburg and were obviously wealthy judging from the amount of gifts they were taking home to family and friends.  They were sitting close to June Hailey and her daughters.

 

Sitting in the upper business class deck, Karl Hofmeyer was thinking about his reception at Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. He had been subpoenaed by the authorities to testify in a corruption trial which involved politicians and heads of state departments. He had been forced to flee the country together with his family some five years before as organised crime syndicates which included some politically connected persons had threatened him via his family. Even the new president of the country was involved and now the credibility of the country’s legal system as well as its constitution was at stake. He didn’t relish the pressure he would be put under, both inside and out of court. Hofmeyer was a chartered accountant and before he fled the country, had been involved in major government procurement contracts including the infamous arms deal. He had been privy to top secret information and in his capacity as a member of the State’s Tender Board, had uncovered scams and bribes totalling millions of Rand; a man feared by the establishment.

Esme Petersen, together with her cabin colleagues was preparing the cabin for the long haul over the African continent. Some passengers were rather boisterous and needed to be quietened down. The bar had already been closed for the night. One person in particular was troublesome. He seemed to be intent on causing problems with the crew so much so that the Bursar had to be called to speak with him. His name was Bennie Smith and hailed from Glasgow and had been working on the docks in ship building for the last fifteen years.

He was immigrating to South Africa as a boiler maker, a skill in short supply in that country. The pay they promised him was good and they had promised him a house on the mines where he would be stationed. Life was good and this was his first overseas trip. The whisky was free and he ensured that he had several small bottles of Johnnie Walker Black in reserve before the bar closed for the night.

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