“NOBODY MOVE!” And then the distinct clicking sound of a gun hammer being cocked. “EVERYBODY STAY IN YOUR SEATS. DO AS YOU’RE TOLD AND NO ONE GETS HURT!”
Fancy raised a flap of her eye mask and blinked groggily, the effects of the sedative she’d taken for the flight lingering heavily, creating a thick fog that enveloped her mind. She didn’t know how long they’d been airborne because she’d taken the pill before boarding and fell asleep before takeoff. At first, she thought the man’s voice was coming from the big screen television inside the cabin, but seeing him standing in the aisle armed with a shotgun clearly brought the situation into focus.
“What’s going on?” she asked, sitting upright in her seat. “What’s happening?”
“You!” the armed man barked, pointing his gun at her. “Keep your mouth shut. All you need to know is that there’s been a slight change to our flight plan.”
Fancy began to stand, but quickly reconsidered when the man took a step towards her. “Not a smart idea, Red.”
Fancy glanced around at the other passengers on the small private jet. She didn’t recognize any of them, but judging by the fear on their faces, they were just as scared as she was.
“Okay, everyone, listen up,” the man announced. “See that man back there?” he asked, pointing. All heads turned to see a second armed man at the rear of the plane that appeared to be a dead ringer for the one who had spoken. “In case you haven’t figured it out yet, he’s my twin brother. He’ll be collecting cell phones, tablets, and any other communication devices you good people may have. We certainly can’t take any chances of having our mission posted all over social media now, can we?”
“Why are they doing this?” Fancy wondered. “They’re obviously Americans, with that southern accent, for Pete’s sake! Since when did an American hi-jack an interstate flight?”
“That means you, too, Red,” the gunman ordered.
Fancy’s hands were trembling as she picked her purse up from the floor. Desperately trying to retrieve her phone, she dropped the purse, spilling its contents into the aisle at the gunman’s feet. Reflexively, she squatted on the floor to pick them up.
“Nope,” the gunman said, shoving her backward with the gun barrel. “Get back in your seat.”
Fancy did as she was told.
“What do you hope to gain by doing this?” It was one of the other passengers, a man of about thirty sitting to her right.
Instead of answering, the gunman struck the man on the side of the head with the butt of the gun. The injured man yelped in pain as he grabbed his head, then turned away and stared out the window. She could see blood streaming through his fingers, leaving bright red trails as it ran down the back of his hand.
“Why did I let you talk me into this?” Fancy asked herself, recalling her conversation with Lori, one of the three actual friends she had. “I should have stood my ground when I said no. This is what I get for giving in.”
Fancy reflected on that debate now as she sat helpless and unarmed on a flight going to God knows where, while two gunmen held her and the other passenger’s hostage.
“Fancy, I have a ticket for a charter flight to New York City, but I can’t use it. I want you to have it and go in my place.”
“Why would I want to go to New York?”
“Have you ever been?” Lori asked.
“You’ll love it! I really wanted to go, but something came up and I can’t. I don’t want the ticket to go to waste.”
“Give it to someone else.”
“No, I want you to have it.”
“Because you never do anything fun or exciting. Don’t you ever get tired of the same old mundane routine day in and day out?”
“No,” Fancy answered. “I don’t.”
“Look,” Lori pleaded with her. “It’s just a one day thing. You fly there, spend a few hours shopping or sightseeing, whatever you want. Then you get back on the plane and come home. I truly think you’d enjoy it. So, what do you say?”
“I don’t know, Lori,” she’d told her hesitantly. “I’m not really fond of flying. It scares me.”
“Then ask your doctor to give you something specifically for the flight, or I can give you one of mine.”
“So, flying scares you, too?”
“A little maybe, but it’s the only way to travel. Beats driving any day.”
Fancy sat quietly as she pondered the thought of seeing New York. It had never really been a desire of hers to go, but it might just be fun after all.
“It’s only about a two-hour flight,” Lori told her. “You’ll be there before you know it, especially if you take a feel good pill. And I promise that you’ll have so much fun you won’t even think about it.”
Lori was right about one thing—she didn’t lead an exciting life. Some may even find her lifestyle quite boring.
“Tell you what,” Lori prompted. “You do this one thing for me, and I’ll never ask you to do anything else.”
“I’m not sure, Lori,” Fancy said, shaking her head.
“Please, please, please,” Lori begged. “The ticket is already paid for and it’s nonrefundable. All you’ll need is money to spend on yourself.”
Fancy took a deep breath and exhaled through her nose. “Okay,” she said, sounding reluctant. “But you owe me big time.”
As she sat stiffly in her seat, staring down at her money scattered on the floor, she longed for that boring life she loved. What she wouldn’t give at that moment to be at home curled up on her couch watching an old movie while listening to Pokey purr.
“Well, well, looky here,” the gunman said, picking the bills up and placing them in his front pocket. “Thank you for donating to the cause. It’s greatly appreciated.”
Fancy opened her mouth to protest, considered the likely consequences if she did, deciding to sit quietly as she stared straight ahead.
The gunman remained by her side, hovering as he held the shotgun tucked beneath his arm.
“What’s your name, anyhow?” he asked her.
Did he seriously expect her to engage in casual conversation while he held them all at gunpoint? She remained silent.
“I asked you a question,” he said, his voice hardening. “And I would like an answer.”
“Fancy,” she answered without looking at him.
“Say that again,” he said, chuckling softly. “I just want to make sure I heard you correctly.”
“Fancy!” she spat, this time making eye contact with him. Amid such peril, she hated to admit to herself that he was quite handsome and appeared to be of Greek descent with his dark hair and eyes, and olive complexion. She looked away and stared out the window when he began laughing.
“Are you serious? Your name is Fancy? Well, fancy that, Miss Fancy. What drugs was your momma taking when she named you?” he asked, chuckling. “My name is Danny, and my brother back there is Randy.”
Fancy did not acknowledge his statement.
“Fancy,” he said, shaking his head. “Now I’ve heard it all.”
“Can I please go to the restroom?” Fancy asked without looking at him.
“Well now, seeing that you just gave me…” he paused, reaching into his pocket and retrieving the wad of bills. He immediately bent down to pick up a round lapel pin that had stuck to the money and quickly shoved it back into his pocket, glancing furtively around the cabin as if he were making sure that no one else saw it. Unfolding the cash, he counted, “One, two… five hundred dollars, I suppose I could let you do that.”
Fancy’s legs were wobbly as she stood up, slowly making her way toward the back of the plane where Randy had remained the entire duration of the flight. He wasn’t holding his shotgun, but it was nearby, propped up against the wall where he stood.
Fancy turned on the faucet and splashed her face with cold water. She glanced around the small cubicle, assessing the possibility of obtaining a weapon. There were no phones on the plane, other than the cell phones, and those had all been confiscated, so the chance of making a call was out of the question. The paper towel dispenser was built into the vanity of the sink; therefore, there were no metal racks that she could rip from the wall. She could break the mirror, but the sound of shattering glass would send them running, and they’d more than likely tear down the door before she could retrieve a shard and hide it inside her shirt. She was helpless. There was nothing she could do to defend herself, so she did the only thing possible–she returned to her seat and sat back down.
Once again, she replayed her conversation with Lori over in her mind, hating herself for being so spineless and giving in to something that she never wanted to do.
As she sat with her arms folded across her chest, staring out the window, she became lost in thought.
Why had Lori been so adamant about making sure that she got the ticket? She had plenty of other friends that would have jumped at the opportunity for a free trip, and she had suggested as much, only to be told no.
And how did Danny and Randy get those enormous guns onto the plane without anyone noticing? She had been the first one on board and had immediately fallen into a heavy sleep, but surely the other passengers would have noticed and said something, wouldn’t they? Come to think of it, the sedative that Lori had given her had worked much too well. For a pill that was only meant to calm her, it had knocked her out completely, so anything could have happened, and she wouldn’t have known about it. That would certainly include gunmen boarding the plane after her. And why weren’t they wearing masks? Did they not care about being identified? Unless… Fancy was suddenly struck by a horrible thought, feeling a panic stir inside of her. Unless they were planning on killing all of them once they reached their destination!
Why were none of the other passengers conspiring to overthrow the gunmen? Other than the one gentleman who had been struck in the head, not a single one of them had said a word. How could they all sit there so somberly, as though nothing were going on? The eight of them could easily overtake the two gunmen if they worked together. Of course, someone might get shot, or a stray bullet might penetrate the fuselage and cause the air pressure to destabilize, which would then cause the plane to crash. On the one hand, she could understand why no one was eager to be heroic. They were probably as terrified as she was, but by doing nothing, they were all sitting ducks simply waiting to see what their fates held in store for them.
For two men who were hi-jacking a plane, why had neither one of them attempted to storm the cockpit? After all, the pilot would play a major role in getting the aircraft to their desired location, unless the pilot was in on the plot, too, and the flight plan was pre-arranged.
Fancy took a deep breath, closed her eyes and laid her head back.
Instantaneously, she opened her eyes and sat upright. “Wait a minute,” she thought, remembering the pin that had fallen out of Danny’s pocket, and how quickly he’d retrieved it, but not before she saw the DAC logo that was printed on it. She knew the symbol well. In fact, she had seen it frequently and couldn’t believe the thought hadn’t occurred to her until that moment.
Fancy immediately knew what was going on–and who the person was that was behind this whole charade.
What she didn’t know was why.
Drawing on her sudden realization, she hoped her instincts were right. If they were, this ordeal would end without injuries or casualties. But if she was wrong…
“I’m not afraid of you,” she said, standing up to face Danny. Wielding the nail file she’d taken from her purse, she lunged at him, the sharp tip of the file pointed at his left cheek. He seemed genuinely surprised at her sudden show of bravery, taking a step backward and away from her.
“Sit down,” he told her, keeping a close eye on the weapon she held while waving it back and forth as if she were competing in a fencing match.
“No,” she stated firmly. “If you’re going to shoot me, then do it.”
Danny sprang forward, grabbing her by both wrists and forcefully put her back in her seat. “Stay put, I mean it,” he instructed her, making his way toward the rear of the plane. Keeping his back toward her, he began conversing with Randy, who was obviously agreeing with whatever Danny was saying because he was nodding. She could hear them whispering but couldn’t make out what they were saying.
“What are the two of you discussing,” Fancy asked, standing up and turning to face them.
“I told you to sit down,” Danny said, pointing to her seat. Randy took a cell phone from his pocket and dialed a number. Danny remained directly in front of him, preventing her from being able to read his lips while he talked. The conversation only lasted a few moments, and when Randy put his phone back in his pocket, Danny returned to the front of the plane.
During the entire exchange between Fancy and Danny, all the other passengers remained in their seats as quiet as a church mouse, stealing only a glance at her when she spoke, confirming her suspicions that they, too, were involved in whatever was going on.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there’s been a change of plans,” Danny announced, looking at Fancy while he spoke. With a remote control in hand, he turned toward the big screen television and turned it on. “Stay tuned for a public service announcement,” he said.
“Fancy, Fancy, Fancy,” came the voice from the television.
Fancy stared at the screen in shock. “Lori?” she asked, frowning.
“Yep, it’s me,” she said, smiling. “This part wasn’t supposed to happen so soon, but we figured it best to end it before someone really got hurt.”
“What part?” Fancy asked, alarmed when she heard a loud POP! erupt from the rear of the plane, thinking it was gunfire, but was stunned when she turned around to see Randy holding a bottle of champagne, foam spilling over the top and onto the carpeted floor.
“What’s going on?” Fancy asked, turning back to the television.
“I’d like you to meet some of my friends,” Lori said. “Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and take a bow.” And they did–every single passenger. “They’re all members of the Drama Actors Club. You know, Fancy, the one I belong to. You’ve been to several of my plays.”
“You want to know why?”
“Yes, I do.”
“For starters, I thought you could use some excitement in your life,” Lori explained.
“So you staged a fake hi-jacking? Don’t you think that’s somewhat extreme?”
“Perhaps. But I, we, wouldn’t have let anyone get hurt for real. It was all in good fun. How many times have you told me you would love to be in a play with me? So, congratulations, you had the starring role.”
“You call nearly giving me a heart attack fun?” Fancy exclaimed, her voice cracking. “And what about him?” she asked, pointing to the man who had been struck in the head. “He got hurt.”
“Fake blood sac,” he answered, standing and facing her. “See?” he said, holding up his hand. “It was glued to the palm and ruptured when I hit the side of my head,” he explained, reenacting his movement.
“And the guns?” Fancy asked.
“Props,” Danny answered. “From a play we did a few months ago.”
“But I heard you cock it,” Fancy protested.
“Like this,” one of the female passengers said, shaking her phone up and down. “Sound effects. I had to turn the volume up and cue it several times to wake you up. That pill Lori gave you really did the trick.”
“Oh, Fancy,” Lori said. “I’ve been planning this for months. I thought it was all going to fail when you gave me such a hard time over the ticket.”
“I wish it had failed,” Fancy said. “I’ve never been so scared in all of my life, and I still don’t understand why you did it.”
“Tell her why, friends,” Lori said. While Randy poured the champagne into plastic wine glasses, the group began singing Happy Birthday.
“Lori, my birthday isn’t for another week,” Fancy said when the singing was over.
“I know that, silly, but I’ll be out-of-town then. I wanted to give you a special birthday, one that you would never forget. How’d I do?”
“Well, you got the ‘never forget’ part right,” Fancy answered, taking a sip of champagne.
“Good,” Lori said with a laugh. “If you think your flight was exciting, just wait until you see what I have planned once you arrive in New York.”
“Goody,” Fancy said with a frown. “I can barely wait.”
“Okay, everyone, I’ll see you when you get here. Great job, guys!”
Danny turned off the television and extended his hand to Fancy. “No hard feelings?”
Fancy stared at his hand momentarily, then shook it. “No, but someone has a lot more explaining to do.”
“I’ll leave that up to Lori,” he said, smiling. After returning her cell phone and money, he joined his brother at the back of the plane.
Fancy stared out the window as she sipped her champagne, wondering what else Lori had planned for her, hoping that whatever it was didn’t include bungee jumping off the Empire State Building.