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Rated: E · Short Story · Political · #1267830
A political satire of some sort I suppose
        As John sat, trying to read his book, he looked at his bare wrist for the fourth time and was reminded that he had been forced to ship that to his destination.  He looked up just in time to see the plane's clock click forward one hour, they must have just hit the central time zone, March 20, 2011, 7:43pm.  He was having a hard time reading with the stewardess bumping into his arm every 5 minutes and his sleeping neighbor snoring in his right ear; John hated the aisle seat. As he turned his attention back to his book it wandered instead to the wait in the security line to catch his flight.  8 hours and 13 minutes, a new record since the most recent increase in security measures.  He hadn't taken less than 9 hours in the last 4 months.  With a sigh, John realized he had read half the page without paying attention to the words and went back to find the last sentence he remembered reading.

        Air security in the US had been increasing gradually since the tragedy of 9/11 and nobody knew how they could become more strict than they were now.  As it was, nobody was allowed any personal belongings beyond their ID on any flight.  No watches, wallets, pens, purses, books, laptops…nothing.  It was all in an effort to stop terrorism in its tracks.  The wait at the airport was immense as every person had to be searched and watched individually through 3 checkpoints including one highly magnetized X-ray device that would pull any metal right through your pocket. 

        It was a long flight to Georgia from Seattle and John had a lot of work to do when he got there.  As a microbiologist he was headed to a food processing plant to collect some environmental samples for testing.  He looked across the aisle to a young man eating his bag of complimentary peanuts and wondered if the man had any idea what he was eating.  John ate one of his peanuts and realized it didn't really matter, nothing in there was going to kill him.  Then, as he was watching, the young man spat out a large quantity of chewed peanuts into the plastic cup that he had emptied earlier of all but a shallow layer of coke.  The man plucked one of his buttons off and dropped it into the cup with the mess, removed his glasses, broke them in two which created a spark in the cup and threw it toward the cabin.  When the cup hit the door it created a very loud noise--if John had been able to think at the moment he might have likened it to a cannon--a searing fireball and a lot of debris and smoke.  Everything was commotion, the young man was beating people with his shoe, everyone was screaming and crying. The plane was plummeting from the sky.  John thought about trying to get out of his seat and up to the cockpit but one look out the window at the rapidly approaching ground and he knew he would be too late.  Panicked and bewildered John was still trying to figure out what had happened as his face hit the back of the seat in front of him.  But that was the last thought that went through his mind before everything went dark and the sounds of other people, and his own screaming all went quiet.

        "The Nation mourns…tragic loss of life on the...flight number....  One man...John Baxter, survived this latest act of terror…and is laid up at a hospit…Kansas." John woke up in a comfortable bed to the sound of his President's voice speaking his name on the television and immediately fell back asleep for another 24 hours before waking to his wife squeezing his hand.

        "Hello John," Anne said with a relieved smile.  "The doctor says that you will make a full recovery, I'm so glad to see you."

        With a drugged grin John asked, "where's my morphine button?  Thanks, get rid of it, you're all the pain reliever I need Honey."

        Anne sighed and rolled her eyes before telling John that there were a couple of investigators outside that wanted to ask him some questions about what happened on his flight.  After a brief interview, during which John relayed everything he could remember about the young man and what he did, they left him alone with his wife to watch the news and recover.

        Three days later, still in the hospital, John was watching the most recent announcement by the President.  He was giving the security update. 

        "My fellow Americans.  I think it is clear by this point that, through no fault of our own, my administration is nearly at a loss at how to handle the mindless terrorist actions taking place in our great Nation.  There is next to nothing that one can do to fight this kind of evil on fair and just grounds and win.  When your enemy won't follow simple ethical rules of engagement, the rules that you follow have to be stretched to accommodate their way of fighting.  It is a sad day in America when we have to resort to this type of reaction but there is no other options left to us.  We made our fatal mistake years ago of letting the terrorist threats dictate our lives and how we treated one another. Today we are paying for that mistake.  As soon as preparations can be made, the security measures at all airports across the nation will be replaced by a much simplified, if sadly barbaric version.  Every air traveler will be issued, upon arrival at the airport, 1 small firearm which they will return at the end of their flight and use without hesitation during their flight in the case of a terrorist attack.  Frequent fliers may be eligible for permanently issued side arms so they may skip the lines at the airports.  My hope is that the loss of life is reduced by this action and people will once again travel safely in the United States.  I ask now for your prayers, that we can stem the tide of terrorism in our country and be free of its enslavement."

        "Wow, now there's a good idea, just give everybody guns and see what happens,"  John said sarcastically.

        Over the next few months John slowly recovered from his injuries and made it back to work to see the new security measures fully in place.  There were a few more attempts by terrorists to take advantage of their newfound freedom but what they found was that the American public, by this time, was quite willing, perhaps even eager to use those weapons they were issued. After a time even the attempts ended.  Unfortunately the civilian death toll did not decrease.  As people got more and more used to the idea, they were more and more ready to react with their weapons and we became our own terrorists in the end.  Innocents shooting innocents because of the fear that terrorism created.  We let terrorism dictate our lives to us and it destroyed us.  In retrospect, years later, John recalled the President's words that "we made our fatal mistake years ago" and realized that he was right.  We should have kept on living as free Americans, escalation in the end did nothing to improve our situation, in fact, it ultimately served the terrorist ends.
© Copyright 2007 Kenneth Reuel (antonkp at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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