by J. A. Buxton
A woman goes on a journey with four other strangers.
Segment 01 – The Journey Begins
“Do you have your ticket?”
“Yes, and my traveler’s checks, and my passport. Now, stop worrying about me.” Liz gave a big sigh. For the last half hour, her mother kept asking the same questions.
“Darling, it’s just that you’ve never flown before, and we don’t even know where this island is.” Sylvia looked at her daughter and tried not to cry. When the letter arrived the previous week, both women could hardly believe Liz had won a vacation for two weeks at Mystic Island. The shy 21-year-old never had been farther from home than the next town. She barely remembered entering the contest months earlier on an uncharacteristically daring whim.
“See, mother?” Liz pointed out the airport window at the small plane taxiing toward them. On the side of the plane, painted in bright green letters was the logo, Mystic Island Air Taxi. “There’s my ride, and it looks like a lovely plane.”
“Miss, are you going on that flight?” The sound of a wispy voice close behind her startled Liz. She swung around to face a tall, elderly man. His gray suit had seen better days, if the frayed cuffs were any indication. “Please excuse my impertinence in addressing you before introducing myself. I’m Winston Seiling, with an S.”
Before Liz could say anything, another person interrupted them. “Well, small world, isn’t it? I’m for the island, too.” The skinny young man smiled, revealing a mouth filled with gaping holes where teeth once were. His hair, lank and in need of a good trim, hung down nearly to his shoulders. “John Smith, at your service.”
“All aboard for the Mystic Island Air Taxi flight.” The loud speaker announcement boomed over the international flight concourse. “Passengers, please make your way outside to the tarmac. Your plane is ready for takeoff.”
“Guess that’s us.” Winston reached down and grabbed the handle of a cheap suitcase. “I wonder why we’re only allowed to bring one bag with us.”
John tightened the straps on his backpack. “From the size of that plane out there, it probably has something to do with size or weight.” He smiled at Liz when he saw she suddenly looked frightened. “Don’t worry, miss. Small planes are quite safe. Is that your bag?” He pointed at a new suitcase on the floor near Liz. Seeing her nod, he picked the case up. “Come on, we don’t want them to leave without us,” he said, taking Liz’s hand in his free one.
Sylvia anxiously watched her daughter and the two men disappear outside through the concourse door. She hurried over to the wall of windows in time to see the three of them walking toward the plane. Two other people had left the airport lounge and now joined them. One was a woman of undetermined age, possibly in her late 30’s. She limped slightly, and Sylvia noticed she was wearing a metal brace on one leg.
A man walked slowly behind her. There was something familiar about him, but Sylvia was too far away to make out who he was. She did see he wore a wide brimmed hat pulled down that covered most of his face.
“Have fun, Liz,” Sylvia whispered, as the five people climbed up the short ramp and through the plane’s doorway. “See you in two weeks.”
* * *
“Welcome to Mystic Island Air Taxi. Please find a seat and buckle up.” An attractive brunette in a green uniform smiled at each of the five as they came into the plane. When all were aboard, she closed the door behind them and secured the latch.
“Here, miss. Come sit with me.” John walked down the narrow aisle that separated the six bucket seats, three on each side. He went past the first four until he reached the last two near the back of the plane. “Do you want the window or the aisle seat?”
“Please, John, I think I’d be too scared to look out the window. Why don’t you sit there?” Liz waited until he sat down before hesitantly joining him. “Oh, my name is Liz.”
“Liz it is.” John saw the elderly man named Winston was in the seat in front of him with a woman across the aisle from him. Another man, still wearing his hat, shared the front row with the young flight attendant.
With a sudden loud roar, the unseen pilot in the cockpit revved up the plane’s engines in preparation for takeoff. The cabin shook as the plane headed down the long runway, and Liz frantically grabbed John’s closest hand.
He understood her fright, having been nervous on his first flight years earlier. “It will be okay, Liz. See? We’re off the ground already.” Outside, the airport disappeared as the plane slowly headed skyward. The cabin’s shaking stopped, and John pried Liz’s white-knuckled fingers from his bruised hand.
In front of them, Winston waited until the overhead sign came on stating they could unbuckle their seat belt. After doing this, he stood and looked around at the other passengers. “Maybe this might be a good time to introduce ourselves since we’re going to be together for the next two weeks.” Heads all around the cabin nodded at this. “Well, I’m Winston Seiling, with an S, and am a retired stockbroker.”
Just then, the plastic window shades snapped down, leaving the cabin in Stygian darkness. Winston quickly sat down and buckled his seatbelt again. Fifteen minutes passed in total silence before the plane began gently shaking again.
The brunette called out, “Please don’t be afraid. We’re simply coming in for a landing. There’s nothing to worry about, ladies and gentlemen. Your hosts prefer to keep their island’s location private.” The window shades snapped open following that cryptic comment. “Thank you for flying Mystic Island Air Taxi.”
The five passengers were unprepared for the strange adventures waiting for them in the dilapidated Victorian building located off in the distance. Not all of them would return back home after those two eventful weeks.
TO BE CONTINUED SOON