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Jeff Dosser
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terminal.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2016

Terminal

 

Jeff Dosser

 

 

Jason's eyes flew open as he was jolted forward, the plane’s wheels bumping loudly on the tarmac. The engines howled and the air brakes thumped in the wings as the view out of the window slowed from a racing blur to a slow march. Must have fallen asleep, he thought, rubbing his eyes, and pulling out his phone. A quick tap on the screen showed, 9:30 PM. God damn it already 30 minutes late and we're not even to the jet bridge yet.

Jason tapped on his armrest in agitation as the plane made its slow way to the gang way, the engines finally whining down to silence the click of seat belts and rustle of moving people filling the cabin.

In front of him a little girl hopped up and down on the seat screaming about being hungry or some other bullshit. Why the hell did they let these noisome brats on planes, he thought, it should be illegal.

And old people too, as he watched a white haired couple wrestle with a heavy bag stuck in the overhead compartment.

Ahead of the traffic jam caused by the old geezers the hallway was clear. I've got important shit to do, Jason mused as he shoved past the bouncing youngster and the old couple almost knocking the gray haired woman down as he passed. “See you soon.” the old woman called sweetly her face lighting up in a too broad smile. Jason paused for a moment surprised by the unnatural width of her toothy grin.

Wel,l I guess we found the Joker’s mom. He laughed to himself.

“Have a wonderful day in Dallas.” The flight crew called after him as he left the plane. Dallas hell, Jason thought, If I have to stay in this god forsaken city for 30 minutes it will be 30 minutes too long.

A faint sickly smell of raw sewage met Jason as he raced up the gang way and into the center of the bustling terminal. Jeez-us, can't they maintain their plumbing in this hick state? he thought, scanning the walls for the departure and arrival screens. 
Finally finding them, he searched the long list of flights locating the one he needed. Connecting Flight 333 DFW to Los Angeles. Next to this was displayed: “Now Loading—Gate 13”.

Jason raced along the hallway counting down the gates until he found himself across from gate 13. Rushing up to the gate desk he found himself behind an old woman speaking softly with the attendant.

As he waited, Jason scanned the milling passengers. Virtually everyone waiting for the flight seemed to be kids or geezers. Looks like the last leg of this flight was going to be pure hell.

The old woman in front of him finally thanked the man helping her and giving Jason a quick smile, she shuffled off. Jason sent an evil look after her then stepped up and presented his tickets to the agreeable man behind the counter.

After a quick examination, he shoved the tickets back. 

I'm sorry sir.” he said. “You're at the wrong gate.”

“What the hell is this!” Jason screamed. “I'm already late because of you assholes and I'm not missing my god damn flight!”

“I'm so sorry,” he said smiling broadly. “Gate 23 is what you want. It’s just up the causeway to your left. You can't miss it.” 

Briefly Jason saw a red flame flicker in the man's eyes. Turning, Jason looked over his shoulder for the light source which had been reflected in the man's eyes but saw nothing. 

That's weird, Jason thought returning his attention to the attendant.

“Sir?” the attendant said. “Gate 23. Just up on your left.” 

“Oh fuck off.” Jason said, grabbing the tickets, and stomping off in the direction the attendant had pointed. 

As he raced along Jason noted that he seemed to be the only one with somewhere to go. It’s no wonder, he told himself, examining the crowd. Most everyone here’s an old codger or a screaming kid. Most of people he passed looked up from books or conversations to follow him with their eyes. All smiling at him with strange toothy grins.

Spotting gate 23, Jason raced to the desk and shoved across his tickets.

“Still loading right?” he asked.

“Not yet sir.” the woman said picking up his tickets, examining them.

“But I see you're in the wrong area. You want gate 17.”

“What!” Jason screamed, red faced. “Your god damn cohort at gate 13 sent me here! Do any of you incompetents know what in the hell you're doing?!”

Behind him an old couple with three small children bumped into him.

“Hey watch it!” Jason said spinning on them. “Keep your damn brats under control.”

“I'm so sorry sir.“ the attendant said to Jason when he had returned his attention to her. “But I assure you, your flight is loading right now. Gate 17.”

“Give me those.” he said, snatching the tickets from her hand with a snarl.

Behind him the old woman with a toddler in her arms smiled at him graciously, the child offering him a slobber coated ball.

“Ba ba” the child cooed. 

“Isn't that sweet” the woman behind the desk giggled, “They're so cute when they're hungry.”

Hissing in anger, Jason walked into the hall scanning once again for departure screens along the wall. Finding one, he carefully searched the list of flights until he found the listing for Los Angeles flight 333.

Around him other passengers crowded closely, a child tugging at Jason's shirt.

Shrugging the shirt out of the child's grasp he saw a grubby wet stain where the child had grabbed him. 

“I'm so sorry.” The old woman holding the child cooed. “He gets like this when he's hasn't eaten.”

Harumphing, Jason stepped closer to the screen making sure of the information: “Gate 18—Now Boarding” it read. God I hate kids, he thought, as children tugged at him from the crowd that had gathered around the screens. 

Striding away, a large TV screen caught his attention; a news feed flashed video of an explosion. Moving closer he saw a large fireball roll across the screen in high definition; wings and tail of an airplane barely visible tumbling through the burning carnage. 

Below the repeating video a ticker tape scrolled: Fatal Air Crash At Dallas Airport. Flight ….” 

Rushing to the bank of windows forming the terminal walls Jason looked out at the runways and saw—nothing. Planes coming, going. Baggage carts racing here and there.
Looking around he saw that a crowd was beginning to grow around him and the TV. 
Other than the crowd and the growing awful smell nothing seemed out of order. Except that everyone here seemed to be either ancient or a kid it was a typical day at the airport.

Jason shoved his way through the crowd and back to the TV. Below the video of the crash he waited for the ticker tape to scroll again. Around him other curious passengers were crowding close, the sickly sweet smell of decay growing.

“Fatal Air Crash At Dallas Airport. Flight 333 From New York To Dallas. No Survivors.”

Jason pulled the ticket from his pocket and examined it.

“Flight 333 From JFK To DFW” the ticket read. “Connecting Flight 333 DFW to LAX”. Oh my god that's the flight I was just on, he thought. But there was no crash. I just walked off that plane...unless.

Looking down Jason felt a cold chill as two drooling toddlers yanked at his pants leg, a red flame flickering in their eyes. “Hey mista, ready to play?” one asked.


Jeff Dosser is a burgeoning writer living with his family on their wooded property outside of Norman Oklahoma. Retired from the Tulsa Police after eighteen years of service, he works as a software developer and spends his free time writing and cycling through the Oklahoma hills. Jeff’s short stories have been picked up by Shotgun Honey, Bewildering Stories, Down in the Dirt, and Pulp Fiction magazines. His first novel, The Crew, is slated for publication summer 2017. 

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