Race To Mystery - Chapter 8

Michael Grundy was dreaming he was out fishing in the ocean somewhere. He heard a faint ringing noise. That's funny he thought, who would be ringing me out here? He awoke from his dream to hear his telephone ringing. It was Rebecca. “Mike, you need to get to the station as soon as you can”

“Huh, why? What time is it”

“It's just after five am. A Malaysian Airlines flight has gone missing. There are six contestants and three cameramen on board”

“Oh shit. What do they mean missing? Has it crashed? Who were the people on board?”

“Don't know. All they are saying is it is missing. Jut get here”

“I am on my way”

Michael arrived at the network a short time later. He went into the very same boardroom where they had the briefing with the contestants. Rebecca was already there, with the general manager and broadcast manager. The television was on, and there was a live stream of the news which was reporting on the missing plane.

“Greg, Richard, Rebecca, hi. So what have we got?”

Rebecca stood up. “Ok, so here it is. We have three pairs of contestants on the plane. Plus three cameramen. That makes nine people directly linked to us. The question is, how do we handle this? Do we continue the show, or can it? I guess it's up to you gentleman”

The general manager of the network, Greg Ritchie, cleared his throat “Ok, well we can't hide it. We will get our PR people to draw up a media statement. As far as I am concerned though, I think the show should go on. My heart goes out to the families, but this will give a huge boost in ratings for the show, just to see the moments leading up to them getting on the plane. What is the latest footage we have from the three couples?”

“We have some footage from the airport where they were all delayed” said Rebecca.

“I will assume the authorities will want to see that footage” said Michael. “I agree with Greg. It is unfortunate, but the show must go on. If the plane turns up somewhere we will make the necessary adjustments. Now Rebecca, who are the three pairs?”

“The sisters from Adelaide, the two young men from Tasmania and Brett and Chris from the Gold Coast”

“Oh really? Those two again?”

“Yes. They have been unlucky for sure”

“Any chance at all what happened the day before could be connected?” asked Michael.

“What happened the day before?” Asked Richard Morse, the broadcast manager.

“One of our cameramen, who happened to be the cameraman of the boys from the Gold Coast, got arrested by the Malaysian Police just after they landed in KL. The police nabbed all three of them at a train station and held them overnight. The cameraman was arrested and the boys were freed”

“And we are only hearing about this now?” asked Greg.

“Well it was not an emergency” replied Michael. “I sent you both an email regarding this issue yesterday. Obviously you have not seen it yet”

“Obviously not. Do not tell the media about that, the last thing we need is mindless speculation”

Back on the plane, panic had set in within the passengers. The crew were doing their best to calm everybody down, but with little success. Brett and Chris found the two sisters from Adelaide, Christine and Paula, and the two friends from Tasmania Lachie and Jake. The cameramen were there also, as was Hamza.

“What the hell is going on?” asked Christine.

“It's hard to say. Have we been hijacked? If so where are the hijackers?” said Brett.

They all looked at each other blankly. There was fear in all of their eyes, they all knew how hijackings end these days.

“Correct me if I am wrong” said Lachie. “But don't they just shoot down planes that are hijacked now? You know to stop the plane from killing more people like in 9/11?”

“Ummm…..i guess so. But this doesn't seem right, what do they mean they no longer have control of the plane? Who has control of it? Maybe we are just being diverted by the military, who knows” replied Brett.

Just as he spoke, there was an announcement over the loud speaker. “Ladies and Gentleman, this is your captain speaking. Just to update we will be landing in approximately three and a half hours. Please continue to remain calm. Your flight crew will be serving meals and refreshments as per usual, please stay in your seats if possible and we will update you just before we start our descent”

“Well there it is. Obviously just something minor. I think we will be ok” said Jake.

“I wouldn't bet on it” said Brett. “I wonder where the hell we are going”

Everyone returned to their seats. Not long after the meals were starting to get served. Brett did not feel very hungry but thought he better eat, who knows when they would eat next, or if they would need the energy.

“Mate we need to come up with a plan” said Chris.

“Yeah you are right” replied Brett. “I think we just play it cool, do what we are told. We do not know what is going on, who we are dealing with. They just aren't going to kill everybody on board you know, you can't just make 200 people disappear”

“Yeah you are right. But I think we need to stay alert mate. Just on that, did you notice those blokes sitting a few rows up from us?”

“Nah, which ones?” asked Brett.

“Three guys, one of them is Asian, maybe Korean or Chinese. It's a bit odd that's all. Everyone has been asking questions, walking around, panicked almost. These three guys have just been sitting there as if nothing has happened at all, watching movies and the like. It's like what is happening is just normal”

“Hmm can't say I noticed that. I might go to the toilets towards the front and check it out”

Brett got up and went to towards the toilets. As he walked past the three men, he had a casual look. Chris was right. Two of the men were watching a movie, and the Asian man was reading what looked to be a book or report of some kind. He went to the toilet and on his way back slowed down as he walked past them, gave them a nod and said hello. All three of the men smiled and nodded their heads, and went back to what they were doing.

“You are right mate” said Brett. “That's pretty weird. But I guess they are just taking the captains orders. They look amazingly calm”

“I know. I think we better keep an eye on them though”

The crew were run off their feet, and being bombarded with questions about what was going on. The answer was the same. They knew just as much as everyone else. Brett and Chris each ate their meal and drank some coffee. Brett was feeling tired but there was no way he was going to sleep. Despite this he drifted away into a half sleep, a sleep which was very uneasy. He was woken by another announcement. “Ladies and Gentleman, this is your captain Naim Aziz. I would just like to inform you that we are about to start our descent. We will be landing in approximately fourty twenty minutes. Please take your seats and remain calm. When we have landed I urge you to remain in your seats until you are told otherwise. You will be given more information once we have landed. Thank you for your cooperation”

“Well, this is it” said Naim.

“Yes” replied Younus. “At least the sun is almost up. We should get a good look at it, and the wind is calm. Have you ever been here before?”

“Not in person” said Naim. “But I have done this landing in my flight simulator”

“Oh really…how did it go”

“It was tight. We have to get it spot on, or we run off the end. There is deep swamp at the end of the runway, according to my simulator anyway”

“I see. Well we just need to try”

“No choice. Ok, engines at half speed, how is our speed looking?”

“All good, 450 kilometres and hour. I will steady it at 250”

They did a right hand turn and they caught their first glimpse of the island in the distance. Naim reduced the air speed, and everything was looking good. As they approached the runway, they could see vehicles in the distance. Naim eased the plane down onto the runway, reversed the engines and applied the brakes. The runway was bumpy and they took a couple of small bunny hops.

“Too fast” said Naim, applying full brakes.

“Not to worry, I think we have it”

The plane came to a halt within metres of the end of the runway. Naim could see dense shrubs and water at the end. If they had ended up in there, they were not leaving here, not ever.

Chris looked out of the window as they came in to land. “Mate, we are in the middle of the ocean? What the hell is he doing?” .Everybody on the plane now was crowded at the windows, ignoring the seatbelt light. On the left Chris made out an island. “There's an island of sorts there, surely we aren't landing on that?”

“Mate there is nothing else” said Brett.

They continued to peer out of the window. The ocean looked beautiful, calm and almost green. “Mate it's the Indian Ocean” said Chris. “It's always green like this”

“I think you are right. But where the hell is this? The Maldives maybe?” replied Brett.

“It could be anywhere. I suggest we hang on though”

The plane landed and there were some screams and exclamations form the passengers as they hit the bumps. They finally came to a stop on the mystery island. It was a clear, sunny morning and it appeared to be very still. There was some light vegetation around the runway, and in the distance there appeared to be a beach with some palm trees. A number of four wheel drive vehicles were parked near a small hanger at the end of the runway, along with what appeared to be two large cranes and there were no other visible buildings as far as Brett could tell. The engines slowly came to a stop and there was a strange silence on board the plane. The loudspeaker broke the silence. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have arrived at our preliminary destination. Please remain seated and await instructions from the crew. Please can all passengers refrain from using any telephone or electronic device. All such transmissions are currently blocked from this location and I have been informed that anyone caught using any such device will be dealt with in a severe manner, so I sincerely hope you do not put yourself or anyone else at risk of harm. Crew members can you please deploy the inflatable slides so that the passengers can disembark”

Brenton, Simon and Heng say silently and watched everything unfold around them. There were people with AK-47's and balaclavas over their faces outside scurrying around, and in the meantime the two cranes had also started to move, with what looked like giant parachutes dangling below them. The crew had opened the doors and were rolling out the inflatable slides. Most of the people in the plane were silent, although it sounded like a baby was crying towards the back of the plane. “Ok, just remember” said Brenton quietly. “We act like normal passengers. At one stage we start to make noise and complain. They will then remove us from the rest of the passengers and then we are good. Noone on this plane can know we are involved in any way”

Simon and Heng both nodded there heads and soon it was time to get off of the aeroplane. All of the passengers were being assembled in a row outside as they came of the slide. The three men slid down and joined everyone else outside of the plane and soon everyone was off, with the crew and then the pilots being the last ones. As soon as the pilots were off, several people scurried up the slide and into the plane. They were standing there for about five minutes when a man stepped forward, his face covered by a balaclava also. “Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to Diego Garcia” he said, in what sounded like an American accent. “My Name is Lance Newman, and I am from the United States Military. As some of you may know, this island is home to one of our military bases. We would like to apologise for this diversion of your plane, but this was done purely for your safety. We have reason to believe that this plane was going to get hijacked and flown to Iran”

Everybody started to murmur and nod their heads. Lance continued “Unfortunately we are not aware of exactly who the hijackers are, and for this reason we cannot allow any of you to contact anybody outside of this island. Please cooperate with us and we will get you home as soon as we can. We have an underground bunker here which you will find to be more than comfortable. All of your needs will be met, and we assure you that you will not stay here a minute more than is required. Now if you can all follow myself and my colleagues down into the bunker so we can get you all comfortable as soon as possible”

Lance moved towards the hangar, and all of the passengers and crew started to follow, with some guards behind them. Brett and Chris were walking in the middle of the pack of passengers when they heard what sounded like an argument behind them. “We are American citizens, you cannot simply detain us like this”.

“Yes, I agree, we want answers” yelled another voice.

Everybody stopped. It was the three men that were sitting together that Chris had noticed acting suspiciously on the plane. Lance turned around and approached the three men, who were now surrounded by four of the guards.

“Can I help you gentlemen?”

“Damn right you can. You cannot just detain us like this, what is this, Guantanamo?” yelled Brenton.

“We would like to call the embassy” chimed in Heng.

“I am sorry gentlemen but that is impossible. Unfortunately this is a terrorist situation, and we have the right to detain anyone who is a suspect for as long as we need”

“Bullshit” said Simon. “We will not go in there. I am staying out here”

Lance gave a signal to the guards and they quickly had the three men cuffed, despite their protests. They were taken to the back of the hangar. “Now, is there anyone else that has a problem?”. He had lost his earlier cheerful demeanor. No one replied to him so he quickly started walking back to the hangar. The rest of the passengers followed.

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