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Thriller – Part one

2010
03.29

It was snowing in Prague as the plane landed, the runway barely visible to Alex as he gazed out of his allotted square of vision. He thanked whatever god was responsible for the pilot knowing what he was doing, and uncurled his fingers from the ends of the armrests. These damned flights, he thought, bitterly. They were the worst thing about this job by a mile.
He and the other passengers obediently followed the usual instructions and even though he knew them backwards, they somehow always made him feel less safe. The thought that his being kept alive appeared to depend on his own small actions, like having a mobile phone switched on or forgetting a seatbelt, was not a comforting one. He would have been happier to leave all of the safety procedures to the capable manufacturers of planes and their staff, and not have any input into it whatsoever. Alex also very much suspected that in any event that resulted in the plane plummeting to earth, a seatbelt may just be a moot point. Or alternatively, it might be the thing that kills you.
The seat, now upright, was so close to the one in front he could have kissed it, but he always travelled economy class. The advantages of being largely ignored by the plane staff outweighed certain comfort sacrifices. The main reason – he didn’t want to be remembered, and unless you physically attacked the stewards in economy, you were invisible. Not exactly essential for the job but Alex just found it downright useful.
He waited until the majority of stag weekenders and young couples – the only two groups of people frequenting the city nowadays – had stepped off the plane and into the tunnel, then slid his briefcase out from the overhead compartment and followed them.
He was supposed to be meeting Katka this time, one he’d met before and was unlikely to forget. As he waited for his phone to welcome him to whatever network they used here, he weighed his options in case she was late, as they often were. Baggage first, of course, the dreaded carousel. Then perhaps some food.
Alex walked smartly to the offending conveyor belt and waited where the first cases would appear once the thing actually started moving. His watch told him it was three thirty, Czech time. If anything the plane had been ahead of schedule, he told himself lightly; she would be there as these people always were. Always would be, probably.
Freedom certainly did have its price.

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