An Upset Stomach Leads to Disaster - Flash Fiction

ABSTRACT (Flash Fiction): A short story about people, planes, and stomach aches.

He had made it to the security gate with only twenty minutes to go before his flight took off. He waited anxiously in line with the myriad other passengers trying to get past the TSA checks. Time seemed to pass in slow motion, as the mass of women, men, and children filed one by one through the checkpoint. He looked at his watch and thought, "I still have time." He took a photo of his wife and their three boys out of his shirt pocket and whispered, "I'll be home soon."

As he waited in line, tiny beads of sweat began to form along his brow; he quickly wiped them away. He reminded himself that he still had time. In response, his stomach began to rumble-voicing its anger over its last meal. He instinctively rubbed at his stomach area in a fruitless effort to calm his intestines.
A few minutes after he entered the line, he made it to one of the three TSA guards acting as gate keepers. He quickly handed the bored looking young man his license and plane ticket. The youth briefly scanned the items, initialed the boarding pass, and waved him on. He smiled his thanks and moved to the next checkpoint thinking, "One down, one to go; I'm almost home." His stomach pains became more pronounced. He told himself, "No time to worry about that now."

He quickly removed shoes, tie, and suit coat and posited them in a container to be scanned. He took the family photo out of his pocket, kissed it, and put it in another box. He quickly looked at his watch--10 minutes remaining to the last boarding call--and then placed it in the same container along with his billfold, loose change, a pocket chemistry book, and a smartphone. He checked his pockets to make sure he didn't have anything else hidden away and stepped into the body scanning machine. He had begun to sweat profusely now and the stomach pains were becoming much worse, as was the grumbling. He and his possessions passed through the scanner without a hitch.

One of the security guards, a middle-aged man with a kindly face, asked him if he was okay. He replied, "I'm fine. It's probably just a cold."

He checked his watch and thought, "Five minutes to last boarding. I can make it!" He quickly donned his suit coat, put his tie and other items in his pockets, and ran as fast as he could. After dodging around several fellow travelers, with apologies to each one, he finally came to his flight area. Sweat poured down his face and appeared on his hands and (unseen) under his arms. The dash had apparently aggravated the contents in his stomach, and tendrils of white hot pain were shooting through his intestines. To his ears, the rumbling in his stomach now sounded like the roars of a great beast, though a quick look around indicated that no one else seemed to notice.

When he gave the ticket to the boarding attendant, she took one quick look at it and then stared at him for a second before asking, "Dr. Houston, are you okay?"

He replied, "I am fine. I just have an upset stomach; it's nothing to worry about. I'll be home soon." Smiling, he took out his family photo and showed it to her.

She said, "Aww, the kids look so cute. Okay Dr. Houston--if there is anything we can do for you on this flight, let us know. Luckily, the plane will only be in the air for about 25 minutes. So, you will be home shortly."

He thanked her and walked down the runway and into the airplane.

Airplane - Microsoft Office

Five days later, an excited anchorwoman cut into the regularly scheduled programming on one of the major television channels and said, "We have a breaking update on the cause of the crash last Friday which killed all 95 passengers on a McDonnell Douglas DC9-50, flying from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia. It appears that a Ph.D. chemist by the name of Arnef Houston is the person responsible for bringing down the plane.

Details are sketchy, but a source with the FBI says that the agency found a suicide note in Dr. Houston's apartment claiming responsibility for the disaster. The agent states that Dr. Houston was angry at the court system for not convicting a drunk driver of manslaughter in the deaths of his wife and children three years ago. He felt that it would be fitting revenge to destroy a plane with connections to two of the most important U.S. cities before going to 'heaven' to be with his family. He also thought that his act would bring attention to what he believed was a corrupt and inefficient court system.

The source also states that, in his suicide note, Dr. Houston claimed to have ingested explosive materials. They were wrapped in a chemical gel that would react to the acidic juices in his stomach and eventually ignite the explosive materials. The agent says at this time the FBI is not sure what materials were used or how they worked together to create the explosion. He said the agency is very worried that other terrorists could use this technique, and that it would be nearly impossible for the TSA to stop this type of threat. The FBI member requested to remain anonymous, as he is not authorized to discuss the investigation.

We will keep you posted as we learn more details about this tragic event."

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