COLLABORATED BY MALACHI GIBSON, LUKE CROUCH, AND CARTER PIERCE
“Please fasten your seatbelts,” a woman’s polite voice said over the intercom. It sounded a little scratchy, as if the overhead speaker wasn’t working quite right.
Which, if his inside man had done his work, would be exactly the case.
Ivan Molchalin polished his thick round glasses with the hem of his suit jacket, replacing them on his face a little awkwardly. There was a lump on his nose he wasn’t quite used to. He methodically buckled his seat belt, situating his oxygen tank on the floor between his legs, and looked out the window to his left.
Someone sat down in the seat to his right. A thin man in a brown tweed suit with dark circles under his eyes and a day’s shadow of a beard on his cheeks.
Perfect, Ivan thought. He’ll be asleep in no time.
The plane took off presently, instructions coming over the speakers. Ivan didn’t really pay them attention. All the safety precautions were about to be useless. Besides, only about two thirds of the words were intelligible. Static was getting pretty bad. Somewhere there was a loose wire, waiting for the speaker to move enough to break it.
And attached to that wire was a car battery that could fry most of the connected wires in the system in about twenty seconds. As soon as it was broken . . . no more radio.
The man to his right, just as he’d predicted, quickly fell asleep.
Ivan reached into the small white bag that accompanied his oxygen tank and withdrew a brand-new iPad. Most people used those bags for extra parts for their tank. Not Ivan. He needed that space for other things.
He booted up the iPad and went directly to the news. Anyone watching would quickly become uninterested. After about ten minutes of this, he calmly pulled down the menu and opened the Wi-Fi properties window.
Two minutes later he’d hacked into the plane’s communication system.
Next, he uploaded an obnoxious soundtrack to the onboard computer. A moment later it blasted through the speakers, deafening the passengers with its sharp squeal and harsh static.
Then everything went silent.
Perfect. Tom had done his job.
But the passengers had been frightened by the unexpected noise: they were standing up and asking questions and trying to figure out what had happened.
The stewardess came through a door at the front of the plane, and all eyes turned in her direction. Now they’d be told what was going on.
The stewardess seemed a little worried, but she was obviously trying not to show it. “Our communications have been interrupted. We’ll have them up and working again in a few minutes. Please be patient.”
People took seats again, whispering to each other. What had happened? Why were communications not working? Could the plane still talk to the ground, or had that connection been cut as well? What was going on?
No one noticed the old man by the window, scrolling calmly through the news.
Ivan took a long, slow breath, trying to calm his racing heart. He was almost ready for the final stroke.
Nobody on the plane would ever worry again.
Copyright by Carter Pierce 2022 All Rights Reserved