First in a series of Flash Fiction shorts that I’m writing while in Thailand. I’m allowing myself a maximum of two hours per story so please forgive the rough edges. Cheers!
Owen Gibbon was getting out and getting out alive.
He couldn’t believe it.
Eight hundred something thousand dollars stashed in cryptocurrency, two guys bleeding out in that shitty East New York motel room, and him taxiing down the runway about to leave it all behind for a life of blender drinks and European backpackers with loose morals. Just him and Gaston, finally free.
Speaking of whom, swaddled in his bullshit service animal vest, Gaston the sausage dog made a plaintive whine.
“Shh, kid. We’re almost gone.”
The guy sitting in 23F looked sideways.
The plane rumbled into the air. Owen exhaled and rubbed Gaston’s belly. The dog yelped. 23F glared. Something was wrong. Owen felt a hard cylindrical lump in the middle of Gaston’s belly.
It felt almost like a D cell battery.
Owen took slow breaths until the plane reached cruising altitude. He took out his phone and paid the money for wifi and waited, staring at the screen, waiting for one last fuck you. Some message telling him that it was all over, because you were never safe until you were wheels down on foreign soil.
Things seemed okay.
Owen moved his hand back to Gaston’s belly. Maybe it was a cramp. It didn’t feel like a cramp.
Gaston howled. Owen clamped the dog’s mouth shut, whispering a silent apology, glancing to see 23F staring out the window as if he hadn’t just been looking. Judging.
Antonio: You have three hours before that bomb I shoved up your dog’s ass explodes. Have a nice flight, asshole.
Cold water blood. Spine chills. A clenched sphincter. All of the fear responses at once. He had no idea how he managed not to scream out loud. His hand froze over the lump, afraid of jostling it. Gaston’s eyes locked with his, pleading.
The timestamp on the text message read 7:30. One hour ago. Two hours left. Maybe.
If he said anything they’d turn the plane around. He’d be dead inside the day. Even if he wanted to, he still had what, a half hour? Maybe? They’d land and the bomb squad would just blow Gaston to pieces.
The flight attendant cleared her throat. Owen took a small orange juice from the tray in her hands. He swallowed it down and handed it back. Stunned, she maneuvered the empty toward the rear of the tray.
“Excuse me.” He pushed past her with Gaston under arm. Locked the bathroom door behind him. You can’t go in there with. . . .
He knew that airlines dumped their toilet waste during flights. He’d seen it, or maybe heard that from somewhere? They were over an ocean. If he could dig the bomb out of Gaston, he could drop it down the toilet. Flush the thing. Forget all about it.
He could deal with a grudgy dachshund for a few days. No big deal, right?
He took off the dog’s service vest.
He stared at Gaston’s asshole.
What if he triggered the bomb? He’d lose a finger or a hand—and he’d lose Gaston. He’d be returned to New York and murdered in the hospital or in prison, which is exactly where he’d end up if he survived that long.
Owen threw up. Loudly.
The metal flap at the bottom of the toilet was pretty wide.
He couldn’t do it. Gaston looked at him with those eyes like he could see the thoughts in Owen’s head then he yelped. Loud.
In a fit of panic Owen did, actually, do it. He flushed and pushed on his little dog’s shoulders. Gaston gave him one last panicked look before he was sucked into the bowels of the airplane.
Owen threw up again.
He ran the water.
He walked back to his seat. Hands shaking.
23F gave him another glance.
“Mind your own fucking business.”
Tears rolling down his face, Owen picked up Gaston’s dog bag. He folded the service vest and slid it inside and had another cold shock.
The little plush dog. A chew toy. A stuffed chew toy. With a hard lump right in the middle.
Owen charged back to the bathroom.
He stuffed the animal into the toilet. He flushed again. Back to the seat.
This time 23F kept his fucking eyes to himself.
The flight map showed the plane over the Atlantic Ocean. Six more hours to Heathrow. Then a connecting flight and another ten hours. Then the Andaman Sea and as many strong drinks as it would take to forget that he’d killed his only friend for no reason at all.
A stuffed toy with a cherry bomb in it would fizzle out on its way to the ocean floor. Maybe poison a fish.
Owen didn’t have time to think about how a full grown dachshund would affect a drainage system meant for human waste. Or how a bomb small enough to fit inside a stuffed animal could be powerful enough to breach the aluminum hull of a commercial jetliner. Or if there had been two bombs anyway, how else would that lump have gotten into Gaston’s stomach?
In the moment after the explosions he did have time to meet the gaze of the man in 23F, but the man couldn’t hear Owen’s apology over the rush of air and the screeching aluminum and the screams of the other passengers.