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Voices of excited Arabic people and thunderous intercom announcements echoed throughout the crowded airport’s cavernous hallway. Eliza cringed. She turned her back to the frenzy and fidgeted with her head scarf. A large man bumped into her and muttered a curse in Arabic.
Her knowledge of the complex language drove home the risk she was taking – travelling alone in a country with a history of treating women harshly.
Again, she checked the airport’s arrivals and departures digital board. ‘United Air 719 – DELAYED’.
Her gut flipped. Why are they so late?
As Eliza gazed at ‘DELAYED’, she heard screams and explosions, witnessed fire blazing in a dark void. She barely contained a shriek. Stop it, just fucking stop it! She shivered as the vision faded. A sense of foreboding urged her to run. Find the next plane out of RIPT and get the hell back to Dubai.
In the Middle East, a foreigner appearing nervous could be considered suspect. Eliza had to consciously keep her shoulders down and shift into a relaxed stance. She noticed two guards. They looked at her as a hawkviews prey. She shuddered.
She felt every heartbeat in her throat. Damn! Look like you’re trying to find a place to sit. Hurry. Eliza picked up her orange backpack and hoisted it to her back. She slung the strap of her brown leather handbag over her shoulder. Just as she reached for the handle of her charcoal grey canvas suitcase, a large tanned hand got to it first.
“Come with me, miss,” the guard ordered in English. He moved onward with her suitcase expecting she’d follow him.
The second guard positioned himself close behind her. “Move,” he commanded. “Follow the guard.”
She heard him shift the AK-47 in his hands. Its metallic scent escalated her fear. She felt her backpack being pulled off. The man shoved her forward. People began to point and stare at her. “Have I done something wrong?”
“Do as you’re told and you will not be harmed.”
She heard a child shriek. Her feet felt heavy. Sounds disappeared.
Her mind began to whirl with incoherent thoughts. Focus, damn it. Control the triggers, the madness. She knew the crushing effect of her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – the loss of rationale thought in seconds.
A strong hand gripped her shoulder. “Move!” the rear guard shouted. “Now, or you will be arrested for being uncooperative. Understand?” He shook her hard. “Understand?” he shouted.
She jerked her shoulder away from his hand. Ratcheting up her bravado, she glared back at the man. Her daring appeared to have surprised him momentarily. “Fine. Where are you taking me?” she demanded.