Bill Hammons: Writing and Running in Boulder, Colorado

BILL HAMMONS: WRITING AND RUNNING IN BOULDER, COLORADO
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51


After the scenery outside the nearest window began to move in the opposite direction as the plane, Bettmann slowly opened the e-book he had brought on board with him, and pretended to read the Sunday New York Times while glancing over the upper edge of his tablet at the long stretch of seatbacks before him. His eyes strained for a sight of Korsakova's clone in an attendant's uniform, but saw no familiar faces.

It was as soon as the plane reached its cruising altitude that the terror began for the innocents. Bettmann, from the main level towards the front of the plane, was able to watch a cloud of tear gas and two gasping pilots emerge from behind the reinforced cockpit door. Moments after the door opened, several passengers in first class stood up from their seats wearing gas masks and strode toward the open cockpit. Two of them stepped over the disabled pilots before the other two bent down to tie the pilots' hands with neckties.

Bettmann gripped the edges of his tablet, and watched as the air marshal assigned to the flight rose from his seat gripping a carbine he had carried on board in a shoulder bag. The cockpit door closed with a snap, as the two remaining hijackers placed their hands behind their heads per the instructions of the shouting law enforcement officer.

The marshal's rifle was not aimed behind him, however, and he was unable to return the fire of four bullets that pierced his back in quick succession. Bettmann had watched passively during the invasion of the cockpit as teak pistol parts, each carried separately onto the plane by one of his teenage neighbors, were assembled into whole guns, and now scores of these guns were wielded by youths who advanced to strategic points throughout the cabin. The hijackers shouted at their fellow passengers to stay calm and remain seated as the wails of panicked women filled the interior of the plane.

It was as soon as the last gun-toters had taken up their positions and braced themselves in anticipation that the plane changed course and the sun shifted outside the portside windows to indicate the new direction: southeast.


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