Bill Hammons: Writing and Running in Boulder, Colorado

BILL HAMMONS: WRITING AND RUNNING IN BOULDER, COLORADO
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53


But then those shoulders tightened once more with the plane's sudden lurch to the left. Bettmann and his silent neighbors, silent save for a little girl who no longer sang but only whimpered against her mother's bosom, were further confused by a team of captors who purposefully strode to the rear of the plane and retrieved several footlockers from spaces that Bettmann would have assumed were meant for meal trays. As the four footlockers were carried back up the aisles of the climbing aircraft by eight men who had changed out of catering uniforms, Bettmann realized he had been let on board the plane by clones.

Only Bettmann and a few others in the opposing corners of the rear of the plane could watch the unpacked contents of the footlockers being put to use in the cabin's midsection. A large steel ring two meters in diameter was fitted over an emergency door by means of a rubber suction edge, this after four small bricks of explosive plastic had been placed on the four corners of the door. Two sheets of curved, overlapping steel strips were opened and manipulated to form a flexible tube that looked like a gigantic opaque Slinky from Bettmann's youth, and this was attached to the steel ring. The plane shook with the detonation of the explosives, and Bettmann saw the outblown door streak past the portside windows and past the John Glenn, the starboard side of which was not more than ten meters from the A-three-eighty's fuselage.

The steel tube which had acted as a blast container and atmospheric wall was now elongated with steel rods driven by two electric motors carried in the footlockers. The tube protruded from the fuselage of the hijacked plane towards the John Glenn, which failed to take evasive action despite its superior speed and maneuverability.

With a peek out the last left-hand passenger window, Bettmann saw the magnetosail's three tentacles, their ends studded with steel barbs, dangling from the indingo reaches of the morning sky. The John Glenn slowly rose up to join its three corners to those tentacle ends that were moving through the stratosphere with just enough speed to prevent the John Glenn's jet engines from stalling, but the hijacked Airbus foiled this planned copulation at the last moment, inserting a wing between a tentacle and the nearest corner of the spacecraft. The same movement joined the outbound end of the hijacker's steel tube to a portal on the John Glenn's dorsal side, and Bettmann looked away from the window to watch a gasmasked hijacker clamber into the new tunnel between the two craft.





































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