I rushed through the Philadelphia Airport. Only I could wake up two hours early and still be running late for my plane. No one was going fast enough. Certainly not security. Certainly not the bonehead in front of me that had to go through the metal detector so many times he was pat-down.
The hands on my watch raced as I wish I could. They jerked forward past my departure time as it sat in the x-ray box. If only it could have been running fast.
People rushed around me. Left. Right. Colliding with each other. And One tripping over someone else’s wheeled luggage.
How was I ever supposed to find my plane in this mess? It’s small, minuscule to all the other flights going out, but the only one that could get me to California in time.
Besides my lack of luck, I found my plane still on the ground. A man in a brown aviator jacket waited in the plane’s doorway. While looking down at his watch, the brim of his hat hid his expression.
At the top of the stairs, I was met by a deep stare and an unmoving scowl. “You’re finally here, Mr. Conway,” he told me.
“I’m glad you’re still here.”
“Gas leak on the runway early delayed all subsequent flights. Please, take a seat.” He tried to sound pleasant but even his walking away created a cloud of annoyance.
Past the pilot, there were only a few rows of blue seats on each side. They sat as couples by each port window. All were empty - all except one.
Only a streak of brown could be seen from behind the first row. From the row opening, on the other hand, I saw a boy with narrow black glasses sitting in the window seat. He had a grey backpack on his lap, reading a book about a fourth of the way through.
I couldn’t bear the thought of spending an eight-hour flight alone, so I sat down next to him. He didn’t look up at me, but he gave me a droned hello. He didn’t say another word as he continued to read.
After the plane lifted off, the boy pulled down the table tray, placing his bag and glasses case on it. Without missing a step, he turned the page and went on ignoring me.
Hours went by where the only sound was him flipping pages, one by one. It was so normal it concerned me every time it stopped. My attention dart towards him just to see him trade his book for another equally thick book.
No matter how many times it happened, I still jumped. Though I wrenched my neck less and less with each book.
When I turned slowly, casually, I was met by a different scene. No open book. A pair of glasses staring back at me from their bed in the case. The boy was resting his head on the armrest next to the window. His jacket hood was up and his eyes were closed.
He was asleep, out of nowhere. Nothing this kid did made much sense. And no matter how much he ignored me, I couldn't ignore him.
Him. His books. His glasses. His glasses. An idea popped, and a burning came from my pocket.
I fished out a USB Drive from my left inside pocket. With only two fingers, I placed it under his glasses in the case. As I began to shut the case, his hand clenched down on my wrist like a carpenter’s clamp.
“What are you doing,” he said, faint and dazed. He stared up at me with his brown eyes as his head still laid on the rest.
“I thought you were asleep.” I panicked.
Releasing my wrist, he pushed himself up in his chair. “I'm a light sleeper.”
“I’m sorry,” I stuttered.
“Now, why is a government agent is trying to slip me something?” He picked up my USB and twisted it around in his fingers.
“It’s not a harsh as you~. Agent?” I sat up like a plank of wood.
“You dropped your badge on the floor…,” he quickly glanced down and back up, “Sebastian.”
I dropped my gaze as well and there it was, plain as day. With reddening cheeks, I scooped it up. As I raised, I was eye level with his table tray. “How did you read~.”
“I’m farsighted. Just because the distance between me and my books isn’t enough doesn’t mean the floor isn’t,” he said, biting my head off. He stopped looking at me and started knocking one end of the drive stick then the other.
“What’s your name, kid?” I elbowed him, in a joshing way.
“Well, Steven, I guess I should level with you.” I planted my hands in my lap. “How old are you?”
“Unlike my current manner, I’m thirteen.”
I couldn’t believe it. I might only be a novice agent but getting found out by and spilling my beans to a boy barely a teenager. No matter the advancedness of his book choices, it didn’t hurt my pride any less.
“I’m on a case. An important one. I need to get to California as fast as I can but in the discreetest way possible.”
He turned back to me. “Because you have some important information.”
“Very important. And extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.”
“I see.” He nodded along.
Looking him dead in the eye, I said, “The justice of more than a thousand lives depends on this information getting to the right people in San Fransisco.”
“And I am,” he annunciated, holding up the drive between us.
“Up to a few minutes ago, a clueless boy I was going to use as a safe deposit box until I found and knew for sure who the right people were. I’m sorry.”
“People always underestimate me. It’s nothing new.” He shook his head slightly as he spoke.
“I’m sorry about that. I’m a special agent; I’m not supposed to be like normal people.”
“I’ll keep this safe if you still want me to.” He had straightened his head forwards.
I like to think it was to hide some emotion from me. “Thank you, Steven.”
“Don’t mention it.” His voice had quieted.
The man that had waited in the door earlier came our way. He knelt on the front row seats, one knee on each. “Is everything alright?” he asked through a nervous smile and dart-like eyes glaring at me.