Chapter 1 - Oh Crap It's the Full Monty!
Isaac looked across at his brothers, it was small consolation that they looked as bored as he felt. Still he had to admit to feeling a certain amount of satisfaction with himself. Recently turning eighteen had instilled Isaac with a sense of pride that he felt delegated him certain responsibilities. One of which was the ability to look after his brothers on his own - without anyone else standing by to take charge should Isaac fail. Of course their celebrity status did mean things were different for the Hanson brothers, in public a bodyguard was sometimes very necessary. Isaac wasn't stupid, he knew those risks but he still wanted a way to flex his newly grown up status. Isaac had fought his Dad long and hard for permission to fly back to America with Taylor and Zac - alone. At first Walker ruled it out as insane.
"Ordinarily," he explained, "of course you could, I trust you, I do trust you with the families well being quite often."
"Dad babysitting is not the same thing."
"I know this is frustrating Isaac. You knew what the consequences were when you chose music."
"I know Dad.... I'm not arguing that, I just don't like being treated like a kid all the time."
"Isaac you've got to take into account your special situation. Like it or not you and your brothers are a magnet for all the crazy's seeking attention out there."
"Dad we'll be on a plane! What can happen? The Mercury people will see us off in London and you and Mum will be waiting in New York. Besides I can defend me and Tay and Zac just as well as any bodyguard." Isaac subconciously flexed his muscles as remembered this point he had made. He smirked.
"Isaac...." He knew his Dad would continue arguing but in his mind he had relented. Hanson would be flying from London to New York unaccompanied.
"Coffee?" "Mmmmm?" Isaac looked blankly into the Stewardesses face.
"Hey Daydream Believer she asked if you wanted coffee." Isaac shot an evil look at Zac.
"Ummm no thanks." He smiled.
"What movie do you think they'll show?"
"I don't know Zac, are these three hour flights long enough for a movie?"
"I hope it doesn't have to be Titanic!"
"Yeah," groaned Taylor, "I think I've had about as much of Leo as I can handle."
"Hey Ike do you reckon these flights have time for a movie?"
"Its three hours isn't it? There's time."
"See!" Zac smirked at Taylor. Isaac looked at his brothers.
"It's Concord, its gotta have everything."
Zac appeared to be satisfied with this response.
"Hope its a R."
"Pervert!" Taylor giggled as Zac hurled a pillow his way.
"I meant violence moron. Although some hot chicks wouldn't be unappreciated."
"Neve Cambell would be good." Zac looked at Isaac, now he was getting it.
"You want me to ask the Stewardess? Hey Miss...." Taylor got a mouthful of pillow for his trouble.
Taylor looked around the first class cabin - this was a treat. Despite all that they had achieved the family still travelled economy when they went anywhere. Taylor had more than an inkling that this was their father's way of making sure they didn't get big headed. Well this was fine. Very fine. He stretched out his legs and marvelled at the fact that he could. The seats in economy were bunched together so tight.... was it any wonder he had to move his legs around as much as possible on stage? That thought made him stop - he was itching to get back on stage. The Summer tour, the Albertane Tour of Europe and North America had only whetted his appetite for performing. If he enjoyed himself onstage when it was just him and his brothers at a fair or a swimming pool he loved it now. When the lights went down they just owned that room. And the rooms were getting so large. Now after a few months in the studio committing songs to tape he wanted to play them for people who didn't know them. Seeing the reactions on the faces of the recording engineers and producer was one thing but those guys had been with them as the songs evolved into the finished or abandoned piece. No he wanted to play them for someone with a fresh ear. Were they as good as he thought they were or were they just fooling themselves? Not worrying about the expectations the music industry had for Hanson's new album Taylor had higher expectations himself.
"Oh crap it's The Full Monty!"
"What?" Zac looked at Taylor annoyed that he hadn't been paying attention to him.
"The movie - It's The Full Monty."
"So what? Its a good movie."
"We've seen it four times already. Stupid British Hotel pay-per-view, don't they have another movie?" Taylor laughed.
"And now British... Airways too!" Taylor creased his eyes and looked at Zac. Zac always did that little pause thing when he was dying to swear. "It's interesting," he thought to himself, "Our parents did such a great job instilling their values in us that we find it so difficult to swear."
Maybe there was a song in that.....
Zac threw down the inflight movie guide in disgust and peered out the window. The ocean was passing beneath them at what seemed like frightening speed. He naturally was thrilled to be travelling in a supersonic aircraft. That particular thrill hasn't worn off yet. But he hadn't realised how different the view out the window was at that speed. "Zac what are you doing?"
"Ike shift your head I wanna see out the window."
"You didn't want the window seat!"
"Don't steam your ears Ike, I only wanna look."
"Ow that's my rib!"
"OH stop being such a big baby."
Taylor looked over at Zac, "What do you see down there?"
"Sea I see sea."
"Sea see sea see see sea sea sea sea."
"I've got it Zac."
"See sea.... see see... (singing now) see see sea sea see."
"I'm going to have to..... gag you! Quick Ike do it, do it now!" Isaac grabbed Zac's jersey and pulled it up over his mouth.
"Mmmm mmuckers mmmomfmmfsdfmmm!"
"Ahhh much improved " smiled Taylor happily.
Zac's face grew very red, he yanked the magazine Isaac was reading out of his hands and rolled it into a stick. The stick he bought down hard between Taylors legs.
Taylor went very pale.
Pulling the jersey away from his mouth Zac leaned close to his traumatized brother and whispered, "It doesn't pay to mess with the Zac."
As they cruised over the North Atlantic the brothers amused themselves as best they could. Zac was right about The Full Monty, it wasn't as fun to watch the fifth time. Still this wasn't going to be a long flight. And once they reached New York they were grateful for the break they were going to get. But first class or not they were bored. "Ike I'm bored, I wanna do something."
"What would you suggest?"
"I don't know, I'm asking you, you are the older brother."
"Could you guys please shut it? I'm trying to sleep."
"Tay you're not fooling anyone, I know what you're doing."
"Oh yes Mr. Genius what am I doing?"
"Fantasizing about Cindy Crawford."
"Even so.... I need quiet."
"Dude she's married."
"I can overlook that."
"Ike I'm BORED!!"
As the trip entered its second hour Isaac wondered whether his brothers would ever stop bickering and whining. He sighed, "If this is what Mum and Dad have to put up with then I'm never getting married." The thought didn't sit easily with him. "Taylor move it."
"Get out of my way."
"What for Zac?"
"I want to go to the bathroom okay?"
"Fine. Don't expect me to move when you get back." Taylor was getting irritated.
"Fine... I'll climb over you then. Hope you don't mind the impressions these Doc Martens are going to leave in your legs." Zac was heading that way himself. Taylor pulled his legs up to his chest and let his brother past. He wondered why he and Zac were so argumentative these days. It's like anything can set us off now. He thought perhaps Zac was still holding a grudge from when he elbowed him on stage. Still Zac had exacted a pretty mean revenge. Stealing all his clothes so he had to wear those stripey clown pants again. Nah probably not. Taylor reasoned, He doesn't hold grudges this long. He decided it just must be weariness, tiredness came easily to Hanson these days. The break was really going to be worth it. Taylor looked over toward Ike. His brother looked just looked beat. Yep this break is really gonna be worth it....
Zac was just washing up and splashing some water on his face when he heard heavy footsteps outside the door. He thought for a moment that someone was going to come in but it appeared no. Zac relaxed and turned off the tap when the intercom crackled into life. "Ladies and Gentleman passengers..." it began, "It is my honour to inform you that the nation of Serbia has taken control of this aircraft..."
Isaacs eyes snapped wide open and he spun around in his seat to see a Serbian in Army uniform standing at the back of the cabin holding a machine gun. He wondered for a moment whether he could tackle him but the senselessness of that idea soon captured his attention. "Now what?" He thought.... Taylor couldn't believe what he was seeing or hearing, this was bizzare. He felt like a character in an action movie and actually felt some pride in the second before a wall of fear hit him.
"We have taken this plane and all those onboard hostage as a message to the criminal governments of the United States and Great Britain. They have repeatedly and maliciously interferred in Serbian domestic affairs and now they will pay the price. Our people have sent our demands to the Whitehouse and to Whitehall and you shall remain prisoner until they are fully met. Once all demands are met we will release this plane and its passengers and crew unharmed. The men you see in your cabins are officers in the Serbian Army and are trained to kill with deadly force. Please sit back and relax while we all wait for this situation to be resolved. That is all." Zac sat back down on the toilet, his face drained of blood. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and began shaking uncontrollably. "Pull yourself together man!" He told himself, "This is nothing you can't handle." Taking a few deep breaths to calm himself Zac got up and put his hand on the door handle. He thought for a second and stopped, stepping back he opened the small bathroom cupboard. He reached into his pants pocket and fished out the small cellphone his Dad gave them all for emergencies. Something told him to get rid of it. He put it into the cupboard as far back as it would go and tried to arrange some soap and toothbrushes to hide it. Then Zac shut the cupboard, flushed the toilet and turned on the tap to wet his hands. Now he opened the door and stepped out past the armed man and returned to his seat. The man didn't even give Zac a second glance. Taylor had already pulled in his legs and Zac squeezed past and into his own seat. He looked at his brothers, Taylor and Isaac were both as pale as he was. Zac took them both by the hand and held tight.
Chapter 2 - "So...You Are Hanson"
Zac was bored. He had been sitting here virtually immobile for what felt like hours, all the while staring at this terrorist fellow who was walking up and down and up and down the cabin holding his weapon and never showing any expression on his face. Zac eyed him up and down, the man turned his back and Zac leaned over to whisper to Tay. "I'm gonna talk to him."
"Are you crazy?"
"Zac wants to talk to the terrorist."
"Shhhh!" Zac hissed, "He'll hear us!" He sighed. Taylor had bought Ike into this. Good old level headed Ike, Zac didn't need his advice.
"He's not going to shoot me for talking to him!"
"How do you know?" What an idiot Tay was being, depressurisation, panic... didn't this mean anything to his brother. Zac tried to speak calmly.
"Look at him. He's a pro. He's not gonna shoot a hole in the aircraft just because I talk to him."
"How do you know he even speaks English?"
"Well that's what I'm going to find out..." Zac waiting until the man was just level with him and then leaned out and lightly tapped him on the shoulder.
"Excuse me...." The man looked down at Zac like you would look at a bug that had landed on you. Zac felt a chill down his spine.
"Can you? Can you tell us how long this is going to take?"
"I have orders. I am obeying my orders." The man's thick accent made deciphering his words a little difficult.
"Are we still heading for New York?"
"I have orders. I am obeying my orders." Zac wondered if this was the only English phrase the man knew, perhaps it was what he was to say to police when they are caught.
"Can you..." The man's radio crackled into life and he pulled away from Zac to talk into it. Clearly he was more fluent in another language. He finished talking into the radio and made his way to the front of the cabin. The intercom crackled to life again.
"Ladies and Gentlemen our soldiers will now be moving through the aircraft confiscating all cellphones and communication devices. In addition we will need your passports."
"Come on," said Taylor, "looks like they mean business." He and Ike pulled out their cellphones and Ike pulled out the passports he had been looking after for his brothers. Zac pretended to search for his cellphone.
"I haven't got it!"
"I've lost my phone."
"Zac Dad said we've got to make sure we always have those with us...." Ike tapped Taylor on the shoulder.
"Forget it, just hand these to him." As the man walked past Taylor handed him two cellphones and three passports. The man threw a disapproving glance at the three of them, perhaps wondering why three kids were carrying their own phones.
After a minute the intercom sprung to life again.
"And now Ladies and Gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure on Channel Four of your television sets you will find the ABC News Bulletin from New York City where in a matter of moments news of this hijacking will be announced to the world." Isaac, Taylor and Zac all tuned their televisions to channel four and put on the headsets.
Peter Jennings was reading the days stockmarket news.
"The Dow today reached a record high again which analysts are saying.... wait a minute, Ladies and Gentlemen we have a breaking news story for you.... The Whitehouse has just announced this. Flight 408, British Airways Flight 408 from London to New York has been hijacked by members of a Serbian Ultra Nationalist group. It appears this group took control of the aircraft... which is infact a Concord just over an hour ago. The flight has left its normal flight path but we have no information where it is heading. The Serbians have presented a list of demands to the British and American Governments. We are told these include the release of high ranking Serbian war criminals and the removal of all UN Troops from Serbian territory. Ladies and Gentlemen we at ABC will be staying with you live on air as this crisis unfolds. The President has been informed of this and we are told is preparing to make a statement..."
Isaac pulled off his headset and looked at his brothers. "First time we've made the ABC News."
Taylor got bored watching the round the clock coverage soon enough... he knew it was silly but he couldn't link himself and what he was experiencing with what was being said on the TV. All these years of constant television sensationalism had numbed him to even his own experiences... Taylor laughed grimly to himself at this thought. Other than the fact that their destination had changed from New York to Unknown there wasn't much different about this flight. The stewardesses have even started coming around again serving food. Granted they looked scared now and were not quite as cheerful as before but they were still trying to make everything seem normal. He had to admit the Airline really trained these girls well. When they were out of this he'd have some kind words to say about British Airways.... suddenly Taylor began to feel nauseous. The thought he had been trying to avoid had leapt to the front of his mind. If they get out of this.... frankly he could see no reason to trust these Serbian Nationalists just because they had guns in their hands. If anything that was a reason not to trust them! But he could sympathise with their plight... no he couldn't! What was he thinking!?! They had hijacked a plane and he was sympathising with them... maybe this stress has finally destroyed my last piece of sanity Taylor Hanson has. He looked at the man standing guard over them and wondered whether he could be trusted to keep to his leaders word. Trying to size this man up was useless. He showed no emotion whatsoever and as Zac had demonstrated the man didn't even seem to speak English. But he was calm which is a good thing. He hadn't even pointed the gun at any of them to reinforce his authority - he must be confident in his authority enough not to. That was good....
Isaac tugged on his arm.
"Taylor put on your headset." He wasn't even keeping his voice down. "They're talking about us."
Taylor put his head set back on and gave his full attention to the TV.
"...Taylor and Zac Hanson are travelling alone on a First Class ticket on Flight 408. They were to arrive in New York this evening for the beginning of a holiday having just completed the recording of their second album. For those of you who didn't hear me. Mercury Records has announced that Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson of the pop group Hanson are onboard flight 408 the hijacked aircraft. It is not known whether the hijackers are aware of who they have on board..."
"Well now they do." said Zac sarcastically to no one in particular.
"The plane which would have been due to land in New York just under fifteen minutes from now has been hijacked enroute by a group of Serbian Nationalists claiming to represent the Serbian People. Serbian Government sources have denied any involvement in the hijacking saying that the group involved is most likely a group of ex-army officers who resigned their commissions when Serbia declared a cease-fire in the Balkan conflict. We are now going to cross to John F Kennedy Airport in New York City where Cokie Roberts is standing by. Cokie there are many relatives waiting at the airport now for news of their loved ones..."
"Do you think they'll show Mum and Dad?"
"Nah they'll be hidden well away from the cameras."
"I hope Mackie and Avery and Jessica are okay."
"I wish we could get in touch with them...."
"So are scenes at the Airport reminiscent of past experiences when relatives have been waiting for news of a plane that has crashed? "
"No Peter this is slightly different. Obviously as far as we know, all the passengers are alive and well so the mood here is different... people are worried but they are optimistic too because anyone can plainly see it is not in the hijackers best interests to keep the passengers and crew safe and well. So what we have here are the beginnings of a vigil that will not end until everyone of those passengers is home with his or her loved ones."
"Glad to hear that Cokie, please relay to the loved ones waiting there our best wishes and prayers."
"Thankyou Peter I will."
A shadow fell across the Hanson brothers. They looked up to see a different hijacker standing over them. He was staring at them with a hard look on his face. This man had obviously seen more carnage than he could even remember. He spoke.
"So.... you are Hanson."
Chapter 3 - "I'll Buy You a Racing Camel"
Zac was the first one to speak up. He held out a shaky hand. "Hi, I'm Zac Hanson, these are my brothers Isaac and Taylor."
The man didn't shake their hands in return but he did acknowledge them each with a nod.
"My daughter has your CD..... she drives me crazy!"
Zac smiled, Taylor tried hard not to.
"But that song Weird.... that is a good song. I like that song."
"Thank you." said Zac.
"The people in New York they have been asking about you. They seem to think we might have done something to you. We need you to tell us something to let them know you are fine."
"Okay...." said Isaac. This was weird.
"Tell them Zac says Taylor still wets his bed."
Isaac smiled. "Yes tell them that."
Taylor nodded. "They'll know."
"Okay, Zac says Taylor still wet his bed."
"Okay. I will be back later."
With that he left, leaving three very confused teenagers behind.
The plane hadn't noticeably turned but Isaac could clearly see they were obviously headed in a different direction than New York. Where was the question. His first thoughts had been Serbia since these were Serbian terrorists but that made no sense. From what he remembered from his lessons Serbia was a small country and it was surrounded by Nato Powers on all sides. Not only would it be difficult to sneak an aircraft like this into the country it would be near impossible to hide it. And he doubted there was an Airport in Serbia that was equipped to take a Concorde. No he must think else where. Terrorists always seemed to head for countries hostile to the United States so it had to be one of those. Isaac scowled. America has pissed off so many countries in the past fifty years it's impossible to know where to start. North Africa though seemed likely, Libya had been the mortal enemy of the US for decades now and it was certainly large enough to hide a Concord and its passengers. Besides it was within range. That was something else he had to take into account. A Concord enroute from London to New York would probably be carrying enough fuel for twice that distance for safety but no more than that. Since they had now been in the air for about four hours or an hour longer than the flight is he knew they were going to be landing somewhere at least to refuel within two hours. And then what..... Taylor was thinking a little differently to his brother. He was worried about what was going to happen to them but he didn't particularly care where the terrorists took them. As long as they stayed together it would be fine. No. The mortal fear knawing at Taylor's stomach was that the terrorists would separate him and his brothers. He could think of no earthly reason why they would do that but the fear persisted. Frankly the idea was more terrifying than he cared to contemplate. This had all happened in such a strange way, they had just been sitting here when VOOM the plane was taken over by terrorists. Their lives were now in the hands of people he knew nothing about. Granted he knew nothing about the pilot of the plane either but he knew the pilot's job was to fly them from London to New York and he could be reasonably confident in his ability to do that. But this.... he had absolutely no idea about these people. And they him either, they had been caught up in this thing purely by chance. They could have chosen any flight, any airline to fly but they chose this one. What had fate conspired to do to them? This kind of thinking wasn't helping so Taylor tried to stop the flow of thoughts but he couldn't... he looked over at Isaac and Zac and felt the strength they gave him. If they were split up Taylor had no idea what he might do. Zac was as deep a thinker as his brothers but years of being the youngest had taught him skills to suppress fear and ignore unfairness. They were facts of life and he accepted them, just as he accepted the situation they were in now. What he was contemplating was how exactly they were going to get out of it. He had hidden the phone on a whim that had proved to be right so he knew before they got off the plane he would have to retrieve it. Well that shouldn't prove hard, his stomach was flip flopping and he expected the urge to vomit to surpass all others within minutes. He remembered a movie he had seen late at night on TV ages ago. It was about a plane that was hijacked and flown to Uganda where the Jewish passengers were kept prisoner at the airport in an attempt to force Israel to do something. He remembered Charles Bronson had been in it but despite that he'd continued watching. The Israeli Special Forces in the movie flew three planes all the way to Uganda under the range of radar and landed at the airport, shot all the terrorists, held off the Ugandan Army and rescued all but one of the hostages. They only lost one man too, James Woods played him. Zac wondered whether anything that cool would be attempted to get them out? Or would French Commando's storm the plane like they had that time. What was the French word for duck? Probably it would be resolved in some boring diplomatic way like they seemed mostly to be. At least they would have some good material for the next album, Zac already had some song lyrics working their way into his head. Taylor watched his younger brother in silent thought, the gleam in his eyes told Taylor he was dreaming of something fantastic and he wondered what Zac could be thinking of that distracts himself from this crap situation. "Taylor I'm thirsty."
"I am too Zac."
"Can we ask for water?"
"The stewardess hasn't been around for hours has she?"
"Press the button."
"I don't know, should I?"
"No one told us not to."
"Ask Ike if he wants anything."
"Ike, hey Ike are you thirsty?"
"Yes, hungry too. Ask for some biscuts or something."
"I wonder why she hasn't been up here?"
"Cos we're the only passengers up here? There must be a hundred people back there who need her."
Zac pressed the button and a moment later a tired looking stewardess appeared beside them. The terrorist in the cabin glanced at them but didn't seem that interested.
"I'm sorry I haven't been up here... its not too good back there."
"Why? What happened?"
The stewardess looked at the terrorist and he gave her a look.
"What would you like?"
Taylor was puzzled at her abrupt change of subject.
Zac made his order, "Can we have some drinks and my brother wants something to eat."
"Okay we've got water, that's all thats left I'm afraid, will crackers do?" Ike nodded.
"Yeah that'll do." The Stewardess got up to leave. Zac tugged on her sleeve.
"Do you need any help?"
She smiled. "Thanks for asking, I think I can cope."
Zac leaned back in his seat as she walked away. "Turn on the TV guys, lets find out what they're saying about us."
This time the news wasn't very interesting. It was clear the ABC people hadn't found out anything useful since last time they watched so they were busying themselves interviewing distraught relatives. After a few minutes of watching this footage that strangely didn't seem to relate to them all three brothers pulled off their headphones and quit watching. The water and Isaac's biscuts arrived shortly and they drank and ate in thoughtful silence.
Meanwhile the plane made a small imperceptible turn to bring it inline with the route to Libya. Isaac had been right.
"Ladies and Gentlemen this is your Captain speaking..."
Isaac opened his eyes wide. Zac spoke the words Isaac and Taylor had both been thinking.
"So he's not dead?"
"... my instructions are to ask you to prepare for a landing. I'm not able to tell you where we are landing but I am able to tell you that you will all be departing the plane when we get to the ground. And I can tell you to dress lightly because it is hot out there. There will be no hand luggage allowed to come off the plane with you. Please don't try to sneak anything off. I have it on good confidence that we will all be treated fairly and justly as long as we obey our orders. So folks I ask you to please do what you are told so we can all get home to our families. Please put your seat backs upright and fasten your safety belts in preparation for landing."
And with that the clouds parted in their minds and they at least knew something. Isaac was the first to speak.
"Why do you think that?" Taylor wasn't arguing with him he seriously wanted to know Isaacs line of thought.
"Africa is within range, it's hot, large parts of it are hostile to America and Britain and its known for terrorist activity."
"Oh.... do you know which country?"
"At a guess - Libya."
There was nothing to say to that. All three had a good enough knowledge of recent history to know Libya was perhaps the most hostile country to American policy in the world. Zac had been born around the time Ronald Reagan had dropped bombs on the capital and in the intervening thirteen years relations had not improved.
"Are there camels there?"
"Yep lots." Taylor smiled at Zac's ability to find the good in every situation.
"Cool... do you think they'll let us ride them?"
"I'll tell you what Zac, when we get out of this I'll buy you a racing camel."
"Cool." Zac smiled at Taylor's attempts at cheering him up. Not that it hadn't worked....
A few moments later the stewardess returned to check that they were prepared for landing. Zac knew what he had to do. "Miss I really really need to go to the toilet."
"Can you wait until we land?"
"Nah uh, that water's gone straight through me and it really needs to come out."
"He wets the beds at home." said Taylor helpfully.
Zac smiled at Taylor's payback.
"He's right, I do, and I don't want to walk off this plane with a big wet patch on my jeans so pleeeaaasseeee?"
He had his best begging face on. The stewardess was helpless.
"Okay but be quick."
"Thank you...." Zac looked for her name tag, it had slipped to one side but was still visible. "Karen."
"That's okay, you're sweet kids, you're the only music my sister plays that I like." Zac got up out of his seat and walked quickly to the toilet. He was doing his best to impersonate someone with bladder control problems and the terrorist seemed convinced so he figured he must have succeeded.
Once inside the toilet Zac cupped his hands and drank some water from the tap because contrary to what he had told Karen the water she had given them had not been enough. Besides it was hot in Libya and he had no idea when they would next get a drink. Then he flushed the toilet and used the noise cover to open the cupboard and slip his cellphone into one of the pockets on his jersey. He messed around with its position until it sat just around where the waist line for his jeans were. This seemed to hide it well. He checked himself in the mirror and satisfied it wasn't visible he left the toilet and returned to his seat.
lke was peering out the window and Taylor seemed to be straining to look too.
"What's out there?" Zac asked.
"Just desert... desert, desert and more desert."
"Does it look like Libya?"
"It doesn't look unlike Libya."
Their friendly neighbourhood terrorist seemed to have disappeared but Taylor could see his head visible above a seat three rows ahead of them. Obviously he wasn't tough enough to stand through the landing. The desert rose up faster and faster to meet them and peering out the window Isaac wondered where exactly the airport was. He assumed, this being Concord and all that they'd be landing at something substantial but he couldn't see a sign of anything even resembling an airport. Let alone a big one. Then suddenly the plane banked sharply to the right and the flaps came up. The screeching noise of the aerofoils reminded all three of them of screaming girls at a Hanson concert.
With a thump they were down. There was a runway beneath them but the desert sand blowing over it made it impossible to spot from the air. They could feel the power as the pilot threw the engines in reverse and the plane slowed to a taxiing speed. Turning onto a taxi way there were a couple of one story buildings visible and some kind of control tower. The Concord came to a stop seemingly in the middle of nowhere and with that the flight was over.
Chapter 4 - "Just Wait Till They Make the Movie."
Like other flights they had been on the rest of the passengers disembarked first from flight 408. Only this time it wasn't to ensure Hanson's speedy journey through a sea of screaming fans. This time it was because the hijackers chose to get the passengers off the plane from the back to the front and Isaac, Taylor and Zac were as far front as you could get. So there was a sizeable crowd of passengers waiting on the tarmac when their turn finally came. Some of the passengers gave audible gasps when they saw who had been traveling on the plane with them. The brothers didn't really pay much attention to that though... they were more preoccupied with the semi circle of armed men waiting up the bottom of the stairs. There were at least thirty professional looking soldiers and they looked mean. The first thing Taylor noticed when he stepped out of the plane was the heat. It hit you like a wave and within seconds he knew he was overdressed. Sweat started to seep down his collar and he could feel his shirt begin to cling to his back. This was a whole new world, nothing could have prepared him for what lay outside the aircraft... nothing. Isaac had watched it as they flew in but for Taylor it was complete shock. There they were on a runway parked near a couple of deserted looking buildings and then nothing for miles and miles... all he could see was desert like scrub. And in the distance - sand dunes. The buildings of the airport, both of them were about a hundred meters away, they were both squat one story buildings with corrugated iron roofs. Even from this distance they looked broken down and sand blasted and there didn't appear to be any glass in any of the windows. What ever this place was it was a long time since it had been used as a proper airport - if ever. As they descended the staircase they could see the cracked concrete they had landed on more clearly. There were signs it had once been painted but he could barely tell where the lines began or ended. At the foot of the staircase behind the soldiers were a couple of trucks and a bus, he supposed that they would be used to ferry them somewhere. Anywhere. There had to be more to this country than what he was seeing. Zac was sweating profusely too but not for the same reasons. He had been able to hold it in while they were on the plane but out here surrounded by armed men and miles from anything that even looked familiar to him Zac was very afraid. His heart was pumping so hard he wondered whether the outside of his chest was vibrating. The men at the bottom of the staircase just stood there with their guns ready, not registering anything just waiting. The other passengers looked like a bewildered mob. Some of them looked shell shocked but a lot of the rest of them were staring at Zac and his brothers. Silently he wondered why they were staring at him like that. It was making him extremely uncomfortable. He suddenly wanted to be home very badly. Looking at either side of him Zac was suddenly happier than he had ever known that Isaac and Taylor were there with him. He knew with them there he could stick it out. Isaac scanned the eyes of the soldiers looking for signs of trouble. Yet they were all dull, expressionless men who were just doing their duty. He wondered what those eyes must have witnessed to make this extraordinary situation seem so normal. As he and his brothers proceeded down the stairway he looked around the airfield and especially at the blue sky above them. Judging by the temperature jump when they left the plane he could tell his Africa guess had been right. How close to the equator though? Isaac thought for a minute about what reference points he could use to work out their location. He guessed the stars were his best bet... someone had once tried to teach them navigation by the stars but he wasn't sure how much of it had sunk in. But more importantly than that he knew ironically he now had total responsibility for his brothers. He was the only thing they had now and he was going to get them through this. When he reached the bottom step he turned around and looked back at the plane they had disembarked from. It looked so odd out here in this featureless desert... a bright shiny white British Airways Concorde parked on this lonesome desert runway. He wondered how on earth the hijackers were going to hide it..... Once the Hansons had disembarked, the Captain and the Flight Crew were ushered off the plane by the last remaining hijackers. All the hostages were standing together on the ground and through a megaphone - not unlike Zac's one he noted bitterly. The Commanding Hijacker ordered them to board the bus and the two trucks. The part of the crowd Isaac, Taylor and Zac were in moved toward the bus and they were caught up in the motion. Not that the bus was the bad option. Those trucks looked like they could get mightily hot and the bus at least had windows. Once inside they squeezed together on one seat facing a middle aged woman, a fat English businessman who was sweating more than Taylor and ironically enough Karen the stewardess. Four terrorists stood in the aisles keeping a watchful eye over them while one more drove the bus and another one stood next to him yelling at him occasionally. They didn't look too comfortable in this climate either. The bus rumbled to life first and the two trucks set off following it. They weren't exactly speeding and since they couldn't see any sign of anything town like within it looked like fifty miles Isaac, Taylor and Zac settled in for a long ride. Karen was the first to speak up. "So do you think this'll help your career?"
Taylor grinned and Isaac managed a nervous laugh, Zac giggled uncontrollably at the silly thought.
Taylor spoke. "I suppose now our critics will stop telling us to experience life."
"Yeah get ready for the hijacking album." said Isaac.
"Double album." Interjected Zac.
"Just wait till they make the movie." continued Karen.
"Are you kidding?" Said Taylor in mock seriousness, "Do you think we're going to sell the rights to this?"
The lady across from them had been listening to this conversation with a quiet concentration. She seemed to be trying to figure out something in her mind. Isaac was the first to guess what it was.
"Hello maam, my name's Isaac Hanson, these are my brothers Taylor and Zachary, we're in a band called Hanson."
The ladies eyes lit up. "Oh I knew you were someone! I gave my niece tickets to one of your concerts in June."
"Did you come see us?" Zac asked.
"Oh no I can't stand loud concerts.... not with these" She pulled out her hearing aids.
"We're not that loud." said Taylor.
"But the screaming girls are." said Karen.
Taylor grinned, "Come on... you must have seen a few concerts in your lifetime, what about the sixties?"
The lady flashed a mischievous smile, "The sixties is why I need these now. I worked as a Road Manager for The Who for four years."
Isaacs mouth dropped wide open. "No kidding? The Who! Cool!!"
He flushed red when he realised how dorky that sounded.
The businessman meanwhile had begun paying keen attention.
"The Who you say? What years was that?"
"1968 till 1972."
The man smiled. "I saw The Who three times in 1969.... you did a good job."
"Wow what a small world." exclaimed Zac. "We cover a Who song..."
Taylor grinned as his brother explained in minute detail everything he knew about the Who and Summertime Blues and Isaac helped by singing a few bars of it. This was turning into some hijacking.....
Karen had been smiling at Zac right through his whole big long story about the song. It was only as he paused to take a breath at the end that he caught her eye. He grinned back. He was glad to have made a friend in this totally weird situation, and she wasn't bad looking as a friend either... aside from the dust from the airport on her clothes and the lines forming under her eyes she looked rather good for what Zac guessed to be her thirty years. The stewardesses uniform sat well on her too with all the curves in the right places, the picture only ruined by that big stain on her front, it seemed like blood... Zac's heart froze. He wondered why he hadn't noticed this before, Karen's uniform was splotched with blood. Something had happened while they were in the air and by the looks of it it wasn't pretty. Karen caught him looking at her and quickly seemed to guess what was on his mind. "Look guys" she said, "There's something you ought to know and it's better you find out now I guess than later."
"What is it?" Isaac was worried.
"We didn't all make it off the plane okay."
"I didn't see any stretchers or anything, is there a doctor among us?"
"Taylor, we didn't all make it off the plane alive."
Isaac felt a dagger of fear in his heart. Taylor leaned back in his seat breathing slowly trying not to panic and Zac felt totally stricken. His eyes were welling up with tears but he fought them.
"Please tell us what happened."
Karen took a deep breath and leaned in to tell them.
"When the hijackers first took over the plane there was a man, a passenger in the back of the plane who took offence to the idea."
She spoke in a slow measured tone to not let the hijackers on the bus know she was talking about them.
"He was an off duty police officer or something and he was carrying a gun. When one of the hijackers came near him he grabbed him and held him hostage. He demanded to see the chief hijacker."
All three brothers stared at her with determination.
"The other hijacker in the back cabin shot the hijacker he was holding and then shot him. He didn't even care. The police officer died instantly. For the hijacker it took a while but he died just before we landed. There was a doctor on board and he tried to help but the bullet hit his lung... there was nothing we could do. This is his blood."
She pointed at her blood stains.
Isaac reached over and took her hands, he looked her directly in the eyes.
"That's terrible, I know you must have tried your best to save him."
She smiled weakly at him. Isaac smiled back.
"These are cold cold men guys, please don't do anything to antagonise them because they don't even care.... the guy he didn't even flinch before shooting his friend. Please be careful."
Isaac said, "We will be."
Taylor agreed and Zac looked up at Karen, "You be careful too."
Chapter 5 - "I'm Just Registering a Protest That's All"
Dusk was falling as the bus and two trucks procession starting crawling up a mountainous slope. Isaac looked at his watch - 5:15pm, that was useless, he had set it to New York time when they boarded the plane but he knew they were at least five timezones ahead of New York now. Which meant dusk was pretty late at night... still no real clue for him as to where they were. They had been driving for four hours, he knew that. Gazing out the window had rapt his attention at first but soon sand had lost its novelty. He looked at this brothers, Taylor was sleeping, snoring softly with his head resting on Zac's shoulders. Zac had his eyes closed but he didn't seem to be sleeping. More like thinking hard, perhaps he was praying. Isaac thought to himself maybe I should follow his example. He couldn't figure out how Taylor was staying asleep, his head was bumping along with every bump in the road of which there were getting to be more and more. Oh well more power to him thought Isaac, if he can sleep through this he's better off. I wonder what he's dreaming of? Karen was staring into space across from them, he hoped she wasn't reliving what had happened on the plane. It was playing over and over in his mind and he hadn't even witnessed it so it must be horrible for her. The lady from The Who was singing something idly under her breath and the English businessman like Taylor had fallen asleep. What a tranquil picture thought Isaac bitterly, he was feeling uneasy now, their predicament was really starting to sink in, on the plane he could convince himself it wasn't happening by ignoring the hijacker in the isle but now on this bus it was too real. Too real by half.
As the bus strained around another tight mountainy corner Isaac caught sight of something. There looked to be a cave in the hillside. He was rapt with fascination. The school boy in him wondered how many thousands of years old those caves would be. Who lived in them? Did they hunt for survival? Did they hunt for woolly mammoths and run from sabre tooth tigers? To his surprise Isaac realised he might well find out, the bus was coming to a stop outside the caves.
Taylor woke and Zac snapped his eyes open at exactly the same time. The bus had pulled to a stop and had been joined by the two trucks. It was a lot darker now but they could make out cave entrances along side where they had parked. The man at the front who had been yelling at the driver opened to door of the bus and spoke to another of the terrorists who had jumped out of the cab of a truck and was walking along side the bus. They talked for a while and he stepped back into the bus. "Get ready I think we're moving." said Isaac.
"Get off now! Make group outside." The man yelled at them in heavily accented English.
The terrorists in the isles decided to assist them by indicating where they should be going with their guns. Indicating they should get up anyway.
The exit from the bus went very smoothly. The front rows got off first and then each successive row got up and off without much fuss. As he stepped outside the bus Zac took a deep breath of the cooler mountain air. His head hurt badly and his stomach was turning over repeatedly but he was used to that on long trips. He stood as close to his brothers as he could and waited to see what happened next.
As if on cue bright flood lights lit up the front of the caves and they started shuffling towards them. Taylor looked forcefully ahead and was walking slightly ahead of his brothers. His face didn't betray the fear he felt and he strode confidently like this was any normal occurrence. Of course the word normal had long been exercised from the Hanson vocabulary. Isaac walked behind his brothers peering left and right getting a good look at where they were. He noted the mountain peaks that seemed to disappear endlessly into the distance. Zac subconsciously found himself clutching the back of Taylor's shirt as he walked, he caught himself doing this and let go - angry he was showing such weakness. Within seconds of his attention wandering his hands were back on Taylor's shirt.
As they walked through the mouth of the cave each member of the group gasped. Isaac, Taylor and Zac's eyes shone brightly for a moment as they took in the awesome natural rock formations above and all around them. Stalactites and Stalagmites littered the place and gave it a very gothic, very exotic appearance. The cave turned out to be wider inside than out. As they passed through the first section they rounded a rock outcrop and found themselves in the biggest natural amphitheatre they had ever imagined. Passengers were making themselves as comfortable as possible on the rock floor and terrorists formed a ring around the outside of the room. There seemed to be a limitless supply of these thugs with guns. They found themselves a spot on the left side of the outcrop and sat down next to Karen. Presently the terrorist who they assumed to be the leader walked out of a passage way near the back of the cave. He was wearing what looked like jack boots and was carrying a riding crop. His uniform was immaculate despite these conditions and his army beret was decorated with two gold stars signifying a significant rank. As soon as he began to speak they all recognised his voice from the intercom system. He spoke well with only a trace of a Serbian accent. If anything he sounded British.
"Ladies and Gentlemen we owe you a full and frank explanation as to who we are and why we brought you here. And this I am now prepared to give you." He sighed.
"It is unfortunate for us both that we have been caught up in a situation beyond either of our control."
Yeah right seemed to be the general consensus of the crowd.
"We are the victims of power games played by the criminal British and American governments and you are civilians caught up in our attempts to extricate ourselves from this situation. You have my word as a gentleman ladies and gentlemen that it is my intention to release you unharmed. Once our demands have been met. How ever as most of you probably know by now it will be foolish in the extreme to attempt in any way to... take matters into your own hands. My men (he indicated the room with a sweeping hand gesture) are the finest soldiers of the victorious Serbian Army. They are brave but fair men. Their duty here is to protect you and to ensure the victory of the greater good in this situation. Thus we are keeping you here in these caves until such time as we can both go home, our heads held high. I want you to enjoy your time with us as much as possible and as you will see these caves are plentifully supplied with food and drink and I have made arrangements for your accommodation. I am trying my best to make this a good experience for you and I expect co-operation in return. Victory to Serbia! Thank you."
He strode confidently off down the same passageway he had entered and left a cave full of people unable to speak for a second.
Zac was one of the first.
"Is he NUTS?"
"I don't believe this is happening" said Taylor, "I mean how can someone in the nineties be so... naive?"
Isaac agreed, "He sounds smart and well educated so he must be ignoring the fact that this has never worked in all of history."
"Maybe he wants to be the first?" suggested Karen.
"He's mad, we know that for sure." pronounced Zac.
"Yeah well don't go saying it around the guards." said Isaac.
Zac gave him one of his patented withering looks. "I'm not stupid Isaac."
"So how long are we going to be here?"
Taylor inquired, he had asked the ultimate question.
"As long as it takes our governments to get their act in gear." replied Zac.
"Then we're doomed." joked Isaac, the others smiled warmly.
"Doesn't the US Government have a policy of non negotiation with terrorists?" Asked Zac. No one wanted to answer the question.
Presently an aroma started filling the cave. It smelled for all the world like soup. "I think we're going to get fed!" said Taylor.
They looked around the cave for a sign that catering had arrived. At last in one of the corners they could see three big soup tureens being wheeled out of a passageway. The people near them were ushered up and handed a plate and a spoon. They were given one bowl of soup and one boiled potato from the pile next to the soup tureen. The whole crowd started murmuring in hungry anticipation. They sat and waited patiently for their turn.
Eventually the food procession reached their part of the cave and Isaac, Karen, Taylor and Zac in turn each sat down with a bowl of steaming soup and a reasonable looking potato.
Isaac sniffed at his.
"Leek and potato.... mmm my favourite."
"Smells like carrot to me" replied Taylor.
"No way." Said Zac, "It's too dark for either of them, its gotta be beef or oxtail."
"Maybe that's dirt." said Isaac. Zac's face fell.
"I'm sure its good anyway, I'm starved." said Karen encouragingly.
"What don't they feed you stewardesses?" asked Taylor.
"Are you kidding? When would I find time to eat with passengers like you onboard."
"Broccoli!" The look of Zac's face of total disgust made Taylor have to stifle a laugh.
"Eat it anyway, we don't know how long the food is going to last." answered Ike.
"I know, I'm going to eat it, I'm just registering a protest that's all."
Zac brought the first spoonful up to his mouth and swallowed it with a look of utter disgust on his mouth that made Isaac, Karen and Taylor burst out laughing. They couldn't help it.
Zac had a wicked gleam in his eye.
"When my lawyers get through with British Airways all these guys will be out of job." He swung his arm around to indicate the terrorists guarding them.
Unfortunately his arm caught Isaac on the shoulder and knocked his potato out of his hands and into the dirt. Isaac looked at Zac with annoyance.
"Sorry man." Said Zac quickly. He took his potato off his plate and handed it to Isaac and picked up Isaac's potato off the floor and dusted it off with his sleeve. Then he bit into it.
Isaac couldn't help cracking a smile this time.
They relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the meal.
"Umm guys?" Taylor asked later. "Where do you think the bathroom is?" Isaac looked at him hopelessly. "Hold it in as long as you can Tay, I'm sure they have something worked out that they will tell us about. Eventually."
"Look Isaac." Karen had an urgent look on her face too. "I know you young guys have the ability to... hold fire for hours at a time but us slightly older woman are less talented in that department. So I'd appreciate any ideas you have.. now."
Isaac figured this was part of being responsible. "Okay, I'll ask."
He started to get up when Taylor pulled him back down. Another hijacker was moving to the top of the rocky outcrop. They all watched him and waited.
"People. You will be going to bed soon. We will take you in shifts through to your sleeping chambers where you will find washing and toilet facilities."
Taylor and Karen breathed simultaneous sighs of relief.
"You will sleep in there until morning when we will come and wake you. Please follow the instructions of our patriotic guards at all time."
With that he stepped down and left the cave.
Again they were on the wrong side of the cave to go first and had to wait patiently for the first groups to file patiently out. They seemed to be separating people off in roughly groups of twenty so this cave must be even vaster than they anticipated. The rest of the crowd looked as tired as they felt so they knew it must be late. Even though he had slept on the bus Taylor was yawning again. He wondered whether they would get blankets or even a mattress to sleep on. Tonight he didn't care, all the worry and stress of today had been blocked out by an overwhelming desire to lay down and close his eyes. With his brothers he knew he would be safe. Isaac for once was thinking the exact same thing. This whole experience was beginning to take on a camp like aura. A camp with armed guards.... He was more tired than he realised and when he mentally calculated the time they had been in the air plus the bus ride and the meal he reasoned, it must have been at least twenty hours since he had last slept. At least in this big rocky vastness he felt safer than he had on the plane or the bus.
Somehow he trusted the terrorists. He believed they had ideals they were doing this for, however mistaken they were and along with those ideals came honour. If he didn't bother them, Isaac saw no reason why they would bother him. Zac was impatiently counting off the number of people ahead of him and waiting for their turn. He wondered where the passage ways lead, whether this was an underground metropolis like in that volcano in that James Bond movie or perhaps the thrills of this cave ended here. He strained his eyes but the passageway seemed to angle sharply to the left not long after it started so he couldn't see anything. He was tired like his brothers but also feeling hyper. He started jumping up and down to pass the time and was vaguely annoyed when a shrill ringing sound cut through the cave. In half a second it hit him. Zac realised his cellphone was ringing.