Chapter 6 - "Zac...This Would Make a Great Action Movie"
Zac would later swear his heart had stopped beating for a second at that moment. Taylor had his eye on his brother and watched as the blood completely drained out of his face. He felt like pinchers had suddenly tightly gripped his heart. Karen was right next to Zac, she recognized the sound before anyone else did. The whole crowd seemed to be looking at Zac, four guards were pushing their way through the crowd from one side and three from the other. Karen reached into her pocket and pulled out her pager, she started hitting it. "Damn it shut up! Shut up!"
Zac took the cue and reached deep into his pockets and silenced the phone. Karen continued pounding her pager until Zac had stopped the ringing. The guards reached her, they ripped the pager out of her hands and crushed it under their feet. Karen looked up at the terrorist standing right in front of her.
"I'm sorry... I forgot I was wearing it."
Zac watched in horror as his new friend was hit across the face with the butt of a rifle. Tears sprang to his eyes but again he held them back. Isaac smouldered, he looked pissed off. Taylor was still staring at Zac, he caught Zac's eye and acknowledged how lucky his brother was.
Karen fell to her knees and knelt there stunned for a moment.
"This is your only chance." said one of the terrorists. He kicked her onto the ground with his boot and marched away. The other guards remained there for a moment then left without a word. Taylor, Isaac and Zac all rushed forward to help Karen up. She let Taylor take her left arm and Zac take her right.
"Are you okay?" asked Isaac.
She nodded, still too dazed to talk.
Zac pulled his arm around her shoulder and tried to take the whole load by himself. Taylor kept hold of her other arm so Zac wouldn't have to.
Zac felt a mixture of terror and admiration. The tears were streaming down his face now and he was shaking uncontrollably. He couldn't do anything to stop it now. He leaned in close to Karen's ear and whispered. "Thank you... I think you just saved my life."
Karen turned her head towards his and looked him in the eye. "You keep that thing quiet and keep it safe and we'll be even." She smiled a little. "Besides, they weren't going to beat up a woman."
"Not one as pretty as you." said Zac half laughing half crying.
She smiled broader. "Thank you. Are you okay?"
Isaac saw his brother shaking like a leaf and saw the tears streaming down his face. He realized Zac was going to collapse at any moment so he lifted her arm off Zac's shoulders and took the burden himself.
"Thanks," she said warmly, "I think I'm okay now."
She shook off Taylor's arm and he stepped back. Isaac kept a firmer grip on her. She took a few steps and found herself grateful for her supporters.
Isaac commanded Taylor. "Take Zac and get us a room okay?"
Taylor grabbed Zac and pushed ahead in the crowd. They got up to where the terrorists were counting off people to go into the bedrooms. He turned around to make sure Isaac and Karen were keeping up. He felt a hand on his shoulder, looking forward again he saw a terrorist had his hands on his and Zac's shoulders.
"You two.. go there now."
They stepped forward to the waiting group of thirty. Taylor looked back to see the terrorist put up his arm to block anyone else from moving forward. Isaac and Karen were on the otherside of that arm. He and Zac felt their hearts sink in horror.
"Isaac!" Zac began. Isaac put his finger to his lips.
"We'll see you in the morning. We'll be fine, don't worry."
Taylor pulled Zac gently forward, "We'll be okay Zac, we've got each other." Taylor didn't believe his own words for one second but he didn't want to make Zac more scared than he already was.
They shuffled forward with the rest of the crowd and took a last look at Isaac and Karen as they rounded the corner, then they proceeded up the stone passage. To Taylor's surprise it didn't extend very far at all. And what they found at the end was something completely unexpected. Three life shafts.
The mass of people pushed them toward the doors, as much as Taylor and Zac tried to resist the force they couldn't. They stepped into the middle lift wondering where on Earth it was going to take them now. A terrorist stepped into the lift with them and pressed the button. Instantly the doors slid shut and they felt the curious sensation of dropping fast. Taylor looked at the people they were in here with. Mostly they looked like common businessmen types. Him and Zac were definitely the youngest here. They all looked rather tired and some of the woman and men looked as though they had been crying. Obviously the horrible scenes in economy had been played out in full view of these people. The lift stopped and the doors opened, the terrorist motioned for them to step outside. Taylor gently pushed Zac forward and followed him with his hands on Zac's shoulders. Both brothers were taken aback by the size of the room they had stepped into. It looked for anything like a giant aircraft hanger. What was it doing in the middle of a Mountain Range? This was very James Bondian. The terrorist marched them across the hanger to the doors on the far side. He counted them off again as they walked through the fourth door from the left. Fourth of about twenty as far as Taylor could tell. This had obviously been planned with military efficiency. Once through the door they found themselves in a small hallway, carpeted, with pot plants dotted evenly along the way. This was a crazy notion but Taylor kept thinking how much this place reminded him of a hotel. By fours they were ushered into rooms coming off the hallway. Taylor and Zac stepped into one room followed by a man wearing a shabby looking tie and someone who they assumed to be the co-pilot. There were two sets of bunks in the room and Taylor climbed into the top one on their side. Zac slid into the bottom one silently.
Taylor lay on his bunk staring at the ceiling trying to comprehend this experience. Frustrated he turned over and leaned over the side to Zac. To his surprise Zac's eyes were closed and he appeared to have fallen asleep. The two other occupants of the room came over to Taylor quietly and introduced themselves.
"Hi I'm Billy Mitchell, insurance salesman from Winnipeg."
"Hi, Taylor Hanson."
"Hi, Tom Stormbound, chief Navigator on what was BA 408."
"Hi, Taylor Hanson. This is my brother Zac."
He shook their hands and felt stupid. He had no idea what to say to his fellow hostages.
The insurance salesman broke the silence first.
"Better accommodation than I was expecting."
Taylor grinned and the navigator managed a smirk.
"So." Taylor directed his attention at the navigator, "What exactly happened?" Taylor and the insurance salesman sat spellbound for twenty minutes as the navigator explained how events had unfolded. When he finally reached the end of his story Taylor suddenly noticed the searing pain developing in his bladder.
"Oww... I forgot... where's the bathroom?" He jumped off the bunk and stood on the floor almost doubled over trying to hold it in.
The insurance salesman pointed to a steel toilet bowl and hand basin in the corner. "There's a curtain you can pull across for privacy."
"Thank you." Taylor gasped. He waddled over to the toilet and quickly relieved his suffering.
Not long after that a guard knocked on the door and said gruffly "Lights off in five minutes."
The insurance salesman and navigator retired to their beds leaving Taylor to lay on his bunk contemplating the roof. He wondered whether there was a mountain of solid rock above him or whether this complex was massive like the airplane hanger seemed to indicate. Or maybe the whole place was man made. In that case he had to admire the Libyans or whoever had built this place. It was extraordinary.
Taylor leaned over the side of the bunk. Zac stared right back up at him.
"You awake huh?"
"I was never asleep. I just pretended."
Normally Taylor would catch his brother on such a blatant lie but he figured he'd let it slide this time.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah... please don't tell anyone about before. I don't want anyone to think I'm a girl."
Taylor was more than surprised at his brother's reasoning. Here they were being held hostage by armed soldiers and he was worried about whether people thought he was a girl.
"I won't, promise, it's in the vault. And I've thrown away the key."
Zac smiled at Taylor, "And you won't open the vault?"
"I'm not Seinfeld, I keep things in the vault!"
Zac permitted himself to laugh for a second.
"So what now?"
Taylor wished he could give his brother an answer.
"I... I guess they'll just keep us here until their demands are met."
"And if they're not?"
"You know the US Government Zac... they don't leave people behind."
"Especially not famous popstars."
Zac lay in contemplative thought for a moment. He reached up and put his hands behind his head. "So how do you think Ike is?"
"I hope he's okay."
"Karen's with him. She's cool."
"She's very cool. She likes you."
"Shut up!" Zac kicked the bottom of Taylor's bunk but there was no aggression in it.
Taylor laughed. He relaxed a little.
"Hey do you think we'll have to do callisthenics in the morning?"
Taylor looked at his brother in bewilderment.
"Exercises... like they do in the Army? This is like an Army barracks so I figured why not?"
"Yeah and they'll make us run with packs of rocks on our backs." Taylor joked.
"We'll run all the way to Egypt!" proclaimed Zac.
"Yeah and we'll hide out in the pyramids!"
Zac's eyes lit up. "That would make a great scene in an action movie!"
Taylor looked at him, "Zac... this would make a great action movie."
"Not so far, we haven't seen any action."
"You want me to cause some Zac?"
"Uh... wait till I'm far enough away okay?"
Taylor giggled and immediately coughed. The ceiling of this room was heavily dusted.
Zac imitated his hacking coughs below.
"Zac... Zac hold it for a minute."
"I just wanted to tell you, I'm really glad you're with me."
"Awww don't go all mushy on me Tay."
"I'm not going mushy on you Zac... cos, cos I love you."
Zac booted the bottom of Taylor's bunk. "Take that back!"
"I can't Zac because... because I love you so much... do you love me Zac?"
"Yes you do Zac, tell me you love me Zac."
Taylor was having fun, "Come on Zac... I'll stop bugging you about it just tell me."
"Why not Zac? Don't you love me Zac? I'm your brother Zac you must love me."
"Well Tay.... you see I know you're my brother and everything but I don't love you.... but if it helps, I think you're really hot."
Taylor reached down and tried to slap Zac. "Hey!"
Zac was laughing so hard he barely had the presence of mind to duck. For that he aimed his foot at where Taylor's rear would be in the bed above him and gave it a massive kick. Taylor flew up off the bed and landed with a loud thud on the ground next to Zac. Zac backed into the wall to try to be out of range. But Taylor climbed onto his bed and pinned him down.
"Zac you're really asking for it."
Zac struggled against his older brother but to no avail. Years of moving his legs to the music on stage had given him lower body strength Zac couldn't compete with. Taylor eye's glazed over with a mad gleam. He leaned his head back and starting hacking with his throat. Then he leaned forward and lit a big globdule of spit form on the inside of his lips. Positioning his mouth right above Zac's horrified eyes Taylor released it and watched in satisfaction as rivers of spit ran all over Zac's face. Triumphant, Taylor got off his brother and stood back.
"Ew! Ew! Ew! Tay you are so gross!"
Taylor watched happily as Zac used the bed sheets to wipe his face. Then he noticed something unusual. "Zac?" He asked, "Why are you wearing shoes in bed?"
Chapter 7 - "I Like Meeting Fans Although This is Not Exactly the Place"
Isaac had been absolutely shattered when Taylor and Zac were taken away. In a split second he felt his whole world crash down. He had been supporting Karen with his body but in that moment she suddenly found herself supporting him. She guessed immediately what was wrong and whispered in Isaac's ear. "Tell them everything's gonna be okay." Isaac gulped and shouted to Taylor and Zac, "We'll see you in the morning. It's gonna be fine. Don't worry." He heard his voice wavering as he said it but it seemed to do the trick. The look of panic disappeared from Taylors face.
As Taylor and Zac disappeared around the corner Isaac felt the sudden urge to throw up. The intellectual part of his mind told him this was trauma from the hijacking but the emotional part of his mind wanted to knock down every terrorist in there and be with his brothers. Karen whispered in his ear again.
"It's gonna be okay Isaac, I'm going to be with you. You're going to be fine." Hearing the very words he had used to lie to Taylor and Zac had a curious effect on Isaac. He believed them. He felt the urge to vomit subside and was able to stand without Karen's help.
They in turn were ushered down the corridor, into the lifts, across the hanger, through the doors and into a small dormitory type room. Karen took the lower bunk and Isaac took the upper. They were joined in the room by a woman and her teenaged daughter. After Karen had used the ladies room in the corner she came back over to the bunk and stood next to Isaac.
"You three are really close aren't you?"
"We've never been separated. Not outside of the family. We depend on each other more than we know." He couldn't believe he was telling Karen all this stuff but it seemed good to let it out.
"They're probably just through the wall Isaac, you'll see them in the morning at breakfast most probably."
Isaac felt a slight glow inside himself as she said this... maybe she was right.
"I'm gonna be right here below you and if you need anything at all... a hand to hold, a shoulder, whatever I'm here for it okay?"
Isaac propped himself up on one elbow and looked at Karen. "You're well trained at this aren't you?" It was Karen's turn to go red.
"You caught me, was I sounding like an infomerical?"
Isaac smiled, "A little."
Karen smiled back, "You know I meant what I said before. You kids... sorry guys are real charmers."
"We just lay it on with a trowel."
"You're aware of it?"
"Oh yeah... how do you think we used to get loyal fans back in Tulsa? Taylor could sweet talk a Grandmother. It's quite a thing to watch actually."
Karen laughed. Again Isaac wondered why he was telling her this stuff, it was practically trade secrets. Still he continued. "We know how to press those buttons, we can milk this baby till its bone dry."
Karen laughed uneasily, she wasn't sure whether Isaac was serious or not.
"We know our position. We're a brand and we try to maximise our marketing potential. Hanson Corp... I mean the band is a highly profitable dividend for us." Now Karen suspected... she looked at Isaac carefully, she caught a glint in his eye. He laughed. "Sorry... we've been working on a new spin for our next batch of interviews. The Hanson are spoiled brats story is getting old."
"I guess that's how you deal with all the... the crap that goes with being successful in the music biz."
"Oh yeah, we gotta laugh at it, otherwise its so depressing."
"Wow." Karen was genuinely impressed. Isaac smiled to himself, Strike one! She knows I'm smart.
They were interrupted by a knock on the door.
"Lights out in five minutes."
Karen slipped under Isaac's bunk into her own bed, he leaned over the edge and looked at her. "You going to bed? I thought we were just getting started."
"Isaac I think this is where they want me. Besides, we can still talk from here." Isaac shrugged his shoulders, "Okay."
He became aware of a presence looking over him. He looked up and saw a woman, presumably the one they were sharing the room with - he hadn't paid much attention to her as they came in. She looked worried.
He smiled as sweetly as possible, never hurts to be using that trowel.
"Ummm..." She looked torn.
He held out his hand. "Hi, I'm Isaac Hanson."
She took his hand, "Look I'm real sorry to bother you..."
Yeah like this a five star hotel and she's the chambermaid he thought.
"What can I do for you?"
"My daughter you see.... she's terrified..... I don't blame her, I am too... I've tried telling her that it's going to be okay but I think she's a bit sick of hearing me say it. I was wondering if you could... I mean, just for a minute maybe if you can could you...."
Isaac hopped down from the bunk, "What's her name?"
Isaac walked over to Isabelle with the most charming smile he could muster. He sat down on the bunk next to her and held out his hand. "Hi Isabelle I'm Isaac Hanson."
She looked both panic stricken and absolutely thrilled to meet him. More panic stricken though. She looked up at her mother.
"Go on, say hi to Isaac Isabelle."
Isabelle took his hand and grasped it with both of hers, "Hi Isaac... wow... I'm... thank you, I love your band, you and your brothers are wonderful."
"Thank you," said Isaac, "Hearing things like that is the best part about it."
She looked like she'd just won the lottery.
"The song... umm... the song.... Madaline, I really really love it."
"That's great Isabelle, I like meeting fans although this is not exactly the place I expected to meet one."
She smiled a little. Isaac caught the eye of her mother who gave him a supportive smile.
"I just wanted to tell you Isabelle that we're all going to go home real soon. And I promise you that. In fact after we go home I'll send you some tickets so you can come and see me and Taylor and Zac perform and go backstage too. Would you like that?"
"Oh yes.... that would be awesome."
"Good..... then you better go to sleep now so we can all get some rest before we go home. Okay. I'll be right here when you wake up too. That's pretty cool isn't it? Bet Rick Dees never gave out spend a night with a Hanson tickets."
Isabelle laughed at little.
"Goodnight Isaac, thank you."
Isaac squeezed her hands once before letting go. Isabelle lay back on her bed, a smile on her face.
Her mother grabbed Isaac by the hand. " Thank you.. thank you so much, if only I'd been on a plane with David Cassidy when I was young."
Isaac grinned, "Tell you what.... I'll see if I can score you those tickets too."
She blushed. "Thankyou Isaac, Goodnight."
Isaac returned to his and Karen's bunk. Karen was staring at him in amazement. "That was fabulous!"
"Is that what they teach you in charm school?"
"That's what you learn when you have six younger siblings."
The light went off.
Isaac took off his shoes and climbed onto the top bunk.
"Goodnight Isaac Hanson."
"Goodnight Karen something."
Karen laughed before she went to sleep. Isaac beat her to it.
Zac lay on his bunk bed staring at the bottom of Taylor's bed. He had tried and failed to go to sleep a million times and had now resigned himself to not sleeping this night. His mind was whirling in a million different directions and he just couldn't get himself to stop thinking, chiefly his mind was asking him the same question over and over again. You've got the phone now what are you going to do with it? To be honest Zac had absolutely no idea. He patted the phone inside the folds of his jersey, glad he was that technology had invented a phone that was so small. He knew this was important and used right this could even save them but he had no idea what to do with it. Hiding the phone seemed such an obvious idea on the plane that he hadn't really given much thought to for what purpose he had taken that risk. For what purpose Karen had taken a beating in his place. He gulped fearfully as he remembered that moment. His gratitude toward Karen was indescribable, she had saved him using herself as the shield. That was the kind of thing you read about, the kind of thing legendary heroes do, not the kind of thing that happened to Zac Hanson. He didn't even know how to begin to pay her back for that act of kindness. He decided he needed someone elses ideas about this. He decided to wake Tay. A few short sharp kicks to his back soon had Taylor roused and leaning over the side of the bed toward Zac.
"What is it Zac? Are you having nightmares?"
"No Tay, I haven't even slept. I need to talk to you."
Taylor sighed resolutely. He pulled himself down and sat next to Zac on his bunk.
"What is it Zac?"
"Taylor there's something I need to tell you. I did something I maybe shouldn't have. I don't know whether it was the smartest thing to do because someone I care about got hurt because of it."
"You're talking about the phone aren't you?"
Zac looked up at Taylor in surprise, "You know?"
Taylor looked at his little brother kindly, "Zac I have the exact same phone I know what the ring sounds like."
"Oh." Said Zac, he felt his stomach starting to churn. He hoped Taylor wasn't mad with him. "So you know what Karen did."
"Zac you are luckiest person in the world to have someone like her with you."
"Then I should get rid of the phone before I get anyone else into trouble."
"No Zac no." Taylor grabbed him by the shoulders quite violently. "You've got to keep it, you've got to hide it, the hijackers hurt Karen yes but you can't let that be in vain. You've got this chance now you have to do something with it."
"But what Tay?"
"Yeah... I mean it seemed like a smart idea on the plane but here.... this phone doesn't have a range that far and we're in the middle of who knows where. Besides which once I use this I'm betting the hijackers will be able to spot the signal."
"Yes... I think you're probably right, these guys took those phones off us on the plane but they never searched us. I have a feeling they have the technology to track a call and find out where it's coming from if we use this thing."
"Then what use is it Tay?"
"Well we can only use it once I guess Zac, and that had better be as we're about to leave so we will have to make this worth it."
"I guess you're right... any idea when that might be?"
Taylor smiled. "Trust me Zac... as soon as I know you'll be the first person I tell."
Zac felt a bit reassured and lay back down on his bed as Taylor climbed back up onto his and went to sleep. But still sleep wasn't coming. This was crap. He turned over onto this side to attempt to sleep from there - to no avail. Sighing he put his hands behind his head and lay back on the pillow resuming his staring at the bottom of Taylor's bunk. Those springs are so interesting he thought sarcastically to himself......
Zac woke up like a shot. He was alone now in a cave, there was water dripping off the rocks around him and the only light was provided by a dim lamp. He had been sleeping on a rock that looked to be covered in green slime. Yuck! He thought, My clothes will be covered in this stuff. He looked down at the clothes he was wearing... it was all army green, he felt the gun weighing down on his hip and fingered it for a moment in amazement. He saw now that there was an entrance way to the cave opposite him. He crawled through the small hole and found himself in a tunnel, it was a tight fit, he started to feel himself panicking and tried to crawl a bit faster, the light in here was even dimmer than outside, he could barely make out what was a head. He looked behind and saw the entrance way had disappeared, the tunnel seemed to go on endlessly in both directions. He tried to pick up his pace but the rocks were slimy now, he kept slipping back, he could feel things crawling on him now, they crawled through his collar and down his back, then they started to bite. He tried to swat them but couldn't quite reach, feeling a scream coming on he tried to stifle it.... he kicked his foot against the rock wall and tried to slide forward, he moved about a foot and then came to a stop, the rock was all around him now, he couldn't move, he couldn't breath. He couldn't hold it in now, he started to scream.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" He felt something tug at his shoe, he tried to kick it away but it held on, he felt teeth sink into his flesh. Zac screamed even louder. He took a breath and thought he heard a voice, he listened harder and was sure of it, he could hear a voice, it was Taylor. Taylor would save him.... Zac stopped screaming and opened his eyes, Taylor was staring into his, he had a worried expression on his face.
"Zac... it's okay, it's okay I'm here."
Zac felt himself start to relax. He could breath better now. He looked around and saw the rocks were fading. He blinked and shook his head and stared into Taylor's eyes, the room materialized behind them. Zac let himself relax, he could feel Taylor's strong arms holding onto him.
"Taylor." He breathlessly said.
Taylor cracked a little smile. "Some nightmare eh?"
Zac looked around in confusion. He was still in the bunk bed in the room in the mountain. Taylor was sitting up on his bed holding him. He was all wet and felt his heart beat slowing down but he felt safe.
"Oh Taylor you wouldn't believe it... thank you."
"You were scaring me there for a minute Zac. You wouldn't stop screaming and I was yelling back at you to try to snap you out of it. Your eyes were open but you didn't see me."
"No I didn't, I was trapped... it was horrible Tay really horrible. I don't think I've ever had a nightmare like that before. Look at me I'm still shaking."
He held up his hands which were pale and shaking.
"Why am I all wet?"
"Not me this time Zac, you were sweating buckets and you were rolling around in your blanket. This whole bed is soaked."
"How long is it since we talked about the phone?"
"About an hour."
"An hour! I was in that nightmare for an hour!"
"You only woke me about ten minutes ago, you've got some kick you know."
"I was trying to get traction."
Taylor pulled his button up blue shirt from the side of the bed where he'd thrown it. "Here I think you better wear this, that shirt of yours is soaked."
Zac took off his shirt and put on Taylor's.
He pulled off his socks, soaking as they were, too.
"Yuck... as far away from me as possible please Zac."
"Okay on one condition."
"What is it?"
Zac put on his best most pleading face.
"My bed's so ick and wet can I please sleep with you in yours?"
Taylor waved goodbye to space and hello to crampedness.
"Why sure Zac."
Together they climbed up onto the top bunk. Taylor backed into the wall as far as possible and let Zac get comfortable. He put his arm around Zac's shoulders to hopefully prevent him from falling out of bed during the night.
Zac smiled and relaxed instantly, he seemed to drift off to sleep. Taylor made himself as comfortable as possible and looking at the smile on Zac's face figured that even though he didn't know it - this was what Zac needs.
Chapter 8 - "Oh I dropped you all the time when you were a baby and it never did you any harm."
Isaac slept a little better than Zac. His mind too was a whirl of thoughts... mainly he couldn't help but feel guilty. This flight had been his responsibility and he had messed up badly. He knew this line of thinking was ridiculous, there was no way he could have known or even guessed what was going to happen. But still... the first time his Dad put him in charge they get hijacked. Isaac could almost see the humour in that. Almost. Most of all he was concerned about Zac, he had guessed Zac was lying when he said he'd lost his phone on the plane and later when Karen had saved him it didn't take Isaac long to figure out what had happened. He didn't feel right with his younger brother possessing something that could get them all massively into trouble with the terrorists who would do who knows what if they found the phone. It sat very uneasy with him, Isaac would have much preferred it if he had the phone himself. He didn't want to see anything happen to Zac or Taylor. Not on his watch.
Karen below him must have been woken by his constant turning or maybe she never went to sleep. In any case Isaac was surprised to hear her voice.
"Is it anything you want to talk about?"
Isaac considered for a moment and then figured it couldn't hurt. He jumped down and sat on her bed.
"Yeah there is... if it's okay?"
"Be my guest Isaac Hanson."
The way she said his name like it was gold or something made him laugh.
Waiting a moment she guessed what he was worried about, "It's Zac isn't it?"
"Yeah.... I'm scared for him."
"Very wise Isaac.... he's a very brave boy hiding it like that."
Isaac raised one eyebrow surprised. It hadn't occurred to him Karen knew about the phone. Then he realized why she had been so quick to cover for him.
"I saw him fingering it through his top." She said as if reading his thoughts.
"I don't want him to have it Karen, I don't want to.... I'm scared of what they would do if they found it on him."
"You're a good brother Isaac, you're worrying for the right reasons. But Zac has gotten it this far don't you think he deserves to keep it? Don't you think he's earned that responsibility?"
Isaac supposed she might be right.
"Don't you think it's just as dangerous you having it as him?"
Isaac nodded uncertainly at first and then with more vigour.
"Your brother may yet save us all thanks to his quick thinking Isaac, what you and Taylor need to do is to be there to give him whatever help he needs."
This was all starting to make sense to Isaac. He couldn't figure out why - it was lunatic from the outside. A twelve year old boy having the means to save over a hundred hostages. This whole situation was a little heavy on the not unloony side anyway. So he may as well just accept it.
Silently Isaac corrected himself - thirteen, Zac's thirteen now.
"I guess you're right." He mumbled. "But I can't stop worrying about him."
"That's normal Isaac, that's what older brothers do. It's a bit like being a father."
"I sure don't want to be in Dad's shoes then." Isaac said it before he even had time to think about what he was saying. He had kept from his mind most of this time the issue of how his family must be feeling. It was too hard to think about. Whatever he and Zac and Tay were going through here it must have been ten times worse for Mum and Dad.
"Go to sleep Isaac if you can, it's all you can do at the moment."
Isaac stood back up. "Karen."
"It's Ike, okay." He smiled.
"Okay... Goodnight Ike."
Isaac climbed back up and closed his eyes. Sleep although not instant did eventually come. Not before he silently asked God to watch over Zac and Taylor extra specially tonight.
Zac woke up feeling very very rested. He didn't even open his eyes for a moment, he just lay there enjoying the feeling of immense relaxation you get from a really good nights sleep. When he did open his eyes he took a moment to remember where he was. Ahhhh yes he thought to himself surprisingly calmly. We're hostages now. Something had come over him last night, a sense of purpose and of faith that told him he had the strength to make it. Well this was good for him now because even thinking about the men with guns patrolling the hallways didn't seem to alarm Zac very much. Then he remembered something - he had chosen the bottom bunk last night and what he was staring at looked not much like the bottom of Taylor's bunk. He found this curious but not something to be overly concerned about. The room was quiet and Zac was contemplating falling back asleep again. He shifted his head to make himself more comfortable and felt something under his neck. He turned his head to one side and saw a hand coming out from underneath him and laying flopped out on the edge of the bunk. Zac creased his eyes.... this should be telling me something he thought but the answer was reluctant to come. He turned his head to the other side and was face to face with his brother's face. Oh its Tay he thought. Oh its Tay! Why am I in bed with Tay? Then he remembered the nightmare and how his bed was all wet. Oh okay that made sense. He watched his brother sleep for a while, a steady stream of saliva flowed from the corner of his mouth and onto the pillow. So this is the object of a million girls fantasies thought Zac. Yuck, if they could be here now. His brother had tied his hair up before they went to bed but some strands had come loose over night. Zac considered what he could do to them while Taylor was asleep. A pretty bow sprang to mind as did tying them to the bed, maybe there's even enough hair there to plait thought Zac, that would look stupid, one plait hanging over his face. He smiled at the thought. It was not often he had the opportunity to look at his brother this closely and Zac wondered why he was interested in doing so at all. He guessed he was curious about what part of Tay's looks drove girls crazy.... well he couldn't see it. Taylor opened his eyes so suddenly Zac almost jumped, he looked unfocused on anything for a moment then picked their subject - Zac. Taylor opened his eyes wide in alarm. Presumably he didn't remember last night just yet either.
"Good morning loverboy." said Zac in a soft mocking tone.
Taylor jumped back in alarm, he yanked his arm out from underneath Zac with such force that it spun Zac right off the bed. He fell to the floor with a nasty thump. Rubbing his sore head he looked up at the bunk where a sheepish looking Taylor was peering over the edge.
"Oopps sorry Zac, good morning."
"Tay do me a favour okay?"
"When you get married have airbags on your wife's side of the bed."
Zac got up from the floor and sat down on his own bed. Taylor pulled on a different shirt and climbed down to join him. "So how was your night?"
"Pretty good once I got back to sleep."
"That's cool, I wouldn't have appreciated you screaming right in my face."
"What would you have done?" asked Zac suspiciously, "Thrown me off the bed?"
"Oh I dropped you all the time when you were a baby and it never did you any harm." Taylor rubbed Zac's hair friendly like.
"Enough bonding Tay, where's breakfast?"
"Zac I'm not in charge here."
"I'm not asking you Tay I'm letting you know my feelings. I thought you liked that sort of stuff."
"Get up Zac and put your shirt back on, it's probably dry by now."
Zac felt his shirt.
"Fine then, keep wearing mine. Are you warm enough?"
"Taylor we're in Africa."
"In case you haven't noticed Zac we haven't been sweating much since we got inside this place. I think they have a pretty effective air-conditioning system."
Taylor was right, Zac couldn't believe he hadn't noticed. It simply hadn't occurred to him that the moderate air temperature was anything other than natural. He waited while as Taylor washed his face and drank some water. Then he did the same himself. The other two men in the room had also gotten up by then. There were voices in the hall now and they all expected something to happen pretty soon.
Taylor was sitting next to Zac on his bunk tying his hair back up into a knot when it did. A short sharp knock at the door and an accented voice announcing breakfast.
They all left the room at a good pace and joined the throng of people massing in the hall. Taylor and Zac were peering all around them for any sign of their brother Ike.
Isaac meanwhile had gotten up earlier than everyone else in his room and was sitting on his bed all dressed up for breakfast contemplating his thoughts before Karen even woke up. Actually he was contemplating just one thought. The thought that had dominated his mind since he woke up. He was thinking how much he missed Taylor and Zac. As soon as that door opens he vowed, I'm going to start looking and not stop till we're all together again. He hoped Taylor and Zac had passed the night okay, Zac he wasn't so concerned about, the boy had a sense of self reliance about him that Isaac recognized, it was Taylor he was concerned for. Taylor as the middle child never had the alone time the other two had. He relied on the three of them being together more than either of the other two and Isaac wondered whether last night had been an enormous strain on his fragile younger brother. He immediately scolded himself for the way he was thinking. For starters Taylor was hardly fragile. He was fifteen and a half now and well on the way to adulthood. Isaac realized perhaps he had been remembering the way Taylor had been a few years ago. Back then Taylor shone as the star of the group but everyone in the family knew how much he absolutely depended on Ike and Zac being there with him. When the album first came out there was talk of a solo career for Taylor but those who knew him knew such a break was beyond him for a long while. Isaac wondered if maybe Taylor had reached that point now, he had a feeling his brother had coped better than he expected. Perhaps even Taylor had taken over the big brother role for Zac who - well being self reliant and all was still a thirteen year old guy. Pushing these thoughts from his mind Isaac concentrated on what was important here. Finding them and finding them soon. Taylor, as Isaac suspected had performed better than expected. He had been almost frozen with fear last night when they had been separated like that but spending the night with Zac and watching out for him and being an "older" brother had given Taylor a new outlook. Perhaps he wasn't as dependent as he and the world assumed he was. Or maybe having Zac to look after had given him a mission for the night which superseded any fears he may have harboured in his mind. Whatever it was something gave him a sense of refreshment and of peace when he woke up this morning. Okay throwing Zac out of bed hadn't been the best way to start the day but even that couldn't stifle the sense of pride he felt for how he dealt with Zac's problems during the night. Maybe this older brother stuff is easier than I thought, thought Taylor. He made a mental note to watch how Ike does it and see if it's any different. Zac wished Taylor would stop thinking so loudly. He made his way down the passage way slightly ahead of his brother but turning round every few seconds to make sure he was still there. Zac didn't know it but Taylor was ensuring their link by holding onto one of the sleeves from the jersey Zac had tied around his waist. Zac still felt the sense of calm that had overwhelmed him when he woke up. And aside from the fact that his head hurt from when he hit the floor he still felt remarkably good considering their situation. He had stuffed the phone into the waistline of his jeans so he could take off the jersey which was making him so hot. Perhaps the air-conditioning isn't so good during the daylight. He looked back on his night and particularly the nightmare with a curious detachment. Zac was smart enough to know that dreams like that are often caused by stress and he knew exactly where the stress was coming from but remembering what he could of the dream he wondered how he had managed to bury that amount of fear. The passageway they were moving down widened into a room full of tables, a dining room! This place was full of surprises. He and Taylor made their way across the room reluctant to sit down because Isaac won't be able to spot them so easily. Eventually they leaned against a wall where they could watch everybody entering the room and keep an eye out for that tell tale hair.
"Isaac!" "Taylor! Zac!"
They spotted each other at the same instant. Isaac came bounding across the room and grabbed Zac and Taylor by the shoulders.
"I'm so glad to see you!"
"Me too Isaac me too."
They all felt the relief surge through their bodies and none of them until that moment realized how tense they had become.
"C'mon let's get some breakfast..." suggested Taylor.
A voice stopped them in their tracks.
"Hanson," it said, "Please come with me."
Chapter 9 - "I Have to Look Good for My Public"
They were led into an office at the center of this virtual maze in the depths of this mountain. The office was small but not cramped. A flag stood in one corner, they assumed it to be the Serbian one. There was no furniture in the room save the wooden desk, filing cabinet and three wooden chairs. And of course the chair the terrorist behind the desk was sitting in. As they entered the room he motioned them to sit down. The man who had brought them there stood at attention next to them. "You are dismissed Mikail." The man behind the desk said waving his hand. The man left the room smartly and the one behind the desk smiled at them. Taylor supposed this was his attempt to put them at ease.
"Hanson." He began. "I would like for you to do something for me."
Ike, Taylor and Zac looked at him strangely. Being asked for favors by the man who has just hijacked your plane is not the most logical thing in the world.
"This situation, it is trying on all of us. " He spoke curtly and without much expression. "I know you and the other passengers feel like you've been unjustly caught up in something you have nothing to do with. And you are right. You will have noticed by now that I am doing my best to make your stay here as comfortable as possible but at the same time I know this isn't pleasant for any of you."
Isaac wondered why they had been chosen as representatives of all the hostages to hear this. He didn't wonder for long.
"That is why I am to organize some entertainment for you while we all wait for the Governments of the United States and Great Britain to get themselves in motion." Zac grinned almost, this was sounding good. Perhaps the man was organizing movies or even maybe there were some playstations around for them to use. Cool.
"So I would like you three to put on a concert for your fellow passengers."
Isaac and Zac stared at him in complete surprise. Taylor raised one eyebrow but didn't seem that surprised. He had wondered if this was what they wanted when they were bought here but he wasn't vain enough to actually seriously entertain the idea.
"Tonight at eight o'clock we will have a stage set up in the main dining hall and you will perform. To assist you with this I am putting at your disposal all of the luggage you brought aboard the aircraft and one of my men to help you carry it. He will be a roadie for you."
The man smiled at his joke as he said the words.
"You will go now with the Sergeant and select your luggage from the pile we have from the plane."
The door opened behind them and the Sergeant motioned for them to follow him.
Taylor and Isaac got up straight away and Zac followed more slowly, his eyes were lingering on a chart pinned to the wall of the office. It looked familiar somehow.
The Sergeant guided them briskly down the hall way and into a lift where they waited patiently for their destination to arrive. None of them said anything in front of the Sergeant but all three were thinking about how absurd this situation had become. He showed them into another massive hanger type room where there was a mountain of luggage piled at the center of the room. It took their breath away.
"How are we gonna find our stuff in this mountain?" said Taylor under his breath.
The Sergeant wasn't apparently too keen on helping them look so he stood back as they climbed the mountain and began looking for something familiar.
"Guys what does our luggage look like?" asked Isaac standing in the middle of a sink hole of suitcases.
"Brown isn't it?" said Taylor.
"No blue." said Zac.
"I helped Mom pick it remember?"
"Well I did."
Silence for a moment. Then Isaac turned to his brothers and said the question he had forgotten to ask.
"How was your guys night?"
Taylor and Zac both looked up at him. He could read on their faces that they'd rather have had him with them but neither would say so.
"So so... how was yours?"
"Yeah did you stay with Karen?"
"Yeah I took the top bunk."
"Ike you were on top! You scored man!"
"Ha ha Taylor."
"Actually," Isaac chuckled to himself, "You guys'll appreciate this. There was this lady and her daughter in my room and the daughter was a fan...."
"They're just everywhere aren't they?" said Zac.
"Even in the Serbian freakin Army." replied Taylor nodding toward the guard at the door.
"Do you think he'll let us go if we sing to him?"
"Dunno... he might give us pizza."
"Anyway guys... her mother asked me to help calm her down."
"She was freakin out when she saw you?"
"No... the hijacking freaked her out."
"Anyway I sort of promised her tickets and backstage passes to our next concert."
"Isaac you're too nice you know that. You can't resist a charity case can you?"
"She was nice enough, once she stopped crying."
"How'd she look?"
Isaac made eyes at Taylor. "She was about thirteen Tay."
"Oh... Zac you interested?"
"She's been Iked Tay, it's too late."
Taylor grinned. "Oh hey I think I've found one."
He pulled a big blue suitcase out of the pile and slammed it down on top. "Yep it's our tags and everything."
"Whose is it?"
Taylor undid the zip and saw a flash of yellow.
Delighted Zac ran over to his suitcase and threw it open. He began rummaging through his clothes and other stuff.
"Aren't you going to help us look Zac?"
"Leave him Tay, he's got that look - see?"
Zac pulled off Taylor's shirt he had been wearing and pulled on a blue tie dyed one from his suitcase. He threw the dirty one to Taylor.
"What am I sposed to do with this?"
"I don't care."
Taylor was getting annoyed with his brother despite himself. Isaac saw it happening and came over and grabbed Taylors arm. "Come on, lets look over this side. We've picked that one clean."
They walked away leaving Zac to rummage to his hearts content.
Later all three suitcases had been located and a guitarcase too. They were ready to leave when Isaac spotted a stewardesses bag. He looked at the label and saw Karen Simpleton written there. Figuring there couldn't be many Karens working as stewardesses on Concord he opened it. Taylor came over to see what he was doing. "What? That's not yours."
"Its Karen's, what do you think she'd want from it?"
Taylor guessed what Ike was doing.
"I dunno, what do women need?"
"Don't be gross."
"I'm serious, here put these in your bag."
"I will not!"
"Okay fine put them in my bag."
Taylor obeyed. Isaac pulled a few changes of clothes and some bathroom products out of Karen's bag and put them in his own, glad that the guard was blocked by the suitcase mountain from seeing them.
"C'mon Zac lets go!" shouted Taylor.
"I'm ready." shot back Zac.
He walked around the pile to where Taylor and Isaac were and Taylor immediately burst out laughing. Isaac looked up from zipping up Karen's bag and couldn't help himself grinning either. Zac was now wearing his yellow Doc Martens and black leather pants, he had a bright orange shirt on over the top of his blue one and was wearing his World Series jacket over the top of that. He had one pair of raybans covering his eyes and another sticking out of his top pocket and he was wearing a black baseball cap with ZAC written on it in big silver metal lettering.
And in his hand he was holding drumsticks.
"Zac what on earth are you dressing up for?"
"I have to look good for my public."
"Good... yeah... that's the appropriate word."
Zac ignored Taylor's comments and began walking toward the door singing to himself.
"Who's the black private dick who's a sex machine with all the chicks... shaft! shaft!..."
Taylor shaking his head and Isaac followed, they gave Zac's suitcase to the Sergeant to carry since they figured there couldn't be much left in there. Isaac fingered his guitarcase fondly and found himself, inspite of the armed escort, smiling.
They got back to the main hall and found Karen sitting at a table finishing off her breakfast. She looked up in surprise. "Where did you three get too?" "We had an appointment." said Taylor.
"It was urgent," agreed Ike.
Karen looked them over, she noticed the suitcases they were holding and Zac's new outfit.
"Are you three going somewhere?"
"No." replied Zac, "The opposite actually, we have to stay here and rehearse for our concert."
"Our concert," Zac grinned, "We were taken to the head honcho hijackers office and we all thought we were done for but he actually wants us to perform for the hostages tonight. We're the entertainment on this cruise."
Karen's eyes flickered with joy at the thought, she kept her thoughts to herself though.
"This is getting weirder by the minute." said Ike.
"I wonder where they want us to play?" asked Taylor.
Karen swivelled around in her seat and pointed to a stage being set up at the end of the room. "I wondered what that was for. Hey have you guys eaten yet? Sit down and have some breakfast."
The room was practically empty now so they had no problems getting their breakfast trays filled up with the brown sludge someone in a funny mood had called porridge. Zac was grumbling as they sat back down at the table.
"They have spent all this money on designing this place and they can't afford decent food?"
"Zac this isn't exactly a hotel." Taylor reminded him.
"I know but.... have you guys had a good look at this place? It looks like a Nuclear Bomb shelter for the President of somewhere."
"Maybe that's what it is." said Ike.
"Could be." agreed Taylor, "Whats his name Gaddafi could have built this place."
"Wow." Zac was impressed.
They continued eating in silence enjoying the relative calm in the moment. Behind his raybans Zac was deep in thought.
"Guys," he said suddenly, "Can we talk?"
"Sure Zac." said Taylor.
"Not here." said Zac looking around. "Follow me."
They all rose from the table and followed Zac over to the stage that had been set up which was as far as they could get away from the guards.
"Guys," continued Zac, "Did you notice something in that guys office?"
"A wooden desk?"
"No... on the wall, did you see the chart that was on the wall?"
"Maybe... I dunno I wasn't really paying much attention."
"I saw it." said Ike, "What was it? It looked like some kind of drainage map."
"I took a good look before we left, it was a map of the air-conditioning system." Zac looked at his brothers and Karen expectantly, they had the same confused look on their faces.
"The air-conditioning system goes to the surface!"
Taylor was the first to click.
"Oh... OH! If only we had that map."
"Now you're on my wavelength."
Ike was worried, "What are you thinking about Zac?"
He lowered his voice so quietly they could hardly hear him talking at all. Taylor and Isaac were both surprised their brother was capable of this volume.
"I can copy the map down if I can get into the office, then we can get into the ventilation system and crawl to the surface and call for help."
Taylor was flabbergasted, his brother had gone insane.
"Can you draw quickly?" asked Karen.
"I can get that down in five minutes."
Taylor looked at Karen like she'd flipped too.
"What are you talking about? He can't break into the Commanding Officers office."
"Of course he can, the Commanding Officer has to sleep."
"And we get locked into our rooms at night."
"We can find a way around that Taylor." She grabbed him by the shoulders and looked into his eyes. "Taylor come with me."
Taylor was confused now totally, he followed Karen until they were out of earshot of the others. "What is it?"
"Don't disregard your brother's ideas so quickly."
He couldn't believe he was hearing this!
"Karen he's thirteen! He's living out his action movie fantasies that's all. Besides why should he risk his life like that when we'll all probably be released in a couple of days."
"Taylor it's not that easy."
"What do you mean?" He was feeling really uneasy now.
"This terrorist group.... I know their work, I overheard two of them discussing their commander, they named him. His name is Svednek Sverak. Taylor he's a killer. Do you remember last year when they found a bus load of Croatians slaughtered in a ditch in Bosnia? They were his hostages, he was holding them to try to get his brother released. Now he's taken a whole plane load and he's upped his demands to getting America and Nato out of Serbia. He's a very dangerous man Taylor. Do you hear me?"
"I'm not a child Karen.... I... I heard about those people in Bosnia. This is the same people? "
"Yes it is."
"No Isaac doesn't know and I don't want Zac to find out."
Taylor nodded weakly, he felt even sicker than before, he wasn't sure he could stand up but this time he wasn't going to cave.
"Good idea... we need to do Zac's plan then."
"Yes we do."
"It may be..."
"Our only hope? I hope not."
"Okay I'll tell him."
They walked back to the stage.
"Zac," said Taylor, "Karen has convinced me your plan can work. I want to help."
"Great." said Zac smiling.
Isaac bent across to Taylor, "What made you change your mind?"
Taylor replied with his hand on Isaac's shoulder, "Trust me buddy, you don't want to know."
Chapter 10 - "But Still the Line Wasn't Moving..."
The day passed eventfully enough, it seemed that the dining room was theirs during the day so they had lots of time to practice. Not that rehearsal was needed. Hanson were still pretty tight from their summer tour and they weren't playing the new songs yet. Taylor had thought about it, "I mean I'd like to try them out."
"What Tay?" Isaac looked up from his guitar at his brother.
"The new songs, the cool ones, I'd like to do them live tonight."
"No way!" Zac looked alarmed.
"This isn�t the place or the time I wanna remember playing these songs first Tay, besides aren't we under enough pressure already without introducing new material?
Dang! Taylor hated it when Zac was right.
"And we haven't translated them to just guitar and vocals yet," added Ike, "That's gonna take an hour or two each song anyway."
"Okay okay, it was just an idea." said Taylor. He busied himself pretending to retune his tambourine.
After about three solid hours of rehearsals, run throughs and tuning of instruments they mutually decided more rehearsal would just bore them. So attention was turned to "the plan". Karen told them she had an idea to get them into the Commandants office and she had disappeared promising to be back at lunchtime and being very mysterious about it. Zac sat on a chair with his feet up on the table and eyes shut while they waited for her. Taylor supposed he must be asleep. Ike fingered his guitar casually over the other side of the table and Taylor was doodling on a pad when at two forty five Karen finally did show up. Zac opened his eyes as soon as she sat down and asked her quite peeved offishly why she was late. "It takes time to find a doctor in this place." she replied.
Taylor looked concerned. "Who's sick?" he asked.
"No one." replied Karen, "However someone who was planning on breaking into a locked office might find a doctors instrument bag pretty useful."
"No way!" said Taylor.
Karen opened her bundled up jacket and revealed a small black leather bag.
"These should do the trick." she replied.
"Wow you're so cool!" said Zac, "Is there anything they don't train you Stewardesses for?"
"I'm a lousy musician."
"So when do we go?"
Taylor leaned forward and sighed. "I've been thinking about this, I figured, and guys please tell me if I'm wrong because breaking and entering is not my thing. I figured the best time that the Commandants will be sure to be out of his office is when we're playing in here."
"Yeah he's such a big Weird fan." said Zac sarcastically.
"So I figured if two of us could get out of here without him noticing we'd have a fair chance to scribble down that chart."
"I'll play More Than Anything." said Ike.
"Exactly what I was thinking." said Taylor, "And could you make it as long as possible?"
"I'll play the ultra ultra extended version don't worry, you won't believe how long I can make this song go for."
"Yes we can." said Zac quietly. Taylor stifled a laugh but Isaac didn't seem to notice.
"Great then!" said Karen, "I'll make a distraction for the guards when you're about to leave."
Zac raised his eyebrow at this idea.
"And you guys can get the picture done!"
"Here, give me that, I'll hide it." said Taylor reaching for the instrument bag. Karen handed it over and Taylor stuffed it inside Zac's World Series Jacket, he didn't seem to mind.
Zac put his legs down and leaned forward, he had a mad glint in his eye.
"Gentlemen. And Ladies.." he nodded toward Karen, "lets syncronise our watches."
"Zac we'll be onstage together." said Ike.
"I know but it sounds SO cool!" He laughed his mad hyena laugh.
Taylor almost laughed with his brother. Zac's sense of enthusiasum was infectious but the feeling of dread he had in his gut would not go away. The reality of the hijacking was still fighting for a place in Taylor's mind. This still all seemed two unreal... I mean I thought the music business was weird he thought, but this... When did I leave Hanson and join the Navy Seals? They weren't allowed to leave the dining room all afternoon although Karen seemed to have no problems. Isaac wondered about this, the guards on the doors seems hostile to them leaving but anyone else could come and go. Perhaps the Commandants wants to make sure we're really well practiced he thought. The rest of the afternoon absolutely dragged by. Taylor and Zac had an argument over fried chicken restaurants but Isaac didn't feel the usual urge to join in. He was too consumed by the spectre of tonight, literally he will be singing the most important song he's ever sung. His brothers' lives are at stake here. Well maybe not their lives, he thought, but a pretty serious beating is likely if they're caught. He restructured the song in his mind so he could get maximum mileage out of it but still the best he could offer Taylor and Zac without it sounding like he was purposely dragging it out was seven minutes. Isaac hoped this was enough. Finally at about six pm the other hostages were let back into the room. It was dinner time and Isaac was happy to smell a much more pleasant aroma than last night. Zac and Taylor noticed the smell too and all three were wondering what exactly they were going to be served. It was at this point that they realized they hadn't had lunch. This time a buffet type table was set up at the side of the room with piles of plates and spoons and forks and napkins at one end and covered dishes down the rest of the length. "Who's catering this hijacking?" cracked Zac.
"Yeah, trust us to find first class hijackers to hijack our plane." Taylor chuckled at his own joke.
"Smells almost like chicken." said Ike sniffing the air.
"Isn't that against their religion?"
"They're Serbian Tay, they're not from here." answered Zac.
"Oh yeah. Well what religion is Serbia?" Taylor was determined to make his brother look dumb too.
"Muslim or Christian, I forget which." replied Ike, "They had that whole messy war over it."
Taylor nodded, slightly disinterested now. His stomach was sending urgent messages to his brain that he should track down the source of that smell.
"C'mon let's move it!" He said quietly to himself.
"What?" Ike was looking at him.
"I'm starving! What is this torture!" butted in Zac before Taylor could answer. Zac started drumming his hands on the table. Taylor looked at him in interest. Normally he would have joined him for a tapathon but not tonight. Taylor laughed at the irony. All those times fans had written to them telling them how their music "changed" or "saved" their life. Now their own music was going, literally, to do that. Even if Ike was going to be doing the singing.
Taylor looked around, "What?"
"Dinner! Now!" said Zac starring oddly at him.
"Oh." replied Taylor, he got up and followed his brothers to the tray line.
Zac snuck another look at Taylor. Oh man he's got that dreamy look on his face, he was vaguely annoyed when Tay did that, cutting off reality so completely at will was frustrating for those siblings trying to hold a conversation with him. Of course, Zac reasoned, I could just be jealous. He looked behind to check whether Taylor had drifted off again. He scolded himself for doing it, what am I doing! Tay's not five. He shook his head to clear his thoughts. This whole thing was getting weirder. The line infront of the them seemed interminable, why was everybody moving so slowly? Don't they know there are hungry people back here! Normally Zac would have mentioned something loudly, but this time he felt something holding him back. This wasn't the time or the place to be wacky Zac. Lately he hadn't been wacky Zac much at all. He remembered the interview transcripts he'd approved just before leaving London, his answers were lacking something, the essence of zanyness perhaps. Maybe the studio burnt it out of me he thought, something cool happened in there. I just felt endless energy from day one. Isaac and Taylor had pushed themselves to the limits to keep up with their drummer but the results from what they had heard were massively worth it.
But still the line wasn't moving.
Well dinner turned out to smell better than it tasted. It wasn't bad, chicken in garlic sauce and mashed potatoes but it wasn't great either. The garlic smell had given Isaac, Taylor and Zac Italy flashbacks which conjoured images of steaming plates of the most delicious food imaginable. It was unfair to expect a hijacking to live up to that. In any case they ate speedily once they sat down. Isaac watched Zac shovel his fifth fork full of potato into his mouth in under a minute and Taylor hold the plate up to his mouth to pour the garlic sauce straight down his throat. And down his neck onto his shirt Ike noticed. He wondered if things were ever going to be the same for them. Sure nothing seems apparent now but this whole experience seemed like one of those things which changes those involved forever blah blah blah. He felt like maybe the Isaac, Zac and Taylor who were kicking butt in the studio in Tulsa a month ago were probably no more. Never again would Hanson have that innocence so cherished and mocked by fans and critics alike.
Isaac was broken from his trance by the exchange between his brothers.
"You splattered me with potato!"
"Oh. Did I?" Zac was barely stifling his giggles.
Taylor picked up his spoon and dipped it into his own mashed potatoes. With precision aiming he gave Zac a brand new hair accessory.
"How funny is it now?"
Zac looked pitiful with mashed potato dripping down onto his nose. His mouth however was set in a determined smirk.
"This funny!" Splat! Taylor blinked his eyes to get the potato off them. Zac followed up with two more shots as perfectly aimed as the first one. Taylor rose from his chair and scooped a handful of potato up, he smelched it in Zac's hair. Zac shook his hair. The potato splattered everyone at the table. Karen glanced at Ike with a bemused look on her face, Ike wasn't sure whether to laugh or not.
There was potato sliding slowly down both of her cheeks. He shrugged and wiped the potato splatter off his own face with his sleeve and reached out and grabbed Zac's arm as he readied a new salvo. He could barely keep from laughing himself as he spoke.
"Guys! I don't think this is such a great idea."
Taylor grinned at Zac. "Ha! Potato Boy!"
Zac looked so pathetic, so puppy dog sorrowful that Isaac had to do something. He scooped up some of Zac's potato and dropped it down Tay's collar. It didn't slide very far.
"It's over." He said in a measured authoritarian tone.
Taylor sat down sheepishly and Zac bent over his plate with his hair blocking his eyes so no one could see him back at his shovelling. Aside from the sound of slurping potato the room was silent. Ike turned his head to see the whole room guards and hostages alike staring at them. What do you think we are? A zoo? He thought. We're not going to apologize for having a little fun. So he grinned and loaded his own spoon with a sizable blob of potato. Then he turned back to the room and started selecting a target. Everyone got the message and quit staring. Ike grinned some more.
Taylor looked at his brother in admiration. That had to be one of those inspired Ike moments that come out of the blue and knock your socks off. Despite the icky potato on his neck he felt a great deal of respect and awe for his brother. Sometimes it felt good to cut loose and be a kid.
Zac was grinning too under his hair shield, Ike looked like such a goof when he did stuff like that. Zac almost always laughed. And now all the tension of the day seemed to be gone. His stomach wasn't flip flopping anymore and he felt a curious sense of security. He also felt really gross pieces of potato sliding across his scalp. But there was no way he was going to let Tay know that it bothered him. Taylor looked back down at his food and found his appetite had diminished. Maybe those pieces of potato sliding down Zac's hair a few feet away had given his dinner a disgusting aura they didn't have before. When was the last time that boy had washed his hair anyway? His hair still felt clean and he knew he'd washed it the morning they left London but he was almost sure Zac hadn't bothered. Then again he and Ike had hardly left Zac any time to use the bathroom that morning. My hair wouldn't feel so gross if Ike and Tay hadn't hogged the bathroom yesterday morning moaned Zac quietly to himself. Those two are such bathroom hogs, it's a wonder they don't actually look good considering all the time they spend in there. Ouch! A hair had come out with that bit of potato. Now he was beginning to feel very nervous, the happiness of a few moments ago seemed to have already worn off and he couldn't avoid thinking about what lay ahead now. He couldn't ignore the facts but he couldn't confront them either. This was too serious, deadly serious, if something goes wrong-- okay he definitely didn't need to be thinking like that! At first this had seemed like a really cool game. This morning he had been all hyped about the idea but now it was sinking in and the fun seemed to be missing. He was vaguely annoyed he had even opened his big mouth. But what worried him more was Tay. He had been totally against this idea at first but Karen had told him something that had completely changed his mind. He could tell by the look on his face when he came back from talking with her that she had made a big impression. And it wasn't likely to be her charming personality.
He made a note to ask Taylor what exactly she had said sometime tonight. Preferably before they go.
Ike looked at his brothers, one looked like he was about to throw up and the other seemed to be examining his hair in detail, he guessed what was on their minds. Something had bugged him since the beginning. This whole hijacking had happened somewhere else and they had been presented with it when it was a fait acompli.... He wondered exactly what had taken place in the cockpit of the Concorde when the terrorists took control. Maybe that could tell him something about them. About what they were made of. Aside from Karen's horrible experience he knew nothing about what they had said or done on board the aircraft except of course for the unilingual one they had the pleasure of sharing the first class cabin with. "Karen? Do you know...what happened in the cockpit?" He lowered his voice. "How did they take over?"
"I have no idea Isaac, I was in the galley when a man walked in with a gun and said they had taken the plane. Soon after, the announcement made by the head guy said the same thing. I've been wondering about it myself."
Taylor looked up from his hair twirling.
"I know what happened."
Ike and Karen looked at him.
"The Co-pilot was staying in our room last night, he told us the whole story." Taylor sat back in his chair and spoke quietly.
"He said the door to the Cockpit opened so quietly they didn't ever hear it. The first thing he saw was a gun pointed at his head, the pilot and the navigator too..."
"No. The navigator was out getting coffee." Zac spoke up from behind his hair.
"They had asked the Stewardess to bring some in but she was busy with a sick passenger in economy class."
He waited a second then sat up and told the whole story as the co-pilot had said it. Taylor looked on in amazement. Zac hadn't fibbed, he had been awake the whole time.
As Zac finished up his story he sat back satisfied that he had told it in a dramatic enough fashion. Sure he had to invent a few details here and there where the Co-pilot had left bits out but it was near enough to the truth. Taylor and Ike looked at him in suitable awe. He looked at Karen, she wasn't even looking at him, something had caught her eye. He turned to follow where she was seeing. One of the terrorists was looking at them, he nodded his head at Zac and jerked it toward the stage. Zac looked over to see the Commandant preparing to speak into Taylor's mike. Zac pushed his plate away and pulled out from the table, he looked at his brothers.
"Guys," he said simply, "it's time."