Chapter 37

Maya spooled up her spread belongings on decent. Bringing her own blanket and having Gilmore Girls on her computer had been a great idea. So had all the cheese plates. Oh, God; those cheese plates. Worth every penny. 

She looked over at Alex, who was already packed and listening to a song on her headphones. She'd been crying the first flight and the second. And the third for that matter. Maya had been caught up in her shows and…

She should have checked in earlier. She should have gone to see why Alex was crying. She should have…

Been less self-absorbed and checked on her friend. She hated that about herself. Why did she have to be so self centered all the time? Maybe not all the time, but enough that she considered it a serious enough personal flaw to loathe it with all her being. 

She could stand up and go check, but they were almost touched down and the seatbelt sign was on 

Check on her later. It was fine. She was fine, surely. 

She got her shoes on just as they touched down and she slipped the complimentary toothbrush and little toothpaste into her bag, she'd freshen up when they landed. 

“Ladies and gentlemen , we have landed in St. Petersburg. It's 6pm local time and a lovely 36 degrees Fahrenheit. When we reach our gate, and lease remain seated and keep the aisles clear. We have a routine check by some sky wardens to complete.”

Shit. Maya looked over at Sam, who nodded, and sneaked his seat belt off. He placed his bag on his lap. Maya did the same and tapped two fingers over her headrest so Leo could see her. The message was passed on through the small group, and she heard them quickly getting ready for their newly planned departure. 

Maya looked out at the gates as they came into view. Red vans and cars and flashing lights. IJS had followed them to St. Petersburg. Damn it! They should have been keeping track while in the air. There was wifi, had Leo not used it at all? No time for that. They had to get off the plane before they got to the gate. 

Sam stood, signaling he would begin. A stewardess shouted at him to sit and he ignored her. He just walked to the emergency exit and pulled it open. The whole plane jerked to a halt as the pilot saw the large yellow slide expand. Maya leapt up and made for the slide, Leo and Alex ahead of her and at the door, Ray behind. A stewardess tried to make a grab for her, Maya dodged, clutching her bag to her chest and dove for the open door. She just made it, hearing Sam wrestle off another steward as he dove. 

The lights and cars were mobile on the other side of the tarmac and everyone was running. Running as fast as exhausted limbs could take them, sitting for a day and a half does bad things to the joints. 

Maya panted as watched as Sam picked up a large rock and hurled it at a small baggage cart. It hit the driver with a thud and he toppled from the moving thing. Sam dove into it and the others after him. 

“This is not at all fast enough.” Maya pin red out.

“Then get out and run.” Sam shouted and punched down the accelerator. The little thing topped out at thirty five miles per hour. But it got them to a small service area of the terminal before the pack of screaming cars. 

They dove through the picked door and barricade it with a fortuitous push broom. They wove through the labyrinth of hall ways and Maya grabbed Leo’s hand and used her other to make a call. 

“Theodor!” she shouted into the receiver. “I need help! Yeah, I know it’s been a long time, totally miss you. But I’m serious on the help thing. IJS is after us in Pulkovo. Got a car hear here? Awesome!”

She dodged through another door, past another group of very confused baggage loaders and shouted at Sam, who was leading the charge through the airport.

“Sam! Go to the limo pick up! Got us a ride!”

“Cool stuff!” Sam said, and made his way through the underground passages, up to the surface.

There were IJS officers up there, too. Sam slammed the door quickly.

“Problem.” He squeaked.

“We saw.” Maya nodded. “How the hell are we going to get out of here?” Alex was searching around, jumping from foot to foot; the thinking dance.

“Got it!” she dashed down the hallway they had just came down, the others right on his heels. She made a left, a right, and then another left, and came to a screeching halt right in front of a row of lockers.

“Leo?” she gestured to one that seemed at random and Leo pulled her lock picking set out of her purse. Thirty seconds later she was inside the little locker. A Sky-Cap’s uniform lay inside.

“Oh!” Maya nodded. “They don’t have our new appearances in their data bases, yet. Get out one at a time wearing employee disguises. Walk out to where the limo is and we will be fine!”

“That’s the idea.” Alex nodded. “Can you get a couple other open, Leo?” Leo set to work on the rest of the lockers, her lock picks flashing as they did precise work.

“How did you get this idea?” Maya said, pulling the navy jacket over her clothes and hiding her coat in her carry on. The coat was too large for her, but she hoped that no one would notice that it would be inconspicuous enough.

“It just came to me,” Alex was pulling on a large black coat, a high visibility vest over the top of it. “Like it was the only option available.”

“It probably is.” Leo said, throwing another coat and hat at Sam.

Dressed in their disguises, they all made for separate doors, with instructions on how long each of them should wait before coming out. Not all at once, staggered at random intervals. Maya came to her door and waiting, staring at her phone for when she was supposed to leave, three minutes.

Maya hated all of this. It was all so complicated and messy and made her stomach hurt. She shouldn’t have to get off a plane in the middle of the runway. She shouldn’t have to disguise herself to get out of a freaking airport. She shouldn’t be on the run for something she didn’t do.

She pushed her way out of her door, walking slowly, not running. She realized her mistake. She’d pushed out where security began, not on the wrong side, but almost. She tried not to panic, to walk like she knew what she was doing. 

She searched for the nearest exit, about thirty yards ahead of her. And there were six IJS soldiers standing in front of it. She almost stopped in her tracks, but forced herself to keep walking forward.

Think about this, girl, think. Con your way out of this. You’re good at that. How are you going to slight of hand your way out of this.

A few feet to her left were a group of what seemed to be tourists; they looked lost. There was about six of them and their bags were on carts and strewn about them as they spun around, trying to read signs. They were speaking English, perfect. She made her way to them, quickly.

“Can I help you folks find something?” she asked in her best Russian accent. “Get you where you need to go?”

“We need to find the shuttle pick up.” A blonde haired girl said. “But the English on the signs is too small to read.”

“I can help you with that.” She nodded, they’d been to this airport many times and she knew the way. “May I push a cart for you? Please follow me.” She began walking, and the tourists began following her. She talked casually with the blonde haired girl and looked around as she walked. The IJS officers were paying her no mind, they were ignoring her. She was invisible.

She got outside, loaded their bags onto the shuttle, and got a large tip from the middle aged man in the group. He smiled, they all thanked her over and over, and she just smiled and waved, her mouth dry and her heart pounding. The limo area was feet away and she could see the car they were supposed to climb in. The shuttle pulled away and she started to walk away, slowly, pushing the carts into the collection area. Taking her time, not rushing. She finished and walked calmly down the sidewalk, her heart still hammering in her chest and her breath coming short. Do not have a panic attack right now, girl. That would be stupid. Calm down. You can break down in the car.

She took her hat and coat off, carrying them and straightening her back, hiding the cap under the coat. She reached the door and it swung open before she could reach it. 

Ray’s beaming face was in the seat in the back and she climbed in. Leo was there and Maya crawled into the seat next to her big sister, Sam and Alex had yet to make their appearances. She curled up in her sister’s lap and cried.

Zoe FleischerComment