So, Writers of AntiquiTea is working on modern twists on old fairy tales. I'm so pumped about this little project! Here's the first part of my short story. There will definitely be more, so stay tuned!!! :)
The red-eye. Alison had been traveling all day. First the cab ride from New York to Jersey. Then the flight to San Francisco. Now, at quarter after midnight, she sat on a hard metal bench in terminal A4 of the San Francisco International Airport.
Alison wiggled her toes inside her patent leather pumps. She loathed heels. But part of being a international sales executive for Rolex meant dressing the part - even if one’s travel agent couldn’t come up with a decent travel itinerary and it meant traipsing around in horrible footwear for 23 hours straight. At 29, Alison figured she still had some dues to pay, but after 7 years in the business she found it ridiculous that she still had to put up with 3 hour layovers and late night flights.
“Mr. Johnathan Coney, please come to the desk at terminal A4. Mr. Johnathan Coney, please come to the desk.” The attendant’s voice rang out through the desolate terminal. Alison glanced around. Only herself and a couple of flight attendants were in the terminal.
Suddenly, a small and elderly gentleman came barreling around the corner of the terminal. He wore a brownish green suit, carried a small grey suitcase, and had a plume of white hair. He scuttled up to the terminal desk, and bent his head towards the desk attendant. They murmered in hushed tones. The old gentleman kept pushing his spectacles up against his face. Each time, the spectacles stayed put for a moment and then began slipping down the short bridge of his nose.
The gentleman finished his conversation. Then, he came and sat next to Alison.
“Late night for a flight, eh?” The old man’s voice was unusually high pitched.
“Yeah... Sure.” Alison crossed her legs in the opposite direction and leaned away from her new benchmate. A faint odor emanated from his direction. Mothballs. Mothballs and straw.
He leaned over. “The name’s Coney. Johnathan Coney.” His black eyes peered over his sliding spectacles. “But you can call me Jack.”
“Ahh, hi.” Alison paused. She had no intention of making friends on this flight. She never did. She glanced around. Still no other passengers had shown up.
“I’m Alison.” She forced a smile and then dug her Blackberry out of her purse. Swiftly she began scrolling through her emails. Hopefully he would get the hint.
Jack pushed his glasses up on his nose.
“Yes, yes. Yes, of course you are.” He smiled, a wide yellow grin, full of gaps.
Allison stopped scrolling. “Excuse me?”
“Eh?” He reached up and cupped a gnarly hand around his ear. “What’s that?”
Alison rolled her eyes and returned to her emails. Senile old man. She reread the last email from her boss and then skimmed through her notes for tomorrow’s presentation. Out of the corner of her eye she could see him staring at her. After what seemed like an eternity, he made an odd high-pitched sigh and then leaned back in his seat.
Several minutes passed.
“Passengers, we will now begin boarding for for flight 1006 to Sydney. We will start with first class passengers. Please line up with your boarding passes.” Alison looked up. The terminal was still empty, except for herself, Mr. Coney, and two flight attendants.
Gingerly, Alison stood to her feet. Her heels ached. She grabbed her carry-on and picked up her purse and started heading for the gate. She nearly tripped when a flash of white hair bobbed in front of her. Mr. Coney looked back over his shoulder “Elderly first, right?” He winked. “Or is it gentlemen first, to make sure it’s safe for the ladies?”
Alison bit her tongue.
They made their way through the check in and walked into the jetway. Alison teetered on her heels, shutting out the blister sensation that was growing on her left little toe. Keep walking. Soon she’d be relaxing in her 5 star suite. At least her travel agent had gotten that much right.
Alison rounded the corner of the jetway into darkness. She stopped. Her immediate reaction was to wait for the flight attendants to turn the lights back on...
“Hello? Is there a problem with the jetway?” Alison reached her hand out to grab a hold of the wall. Her fingers clasped emptiness.
“Hello? Mr. Coney? ...Jack?”
She heard a faint and unusually high pitched sigh to her left. Alison turned and took a step towards the sound.
And that’s when she began to fall.