London – Day 7 – Part 2


We rode the Tube back to Heathrow. Not even the Generalissimo’’s “friendship” with the Queen could keep us from being expelled from the country. The cops never took their eyes off us until we boarded the plane. A representative from the U.S. Embassy stayed with us until our seatbelts were tight. The plane’’s door sealed after he left.

We were in an emergency exit row, which meant plenty of legroom and a television monitor on a swing-arm that wouldn’’t stay up. The flight attendant tried to tape it in place, but that didn’’t hold for very long.

The Generalissimo slept for the first few hours. He missed dinner. Maybe missed is too strong a word. I didn’’t feel like puking as I had on the flight over, but it still wasn’’t a culinary masterpiece, not after that custard Danish we’’d had only a few hours earlier.

As we raced the setting sun and people around us began dozing, I considered joining them. My television had already broken free and put a dent in my shin, and without entertainment (my laptop was “confiscated” as a possible terrorist weapon), I pushed my seat back and tried to sleep. I’’d had my eyes closed for all of ten seconds when the Generalissimo punched me in the shoulder.

““Ouch! What?””

“”Quickly!”” he said. “”Put these on!”” “These” turned out to be a heavy down coat, puffy ski pants, matching gloves, and a pair of goggles.

“”Um…”” I said.


I did as I was told. Dressed for my next polar expedition, he led me to the back of the plane. We took a set of stairs to the lower level. I’’d never been below the passenger deck before, but my normal curiosity was suppressed by the giddy look on the Generalissimo’’s face. The way his mustache twitched just so.

We went through a door labeled “”Do not open during flight”.” A cold burst of air greeted me as I followed him inside. He shut and locked the door.

“”Put on the hood!””

I pulled the jacket’’s hood over my head. He put me into a harness, then clipped me into a bracket on the bulkhead. Then he picked up a parachute and put it on.

“”Sir?”” I said. I put my gloves on. I started working my jaw to equalize the changing pressure in my ears. We weren’’t dropping, but someone was allowing the pressure in our little closet to drop until it was the same as what existed at 40,000 feet.

““You’’ll need this!”” He handed me an oxygen tank.

“”What are you doing?””



He put a hand on my shoulder. “”I must return to my secret lair and hibernate in order to replenish my strength. Only then can I return to fight the good fight.””

“”But I still owe two hundred hours of community service.””

“”When I awake, we shall continue the adventure! Godspeed!””

He saluted, then unzipped the protective cover separating us from the landing gear. He climbed out onto the wheels, then I zipped the flap closed. He threw me a jaunty wave as we slowed. The landing gear door opened. The gear dropped. The Generalissimo jumped into the slipstream and vanished.

“”Psychopath,”” I muttered

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