My father worked at LAX for a majority of his life. I grew up fascinated with airplanes. The smell of airports is very unique and always brings a smile to my face. I can't help it. I'm five years old again staring out the gigantic window at the planes in varied stages of coming and going on the tarmac. And before 9/11 shaped the airplane passenger world, I used to go to the airport just to people watch. I'd make up stories about where they were going or where they were coming from. Well, I still like to watch the people, but I actually have to buy a ticket now. Expensive if all I want to do is people watch.
I remember an incident a friend of mine witnessed over a decade ago at an airport in France. Those dear readers who are familiar with LAX may know of the many announcements that reverberate over the speaker system, especially repeating "Do not leave bags unattended." The French do not mess around with abandoned luggage. They clear the area and then detonate the article, whatever it is. The incident in question turned out to be a suitcase of women's unmentionables and battery operated gizmos. I am told that at least until my friend's plane took off, no one stepped forward to claim the items.
I've cheated a bit. I went steampunk.
Or, I hinted at it. I found this prompt to be difficult to write this week. I'm at the in-laws painting walls and cleaning carpets and my brain is officially toast.
So, for this challenge, instead of airplanes, think dirigibles. Instead of standard steward, I mean, flight attendant uniforms, think Victorian era ascots and bustles.
I offer the following in response: Forgotten Luggage at Gate Seven
Deirdre Colcannon adjusted her Kevlar suit, cursing its weight. “You’d think with all the advanced technology, they’d make these things more comfortable.”
“What did you say, Ma’am?” her subordinate looked up from his gear.
“Nothing, Brighton.” She glanced through their observation window. Travelers vacated the gate in an orderly fashion, following the yellow stripe on the tiled floor. Once upon a time, people would have panicked, trampling others in their need to escape. Now, after the mandatory bomb drills, passengers reacted more smoothly.
“Ready Ma’am?” Brighton asked from the door, gear in hand.
“Let’s set it off.” Deirdre picked up her pack and followed him out into the terminal. A hostess from launch gate seven waited for them at the blast door. She wore the standard issue green and black pinstripe uniform of Transatlantic Airstream.
“Sally Halestrom,” she announced brightly, “I reported the abandoned trunk.”
“Pleasure. Transat usually launches from gate three, doesn’t it?” Deirdre asked, shaking hands with the hostess.
“It does, but with the recent acquisition of Riviera Dirigibles, Transat hostesses can now serve the Mediterranean.”
“Please Miss Halestrom, if you don’t mind, I believe we should close the blast shield and initiate procedure, yes?” Brighton was all business. Deirdre smirked at his obvious discomfort. He was not a sympathizer to the Suffragette cause, and a mere hostess left in charge of an evacuation he surely found irksome.
“Oh of course. The trunk in question is right over there.” She waived a white-gloved hand towards a cluster of crushed red velvet settees across from the tarmac window. “Will you actually incinerate the trunk?”
Deirdre smiled, “Yes, Miss Halestrom. It is the standard security measure.”
Excitement reflected in Sally's eyes, “May I stay and watch? I promise to keep out of the way.”
“No, Miss Halestrom. By law, the only personnel allowed in the blast zone are licensed pyrotechs.” Brighton showed teeth in his practiced smile. “Please see to the blast shield.”
Deirdre and her subordinate walked to the abandoned trunk, listening for the blast doors to close. With gate seven’s waiting area safely cleaved in half, Deirdre acted quickly, pulling the bomb cloth from her pack while Brighton wired the charges together. They worked in silence, easing the cloth into place and securing the mild explosive to the trunk. Everything ready, they stepped a few feet away and Brighton handed her the go-switch. “On your mark, Ma’am.”
Poor Brighton, it must really frost his marbles that I am his superior. "Mark." Deirdre flipped the switch. The cloth merely rippled upon the explosion. “Anticlimactic is a good sign, Brighton. Job very well done.”
He cleared his throat. “Thank you, Ma’am.”