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Hijack

Hijack

 

The road was radiating heat, Abid was struggling with the the heat. Considering that he had spent the large part of his adult life in combat, in the ruined urban sprawl of Aleppo and Raqqa. The Spanish sun had this magnifying dry heat he wasn’t used to.

“It’s hot, too hot.”

Mustafa, his brother glared at him, “How can you be hot here, the sea is on both sides, Ian less than an hour you can sit in it. Our journey has come to an end.”

Abid smiled, shrugged his battered Nike rucksack further on his shoulder, he glanced behind and Abdul was looking around in wonderment. Younger and less travelled than the other brothers, he had been brought up on the Iraqi-Syrian border. In his late teens joining the swelling ranks of ISIS, took up arms and fought for the free Syrian army. Seeing a developed country such as Spain was an eye opener. Two bikini clad blonde women walked past giggling together looking at their phones, Abdul didn’t know where to put his eyes. 

Mustafa stopped and watched knowing this would be a spectacle. He chuckled to himself and hit Abid. He was less impressed by the nakedness of the women. 

“Whores!” he said under his breath. 

Mustafa eyed for second, “This is not our land brother.”

“Yet!” he said, throwing a look at Mustafa.

“Relax, you’ll stand out in a place like this, change your face, you look like you are going into battle.” Mustafa checking the paper street map of the La Manga resort.

“Are we not?” Abid stated “and you, you buffoon, put your tongue back into your mouth and try to look a little normal.”

Trying to fit in a western holiday resort would be a stretch. The three of them had just trekked across the North African planes, into Melilla, the freeport town that bordered Morocco. Owned for centuries by the Spanish. The port a hive of smuggling, drug running and the new money spinner, immigrants, and refugees looking for new horizons in the wealthy European cities.

The three of the them were already on watch lists around the world, and crossing the legit routes through Turkey would have ended up, at best, being thrown back across the border by the Turkish police, at worst, being renditioned by the Americans or British intelligent services. The rumours amongst the ISIS fighters is water boarding, toenails and ball bag removal was de rigour of the interrogation practices. The only way through into Europe was on false papers and through a port that could be bribed. Melilla was the place. The port was a hitch pitch of tax dodging conglomerates working in Spain from the North African coast line, to hookers openly touting their wares throughout the day. It wasn’t a location to bring the family. 

The brothers spent most of their time out in the open, having to wait 24 hours for a free space on the ferry. Being strict Muslims and fanatical in their ideology prevented them from cruising the bars and clubs that offered cheap booze, cheap sex, and a cheap dose of the clap. 

The ferry crossing was rough. The Mediterranean was normally a mill pond of emerald beauty, but not on their crossing. The waves choppy and unsettling. All three brothers spending most of the time seeing the inside of their guts. The ferry docking in the coastal resort town of Almeria. The town on a peninsula serviced by a main line rail network that could get you to Madrid, Valencia, or Paris in a matter of hours.

Directly opposite the ferry post entrance was the Esplanade, and the Muslim district of the town. They felt at home in this quarter. Down the Calle Real and Paseo de San Luis, the streets littered with smoking houses and Arabian restaurants. The town was off the beaten track of most holiday makers so the security of the town was tangibly laxed.

The following day they took the train to Cartagena, the Spanish naval port, then took the bus to La Manga. The 45 minute bus journey was like a pressure cooker. The air was broken and the bus packed with workers for the sprawl of hotels and bars. Polished and suited and booted. The three brothers were suspiciously eyed. Their tracksuits dirty, the smell of sweat hung around them like a men’s locker room. The dirt and dust ingrained into the pores of their skin. Incongruous to the direction that they were travelling in. Either you worked at La manga or you holidayed there, it wasn’t the spot for travellers to fall into.

The bus stopped with a hiss, the suspicion bucking backwards and forwards as the doors opened and the contents spilled out, hitting the ground walking quickly, the occupants spreading out different directions to where their place of work was. The three brothers gingerly stepped out and stood. The doors closing, the hiss of the brakes and the grinding of gears and cloud of black smoke the bus pulled away leaving them behind.

“This way.” Mustafa said orientating the map to the direction of travel. Cars sped past, westerners in little clothing, the beach stretched out to their right.

“Allah protect me,” Abdul said “the women are topless.” he said running to catch them up.

“We should run our fatwa here, teach these infidels to dress properly.”

“Hush!” Mustafa spat, Abdi shaking his head in disgust. 

“We have our orders, what happens here is of no consequence, their day will come in no time, youngest brother.” 

He stopped, looking up at the greying concrete high rise that was the two star Aparthotel Riga.

The windows brown, most likely grime. Billowing net curtains had been sucked out to some of the windows

Outside the main entrance bordered by brown bulrush weeds that had been arranged as a screen, hid the table and chairs connected to the bar. Mustafa smiled, he saw the fourth brother. The youngest. Ejaz had travelled the traditional route. He was Oxford educated like his eldest brother, Mustafa, but followed a career in law. His practice in the border city of Reyhanli and had become more and more isolated to the ways of the west. He had however been left alone from any watch list. He knew this as he always kept tabs on his brothers activities in ISIS through paid contact in the Turkish security services. His route to La Manga was a more traditional, civilised route. He travelled by plane to Valencia, and hired a car. Drove the 322 kilometers to the resort and had arrived three days earlier. Monitoring the brothers’ progress through the lawless towns and cities of North Africa.

The brothers approached. The scrape of a chair on the bobbly surface of the patio cause Ejaz to look up from his newspaper. A western edition of hatred towards the Muslims on the whole. He didn’t flinch or move as he looked over the broadsheet, the broad smile gave way to perfectly white teeth.

They sat, his Coke fizzing gently around the blocks of ice just breaking the surface of the drink. Abdi picked it up and drained it, his Adam’s apple bobbing to get the cool liquid in him.

“Help yourself brother,” he said, still smiling “you bastards made it then?” Ejaz turned and clicked his fingers.

The waiter came over. Jeans and a scruffy tee shirt. He wasn’t from the same clan of workers that were on their bus.

“Water,  the biggest jug you have and coffees all round.”

“Brother, it’s good to see you.” Mustafa said grabbing his shoulder. 

Ejaz patted the hand resting on his shoulder, “I know, I watched your progress on my phone, you had made good time, I was expecting you tonight or tomorrow.”

“We would have been earlier if the ferry tickets had been booked and paid for.” Abdi chided.

“I hear you brother,” Ejaz said “but you know we couldn’t take the risk, we have to move silently.”

“Any word on what we have to do?” Abdul said. They all went quiet as the waiter placed the jug and drinks on the table.

“Can I get you guys a menu, something to eat?”

“Yes, in a moment though, let us enjoy our drink before the torture of finding what to eat on your gargantuan menu.” Ejaz said, delivering that brilliant smile.

He nodded curtly.

“Seriously, the menu is enormous brother, over one hundred dishes on it.”

Abdi’s eyes swelled “one hundred” he said in disbelief, clearly the first time in a western restaurant.

Ejaz laughed, “Like Oxford, eh brother?” he said slapping Mustafa, Abdi and Abdul pulling a face. Abdul didn’t give a shit about Oxford but he knew Abdi did. He was as brainy, but the money only stretched to send two. The eldest got first dibs and the spoilt fourth son got a one way ticket, but why Baha, the boys’ sister who was younger than all of them was a mystery. She should have been married off and with children at the age of 16. But was carted off to boarding schools in London, then onto a university seduction in politics at UCL. All Abdul and Abdi had was a rudimentary education and was field stripping weapons by the age of 14. In active combat by the age of 16. Both Abdi and Abdul were now in the early 30’s, missing the hay days of Al Qaeda. Having to take on ferocious NATO troops in the hinterlands of Afghanistan and Northern Iraq with the Taliban. The war in Syria was demonstrably easier until the Russians got involved. Mustafa a young boy in Afghanistan remembered the Russians. Brutal and sadistic, but utterly uncontrollable. Their biggest downfall was their command was useless, and was exploited by the veteran mujahideen fighters now in command of ISIS and Al Qaeda.  Only in Syria as an observer force, the Hinds and Kamov Ka-50 Black sharks buzzed around Aleppo and Homs like bees around a jar of honey. The Assad regime saying that they were Syrian pilots, which of course was bullshit.

“I still don’t know the full plan what we have in store for us, all I know is that we must catch a plane tomorrow.” he rummaged in his pocket, pulled out a post-it.

He passed it around. Mustafa the final person, he took his Zippo out and lit it.

“So I thought today, today being the last day on the earth for us before we ascend to the promised lands. You all need to be cleaned up.” He fished in his pocket again, and past around room keys, all in sequential order, all at the back of the hotel and away from the front and on the ground floor.

“Then we enjoy the fruits the resort has to offer.” 

The brothers all smiled, Ejaz turned and clicked his fingers, “Bring your menu of your one hundred meals, waiter.” smiling. 

The menus delivered, “Praised be to God, I have never seen such foods.” Abdul said.

 

The next day, the men were looking more respectable. In their holiday attire, they met briefly at the hotel for breakfast.

“The long meaty food is pork.” Ejaz whispered in Abidi’s ear.

“You’re joking me, swine, disgusting.”

At the table, each had an A5 envelope.

“Okay, I leave in ten minutes, I am taking the bus to Cartagena, Mussy, you are taking the hire car. The instructions are in the envelope. You two are taking the bus, it leaves every fifteen minutes and takes nearly two hours to get there. Make sure you get to the departure lounge through security by 3pm, tell me what time.” he stated.

They both concurred the time.

“Make sure you are wearing this badge.” He handed out a large badge. It was white, with the Arabic calligraphic words saying Allah.

“Wear it on you left side, when you go through passport control, ask the man on aisle two, if you need to take the badge off, show him like this.”

Ejaz used both hands to present the badge, “then say the following words ‘God is with you,’” he paused “‘always.” He should say to you ‘indeed…God is great.”

The brothers nodded.

“Say it to me brother, Abdul.”

Abdul felt a tinge of embarrassment. He presented the badge, “God is with you always, he will say to me ‘indeed, God is great.’”

“Then your a dead man.”

“Less Ikhtak, I said exactly what you said brother.” Abdul said.

“You did, but you didn’t.” 

Abdul looked confused, “Mussy, tell them.” Ejaz said.

The elder wise brother smiled, he knew. “You forgot the pauses dearest Abdul, the pause is the code, forget that, and your finished, if the guard forgets it, you or all of us are blown.”

Ejaz smiled his broad smile, “Mussy is right, the pause is part of the code. Use the pauses and practice.”

Ejaz looked at his watch, “I have to go. Listen, no phones, no communication, be through security by 3PM, and meet at the coffee lounge on the second floor, you will see me there.”

He embraced them all, “Assalamu alaikum brother Abidi, Abdul, and to you eldest brother Mustafa, from here on in, we do not know each other until the plan has unfolded. Today is a good day to become one of the martyrs.”

“Allahu Akbar brother Ejaz, your efforts will not go unnoticed in the garden of Allah.”

Ejaz smiled, stood back and took his brothers in. Steely eyed dealers of death to the infidel. “Today, the infidels will take notice, and the Massoud family name will be etched in the halls of martyrdom such as Bakri, Bin Laden, and Atwah. They will be the talk of every westerner by the end of the day. Like 9/11!”

 

Abdi and Abdul were the last to arrive at the terminal. The heat was searing, no shade. The concrete of the building and asphalt radiating the unremitting stereo of heat through the feet and head.

“This heat mat, Allah be praised that we get away from it” Abdul said.

Abdi shouldered the bag from the bus, ran his fingers through his hair checking out the surroundings.

“What has Allah got in store for us brother?” as the two walked towards the terminal building.

“We shall be written in the stars.” Abdul said, Abdi threw him a glance.

“What the cleric said in Raqqa Abdi, we shall become immortal to our cause.”

Abdi laughed.

“What’s so funny?” Abdul asked angrily.

“You believe, don’t you?” the doors to the departure terminal swished open, the cold refrigerated air licked their moist bodies.

Abdul grabbed his brother’s arm.

“What do you mean brother, are you not a believer?”

He snapped his arm back, “Of course, but I don’t think we believe the same things.” 

Abdi looked around, they were in the middle of the doorway, the door trying to swoosh closed, people jostling past with overfilled suitcases on wheels.

“I don’t understand.” Abdul said, “We have fought many battles, and you think that it was for nothing?”

Abdi smiled, guided his brother out of the way of the thoroughfare. 

“I believe in the cause, as for this martyrdom, brother, this is bullshit, you think that there are virgins waiting for you up there?” pointing his finger, Abdul followed the finger and gazed upwards to the ducting and lighting of the airport terminal, “you think that this is true?”

“What else are we supposed to believe, it’s what we have been taught all of our lives.”

Abdi placed his hands on the shoulders of his brother, the rucksack slid down the arm into the crook of the elbow.

“The rule of sharia and the text of the the holy book is what I believe, but this notion that we are to die for the cause and receive riches beyond our wildest dreams is preposterous. The world views us as clowns brother, not fighters and we behave like them.”

“Then why?” Abdul’s voice getting louder.

“Shhhush!” Abdi said.

“Because I believe that the world ought to be governed by our laws. We win by the womb and take over the world, Allah’s teachings will prevail. Also,” he looked around the terminal to see if there was anyone closer listening.

“Also what?” Abdul said.

“I’m tired brother, tired of all of this. We live in a ramshackle home, bombed daily by the Russians, Syrians, and the Yankee drones. We have nothing. This way I get to go out on my terms. Not the terms of the infidels.”

Abdul looked at his brother, the anger dissipating. He understood. Searching his own feelings he sensed worry and nervousness, like the feeling he had when he visited the Hajj for his pilgrimage.

“Okay, okay I get it.”

Abdi grabbed his shoulders now, “I have your back brother, like always. You wouldn’t be alive if it was for me, you know that right?”

Abdul nodded, his eyes sweating, he wiped, “I know brother, I know.”

Abdi jutted his chin to the baggage drop in, “We have to move Abdul, the time is getting close.” He clocked Mustafa walking to the escalator, he had already dropped checked in. Either he had seen his brothers or not, he played a good game.

Check in took five minutes, the airline representative swiftly checked them in, they scaled the same escalator as Mussy had. Passport control, the queue was long, the sun trying to breach the thick glass, keeping in the cold air. It didn’t stop the sweat prickling the top lip of Abdul, going over and over the code that he had to say. He fingered the large stupid badge on his tee shirt. People glancing down and judging their western fucking ways.

He presented his false paperwork to the man in aisle two. He looked him up and down, Abdi was behind him, about five people down.

“Shoes and belt sir.” the security officer barked, Abdul complied. 

“My badge, do I need take it off?” he looked down at the badge and looked back up, the officer was stone faced, “God is with you…always.” He emphasised the pause.

“Indeed…God is great.” he waved him through still not smiling, the relief shot through Abdul like a bolt. He glanced over his shoulder, fighting the urge to remain and wait for his brother was almost overwhelming, he turned and headed for the departure lounge following the signs for the eateries.

 

Mustafa sat reading a magazine. He didn’t really know what the mag was, it was left on the seat when he sat down. He was nonchalantly flicking the pages, sunglasses on, looking around. He was sat opposite the gate that was going to be called. Passengers of different ages and backgrounds filed in. Some still worse for wear from the night before on the strip, and families with young children. The children racing up and down making a noise. Using his foot, he pushed his bag a bit further under the chair still flicking the pages. He clocked Ejaz sit a few rows away, he was eating a baguette, the contents slowly dropping out the other end, he knew he would get mad; A stickler for cleanliness and smarts. A few moments later, Abdi and Abdul entered together. Abdi looked like their father, the resemblance was uncanny. Abdul was more like their mother. A beautiful woman. Both parents killed in a drone strike on the Iraqi border, the home town of Fallujah. The time to make the stand was today. All four brothers would die today. Mussy shared the same views as his brother, Abdi. If Malak al-Maut comes and takes their souls, the two angels that question them on the other side to validate their dedication to Allah. Munkar and Nakir will see right through Mussy’s beliefs, his place in Jahannam was assured. The truth be told the only reason why he fought was because that’s all he knew, there was no life in the peaceful caliphate. He had nothing apart from a damaged body and a damaged mind. His hatred for the west remained a constant feeling of bitterness and anger. Just sitting in the departure lounge of a western airport demonstrated why he hated them.

Couples openly petting each other. Women wearing hardly any clothes and being openly sexual. Men behaving like children. The alcohol consumption carried on even in the lounge. He still didn’t know how he was going to go out of this world, but knew that because of the secrecy, it was going to be a spectacular event. A small feeling of glee fired through his belly, seeing the people of this plane slaughtered for the greater good was all that drove Mustafa.

His attention was diverted. An elderly man with a slightly younger woman came into view. They sat opposite, he was clearing the seat and holding some hot drinks and food. She sat and took one of the cups and sandwiches from his. He gently touched her leg. She leaned and kissed his neck lovingly. Their features were obviously jewish. Then he saw it. The man had removed his jacket, on the left was the marking. Grossly elongated, approximately three inches in height but faded. For the naive this would look like the man had marked his skin with a felt tip pen a bank number or someone’s phone number. Mussy knew the truth. One thing the Nazi’s didn’t do was discriminate against anyone that entered the Katset system of the concentration camps. Young, old, man, woman, and in this case, nothing but a child would be branded a number serialising the classification of who they were and which Katset they were imprisoned in.

Must be in his eighties Mussy thought. He kept flicking, the man tucked into his sandwich, taking big bites. This was a man that had a lot to live for, pity he would do what the Nazis couldn’t seventy years ago.

Passengers travelling to London Stansted are advised that the aircraft has been called for boarding, priority boarding passengers please make their way to the gate.”

Mussy checked his ticket, he knew that he didn’t have priority boarding, the command wouldn’t be that generous. People stood and made their way, the final announcement was for the cheap seats to queue up. 

Ejaz stood in the front of the queue, his shades perched on top of his head. He was talking to a woman. Mussy wondered if he had sampled the western woman, he glanced behind. Two thirds down the line was the other two, shades on looking menacing. He smiled inwardly. This must be like a clown show for them. He checked the envelope that Ejaz had given him. Inside was another envelope, he opened the paper folded in half, the Arabic scrawl beautifully written. He recognised the handwriting by his young sister, Baha. He smelt the page, her scent followed her wherever she went, cardamom and oudh. Intoxicating. She was a fiesty woman living in the western world. He envied her ability to live amongst the infidels, sometimes worrying that she may convert and turn her back on the family and the caliphate. But she hadn’t. She had given her life to the cause. Her time will come. His eyes scanned the pages:

 

At 28,000 feet, the pilot will switch the seat belt sign off. Immediately, without delay go to the front toilet, use the key in this envelope to open the mirror. Behind it is a compartment. You will find a Tec 9, along with a radio frequency scrambler. Switch the scrambler on immediately cutting all communication to the outside world. Gain control of the flight deck in whatever way you can. Plumb these coordinates into the plane on a trajectory of -375 alpha. There is the same at the rear of the aircraft that Ejaz will get. The boys have vests under their seats to assist you in gaining control of the aircraft.

You will go down in history brother, you will die a good death and your place in Jannah is made for you. The family will be remembered forever more.  

 

He inhaled the letter again, the images of his sister playing amongst the roses that his mother grew. 

“There is no one that loves a rose.” she would say, Baha shrieking hidden from view. It was a memory that he cherished.

“Sir, please.”

He snapped out of his trance, the small, balding, fat, spaniard stood with his arm out, “boarding card, please.”

Mussy handed them over. 

“Thank you, have a pleasant trip.”

The wait to get on the aircraft was free for all. He didn’t understand as everyone was allocated a seat. The two brothers walking quicker had overtaken him, he thought about quickening his pace to over take them. But the usual sibling competitiveness would prevail with a sprint to the gate and that just wouldn’t do. They were incognito from the other passengers and themselves.

Slowly, Mustafa found his seat. He sat after storing his rucksack. Clipped into the seatbelt and sat back. It took another ten minutes for the passengers to settle. 

He was sat and the familiar smell filled his nose. He pulled out the letter again, smelt the fragrance. But it wasn’t from the parchment, the scent was stronger, then he saw her. His sister. She was on the plane. The hairs stiffened on the back of his neck, goosebumps popped up throughout his body, the elation that he was seeing his sister, but the realization she was working on the plane as a stewardess. Which meant she was to die as well.

She came over, her appearance upset Mussy. She was uncovered, wearing a tight pencil skirt and equally tight blouse. Her full bosom omnipresent in her appearance. Men were looking at her.

As she approach he grabbed her arm and pulled her down, “What the fuck, sister?”

She kissed him on his cheek, it had been far to long since she saw her brothers, Mussy was a special one.

“Greetings, Omar insisted that I join you on this mission, it is I that has planned it, down to the last detail, play your part.”

“I will not.” he hissed holding her down further.

“Is this man bothering you?” a voice came, a young attractive blonde woman was sitting next to Mustafa. 

“Let go of her arm, you fucking weirdo.”

Mussy shot her a glance. 

“You don’t frighten me mate, let go of her or I’ll make a scene you’ll fucking regret.”

Mussy considered for a moment, snapped her arm away, quickly unbuckling his seatbelt and followed her to the front stewards cabin.

“Baha, listen, get off this plane now, I command you.”

She laughed, “Sir, can you take your seat please, we will be taking off any moment now, if you don’t, I will be forced to inform the captain.”

Her english was prefect, too perfect Mussy thought, reluctantly he turned  and went back to his seat. The three brothers heads canted and staring up the aisle of the plane astonished that Mussy was covorting with a woman. He shook his head and took his seat. 

“Fucking weirdo, got my eye on you mucker, any of your bollocks I’ll see you collecting a police car at the other end.”

Mustafa ignored the woman, clipped himself in again and closed his eyes, the sweat was beginning to build.

 

The aircraft took off, the cheering of the party goers was unnecessary Mussy thought. 

————————

The bong trigger the seatbelt sign clicked off.

Mussy didn’t hang around, he unclipped his belt and stood. He looked up the aisle of the plane and saw Ejaz already heading for the rear toilet. The game was on. Entering the tight space, Mussy felt his pocket for the white plastic key. He inserted it in the circular hole to the side of the mirror. The mirror fasteners popped off and a small crack appeared. He put his hands into it and the mirror swung open. Resting against the wires and switches was the Tec-9, four magazines of thirty rounds, and a black box with an antenna and another envelope. He picked it up, checked it over, the on/off switch wasn’t obvious. The light was poor. 

There was a knock at the door, “Come on mister, you’ve been in there ages.” came a voice. 

The woman who was seated next to him. He looked at the door, considered it for a second then went back to the sleek black unit, his fingers running over the device, his middle finger suddenly giving way, a red light faded on, then flashed green. The LCD display flicked on, a radar sweep was searching for signals, then found the signal it needed. He could hear the pilot speaking to the tower. He waited for the conversation to end, as soon as the pilot said over he hit jam. The unit beeped for a few seconds, there was another knock at the door, this time a little urgent.

He put the device back into the space behind the mirror, grabbed the Tec-9, placed a magazine in, pulled the cocking lever and forward assisted the lever ramming a round into the chamber. He noticed a silencer on the shelf from where the mags came form. Clicked it into place on the end of the muzzle. 

He noticed the ammunition was low velocity HUSH rounds. Smaller speeds, the silencer slowing the round down even further. He smiled as Baha would have thought about the aircraft’s fuselage. Each round had to be accounted for. Simply spraying the weapon at this altitude was utter madness.

The knock came again, Mussy closed his eyes and pulled out his prayer beads. He rocked gently, “Allah is the Greatest, I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Rush to prayer, rush to success. Allah is the greatest.” flicking through the beads, the knocking persisting the anger coming through the door. 

Mustafa stopped rocking, opened his eyes, turned, unlocked the door, the door folded in two parts. The young woman that was sat next to him was about to tear into him, he levelled the machine pistol to her face, she didn’t have time to respond, her eyes almost going cross eyed staring down the barrel of the gun, 

“ayreh feek ya sharmouta” 

The slack taken up on the trigger, jolted as the firing pin slammed into the percussion cap of the bullet, instantly ejecting out the side of the weapon, the round flashing through the skull of the woman, legs buckling under her weight no longer getting the cerebral messages that the legs had been used to. Mussy stepped out, fired again at the girl who was sat next to the girl that Mussy had just shot. The man opposite the aisle where he had sat got up to run, he got three rounds in the back and flew himself forward dead before he hit the floor. 

Mussy grabbed the cabin intercom, “EVERYONE GET DOWN, KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!” 

Ejaz was already out of the toilet he had shot five people at the rear. Remarkably, the plane was calm, only the sobbing of the pathetic children. Some women were crying, there was no screaming though. The whole take over had taken less than six seconds. Mussy nodded to Abdi and Abdul, they had reached under their seats and pulled out their vest. They looked at each other down the aisle, Abdul smiled at his brother. The plane was the target. 

Abdi walked down the plane, he saw his sister, thought not to say anything. The Iraqi was thick and fast, both talking at the same time.

“We have to fly the plane into these coordinates, 51.4995 north, 0,1248 west.” 

Abdul plotted them on the map, the map said the House of Parliament, London, England.

Abdul smiled. 

“Where is the location, brother?” Mussy asked. 

“The lions head brother, we strike the lions head.” showing him the location on the map.

Mussy smiled, slapped his brother on the back. 

“Sir, sir?”

They both looked up, a priest, in catholic garb, was standing, his hands outstretched. 

“Sir please.”

Mussy looked at Abdul, Abdul smiled and took the Tec-9, aimed and operated the trigger, the round found its mark, centre mass. The blood spurted and the priest fell back onto another passenger who was now screaming.

Mussy opened the envelope from the behind the mirror, the screaming fading as his mind focussed.

There are pictures of children and a woman. A letter in the enveloped, with the same scent form the letter he had previously opened, his eyes searched for his sister, she was braced forward, head down playing a good game.

 

The pilot’s wife and children. The home will be invaded the moment the aircraft takes off. If you’re reading this, then we have spoken.

 

He looked up and smiled.

 

To get the pilot to open the door, slide these images under the door after ringing the call bell. He can’t legally open the door for anything, the gamble is that his family is at risk, he may just open it. I have had sexual relations with this man…

 

He looked up again, pausing and looking at his sister. He felt pity that she had to stoop so low as to have sex with a married westerner for the cause.

 

… use me as bait to get his attention further, good luck brother!

 

He turned, slid the paperwork that contained a letter in English that Mussy didn’t bother reading. Hit the call bell. He grabbed the ginger haired stewardess, grabbed the machine pistol from Abdul and stood six feet away from the door. The pale white light shone through the pee hole, suddenly going black. He had the pilot’s attention, the cabin intercom came on.

“I can’t open this door, the law forbids me from doing it.”

Abdul reached for the intercom receiver, he held it to Mussy’s ear, “You have ten seconds to open the door, ten, nine, eight…” 

The woman started to fight, Abdul punched her hard in the gut, she screamed.

“Do what you must, I simply cannot open the door.” Mussy had caught the emotion in the pilot’s voice “…four, three, two, one.” The woman stopped fighting, he looked down, the barrel blanching the skin on her temple. Her name was Fiona, pretty girl. Mussy’s eyes narrowed, the slack of the trigger taken up, she tried to fight him off again with renewed vigour, the hair trigger spat the empty brass out against Mussy’s chest, he felt the heat from the ejected case as her body suddenly went limp, her legs buckling, he let her go, as she slid down her eyes dialed into him, her soul leaving her pretty body.

He turned and grabbed Baha. Her western name was Salima. She wasn’t expecting it, she screeched as Mustafa grabbed her, dragging her to the front of the plane. The white spy hole went dark again.

“Ten seconds, then your fucking bitch gets the round.” he spat. 

“Please Colin, open the door, I’m scared.” Baha screamed, Mussy’s feet suddenly becoming wet, Baha had pissed herself.

The spy hole went white again, then dark. The door clicked open, Mussy threw Baha to the side, she fell onto the Jewish old couple. He was in!

 

“Get in the seat!” he scolded to the captain. He was a thin man with gaunt features, and chinless wonder. Baha must have struggled to sleep with this guy  Mussy thought. 

He showed him the paper, “These coordinates, plumb them into your navigation system.” Mustafa caught the copilot tapping on the control panel to his right, Mustafa stamped with his foot, the copilot groaning in agony. 

“Your communication system is disabled, you won’t be able to communicate with ground control, and your radar signature is now offline. You are invisible captain. Fly to these coordinates on this constant trajectory.”

The captain looked at it, his mind doing mental calculations, Mustafa saw it.

“That’s right, the trajectory in a constant decline to the target, we are all to die in the next two hours, you make the choice right now that it is just you that dies today and not your family.”

The pilot gulped, Mustafa heard it. 

“How can I have assurances that my family will be safe?”

Mustafa laughed, “You don’t, you have to find the faith to believe that my brothers won’t hurt your family.”

There was a knock at the knock. Abdul walked in and handed Mustafa a drink of water, he suddenly realised that he was sweating, his tee shirt around his neck was wet. 

“Do it!” he chided pushing the barrel of the machine pistol into the nape of the neck, the pilot’s head jolting forward.

“I can’t do this sir, you’re asking me to kill over two hundred people, I can’t do it.”

Mustafa glared at him. He needed the a pilot, the copilot was sat facing front not moving, not saying anything.

“Why do you need two pilots in a plane?” Abdul asked looking around the cockpit.

“You have all this fancy electronics, why do you need two?”

“You need two because you need one to fly, the other to assist, and take over if the captain falls ill.”

Mustafa looked at Abdul, they smiled at each other, he leveled the gun at the copilot’s head and operated the trigger, the report echoed around the confined space as a loud hiss, the copilot jerked and fell forward on the controls, blood spurting from the hole in his head.

The pilot jumped back, screaming, “What the fuck?” he shouted, “You didn’t have to do that.”

“You’re not cooperating with me captain, I need your full attention to what I want you to do.” pointing the smoking barrel at the pilot.

“It’s useless pointing that gun at me, I’m all you have.” he said with a sneer, he paid for it dearly. The folding butt of the weapon clicked into place, deliberately Mustafa took up a fighting stance and butt stroked the pilot square in the face, his nose spread across his features like a squashed plum. 

“Fetch me the two old Jews, you can’t miss them.” he said looking over his shoulder.

————————

Near to the rear of the plane, three men, big, toned, and muscular were sat calmly in their seats muttering to each other. The nearest to the aisle was Dinger, ex-pathfinder and veteran of many operational tours. He had left the regiment four years earlier and joined the police fast tracking to SO19 anti terrorist. 

He had been accompanied on the journey by two of his friends, Big Verne and Malc Forsyth, both still serving in the pathfinding platoon of 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. Verne, a 110 kg crossfitter from Fiji with a neck the size of most men’s thighs, squeezed next to him was a much leaner and by his own admission, a fitter athlete, Malc. A west country bar brawler, joined the army almost twenty years earlier at the request of the local magistrate. The day the magistrate suspended Malc’s sentence for fighting and causing an affray was the day he walked in the army recruiting office. He hadn’t looked back.

Dinger was feeding intelligence to the two who were crouched down in the brace position, Dinger was trying to glean as much strategic information as he could without being notice.

“One tango behind, Tec-9, I can see three mags with one in the gat, Two further tangos, skinny little cunts wearing what appears to be a suicide vest, can’t determine if they’re real or for show. The other tango is in cockpit, I think he’s just shot one of the pilots.”

“I heard the hiss, using subsonic ammo, these guys know their shit.” Malc said.

“We need a plan, assuming that we’re going to get slotted anyway, is a do or die I think. We need the penis at the back to get past us. There is a sat phone in the galley.”

“How do you know this?” Verne asked.

“It’s a standard requirement, no one really knows. It’s so the crew can communicate with the outside world, we need to dominate this situation and get brass on the blower.”

“This flight has a little under two hours left, we have to hit ‘em in the next fifteen minutes, no ifs buts’ candy and nuts, we’ll all have a merry Christmas. Let’s try and keep it clean.” Malc said. 

Verne smiled, “Didn’t think I would get to mix-it with the rag heads again.”

“We need the dude at the back to get forward, how can we do this?”

There was a commotion towards the front.

Dinger leaned forward, touched the arm of the woman in front, “What’s happening?”

“They’ve singled out a Jewish couple, they want them at the front.”

—————

The old man was jostled to the front, his wife in tow. She was crying, he was stoic. Unemotional, eyes clear as day.

Mustafa grabbed him and brought him into the cockpit. 

“What is your name infidel?”

The old man smiled, he pulled on the sweater he was wearing to try and cover up the numbers on his arm. Mustafa clocked it, he grabbed his arm, studied the tattoo. Faded but still very much there.

“Which camp?”

The old man eyed him, the stare penetrating Mustafa. 

“Come on Jew, tell me.”

The inflection of the Jew snapped the old man out of the stare he was busy with.

“Camps?” he said. 

The man glanced over to his wife, she was on her knees in the middle of the aisle of the stewards cabin, “Freeda, look at me.” he said. 

She slowly lift her gaze, eyes filled with tears. 

“Be strong my love, they cannot take anything away from you, remember what I told you.”

She sobbed and nodded.

The hand of Mustafa struck the old man hard. 

“Don’t talk to your wife, look at me infidel.”

He slowly returned the gaze to Mustafa. 

“I spent three years as a young boy in Dachau, Auschwitz and finally the worst three days at Treblinka,” his stare hardened. “There’s is nothing you can do to me that I already haven’t had robbed from me, you see my reality is in here.” a gnarly finger tapped the side of his head.

There was a long pause between Mussy and the old man, “Your name, old man?” Mustafa said.

“My name is Adam Feigenbaum, and this beautiful woman is my wife, Freeda, but none of that matters here sir, we are playing your game. Let us stop the game and do what you must.”

“Are you not afraid to die?”

“I spent my youth worrying about death every second. First the Einsatzgruppen Tilset in Eastern Poland, then the SS at the camps. I have spent an inordinate amount of time living my life since the nightmare ended to be a good man, good father and good husband.” he smiled momentarily at Mussy returning to the hard stare, “As I have said sir, you must do whatever you need to do. I am but an old man, my wife is older, if you need to kill me, or her then please just do the honorable thing and kill us now with no ceremony.”

Mustafa turned to the pilot, “Enter the coordinates!”

He shook his head looking at his copilot, “I can’t, I just can’t.”

Mustafa didn’t hesitate, he turned, walked the four paces to the where Freeda was kneeling, placed the carbine against her forehead, she looked up and smiled, slowly closed her eyes, BLAM!

The passengers erupted, a frenzy, the brothers had to use force to calm the cabin, it took a minute or so to calm the passengers. Mustafa felt shame, he turned to the old man. He fought against not, as the shame of killing the old lady in cold blood compromised his ideology which was paradoxical.

The man was just looking at his wife, lying on the cabin floor. The red pool spreading like a spilt bucket around her head.

“You are going to be next.” Mustafa said.

“I truly hope so, sir.” Adam said, “Let me ask you though, back in the camps I didn’t have the courage to ask my captors how they felt. It’s a question that I demand from you now.”

“You compare me to a Nazi?” Mustafa said incredulously.

“I do not.” Adam said, “But the action and feelings must be the same. How do you live with yourself knowing that this is all for nothing?”

“That is where you are wrong, Jew.”

“Do you think 9/11 is remembered with any great feeling? You will no doubt kill everybody and yourselves on this plane, but the people that drink their coffee tomorrow morning will get over the revulsion of your action the moment their car doesn’t start, or their train is late, or their boss has fired them, you see nobody cares really.” he said, the R’s rolling.

Mustafa thought for a moment, “Allah commands this, and the world has to fall into place.”

“Your God told you to kill my wife, is telling to weaponize this plane, and kill everyone in it and everything it hits no doubt. I spent three years seeing the how disgusting a human can be to another human, you are no different. The ubiquitous answers I got from my time in the camps and the subsequent horrors of everything else that has happened since, we as a civilisation do not learn, we don’t deserve this beautiful world and there is no God, even your God. It’s hypocrisy.”

The anger bubbled in Mustafa, he grit his teeth. He forced the gun into the old man’s mouth dislodging his false teeth, Mustafa leaned in, “Now you find out if there is a God.” 

The report of the carbine was loud next to Mustafa’s ear, he held him with his free hand, pivoted on his feet and pushed the jerking body over the supine lifeless corpse of his dead wife. The plane was silent. The two brothers wearing the suicide vest were standing and staring. The line in the sand had been drawn. The moment the plane was hijacked hit the point of no return, but now there was absolutely no turning back. 

“Find me more Jews!” Mustafa barked.

——————-

“Right, here’s the plan, go with me, I’m gonna get him to the front, take him down, you then deal with the first bomber, Malc, you catch the gat I’m gonna throw you, you slot the second motherfucker.”

“What about the chopper at the front?” Malc asked.

“If you get a clear shot, take him down, if the ammo is correct, it shouldn’t breach the hull of the plane.”

“I think it’s called a fuselage, not a hull.”

Dinger looked at Verne, “I think you’re wrong mate.”

“No seriously, this is a plane, not a ship, hulls are on ships, mate.”

“It’s the same thing.” Dinger said, “They refer to everything on a plane like matelots do to ships.”

“I’ll google the cunt.” pulling his phone out, “bollocks, there’s no signal.”

“Earth to dozy twonks, earth to dozy twonks…” Malc both hands out “…what the fuck, seriously you choose now for your a barney?”

“For kicks, Malc.” Dinger said, his head shot forward.

“SILENCE!” 

Ejaz was standing behind Dinger aiming the machine pistol at his head, Dinger had no doubt the jihadi would use it.

He turned, smiled, “Sorry.”

“Face front and be silent.”

“You’re looking for Jews, right?”

“What do you mean, infidel?”

“Well your dragging Jews up, I’m Jewish.”

He let it hang, Ejaz was thinking. “Up, get up.”

Dinger went to get up, he glanced at his comrades and winked. He walked into the aisle, he felt the metal barrel of the silence gun between the shoulder blades. He got to almost the middle of the aircraft, he glanced over his shoulder, that should be far enough he thought. 

He stopped walking, he let the barrel push against his back, he leaned into it. 

“MOVE!” Ejaz shouted. 

Dinger spun, his hand grabbed the weapon, the safety catch was mid way down the shaft of the weapon, near the trigger mechanism, his fingers deftly located it and flicked it upwards, his middle finger squeezed through in between the trigger guard, Ejaz’s finger and the trigger, giving Dinger traction. His other hand punched the left arm of Ejaz, the gun jumped out of his hands. The big shovel like hands gripped Ejaz’s small face, Dinger brought his own head into contact with Ejaz’s nose, spreading it across his face. He screeched. The gun was tumbling, Dinger grabbed it and threw it to Malc, he was already waiting for it, behind Ejaz, Big Verne was waiting for Dinger to do his magic. With one hand on the back of Ejaz’s head, the other on his chin, he whippen the head sideways, a satisfying click and the legs buckled. Not like in films, the victim falls to their death, the reality is the victim is paralysed for ever, but grotesquely still alive. He didn’t fall fast enough, Dinger used his leg to break the knee joint. The sound loud and sickeningly audible, His leg was at a horrible angle.

Abdi seeing the whole thing, screamed for his brother and reached for the rip cord on his suicide vest. Baha sat two seats down hearing the commotion stood and reached into her blouse and pulled a P226.

The top slide blasted backwards and forwards, the 9mm Luger rounds slammed into the Dinger’s back. The stinging bulletins ripped into his muscular frame, he knew he was a goner, he just had to hold it together and drain the ammo until Malc had vectored her, the flash of the muzzle came from his front, Malc’s hand found his target, the shriek of the voice behind told Dinger she was done. He slumped to one knee, blood spattered his chin, he looked down, four of the rounds had exited through the front, both lungs were shredded, and the heart took at least one of the rounds. It was still trying to pump spastically, the tear the size of a kiwi fruit ejecting the final remnants of his circulating volume, the sinoatrial node still pinging the electrical impulse through the smooth muscle. A lady seated next to where Dinger stood watched in frozen terror as the scene unfolded and grabbed his arm guiding him into arms to die.

The cockpit to the aircraft was shut, the low velocity rounds fired drowned out by the whine of the Rolls Royce engines. Baha lay on the floor, her breathing rapid and shallow. The sucking chest wound making a sucking sound out the side of her right chest. The round hit her as Malc had intended. He didn’t want her dead. Her injured and alive would make a bigger target around her. The other brother converged, Verne was already on them, his big arms windmilling as his colossal fists came into contact with the first brother, Abdi. He went spark out, like the slow motion image in Fight Club, Verne wasn’t waiting for an encore, his next target was the other chopper. 

Abdul gritted out,  “I’ll blow this plane up!” his English was broken, he was holding the rip cord to the vest. 

Malc had sidled up to Verne’s rear, looking for the rear, he reached down and checked Ejaz, still had a bounding pulse. He stood on his leg, he knew what Verne had done, “I’d have killed the fucker!”

“It’s not Afghan, bro.”

Dinger was dead, Malc looked down, fore and middle finger pressed into his neck. Nothing. The old lady patted his hand. 

“The bravest man I have ever seen.” she said, tears had tumbled down her face. Malc nodded, he didn’t have time for sentiments.

“You think he’s carrying a real vest, Verne.”

“Dunno mate, only one way to find out, the way I see this, we’re fucking dead anyway. Let’s rush the chopper and fuck the consequences.”

“On your count, bro.”

“GO!” was all Malc heard.

“What the hell, heard of three, two, one!?” Malc turned, Verne was already tearing off towards Abdul.

“STOP, STOP!” he screamed. He pulled the cord…

Verne stopped, the sweat seeping into his mouth, the salty taste brought him back to Afghanistan, Sangin, the siege. The same forlorn feelings of hope, lying in the balance of a nutter. 

Nothing!

“Motherfucker, you gonna wish you had C4 round your rib cage after I have finished with you!” he lunged and grabbed Abdul by the head, and yanked him down. 

He managed to bring the bomber to the floor, Verne scrambled to his feet, the man was a little slower trying to regain a foothold. He didn’t see it coming, Verne had almost taken a run at him, he kicked Abdul around his chin like a freekick with a football. His head snapped back, Verne jumped on him, grabbed him by the throat and pummelled his face,. The swelling instant, the blood ran from every orifice. Abdul’s jaw hung sickeningly from its socket. Malc caught up with him having already retrieved the satellite phone.

“GET OFF HIM!” Malc screamed, he grabbed the pistol from the woman and threw it to Verne. 

Baha was still trying to breathe through the sucking chest wound on her side. The chest making a horrible sucking sound. Malc spun her over, grabbed some twine from the suicide vest and bound her hands. Baha winced in pain as Malc lashed her hands together. He saw a plastic bag on the floor under the feet of another passenger, he grabbed it. Tipped the contents out, pulled up Baha’s shirt and stuck the plastic on the wound. The sucking stopped. It bought them more time to save her life. Verne stood, in a firing stance, he’d checked the pistol mag, it still had six rounds in it. He would only need one, slightly pushing the top slide back the brass glint of the chambered round satisfying his curiosity. Seven rounds, but he told himself again that he would only need one!

“Can’t believe that those fuckers were wearing fake vests.”

“I know, keep an eye on that door, everyone be quiet.”

Malc positioned himself at the side of Verne, he was a big bastard. “Go down, as soon as the door opens, drop the cunt.” Malc said, “Let me make that call first.”

“Roger that.”

He fired up the phone, it took a couple of seconds to boot, the sweat was hanging off his nose and dripping onto the screen of the phone, he could feel his heart beat in his neck bulging and pulsing as the adrenaline was coursing through the veins, his ears on stalks waiting for that cockpit door to open, the clock ticking in his head. He scrolled through to the menu hoping that there were pre-installed numbers, his luck was in.

“Dinger’s been smoked, Malc.” 

He knew it already, “I know mate,” he looked down, Dinger was still in the sitting position the face ashen white. Clotted blood hung from his mouth like a demolition ball. The lady sat on the seat next to him was still holding his hand. Malc met the woman’s gaze, the fear in her eyes betrayed how she felt. 

“The three hoods still breathing?”

He checked them over, “Yeah. The woman is in a bad way, that plastic patch is slowly drowning her.”

Malc placed the receiver to his ear, “Good.”

There was pause, “It’s ringing.”

The line was crystal clear. It popped and crackled, then some beeps, a voice boomed on the other side.

“Skynet Alpha 30525.”

Malc glanced at the phone, placed it back on his ear, “Yeah, I guess if that’s the plane that took off from Alicante forty five minutes ago.”

There was a pause, “Who is this?”

“My name is Malcolm Chisholm, I am one of the passengers, okay, listen to me closely treacle as this conversation is likely to end quick smart.”

The voice calm and matter of fact, “Go on.”

“This plane has been hijacked by what we can determine as jihadis, going to take some photos and ping them over to you in a second. There’s one more hijacker in the cockpit, he’s armed with a Tec-9 machine pistol.”

“Are you military?”

“Roger that.”

“You’re not part of the hijack gang.”

Neggers.”

“Just hold the line.”

Malc crouched, a young boy was staring at him, his face grinning at Malc, when Malc clocked him he tried to hide his smile and look away, he ruffled his hair.

“What are their intentions?” the voice boomed again.

“Unclear at this point.”

“Can you deal with the lone hijacker?”

“Yes, we think we can.”

“WE?” the voice said.

“Yeah, here with one of my buddy’s, another one has been killed.”

“Any other fatalities?”

“Yeah, can’t give you a definitive at this point, but more than three.”

“Okay, keep the phone line open, and we will get back to you.”

Malc clocked a young woman staring at the ceiling of the aircraft. She looked together and unaffected by the event. 

He leaned over, “I need you to do me a favour, hold this phone to your ear and when the guy on the other end speaks, let me know.”

She looked at him and curtly nodded. 

He handed her the phone, “No sweat.” she said.

He turned to Verne, still staring down the sights of the pistol the slack of the trigger taken up.

“We good?” Malc said.

“Roger.”

Malc unslung the Tec-9, the weapon had a modification with a folding stock, he clicked it into place and shouldered the weapon. Pulled the mag off, checked the contents. There was enough. He felt Verne slip a spare in his back pocket, it felt heavy and pulled on his jeans. His legs soaked under the thick denim.

“Let’s go.”

They moved as a group of one, their feet in step with each other. They moved slowly and deliberately. The eyes of the passengers followed them down. Nothing was going to divert their attention, the ring leader was going to get hurt one way or an another.

They got to the front of the plane, about three rows of seats to the stewards galley, a man was looking very pale. 

“Move to the back of the plane.” Malc started telling everyone, “and be quiet, no noise.”

The passengers at the front didn’t need to be told twice. They unclipped, and silently moved to the rear of the plane.

Malc checked his watch. The flight time had only been fifty five minutes, “Fuck me this flight feels like it’s been flying to Bagram in Afghanistan.”

“In a freaking Hercules as well, sweating my tits off, mate.”

The door clicked open, the handle twisting, “Non fatal shot Verne, you have the round buddy.”

“Roger,” the door swung open, Verne let off three rounds, Malc was already moving towards Mustafa as the third round zipped past. One hit his shoulder, one in the thigh, and the other had winged Mustafa’s foot as he fell backwards. Malc launched at Mustafa. A seasoned jihadi of years of experience was already trying to zero his machine pistol, he didn’t see Malc. Suddenly he was on him, the weapon tossed from his grip. He swore as he tried to gain control but Malc was too strong. Also a combat veteran and a street brawler. He was a dirty fighter, almost rabid, screaming in Mustafa’s ear as the blows came in thick and fast. Verne was next to join the array, raining in blows as well. Mustafa’s bloody carcass grunting and groaning to the onslaught.

“Stop!” Verne said finally dragging Malc off. Blood was all down Malc’s top and jeans, his fist bloodied and grazed, spit had soaked his chin, he wiped it, as he turned to check the passengers, their faces in horror.

He leant against the toilet door, the pilot looked over his shoulder and held up his thumb, Malc smiled and returned the signal, thumbs up all round.

——————————

It took nearly ten minutes to to move the injured jihadi to the front of the plane, the dead to the rear, including Dinger. 

A man was standing in the aisle waiting for Malc to come back down.

“Why are you keeping those Muslims alive, they wanted to kill us?”

The man was a big chap, southerner, maybe Southampton, the gold chain, signet, and cheap tattoos told Malc he was dealing with a chopper. The kind of scum that roamed the street with the English Defence League picking on non English people because they didn’t fit a certain mould, they wouldn’t dare pick on Verne. Even Malc wouldn’t pick on Verne, he had seen first hand what the man could do in a fist fight, sometimes to the death in the compounds of Afghanistan.

“Sit down, sir.” Malc said.

“I won’t, and a good fair few of us on this plane want these rag heads to face justice.”

Malc stopped in the aisle he was a little shorter than the passenger blocking the gangway, nonetheless, Malc’s presence was intimidating, more so than right now after what the passengers had witnessed.

“That’s for the courts to decide mate, can you please get back to your seat?”

The passenger smiled, “I don’t think so chum, you see, we’ve bin talking while you have been beavering away, you know the rest of the passengers, they want blood?”

“You’re not touching the prisoners.”

“Ah, prisoners you call them now!”

“And your point is?”

“My point is, they ain’t getting off this plane.”

“Yeah!” came a voice from behind Malc.

“You’re not going to kangaroo court these jihadis and take the law into your own hands.” Malc said. The overall feeling on the plane was becoming more palpable.

“Why are you defending these scumbags?”

Malc winced as he touched his side, he was now feeling the tussle with Mustafa as the adrenaline was subsiding. 

“You can’t do this.” Malc said, but he wasn’t going to get in their way. In one respect he understood the sentiment amongst the other passengers, but his morale codes were being stretched, he felt it.

“The only way I can let you do this if you run a straw poll.”

‘How do you mean?” the passenger said.

“Put names in the hat, yes or no, yes to do things your way, no to do things my way.

“That’s sounds like a good idea.” came a voice with others agreeing.

Malc looked around the cabin of the aircraft. The faces showed signs of relief, the flight now only over one and half hours in the air, everyone was exhausted with the tension and stress.

“I’ll rip up the paper and hand out the pens.” one of the stewardess said.

Malc grabbed her, he looked at the name badge ‘Stacey’.

“You know the girl we took down?”

She peered over Malc’s shoulder, she could see her at the end of the plane, slumped not looking her best.

“I can’t believe it, I’ve know her for nearly three years.” she frowned, “I didn’t even know she was a Muslim let alone one of those!”

“She must have placed the weapons in the aircraft herself, there would have been no way that they would have got the hardware through security at Alicante.”

“She could have, anytime. We move booze and shit all the time, fags as well.”

Stacey motioned to the cockpit, “her and the pilot were shagging as well.”

“He’s married though, right?”

“Yeah, wife lovely, known Colin for a few years, shag anything with a pulse, it’s the only reason why he became a pilot.”

A passenger tried to get past them. 

“Where are you going?” Malc asked.

The passenger looked him up and down, “the bog.”

“Use the one at the front, that one’s out of order.”

Reluctantly, the passenger turned and made their way to the front.

Malc made his way to the rear of the plane, Mustafa was looking at the floor, the brothers also looking dejected, their faces told a thousand words, Verne was standing guard.

Malc crouched, “Peace be upon you.” he said to Mustafa. 

He looked up, spat, and nodded opened his lashed hands showing Malc his palms. The brothers watching in suspicion of the westerner greeting Mussy.

“The passengers are choosing whether or not to try you on the plane, we call it a kangaroo court.”

Mustafa smiled, spat blood onto the floor again, “I am well aware what a kangaroo court is.” 

Malc was taken aback by the terrorist’s perfect English. Not just English, but rounded and very educated.

“My accent has surprised you?”

Malc nodded and smiled, “A little.”

Mustafa smiled back, his teeth stained with blood.

“I was educated in Oxford, became disillusion blah blah blah, you know the story.”

“Tikrit or further north.”

“Mosul, My family,” indicating the boys “were brought up in the lush valleys around Mosul, my father a businessman who got caught up in the Kurdish uprising, was active in the Ba’ath party and was crushed after the war in ‘90.”

He looked up at Verne, “After the war in 2003 my family was in Fallujah when the American came thundering in, both my parents were killed by American planes.”

Malc sat next to him, the vibration of the plane shooting through his back, battering the bruising slowly forming on his body. Bruises were something that Malc was used to, it didn’t bother him!

“So you joined ISIS.”

“No!” Mustafa said laughing, he looked at the water bottle in Malc’s hands, Malc followed his gaze and offered him the bottle.

Mustafa drained it, stopped before finishing and offered the bottle to Abdul. Malcs hand stopped him, “Verne, get these guys some water.”

 He nodded.

“Thank you.” Mustafa said.

“I joined Al Qaeda first, my parents had connections to some of the clerics that were part of them, after blood-in with the Taliban in Northern Afghanistan, we were farmed out to which ever fatwa that was being waged. I did some time in Libya, a lot of time in Syria and fighting in Helmand,” he paused, suspecting that Malc was military.

“Four tours, one in Iraq, Basra.”

“Sangin?” Mustafa asked.

  Malc nodded as he was looking at the floor, the memory still raw in his mind, the siege at Sangin in the British Army was considered up there with Rorke’s Drift in South Africa against the Zulus.

“I was there at the siege.”

Mustafa turned and offered his hand, Malc surveyed it suspiciously. 

“I was there too, we threw everything at you, and you kept fighting. The war in Helmand turned on that fateful week.”

Malc took it, the brothers protesting, Mustafa chastised the brothers, they both bowed their head sand were silent.

“Ignore them, they don’t understand the way of the warrior, you and I are not dissimilar.”

“I think your predicament would argue that.”

Mustafa laughed. 

“What’s so funny?” Malc asked.

“I believe that we are where we are for a reason, I am here with you because we were destined to meet.”

It was Malc’s turn to laugh, “You could have just used Facebook!”

The passenger that Malc had spoken to earlier had come to the rear of the plane. Malc and Mustafa looked up.

“We’ve done the survey, the votes have been cast, can we talk?” he said nodding his head to the front of the plane.

“I won’t be a minute.”

“Why are you speaking to that scumbag?” the passenger asked.

Malc looked at Mustafa and then to the brothers, then to the passenger. 

“You must be ferocious in battle yet magnanimous in victory, something you, my friend, would never understand.”

The passenger thought about the words for a second then turned and walked away.

Malc watched him walk away, thinking about the situation. 

Mustafa broke the silence, “We are fully prepared to die, even in failure our mission will be a success.” He took a swig of water, the gulp loud and refreshing.

“Why will it be?” Malc asked.

“We come from separate lives, you cannot fathom how we think in the same way we cannot fathom how you think.”

“This is true, the time in Sangin and times in Iraq, the suicide missions and bombers made no sense to us.”

Mustafa nodded, “To us, the place that we are going to is a much more beautiful place, so we do not fear death.”

“But do you truly feel and think that way?”

Mustafa shrugged, “It is not for me to decide, the decision has been made for me, I have to see this mission through even if it means that your passengers kill me. I welcome that. What will be instore for me at the other end of this flight if I live, will be rendition and interrogation…” he thought for a second “…the endless interrogation.”

Baha was still breathing, her breaths shallow, the red stain growing bigger on her shirt. Her time on this earth was coming to an end.

“The girl,” Malc motioned to, “she related?”

“My sister, Baha, I feel great sadness, I didn’t even know that she was on this plane, we haven’t seen her for many years.”

“Does she go to the same place you go to?” Malc asked.

Mustafa shrugged again, “I hope so.”

A gang of passengers had come to the rear of the plane, there was murder in their eyes.

Malc stood. 

“Get out of our way or get hurt in the process.” one of them said. 

Malc saw Verne had gone back to his seat, a bit of turbulence jolted the plane, Malc had to use his hands to steady himself.

“You can’t do this.” he said looking down at Mustafa. 

He shook his head slowly, “shukran, al salam ealayk sidiq alumharib.” touching his forehead. 

He smiled at Malc. “Thank you, and peace be upon you, warrior friend.”

 

———————————

The aircraft was changing pitch, the pilot was happy to fly the plane alone. There wasn’t a need for a copilot. He refused to have company, wanting the cockpit to himself for the final approaches to Stansted.

Malc was sat in the seat as was everyone else. At the rear of the aircraft, the cowling was removed, exposing the rigid struts of the aircrafts roof parts. Looped around the girders were four ropes, made into nooses. The four bodies of the brothers and sister swayed gently as the plane pitched its attitude to start the descent into the Stansted. The hanging took only ten minutes, no ceremony, no fuss. They prayed, the two younger brothers cried as Baha was the first. Her gentle groaning as she asphyxiated to death, her legs jerking as her life slowly extinguished. The two brothers next, one angry and aggressive, the other accepting, placing his tied hands around Abdi’s as the crate was kicked away, Mustafa fell onto his legs to the jeering and cheering of the passengers. Mustafa was final, no messing, no fuss, no prayer. He accepted his fate to the last, he searched the faces for his new found friend, Malc. 

“See you on the other side my friend.” he said. Malc couldn’t quite catch it as the crate was kicked away.

“Don’t feel bad what happened to those shitbags.” Verne said snapping Malc out of his trance, staring at the floor.

His brow furrowed, “What do you mean?’

“They got what they deserved.”

“Maybe.” The Sat phone rang. Malc looked at it, the pilot was talking to ground facilities in England, there was no need to speak to anyone on the plane through the phone. It was strictly for emergency use only.

Malc answered, “Chisholm”.

“Can you speak?”

“Roger that.”

“Sitrep us.”

“We have the aircraft back in our control, the passengers have taken the law into their own hands and have dealt with the hijackers.”

“The pilot?”

“He’s okay.” Malc looked down the aisle, the door closed, the aircraft descending, London coming into view as the trajectory of the aircraft was changing.

“As a precaution, we went around the pilot’s house, we found his wife and children dead.”

“Shit,” Malc said, “looks like the terrorists got there already.”

“That’s not what we’re saying Chisholm, the wife and kids have been dead for over a week now, the pilot is a Jihadi. We have found evidence in his property tying him to the Bahkri family. Mustafa was the commander in charge of a death squad out of Raqqa. The brothers all members of the same death squad. Their usefulness to the caliphate has expired, the intelligence is suggesting that the group they were part of have all been dispatched to undisclosed international locations to wreak havoc. Your pilot was romantically involved with the sister, Baha. She was also on the flight, correct?”

Malc’s face went white as a sheet, Verne clocked it.

“What’s up boss?”

“The pilot, fuck, get that fucking door open NOW!” Malc screamed. 

Verne got up, he didn’t need to be asked again skipping over Malc’s legs, he raced down the aisle to the door and bashed against it. The door held firm, wasn’t even budging with the weight of the Fijian. 

“Open this fucking door!” he screamed smashing it again.

Malc had walked down crouching looking through the port windows, the passengers again becoming anxious and stressed.

As Malc got to the door he could hear the ground warning alarm:

‘PULL UP, PULL UP.’