Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta airplane. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta airplane. Mostrar todas las entradas

martes, 15 de noviembre de 2016

State visit

   Everyone at the airport was ready. The staff had put on their best clothes and every single corner of the small terminal building had been cleaned to the last millimeter. From very early in the morning, people had arrived to help organize every single part of this impromptu visit. After all, it was the president of the most powerful country in the world. And theirs was one of the poorest and most isolated ones on the whole planet. However, the presidential plane had to refuel somewhere, so the small nation had received the honor of hosting the president for a few hours.

 From the moment they had been warned about the impending arrival of the plane, hundreds of people were put to work. Not only those in the airport, people who only really worked on weekdays and even then only in certain time frames, but also every single operator and technician available. They wanted not only the people to feel welcomed but also to make the best work possible with the plane. They got fuel from the city’s reserves, as the amount they had on the airport was not enough to refill a plane the size of the one they were going to see in a few hours.

 The process required almost every person in the capital, a city of about a thousand people, to wake up and also help by cleaning the streets of the city and the authorities enabling the movement of fuel reserves from where they stored it to the airport, which was fairly close to the city. People took to the streets with brooms and mops and every single cleaning help they could get, but the truth was no one really knew if the president was going to land and stay on the plane or walk around a little bit. Many people were curious like that.

 The president of the tiny nation was the one that was moving all over his house, calling the right people and asking everything from food to more cleaning products. He wanted to send a message through TV but the people of the studios were helping around so he decided to send it through the radio. It was much simpler and more effective; as it was the medium of communication that people listened to while they were preparing the city for the big arrival. Every single person in the country heard it and everyone understood the importance of the visit.

 To the eyes of the world, it was practically a miracle that their country actually existed. To be honest, it had been a thing of luck and one of those strange coincidences that happen out of nowhere. They were too isolated and unimportant. Practically everything they had came from their neighbor to the east. So they had known starvation and real poverty because when that neighbor didn’t have enough for themselves, they suffered too. But the world in general never really knew anything because they weren’t watching, until now.

 The country had no army but its people did behave like one once the president’s message had reached every single person. They knew they had around six hours to have everything ready. With luck, the weather up in the clouds would delay the plane a bit more to give them more time but they constantly checked with the aircraft and that didn’t seem to be the case. Everyone had to do their best in the time given. Only an hour after the president’s announcement, everything was coming up nicely and all citizens were helping, even elders and children.

 A huge amount of people arrived at the terminal in order to use the old kitchens that some rundown businesses had not used in several years. The idea was to cook a good amount of their national food for the people arriving, as well as other dishes that they might like. It wasn’t crazy to think that they would be very hungry, even at that early hour of the day. After all, this was all going on in the darkness of the night. The president was scheduled to arrive around eight o’clock in the morning, so they had to wake up or not even sleep.

 The cooking team was led by the nation president’s chef, his own wife. It wasn’t like in other countries were the president has everything and the people below him have nothing. In that nation, everyone was basically the same. People hadn’t starved in some years but they weren’t rich or even close to that. So the president’s wife decided it was best if someone close to the government like her supervised the food. It was the best way to guarantee that it would be perfect for someone with such a high profile as the ruler of the richest country in the world.

 They acknowledge that all those people in that plane, around two hundred according to the information they had shared with them, had been and eaten in places much better than their small country. That was obvious and they didn’t feel bad about it. But they wanted them to leave knowing a little bit more of their culture and about what they loved to eat and drink in those lands. The menu had been defined by the president’s wife and she was very confident that it was going to be one of the best feasts in the recorded history of their nation.

 It consisted of a special recipe for meatballs using a kind of cheese that was made from goat milk, which also happened to be used in their national beverage, which was kind of like a milkshake but less thick and richer in flavor. They also cooked the goats in various ways and were very proud about their vegetables and mushrooms, of which they had a very large variety. Various dishes were cooked with all those ingredients and some spices too.

 The small country’s president arrived in the airport only two hours before the arrival of the plane, to check everything out. The terminal had been painted in record time by volunteers and the control tower was bursting with life when, in normal days, it would only have one person and not even all day. He thanked everyone there and then went to the terminal’s commercial area where his wife and helpers were giving the final touches to the food. The smell had flooded the building and it was very delicious, so much that many stomachs growled loudly.

 Then, he went outside and did a walk around the tarmac and the runway. There wasn’t a single spec of dust anywhere, which he thought was absolutely magnificent, especially for such a windy part of the country. It seemed as if the weather was also helping them achieve their goal. The red carpet in the tarmac was the same one that the president had stepped on when he was inaugurated for his term, more than three years ago. A president’s term was five years and he couldn’t be reelected, which he personally thought was a good idea.

 He decided to check the band that had been practicing for hour in the cold and congratulated them for the amount of love they were showing the country. He stayed a bit to hear them play and, to be fair, they were not as prepared as he would have like, but there was no way of getting better musicians with only an hour to go. They would have to do. What made them special, at the end of the day, was that they played their instruments with real passion and the idea of making their country proud. And that was more than enough.

 The president decided to wait for the plane in the control tower. There, he would be able to know every detail about the upcoming visit. When he stepped in, the plane had crossed into their airspace. It would be only thirty minutes until they touched down in the runway. The atmosphere was really special. Every single person in the tower, in the terminal, in the tarmac and even in the city was ecstatic. This was, by far, the most exciting thing to ever happen in their country. And they had all worked together to make it the best day possible.

 The plane came out of the clouds and landed, in a very soft and elegant manner. Everyone applauded and greeted the people inside through the radio. The president ran outside, getting ready with all others. Many people from the city had come out of curiosity and they had been allowed to stay a bit further away. The plane parked exactly where they had determined it should go. For some minutes, nothing happened. Then, the door opened and everyone stopped breathing for a second. Their moment had come.

domingo, 7 de diciembre de 2014

The bugs

Carmina Wolf was an entomologist, specialized in bees and wasps. She had travelled the world tracing this little creatures and now headed off to her final destination: a UN summit in Geneva where she would be able to present her findings to a panel of experts put together by the FAO.

On the plane from Seoul to Geneva, she just kept thinking of the potential of her discoveries. It was terrible, of course, but it also meant something could be done. Nothing is definite when you realize it on time, or she thought.

The flight was really long but she couldn't sleep so she forced herself to watch some movies, none of which ere very interesting. She took her blanket and tried to sleep with some music on but then people started making noises. It was really annoying to get to Switzerland with no sleep and now people weren't helping. She heard them open their window shades, so she pulled the blanket over her head.

She stopped ignoring them when they started to scream and gasp and talk fast and loud. Suddenly all shades were being pulled up, so Carmina took a look through the window. She certainly wasn't expecting that...

High above the clouds and higher than the plane, a fire ball appeared to be falling down. The plane was very far but the ball could be seen easily as it's light was blinding, all white and powerful. It certainly was a scary moment but, for some reason, people were generally calm.
Short after, the pilot announcing all flights were asked to change course and go south. They haven't been asked to land anywhere close but there was still a possibility to do so.

An hour later, the ball of fire looked smaller but equally as bright. Carmina thought of the people below, and how scared they must have been. She checked her on board computer and realized they were flying over Russia, a country frequently hit by meteorites. A scientist she had met in a conference had told her so. But this meteorite looked massive or maybe that was because she had never seen one.

Suddenly the pilot spoke again and, this time, he said authorities of all the countries in the vicinity had decided to ground the planes. Carmina's one had to land in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. The pilot did not know for how long they would have to stay there but authorities were trying to keep the planes down for the minimum amount of time.

It was shortly before landing that the explosion occurred. It felt and sounded awful. The plane was hit by the sound wave and turbulence was really bad. People were screaming, babies crying, food trays hitting the ground and even bags falling from the overhead compartments. Everyone was a nervous wreck so, when the plane landed in Astana, it was not a surprise when everyone applauded and cheered the moment. They were all grateful to be alive.

They were evacuated through the inflatable slides on each door, to make it faster. Then, the pilot stayed with the airport authorities to assess any damage to the plane as the rest of the crew helped the passengers to a bus, which took them to the terminal.

Carmina was tired, from all that had happened and because she hadn't slept for a single minute but when they entered the building she realized it would take even more time to rest. The place was filled with people, both incoming passengers and people who had not been able to board their flights. Her group stayed in a corner, to have better control over everyone according to a stewardess.

Everyone fell silent when every single TV set on the terminal started broadcasting images of the meteorite and how it had it the ground with violence. Although the news station was in Russian, every passenger could understand that the meteorite was big but, thankfully, not the kind of fire balls that cause extinction. However, it had fallen near Omsk, a fairly large city in Russia. Imaged of destroyed windows, trees on fire and a houses destroyed was broadcasted for the remaining hours and, against all odds, Carmina was finally able to get some sleep.

When she woke up, it was dark outside. She went to the bathroom where she met a woman crying with her daughter sitting by the sink. The woman tried to clean her tears fast so Carmina wouldn't see her but it was to no use. In her stall, the entomologist heard the woman speak in Russian to her daughter, again crying unconsolably. It was heart breaking, even without having a clue about what was going on.

When Carmina came out of her stall, the woman was not there. She washed her hands, her face and tried to comb her hair with her fingers but the result was not very good. She came out of the bathroom and walked around, watching hundreds, maybe thousands sleeping on the floor. All the screen were turned off and only security agents roamed the place, gently smiling when she stumbled upon any of them.

She arrived at the food court and realized how hungry she was. But every store was closed, which was obvious because of the time of day and the current situation. The tables and chairs that were normally for eating were now occupied by people trying to get some sleep.

Carmina decided to step outside, to a little balcony the terminal had for plane enthusiasts. It was very cold but that didn't bother her. She looked and counted the planes on the tarmac. There were at least twenty and suspected there were more on other places of the airport. Suddenly the door of the balcony opened and an older woman came out. She looked at Carmina and smiled and contemplated the place.

After some time, the woman spoke:

- It will keep happening, you know?

Carmina did not understand.

 - What?
 - It will keep happening, more and more frequently.
 - The meteorites, you mean?

She nodded. Carmina started to feel colder but was mesmerized by the odd look and mysterious attitude of the older woman.

 - This world... We just live here. It isn't ours and it certainly isn't living forever.
 - You think were all going to...?
 - Die?... Maybe. Not necessarily but it's no secret we are heading in that direction.

It was so strange. It was if... She knew more. As if she knew the same thing Carmina had suspected months before.

 - Sorry... Are you an expert of sorts?

The woman laughed and looked at her.

 - Not really, child. I'm just aware of things around me.

The woman looked one last time towards the tarmac, smiled at Carmina and entered the building. The young woman did the same, as she was feeling too cold. The words of that woman were all around her mind but it was silly to worry now. She had to sleep as the following day was a hard one.

All planes were allowed to take off so she got to Geneva in time for her speech. She wasn't able to change clothes and excused herself for her looks but told the audience it was worth the speech. Everyone laughed of course. Then the presentation began.

Carmina had been working on this for five years now, since she had finished her studies. And the findings of her research could not be contested. She announced to the audience that the bee population around the world was decreasing due to various reasons, primarily climate change but also human interference. She declared that the decline was so representative, that in some places many flowers and plants that were abundant were now almost extinct. And she announced the same was happening with crops, although no one realized it because of the amount of cereals being planted.

In short, Carmina had discovered that food, was going to be more and more scarce due the disappearance of certain insects. Without them, hunger could strike anywhere. She closed her presentation by saying that recent events had made her realize how fragile the world was but that we had time to make things right, to find our true place in the universe. And she did believe it, more than ever before.