Flight United by Pattinson James
Flight number 1040—that was all the news.
A revolting conflict between public and private, company and customer, rights and obligations comes to a head in the most public way. It is downright shocking. But is there far more to it than that?
Flight United is a news narrative.
Published by Freedom Dawn Press
Copyright 2017 Pattinson James
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
David Bentley puckered his lips. His gaze shifted in small increments from the computer screen to her, the journalist.
“How did you find out about this?”
When she answered, she answered without hesitation, like she had said it many times before.
“I have a source,” she said.
Flight number 1040—that was all the news. And it was the kind of soul-killing story that filled the news every single day. It was the kind of story that made everyone want to go and hide in a cave, because the weight of humanity seemed to be piling up and suffocating most everyone.
But then, there was also a bright spot. “Humanity redeems itself.” This was the same cycle. The same ridiculous cycle. The journalist’s “source” had revealed that.
Army veteran and Gulf War hero, Rick Wolf, was forcibly removed from Flight 1040 after refusing to give his seat up. Several passengers captured the incident as it happened. Of note were the many empty seats that were visible in the background—the plane was not filled to capacity. Also of note was the treatment by airline security, who immediately approached Wolf with aggression. By the end of the amateur video, Wolf had received two blows to the face and what looked like a kick to the general groin area.
The other thing was that by the end of the video, some of the scant passengers had attempted to protect and defend Wolf. Many of them called loudly for gentler treatment. Some of them offered to go in his place. All this went ignored.
Afterward, when the videos were posted and the media caught wind of it and the whirlwind began, the details came out. Wolf’s veteran status, his hero status, created a load of embarrassment for the airline. Yank a man who fought for his country so bravely and heroically off of a plane like a sack of trash? Abuse him? Humiliate him? Then came the dirt. Since Wolf’s honorable discharge, he’d spent time in jail for domestic abuse. He was also widely thought to be heavily involved in the drug trade, though no charges had ever stuck. He was a sullied hero, a fallen hero.
But was any of that relevant?
The part that saved the day was the reaction of the other passengers. They were heroes for capturing the event. They were heroes for speaking up for Wolf rather than just watching in fear for themselves, or in apathy, or in amusement. One young man received the spotlight, a nineteen year old college student, who was captured on video laying down next to Wolf and insisting that they take him instead or as well. Airline security nearly tripped over him. People were calling him a hero.
The story included a number of heroes and anti-heroes, but there was only one villain—the airline.
Did anyone really know how villainous the villain was?
After the smug journalist deflected David Bentley’s question with a vague answer, he glanced over the computer screen again and shook his head.
“How did you even come to this?” he asked.
The journalist shrugged. Earlier, she was decisive. With this question, she was uncertain.
“I thought I was wondering the same question that everyone else was wondering,” she said. “I guess I wasn’t. Maybe everyone would have been wondering the same question if they weren’t so busy feeling appalled about the treatment of a veteran—criminal or not—or feeling heart-warmed by a college boy supposedly sacrificing himself. I wanted to know how they chose Wolf to be the lucky victim.”
Bentley smiled incredulously. “Lucky victim?”
“That’s where my source comes in,” she said. “I dug around very carefully.”
“And extremely quickly,” he added.
The journalist shrugged. “Yes, I work quickly. Technology is my friend. Do you care about this? Do you care about the answer?”
Bentley sighed. “I’m looking at the answer, I think.”
She pointed to the computer screen. “Exactly. Profiles on every single passenger. No, no, not profiles. >Biographies.< How did Wolf become the lucky victim? They knew exactly who he is.”
Rubbing his eyes, Bentley turned completely away from the computer. “You tell me, what is the story here?”
“Why does the airline need all of this information?”
“Hold on. Try not to answer my question with a question. I’m serious, and I need to know what is this story about?”
The journalist morphed back into uncertain. She took what felt like minutes to compose herself.
“The story is about our complete loss of control, David. We hate that this guy bought a plane ticket as a private citizen and then was suddenly transported back to the military where you have to follow orders or else. We hate that he couldn’t refuse their request. We hate that his failure to comply got him walked out—dragged out—by security. But we don’t care that they controlled everything that happened from the time they bought their tickets? Maybe even before? Right down to the seat assignments, David!”
“Look, if they don’t care about it, do you expect this story to make them care?”
The journalist exploded. “They don’t have to care, but they do need to know.”
Bentley tapped his fingers together. “Tell you what, show how these files are being used for discriminatory pricing and you’ve got something. People today survive on a mixture of fear, anger and pleasure. If you aren’t supplying at least one of those, don’t expect them to care.”
The journalist scratched her head. It made sense, she knew it did. Still, she didn’t like it.
Bentley closed the laptop and handed it to the journalist. She took it and stuffed it into her bag.
“If you want my opinion,” he said, “no one is truly bothered by the lack of control. They are bothered that the cast didn’t stick to the script.”
~About the Author~
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