The Unexpected Departure

“So what time is the meeting tomorrow morning?” I asked Paul.

Paul Douglas was the Vice President of Public Relations for the corporation I worked for.  He had asked me to travel from our corporate offices in New York to Chicago for a meeting with one of our most important clients. This particular client was about to take his business elsewhere because he was not happy with the treatment he had received in New York.

“The meeting’s at nine o’clock sharp. I know that doesn’t give you much time, Dawn, but I think you’re the only account executive who can keep the ball rolling on this one. I’ve already had my secretary make your travel arrangements. Unfortunately, the only flight she could book is at one-thirty tomorrow morning. That will put you in Chicago at three o’clock a.m.”

“I hate the red-eye flights, Paul. I can never sleep on the plane, and it really messes me up for the next day.”

“Sorry about that, Dawn, but it can’t be helped. We’re counting on you.” Paul smiled the boyish, charming smile which he used when he wanted to convince someone he was being sincere, and he usually pulled it off convincingly.

“Okay, okay. I’ll go to Chicago, but I hope you remember this when the time comes to give out bonuses.”

“You’ll be at the top of that list, Dawn; don’t worry about that!”

“I’d better be!  I’ll call you when the meeting’s over.”

“Great; good luck, Dawn.”

“Thanks, I think I’m going to need it.” At the time I said this, I didn’t realize how true this statement would prove to be.

As I was packing for the trip, my cell phone rang. One look at the caller I.D. told me it was my boyfriend, John. I had left him a message to call me earlier in the day.

“Hi, John.”

“Hi, Sweetheart. Are you going to be ready at six o’clock sharp? The show starts at eight o’clock so we should have plenty of time for drinks before, and then we’ll grab a late dinner after.”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, John. I’m afraid I can’t go tonight.”

“What do you mean you can’t go? You’ve been wanting to go to this show for weeks, and now you say you can’t go?”

“I know, but I have to go to New York to take care of a client.”

“Uh-huh. I suppose that phony Paul Douglas is behind all this, isn’t he?”

“Now, John, he is one of the V.P.’s, and besides that, he is my boss. I have to go.”

“I suppose he gave you that phony line about how you’re the only one he trusts to do whatever it is he wants you to do, right? He’s such a jerk!”

“John, please don’t make this any more difficult than it already is. I have to go and that’s all there is to it, okay? I just wanted to let you know, that’s all.”

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry. What time do you leave?”

“I’m taking the red-eye at one-thirty a.m., and it arrives in Chicago at three o’clock, with the meeting at nine o’clock.”

“Sheesh! You’re going to be exhausted, Dawn!”

“I know, but there’s nothing I can do about it. But listen, John, I have to finish packing and try to get some sleep before the flight, or I won’t get any sleep at all before the meeting.”

“All right, Sweetheart. Hey,  I’m sorry about giving you a hard time like I did.”

“It’s okay, John. I understand. I’ll call you after the meeting, okay?”

“Okay. Take care and sleep tight. I love you.”

“I love you, too. Bye.”

I thought I would be really tired as I boarded the plane, but I had slept from seven o’clock until eleven o’clock and I felt surprisingly fresh and awake. I was nervous about flying, so I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep during the flight.  Besides, I had some business documents to read so I could be ready for the meeting. I figured I could always sleep for a few hours once I reached the hotel where I was staying.

I was not happy with my assigned seat. It was the inside seat, next to the window, and I did not like being next to the window. However, there was nothing I could do about it because to my surprise, the plane was filled to capacity. I couldn’t believe how many people were willing to take the red-eye flight. Of course, in this economy, it made sense because the red-eye flights are a lot cheaper. As I looked around, it seemed to me that most of the people were probably business people like me. Many of them were absorbed in their lap tops, files, or documents. I resigned myself to having to sit where I was assigned.

As I began to go over my reading material, a man around the age of fifty sat down beside me. He had bushy grey hair with bushy grey eyebrows to match. His nose was huge and seemed too big for his face. He was dressed in a wrinkled grey suit and wore a dirty white shirt with a grey tie which had a stain on it close to the knot. But his eyes—his eyes were steely blue, and they seemed to stare right through me. He really gave me the creeps. Then to my dismay he began to talk to me.

“Hello. Are you going to Chicago for business or for pleasure—for pleasure, I hope?”

“Business.” I kept my eyes on my reading.

“I’m going to a medical convention. I’m a doctor. My name is Richard. What’s your name, my dear?”

“I’m sorry, but I have a lot of reading to do.”

I put on the headphones so I wouldn’t have to listen to him anymore. I was glad when the flight attendant brought the drink I had ordered. It helped to calm my nerves which were working overtime as the flight got underway.

“Here you go, my dear,” the man next to me said as he passed me my drink.

“Thanks,” I mumbled as I absent-mindedly took the drink, not even bothering to look up from my reading. Before I knew it, I was finishing my second drink. It wasn’t long after this when I began to feel violently ill. The stomach pain I had was almost unbearable, the nausea I was enduring was severe, and my head was pounding terribly. I began to moan as my discomfort increased in severity.

Soon the flight attendant was standing in the aisle next to my row, and she was expressing her concern about my condition.

“She doesn’t look well at all. Maybe I should call for an ambulance to be ready when we land,” she said to the man sitting beside me.

“No, that won’t be necessary, my dear. I’m her personal physician, and I’ll take good care of her. There’s no need to disrupt your work. Anyway, we’re just about to land, and Dawn will be just fine with me—don’t worry.”

He leaned over, patted my hand, and winked at me, which made me feel even more uncomfortable. Besides that, how did he know my name was Dawn? Then everything went black.

.The next thing I knew, I was waking up. The lights shining into my face were blinding. They reminded me of the ones I had seen in the operating room when I had my appendix removed three years before. Then I noticed that I was being restrained. There were straps buckled around my ankles, my hips, and my wrists. The sudden realization hit me that I couldn’t even move my legs. As a matter of fact, I had no feeling from the waist down. At this point, I became truly frightened.

As the feeling of terror and shock overcame me, a very tall man dressed in a surgical gown entered the room and walked over to the side of the table I was lying on. He bent over me, peering at me intently. He had a sinister expression on his face, and as I looked more closely at him, I noticed that his gown was covered with splatters of what appeared to be dried blood. Then he moved his face close to mine, pulled down his mask, and winked at me. A shiver of disgust and fear coursed through my body. I almost gagged from the stench of his breath.

“I know you are frightened, my dear, but it will all be over soon.” As he said this, he lifted the bloody surgical knife which he held in his gloved hand, and appeared to be inspecting it in the overhead lights.

“Aha! Just as I thought. I think we’ll begin with a new blade. This one has done more than its share of cutting.”

At this point, a short, heavyset woman, also dressed in a surgical gown, shuffled into the room. She was huffing and puffing as she did so, appearing to have some sort of breathing problem.

“What are we taking out this time, Doctor?” she asked as she began to arrange some instruments on a table in the corner of the room. I could not help but notice the clinking sound they made as she sorted through them.

“This time we’re going to harvest more than we did in the previous patient. We will harvest the liver, both kidneys, both lungs, both corneas, the pancreas, and of course, the heart. According to her medical history, she is the epitome of perfect health, so these organs will bring a high price, indeed. Great care must be taken while removing these organs. I cannot stress this enough. I don’t want what happened last time to happen this time. We certainly do not want to damage the goods, so to speak!” As he finished this sentence, he laughed a low, hearty laugh.

I gasped as I realized what was about to happen to me. These barbarians were going to remove all my vital organs to sell them on the black market!

Thoughts of my mother ran through my mind. If I died, my mother would be all alone. My father had died two years before of a heart attack, and she’d been so lonely ever since his death. I knew our relationship meant a great deal to her. What would she do now without me? And John . . . I loved John so much, and I knew he loved me. I would never be with him again. Ever. And to think—I had never been married, had never had children, and had never done half the things I wanted to do.

I began to scream and could not stop. Then I felt the prick of a needle in my arm, and darkness engulfed me once again. Only this time I welcomed it.

A white light was the next thing I was aware of. The light was so brilliant, so luminous, and so inviting. It almost hurt to look at it, but at the same time it was so warm, and it gave me the most peaceful feeling I had ever experienced. It made me feel loved.

Then all of a sudden, I could see my entire life playing out before me. I could see each event clearly. It was like I was actually there again, and I could feel each emotion which accompanied each event. I saw the good things I had done as well as the bad things I had done during my life. I was relieved to know that the good outnumbered the bad..

The next thing I knew I was floating through a very long tunnel. It seemed as though it would never end, but somehow I knew that it would. There was a beautiful white light at the other end of the tunnel; one which filled me with such bliss that I knew I  never wanted to return to my former life. And I never did.

I knew I had finally come home.


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