Prologue


Prologue

There was no escape.

Sweat ran down my face in rivulets. My throat was parched.

I screamed!

But heard nothing. My arms ached. My legs ached.

It was the most uncomfortable position to be in. Trussed up, hands tied behind my back to my ankles, bent over backwards, and blindfolded with tape over my mouth. My head felt heavy and painful. As though I had smacked my head over and over again, against some hard object. My body ached all over. My arms were sore. My feet were sore. My stomach growled. My throat felt parched. Sweat rolled down.

I did not know if it was day or night.
I did not know where I was.
I did not know what day of the week it was, when and how I got to be where I was.

My hands hurt. In fact, my whole body hurt from being twisted over uncomfortably. I did not even know why I was there. Where ever that was. I yanked furiously, aching to free my hands and only hurt them more. I panted in desperation and my heart beat erratically.

“This is not the time to panic,” I urged myself.

“Stay calm. Think,” I ordered myself.

It was easy to say, but hard to focus. How could one go through this and stay sane. I never thought, I was claustrophobic. It was the worst possible time to realize maybe, just maybe, I was just a little claustrophobic!

The deafening silence was unbearable. It only enhanced the erratic beating of my heart, the sound triple enhanced.
I willed my heart to slow down. An impossible feat I thought. It only quickened and raced harder. Who could have done this to me, I wondered. I tried to recollect the last thing I remembered.

Earlier in the day, Chung had told me that Dr. Johnson wanted to talk to me and would be in his hanger, prepping the Bonanza for his flight the next day. I never made it there. I remember turning around the last corner and being coshed with something hard.

Why? Who could have done it? I really needed to get hold of myself, calm down and think.

Help!

I had promised Amelia to help her plan for her upcoming trip to Ensenada. She was never going to forgive me. Thinking of Amelia brought back a smile. I could still see her face, when I had gone down on my knee and proposed, the day before. She hadn’t expected it.
I saw the confusion cross her face, followed by the joy, and finally the tears. “Johnny,” she laughed in disbelief. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Say yes, before my knee gives way,” I had joked.

“Yes, of course yes!” she had shouted in exultation. “How could you even doubt it will be any other response? I’ve been waiting ages for you to get the courage to pop the question, you maddening man,” she had teased me lightly.

“You never called me Johnny before,” I replied sheepishly, as I gathered her into my arms for a kiss.

“You will always be Johnny to me,” she smiled mischievously. “Oh no, look at the time. You promised to help me prepare for the flight. You know I have never done this before,” she said worriedly.

“It will be fine. You are a terrific pilot. And Bill is not only a proficient doctor, but an excellent pilot. He always breezes through his flight reviews fabulously. And his Bonanza is always in tip-top shape.”

Thinking of Amelia, calmed me down. It always did. She always brought a sense of fresh breath where ever she went. When she walked into a room, people forgot everything else. I would have really liked to have been with her, right now, right this moment. But here I was, all trussed up.

Calm down and think, my mind protested. As the minutes ticked away, I finally felt my heart beat slow-down.

First, I felt the heat: the familiar heat of the desert beating down on me. The sun was beating down on the desert floor. This was evident in the sweat raining down, unwarranted. At least I was still in the desert, I thought triumphantly.

As my heart beat slowed to a normal pace, almost, I barely heard it.
How could I miss it? Through the silence of the moment I heard, the exhilarating whirl of a propeller: an aircraft. Taking off, possibly into another glorious hot, summer sky. That could be my Amelia, departing to Ensenada!

“Help,” I shouted.

All I heard was garbled and muffled sounds, barely in a whisper.

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