The Courier Ch. 01bycaligula97236©
Chapter 1 -- Flight 2298
International Flight 2298 already was an hour late to its destination in Frankfurt when the aircraft was rocked by a nasty band of turbulence. The plane dropped into a wind shear, shuddered upwards, and then dropped again. The pilot, who already had ordered all passengers to return to their seats, ominously ordered the fight attendants to immediately sit down as well. The passengers watched with increasing anxiety as the cabin crewmembers swayed in the aisles towards the dubious safely of their landing seats.
Again the plane shuddered upwards and dropped. Outside bands of thick clouds alternated with gray sky as the aircraft banked to avoid the worst of the storm. The worst of the storm, however, already had begun moving into northern Germany, which meant that a landing in Frankfurt was becoming increasingly unlikely.
Air travel that evening would be a mess throughout northwestern Europe, as flights had to be diverted away from a string of cities extending from Paris to Warsaw. The storm showed no promise of letting up, thus forcing controllers to make the difficult decision to land planes in airports far away from their intended destinations.
As alternate airports filled up, controllers decided to divert International Flight 2298 eastward to the King Vladik International Airport in Danúbikt Móskt, the Danubian Republic's only international airport. Yes, that primitive airport was very far out of the way, but Flight 2298 still had enough fuel to make it, whereas many other planes competing for landing slots did not. So the crew and passengers, already exhausted from a grueling flight from Panama City to Europe, now would fly an extra hour to get to Danúbikt Móskt. Unless the weather cleared, the plane's occupants could expect to stay well into the following day before they could fly out.
As the plane banked right to turn eastward, it was buffeted by still more sickening turbulence. The pilot announced that, regrettably, the flight would end in the Danubian Republic, not Germany. Not that it really mattered. Most of the passengers simply wanted to get on the ground and be done with the horrible journey. Anywhere, even Danúbikt Móskt, was just fine, as long it was out of that storm. They could deal with getting to Germany tomorrow, but now all that mattered was returning to solid ground.
As the plane began its final descent into Danubian airspace, Maria Elena Rodriguez-Torres felt waves of nausea surging through her body. What the young Colombian felt was not simple air sickness, but rather the rebellion of her body against what she was carrying inside her stomach. A full kilo of cocaine, divided into grape-sized plastic packages, was the young woman's reason for being on the flight. Now she knew those packages, (or "pellets", as they were called in the world of drug traffickers) were not going to stay down much longer. Sweat poured down the passenger's face as she tried to keep them down.
Por favor...por favor...o Dios mio...por favor...que llegue al aeropuerto sin...
It was not to be. Maria Elena surged forward, covering her mouth as it filled with vomit and three round grape-sized objects. She flailed about with her free hand while the man in the seat next to her frantically pulled out an air sickness bag, opened it, and handed it to her. She vomited, and to her horror felt more pellets working their way up her esophagus in a desperate attempt to escape through her mouth. It seemed that not only was her body rejecting the presence of those unnatural objects inside her, but the pellets themselves did not want to be there either and were determined to get out.
Over and over Maria Elena threw up into the bag, as sweat and tears poured down her face. She rudely waved off the efforts of her neighbor to comfort her as pellets passed upwards and gagged her, making her want to throw up all that much more. Within seconds the bag was completely full of the contents of her stomach, which included nearly thirty bluish-gray ovals, about a third of the cocaine that her handler had entrusted to her for delivery to Germany.
Panic and total despair swept over the unhappy courier, because not only her freedom, but her very life now was in grave danger. Maria Elena knew that the cost of losing any of the cocaine that her handlers had entrusted to her would be her life. She had been given 100 pellets to swallow, and she would deliver 100 pellets to her contact in Frankfurt. In exchange for her efforts she would be given 15,000 Euros. To deliver anything less than 100 pellets would cost her life, or at the very least enslavement in a brothel to pay off her debt.
La plata o el plomo...as they always said. Silver for success...lead for failure.
The man sitting next to Maria Elena tried to take her air-sickness bag, but she violently snatched it away.
"Look, lady...I'm just gonna give it to the attendant. I'll get you another bag."
The young woman struggled with her very limited English.
"You no take...you no say me nothin'!"
"You need to get rid of that...come on now...hand it over..."
"You no take me!"
The man was bewildered, but suddenly became irritated and suspicious. OK...just what the hell was in that bag that she was so worried about?
With intense pain sweeping through her intestines and tears rolling down her cheeks, Maria Elena stared through the window as the plane finally dropped through the clouds and the lights below became visible. The aircraft was still shaking as it was buffeted by wind, but the rain had let up and the passengers could make out the lights of Danúbikt Móskt (or Danube City in English) the capitol of the Danubian Republic, as their flight made its final approach.
The pilots took a deep breath as they lined up their huge aircraft to a runway that was not designed for such a large plane. This airport was something else...not set up at all for night landings, a short runway, no decent radar system, no adequate lighting, and no modern gates. However, the Danubian Army was doing what it could to help diverted planes make safe landings; two rows of Danubian soldiers were waving flares and shining spotlights onto the runway in a feeble attempt to direct incoming flights to the ground and the terminal. The plane hit the ground with a violent jolt as the pilot immediately hit the reverse thrusters to avoid overshooting the runway. As soon as the plane slowed sufficiently a military jeep moved in front of the aircraft, with a soldier in the back wildly waving a flashlight to get the pilot to take his plane off the runway. The soldiers' haste was quite justified, because other diverted flights were circling Danube City waiting to land, some of which were about to run out of fuel. The moment Flight 2298 turned off the main runway, another jumbo jet roared past and another flight was safely on the ground.
Led by its military escort, Flight 2298 approached the small terminal building and a stopped next to multitude of other planes that were parked very close together. Torrents of rain poured down and gusts continued to shake the aircraft, but now the danger of crashing was past. As the pilot cut the engines, yet another flight roared in...yet another safe landing in this woefully small airport.
The moment the engines were turned off, airport workers rolled two staircases to the front and back of the plane. As the doors opened the pilot announced that everyone was ordered to get off immediately. To highlight that point, Danubian police officers climbed into the plane and started yelling at the passengers to get out. No, there would be no leisurely checking to see if everyone had everything, and if anyone was caught struggling with a large bag and holding up other passengers a cop yelled: "You no take! You now move-move!"
The scene outside was surreal to anyone accustomed only to modern airports. As the rain continued to pour down on them, two lines of stranded travelers descended the staircases into darkness and ran between parked planes towards a large military hanger. Another hanger already was full to capacity and Danubian soldiers were erecting tents, presumably in anticipation of receiving yet more passengers. The entire area outside the terminal building was full of over-sized aircraft, the buildings were packed to capacity, and diverted flights continued to come in. The cops were frantic to empty the planes as quickly as possible to make room for more incoming passengers, which justified their rough treatment of anyone holding up the evacuation of an aircraft.
Maria Elena staggered out of her seat, clutching her air-sickness bag and a small backpack that was her only carry-on item. As she stepped into the rain she nearly lost her balance on the staircase, but she held on tightly to her cocaine. That bag was a matter of life and death. She would have to find a place where she could clean off those pellets and somehow get them back inside her body.
She struggled in the rain towards the hanger, but suddenly another wave of nausea swept over the unhappy girl. She retched yet again, separated from the other passengers, fell to her hands and knees, and lost another five pellets onto the wet pavement. She picked them up and stuffed them into the pocket of her sweatshirt. She recovered slightly and finished the arduous journey to the hanger.
The wind picked up and a loud clap of thunder announced that the storm had arrived full force to Danube City. A large military tent broke loose and flew across the tarmac, with several soldiers in desperate pursuit. The weather now prevented any more flights from coming in and it was obvious none would be taking off anytime soon. The roof of the hanger rattled from the wind and rain as Danubian cops holding up signs with flight numbers tried to re-organize the crowd of panicked and bewildered passengers.
Just as the Danubians had been determined to get everyone off the planes as quickly as possible, they also wanted to empty the airport. The police announced that the passengers would be taken by bus to several nearby schools and kept under guard until their flights could leave. There would be a place to sit down and dry off, bathrooms, showers, and clean drinking water.
Still gripping her airsickness bag and her wet backpack, Maria Elena boarded a very crowded bus and endured a short trip to a nearby elementary school. As the passengers entered the school and attempted to dry off, Danubian soldiers brought in a truckload of blankets, towels, and hot drinks; while a local baker unloaded a shipment of breakfast rolls and blackberry jam. It wasn't much, but considering the thousands of stranded passengers flooding Danube City on such short notice, a lot of people would gratefully remember the Danubian government's efforts to make their stay less onerous. The wind continued to howl outside and the city underwent two brief blackouts, but most of the passengers were satisfied to be safe, in a clean dry building where they could at least stretch their legs.
Her intestines still hurt, but the nausea had passed and Maria Elena was able to take an interest in her surroundings. The school was very clean, but the building looked like it was at least 100 years old. The walls were covered with children's paintings of griffins, landscapes, kings, and medieval knights. The young Colombian also noticed some drawings of families relaxing on beaches or lakes, and what was interesting was that no one in the vacation pictures was wearing a swim suit. That detail struck her as very odd. Don't people wear swimsuits in this country?
There were other pictures that caught her attention. It seemed that every classroom boasted anti-drug propaganda, graphic assaults on the world in which Maria Elena recently had immersed herself. There was no question the Danubians were totally intolerant of drugs, if what was on the walls of the school was any indication. The courier took a deep breath, thinking about her own reason for being on that wayward flight. The sooner she got out of this country, the better.
Maria Elena diverted her attention from the anti-drug pictures. She had a much more urgent matter to take care of. In that crowded school, she hoped to find a bathroom or sink private enough for her to clean off her pellets and get them back inside her body, either by re-swallowing them or by shoving them up her bottom. She had some Vaseline, so she calculated that shoving the cocaine up her bottom might be the easier way to go. 30 pellets was a lot, however, so she resigned herself to the fact she probably would have to re-swallow at least some. That meant yet another nauseating flight from Danube City to Frankfurt, but at least she had hope she could deliver her load after all and get her 15,000 Euros. She found a teacher's bathroom with a door that locked, filled the sink with water, and proceeded to rinse off the pellets from her air-sickness bag and wrapped them into a paper towel. She would re-insert them upon finding out when her flight could leave for Germany. In the meantime she would have to dry off, get some rest, and hope that the pellets still in her intestines would stay there another day.
Maria Elena re-counted 30 pellets in the paper towel and hid them in her backpack, which would add to the 70 still in her intestinal tract. 100 pellets...which hopefully she could get rid of within another 24 hours. Her problem was that she only had 65 pellets still inside her body, because she had forgotten about the five pellets that she had put in her pocket.
A few hours later the sky lightened outside. Representatives from the Danubian Ministry of Tourism showed up at the school and assembled the passengers in the gym to announce that three aircraft, which included Flight 2298, would be ready to depart Danube City later that morning. A line of buses was ready to take the more fortunate passengers back to the airport. Maria Elena panicked, realizing that she wouldn't have time to re-insert her pellets before leaving the school. Still, she quickly boarded the bus. She just had to make her flight. The sooner she got on that plane, the sooner she would be in Frankfurt with her cocaine safely delivered.
She promised herself...never again...I am never doing this again...it just isn't worth it...
Upon getting to the airport, the courier immediately found a women's bathroom and an open stall. She had to have her cocaine completely concealed before going through security. She took out the paper towel with 30 pellets, opened up the tube of Vaseline, pulled down her panties, and lifted up her skirt. She lubricated the first pellet and worked it into her rectum...
After only 12 pellets it was obvious Maria Elena's intestine couldn't hold any more. Already she felt an overwhelming need to go to the bathroom. Shit. That meant she would have to swallow the rest. With every bit of willpower left in her, the desperate courier forced 18 pellets down her throat. She gagged twice, but finally all 18 pellets were back in her stomach.
Pain surged through the young woman's guts as she approached the security checkpoint. She began to sweat as she stood in line. She sent her backpack through the X-ray machine, and of course it was clean. Nothing in her clothing either...if she could keep her body under control then she would make it...she would make it...
YES! The Danubian cop at the checkpoint waved her through. She put on her shoes and grabbed her backpack.
She sighed with huge relief as she noticed several dogs running around the terminal, sniffing passengers and carry-on luggage. The dogs wouldn't be a problem for her, because she didn't have any cocaine on her person, just inside, where they couldn't smell it. Or...so she thought...
Suddenly a large brown mixed breed dog ran up to the Colombian, sniffed her sweatshirt, and started barking. Maria Elena froze with shock but desperately whispered:
"Cállate, estúpido animal...cállate!"
The dog sat down and continued to bark loudly. The animal's handler and his partner ran up to the courier, who quickly learned that there was no subtlety about the way Danubian cops handled themselves. In front of hundreds of passengers and airport employees, the female cop pulled out her pistol and pointed it at the Colombian's head while the dog handler screamed at her in Danubian. He grabbed her hands and cuffed them behind her back. A second later Maria Elena felt his hands digging through her pockets and pulling out items as the dog continued barking.
Maria Elena was just starting to get over the shock of being detained when she was hit with a much worse shock. The male cop stuck his hand into the pocket of her sweatshirt and removed five grape-sized objects. He examined them and handed a couple to his partner. The dog became agitated, barking vigorously, jumping, and wagging his tail. Despair swept over Maria Elena. Now she knew why that dog had caught her. She had completely forgotten about those extra five pellets.
The female cop kicked Maria Elena in the backs of her knees to force her to kneel, all the while keeping her pistol aimed at the unfortunate courier's head. The male showed the pellets to the dog, and the animal went wild with excitement.
"Harásh sobáckt. Doc-doc hárash sobáckt." The handler petted the dog and then pulled out a couple of pieces of beef jerky and fed them to the animal. Meanwhile, the cops' section chief showed up with a photographer who immediately began taking pictures of the kneeling captive, in front of hundreds of spectators. Maria Elena was horrified, but there was much worse to come.
The next picture was a trophy shot. The two cops stood next to their prisoner. Maria Elena tried to avoid looking into the camera, but the cops would have none of that. The female grabbed her hair and forced her to raise her head so the camera could get her face. There was another trophy shot, this time with the male cop smiling, holding the pellets in his hand. As an afterthought the section chief told the handler to include his dog in the picture as well.
Pulling Maria Elena by the hair, the female cop forced her to stand up. Again she tried looking down, hoping to keep her face hidden as much as possible. The section chief nodded at the female cop, who again pulled hard on the detainee's hair to force her head back. He slapped her hard across the face, put his finger under her chin, and addressed her in English.
"In this country, criminals do not hide their shame. You will show your dishonored face."
"I...please...I no speak English...I..."
Another vicious slap exploded on Maria Elena's cheek.
"Silence! Who gave you permission to speak?"
Maria Elena began shaking with terror. The female cop and the photographer grabbed her arms and led her out of the waiting area past the huge crowd of other travelers. Those unfamiliar with Danubian law looked on in horror at the mistreatment of a prisoner, but the spectacle would be a harsh lesson for several hundred foreigners. There was no tolerance, none whatsoever, for drugs in the Danubian Republic.
Author's note: The money Maria Elena thinks she is going to receive for her smuggling effort is way above what is normally paid to a drug swallower by trafficking organizations. That inaccuracy is deliberate, because it is part of the plot in later chapters.