David’s vacation to Branson, Missouri with his family was turning out to be the most uneventful experience of his life. Mostly it was because he was a thirty something in a resort town whose target audience was mostly retirees. In the time-share condominium where he was staying with his wife, his three kids, his mother and father-in-law things had become somewhat claustrophobic. David’s idea of vacation was not “see every show and touristy destination” but rest, quiet, and reading a book. His family did not understand this, and it had become a matter of contention between himself and the rest of them. His small children didn’t mind. They had a hot tub…and a swimming pool.
David had agreed to stay at the condo with the kids and was now watching as his children played in the pool with a host of others, and he was still smarting over the argument he had fallen into with his wife only thirty minutes ago about his “behavior”. David wondered if it was truly selfish of him to simply want some peace and quiet on vacation, to not go spend hard earned money on a wax museum or a Dolly Parton show that was probably bringing in over four hundred percent profit.
He pulled out his iPhone and began to play Star Wars Angry Birds, but the glare from the sun prevented him from having any success so he put it away, and then it began to vibrate.
He didn’t recognize the number on the caller ID, but selected “answer” anyway and put it to his ear.
“…The forged passports…and then enter the terminal in thirty minutes…” came a voice over the phone, static in between heavily accented words. “…Follow the white line…”
David started to say “wrong number” but continued to listen, his son on the diving board saying “Watch this!”
“…Release the virus…and then…” and then came a long pause and a steady beeping.
David hit the home button and then swiped over to his recent calls. With one press on the screen he looked at the number on the list, the number at the top. He didn’t recognize the area code.
Should I call 911?
“Daddy! Look at this!” came the scream of his seven year old boy. “I can do a flip off the…” THUNK!
David dropped the phone in his pocket and raced over to the other end of the pool, trying not to slip on the wet tiles, where his son had fallen on the diving board. He was crying so that was a good sign. He pulled him over to the poolside and turned him over, his son holding his stomach, and he checked him over carefully.
“You alright, Oscar?” he stammered. “Looks like you’re gonna be ok.”
A nervous laugh escaped David’s lips as he helped his son to his feet and led him by the hand through the gathering crowd of onlookers over to where he was sitting earlier. However, by the time he reached the rubberized lawn chair Oscar was begging his father to go back to the pool again. David did not stop him, did not really speak at all, only nodded and pulled out his phone again.
He hit the home button and then it vibrated again, the same number in the caller ID.
He put it to his ear.
“…At three fifteen…Dulles…do you read?”
David’s eyes squinted closed and he grit his teeth.
“Hello?” he said pensively. “Who is this?”
“…Central to our plan…viral infection…global…warming…remove the problem…”
“Hello, I can hear you…You —“
David hit the home button and then the phone icon, dialing 9-1-1.
“Nine-one-one, state the nature of your emergency.”
“Hey, uh, I…I think there’s about to be some kind of terrorist attack. They called my phone and I could hear them talking about some kind of virus being released in an airport.”
One of the women watching their own children walked by him, looked at him strangely, and then continued on by.
“Ok, sir,” said the female voice over the phone. “Just calm down and take a breath. You are telling me that you think a terrorist attack is about to happen? In what city? You are calling from near Springfield, can you help me with your location?
“Branson, Branson Miss —“
The phone started buzzing again and he pulled it away from his face for a second.
Incoming Call. Hold or Ignore?
“They are calling me again.”
“Can you read the cell number off of the phone to me?”
“Yes,” and he pulled it away from his face again, reading the number very carefully, area code first, then the seven other digits.
“Ok,” said the voice over the phone. “You’re doing great. Just tell me how they contacted you.”
“I…I don’t know. The phone rang and then I answered it and it was a voice, like someone foreign, and the static broke in now and again. He said something about releasing a virus…Dulles! Dulles Airport!”
“Ok, Mr. Grant, please stay on the line. I’m going to put you on hold. Are they calling you again?”
The phone had stopped vibrating.
“No. They aren’t.”
He heard the most innocuous elevator musack over the phone then, and now noticed that a small crowd had gathered around him, three of them his own children with towels around them, dripping wet, shivering.
“What’s going on, Daddy?” said Sam, his oldest.
“Nothing, son,” he said, his voice shaky.
“But you said something about a terrorist attack,” said a swimtrunked retiree, uncomfortably hairy, his belly looking as if he would give birth any moment.
He didn’t want to alarm them. The elevator music continued and he tried to smile, but his boy’s faces told him that he was ineffective, probably displaying a grimace.
“Mr. Grant?” came the female voice again.
“Have you been in Virginia lately?”
He thought for a moment, and then couldn’t remember ever being to Virginia…Yes he hadn’t been to Virginia.
“No. Never been there.”
“Is your wife, by any chance, nearby?”
“Um…No. She went to shop with her parents. I’m here with the kids. I’m doing my best to watch them. I’m a good dad.”
“I’m sure you are. Can I talk to another adult there for a moment?”
David thought for a moment, and since he had been through this before, handed the phone to a woman near him, sitting in the lawn chair next to him, and then he saw her face, and knew it was his wife. She showed that smile…the smile that said she knew and was sad. He handed the little play phone to his wife, his wife who had taken him to Branson to relax after his brain injury. She took the little pink plastic phone from him, smiled, and said what she always said, with tears in her eyes.
“It’s ok, Danny. It’s just ok.”