Austin was as ready as he was going to be. He took a deep breath and popped open the door. He exited the lavatory of the airplane and stepped back into the cabin.

The plane had been aloft for ninety minutes. It was cruising effortlessly over flyover country. Half the passengers were trying to get some sleep. The other half were reading books, solving Soduku puzzles, and goofing around on laptops.

Austin walked back to his seat, grabbed the empty duffel bag from his seat, and walked purposefully toward the front of the plane. When he pulled aside the curtain that separated first class from the unwashed masses, people finally noticed.

“Hey, you can’t go up there,” protested a flight attendant as she walked swiftly toward him. The dozing passengers began to wake up.

Austin pulled the pistol from the duffel bag and leveled it at the flight attendant. She stopped in her tracks, and Austin could sense the heightened level of anxiety aboard the plane. Austin could see the puzzled look on her face – wondering how he managed to sneak a gun aboard the plane.

“Come up here,” Austin commanded her. When the woman hesitated for a moment, he nodded toward the gun to remind her of its presence. This reminder was effective, and she quickly joined him at the front of the plane.

“OK,” he shouted. “This is how things are going to work. Tiffany, here –“

“Tessa,” interrupted the flight attendant,

“Tessa,” he continued, glaring at the idiot, “is going to walk through the cabin with my bag. Each of you will simply drop your wallets and jewelry into the bag. When we’re done, I’m going to leave, and nobody gets hurt.”

“Bullshit,” yelled a burly man in the middle of the plane. “You’re not getting anything from me.”

Austin turned the pistol toward him. “I’ll get it from you, dead or alive. Your choice.”

The man’s companion spoke up. “I think he’s serious, Merrill.”

“Yes, Merrill. I’m serious. Dead serious.”

Merrill slunk back in his seat and Austin tossed the bag to Tessa.

“Go,” he growled. “Start at the front.”

Tessa began the process of collecting wallets and valuables from the passengers. Austin kept one eye on her while keeping the other eye on the rest of the plane – watchful for anyone else who wanted to be a hero.

“Hey, necklaces, too,” he said to a woman with a diamond broach around her neck. The woman clutched the broach and gave a wistful look before complying with his request.

When Tessa reached the back of the plane, Austin strode down the aisle and jerked the bag out of her hands. He took a quick glance into the bag and smiled appreciatively at the size of some of the diamond rings. This would be a very nice haul.

“OK,” he said, “the emergency door. Pop it open.”

“We can’t open it in flight,” protested Tessa.

“Yeah, you can,” he replied, pointing the gun at her. A few minutes later, the door was open and Austin prepared to jump.

“Geronimooooooooooo,” he yelled, beginning his freefall. Austin was on cloud nine – in a few short moments, he would be on the ground with his treasure.

A few seconds later, Austin realized that he had forgotten one small little thing. His parachute.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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