I was awoken early the next morning by a guard sliding a tray of food through a slot on the floor of my cell. “We leave in an hour.” He said simply as he continued on his way.
Rubbing my eyes, I sat up, and looked across the hall to Beach Bum Barry. He was still asleep, a dry yellowish-white sliding down the side of his face. Odd color and consistency for drool. I looked a little closer. I didn’t see any motion from him at all. That was when I realized it wasn’t drool that I saw, but vomit. Sometime during the night he must have vomited in his sleep and choked on his own vomit. I quickly averted my gaze, no longer having the desire to eat.
After recovering from the initial shock of a dead man in the opposite cell, I sat down on the toilet to relieve myself. One good thing about Beach Bum Barry’s passing is I didn’t have an audience for the bodily noises that ultimately and embarrassingly surfaced.
The guard returned in what I can only assume was an hour, as I had no clock or watch to tell time with. I said nothing as he put the cuffs on me and escorted me out of the detention center. I was lined up with the other prisoners, a lot more than were on the bus yesterday. There were several guards, all holding knock-out-rifles, escorting us toward a large cargo plane sitting on the runway.
The inside of the cargo plane was fitted with bench seats, similar to what was on the bus. Like the bus, we were each chained to our seats, secured for our trip. I tried to count the number of prisoners on the plane, but lost track after twenty. My brain injury made it hard for me to keep focused. If I had to guess, though, I would say there were over one-hundred prisoners that were on their way to the moon.
I was squeezed in between Weeping Willow from the bus and a big burly man with wild hair and beard who I named Lumber Jack. Weeping Willow was still crying, but it was much more subdued than the bus yesterday. I guess she’s starting to accept her fate. Being stuck between an overweight woman and a big burly man made for a very tight squeeze for me, which only added to my discomfort. I pulled my arms in as close as I could, and hunched over slightly, eager for the flight to be over, and we hadn’t even taken off yet.
It wasn’t much longer before I felt the plane jerk as it slowly started to move. I could feel the floor and seat vibrating, and could sense the acceleration, despite not having any windows to look out. When the plane began tilting upward, and I could feel gravity pulling me against the back of my seat, I was suddenly thankful I hadn’t eaten the provided breakfast. If I had, it probably would have wound up all over me.
I focused on my breathing, slow and steady. I could feel the waves of nausea, but did not want to give in to them. The feelings of nausea subsided slightly when I felt the plane leveling off. How long were we going to be in the air? How long before we’re back on the ground again? I had no way to know, so the only thing I could do was to continue to focus on my breathing. Breathe in. Breathe out slowly. Ignore the lump in my throat. Just keep breathing.
Suddenly, the plane shook violently. Did we hit something? Maybe a flock of geese? Were we going to crash? Several of the prisoners cried out in fear. I think I was one of them. My heard raced, the lump in my throat got higher, and I could taste the bile on my tongue. My breathing quickened, I was going to throw up. No, I’m not going to make a mess. I forced my mouth to remain closed, fighting back the nasty taste of the bile.
It seemed to last forever, but it was probably only a couple minutes. I felt hot, sweat dripping down my forehead. I swallowed more bile, the nasty taste lingering in my mouth. Weeping Willow was crying harder again. Lumber Jack was just sitting calmly, as if nothing had happened at all. How could someone be so calm. I looked at him dumbfounded. He must have seen me looking at him, as he turned his head to look at me.
“What’s your problem? Can’t handle a little bit of turbulence?” He scoffed and turned away, looking forward again. “Just don’t puke on me, wimp.”
The rest of the flight was much the same. We had more of what Lumber Jack called turbulence, but at least this time I was more prepared for it. I still hated it, and it still brought the bile up, but I refused to let it out of my mouth. I was so thankful when we finally landed and were escorted off the plane into another detention center. Once in my cell, I let the meager contents of my stomach release into the toilet, and washed the taste away with water from the sink.