I grinned at the sight of the runway lights as the wheels of the plane touched ground. Chicago had never looked more beautiful to me as it did that night. The lights of the city had shone through the clouds, lighting up the dark sky as the plane soared above the buildings, lowering its altitude steadily as we approached the airport.
“Please gather all belongings,” the voice over the loud speaker announced as the plane slowed. “Check under seats, and do not forget the overhead compartments. We thank you for flying with us on American Airlines, please do not hesitate to ask questions about future flights: your destination is our obligation. Thank you.”
“I can’t believe we bumped the Boy Scouts,” Jim said, unbuckling his seat belt.
“Never underestimate the power of record execs,” I concluded. Jim chuckled and took down our bags from the overhead compartment. “Besides,” I went on, standing up and grabbing my bag, “they wanted to stay in LA.”
“How do you know?”
“Jim, if you were a Boy Scout from Topeka, Kansas wouldn’t you?”
“I get your point.”
We followed the line of passengers off the plane and out into the waiting area.
“We better find a hotel for tonight.”
I glared at Jim.
“Taylor, you honestly didn’t think we’d be able to get a plane to New York tonight, did you?”
I didn’t answer.
“Taylor!” Jim sighed. “We’re closer to home, yes. But we are not going to be there tonight.”
“It’s morning,” I informed him gesturing towards the window. “I don’t know what time it is but it’s morning.”
My friend looked at his watch and shook his head. “My watch started blinking 12:00 AM somewhere between Cali and Utah.” He shook the wrist with the watch on it. “Still says 12.”
“Excuse me, do you have the time?” I asked a woman next to me.
“Yes, it’s almost six.”
“Thank you.” I turned back to Jim. “I knew we weren’t getting a flight from here tonight,” I confessed, “but being here at least makes me feel better.” I looked around for a monitor and spotted one down the hallway. As we approached it I read the words out loud, almost as though it was being confirmed for the first time, “Flight 876 to Newark, New Jersey... canceled.”
The countdown was now at two days.