Chapter 1: The Airport
"Come on, Dusty. Just close your eyes and walk through."
Oh, man. I can't do it.
"I can't."
"Yes, you can."
Revolving doors. We were at the airport, and they have revolving doors. I can't stand to walk through revolving doors. They make me nervous, it's like how some people can't make left turns, I just can't walk through revolving doors. I think it's because I always feel the door behind me will knock my heels when I walk out. And it bothers me. After five minutes of yes you cans, no I can'ts, shut up and gos, you can't make me do its, you're wasting times, and let me ram your face into a revolving door then see what you think about wasting times, we walked all the way around five huge buildings and found a back way in.
We is my dad and I. Col. Dave Kilmore, United States Air Force. And I'm his Army daughter. Most people consider me uptight, stuck-up, stand- offish, but I just prefer mature. I don't know, maybe I am all those things. I don't try to be mean or anything, I'm simply more evolved.
After searching throughout five stories of airport, we found my school's group. One hundred and fifty of us were going to Sydney, Australia to tour the city, then spend a couple days on the coast as a school field trip. Forgive me if I'm not jumping for joy.
Everyone was in line to go through the metal detector and put their bags through the tunnel thing that makes sure you're not carrying lethal weapons, like, God forbid, a needle or something.
I looked up at my dad. At 6' 11" he towered over everyone here. His hair was gray, but not falling out. His square face had a look on it as though he was suspicious of everything going on but was trying not to show it. I know it well. "Dad, I'm going to be fine, you don't have to look so anxious."
"I'm not anxious."
"You are."
I stepped on his foot. "Then why are your eyes all shifty?" He looked at me and mumbled something about it being a natural instinct.
"Whatever, Dad, chill." I leaned back onto the wall. I hate airports. It was cold, freezing cold. Everything is blue, gray, or neon green. And everyone looks as if they'd shoot you if you dared slow them down. I pulled my white cotton button down shirt more tightly over my black tank top, though I knew it wouldn't help. I'm too skinny to ever be warmed up properly.
The line seemed to last forever. And the girl in front of me kept picking her ears and wiping the brownish-orangy stuff on the dark blue wall behind her. I didn't recognize her. It was our turn.
"Bag on the conveyor belt. Step through the metal detector," said a fat man in a security uniform with half-closed eyes and a monotonous voice. I glared at him and threw my green army canvas bag onto the conveyor belt. It drifted slowly through the strips hanging from the top of the tunnel. I wanted to watch, but my dad pushed me forward though the detector. To my surprise a loud beeping noise went off. The security man woke up and looked at me as though seeing me for the first time. "Take off your shirt ma'am, and step through again." Everyone was watching me and murmuring. I glared and took off my white shirt, shaking from the cold uncontrollably.
"Your knife, it's in your pocket," my dad whispered. That must be it. I slid my hand into my pocket, retrieved the small knife my dad had gotten me in Singapore, and swiftly handed it to him while pretending to lose my balance and having to grab his hands for support.
I walked through again. Beeeeeeeep beeeeeeeep beeeeeeeeep... What the...? I took off my black flip flops when the security slug of a man told me to. Walked through again. By this time most the people I could see were watching me, amazed by all the intense thriller action. Please. The loud beeping went off. I struck the plastic post with my hand and swore. The slug grabbed my by the arm and tried to carry me off to the side.
"What?! There's nothing metal on me! I'm not stripping for you anymore, freako! What the hell is your problem!? The thing is jammed!" My dad was trying to calm me while assuring everyone everything was okay. He looked worried, with a strangely far-away look in his eyes.
I finally calmed down after I made Dad make them switch security guys. Sluggo didn't really freak me out, I just wanted some type of rebelliousness to pay off. They made me wait, however, until everyone was done checking through so they could test me again. The stupid thing worked fine for everyone else. So when they were trying to find the glitch in the computer my dad and I slip past to the lobby where people wait for the plane.
He handed me my knife. "Have fun, Dust. Try to be nice," he said, giving me a stiff army hug and patting my head. I snorted.
Be nice. Hardly. He tells me this everyday, whether it was going to school, or being sent to get groceries. Today it happened to be sending me off on a plane to Australia: a school field trip, that, okay, maybe I was kind of psyched to be going on, I have to admit. I was interested because I love going to foreign places. Living with my dad, I had to, because we've traveled all over the world. We've lived in Japan, Russia, South Africa, Hawaii, Haiti, France, Peru, everywhere. Now we live in Texas. You can't get any more American. I hate America. I won't get into why, I'll ramble on for a month.
So here I am, in a Dallas airport, waiting upstairs in those cold little blue leather airport chairs, with about 150 other moronic students whom I now had to be nice to. Fat chance. I looked around, trying to sort them all out. I have a thing about being organized all the time, and it drives most people crazy. If everything isn't sorted out I feel extremely overwhelmed, then I get faint and develop stomach sores. Okay- there was Caroline and her airhead cheerleader escorts, shrieking and clapping about some new lipstick color. Not unusual. Half of them intermingled into the next group I could make out: Decote Smitt and his sidekick Trent David, with their stupid "Yeah I'm cool cuz... I mean... huh?" jock manchildren. One was throwing a paper cup at one of the geeks, Erik Schotski, who was engrossed in a game on his calculator with his friends, oblivious to the cup being hurled at him. Erik was actually pretty cool, if you ever talked to him. We'd all be zombies under his command one day, he was so smart. He was definitely going places. The freaks and goths hung out together. I can't say they were going places, but at least they had a better, if somewhat off, view on life. The punks were better. I don't have a problem with them as a whole, but each one, as a person, annoys me. Stupid stuff- for example, the way Janice Granger slaps everyone she meets for no reason. What is that? Jordan Freeman tries to pick everyone's nose. Braaz, (just Braaz, no last name, supposedly), loves his skateboard in an unnatural way. I once walked in on him proposing to it. Anyway, Stefanie Morris- Student Council President, and president of 90% of all the other school clubs as well- was trying to get us all organized, it looked like. What was she saying?
"A LINE!... PLANE!" I couldn't make it out. I guess she wanted us to get a move on. My dad's cell phone rang. He looked at the number, and it must have been urgent because he gave me a quick kiss on the forehead and walked off quickly to take the call.
As much as I've traveled, I love planes, really. But today I was getting an anxiety attack just thinking about getting on any plane packed with 150 noisy cluttered teenagers who would, no doubt, try to bust through a window just to see what would happen. Don't think about it Dusty. It'll be over in 18 hours. I threw my long, jet black hair into a hasty ponytail so I wouldn't get stuffy, grabbed my army green canvas bag over my head and shoulder and walked toward the terminal.
"Hey, Kilmore! Let's see that smile?" Trent. I looked over my shoulder and threw him a nasty look. It's not my fault I'm bitter, I am a product of my environment. And this environment sucks.

Chapter 2: The Ride
I looked out the huge pane of window at the plane before I went into the terminal. It was huge. Meant to carry 500 passengers, at least. We were wasting space with all these sad excuses for humans. I sighed and walked through the tunnel thing to get to the plane.
"Velcome! 'ave a nice treep!" said an over enthusiastic stewardess with obnoxiously blonde hair, huge red lips, and an annoying gutteral Swedish accent when we reached the plane entrance. Right. This trip will be the death of me.
I walked past her and looked for my seat. It was toward the middle of our section of the cabin, on the right side. There was a middle row of four seats across and a left row of two seats across. The seats were gray, and, thank God, not of that velvety itchy fabric. I couldn't stand that stuff. A girl was already sitting in her seat next to the window wrapped in a blue crocheted blanket, listening to headphones. I didn't blame her about the blanket, it was freezing in here.
She looked up at me and fear clouded her eyes as she realized who I was. I wanted to laugh as she nervously made room for me to sit down. Why did she look so scared? She must be a freshman, and some of the stupid sophomores, no doubt Trent being one of them, told her what a monster I was. Feeling sorry for her, I sat down, smiled, and asked for her name, placing my bag on the ground.
"Marla Grant." She smiled tentatively, not meeting my eyes.
"Dusty Kilmore. What grade are you in?"
"Freshman. No, I mean, 9th." Marla responded quickly. She was cute, I decided. Very small for her age, mousy brown hair and glasses, which magnified her pretty green eyes.
I heard laughing behind me.
"Careful! She'll suck your blood and you'll be more shriveled up than you are now!" It was a high, screeching laugh that made me wince. Hollie Kelly, Caroline's best friend. Three... two... one...
"Yeah! Do you have garlic with you?! Or maybe a stake?!" Caroline chimed in. More screeching. Wow, that was um... hilarious. Nice one. Two points for dirty hoe #1, oh no, wait, none, because you're stupid.
"Screw off, Caroline," I said warningly without turning around. Sifting through my bag, I looked for my headphones. They were tangled with other things I made a mental point to organize. Somehow, they must have gotten jostled when going through the detector thing. I hate airports.
I took my knife out of my pocket and into my bag, amused when Marla's eyes widened at the sight of it. The blade was about four inches long and hooked at the tip. It was extremely sharp and shiny. The handle was a rich wood, and had symbols carved into it by the native Indonesians he'd gotten it from. What else was in here? A change of clothes for tomorrow- a green tank top, khaki drawstring pants made from this canvas-like material, underwear and strapless bra. I also had a book, my headphones, matches, a pencil, hair bands, and CDs. No makeup, I don't wear it. My face is always clear, I don't need it. I don't wear jewelry either, except for a leather band around my neck that has a shark's tooth on it, from when I went fishing with my dad and caught a baby shark in the ocean. Also, about $100 in cash, for spending money in Australia.
"Please fasten your seatbelts, and get ready for take-off..."
We were finally leaving. Everyone was seated. Oh man, who was across the isle from me but Trent David. Next to him was Caroline. They weren't dating, but out of the 18 hours, I bet myself they'd make out for 17. I almost wanted to warn him to have her checked for STD's first, but then decided he deserved them. Next to Caroline was Hollie, then some poor geek who got stuck seated next to her.
I closed my eyes as we took off, and my ears popped. Did I ever mention I'm extremely afraid of heights? Thank you, Marla, for taking the window seat. I never sit next to the window, that way I can't see how far off the ground we are. I love flying, but hate heights. Shut up, it makes sense to me.
It was about 9:00 AM when we took off. Most of the time they played movies that no one paid attention to. Snacks were passed around. I don't eat airplane food. I don't get nautious, I just can't stand supposedly edible pieces of sterilized, preserved, at-one-time frozen roadkill that needs labels in order for it to be recognized.
Caroline, apparently, does get nautious. Sickening. At least I wouldn't have to see Trent making out with her after that, I think it scarred him for life. Marla was sweet, she was quiet and didn't bother me. She was probably scared into silence, which was a shame.
Because if she was that scared then, it's a wonder she didn't die of fright 17 hours later...
It was about 2:00 in the morning. Most everyone was asleep. No calculator beeping, no random bursts of laughter. Everything had died down.
I was asleep, but I'm an incredibly light sleeper due to my extremely acute hearing, keeping me half awake and subconsciously alert. Which is why my eyes flew wide open when I thought I heard whispers in another language, one that I couldn't place. That's strange because no one here is smart enough to know another language fluently besides me. And not because I'm smart, I've just lived in foreign countries.
It took about a second for my eyes to get used to the darkness (I have extraordinary eyesight as well). Not moving, I shifted my eyes around. I could see dark forms slumped over in seats: sleeping teenagers. Nothing unusual. After a minute or so I assumed I'd overestimated my hearing abilities and was about to go back to sleep, when I heard it again, very faintly. Two men were speaking in barely audible whispers. I didn't recognize the language, but their accent sounded like it was from the South Pacific. Big deal, Dusty, we're on our way to Australia, of course there'll be accents like this. And they're whispering because we're on a plane with everyone trying to sleep.
I strained to hear. There was one word they kept saying over and over again: Kailai. Was that a person? Or just a word? My skin prickled and my heart raced, despite my thoughts trying to tell me it was no big deal, and to be logical.
I felt for Marla's wrist and looked at her watch. 2:03 AM, September 26, it said, the neon green letters glowing like a searchlight in the pitch- black cabin.
She opened her eyes and whispered, "Dusty? What's wrong?" I wanted desperately to assure her it was nothing, but the words wouldn't come out of my mouth. Instead, I put my finger to my lips and she nodded, wide-eyed as usual. I turned my body around halfway and peered between the two seats to the back of the cabin.
Something metal glinted in the only ray of light coming from the curtains leading to the cockpit, and I heard a click even fainter than the voices. A gun. Oh shit. I slowly faced the front and sank down in my seat, heart beating so hard it was about to explode. I looked around desperately to see if anyone else had heard it- no avail.
Panicking, I turned and whispered to Marla, "Did you hear that?"
"Hear what?"
I froze, feeling the sudden pressure of something cold and metal digging into the side of my head.