Airplane caught in turbulence

The Chaos Theory – Chapter I

“This is the final boarding call for flight OS502.” A man in his 30s wearing a red-and-black check polo shirt looked up from his chair in the Prima Vista Lounge at the Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy. Finally, he uttered under his breath, swerving off from his uncomfortable chair. As he stood up, he grabbed his backpack—the only thing he brought on this trip—and slung it over his shoulder. Joseph Dyer walked alongside the other passengers as they made their way to the departure gate. It was true what they say: Fiumicino is a goddamn zoo. People were frighteningly everywhere, and the sheer volume of the crowd was making him nauseous. For the first time in many years, it was as if Joe was back in his old high school hallway where people couldn’t seem to stay away from each other all the time. At least here, he didn’t have to deal with people shouting his name every few feet or so. He was quite popular as a teenager thanks to his good looks. But even then, he hated big crowds. Not that Joe was an introvert because he was absolutely not. But because, well, crowds make him feel claustrophobic. There was something about being in the midst of people huddled so close together that just disorients him. For years, he worked hard to get himself comfortable in throngs of people. He needed it. Although he could withstand crowds now, he would still avoid it if he had the option to do so. Well, now, he didn’t have to pretend to know and smile back at them, although he would still receive glances and stares from women he came across. But upon seeing him close, they would immediately stop trying to get his attention. Joe didn’t have to wonder why. Obviously, he still looked sick. Large beads of sweat dripped on his temples, he felt warm–too warm–as if heat packs were pressed against his skin. Joe glanced at the window and was quite surprised to see large gray clouds hovering above. What? That is weird, he thought to himself, blinking a few times. That is really weird. That wasn’t there when I got off the cab. Is there a storm coming? He tore his eyes off the windows and shook his head. For a while, he was worried the flight would be canceled. That would throw him off his itinerary more than it did after the risotto incident. Here he was, perspiring like crazy for some reason. Perhaps it was the humidity? But it was the middle of October already, and the cold season should be around the corner by now. So, maybe it wasn’t the crowd or the weather making him feel antsy. Maybe it was something else. He couldn’t pinpoint what was it exactly, though. Was it still the risotto? No way. He had no plans of culminating his Italy trip by throwing up on the airplane’s restroom. But even when Joe boarded the plane, he wasn’t able to shake the feeling that something was off. He looked around. Everyone seemed normal, relaxed, and even sleepy. Then, he looked outside. The skies now looked pretty normal, too. Joe’s forehead furrowed. It seemed those asphalt gray clouds were swept away somewhere and replaced by these cauliflower-shaped ones. “We ask you to please be seated and fasten your seat belts. Please secure your baggage underneath your seat and in the overhead compartments. Our flight is ready for departure.” As Joe stared outside, his eyebrows knit when he saw what was an unmistakable flash of light across the skies. He leaned in closer to look. What, was that? “Sir, we are about to take off. I’m asking you to please sit down.” Startled as if woken from a reverie, Joe glanced back confused to the flight attendant, only to realize that he was indeed standing. His seat was near the aisle so he had to lean towards the window, blocking the other two passengers next to him. The blond guy looked at him up and down. The other one was muttering words in German, which he was quite sure wasn’t a compliment. Joe gave an apologetic smile and sat down. The flight attendant nodded with a smile, and moved past them. However, he quickly glanced at the window again. Was he only imagining that lightning cutting across the sky? He shook his head and sighed. Well, he said to himself, it had been a rough day so far, so I was probably just seeing things. As the plane shuddered and moved towards the runway to prepare for takeoff, Joe leaned on his cushioned seat and pulled over his eye mask. Between Rome and Vienna, he had a couple of hours of rest to enjoy before embarking on the next stop on his Europe itinerary. Joe had been looking forward to a backpacking trip in Europe ever since his one-month paid vacation leave was approved—a vacation well-earned after many years of never being absent or late for work. It shocked everyone, including Joe, that he was able to survive his ten years working on a job that he didn’t like and in a company that he didn’t care about. It was supposed to be a temp job, but the pay was good, so he stayed on. Ten years later, he became a senior data analyst in that multi-national company as a reward for his impressive performance. In his first week of traveling across Europe, Joe visited London and Scotland, hunting for the locations of his favorite book series. Then, the weekend arrived and he was ushered into cutting his itinerary short to go to France due to a mistake in his plane booking. During the next two weeks, he split his time between Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Everything was okay for the most part. Fun, actually. He met a lot of people, saw tourist spots he had only seen on the Internet, and ate as much fine food as his money could afford. Until he got food poisoned a couple of days ago in

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