(photo belongs to Mike Sinko)
Daryl shook awake. Either the helicopter’s descent had woken him up or it was the feet of his comrade across from him kicking him. Whatever it was, it was no more startling than seeing a giant horse statue with glowing red eyes staring back at you.
“Yikes!” he said as he pushed himself away from the window, bumping into Gaines who was sitting right next to him.
Gaines said nothing. He didn’t seem to notice. He stared out the other side window, pensive.
“He’s been like that for hours,” commented Poseidon. She stretched her arms above her head. Daryl couldn’t help his eyes wander to her chest. Still pretty nice in army camo. The four had decided to travel in uniform, though civilians were encouraged, it just felt right to be in this uniform after all that had taken place in the past 12 weeks.
Daryl turned back to his window. ’12 weeks… He was a kid back then…’
Again Daryl felt the kicking of his new friend across from him.
“Oy! Kerns!” said Baranski. “Why is there a giant horse statue here? Was it a famous horse?”
Daryl smiled. He never thought he would be coming here of all places. He’d read books about the many conspiracies of the Denver International Airport, and to think he would have ample time to investigate…
“That’s what’s great about this place, Baranski. Nobody knows…”
“Why does everything you say sound weird?”
“It’s probably the language barrier,” Daryl smiled. Baranski laughed. It felt almost odd joking with her. They had nearly killed each other at boot camp. He was glad it didn’t come to that. She would have killed him.
Daryl shivered at the thought. Her military prowess was unmatched amongst the whole 001. Still more surprising was Poseidon. At first, she seemed like a stuck up princess, but she really helped out when it was all over.
The helicopter landed without incident. The whirring of the blades, the gust of wind knocked Daryl’s cap off his head. He caught after 4 steps off. Embarrassed, he returned back to the others taking their gear out of the storage bay.
“Yeah, we decided to not put on our PCs,” said Gaines, laughing. Poseidon giggled.
“Though that looked real funny, Kerns,” said Baranski.
“Ha ha ha! Yeah, yeah,” said Daryl. “Where’s the entrance? It’s a bit nippy out here.”
“It’s a bit nippy?” said Gaines.
“Shut up, Gaines!”
The pilot stepped off and led them off the runway to a door at the side of the building. Daryl looked back at the giant horse statue. ‘I’m going to figure you out…’
It doesn’t matter. you won’t be able to tell anyone.
‘Kinder! You feeling better? I didn’t hear from you the entire helicopter ride.’
Air travel makes me sick. But I also feel they have dampeners around the building. I’m not sure how well we will be able to communicate.
‘Gee, that sounds horrible.’
I’ll have you know that I’m very pivotal to your powers working correctly. Have a little more respect.
‘Kinder you know I respect you, but you’re not always as reliable as you say.’
The group followed the pilot all the way to the main floor. Tourists and business man crowded the checkin desks. Kids ran around unsupervised. Flight crews hastily paced to their gates. There was a lot to take in; Daryl had never been to an airport before.
The Pilot handed a paper to Gaines and began giving him directions. Daryl took the time to get grounded. “Ooh!” he said. “They have Chick-Fil-A! Oh and Taco Bell!”
“What are those?” asked Poseidon. She spun around to look for what Daryl was talking about.
“Oh right,” he said, “You were stuck in the Loch for hundreds of years.”
“Yeah, yeah. What’s a Chick-Fil-A?”
“I, too, am concerned about the Taco Bell?” said Baranski.
“Trust me, that concern will go away. Eventually,” said Daryl.
“Hey Gawkers,” said Gaines, the pilot made a speedy exit. “Follow me. I know where we’re going now.”
“I’ll follow you anywhere,” said Poseidon, winking.
“Cute,” said Gaines. “This way.”
Daryl followed after, keeping his head on a swivel not to miss anything. He saw a lot of custom shops and pubs. He wished he was 21; a beer would be great.
They rounded a corner to a gift shop. Daryl watched as Gaines took the piece of paper the pilot gave him and read it. “This is the place,” said Gaines.
They walked in made their way to the back of the store. Behind the counter was a cute Asian girl with braces. Daryl did his best to keep his eyes to himself.
“You going to talk to her Kerns?” said Poseidon, coyly.
Daryl’s face reddened. “I’m… Well, maybe later. I want to drop off my gear…”
She smirked at him. “What are we waiting for Gaines?” she asked.
Gaines motioned for all of them to huddle up. They grouped together. “There’s supposed to be a sliding door behind that fern.” He pointed to upper right corner of the store.
“But there are so many people over there… This is supposed to be a secret entrance! Why put a door to a secret entrance in a giftshop?”
“Don’t get upset. We just need a distraction,” said Poseidon. “Kerns! Go talk to that counter girl!”
“What will that accomplish?” said Daryl.
“It will be distracting for me,” she said.
“Seriously! Who put a door there!” said Gaines.
“Gaines. Keep your frosty,” said Baranski. “We’ll just tell the people to leave. Politely.”
They all stared at her. “What? I said Politely.”
“Well just have to wait till the store closes,” said Gaines.
“Or Kerns could talk to that girl.”
“Come on, I’ll go with you.”
“That’ll make it worse!”
She grabbed him by the arm and dragged him to the counter while Baranski chuckled.
“You don’t know what’s going on, do you?” asked Gaines.
“Not at all,” she said through her laughter.
“Hi there!” said Poseidon to the girl. She plopped Daryl next to her. “My friend here is really shy. It’d be cute if it wasn’t pathetic. Anyway…” Daryl punched her in the arm.
“So, hey!” Daryl said. He smiled. “I was wondering if you could help me out. We need to get over to that corner over there. We were told you could help us. We just need to, you know…” He nodded in the direction.
The counter girl turned around. “You want to make out with your girlfriend over there?”
Daryl laughed. Poseidon pursed her lips.
“You understand so well. This is probably the weirdest conversation you’ve had today…”
“You’d be surprised how many people want to do something in that corner. Honestly I’m relieved. I thought you were going to ask me out. But you two look good together.”
Daryl pursed his lips and Poseidon laughed.
“Yeah, we are adorable,” she looped her arm in his.
“Yeah!” she said clapping her hands. “I can temporarily close the store while you guys do that.”
“Hang on,” said Daryl. “You just close the store to let people ‘make-out’ in a corner of your store?”
“Yeah, we do it all the time.”
Daryl took a deep breath in. “Alright.” He pulled on Poseidon’s arm.
“Let’s go, honey. I can’t wait to kiss you.”
“Oh my,” she said as she reluctantly followed.
The counter girl got on her mic. “Attention all patrons. We will be closing early today. Please make your purchases or get the hell out!”
Baranski laughed as she made to walk out the door. Gaines grabbed her collar and pointed her toward the corner where Daryl motioned for them to come over.
“Pucker up, lover,” said Daryl annoyed.
“Hey,” said Poseidon, “I’m just as annoyed as you.”
“This is why I don’t just randomly ask girls on dates,” said Daryl.
“Dating’s stupid,” said Gaines. “You’re better off single for a while.”
“Well, you never know when someone awesome is going to come around,” said Poseidon.
“I’m awesome!” said Baranski.
“You sure are, Ski,” said Daryl.
Gaines looked around the fern. “I’m not seeing a switch of any kind.”
“Let me see,” said Baranski.
Baranski put her hands out to the wall. “It’s here!” She fell forward onto the wall and it lit up. Gaines pulled her back. The wall slid up exposing an elevator.
“Don’t trip,” said Poseidon, stepping over a wooden accent. Daryl immediately tripped.
“Graceful, Kerns,” said Poseidon.
“Let’s go meet the commander. She’ll probably want to meet us before we turn in for the night.”