A sudden jolt awoke Justin with a start. He sat up quickly in his seat, straining to see what had caused it. Was there some trouble with turbulence? He remembered reading somewhere that turbulence could cause a plane to shake violently sometimes. Justin looked out the window and immediately saw what the "problem" was.
They were on the ground.
They had landed and the plane was just beginning to come to a stop. He could see the ground personnel waving their orange rods, guiding the plane to a safe stop. Then the stewardess came out from the back of the plane with one of his suitcases. She set it down in the isle and went back for the second one. Justin stood up, grateful for the ability to stretch his legs. He had been on the track team in middle school and he still couldn't really sit still for any particularly long period of time. The stewardess had delivered his second suitcase and was going back to get the third when the thought struck Justin; how was he going to be able to transport all three of them to the next spot?
When the stewardess came back again, he asked her. "Excuse me?" he said. "How am I supposed to carry everything?" His question had sounded more like a complaint to Justin but the stewardess was unfazed.
"Don't worry," she said. "It's not like you're going alone."
That last part troubled him. Of course he was going alone, it wasn't as if he had to be escorted from one place to another, surely they thought he could figure things out on his own. But she didn't elaborate on the statement and without another word; she left the suitcases there and exited the plane. Justin followed her but stopped when he got to the door of the plane. She was talking with three official looking men in dark suits wearing sunglasses.
That really was a stretch, thought Justin. It wasn't sunny in the airport and with the glasses they looked like secret agents. They even had the little earphones that looked like hearing aids with telephone cords attached to them. He turned around to go back into the plane for his stuff but was met head on by someone carrying it out on some sort of cart with wheals. He stepped backward, out of the plane and into the connector.
The stewardess was wrapping up her conversation with the "secret agents" and signaled Justin to come to her. He obeyed, but it wasn't as if he had a choice; the man with his luggage was heading toward her anyway. When he was at her side she explained the situation.
" Justin," she started. "These men are going to escort you to the next limousine, okay?"
Justin just nodded. He actually was going to be "escorted" to another limousine by a bunch of secret agents and one luggage carrier. They must really think I'm blind or something, Justin thought as they made their way out the gate.
The men were traveling at a brisk pace and it was hard for Justin to keep up at times. Their shoes clicked in rhythm against the hard floor. The airport was crowded with people either sitting and waiting, or running to their gate so they wouldn't miss their flight. Either way it was confusing to Justin.
As they passed one of the gates, Justin overheard his name being mentioned. He turned in the general direction from which he had heard it and was surprised to find a television set. It was on a channel reserved for news reports and it continued:
" That's right," the person giving the report said. "Justin Evarb is here in West America. He is reportedly here to visit his father, David Evarb who, as I'm sure most of you know, runs the successful Evarb production plants found in Washington, Oregon and California. He should be arriving at the Oregon Coast Airport at this time and from there will be driven out to his father's house near the coast, which…" The television faded into the noise of the airport but that was all Justin needed to hear. After all, it explained the reason for the secret agents that were escorting him. Someone could have kidnapped him and asked for money from his father had it not been for the protection. Justin suddenly felt very cold, as if isolated from the rest of the airport – enclosed in a cage of dark suits and luggage. What if someone wanted to shoot him? How could his "body guards" prevent that from happening? There were balconies that were suspended high above the floor of the airport. If someone really wanted to, they could get up there and easily get a clean shot at him above the crowd. He didn't feel safe at all.
But then, through the space between two of his protectors, he glimpsed a pair of double doors outside of which was a long black vehicle – perhaps his limousine. They reached the doors, which slid open with a muted hiss. The limo's engine started up and one of the "secret agents" opened the back door for Justin. He got in hurriedly and watched through the back window as they effortlessly loaded his things into the trunk. They closed the hood and the vehicle drove off, away from the airport and onto the road.
This whole trip was beginning to have a surreal dream-like quality to it. Justin knew he was heading to the Evarb plant but he just couldn't stop thinking about the surprise of the news broadcast. Somehow he had known about his dad's wealth but was unaware of his influence over West America. The news report had simply startled him with the apparent common knowledge of who his father was.
In fact, Justin didn't even know what his father looked like. Was he a fat man like the rich people in the movies? Or was he the tall, skinny, snobbish type? No where had Justin even seen a picture of his father before. Not even in the scrapbooks that his mother kept. She had pictures of the house before they bought it, and the apartment she had lived in before that. But no pictures of his father. In fact, even the name "David Evarb" had never been mentioned to Justin at all. If his father had such a grand influence in West America, why didn't anybody know him in East America? He would have thought that at school, when they introduced themselves to the teacher, somebody would have said, " Evarb? As in David Evarb?" But that never happened either!
Justin was contemplating the situation when all of a sudden the TV monitor in the center of the car came on. Justin didn't know what to make of it at first, he hadn't pressed any buttons to turn it on, and he wasn't sitting on the remote or anything like that. But after a few seconds, he realized it was a promotional video for Evarb Production Plants.
At first the video talked about what they made, basically tools and equipment. But then it started getting into how the business got started and by whom. "Evarb Production Plants," it said, " was started by David Evarb twenty years ago when the demand for basic metal goods began to increase for use on space stations, launch pads, and other space related objects. David Evarb created the first production plant with his own funding and a few employees. The business took off from there. He expanded his plant to include an extended assembly line and other machinery. Soon he was profiting enough to create a second and third plant, increasing job opportunities for impoverished Lunars. Today there are seven Evarb plants in West America, all of which are located in the states of Washington, Oregon and California."
Then the video quickly flashed a picture of David Evarb before going on to the next subject. From what Justin saw, his father looked almost identical to him. He had the same dark brown – almost black – eyes that matched perfectly with straight hair of the same color. He had the same semi-narrow face with a subtly accented jaw and the same front teeth that were most noticeable when the mouth was slightly opened. It was as if Justin had been staring at an aged replica of himself. As he was thinking of this, the video ended and the monitor shut off automatically. He looked out the window and saw that the city they had been traveling through had disappeared and in its place was just flat land covered with grass. The car halted and he could here a muffled conversation in the front of the car. They hadn't picked anyone else up so the driver couldn't be conversing with another passenger. As he listened closely, he caught the other end of the conversation also. It seamed to be coming from a radio of some sort for it had a static-like sound to it. He rolled down his window and craned his head out of it to see why they had stopped.
The reason was simple; almost anybody would stop if there was a giant metal wall in his or her way.
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