June, 1974. Port Arthur Airport, Texas.
The 707 bounced once, then its wheels kissed the tarmac and stayed firmly in contact with Planet Earth. The aircraft ran the length of the runway to its assigned stopping point, flanked by a solid phalanx of crash wagons, police cars, Airport security and inquisitive journalists. Unseen, but heard, radio messages zipped to and fro. Quite possibly the strangest ever commuter flight between Miami, FLA, and Port Arthur, TEX, had come to an end. One of the passengers, who was perhaps best placed to explain how crazy the flight had gotten, is currently sitting in a forward seat near the crew section, wrapped in a blanket and shivering, as the reaction set in to all that had happened. The fact he has just thwarted an attempt to hijack the aircraft – or so they tell him - is the least of the crazy things.
The captain half-knelt next to the stewardess who was monitoring the Doctor's condition.
"We'll give you as long as you need, Doc, but there'll be a lot of people out there wanting a taste of you. Don't mind admitting that what you did saved my plane and a hundred-thirty people! And I'm grateful."
The Captain also stayed with the truth he could live with – that his plane had very narrowly escaped hijacking, maybe destruction in a bomb blast, because this unworldly-looking academic had walked forwards, lifted the bomb out that Arab guy's hands and stood there looking at it as if he'd never seen one before. That had caused just enough confusion for the airplane marshals to race in and take control, and then the situation was over…. The captain's brows furrowed in honest thought… or had it been? Something else had happened. But he, the Captain, aware of what violent decompression following a bomb burst could do to an aircraft at thirty-seven thousand feet, had been too busy getting the plane down to sea-level. Hell, he'd only bottomed out about a hundred-fifty over the Caribbean. And that was the crazy thing. Astro-navigation systems went offline, they'd recognised nothing. It was as if you'd parked the whole plane in someone else's planet, under someone else's skies. The compass had been heaving and jumping and refusing to play baseball, as if all of a sudden there were no such thing as a magnetic field for it to lock to. All radio went down in a static hiss. Communications with everywhere had gone down, he'd been fighting to control the emergency descent, he could hear screaming from out back, Number One and the flight engineer had been grappling with that fucking maniac with the bomb…
…And then it had all shuddered, just as he was thinking "Is this how Bermuda Triangle stories begin? All they'll ever know is that we went into a nose-dive and disappeared", and some sort of sanity had returned. The sirens silenced, the astronav started to recognize where it was again, and the blessed voice of Beaumont Control, Port Arthur, was on the radio.
"I'm ready. I think." The Doctor said. He stood up, unsteadily, throwing the blanket back, and with the stewardess on one side, and the other nuclear physician - what was his name, Zweiblumen? - anxiously supporting him on the other, went to the head of the ladder. There were cheers, and flashlights popping off. The hero had landed.