“Where … is … my … daughter?” Thomas demanded yet again.
Harmonee, the ticket agent, tried to remain professional despite wanting to yell at the customer at her desk.
“We are still tracking her down, sir. Please have a seat and we will let you know as soon as we find out.”
“I will not sit down! I want to know where your airline’s idiots in Houston sent my daughter!”
Harmonee pushed a security call button; this guy was getting way too upset over a missing kid. While she waited for help to arrive, she kept pushing other buttons on her terminal, trying to learn where the girl had gone.
Four guards appeared, each armed with an automatic assault rifle, an automatic assault pistol, and three knives.
“Is there a problem?” the sergeant asked.
“Yes! There sure as hell is a problem!” Thomas yelled. “These morons have lost my daughter!”
“Sir, you need to keep your voice down. I’m sure the airline is doing its best to accommodate you. Please have a seat over here.” The sergeant and one of the lower-ranking guards took Thomas by his arms and led him from the airline’s armored information desk. Their manner made it clear they would not ask politely again. This was an airport, after all.
Thomas fumed but sat. The new federal Airport Security Squads weren’t famous for their understanding.
Harmonee’s terminal beeped softly at her and she poked the screen. She read the information and signaled the sergeant to bring Thomas back to her.
“All right, sir, we’ve traced your daughter’s Safe-T-Travl unit to Minneapolis. That’s in …”
“Minnesota,” Thomas supplied.
“Yeah,” Harmonee agreed, finding her place on the screen again. Despite herself, she was impressed with the man’s command of trivia. “The unit has been inspected and there’s plenty of oxygen and anesthetic gas to keep your daughter safe and asleep while she’s routed here to Honolulu.” She fell into the singsong voice of the underpaid peon reciting company boilerplate. “If you’ll tell us what hotel you’re staying at, we’ll have her delivered to you at no extra charge, and Shining Sea Airways apologizes for the inconvenience.”
“Inconvenience?” Thomas sputtered. “Having to put my children into life support boxes to be hauled as cargo instead of letting them fly with my wife and me like free people. That’s more than an inconvenience. It’s insane!”
“I suppose you’d rather we had another 5/23 every day,” the sergeant grumbled. “Another terrorist kid with explosives inside him blowing up airplanes. That’s the kind of freedom you want, is it? Sir.”
Thomas deflated. “No, no, of course not. I understand there are good reasons for these rules. I’m sorry. We’re staying at the Ilikai. Room 315.”
“Thank you, sir,” Harmonee said. “We’ll bring her right over as soon as she gets here.” She lapsed again into prepared speech mode. “While we hope this will be later today or early tomorrow, Shining Sea Airways cannot guarantee delivery time on any parcel due to ongoing national air security concerns. We appreciate your patience.”
The guards stood aside to let Thomas leave the counter. He nodded absently at everyone and headed toward the parking lot.
“Thanks, Sergeant,” Harmonee said. “That’s the third lost kid in a box this week. People get so upset about that.”
“Not everyone can focus on the bigger picture,” the sergeant said. “That’s why we’re here.”