Chapter 1 – Flight 2298
International Flight 2298 already was an hour late to its destination in
Frankfurt when the aircraft was rocked by a nasty band of turbulence.
The plane dropped into a wind shear, shuddered upwards, and then dropped
again. The pilot, who already had ordered all passengers to return to
their seats, ominously ordered the fight attendants to immediately sit
down as well. The passengers watched with increasing anxiety as the
cabin crewmembers swayed in the aisles towards the dubious safely of
their landing seats.
Again the plane shuddered upwards and dropped. Outside bands of thick
clouds alternated with gray sky as the aircraft banked to avoid the
worst of the storm. The worst of the storm, however, already had begun
moving into northern Germany, which meant that a landing in Frankfurt
was becoming increasingly unlikely.
Air travel that evening would be a mess throughout northwestern Europe,
as flights had to be diverted away from a string of cities extending
from Paris to Warsaw. The storm showed no promise of letting up, thus
forcing controllers to make the difficult decision to land planes in
airports far away from their intended destinations.
As alternate airports filled up, controllers decided to divert
International Flight 2298 eastward to the King Vladik International
Airport in Danúbikt Móskt, the Danubian Republic’s only international
airport. Yes, that primitive airport was very far out of the way, but
Flight 2298 still had enough fuel to make it, whereas many other planes
competing for landing slots did not. So the crew and passengers, already
exhausted from a grueling flight from Panama City to Europe, now would
fly an extra hour to get to Danúbikt Móskt. Unless the weather cleared,
the plane’s occupants could expect to stay well into the following day
before they could fly out.
As the plane banked right to turn eastward, it was buffeted by still
more sickening turbulence. The pilot announced that, regrettably, the
flight would end in the Danubian Republic, not Germany. Not that it
really mattered. Most of the passengers simply wanted to get on the
ground and be done with the horrible journey. Anywhere, even Danúbikt
Móskt, was just fine, as long it was out of that storm. They could deal
with getting to Germany tomorrow, but now all that mattered was
returning to solid ground.
As the plane began its final descent into Danubian airspace, Maria Elena
Rodriguez-Torres felt waves of nausea surging through her body. What the
young Colombian felt was not simple air sickness, but rather the
rebellion of her body against what she was carrying inside her stomach.
A full kilo of cocaine, divided into grape-sized plastic packages, was
the young woman’s reason for being on the flight. Now she knew those
packages, (or “pellets”, as they were called in the world of drug
traffickers) were not going to stay down much longer. Sweat poured down
the passenger’s face as she tried to keep them down.
Por favor…por favor…o Dios mio…por favor…que llegue al aeropuerto sin…
It was not to be. Maria Elena surged forward, covering her mouth as it
filled with vomit and three round grape-sized objects. She flailed about
with her free hand while the man in the seat next to her frantically
pulled out an air sickness bag, opened it, and handed it to her. She
vomited, and to her horror felt more pellets working their way up her
esophagus in a desperate attempt to escape through her mouth. It seemed
that not only was her body rejecting the presence of those unnatural
objects inside her, but the pellets themselves did not want to be there
either and were determined to get out.
Over and over Maria Elena threw up into the bag, as sweat and tears
poured down her face. She rudely waved off the efforts of her neighbor
to comfort her as pellets passed upwards and gagged her, making her want
to throw up all that much more. Within seconds the bag was completely
full of the contents of her stomach, which included nearly thirty
bluish-gray ovals, about a third of the cocaine that her handler had
entrusted to her for delivery to Germany.
Panic and total despair swept over the unhappy courier, because not only
her freedom, but her very life now was in grave danger. Maria Elena knew
that the cost of losing any of the cocaine that her handlers had
entrusted to her would be her life. She had been given 100 pellets to
swallow, and she would deliver 100 pellets to her contact in Frankfurt.
In exchange for her efforts she would be given 5,000 Euros. To deliver
anything less than 100 pellets would cost her life, or at the very least
enslavement in a brothel to pay off her debt.
La plata o el plomo…as they always said. Silver for success…lead for
The man sitting next to Maria Elena tried to take her air-sickness bag,
but she violently snatched it away.
“Look, lady…I’m just gonna give it to the attendant. I’ll get you
The young woman struggled with her very limited English.
“You no take…you no say me nothin’!”
“You need to get rid of that…come on now…hand it over…”
“You no take me!”
The man was bewildered, but suddenly became irritated and suspicious.
OK…just what the hell was in that bag that she was so worried about?
With intense pain sweeping through her intestines and tears rolling down
her cheeks, Maria Elena stared through the window as the plane finally
dropped through the clouds and the lights below became visible. The
aircraft was still shaking as it was buffeted by wind, but the rain had
let up and the passengers could make out the lights of Danúbikt Móskt
(or Danube City in English) the capitol of the Danubian Republic, as
their flight made its final approach.
The pilots took a deep breath as they lined up their huge aircraft to a
runway that was not designed for such a large plane. This airport was
something else…not set up at all for night landings, a short runway, no
decent radar system, no adequate lighting, and no modern gates. However,
the Danubian Army was doing what it could to help diverted planes make
safe landings; two rows of Danubian soldiers were waving flares and
shining spotlights onto the runway in a feeble attempt to direct
incoming flights to the ground and the terminal. The plane hit the
ground with a violent jolt as the pilot immediately hit the reverse
thrusters to avoid overshooting the runway. As soon as the plane slowed
sufficiently a military jeep moved in front of the aircraft, with a
soldier in the back wildly waving a flashlight to get the pilot to take
his plane off the runway. The soldiers’ haste was quite justified,
because other diverted flights were circling Danube City waiting to
land, some of which were about to run out of fuel. The moment Flight
2298 turned off the main runway, another jumbo jet roared past and
another flight was safely on the ground.
Led by its military escort, Flight 2298 approached the small terminal
building and a stopped next to multitude of other planes that were
parked very close together. Torrents of rain poured down and gusts
continued to shake the aircraft, but now the danger of crashing was
past. As the pilot cut the engines, yet another flight roared in…yet
another safe landing in this woefully small airport.
The moment the engines were turned off, airport workers rolled two
staircases to the front and back of the plane. As the doors opened the
pilot announced that everyone was ordered to get off immediately. To
highlight that point, Danubian police officers climbed into the plane
and started yelling at the passengers to get out. No, there would be no
leisurely checking to see if everyone had everything, and if anyone was
caught struggling with a large bag and holding up other passengers a cop
yelled: “You no take! You now move-move!”
The scene outside was surreal to anyone accustomed only to modern
airports. As the rain continued to pour down on them, two lines of
stranded travelers descended the staircases into darkness and ran
between parked planes towards a large military hanger. Another hanger
already was full to capacity and Danubian soldiers were erecting tents,
presumably in anticipation of receiving yet more passengers. The entire
area outside the terminal building was full of over-sized aircraft, the
buildings were packed to capacity, and diverted flights continued to
come in. The cops were frantic to empty the planes as quickly as
possible to make room for more incoming passengers, which justified
their rough treatment of anyone holding up the evacuation of an
Maria Elena staggered out of her seat, clutching her air-sickness bag
and a small backpack that was her only carry-on item. As she stepped
into the rain she nearly lost her balance on the staircase, but she held
on tightly to her cocaine. That bag was a matter of life and death. She
would have to find a place where she could clean off those pellets and
somehow get them back inside her body.
She struggled in the rain towards the hanger, but suddenly another wave
of nausea swept over the unhappy girl. She retched yet again, separated
from the other passengers, fell to her hands and knees, and lost another
five pellets onto the wet pavement. She picked them up and stuffed them
into the pocket of her sweatshirt. She recovered slightly and finished
the arduous journey to the hanger.
The wind picked up and a loud clap of thunder announced that the storm
had arrived full force to Danube City. A large military tent broke loose
and flew across the tarmac, with several soldiers in desperate pursuit.
The weather now prevented any more flights from coming in and it was
obvious none would be taking off anytime soon. The roof of the hanger
rattled from the wind and rain as Danubian cops holding up signs with
flight numbers tried to re-organize the crowd of panicked and bewildered
Just as the Danubians had been determined to get everyone off the planes
as quickly as possible, they also wanted to empty the airport. The
police announced that the passengers would be taken by bus to several
nearby schools and kept under guard until their flights could leave.
There would be a place to sit down and dry off, bathrooms, showers, and
clean drinking water.
Still gripping her airsickness bag and her wet backpack, Maria Elena
boarded a very crowded bus and endured a short trip to a nearby
elementary school. As the passengers entered the school and attempted to
dry off, Danubian soldiers brought in a truckload of blankets, towels,
and hot drinks; while a local baker unloaded a shipment of breakfast
rolls and blackberry jam. It wasn’t much, but considering the thousands
of stranded passengers flooding Danube City on such short notice, a lot
of people would gratefully remember the Danubian government’s efforts to
make their stay less onerous. The wind continued to howl outside and the
city underwent two brief blackouts, but most of the passengers were
satisfied to be safe, in a clean dry building where they could at least
stretch their legs.
Her intestines still hurt, but the nausea had passed and Maria Elena was
able to take an interest in her surroundings. The school was very clean,
but the building looked like it was at least 100 years old. The walls
were covered with children’s paintings of griffins, landscapes, kings,
and medieval knights. The young Colombian also noticed some drawings of
families relaxing on beaches or lakes, and what was interesting was that
no one in the vacation pictures was wearing a swim suit. That detail
struck her as very odd. Don’t people wear swimsuits in this country?
There were other pictures that caught her attention. It seemed that
every classroom boasted anti-drug propaganda, graphic assaults on the
world in which Maria Elena recently had immersed herself. There was no
question the Danubians were totally intolerant of drugs, if what was on
the walls of the school was any indication. The courier took a deep
breath, thinking about her own reason for being on that wayward flight.
The sooner she got out of this country, the better.
Maria Elena diverted her attention from the anti-drug pictures. She had
a much more urgent matter to take care of. In that crowded school, she
hoped to find a bathroom or sink private enough for her to clean off her
pellets and get them back inside her body, either by re-swallowing them
or by shoving them up her bottom. She had some Vaseline, so she
calculated that shoving the cocaine up her bottom might be the easier
way to go. 30 pellets was a lot, however, so she resigned herself to the
fact she probably would have to re-swallow at least some. That meant yet
another nauseating flight from Danube City to Frankfurt, but at least
she had hope she could deliver her load after all and get her 5,000
Euros. She found a teacher’s bathroom with a door that locked, filled
the sink with water, and proceeded to rinse off the pellets from her
air-sickness bag and wrapped them into a paper towel. She would
re-insert them upon finding out when her flight could leave for Germany.
In the meantime she would have to dry off, get some rest, and hope that
the pellets still in her intestines would stay there another day.
Maria Elena re-counted 30 pellets in the paper towel and hid them in her
backpack, which would add to the 70 still in her intestinal tract. 100
pellets…which hopefully she could get rid of within another 24 hours.
Her problem was that she only had 65 pellets still inside her body,
because she had forgotten about the five pellets that she had put in her
A few hours later the sky lightened outside. Representatives from the
Danubian Ministry of Tourism showed up at the school and assembled the
passengers in the gym to announce that three aircraft, which included
Flight 2298, would be ready to depart Danube City later that morning. A
line of buses was ready to take the more fortunate passengers back to
the airport. Maria Elena panicked, realizing that she wouldn’t have time
to re-insert her pellets before leaving the school. Still, she quickly
boarded the bus. She just had to make her flight. The sooner she got on
that plane, the sooner she would be in Frankfurt with her cocaine safely
She promised herself…never again…I am never doing this again…it just
isn’t worth it…
Upon getting to the airport, the courier immediately found a women’s
bathroom and an open stall. She had to have her cocaine completely
concealed before going through security. She took out the paper towel
with 30 pellets, opened up the tube of Vaseline, pulled down her
panties, and lifted up her skirt. She lubricated the first pellet and
worked it into her rectum…
After only 12 pellets it was obvious Maria Elena’s intestine couldn’t
hold any more. Already she felt an overwhelming need to go to the
bathroom. Shit. That meant she would have to swallow the rest. With
every bit of willpower left in her, the desperate courier forced 18
pellets down her throat. She gagged twice, but finally all 18 pellets
were back in her stomach.
Pain surged through the young woman’s guts as she approached the
security checkpoint. She began to sweat as she stood in line. She sent
her backpack through the X-ray machine, and of course it was clean.
Nothing in her clothing either…if she could keep her body under control
then she would make it…she would make it…
YES! The Danubian cop at the checkpoint waved her through. She put on
her shoes and grabbed her backpack.
She sighed with huge relief as she noticed several dogs running around
the terminal, sniffing passengers and carry-on luggage. The dogs
wouldn’t be a problem for her, because she didn’t have any cocaine on
her person, just inside, where they couldn’t smell it. Or…so she
Suddenly a large brown mixed breed dog ran up to the Colombian, sniffed
her sweatshirt, and started barking. Maria Elena froze with shock but
“Cállate, estúpido animal…cállate!”
The dog sat down and continued to bark loudly. The animal’s handler and
his partner ran up to the courier, who quickly learned that there was no
subtlety about the way Danubian cops handled themselves. In front of
hundreds of passengers and airport employees, the female cop pulled out
her pistol and pointed it at the Colombian’s head while the dog handler
screamed at her in Danubian. He grabbed her hands and cuffed them behind
her back. A second later Maria Elena felt his hands digging through her
pockets and pulling out items as the dog continued barking.
Maria Elena was just starting to get over the shock of being detained
when she was hit with a much worse shock. The male cop stuck his hand
into the pocket of her sweatshirt and removed five grape-sized objects.
He examined them and handed a couple to his partner. The dog became
agitated, barking vigorously, jumping, and wagging his tail. Despair
swept over Maria Elena. Now she knew why that dog had caught her. She
had completely forgotten about those extra five pellets.
The female cop kicked Maria Elena in the backs of her knees to force her
to kneel, all the while keeping her pistol aimed at the unfortunate
courier’s head. The male showed the pellets to the dog, and the animal
went wild with excitement.
“Harásh sobáckt. Doc-doc hárash sobáckt.” The handler petted the dog and
then pulled out a couple of pieces of beef jerky and fed them to the
animal. Meanwhile, the cops’ section chief showed up with a photographer
who immediately began taking pictures of the kneeling captive, in front
of hundreds of spectators. Maria Elena was horrified, but there was much
worse to come.
The next picture was a trophy shot. The two cops stood next to their
prisoner. Maria Elena tried to avoid looking into the camera, but the
cops would have none of that. The female grabbed her hair and forced her
to raise her head so the camera could get her face. There was another
trophy shot, this time with the male cop smiling, holding the pellets in
his hand. As an afterthought the section chief told the handler to
include his dog in the picture as well.
Pulling Maria Elena by the hair, the female cop forced her to stand up.
Again she tried looking down, hoping to keep her face hidden as much as
possible. The section chief nodded at the female cop, who again pulled
hard on the detainee’s hair to force her head back. He slapped her hard
across the face, put his finger under her chin, and addressed her in
“In this country, criminals do not hide their shame. You will show your
“I…please…I no speak English…I…”
Another vicious slap exploded on Maria Elena’s cheek.
“Silence! Who gave you permission to speak?”
Maria Elena began shaking with terror. The female cop and the
photographer grabbed her arms and led her out of the waiting area past
the huge crowd of other travelers. Those unfamiliar with Danubian law
looked on in horror at the mistreatment of a prisoner, but the spectacle
would be a harsh lesson for several hundred foreigners. There was no
tolerance, none whatsoever, for drugs in the Danubian Republic.