Little Red Riding Hood - Part 12

The flight into the unknown seemed surreal to Red. The sunrise looked somehow different from the air. There wasn't much to obstruct her view of it. Memphis has no mountains or even tall hills. It was all horizon and golden morning sun. There was no sound beyond the roar of the engine. Clouds were floating quietly by. There were birds down below. Cars looked like ants.

Red thought about the police invasion, her dad waking her in a panic, the two of them running through the house, the cold, blind walk through the tunnel alone. She wondered if the police had discovered how she escaped. And if they had, did they know how she got out of the neighborhood? And if they knew that, had they found the Zingels car? Her heart began to race.

"Do you think they're following us?" she blurted out, obviously panicking. "Do you think they'll catch us up here?"

Dr. Zingel, who was quietly flying the plane, looked over his shoulder and said reassuringly, "I don't think so, Katie.I don't think so."

"But wouldn't they have found the tunnel by now? And if they found that then they know it leads to your house. And if they know it leads to your house then they know you drove off in a black Mercedes. If they find the car then they'll know it leads to your plane at the airport and then they'll find us, right? They're going to find us!" Red was truly beginning to panic in a big way.

"Shhhh, honey, no," Mrs. Zingel tried to calm her. "They're not going to find us that easily. It will take them a long time to find the tunnel, if they find it at all. And once they've done that, it will take them a very long time to find our car. We parked it inside, remember? They'll be looking for us on the way to Florida, probably on highway 78 or 45, and we're not going to be there. They'll expect it to take us several hours on public roads to get to where they think we're going and that we'll be easy to spot. But we won't because we won't be there. We won't be on any road at all."

"9" Dr. Zingel interrupted, oddly.

"What?" Mrs. Zingel asked, confused.

"9 hours." Dr. Zingel responded. "Earlier you said it'd take us about 6 hours to drive to the house in Panama City. It's 9 hours."

"Are you sure?" Mrs. Zingel argued.

Red blurted out, "but what if they get lucky and find the tunnel and somehow use some kind of Mercedes GPS reverse engineering or something to get your car to tell them where it is and they find it faster than you expect? My dad would know how to do that. That's what he would do!" Red's breathing was now nearing hyperventilation. The thought that those monsters had her father was burning like a raging fire in the back of her mind. Only once before had she ever seen her father hurt and it was by those same armor-clad terrorists. He was always the rock in her life, the man who could not be moved, hurt or tricked into buying her a racehorse despite her best efforts and promises that she would train with him every single day at sunrise. Red wasn't sure which she was more afraid of, being caught herself or the newly discovered vulnerability of her father and what they might be doing to him.

Meanwhile, the Zingels were looking at each other and not saying anything. "Reverse GPS? I hadn't thought of that." Dr. Zingel finally said to his wife. "This girl is pretty smart."

"Sure she is" Mrs Zingel agreed. "Her parents are both smart as can be."

"So what happens if they found your car?!" Red shouted, now in full blown panic mode. "What if they know we're in your plane and they're after us right now with satellites and triangulating cell phone towers and searching for your plane's radio signal and all that stuff they can do and oh my God, did you both turn off your cell phones??? Dad made me turn off my cell phone every night in case this happened because they can track us with them and spy on us using the camera and stuff you would NOT believe!!!"

Dr. Zingel replied with an odd calmness, "oh, well, first of all, we don't have cell phones. And as for the other thing, in that case they'll find my car and look for my plane."

"And they won't find it!" Red shouted.

"And they won't find it, that's right. They won't find it because it's sitting in a hangar in Millington, an hour north of our house." Dr. Zingel calmly explained.

"Right, they won't find it and ... wait, what?" Red was confused.

"It's in a hangar in Millington, Tennessee, where we left it. It's sitting in Bjorn Eklund's spot. And it's turned off with the battery disconnected, so there's no one who can track our radio or reverse engineer any GPS or anything and find that plane without just getting lucky and stumbling across it the old fashioned way in person. See? We've been planning this for a very long time. And your father helped, so you know this plan isn't anything simpleminded. Relax, honey, everything is going to be just fine."

Red was momentarily stunned. "Bjorn?" she paused, confused. "You mean Dr. Eklund, the surgeon who lives down the street from us and always drives those ugly Volvos and listens to Abba at full volume with his windows rolled down? And he never speaks? And he's married to that supermodel?"

Mrs. Zingel was looking at Red with a confused expression and finally replied to her, "I don't know from any supermodel, but he's married to Agnetha, his childhood sweetheart. They're both from Sweden, honey. She's not any kind of model that I know of. That's just how Swedish women look, Katie. They're all tall and blonde and have curves like an Italian sports car."

Dr. Zingel interrupted his wife, "This is Dr. Eklund's plane that we're in, Katie. He and his wife are waiting for us to land in Miami. It's all part of the plan. Everyone in the neighborhood is in on it in one way or another. Everyone is doing something to help or has already. In fact, if the police haven't found the tunnel by now, a few of the neighbors will be in my backyard emptying huge dumpsterloads of soil and water into it from above, filling it back in so that if the police ever do find the secret entrance they won't be able to get the door to open because there's going to be a river of mud behind it pressing up against it and preventing it from moving. If everything goes smoothly, the entire tunnel will be filled in by the end of the week and they'll be no way for them to figure out where you went. You didn't think I dug my end of the tunnel all by myself did you? I had a lot of help from the neighborhood."

"And a whole lot of Mexicans, dear" Mrs. Zingel interjected.

"And a whole lot of ... yeah, that's true, but they don't work for free. I paid them a lot of money."

"They worked pretty cheap, dear, and they did most of the work."

"We're ... wait, I'm confused," Red said quietly. "We're going to Miami? To meet up with Dr Eklund and the super ... I mean, his wife? And then what?"

"And then Dr. Eklund and Agnetha are going to fly it back to Memphis, with their luggage and a receipt or two proving they were in Miami legitimately. Dr. Eklund scheduled a surgery for around the time we should be landing and unloading. Agnetha will get the plane from us and then she's going to drive us to our next destination and see us off. Then she's going to go shopping with her credit card, documenting that she was there when she should be. Dr. Eklund is going to finish his surgery and then call her so they can meet up, spend a little time in the city sightseeing and, most importantly, recording in their cell phone records that they were both here and when. So it's all legit. The Eklunds flew their plane to Miami for a surgery and shopping trip. Nothing suspicious about it."

Red was stunned. She had always assumed that it was basically just her and her father alone against the big, huge government, and that without her father she would be lost. She had no idea that her father had somehow convinced the neighbors, most of whom she only barely knew in a very casual way, to not only get involved, but to get SO involved.

"So when we get to Miami and give the super .., I mean, give Mrs. Eklund back her plane, where are we going after that?"

"We're getting the heck out of Dodge, Katie!" Dr. Zingel said with enthusiasm. "We're doing what my parents did with me when I was a little boy and a socialist dictator just like this one hijacked a sleeping nation by pitting one race against another and turned the world upside down for everyone. We're quietly and nonchalantly getting the hell out of here."

"Watch your language, dear, she's just a girl." Mrs. Zingel corrected.

Red sat with an obviously confused look on her face. She knew they were getting 'out of Dodge', but to where? She still didn't know.

Mrs. Zingel could see the look on Red's face. "We're getting on a boat, dear, a very plain, ordinary, nondescript boat, a container ship, and we're going to quietly slip away to Germany."

"Germany???" Red exclaimed.

"Germany!" Dr. Zingel echoed. "Right back where my life first began, repeating my escape from a monster, only in reverse. We're going to Hamburg."
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