The Staff of Moses – Chapter 1

Dark Eyes

Oliver Lucas fumbled with the tap, doing his best to keep the blood on his knuckles from smearing onto the spring loaded knob as he attempted to wash the battered fingers of his left hand. It was quite the challenge and he was starting to get angry.

If only airlines had regular taps, he thought, or those timed pressure taps.

But no, the mandates of efficiency and conservation stood head and shoulders above the needs of passengers whose day-old scars started to crack and bleed in the dry cabin air of an eight hour flight.

Oliver finished washing his left hand and started in on the right, trying to finish before the newly washed knuckles began to bleed again. He succeeded, for the most part, then reached into his toiletries bag for a washcloth. He gingerly padded at his fingers until they were mostly dry, hardly noticing as fresh red splotches joined the faded brown blood stains already speckled across the washcloth. He fished the last remaining packet of liquid bandage from the bag, ripped it open with his teeth, and began slathering its contents across his abused knuckles, ignoring the burning of the antiseptic. He tossed the packet into the trash slot and began waving his hands gently up and down in front of him to dry the bandage.

“Not a bad price to pay,” he muttered to his reflection in the dingy plastic mirror. The man in the mirror nodded back at him and quirked a smile with one corner of his mouth.

Oliver leaned forward, inspecting his appearance. His khaki shirt was threadbare at the shoulders and bore the wrinkles of a transatlantic flight. His face was tanned from the unrelenting sun and snow glare of the last two weeks and the scraggly stubble of an underdeveloped beard was starting to show. His red hair was a disheveled mess from sleeping on the airplane. He ran a hand across the stubble on his chin and considered shaving before returning to his seat.

A soft knock sounded on the door of the tiny bathroom. Oliver started and reached for his bag, then cursed softly as he remembered that he was aboard an international flight. The handgun he had carried for the last two weeks was locked away in a safe in Reykjavik.

Relax, he told himself, it’s probably just another passenger who needs the toilet.

The knock came again. This time it was followed by the softly accented voice of a flight attendant, “Sir, are you alright in there?”

“Yes. Fine,” he replied, zipping his bag and reaching to unlock the door. “Coming out now.”

Oliver had hardly taken a step out of the restroom when he was nearly knocked over by a small boy pushing past him. The boy slammed the restroom door shut and Oliver looked to the flight attendant. She was about his height, with a thin frame and blond hair. Not exactly his type, but certainly pleasing to look at.

She smiled apologetically at Oliver. “I’m sorry sir, he was quite desperate and your compartment had been occupied the longest.”