After 20 minutes or so of being alone in the interview room, Oscar heard something. It sounded like a mouse scrabbling around. He tried to locate the sound. He looked around the floor and along the bottom of the walls. He even checked behind the pot plant. But he couldn't see any mice or holes in the skirting board. Sitting down again, he was reminded of a time he had seen a mouse in an airport. His clearest memory, however, was of the group of Essex girls who kept screaming. Delta wasn't like that. Delta. Why had he thought of Delta again? He was sure she wouldn't react to seeing a mouse by screaming. She would probably do her breadbin thing on it and kill it. Or maybe she would rescue it and keep it as a pet. Rescue it. He could do with being rescued right now.
The scrabbling, shuffling sound came back. It was getting louder. Standing up, Oscar realised it was coming from above him. Perhaps it was a pipe in the ceiling that hissed as water went along it. He hoped it wasn't a pipe that was broken and leaking. Getting wet or getting gassed would not make the situation he was in any easier.
After a moment, the shuffling sound stopped. There were a few seconds of silence, then one of the ceiling panels started to move. Oscar stared wide-eyed as the panel slid to one side and Delta's face appeared, her long, red hair hanging down through the hole she'd made.
“Don't just stand there!” she hissed. Oscar opened and closed his mouth, lost for words. “Come on, I'm rescuing you!” Oscar continued to stare, mentally kicking himself for resolving to trust her if she came to rescue him.
He found his tongue. “But they said you're a terrorist,” he told her.
She rolled her eyes. “We both know you're going to come with me, so will you save some time and just climb on the desk and lift yourself up into the ceiling?”
Oscar obliged. Unfortunately, he wasn't very adept at physical work like this and certainly wasn't dressed for it. With Delta's help he made it up into the ceiling, then followed her, on hands and knees, along a tunnel.
After a few twists and turns, Delta stopped, moved another panel aside and dropped out of sight. Oscar looked down. It looked like she was in a warehouse. It was cold, the floor was made of stone and he could hear machinery.
“Come on!” Delta waved him down. He got into a good position and dropped.
“Where are we?” he asked. Delta didn't answer. She led him outside and onto the runway. “How did we get here? Don't we have to go through passport control or something?” Oscar asked.
“You're so mainstream,” Delta chided. “My uncle's here. He's going to fly us home on his private plane.”
“Your uncle has a plane?” Oscar couldn't help himself relaxing as the words escaped his mouth. “Cool.” he heard himself add.
The moment Oscar saw Delta jog up to her uncle and his plane, he regretted saying it was cool. He regretted climbing up through the hole in the ceiling and following Delta. For a second, he even regretted ever having spoken to Delta at all. Delta's uncle looked like he'd stepped right out of an old war film. Right up to the goggles, he looked as though he should be a World War I RAF pilot. The plane didn't look in much better shape. It looked like something he'd botched together in the lab. No, lab wasn't the right word – that was too hi-tech. It was like something he'd banged together in a workshop. Delta's uncle hugged her hello, then introduced himself to Oscar.
“Hello, Oscar,” he said jovially. “I'm Frog. I'm a friend of Delta's parents. And it looks like I'm going to be your captain for this evening's flight. I'd love to chat but we'd better get going before it gets dark.” After giving Oscar's hand a quick shake, he pulled open a door on the side of the plane. Oscar goggled as the door swung precariously on what looked like sellotape. He watched as Frog reached up and pulled a ladder down, then held out a hand to assist Delta into the light aircraft. Not that she needed his help, Oscar thought. Once inside, Delta leant her head out of the door and smiled to Oscar.
“Come on!” she said again, and waved him to follow her. Oscar watched as Frog climbed into the cockpit through the window. He stepped closer to the plane, working out how he could politely refuse. Delta reached out and almost man-handled him up the ladder and into the plane. He could tell she was a woman who always got her way.
The shock didn't stop there. The interior of the plane was unlike anything he had seen before. The floor was covered in cushions and beanbags. The walls and ceiling were fuzzy with brown carpet. There was one window, on the opposite side from the door, which looked like a porthole.
Delta pulled in the ladder and yanked the door shut. Oscar crawled forward a few steps, then stopped, in shock at the situation he was putting himself in.
“Make yourself at home,” Delta said hospitably.
“Where are the—”
“Chairs? Seatbelts?” Delta interrupted. “No need. We have cushions. So just get comfy and enjoy the ride!”
Ride? Oscar had been hoping for transport home not fairground entertainment.
“Good evening, passengers,” Frog called cheerfully over his shoulder. (Oscar noticed that he had a proper seat.) “This is your captain speaking. My name is Frog and I will be flying you back to England. We need to get out of here pretty sharpish, so I'll skip the safety briefing if you don't mind. Sit back, relax and we'll be there in no time!”