Arthur Hailey: Runway Zero-Eight

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Arthur Hailey Runway Zero-Eight
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    Runway Zero-Eight
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    Bantham Books
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    Триллер / на английском языке
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    New York
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Runway Zero-Eight: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Although airlines throughout the world operate on Greenwich Mean Time so far as their crews are concerned, the journey of over 1,500 miles from Winnipeg to Vancouver involves three local time zones: Central Time, Mountain Time, and Pacific Time. This double resetting of the clock each time to put the hands back an hour, would be chronologically confusing in the story which follows. One standard time, therefore, has been assumed throughout. It is hardly necessary to add that the events, the airlines, and all the persons mentioned are entirely fictitious.

Arthur Hailey: другие книги автора

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Arthur Hayley and John Castle



2205—0045 page 1

0045—0145 page 20

0145—0220 page 34

0220—0245 page 49

0245—0300 page 62

0300—0325 page 73

0325—0420 page 90

0420—0435 page 107

0435—0505 page 120

0505—0525 page 135

0525—0535 page 153



STEADY RAIN slanting through the harsh glare of its headlights, the taxicab swung into the approach to Winnipeg Airport, screeched protestingly round the asphalt curve and, braking hard, came to a spring-shuddering stop outside the bright neons of the reception building. Its one passenger almost leaped out, tossed a couple of bills to the driver, seized an overnight bag and hurried to the swing doors.

Inside, the warmth and lights of the big hall halted him for a moment. With one hand he turned down the collar of his damp topcoat, glanced at the wall clock above him, then half strode, half ran to where the departure desk of Cross-Canada Airlines stood barlike in a corner, deserted now except for the passenger agent checking through a manifest. As the man reached him the agent picked up a small stand microphone on the desk, summoned the man to silence with a lift of his eyebrows, and with measured precision began to speak.

“Flight 98. Flight 98. Direct fleetliner service to Vancouver, with connections for Victoria, Seattle, and Honolulu, leaving immediately through gate four. All passengers for Flight 98 to gate four, please. No smoking till you are in the air.”

A group of people rose from the lounge seats, or detached themselves from a bored perusal of the newsstand, and made their way thankfully across the hall. The man in the topcoat opened his mouth to speak but was practically elbowed aside by an elderly woman stuttering in her anxiety.

“Young man,” she demanded, “is Flight 63 from Montreal in yet?”

“No, madam,” said the passenger agent smoothly. “It’s running” — he consulted his list — “approximately thirty-seven minutes late.”

“Oh, dear. I’ve arranged for my niece to be in—”

“Look,” said the man in the topcoat urgently, “have you got a seat on Flight 98 for Vancouver?”

The passenger agent shook his head. “Sorry, sir. Not one. Have you checked with Reservations?”

“Didn’t have time. Came straight to the airport on the chance of a cancellation.” The man slapped the desk in frustration. “You sometimes have one, I know.”

“Quite right, sir. But with the big game on in Vancouver tomorrow things are chock full. All our flights are completely booked — I doubt if you’ll be able to get out of here before tomorrow afternoon.”

The man swore softly, dropped his bag to the floor, and tipped his dripping felt hat to the back of his head. “Of all the lousy deals. I’ve got to be in Vancouver by tomorrow noon at the latest.”

“Don’t be so rude,” snapped the old lady testily. “I was talking. Now, young man, listen carefully. My niece is bringing with her—”

“Just a moment, madam,” cut in the passenger agent. He leaned across the desk and tapped the sleeve of the man with his pencil. “Look, I’m not supposed to tell you this—”

“Yes, what?”

“Well, really!” exploded the old lady.

“There’s a charter flight in from Toronto. They’re going out to the coast for this game. I believe they were a few seats light when they came in. Perhaps you could grab one of those.”

“That’s great,” exclaimed the man in the topcoat, picking up his bag again. “Do you think there’s a chance?”

“No harm in trying.”

“Where do I ask then? Who’s the guy to see?”

The agent grinned and waved across the hall. “Right over there. The Maple Leaf Air Charter. But mind, I didn’t say a thing.”

“This is scandalous!” stormed the old lady. “I’ll have you know that my niece—”

“Thanks a lot,” said the man. He walked briskly over to a smaller desk displaying the fascia board of the air charter company, behind which another agent, this time in a dark lounge suit instead of the smart uniform of the Cross-Canada Airlines, sat busily writing. He looked up as the man arrived, pencil poised, all attention. “Sir?”

“I wonder, can you help me? Have you by any chance a seat left on a flight to Vancouver?”

“Vancouver. I’ll see.” The pencil checked rapidly down a passenger list. Then: “Uh-huh, just one. Flight’s leaving straight away, though; it’s overdue as it is.”

“That’s fine, fine. Can I have that seat, please?”

The agent reached for a ticket stub. “Name, sir?”

“George Spencer.” It was entered quickly, with the flight details.

“That’s sixty-five dollars for the one-way trip, sir. Thank you; glad to be of service. Any bags, sir?”

“Only one. I’ll keep it with me.”

In a moment the bag was weighed and labelled.

“Here you are then, sir. The ticket is your boarding pass. Go to gate three and ask for Flight 714. Please hurry, sir: the plane’s about to leave.”

Spencer nodded, turned away to give a thumbs-up to the Cross-Canada desk, where the passenger agent grimaced in acknowledgment over the old lady’s shoulder, and hurried to the departure gate. Outside, the chill night air pulsated with the whine of aero engines; as with any busy airport after dark, all seemed to be in confusion but was in fact part of a strictly regulated, unvarying pattern. A commissionaire directed him across the floodlit apron, gleaming in the rain, to a waiting aircraft whose fuselage seemed a shining silver dart in the light of the overhead arc lamps. Already men were preparing to disengage the passenger ramp. Bounding across the intervening puddles, Spencer reached them, handed over the detachable half of his ticket, and ran lightly up the steps, a gust of errant wind plucking at his hat. He ducked into the aircraft and stood there fighting to regain his breath. He was joined shortly by a stewardess, a mackintosh draped round her, who smiled and made fast the door. As she did, he felt the motors start.

“Out of condition, I guess,” he said apologetically.

“Good evening, sir. Pleased to have you aboard.”

“I was lucky to make it.”

“There’s a seat for’ard,” said the girl.

Spencer slipped out of his coat, took off his hat, and walked along the aisle till he came to the vacant seat. He bundled his coat with some difficulty into an empty spot on the luggage rack, remarking, “They never seem to make these things big enough,” to the neighboring passenger who sat looking up at him, disposed of his bag under the seat, and then sank gratefully down on to the soft cushions.

“Good evening,” came the stewardess’ sprightly voice over the public address system. “The Maple Leaf Air Charter Company welcomes aboard its new passengers to Flight 714. We hope you will enjoy your flight. Please fasten your safety belts. We shall be taking off in a few moments.”

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