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Chapter 113: "I think I see daylight"

"This is nuts," Hope yelled as she pulled her bag into the helicopter.  She had to yell to be heard over the spinning rotors.

In the pilot's seat, John grinned.  "Yeah, it probably is."  That grin made Hope particularly nervous.  John was actually enjoying this.

Hope made her way to the front of the helicopter.  She leaned past the passenger seat and looked out the glass.  "How do we get out of here?"  They were in the helicopter, but the helicopter was still in the underground bunker.

"I'm just working that out," John said.  He was toying with a metal box that was attached to the control panel.  Hope saw it had several switches.  He flipped one and the entire helicopter lurched and began rising toward the bunker ceiling.

"John!" she shrieked.  They were starting to get closer to the ceiling, which looked just as solid as ever.

The helicopter suddenly stopped, and she glanced back at the box.  John must have flipped the switch back to the "off" position.

"So that raises the chopper," John said.  Hope followed his gaze and saw that the helicopter had not lifted on its own, but was on a raised platform.  John studied the switches some more.  "So now we need the ones that open the roof."

"John, we're a couple hundred feet below ground."  But then Hope stopped.  Of course there would be some way for the helicopter to reach the surface.  How silly of her to think otherwise.

John flipped some more switches.  "There we go." 

Hope looked up to see the ceiling sliding away.  Once it stopped moving, John flipped the first switch again, and the helicopter began rising again.  John and Hope kept their eyes trained upward.  They were in a large tunnel that appeared to go all the way to the surface.

"Hopefully, I flipped the right switch to open the top of this thing," John muttered.

"And, hopefully, the soldiers don't have a helicopter of their own," Hope replied.

"Yeah . . . that would be bad."  John looked down.  "Maybe we should have taken the Apache, but I'm not sure this is the best time to try to learn how to fly one."

Hope rolled her eyes.  "Good choice."  She kept looking up.  "I think I see daylight.  That's a good thing, right?"

John nodded.  "What do you think about getting off this ride a little early?"

"Huh?"  Hope barely had a chance to wonder what he meant when he pulled back on the stick and the helicopter began rising even faster than before.  She screamed as they started to veer toward the side of the tunnel, but John steadied the stick and they continued to rise straight to the top. 

"Uh oh," John said, as the helicopter rose through the surface and into the open air.

Hope looked at him.  "Uh oh!  What do you mean 'uh oh?'" Before he could explain, she saw what he meant. Several soldiers were aiming weapons at the helicopter.  "What's that?" she asked, pointing at the bazooka-like weapon.

"A rocket launcher," John said.

"A what?"  For a moment, Hope thought he was joking, but she saw no trace of amusement on his face.  Her eyes widened and she realized her heart was beating a mile a minute.  "Get us out of here!"

"I'm trying."  John pulled on the stick and the helicopter jumped a little, but it still seemed to be mainly hovering in place.  Hope nearly lost her balance, but grabbed onto the passenger seat.  She pulled herself around and took the seat, grasping wildly for the seatbelt -- or whatever that was called in a helicopter.  She took another look outside and saw that the soldier with the rocket launcher was taking aim.

"John . . ."  She knew she sounded worried, and she stopped fumbling with the belt momentarily.

"We should be okay -- as long as it's not a heat-seeking rocket," he said

"That's not exactly reassuring."

"Ahh . . ."  John looked at her with a grin.  "Got it."  He punched the stick forward and the helicopter stopped hovering. 

The helicopter zoomed forward, just as Hope saw a flash from the rocket launcher.  She lost sight of the rocket, though, as the force of the helicopter pushed her back against her seat.

"We're in luck," John said, happily.  "Not a heat-seeker."  He scanned the surrounding area.  "Okay, I think Oxford is to the right."  As he turned the helicopter in that direction, he pulled out his cell phone and punched a button.  He waited a moment for whoever was on the other end to answer.  "Yeah, it's me," he said.  "I need the plane ready to go in . . . about five minutes.  I know it's short notice, but that couldn't really be avoided."  He looked at Hope, and she could not believe that he was grinning again.  "What do you tell them?  Tell them we've cut the vacation short and I'm just the impatient type."  He turned to her.  "Where do we want to tell them we're going?  The pilot has to file a flight plan."

"What do I care?" Hope asked.  "Let's just get out of here."

John shook his head, and returned to his call.  "Tell them we're going to New York.  We'll probably have a change of plans on the way."  Finishing the call, he looked at her.  "Aren't you having fun yet?"

Hope rolled her eyes.  "Did I ever mention that I never understood what Marlena saw in you?"

"Aw, c'mon, Hope.  You're having the time of your life.  What could be better than a wild adventure and a narrow escape from death to make you feel really alive?"

She wondered if her eyes were still in her head or if they just felt like they had popped out.  "You're serious, aren't you?"

He grinned again.  "Of course, I am.  Life's no fun without some risk."

Hope took a few deep breaths and wondered what had she gotten herself into. 

"Hey," John said.  "If you want to call it quits, I can leave you at the airport in Oxford."

"So I can get picked up by the English Army?" she asked.

"Yeah, there is that, isn't there?"  John thought for a moment, and then shrugged. "I guess you're on board for the long haul.  Wherever that may take us."

Hope shook her head as the helicopter cut through the English sky, and she thought, Great . . . wherever that may take us.