Death in the Cloud – Excerpt

Death in the CloudNormandy, France

Before he buckled himself in, Captain Ernst Kruger double checked to be sure he’d securely
locked the cabin’s door. Tonight, he would alone in the cockpit, flying the jetliner by himself.
Given what lay ahead, there’d be no question about him staying awake.

While doing his final pre-check, reading the instruments, his eyes couldn’t help moving
around the cockpit. He looked closely at the windshield and controls around the co-pilot’s seat.
The cleaning crew had evidently meticulously removed all traces of the Richard Le Clerque’s
brains and blood.

The rest of his copilot was buried in the woods outside the old hangar.

Two days ago, as Kruger was implementing his planned hijacking, LeClerque, not part of
the plot, had ingested a poison Kruger had dropped into his coffee. Prematurely realizing what
was happening, he unlocked the cabin door calling out for help. Suddenly a burly Russian
passenger in first class rushed in to assist him. As a weakening Le Clerque tried to override
Kruger at the controls, Kruger reached into his black pilot’s case, pulled out a Walther P5 9mm
semiautomatic pistol, turned and fired two bullets into the Russian’s heart and then one into Le
Clerque’s face, sending their blood flying through the cabin over the maze of dials and controls,
splattering on the windshield and turning the scene into a blur of red as though someone had
thrown in a bucket of red paint.

He would inform the passengers and the uninvolved flight attendants that his copilot
had attempted to hijack the plane, that it was unfortunate that the passenger, in the rush of
events, had misread the situation and had to be shot, too. He reassured them he had it all
under control, but they had to now make an emergency landing on the northern French coast.

All communications from the plane had already been blocked and the transponder
disconnected to prevent tracking. Next, Kruger lowered the oxygen level in the first and main
cabins down to a level that gently incapacitated the passengers, keeping them, for the most
part quiet until they landed in Normandy where the aircraft was towed directly into an old,
refitted Luftwaffe hangar, where the passengers and crew were held captive and under
constant watch.

Inside the hangar, they were all confused, with no idea what was happening or for what
reason or cause. Despite the terror they’d witnessed on the plane and then being held captive
against their will, they were perhaps convinced they had been chosen to survive the remaining

He switched on the PA system. “This is your Captain, Ernst Kruger, I know we are all happy and
relieved to be back on board and getting airborne. We have been instructed to proceed directly
to the US. I’m sure at some point we will be receiving a military escort so in case you see jet
fighters around us, be assured it’s for our safety. Our flight time to Washington will be seven
hours and ten minutes so sit back and let our terrific flight attendants serve you. Since I’m alone
here in the cockpit, you won’t be hearing much from me from here on in. I hope you’ll enjoy
your dinner and get some well-deserved rest before we land.”

Although his address was carried throughout the cabin on the PA system, he was talking
to himself.

He wasn’t sure they’d ever make it to their destination but, getting close enough to be
shot down by U.S. fighter jets over Washington with a Russian dissident, his entourage and
members of the Russian press, totaling more than a hundred Russian citizens onboard was
enough to accomplish his goal. Both Moscow and Washington would be enraged, its leaders
hungry for retaliation, its military and air defenses whipped into a jittery, paranoid frenzy.

The stage would be set for the rest of Dietrich’s grand plan.

“Flight attendants, prepare for takeoff.”

Tonight, Kruger would see to it that Herr Dietrich’s plan succeeded. In executing the
great man’s vision, he would happily give his life for what would follow.

He entered the GPS coordinates into the flight management system’s GPS: 38°53’51.61″
N -77°02’11.58″ W:

The White House.

This time they wouldn’t miss.

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