Elena set her purse down on the X-ray machine and stepped away. She tried not to watch it as it went, but her guts were in knots.
Calm down. No reason to act suspicious.
She went through the body scans without issue and moments later she was pulling her bag off the belt. The guards hadn't even given it a second glance. She was home free.
"Got all of your stuff?" Kevin asked with a hearty smile.
"Yep! Let's go, sweetie." She said, returning his smile and taking his arm as they walked towards the terminal.
After a couple dozen feet, he looked over his shoulder at the security checkpoint. He let out a long, controlled sigh.
"Shit...I can't believe we made it through."
"Yea. We were lucky." She agreed. "Now we just have to get the sample back to the lab before anyone realizes its missing.
Kevin nodded in agreement, but said nothing more.
"Our plane should be here in an hour." She continued. "All we have to do is get back and we're home free. Then we can fully determine what it was they were cooking up."
The very thought of what it was possible of scared her beyond reason. Even worse, they had to sneak it through security in a lipstick container so as to avoid suspicion. Had she had a choice, she would've kept it in a steel box with a dozen armed guards.
"You're right." Kevin said with another nod. "We just have to get home."
They took their seats in the terminal, but they were far from comfortable. The seats were hard and plastic. The airport was loud and noisy. Every minute felt like an hour.
The waiting was unbearable.
Elena found herself clinging to her purse, not daring to put it on the ground or take any risk that someone or something else might come in contact with it.
"Calm down." Kevin said under his breath. "You're going to draw attention to us."
"I CAN'T calm down." She stressed. "I will calm down when we have it back in the lab. Right now, CALM is not an option."
"Say that all you want, but the last thing we need is an overzealous security officer thinking you're smuggling a bomb onto the plane. So, PLEASE stop holding your bag like it's going to fly away."
She glared at him, but he was right. Her hands were shaking and her knuckles had actually turned white.
She loosened her grip.
"Thank you." he said softly.
The next fifty minutes passed without incident and soon they found themselves loaded onto the Boeing 747 bound for the States. Despite the instructions earlier, Elena still found herself glued to her bag. She watched every person passing them in the plane like an enemy who was out to steal it.
Finally, after everyone had loaded up, she relaxed slightly. The passengers were seated, the plane was taxiing, and the safety announcements were playing over the loud speaker.
Someone tapped Elena on the shoulder. It was a stewardess.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. But I'm going to need you to stow your purse before take-off."
"I'd much rather hang on to it."
"I understand." The stewardess said with a practiced smile. "But safety regulations dictate all carry-on items must be stored properly under your seat or above the cabin during take-off and landing."
"I don't think my holding onto my bag is going to be an issue."
"Please ma'am." The stewardess said, holding out her hands so as to take the purse. "If you're concerned about it going on the floor, I'll put it in the overhead for you until we're safely in the air."
"I'm good." Elena responded sharply.
Elena could tell the stewardess was getting annoyed and the people around her were starting to give her weird looks. Kevin softly elbowed her in the ribs.
"It's fine." Kevin said. "We'll take care of it."
The stewardess walked away and Kevin stood up, taking the bag from Elena. He stuck it overhead.
"It'll be just for a moment."
And it was.
The plane took off without incident, flying out over the water and heading home. It shook and shuddered and bounced on turbulence as it ascended, but some fifteen minutes later, Elena was able to stand and retrieve the purse.
When she opened the overhead bin, she wanted to scream.
It would seem that sometime during takeoff, the bags overhead had shifted. She found her purse crushed under several other carry-ons and she actively had to move them aside in order to get to them. She picked it up with barely contained panic.
"What's wrong?" He asked quietly.
"I need to check it..."
Slowly. Deliberately. She went through her purse. Bit by bit. Painstakingly careful. The "lipstick" was at the bottom of the bag looking no worse for wear.
She had to be sure.
Popping open the top of the lipstick container, she heard a tiny crinkle of glass. The vial had broken. A neon green liquid, poured out of the lipstick container and into her hand.
Kevin had been watching her carefully search through her bag when she seemed to freeze in her tracks.
"What is it?"
Elena's eyes bulged and her mouth went slack.
He looked at the other passengers around them and leaned over to try and see inside the bag. Her hands blocked his vision but it seemed like she had stopped searching.
"What's wrong?" he whispered, a little louder this time.
Elena growled softly under her breath.
He never got to finish the swear. Elena turned on him, grabbing him by the head and shirt and taking a bite out of his throat as cleanly as someone might bite an apple. His blood sprayed across the window and the seats. Screams filled the cabin.
Thirteen minutes later, the plane crashed beneath the waves. While it had managed to sound out a mayday, the plane and its passengers were never recovered.
It was for the best.
The zombie virus "Z28" that Elena had smuggled out of the country was the incredibly potent but, luckily, the only viable sample that had existed. Had any "survivors" been located, the world as we know it would be changed forever. Who knows...maybe they'll find them yet somewhere at the bottom of the ocean, still thrashing against the seat belts that hold them in their watery tomb.
(Another flash fiction inspired by a prompt from A Prompt a Day Keeps the Critics Away. Today's prompt was "What's the worse thing that can break inside a purse?" I guess I was still feeling spooky so I went with a zombie theme. I do hope you enjoyed! Feel free to tell me what you think!)