Driving to the airport nearly took an hour, but I had almost twenty minutes still before the twins were scheduled to arrive. I parked the car in the airport’s lot and considered whether or not to charge Emma for the parking time. Normally, I wouldn’t hesitate, but Emma was my friend, a bedridden friend with a broken leg. I didn’t really feel right charging her for any of this. The fact was that I accepted the contract, so I would have to treat this as a job, despite the conflicting emotions. On the other hand, she hadn’t actually gone to my site and put forth an offer. I didn’t get a down payment. I couldn’t backtrack on a verbal agreement like that though. Even if this wasn’t Emma, that sort of behavior just wasn’t right. Part of me was still arguing about what was truly the right thing to do when I arrived at the baggage claim. I took a seat, plugged my earphones into my phone, and started listening to music while I waited. My mind started to drift blissfully while the music poured through me, but I then realized I was already failing to pay attention yet again.
With the countless unexplained oddities happening around me anymore, I couldn’t risk such lapses when not at home. If the twins were as mischievous as Emma claimed, this was the perfect time to practice paying attention. Instead of sitting in baggage and just waiting for them, I decided to get up and start gathering information. I found a map of the airport and studied it for a time, committing the general layout to memory. Something was already off. I flew from this airport enough with my parents that I should have realized all of the gates had a letter and a number. I was about to text Emma about which flight the twins were taking when another oddity struck me. This map didn’t show all of the terminals for the airport. There was an entire wing missing from it. I checked my phone and found that there was still a good ten minutes before the twins should arrive, so I decided to go play with information for some… well… information.
The lady at the information desk, Linda by her nametag, appeared to be in her thirties, wore musical note earrings, and had silver frames for her square glasses that didn’t encompass the lens. Her thick, black hair fell past her shoulders in loose waves which I felt framed her face spectacularly. “Good morning, Linda.” She looked up, seeming surprised, as I spoke. “Good morning. How may I help you?” Bright brown eyes were staring at me inquisitively. “I was told to pick my friends up at gate thirteen, but I was noticing that most of the gate numbers have letters before them. Then I realized the map doesn’t have all of the terminals, so I was wondering if my friends might be arriving there.” There was a pause of several seconds before she replied to me. “I’m certain the map has all of our public terminals. Do you know which flight your friends are on?” I shrugged, lifting my palms up in what I hoped was a suitably pleading gesture. “Is there any way you might be able to look them up for me?”
“I’m not supposed to give out information on our passengers. Sorry. I’m sure they’ll give you a call when they arrive.” She looked back to what she was doing, apparently assuming I would walk off. I only had a few minutes left, so I sent Emma a text asking which flight the twins were taking. Always reliable, Emma responded quickly. “Excuse me, but apparently Ai and Mai Drache are arriving on some sort of exclusive flight service called Golden Heart Airlines.” Linda stared at me for a moment, and then made a phone call. After which, she said, “Someone will be with you shortly.” I never had been put on hold in real life before and was really wishing there was a questionnaire for the information desk, so I could tell her supervisor exactly what I thought of their service. My position changed slightly when the man himself appeared to personally escort me into the nonexistent wing of the airport.
My parents and I always flew first class, since my father was never frugal regarding vacations. Despite the luxuries I have enjoyed, I lacked the words to describe precisely how incredibly epicurean my surroundings were after stepping into the private wing of the airport. The difference between the rest of the building and this strange place was as extreme as comparing a wasteland with a five star resort. Before I quite got my bearings, a spectacularly gorgeous girl who was slightly taller than Emma threw her arms around me, crying into my chest. “James! Oh James.. Mai was worried that you were lost, so she went looking for you, and now Mai might be lost in that savage place out there!” I caught the man who guided me here rolling his eyes as he walked off, but I did my duty and patted the crying Ai’s back. “Why don’t you just call her, Ai?” Her brown eyes glistened with tears as she gazed up at me, still holding me tight. “Her phone died before we left!”
“Well, I’m sure we can have the staff here call for her over the intercom.” Ai looked horrified at the idea. “No! You mustn’t do that. Mai would be so embarrassed that she would surely find a place to hide and cry! We would never find her then!” Though the girl seemed completely earnest, I couldn’t help seeing why Emma thought I would need paid to deal with the twins. “Shall we go look for her then?” Ai nodded to me and responded, “Ok. Let me grab my phone in case she calls from a payphone.” I waited only a moment and she came back, head held low as she looked at her phone. “I hope she’s ok. Poor Mai. Why did she have to go looking for you?” She grabbed my hand tightly in hers, seeming timid as we walked back into the rest of the airport. Thinking of it now, I was really surprised to be allowed back here without going past security. I hoped no one would get in trouble for this, especially me.
After searching for a good ten minutes with no luck, Ai tugged on my shirt. When I looked down at her, I realized her eyes were brighter than before. The girls were toying with me. “James, I must use the restroom. Will you wait for me?” I nodded and walked over by the door with her. When she moved to enter, I pulled her back and gently tilted her head up, saying, “Don’t worry, Ai. We’ll find your sister.” Her eyes were definitely brighter. Several minutes passed before one of them stepped out again. She gazed into my eyes and said, “Thank you, James. I feel so lost without my sister. We’ve never been separated for long.” Mai was back, pretending to be Ai once more. “If you were your sister, where would you have gone after not being able to find me?” She looked around as if appraising the situation. “Well, I would probably still be looking. This place is huge, so searching could take quite some time.” I felt like groaning and ending their little game. Instead, I gently patted her shoulder in an effort to be reassuring.
As we walked, I tried thinking of a way to mark the girls for their outfits and physical features truly seemed identical, save for the slight variation in their eyes. I could buy some food and spill something on one, but I didn’t want to chance ruining clothes. When I saw a man gift wrapping a package, I had an idea. “Let’s ask a few of these vendors to see if your sister came this way.” She agreed but was hesitant to split up while asking. When I finally got away, I asked the man who had been wrapping a package if I could have a piece of his clear tape, which he luckily granted me. I gently put the tape on the back of Mai’s dress when I came up behind her, acting like I was trying to be comforting again. “I think we should head back to where I found you in case your sister went back by now.” Mai shook her head and replied, “I’m feeling sisterly intuition now. She definitely went the other way.”
They swapped places a couple more times, apparently unaware of the tape I had placed on one of them. Once they even hid without switching. I wondered how their parents dealt with these antics. After a good hour of “searching,” we finally “found” Mai, which happened to be the real one this time, or so I had thought until I looked into her eyes. The girls had noticed the tape at some point and switched it. Ai had been sitting back in the luxurious lounge again when we found her. By the twinkle in her eyes, I was sure she knew what I was thinking, but she said, “There you are! I was looking all over for you two. I gave up half an hour ago and decided to wait here.” I apologized for all the confusion and claimed that her sister’s intuition seemed a bit off. We then headed off to the car, since they said their luggage was shipped ahead. To my vexation, they both went on about how cute I must look driving the pink monstrosity. They feigned great surprise when I told them that I was borrowing Emma’s car.
“Where would you two like to go first?” Speaking simultaneously, they said, “We’re starving, James! Won’t you be a gentleman and feed us first?” I looked in the rearview mirror at the back where they both had chosen to sit, and asked to what they wanted fed. They glanced at each other and then exclaimed, “To the Kraken, of course!” I shook my head and told them “Oh my Mai… Ai wouldn’t know what to do if faced with such a horrific beast. Might Ai then differ and suggest Mai, dear friend, to eat something rather than be eaten in turn?” while looking at each in turn as I spoke their names. The groan I received was quite audible and satisfactory. The girls discussed for what they were hungry and gave me the name of a restaurant of which I had never heard. Luckily, my phone’s navigator was more than capable of finding the place.
Having barely spent any time with the twins, I was already understanding why Emma had warned me of them being problematic. I couldn’t help glancing back at them as we talked on the way. The girls had wavy, dark brown hair down to the middle of their backs and beautiful skin that looked incredibly soft. Their lineage was more apparent from different angles, sometimes seeming more caucasian and sometimes seeming more Japanese. However I looked at them, they were exotic beauties who looked stunning in their simple blue dresses. The black belt at their waists connected at a small bow with the ends continuing down half the skirt’s length. Their father’s side of the family was apparently a major weapon’s contractor and their mother’s family was involved in manufacturing various types of computers. The girls seemed very down-to-earth for coming from such impressive families. I was looking forward to seeing what the rest of our time together brought.