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Smith enjoyed travel. When he first left University what he had wanted to do most was to see the whole world as quickly as he possibly could. It would have been the flowering of a great romantic dream if he had been able to become a commercial pilot, to sit behind the dazzling array of colored lights and indicators and feel the mighty engines and the huge airframe respond to his will, to watch the cars and buildings shrink to the size of toys and vanish beneath the wispy clouds as he soared off to some exotic far-off land.

But for a multitude of reasons, both medical and psychometric, that was not to be. Smith was not blessed with very many of the long list of qualities, aptitudes and abilities that appeared on the check-lists of the aircrew selection board at Orion Air. His eyesight was a little less than perfect, his hand-eye co-ordination merely average, his mathematical ability indifferent and his reaction-speed unimpressive. On the creative problem-solving test, however, he had come out first in his group, and the assessors had been impressed with his ability to interact with other people and function as part of a team. For a moment this had made them hesitate as to which side of the line he should be placed in his overall assessment, but in the end they had decided, not unreasonably, that there were too many negative considerations and his talents would be best employed in the commercial division of the enterprise.

Accordingly, Smith had been offered a position in the marketing and public relations section of Orion, offering vast opportunities for travel and many other benefits which, taken together, made it an offer too good to refuse.

And now he was making his first expenses-paid journey, with a brief to analyze the airline's procedures and customer-interface, and he was enjoying it immensely.

He had been to Hong Kong, spoken to Orion's representatives there, and taken a couple of day's leave to look at the city and the island. He was still dizzy with the buzz of his first Asian experience. And his next port of call, he was certain, would be equally fascinating.

He awoke huddled-up in his narrow Economy Class seat, a little stiff, but buoyed-up with a great sense of freedom, and anticipation of the new vistas and opportunities that seemed to be opening-up before him. What had wakened him had been the flight crew's P.A., telling him that they would be landing in fifteen minutes and that passengers should make sure that they had filled-in their Customs Declaration Form in readiness for disembarking.

He watched the unfolding of the totally unfamiliar landscape as the aircraft descended: the rice-fields; the winding canals with the little teak-and-bamboo houses built on high stilts at either side; the speeding "long-tail-boats", powered by inboard modified car-engines, that sped up and down, almost swamping the canal-side houses in their wake; the little dusty country roads with the three-wheeled motorized rickshaws and the colorful scooters making their way along them; the buffalo-carts and the occasional working elephant hauling an enormous trailer piled high with logs. It was hard to accept that it was all real, that it was not a film-set or some kind of Disneyland make-believe Oriental theme-park.

The landing was gentle and uneventful. Smith felt himself slipping into employee mode, taking note of the details of the P.A. announcements, trying to assess the quality of the relationship that they set-up between the airline and its customers. He tried to observe how people were responding, whether they understood the disembarkation procedure, whether the tone of the announcements was friendly enough, whether it made them feel like valued customers. These simple details, he knew, would be the kind of thing that would make the crucial difference when these people came to book their next international flight.

He watched the passengers stand up and start to get their luggage down from the overhead lockers. He thought about ways that it could be better organized. Would it be better if the people in the center row were asked to pick up their belongings first.....?

His thoughts were interrupted when he noticed a rather attractive Asian girl with long black hair who seemed to be fumbling with his own black hold-all in the locker above him, no doubt because hers was behind it.

"I beg your pardon," he said cordially, "let me get it out of your way." She smiled sweetly and thanked him as hauled the bulky item down to the seat beside him. He noticed that the top had come undone and zipped it up again.

"You are visiting my country for a holiday?" she asked politely as they stood next to one another in the great wedge of people filling-up the aisle, waiting for the doors to be opened.

"No, just business, I'm afraid," he smiled, "but I hope I can take some time off to look around."

"Oh, but you must. It is a very beautiful country."

He felt an impulse to ask her if she would like to show him around, but resisted. It would be a shame, he thought, to make her feel uncomfortable if she didn't want to. He just smiled again and said that he would certainly try.

As they made their way in to the luggage-collection carousels Smith tried to keep the girl in view and toyed with the idea of talking to her again. She was very pretty, he thought, obviously on her own at the moment, well-dressed, and she spoke perfect English. Probably she would be a student, she was about the right age, and no doubt she would have a boyfriend. He would probably be setting himself up for a disappointment. As he took up his position at the carousel he saw her slip into the toilet and decided he would let it go - it would be hurtful if she gave him the brush-off.

As he stood amid his fellow passengers waiting for the suitcases to arrive, he opened his hold-all to look for the little notebook where he recorded his observations on Orion Air's customer services.

To his surprise he noticed a little box of Chinese sweets. He had seen them on sale often when he had been in Hong Kong but had no recollection of having bought a box. Strange, he thought, the people at the airline must have slipped them into his luggage as a going-away present. What an odd thing to do!

He broke the seal on the box and opened the little flap, thinking that since he had them he might as well see what they were like. Inside was a transparent plastic bag, like the kind of thing they sell at supermarkets as sandwich-bags, and it was taped-up at the top very securely. Inside it he could see a large quantity of a fine white powder.

The color drained from Smith's face. His mind raced back to the events on the 'plane. She had fumbled with his bag. When he had taken it down the top had been open and he had had to zip it up. Suddenly everything was perfectly obvious.

Sweat broke out on his forehead. He turned to look at the door of the women's toilet. She was not out yet. He carefully replaced the bag in the little chocolate box and closed the flap. He looked over in the other direction. Arrivals Customs Channels. There was a green one and a red one.

Smith knew perfectly well what this white powder would be. He had never had the least contact with drugs, he had no criminal record of any kind, but if he made the wrong decision here his entire future was at stake. Some South East Asian countries, he knew, had the death penalty for drug trafficking. Whether or not this one did he was not sure. He had never troubled to find out. But even if it wasn't death, the penalty would be severe. He didn't even want to think about it.

With shaking hands he replaced the box in his hold-all and zipped-up the top. He had to decide quickly.

He had done absolutely nothing wrong. He would walk up to the Customs officers right now and tell them exactly what had happened.

He had done absolutely nothing wrong. He knew his best move was to walk right up to the Customs officers and tell them exactly what had happened, but he couldn't bear the thought of getting that girl into trouble. There had to be a reason for what she had done. He would try to bluff it out.

He had done absolutely nothing wrong. He knew his best move was to walk right up to the Customs officers and tell them exactly what had happened, but he couldn't bear the thought of getting that girl into trouble. There had to be a reason for what she had done. He would find her and talk to her before he did anything else.

He had done absolutely nothing wrong. He knew his best move was to walk right up to the Customs officers and tell them exactly what had happened. But when he began to think about the kind of future he would be able to buy for himself with that much heroin, a little voice inside him seemed to say: Why not keep it? Why be a loser? You're never going to get another chance like this. Clenching his teeth in grim determination he gathered-up his belongings and walked briskly towards the Customs channels.

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