Gary burst in.
“Something’s wrong with the stewardess!”
Bianca started breathing again.
“What is it?” she asked.
“She was sitting next to me and she just doubled over and started moaning. It’s a bit scary,” the boy added, flushing.
“I’ll go,” Bianca said and unclasped her belt. Michael stared at the horizon. A knot of worry weighed on her stomach. She sighed in an attempt to get rid of it but it only became heavier. Something was very wrong on this plane and Michael knew what it was, unlike her. The only explanation she could come up with simply did not make sense.
Samantha was indeed doubled over on the aisle seat, breathing heavily. The woman with the glasses was squatting next to her, her hand on Samantha’s shoulder.
“I think I have some aspirin in my purse,” the woman was saying.
“Samantha, what is wrong?” Bianca said.
“She’s got cramps,” the woman answered for her. “A bad case.”
“I can see,” Bianca said with a nod. “Samantha, have you ever had cramps before?” Her voice performed its task well. It didn’t crack and it didn’t tremble.
Samantha raised her head. If Bianca decided to collect images of sick-looking people, she would have had a strong start today with two to file under “Grey, sweaty, in pain.”
“Never,” she said, wincing, her arms clutching her midsection tightly. “I’ve heard of cramps but never had any.”
The woman with the glasses looked up at Bianca. She narrowed her round eyes and pursed her lips.
“You know something about this, don’t you? Captain?” she said.
Bianca ignored her.
“Has anyone felt anything unusual since the incident?”
“Unusual how?” the woman asked, standing up. “What do you know?”
“I don’t know anything, madam.”
“My name’s Gabrielle,” the woman said. She crossed her arms. “So, you are telling me the other pilot’s sickness, this man’s nosebleed and now Samantha’s cramps have nothing in common? I find that hard to believe.”
“A lawyer, right?” Bianca said.
“I see.” She swallowed back the Just as bad that wanted to get out of her mouth. “Well, Gabrielle, we don’t know if these things have anything in common, no. We don’t have a doctor on board and we have no connection with any ground control, so we’re basically on our own.”
“But you know something,” the woman insisted.
Bianca hesitated. Panic had come and gone, people were simply bewildered now, bewildered and scared but hardly mutinous. And there were only four of them. She and Michael could deal with them if they had to.
“The only thing I know is that we have a good chance of landing safely,” she said. “Despite our circumstances.”
“That’s great news,” the woman’s partner, husband, or whatever he was, said. Rob. His name was Rob and he’d tried to help fly the plane.
“And how do you know this?” Gabrielle pressed on, oblivious to Samantha’s moans now.
“I know my plane,” Bianca said. Childish as it was, she tossed her head back and looked at Gabrielle down her nose. “Any other questions?”
“Stop nagging, Gabby,” Rob said. “Come on, let’s let them do their job.”
Gabrielle glowered at Bianca for a few more seconds and then nodded.
“Fine. Do your job.”
Bianca nodded and leaned over Samantha.
“How are you doing?”
“It’s a bit better, I think,” she said. “At first it was like someone was cutting me in half with a saw. Now it’s more like a dull pain that comes and goes.”
“That’s good,” Bianca said. She smiled in hopes the smile was encouraging. “It should pass soon.”
“Yeah but what is it?”
Bianca could only shake her head. She touched Samantha’s shoulder for a second and turned to go. Then she stopped and turned again.
“If anyone feels something they’ve never experienced before, let us know,” she said. The four faces she could see wore different expressions but there was one thing they all had in common. Fear. They were all afraid and she could do nothing about it. Bianca turned and went back to the cockpit.
“How are they doing? How’s Samantha?” Michael asked as soon as she closed the door. Properly this time. She could use the privacy.
“They’re afraid. Samantha has stomach cramps but she says they’re subsiding,” Bianca reported. “Your turn.”
She felt for the belt and clasped it on.
“Stop it, Michael. You know something about this… situation.” The knot in her stomach grew and tightened. She had to take a deep breath to continue. “Why are you not telling me what it is? It’s not like it will fix itself.”
“Whatever I know you know, too,” he said. Those sad eyes made Bianca want to scream and hit him.
“No,” she said as calmly as she could. “I don’t. And if you’d be so kind as to stop channeling the full cast of Lost and tell me what the hell you think I know, that would be great.”
Michael didn’t respond.
“Fine. So you were just playing an adult.” She took hold of the yoke and began to focus again. “I’d appreciate it if you keep quiet until we find a place to land, would that be possible?”
Michael muttered something incomprehensible. She was concentrating and she was trying to ignore that knot of fear in her gut.
“We’re dead, Bianca.”