Sky High 16: Stairs

“Careful!” Samantha called.

Gabrielle crawled along the turbine until she reached the wing. There, she first stood on all fours and then carefully straightened up.

“Now what?” she called. “Can I open the emergency exits from outside?”

“No, you can’t” Michael murmured. He squinted at Gabrielle and shook his head.

“But I can open them from the inside,” Bianca said, beaming.

“All right!” Rob said and grinned.

“I’m not sure you should do this so soon after what you did with the plane.” Michael said.

“Well, I am,” Bianca said. She forced her face into a smile and put her hand on his arm. “I’m sorry I snapped at you. I just don’t like anyone fussing over me.”

“I remember,” he said drily.

Bianca fixed her eyes on the emergency exit next to Gabrielle. A few seconds later the door opened with a pop. Gabrielle whooped and dived into the plane. Rob clapped from the ground.

“And now what? We all follow her up the turbine and the wing?” Michael asked.

“Actually, I think I’ll stay here,” Charles said, eyeing the turbine’s gaping mouth. “I’m afraid my climbing days are over.”

Bianca glanced at them with a smile that had a daring edge to it. She had pulled an airliner from a lake. She could probably do a lot more with her mind although this train of thought was a reckless one and she had to be careful with it.

“Maybe we could do something about this.”

“Can you?” Samantha asked, stepping closer. “Maybe if you could release the slide we could, I don’t know, cut holes in it and turn it into a ladder or something.”

“That’s a very good idea,” Michael said and crossed his arms as he tried to measure the distance between the exit with the slide closest to them and the ground. A moment later Gabrielle popped her head out the emergency exit on the wing.

“This plane is completely dry,” she said. “Not a drop of water. I guess this makes it official, doesn’t it?”

Rob walked up to the turbine’s mouth and climbed into it. From there, he pulled himself up on top of the engine where Gabrielle was waiting for him. He hugged her. Bianca looked away to see Charles put a hand on Gary’s shoulder and squeeze it lightly.

“We’re going to be okay,” he said. The boy jerked his shoulder away and stomped off to the beach. Michael glanced after him. The boy’s shoulders hitched with the sobs that had propelled him away from the group. Silence enveloped them, the kind of awkward, uncomfortable silence that followed unwilling displays of strong emotion. Bianca was the one to break it. She couldn’t hold her idea inside for much longer, it was too good.

“I think I can make a ladder,” she said.

“You can make a ladder?” Michael spat the word out. “How?”

Bianca narrowed her eyes at the exit at the front of the plane. This was the exit they had escaped from, all of them.

“Bianca,” Michael started, taking a step closer to her, reaching out for her arm. She jerked her arm away, out of touch.

“Don’t. I have to concentrate,” she said.

“You just passed out from this concentration,” Michael yelled. “We don’t know what else could happen. Do you really want to risk it for a ladder?”

Samantha and Charles had frozen, staring at Michael. So had Gabrielle and Rob on the wing. Even Gary raised his head and turned it to their direction from where he sat on the beach.

“I’m sorry,” Michael said and spread his arms. “We don’t know how any of this afterlife thing works. I would really advise caution.” Bianca waited, her face impassive. “That’s all,” Michael said.

“Thank you. Now, I feel I can make a ladder the way I got the plane out of the water and it won’t cost me half the energy I spent on that. Can we agree that I know best how and what I feel?”

Samantha took a step back away from Bianca shuddering. She tripped and Charles steadied her.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“Of course,” Michael said, all fight gone out of his voice. “You know best. If you’ll excuse me.” He turned and marched off to the beach and Gary.

“Okay. Shall we?” Bianca said with a bright smile that revealed all her teeth. Nobody spoke. “All right.”

She walked up to the plane and stopped about twenty feet from the fuselage below the front exit. As everyone watched, except Gary and Michael who sat with their backs to the plane, Bianca stood completely still and closed her eyes.

Ten seconds passed. A minute. Two. A smile tugged at one corner of Bianca’s mouth. The air in front of her began trembling and a gust of hot air later a square on the side of the plane opened up and an airstair began unfolding between the ground and the exit. As Samantha gasped and Rob whispered “Wow”, Bianca collapsed gently on the ground.

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