“Michael!” Samantha yelled and rushed to the captain, with Charles on her heels. “Michael! Help!”
Michael looked up. A moment later he was running back, silent sulking forgotten. Gary stayed on the beach, his head in his hands.
“Again?” Michael panted when he reached the plane. With a glance to the ladder, he knelt by Bianca. Samantha was slapping her cheeks gently.
“There’s no pulse,” Samantha reported. “She just… fell.”
“Yeah, of course she did,” Michael growled. “Bianca? Beans, wake up. Wake up right now. Come on, wake up. I swear if you don’t open your eyes right now I’ll personally kill you all over again, do you hear me? Bianca!” He slapped her cheeks a couple of times and then stroked her forehead and her hair. “Come on, Beans, wake up.”
“Is she okay?” Gabrielle said. She was halfway down the ladder, Rob behind her. “Is she?”
“No, she is not okay,” Michael said. “She is out cold again and she’s not waking up. And all this for a fucking ladder. Because of course she had to prove to the world she can do it.” He shook his head and slapped her again.
“How did she do that?” Samantha asked no one in particular. Gabrielle and Rob had joined the group, stopping a couple of feet from Bianca and Michael. “First the plane and now this. She… made it out of nothing. How?”
“I don’t care how she did it,” Michael said. “Come on, Beans.” His voice broke and he took a deep breath.
Bianca’s eyelids fluttered.
“Beans? Beanie?” He ran his hand along her cheek, her forehead, her hair, her cheek again. Bianca stirred and opened her eyes, brushing his hand aside.
“Beanie,” Michael said and swallowed a sob. Gabrielle sniffed and pushed up her glasses. “How do you feel?”
“Headache,” she mumbled and winced.
“I’ll kill you,” Michael said, stroking her face again. “I swear I’ll kill you if you try to do this again.”
Bianca frowned as she focused on his face with some effort.
“You can’t kill me. I’m dead,” she said.
The silence her words dropped like a bomb only lasted a second before Gabrielle burst into laughter, soon followed by everyone except Bianca who only had strength enough to smile.
It didn’t take long before reality set in: plane seats did not make good beds, at least on this plane. Gary was the only one small enough to fit in a row in reasonable comfort but the adults were too big.
“I suspect we’ll need to learn to sleep sitting,” Charles said after he tried to squeeze himself into a row and failed. “If we can even sleep.”
“I feel a bit tired,” Rob said. The sun had set and Bianca had switched on the lights on the plane. Nobody asked how they worked. They just did, like everything else. And everything was visible once again.
Bianca spent an hour after her collapse lying on the aisle floor on instructions from Michael. She tried to argue but Samantha backed him and she even sat in the aisle next to her head to watch her while Michael went to check the cockpit. They didn’t trust her and Bianca found that annoying. But she stayed put, not least because she was too weak to argue to try to get up. They didn’t need to know that, though. She would be back to normal in a moment.
“Everything looks in order,” Michael reported when he returned a couple of minutes later. “How are you doing, Bianca?”
“I’m fine,” she said with a huff and tried to sit up. Samantha took hold of her shoulder and pushed her back down gently but firmly. “Okay, okay. Fine. I’ll stay down a bit more.”
“Forty-five minutes more,” Samantha said. “Michael, I want to see if there’s any food in the kitchen. Or… the ghost of food. Someone might get hungry.”
“I am hungry, now that you mentioned it,” Michael said and scratched his beard. “This is unusual but I guess some habits die hard, excuse the pun.”
“I’m starving,” Rob said. “I didn’t want to raise the issue but I really hope you find something, otherwise we’ll be in trouble. This habit is definitely not dead.”
Samantha got to her feet.
“There should be sandwiches and some pastas. Soup, too.”
“Go on, I’ll watch her,” Michael said with a nod.
Bianca rolled her eyes.
“No, don’t eyeroll me,” he said as he took Samantha’s place seat next to Bianca’s head. “You weren’t there. You didn’t see yourself out cold, with no pulse and no sign of life. It was scary.”
Bianca opened her mouth to give him the witty comeback she’d thought of – that she wasn’t cold. She was cool, just as she’d always been. On second thought, it wasn’t that witty, so she reconsidered. Besides, Michael looked distraught. Frightened. She had never seen him frightened. Careless, yes. Distracted, certainly. Worried, definitely. But never frightened.