“Did you find out why we’re stuck here?” he asked after a while. They lay side by side on the dry grass, their skin once again ghostly silver under the moonlight. Bianca had debated with herself whether she should get dressed in case anyone else of their party wanted to fight insomnia with a walk but decided against it. They were behind a rock. They’d hear anyone coming. It was so quiet.
“Quiet as the grave,” she muttered.
“It’s quiet as the grave here,” she said. Michael chuckled. “No, I didn’t find out why we’re stuck here. How long do you think we have before we start getting on each other’s nerves?”
Michael rolled on to his side, took her hand and kissed it.
“I think it will be a while.”
“I mean all of us, not us two,” Bianca said.
“Oh. I don’t know. They all seem like nice people. Smart, patient people.”
Bianca snuggled into him, resting her head on the soft spot between his shoulder and his ribs.
“Even smart and patient people can get cabin fever.”
“Let’s hope it won’t come to that, then,” Michael murmured. His eyes were closed and his breathing was slow and even. Soon, it became deeper and slower and after a few minutes it completely stopped. Michael looked fast asleep except he wasn’t breathing. Bianca watched him for a few seconds and then she closed her own eyes determined to get some sleep, too. Or some rest, if not exactly sleep. She wasn’t worried that Michael was not breathing. It made sense – he was resting. But when the same thing had happened to her, Michael had thrown a fit. And he was the one that had made her see the only explanation to their situation was death. Bianca smiled at the inconsistency. She’d missed those, too.
This time the attempt at sleep lasted just a few minutes before a shiver shook her body. It was a cold shiver, an all-body itch she had no way of scratching because it was coming from inside her. Bianca jumped to her feet when Michael’s eyes flew open and he too shivered.
“What’s going on?” he said, his voice thick from sleep. “What’s happening?”
“I’ve no idea but I know I need to get to the plane.” Bianca was frantically putting on her clothes. She threw Michael his clothes. “Come on. We have to go.”
“Where?” He got to his feet and doubled over with a wince. “Are you feeling what I’m feeling? A sort of…”
“Yeah. A whole-body itch.”
“Yes. Come on.”
When they reached the plane, the lights were on – Bianca had thought they must be on while she and Michael ran along the shore – and everyone was wide awake and frightened once again.
“What’s happening, are we falling apart?” Gabrielle said, wide-eyed and pale.
“I don’t think so,” Bianca said curtly. “Does everyone feel the same?”
An itch. An urge to be somewhere. Where? Heads shaking. Just somewhere.
“Okay, so we’re all feeling it. I don’t think we can do anything about it but go wherever we’re supposed to go,” Bianca said and slipped into the cockpit. “Fasten your seatbelts!” she yelled over her shoulder. Michael gave them all a nod and followed her.
“It fells like we’re about to discover why we’re stuck here,” he said as he strapped himself into his seat.
“I hope so.” Bianca started the engines and they purred to life. Michael shook his head.
“Unbelievable. The engines are working.”
“Everything is working,” Bianca said and flipped several switches.
“You’re making it work,” he said.
“You’ll hate hearing this but are you—”
Bianca glanced at him.
“Yes, I’m completely fine, Mike. We need to go. Now. It’s that or scratch ourselves to death.”
The plane started moving forwards, across the rocky shore, into the grassy patch and further on towards the mountain peaks hanging over the lake, accelerating.
“So, we’re going to—” The plane took off shortly before it reached the wall of rock and flew straight into it amid screams of terror from the cabin. “Right,” Michael said. “We’re flying through a mountain.”
“Yes, we are,” Bianca said. She held the yoke tight and pressed her lips together. The yoke was for support only. She didn’t need it to get the plane into the air.
The screams from the cabin had stopped.
“It’s like fog,” Michael said squinting through the windscreen. “Like very thick fog. Do we know where we’re flying to? Do you, I don’t know, feel a pull in a certain direction or anything?”
Bianca shook her head. She had a single purpose: to move in the direction they were already flying. She had no idea why or what it was that awaited them at the end of the journey. All she knew was she had to make it.
“Right. Well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
“I hope so,” she said through gritted teeth. “This itch is driving me crazy.”
“It’s like I’m full of ants,” Michael said and shifted in his seat again. “Angry ants.”
“Stop it,” Bianca said.
The plane flew out of the fog that was the mountain peak and soared higher into the bright blue of the sky. In a few minutes it reached cruising speed and Bianca leveled it. A second later Gabrielle burst into the cockpit.
“What was that? Where are we going?”
“We don’t know,” Michael said with a grin. “But we’re hoping to find out.”
“This itch,” Gabrielle said and propped her hands on the backs of their seats to lean in and squint through the windscreen. “It’s like this feeling I have to be somewhere very urgently. Everyone back in the cabin is feeling the same way.”
“So are we,” Bianca said and winced. Talking about itches invariably made them worse. It even made an itch appear when there was none before. And Bianca did not need it getting any worse right now while she flew the plane. The sensation that tiny insects with extremely hard legs were crawling all over her body both outside and inside was already bad enough.
“How long do you think?” Gabrielle said.
“Could you please go back to your seat? I’m sure we’ll feel it somehow when we get to where we need to be.” Either that or she would kill herself to stop the itching. She glanced over her shoulder at her stubborn passenger.
Gabrielle drew back and tossed her hair out of her face to scowl at Bianca.
“Okay. No need to snap.”
“It’s the itch,” Michael said. “I think it’s worse for her.”
“Yeah, I guess it makes sense.” Gabrielle said after a short pause. “I’ll see you later, then.”
“Bye,” Michael said.
“It is worse,” Bianca said after Gabrielle left. “You say angry ants. Mine are gnawing at me.”