Bianca glanced at the closed door of the cockpit. The sensation that something wasn’t right sharpened and twisted inside her.
“And you’ve been suspended here for how long? Any idea?”
They both shook their heads.
“We were also asleep,” the first officer said. “I blacked out when the plane crashed into the water, then I woke up to see the captain awake and checking on the passengers and then… I don’t know how it happened but I only woke up when you came. How did you come?”
“I have no idea how this works,” Bianca said. Everyone asleep. Sleeping Beauty’s kingdom. Maybe they were meant to become what she and her crew had become. Why hadn’t it happened?
“Did you try to steer your plane with your mind?”
The captain’s face creased in confusion.
“With my mind? What do you mean?”
“I mean did you try to replace the panel with your thoughts? To tell the plane where to go?”
The creases deepened.
“No,” he said eventually. “Of course not. This is impossible.”
“Not exactly,” Bianca said and straightened up. “Because that’s what we did after we saw the white light.”
The first officer’s eyes bulged.
“You saw it too?”
Bianca nodded. The door opened then and Michael came in.
“What’s going on there?”
“They’re waking up, wondering where they are and what happened,” he said quietly. Then he looked at the pilots and cleared his throat. The space was too small for private conversations. “Nobody seems to have any recollection of the latest events on the plane.”
“Did you really fly a plane with your mind?” the first pilot asked. “How is this possible?”
“Our plane went invisible. I couldn’t use my tools. I had to try something else.”
“Are you saying that if I had tried this… this mind control we could have survived?”
“Oh, no, you were all dead when the white light came,” Michael said. “We all died and we don’t remember a crash, so that’s the only way it could have happened. But we lost most of our passengers. Are all of yours still here?”
The captain stared at him for a while before blinking and shifting in his seat.
“I could ask the crew to count them. If they are awake.”
“They’re waking up. A few of them are starting to ask questions.” Michael said shooting Bianca a sideways glance that sharpened that sensation of wrongness further. “But there’s no tunnel.”
“No tunnel?” Bianca said at the same time as Azraai asked “What tunnel?” Before anyone could answer someone in the cabin started shrieking.
Michael burst out of the cockpit with Bianca on his heels and the pilots close behind them. Bianca registered a few empty seats and wondered for a moment if they had been empty when they had arrived before seeing the person who was shrieking.
Gary had hid his face in Samantha’s lap. His body was shaking and Samantha was stroking his back and his head, murmuring words of comfort. Rob and Gabrielle stood a little further down the aisle with ashen, suddenly aged faces.
“What happened?” Michael said before Bianca could speak. “Are you all right?”
“They started disappearing,” she said. A young man in the middle seat of the row nearest Gabrielle started moving, waking up. Gabrielle jumped back colliding with Rob.
“What?” captain Imran said from behind Bianca’s back.
Gary raised his head revealing his red, tear-streaked face.
“They’re vanishing!” he screamed, his breath hitching. “Everyone who wakes up breaks down into dust!”
The force of the boy’s terror made Bianca take a step back. Her eyes swung to the young man who was yawning now. In a second he would open his eyes. A cold finger ran down her spine. The young man opened his eyes. He looked around muzzily, started to say something and exploded into fine dust that dissipated in the air.
Gabrielle whimpered against Rob’s chest, biting into her knuckles. The first officer of the flight made a sound of shock and disgust. The growl of an animal in distress. Marcello stood mute a foot from where Samantha hugged Gary, gripping the edges of the two nearest seats.
“We have to get out of here as soon as possible,” Bianca heard herself say. “We have to leave before we all disappear.”
Gary’s sobs were the only response.
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