“Okay, what do we do?”
Captain Imran was all business when he returned to his seat in the cockpit. He grabbed the yoke and looked up to Bianca.
“We get out of here. There is something wrong here, I don’t know what it is but we have never had people disappear on the plane. They all go into the tunnel.”
“Okay,” the captain said with a nod and turned forward. “How do I control the plane with my mind?”
Bianca started to speak and stopped. How do you explain the simplest thing after breathing?
“I just did. Without meaning to. I wanted us to go forward and the plane went forward. Then when we found a place to land I willed it into landing. That part I meant to do,” she added.
“Okay. Okay.” Captain Imran nodded and concentrated, staring straight ahead, at the milky fog outside. “Up.”
Out of the corner of her eye Bianca saw Michael wince. She listened for more crying from the cabin but all was quiet for now. Menacingly quiet.
“You don’t have to speak,” she said. “Just think about taking off. Think hard.”
“I’m trying,” Imran said and let out a laboured breath. “I’m trying but it’s not working. We’re running out of time, aren’t we?”
The first officer turned the painful look of a puppy in agony on Bianca. She swallowed. She had never flown a 777. Even if she tried, she couldn’t feel this plane the way she felt her 737. But if the captain couldn’t do it there weren’t many options.
“Come on,” Michael said, taking her hand. “We’ll do it together.”
Captain Imran and his first officer almost jumped out of their seats.
“Go check on the passengers,” Bianca said when she took Imran’s place. “Make sure everyone is in their places. And tell our people we’re leaving.”
When the door closed after the pilots Bianca touched the yoke. It was the same yoke she had in her cockpit. Almost the same. The differences were negligible. She stroked it slowly. Time was running out, she could almost hear it drip away second after second but she needed to feel this plane, feel as much of it as she could. The panel was dead and dark but at least she could see it. The windscreen glowed with the light the thick white fog let through. Or maybe the fog emitted the light. This was nowhere. They had to go somewhere.
“What did you mean we’ll do it together?” she asked quietly, not quite whispering but unwilling to risk anyone overhearing.
Michael turned to smile at her.
“I’m wagering the lives on all on board that I could help you fly that plane. We can hands and see if I can do what you can do.”
“You mean me powering you?”
“Sort of,” he nodded. “It’s a big plane and we’re not just anywhere. Maybe I could power you, too. But if it gets too much for you we stop immediately and I just sit here watching you save us all again. What do you think?”
“Okay, let’s try this,” she said after a moment’s deliberation and reached out for Michael. He took her hand and squeezed it lightly. “If you start feeling sick, tell me, okay? No need to sacrifice yourself for this plane.”
“Don’t worry about me. Let’s just go home.”
Bianca nodded and closed her eyes. At first the warmth of Michael’s hand was distracting but soon it became just a part of her. As did the seat she was sitting on and the floor her feet stood on. The panel. The avionics. The fuselage. The wings and the tail. It was a big plane and it was heavy. She was heavy. But weight was no obstacle to flying. She could get airborne just fine. There was no damage anywhere on the plane. It had simply run out of fuel and they didn’t need fuel here. It was a strange here, a dangerous here.
“Damn it’s heavy,” Michael murmured.
“I’ve got it, you can let go.”
“No chance. We’re flying this mamma bird together.”
A smile tugged at the corner of Bianca’s mouth for a fleeting moment before she doubled her grip on the plane. A faint roar rose around them. The engines.
“Here we go,” Michael said. He was obviously incapable of keeping quiet for any length of time but this time Bianca had no desire or capacity to criticize him for it. And in some odd way his voice helped her concentrate.
She took a deep breath and started to let it out when someone in the cabin wailed loudly. The urge to open her eyes and go see what had happened was strong but her will was stronger. She tightened her one-handed grip on the yoke and shut her ears off to the surrounding sounds.
The plane shivered, once, twice, and a third time before it started moving forward, reluctantly at first and then more and more willingly. It felt like a sick animal, a fallen animal that is too scared to try walking again, but once it tries it, it sees walking is not that hard. And then starts running.
The plane was racing in the milky fog and Bianca was racing with it. At first she was on edge expecting obstacles but soon she realised there would be none. This was nowhere and there was nothing in nowhere. There was nothing to stop them from taking off.
“Here we go,” Michael murmured when the nose of the plane started rising. “Let’s fly, birdie.”
You can get the full book here.