Surviving the Fall
Almost there! Almost there!
The words looped over and over again in her mind. Clementine was unnaturally afraid of flying. She was a firm believer that flight was reserved for birds. People weren’t born with wings for a reason. The same reason they had lungs instead of gills. The purpose of the trip was to help students decide what University they wanted to attend after graduation. Clementine’s goal was get as far away from home as possible. Even if it meant she’d be leaving her mother and her only friend behind. Now, she was regretting that decision. Shortly after lift off a strange feeling had slithered into her stomach, and it was still there, dancing and twirling her insides into knots. She knew it wasn’t her nerves. Nerves usually started out small, but even then Clementine was in better control of them once they surfaced. No, it wasn’t nerves. It was something else. A growing fear that seeped out of her pores and polluted the air in the plane. The scent made her dizzy, her palms dripped with sweat as she clung to her seat. If she had eaten anything that morning she was certain it would be all over Angel Anderson. That thought made her smile a little.
Suddenly she felt an unusual shake. She reached down to pet the good luck charm dangling around her neck. The cold, familiar feel of the glass tear drop pendant eased some of the tension boiling inside her body. Barely.
Looking around the plane no one else appeared to notice the sudden tremor. Most of them were out cold from three day’s of partying. She turned to the boy beside her; Angel Anderson. Clementine only glanced at him briefly, peripheral vision, to see his head thrown back against the seat, sleeping. Though he was annoying, there was something graceful about his stillness; the way his lips pulled into a pout, his long lashes that fanned his cheekbone and the creamy color of his skin that was reserved for well made up models, not an eighteen year old boy. He was the perfect guy if you were into that, still Clementine wished he’d sat anywhere but next to her. Perhaps the luggage compartment or back home with his perfect blond girl friend who’d done nothing but torment her for the past year and a half. Not that she had to worry about Angel now, he hardly noticed her the three days spent in Washington. It was no different to how he treated her at school. Angel pretty much pretended that she didn’t exist, except for those special occasions reserved to make her life a living hell. Had his clique been with him on this trip, she suspected things would have been different and she was glad for that.
An hour into the flight Clementine heard rattling coming from above. The floor beneath her feet vibrated, unleashing an electric fear through her body. She knew turbulence was to be expected. It was the norm. But this wasn’t normal, and deep down Clementine knew that. Still, she wanted to believe. To ease some of the tension, she pulled up the window shutters, searching for some comfort that things weren’t as dire as she felt. After all, she was more likely to crash her little bug car on the road then be one of those unlucky few who board an ill-fated flight. Those were the statistics. Statistics never lied.
Outside they drifted though the fog. Clouds. White and fluffy. The things dreams were made of. The only thing missing were rainbows and unicorns. She waited a minute for the fog to depart. When it did a striking blue sea laid out like an expensive painting; a dozen shades of blue, green and turquoise, like tie-dye. Far in the distance was the outline of a piece of land, like it was plucked out of some back wood wilderness and placed right smack in the middle of the ocean. The sea was beautiful. The island was not. There was something unsettling about it. Spine-chilling. The mountains towered high. Their peaks dark and angry. Snow covered their tops like ice-cream on a cone. Even from her seat she noticed their jagged edges - like they’d scrape anything into oblivion. But that wasn’t the sight that caused a dribble of sweat to roll down her back. It was the dark shroud of black mist that cloaked the island – like a wraith. She slammed the shutters tight, refusing to let her imagination go wild, but when a violent tremor shook the plane, bile rose in her throat.
The broadcast system came to life and the pilot spoke in an urgent tone.
“This is your captain speaking. We are experiencing turbulence. Please return to your seats and fasten your seat belts. Thank you.”
Clementine’s seatbelt was already strapped firmly in place. She only wished they were the kind equipped on roller coasters. The ones that came down over your head and shoulders. The flight attendants scurried over to their designated seats. They both seemed calm. The brunette with a bucket of make-up smothered on her face smiled, and though it did not reach her eyes, Clementine thought she looked brave. Stoic. Then again they were trained not to lose their shit in emergency situations. “Looks like a storm is coming.” She told the other stewardess. Clementine knew the turbulence wasn’t caused by some freak storm. The skies were clear as crystal when she last checked. She was no weather expert, however, so maybe she missed something obvious. Or at least, that’s what she told herself.
Then the plane bounced up and down.
The other passengers began to stir as another announcement blasted through the PA system. “Once again this is your captain speaking. Looks like we’ll be experiencing some severe turbulence. Please fasten your seatbelts while I attempt to go around the disturbance.” After that message a video came on demonstrating what passengers should do if the pilot had to make an emergency landing, but the video was cut off, followed by a loud boom. A blood curdling scream erupted inside the cabin. A roaring noise was accompanied by an icy, hundred-mile wind that ripped and howled like a banshee. Clementine thought the noise would blow her brains out her ears. She didn’t have to look back to know the fuselage was torn open. Automatically, oxygen masks dropped down from the ceiling, but Clementine was frozen into absolute immobility. She could only move her eyes back and forth. Jet fuel saturated the air, travelled down her throat and burned her lungs. The floor felt like it dropped from under her, and she was going with it. Chaos ensued. Screaming. Praying. Clementine didn’t’ bother with either. What were their chances of surviving anyways? If the plane were to crash, there would be no help for them. If the plane went down people didn’t usually survive the fall.
Luggage broke through the overhead compartments, flying past her face. A computerized alarm pitched out a warning. Its voice was distorted. Clementine couldn’t decipher the message. She imagined it went something like, “Brace yourself for impact. You’re all going to die.” And the tears sprung out of her eyes like a pipe. Glass shattered from somewhere beside her. Someone screamed, “Ohmygod,” as another luggage parcel tumbled over the seats. It took Clementine a second to realize they weren’t luggage or suitcases. They were people. The plane did a nose dive as it plunged further down. A passenger rolled head over heels down the aisle. He was followed by the food cart. Then Clementine couldn’t watch anymore. She forced her eyes close and held her breath. Her last breath.
Clementine braced herself as the plane continued to rock furiously, dipping vertically like it was attracted to an unseen magnet below. It fought against the pull of the ground, but Clementine could feel the strong grip of an invisible force. Something evil, yanking the floating metal towards it. Clementine imagined her body being scraped against the rock below, smearing the earth blood red and she started to hyperventilate. Just when Clementine thought her lungs would burst from fright. Angel gasped loudly. She forgot that he was sitting beside her. Angel reached out and grabbed hold of her hand, pinning them to the arm rest. Her eyes flew open. He commanded her attention. Held her gaze with the painful intensity of his own. Gradually, the horrible shrieking noises of the plane coming apart, and the gut-wrenching wails of the flight’s passengers became nothing but background noise. Angel squeezed his cerulean eyes together – she never noticed how soulful they were- and Clementine felt like he could see hers. There was something else inside them too; fire, warmth, darkness. A seductive heat wrapped around her heart and all she could hear was music. It filtered through her thoughts of panic like a light disintegrating the darkness. She couldn’t place the melody anywhere. The song was sweet. A lullaby. Angel’s mouth stretched into a strange grin, pulling at the corners, pulling at her heart.
And then Clementine’s world went black.