Violence: Not so much violence as icky stuff. Be prepared. There’s going to be some fairly graphic stuff in here. I’ll try to be kind; if it makes my stomach roil, then I won’t put it in. Fair?
Note: Guys, this one gets pretty rough in places, so do be warned and prepared. As I said in the violence warning, I tried to keep it from being gratuitous, but it is necessary, and will be graphic. That said, it is relatively short-lived.
If you’d like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com
Denny couldn’t help but glance up into First Class again. She could only see a bit of a bare leg, and a few wisps of blonde hair, but it was enough. When she had walked through to get to her own seat in 5C, the brunette had nearly chocked on the swig of Coke she’d drank, when she’d realized who she was passing. She had looked twice, almost thrown off by the baseball cap and dark glasses. Funnily enough, it had been the silver watch that had tipped Denny off. Every picture she’d ever seen of Rachel Holt, the young, beautiful author, had been wearing it; and there it was, on her left wrist, glinting slightly from the sunlight shining in through the oval window.
Hearing someone clear their throat from behind her, Denny moved on, finding her seat, unable to keep her eyes off the general area in First Class. It didn’t seem as if anyone else had made the connection yet. It had helped that the brunette had just been reading People magazine in the airport terminal while waiting for her flight to board. There had been a small blurb in the Passages section, mentioning it was the blonde’s twenty-seventh birthday coming up.
“Happy birthday, Rachel,” she murmured with a little chuckle, sighing as she buckled herself in. It would be a long flight, but she looked forward to it, heading to Italy for two weeks to visit her father’s family. She hadn’t seen them in about five years, and missed her cousins.
Denny rested her head back against the seat, listening to the sounds around her, people softly murmuring “Excuse me,” and “Sorry ‘bout that” as they, too got settled. Blue eyes opened as she heard a soft, “I need to get through.”
“Oh, sorry.” She sat up fully, tucking her long legs up so a young girl, maybe no older than sixteen, carefully passed to the other aisle seat in the middle section of the 767. Denny smiled over at her, then stated to relax again.
“Oop, one more.”
Once again looking to the aisle, the brunette saw an older version of the teenager. Once again folding up her legs, the woman, who she would learn was the girl’s mom, passed by and got settled in the middle seat. Mother and daughter spoke softly as Denny finally was able to get fully comfortable. She loved to fly, which was a good thing, because this was going to be one long flight.
They were about to pull out of Buffalo Niagara International, the belly of the plane being loaded with the luggage of a couple hundred excited passengers.
Denny glanced up toward First Class again, her mind roaming back to the young author seated not twenty feet from her. When Rachel Holt had bit the racks with her first novel, Conspiracy, three years ago, it had taken off like a rocket. The then twenty-two year old had been launched into the world’s spotlight, winning numerous awards and acclaim. She was young, beautiful, and painfully elusive- a bad mix for a knowledge hungry industry. She had been hunted ruthlessly, her green eyes gracing just about every magazine cover, whether Rachel was aware of it or not. She had only agreed to sit for one interview, and that was with the daily talk show hostess, Maureen Conifer. Regardless of just how private and shy the little blonde was, no one could seem to get enough of her books. Now, sitting pretty with four novels on the shelves, her place in current author stardom was set.
Denny grinned at these thoughts as she brought out the paperback she’d bought at Borders that very morning, on the way to the airport. It was Rachel Holt’s newest in trade paperback, Willing To Conquer. Typically not one for history, nor thrillers, the coffee shop owner was drawn, nonetheless. The books were extremely well written, and sucked the reader in from the turn of the first page. The emotion was deep and intense, and the detailed accounts of each time period were astounding. Heck, Denny had even started researching the Victorian era out of curiosity after finishing Coattails and Pomp.
Now, seeing the woman in person, even though it was from behind dark glasses and her short, blonde hair tucked under a baseball cap, Denny turned her novel over, opening the back cover to see the black and white of the young author. In it, Rachel Holt was looking off in the distance, the light shining in her green eyes, making them almost translucent. She was wearing a simple light-colored button-up, though it could only be seen from just under the collar up. It was casually open, probably unbuttoned two or three down, giving the author an air of casual ease. There was no information below the picture, other than: Rachel Holt lives in the northwestern United States.
“That’s a good one.”
Denny glanced to her right, seeing the woman sitting next to her glancing at the book in her hands.
“Finished it two days ago.”
“I hope so. Picked it up on my way in today,” Denny explained, turning the book back over and resting it in her lap.
“Did you read the others?”
“Sure did.” The brunette smiled, trying to decide for a moment if she should tell the obvious fan that the woman in question was sitting just on the other side of the First Class bathrooms. Deciding against it, she sighed deeply, content to be on her way as the plane slowly began to back away from the gate, ready to taxi.
Denny glanced up from time to time, half-heartedly listening to the instructions from the flight attendant in case of an emergency do this, don’t do that, if you don’t feel you can perform tasks at the emergency exits, so on so forth. She turned her attention back to the novel in hand, allowing herself to get lost in the life of a young slave during the time of Alexander the Great.
Mia Vinzetti sat next to her mother, Gloria. They were headed home, to Milan, where Gloria had grown up with her grandparents, Paolo and Lizbeth. Paolo had finally come down with lung cancer after smoking for fifty-six years. Things looked grim, and while Mia was out of school for the summer, Gloria wanted to go back to be with him.
The sixteen year old glanced over at her mother briefly, noting she was already neck deep in one of her romance novels. The girl was excited for the trip, never having been to her mother’s homeland before. They had been fighting so badly lately, and Mia hoped this trip could help to mend some of those bridges. She was going to be graduating high school the following summer, and didn’t want to go off to college in California, on the other side of the country from her mother, with them fighting. Mrs. Marcum, Mia’s counselor at school, had assured her that it was typical of the age group, but Mia knew she held a lot of resentment against her mother. Gloria had raised her alone, Mia’s father disappearing from her life before she’d even been born. Never marrying, Gloria had often worked two and sometimes three jobs, just to keep them alive in their small, Brooklyn apartment.
Mia admired her mother greatly, though she’d never told the older woman that. Gloria’s parents had been killed when she’d been a girl, and so she’d been swept off to Milan, where she’d had a wonderful childhood, then had been swept back to the United States by a Navy boy, Mia’s father.
It had been tough for the two Vinzetti women, but all in all, they’d done pretty darn good together, and Mia loved her mother deeply. She just wished Gloria had more time for her, yet at the same time, she wished her mother would just leave her the hell alone. The girl pushed long, dark hair back over her shoulder as she grinned internally at her own hypocrisy.
As the plane hit its altitude, according to the pilot, Mia sat back and closed her eyes. She hated to fly.
Dean Ratliff hate to fly. He hated to travel, he hated to do anything remotely new and different. His partner of thirteen years, Will Ash, basically told him that if they didn’t do something this summer, take some sort of a vacation, they were done. Will was sick and tired of sitting home every year, surrounded by every electronic gadget known to man, expensive French furniture and Dean’s beloved dogs, but seeing nothing, doing nothing, going nowhere.
Dean had reluctantly agreed to this madness, and then Will had to work! He was to meet his partner in Milan. The sandy-haired man sighed heavily, leaning his head against the cool window.
Michael Dupree held on tightly to the armrest on either side. He heard his wife chuckle yet again. Glancing down at her, he just barely saw her shaking her head in mirth as his actions.
“Y’all think this is funny, don’tcha?” he asked, halfway chuckling himself. Melissa Dupree looked up at him.
“Honestly? Why, yes. I do.”
Michael grinned, leaning down to quickly lay a kiss on the lips of his wife of twenty years.
“I love you, baby,” he said softly, so glad he was able to do this for her. They’d been married all those years, Thursday their anniversary. He knew Melissa had always wanted to see Italy and all its historical treasures. From their house in Beaumont, Texas, she’d only ever been able to see them via books from the library and the History Channel. When he’d come home from work, having picked up their airline tickets, and itinerary from his brother’s house, where he’d been hiding everything, he thought Melissa was going to break down and start crying right when he gave it all to her, along with a single red rose.
Michael was surprised when not only did his little woman start crying, but she almost nearly bowled over his 6’4”, 235 lb. frame. That night they’d made the sweetest love. Remembering that, he reluctantly let go of one of the armrests, putting his arm around her slight shoulders. Immediately Melissa lay her head against her husband’s linebacker-like shoulder.
“I love you, Mike. Thank you for this.”
Michael Dupree considered himself the luckiest man in the Lone Star state. He’d been a young buck of eighteen, lost and doing nothing but causing trouble and raising hell. He’d met a lovely young redhead who’d put him in his place, throwing an entire mug of beer in his face when he’d gotten out of hand. He’d never let her out of his sights since. Melissa had put up with a lot from him over the years- twenty years, three kids and a mortgage later, and the big mechanic couldn’t ask to be happier. He hoped he’d finally made the petit woman sitting beside him happy and proud, too.
Michael knew there was nothing he could do right now other than sit back and relax. They’d be on the plane for a long, long time.
“Man, she looked a bit worried, didn’t she?” Dr. Pam Sloan commented to her boyfriend, Austin. The veterinarian watched as the blonde flight attendant hurried through First Class, disappearing inside the cockpit, the narrow door closing after her with finality.
Behind the vet, a blonde author also noted the flight attendant’s harried behavior. She leaned slightly into the aisle to see if she could discern anything, but the flight attendant was gone. Taking a deep breath, she tried to return her attention back to her laptop, her fingers tapping away on the keys. Her attention was brought up once more when the cockpit door opened, and the flight attendant was on her way back down the aisle, her face too expressionless for Rachel’s liking. She followed the woman’s progress back into coach, briefly meeting bright blue eyes of another passenger before the blonde turned back to her writing.
Denny DiRisio caught Rachel Holt’s gaze for just a moment, feeling a slight thrill that a famous person knew she existed, if even just for a moment, then the blonde turned away. Denny’s euphoria was short-lived as she felt a tap on her arm. Turning to the woman sitting next to her, who’d introduced herself as Gloria Vinzetti.
“Do you think something’s wrong?” the woman asked, her short, dark hair falling into her eyes. The brunette shrugged and shook her head.
“I don’t know. But I doubt it.”
“Well, that flight attendant sure acted like she had a fire lit under her asino.”
Denny smiled, nodding. “I’m sure everything is fine.” The coffee shop owner turned back to her book, hearing mother and daughter speaking quietly to each other, then heard murmuring around her. Once again looking up from the book, Denny looked around at her fellow passengers to see if they knew something she didn’t. She caught the eye of fellow passengers, all doing the same.
“Miss?” an older man further back in the plane said, stopping the flight attendant as she made her way back up the left aisle, from where she’d been speaking with the gathered flight attendants. “Is there a problem, miss?”
The blonde woman smiled, patting the older man’s shoulder. “Everything’s fine, sir.” Quickly, she hurried on.
Michael Dupree snorted as he woke himself up, opening droopy eyes as something had stirred him. Melissa still was sound asleep, her head cradled on his shoulder. The big Texan looked around, trying to figure out what had woken him. Reaching to the window on his right, he pushed up the flimsy shade, seeing glittering blue beneath him. Glancing up into the sky, he was surprised to see the sky.
“Shouldn’t we be flying a bit higher?” the guy in front of him asked, looking at Michael from between the seat on the curved plane wall. The Texan shook his head, still looking outside.
“I don’t know. Ye’d think.”
Dean Ratliff tilted his head slightly as he unfolded the airline brochure. There he saw the small list of onboard alcohol that could be ordered for five bucks a pop.
“Perfect,” he muttered, stuffing the brochure back into the seat pocket in front of him. He craned his neck until he spotted a flight attendant talking to an older man, not seven rows behind his. “Excuse me,” he flagged her down as she headed back toward the front of the plane. “I’d like to order a drink. When are you going to be coming by with the refreshment cart? I mean, you guys still do that, right? Lord knows you’ve stopped enough of the other services.”
“We’ll be getting to that shortly, sir. We ask for your patience.” The blonde woman smiled, though it didn’t reach her eyes.
“Hey! I want my drink, damn it!” Dean called out to her retreating back. He met the gaze of his seatmate. “I intend to write a letter to the airlines when I get home. She was rude.” Sighing unhappily, Dean crossed his arms over his chest, trying to look around to see another, helpful flight attendant. Maybe that little blonde cutie with the trimmed goatee he’d seen before take off.
“Alright, John. I’ve talked to everyone. What do you want us to do now?” Kendra asked, her hands wringing in front of her. She felt sick, and blew blonde bangs out of her eyes.
The pilot sighed heavily, feeling sweat gathering under his armpits.
“I’ve taken her as low as I dare,” he explained, everyone in the cockpit noting the waves visible now, in the ocean below. “We have no choice. Prepare the passengers. Don’t tell them what’s happened, just advise them in precautionary procedures.”
Kendra nodded stoically, but could feel the tears burning behind her eyes, and her heart was pounding in her chest. She left the cockpit, walking over to the First Class cubby, picking up the onboard phone.
Denny heard three soft dings, then noticed a redheaded flight attendant hurry to the area in front of their seats. Denny, Gloria and Mia were sitting in the emergency row, so before them was a wall with the flight attendant’s jump seat, where she sat during take off, as well as her phone.
The pretty young woman put the phone to her ear, turning away from the prying eyes of her passengers. She whispered into the mouthpiece, her body rigid.
Denny and Gloria shared a look. Denny had a very bad feeling grip her insides. Something was wrong. Images of 9/11 flashed through her mind, and she prayed it wasn’t anything like that, trying to console herself with the knowledge that they were over an ocean, no use to a terrorist.
The flight attendant hung up the phone, took a deep breath to gather herself, then turned to face questioning blue eyes. The redhead smiled, though it was extremely weak.
“Something’s wrong, isn’t it?” Denny asked, her voice quiet. The flight attendant mouthed the word yes, yet her voice cracked so no sound came out. Denny swallowed hard, nodding in understanding. The public address system crackled to life and suddenly a tinny voice was announcing emergency procedures, while the redhead helped those in need to successfully attach oxygen masks and inflatable life jackets.
Rachel’s fingers were shaking badly as she tried for the third time to get the rubber band around her head, the clear, plastic mask sliding into place. She noticed the woman across the aisle having trouble with hers, so reached across and helped as best she could, as far as the oxygen chord would allow.
As she sat back down, she met the gaze of the woman sitting in front of her, dark brows creased with terror, which Rachel had no doubt matched her own.
The plane lurched forward, everyone screaming in surprise and fear. Pam Sloan watched as a small, rubber ball rolled down the center aisle toward the cockpit.
“Thomas!” Mandy Ryan grabbed her son by the arm, her cry muffled behind her mask. Her son was crying, his ball flying from his hands, disappearing down the aisle.
Dean Ratliff rolled his eyes. Stupid kid. Sit down! He turned his attention from the young mother and the small boy, still crying about his stupid ball, and instead saw a large man sitting by the window, a small woman nearly sitting in his lap. He was trying to whisper words of comfort into her ear, but it came out as some sort of twisted, macabre murmuring behind the plastic of the mask.
All around him, Dean could hear sniffles and cries, panicked faces on all of his fellow passengers. As it was, he was grabbing onto the armrest with claw-like fingers, feeling his stomach lurch with every harsh movement of the plane. He glanced up as the public address system squawked to life once more.
Denny listened as the captain almost shouted a slew of instructions to his doomed passengers. He no longer cared about trying to keep his load calm, no more time left for that. Blue eyes landed on the two women sitting next to her, both mother and daughter crying, holding onto each other for dear life.
Denny closed her eyes; what she wouldn’t do to have Hannah there right then, holding her, telling her everything would be okay. Suddenly remembering something from Flight 93, she snatched her cell phone, powering it on. The cheery chirp as it came to life seemed like a sick mockery. One signal bar.
“Fuck,” she hissed, tearing the mask from her face as she dialed the number one then send. The phone’s ring was sporadic at best.
“Den… ney?... ought you were… air?”
“Hannah! Hannah, oh god, thank god,” Denny could feel her tears spring to life. “Honey, I love you! Something’s gone wrong!”
“…at? I can’t under… ou. Wha…?”
“I love you! Always know that.”
Dead. The connection went dead.
She didn’t have much time to think about it as her stomach fell about thirteen stories beneath her. She fought the urge to throw up as the plane lurched once more, everyone screaming as the plane tilted dangerously, a man screaming as he flew out of his seat, where he had unbuckled himself. His cries were cut short as he slammed into the wall mere feet in front of and above Denny’s head. She yelped in surprise, unable to take her eyes off the new red splotch left on the oatmeal colored plastic.
Rachel Holt heard an awful thud behind her, but didn’t dare to look. She was too busy trying not to cry as the seatbelt dug dangerously into her midsection. She reached out desperately to the seat in front of her. Damn First Class! The seat ahead of hers was too far away to gain any real purchase. Just when she was about to unbuckle the belt in order to try and take a breath, the plane lurched back, slamming everyone back into their seats. Somewhere in front of her, the unmistakable sounds of someone vomiting, followed by the equally unmistakable smell, made everyone grimace.
Gloria Vinzetti clutched her Rosary, eyes squeezed tightly shut as she said the Lord’s prayer over and over again, her mouth moving soundlessly. She could feel her daughter’s hold tighten on her arm as the plane righted itself. The hot, coppery smell of newly spilt blood rent the air from where the man had hit mere seconds ago.
Mia clung to her mother, knowing Gloria was praying enough for both of them. The girl couldn’t dare look around, too terrified of what she might see. She’d already heard frantic murmurings about fire erupting from one of the engines, black smoke following the plane’s descent into the ocean’s depths.
I don’t want to die like this! Mia’s mind screamed this over and over again, thinking of the things she’d never done, and would never do. Her tears were nearly outdone by the woman sitting with her husband several seats back.
“I’m so sorry, Mel, so sorry,” Michael Dupree whispered over and over again to his wife, both clinging to each other. “God, I’m so sorry.” If only he hadn’t planned this damn trip, they’d be at home watching their new dish television.
Denny wished so badly she could shut out the horrible screaming of the plane as it cut through the whipping air, the plane once more tilting nose-down. She could feel the plastic covering on the armrest beginning to give way from the iron grip she had on it. That didn’t matter; there was no way she was releasing it. The plane righted itself again, then the brunette was jostled like she never had been before, a loud bang as something hit them from underneath, the sound of screeching metal that seemed to last forever. When it stopped, there was a horrible rushing sound.
There was a second jolt with a louder bang, coming from much closer beneath them. Suddenly there was an amazing amount of light bleeding through the cabin, followed by a deafening scream, like the day itself was wailing it’s anger, pain and regret.
“They’re gone!” Someone close by yelled, then Denny realized she’d said it. Fingers of ice clenched at her lungs, stealing the very air from them.
The scream was replaced by a whistle that made Rachel Holt’s ears ring, her eyes squeezed tightly shut as she opened her mouth in a soundless scream, her voice stolen with her breath.
Somehow in the back of her mind, all the instructions she’d heard millions of times before during take off, came back to her. The blonde reached under her seat, pulling the tabs she felt there. She was nearly knocked out of her seat as the plane skipped across the water for a third pass, a bit more of the back section flying out into the water.
She was jerked to her left, smacking her head on something hard, her stomach flipping end over end, along with the world, light shining in bright and intense, along with the pain.
Under any other circumstances, Dean would have thought it amusing as he watched a pair of eyeglasses suspended in air, the lady’s hair across from him like it had a life of its own, standing on end. His own loose polo shirt ballooning up around his neck, just for that one perfect instant, everything weightless and at peace.
Pam Sloan screamed as she realized Austin’s seatbelt had given way, the man slamming up against the ceiling of the plane, then flying out of sight. The veterinarian never saw him get sucked out of the missing tail section.
Rachel Holt’s eyes turned to saucers as the cockpit door bulged, then broke free in one terrifying second, the heavy, metal door flying through the cabin, taking the head of an unsuspecting flight attendant with it. The blonde had no time to process this before a flood of water followed, instantly filling the airplane, the immense pressure pinning the author to her seat.
Denny felt around frantically for the seat release, her blue eyes squinting against the cold, salt water, trying desperately to not take a much needed breath, her natural instincts shutting everything down, her fingers working frantically.
The brunette could feel herself thrown forward as the plane began to sink headfirst into the blackening depths. Panic filled her anew as she realized what was happening. Her fingers went back to her seat, working relentlessly to pull the floating device of the cushion free. Damn it! Why the fuck didn’t I pay attention to those instructions?
Oh, god! Oh, Jesus! Hang on, baby! Hang on!
Michael Dupree thrashed wildly as he tried to get Melissa unbuckled, her lifeless body beginning to float up from the seat. The Texan could see where she’d been hit in the head with something as the two halves of the plane had separated.
He could feel his lungs burning as they screamed for air. Michael knew he had to get them out of there, and he had to get them out now. With the superhuman strength of the desperate, Michael kicked with everything in him, trying to get them to the surface. He ignored the immense pain in his right arm and shoulder, barely even feeling it. He did feel himself kicking something hard, but he didn’t care. Nothing mattered but getting Melissa to the surface.
Dean Ratliff blinked several times, blinded by the sudden sunlight, gasping and loving air like he never had before. It was in that single moment, pushing through the surface, that he thought that just maybe everything would be okay. Then reality struck him.
The attorney thrashed around in the water, nearly freaking out altogether when he came face to face with a woman who was very much dead, her big, brown eyes staring sightlessly at him. Shivering in disgust and fear, Dean turned away, only to be confronted by a bloody mass.
“Oh god,” he whimpered, blindly pushing through the water, trying to get away from that dead woman, her eyes boring into his very soul. Something else bumped him, but Dean couldn’t look to see what it was. He didn’t want to see that dead woman following him! Not even looking to see where he was swimming off to, Dean muttered to himself, a slight scream escaping his lips now and then as he saw something that traumatized him further. Before he knew it, he was all lone, no bodies, no plane parts, nothing..
Eyes huge, Dean swished around to look all around him- he was completely alone.
With a sputter, Michael Dupree emerged from the cold depths, clutching Melissa to his chest, doing his damndest to hold her head above water. Her head wound began to bleed anew, turning pink as it mixed with the water they bobbed in.
“Hold on, baby,” he gasped, looking around them, trying to get his bearings. “Gonna be okay, Mel. Gonna be okay.” Michael saw a piece of the wing bobbing not far away, the metal glinting in the harsh overhead sun. “Almost there, baby. Almost.”
The mechanic tried his best to not let the gore around him get to him. He had a singular mission, and that was to get himself and Melissa out of the water. Growing up in the Gulf, Michael knew all too well the dangers they faced, like sitting ducks in a world foreign to them.
“Okay,” he panted, the exertion and injuries he’d sustained sapping his energy. “Up ye go, babydoll.” With a grunt, Michael heaved Melissa’s body onto the makeshift raft, then tugged is own body weight to lie next to her, flopping down on his back, wincing as his arm and shoulder injury made itself known once more.
Blinking slowly, then squinting against the harsh glare, Mia groaned softly, her head pounding. As she opened her eyes, her stomach lurched, spewing her breakfast to splash in the water.
“Hold tight, honey. You took quite a hit to your head.”
The girl groaned again, her stomach finally starting to ease up. She began to get a feel for where she was, and realized she was on something that was squeaking gently under her. Yellow. Slippery.
“What happened?” she turned over onto her back, realizing she was bobbing in the middle of the ocean on a raft. Something occurred to her. She sucked in a frantic breath, looking around. “My mom. Where’s my mom?” She met concerned brown eyes.
“We’ll deal with that later. Let me see your head.” The woman pushed the girl’s long, wet hair out of her face, focusing on the long, deep gash above her left eyebrow. Dr. Pam Sloan looked around, nothing useful. She looked down at herself, then ripped a long piece of her shirt off waded it up. “Hold this to your head, honey. We need to get the bleeding stopped.”
Pam laid back, taking several breaths as she tried to come down from the intense adrenalin rush. She needed her wits to try and get her and the girl out of this. As it was, things didn’t look too promising. Bits and pieces of luggage and debris floated around them, along with the bodies of those who had drowned, or been thrown from the wreck. From every direction, all there was to be seen was water, as far as the eye could see.
“I think there’s someone over there,” the girl said, her voice soft.
The veterinarian followed where the girl was looking. There in the water, barely hanging on to a large, wooden suitcase, was a slumped figure, who seemed to be loosing her grip.
“I’ll be right back.” The doctor slid back into the water, quickly swimming over to the small blonde. “I got you,” she whispered, taking the woman into her arms. “Paddle,” she instructed, feeling the woman’s feeble attempts at helping. Finally reaching the raft, which was the inflated emergency ramp, inflating during impact, Mia helped both women out of the water.
Rachel coughed, her stomach hurting with each movement. Finally she was able to lay back in the raft and catch her breath. It took everything she had to pull in a full lungful of breath without crying out. She could feel her heart pounding, mind trying to reconcile with where she should be, and where she was. Finally green eyes opened, taking in her surroundings.
“Thank you,” she finally managed, pushing herself up so she was sitting against the hard edge of the raft. She looked at her fellow passengers, noting a terrified, and bleeding, young girl, and an older woman, maybe in her fifties, who was contemplating the cut on the girl’s head. That woman nodded, glancing briefly over at the small blonde, brushing wet hair out of her eyes.
“Crazy day, huh?”
“Yeah.” Rachel ran her hands over her hair, pushing it all out of her face and tucking it behind her ears. She just prayed her stomach held out; the thought of throwing up made her stomach hurt that much worse. She stared up at the sky, bright blue with a few floating bits of cotton. It was a beautiful day, and felt like they were being mocked because of it.
“Where do you think we are?” the older woman asked, her voice almost shrill in the stillness of the day, only the lapping waves broke the complete silence. Rachel shook her head, her voice shaky as she responded.
“I don’t have any clue.” Rachel could feel her shock slowly oozing to mortal fear. She curled up against the side of the raft, her arms wrapping around her folded legs, forehead resting on her knees. We’re dead.
A cheek twitched as a tiny sand crab scurried across the sand, through wet strands of black hair. Long fingers clawed into the hard-packed shore, then released.