Suddenly, the plane lurched. An explosion rattled us and the plane began falling. The feeling of gravity pushing me made my bones hurt. Unbuckling my seat belt seemed like a bad idea now.
“Nick!” Audrey shouted as she reached for me.
She was still buckled in the seat. I could feel the plane flipping through the air. I rolled around helplessly. I threw my arms out, desperately trying to grab ahold of something. Audrey’s hand found one of my arms and she gripped it tightly. It was difficult to see just how far away from the ground we were.
“If we jump, can our heightened senses save us?” I shouted at her over the roar of the wind.
“Are you crazy? You want to jump from this height?” she yelled back.
“Will it work?”
“I-I don’t know.”
I looked around for anything I could use as a parachute. The pilot had told us before we boarded the plane that the parachutes were located in the back. Right now, the back was on fire and I seriously doubted the parachutes would be any good. In my search, I noticed a cabinet labeled sheets.
“I have an idea. We’ll make our own parachutes,” I said.
I let go of Audrey’s hand and anchored myself temporarily to a seat. Slowly, my eyesight changed as my senses heightened. I pushed off the seat and slammed into the cabinet, barely keeping myself from tumbling around again. I flipped the lock of the cabinet and swiped two sheets.
“Unbuckle! Come on!”
“What about the pilot and flight attendant? We can’t leave them!” Audrey screamed.
Her heightened senses allowed her to stabilize her balance. She looked at me, clearly aware that I was willing to leave them behind. She propelled herself to the front of the plane and banged on the door. It flung open. The pilot and flight attendant clung to their seats.
“Come on! Give me your hand!” Audrey ordered.
You’ve got to be kidding me! I followed Audrey’s movements.
“Hold on to me. Audrey, take the flight attendant. We’re gonna jump! When you jump, Audrey, wind the corners of the sheets around your hands. It should act like a parachute and slow you down. Our heightened senses can do the rest,” I instructed as I kicked the hatch of the door.
The plane’s door disappeared in the wind as it was ripped off the hinges. The wind sucked the four of us out the falling metal bird and into the calmness of the sky. The pilot clung to me crushingly tight as we fell. Not yet. Don’t open it yet. We’re too high. Wait. I could feel my sharp eyes conversing with my brain as it calculated our distance. We couldn’t be more than three thousand feet above sea level now. We wasted too much time trying to get out of the plane. Can we make it? My ears popped. I threw up the sheet. The wind and gravity nearly halted our fall. I looked up at the flat sail as the sheet billowed in the wind. It worked. I looked around for Audrey and the flight attendant. I couldn’t see them. The rumble of the plane exploding into pieces above me drilled into my ears. I could feel the heat. Oh no. A piece of flaming metal shot through my parachute and gravity caught up to us. The sheet burned to ashes as we fell. I struggled to untangle my hands before they burned. The tight grip of the pilot vanished as he was ripped from me. I watched him fall faster than me to the rocky landscape below. He didn’t make it. Wrenching my hands free from the remains of the sheet, I glanced at my arms. My blue veins eased my doubts about surviving this fall—at least somewhat. I used my acute vision to calculate which rocks I could roll off that would soften my landing. The ground rushed up at me as I skimmed over the first rock. I jumped and slid from rock to rock while I wore out the momentum from the fall. Finally, I ran out of rock and skidded, half-rolling across gravel. The wind that had been trying to kill me took my breath away in that last tumble. I lay breathing fast and heavy on rocky ground. Audrey. The flight attendant. Are they dead? I waited for pain to come and when it did, I welcomed it. It told me that I was still alive. I survived. I’m alive. I smiled painfully. The sun that shone in heat waves on the ground congratulated me. Its bright light blinded me until the darkness of exhaustion called my name.