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Monday, 2 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 93: Take-Off

Fortunately there were plenty of noisy children taking their seats on the flight so no one took any notice of Poppy’s crying as her father brought her back to their seats.

‘You’d better be right,’ Jonnie said under his breath as he sat down with his daughter in his arms. I couldn’t imagine how mad I’d be if a stranger had just talked me into injecting an unknown substance into the veins of my only child, but looking at the expression on his face, I had an idea.

‘I wouldn’t ask you to do it if I wasn’t serious,’ I said.

‘So what happens?’ he whispered.

‘I know the man who’s picking us up. I’ll make sure you’re looked after.’

‘You’d better,’ he said, still with anger in his voice. Even though he was undoubtedly under a lot of pressure, I didn’t like his tone.

‘Look man, it’s not my fault you’re in this situation. I’m trying to help you and your daughter. If my help isn’t appreciated, you can f…’

Poppy turned to look at me.

‘You can find your own way when we land,’ I finished.

Jonnie took in what I said. ‘You’re right. I’m sorry, Tom. Are you sure there’s nothing else you can do?’

‘Positive,’ I said as the plane started to move, ‘Just sit back and try to act natural. I’ll look after you the best I can.’

The plane turned to face the right direction on the runway. My heart was pumping hard in my chest. I knew there was no going back. Every scenario I ran through in my head would mean the death of me and probably everyone on the plane.

It’s better to keep everyone alive as vampires than dead as humans. Isn’t it?

I knew that if I could at least save Poppy and her father for now then it might be some kind of victory. Most of all, I hoped that saving Poppy would make the feelings of guilt that had resurfaced go away again. I hoped that Skinner would be able to get them back to Doctor Owen, or at least find them another supply of the syringes before the effects wore off.

We were thrown back in our seats as the plane accelerated from a standing start to take-off speed. Jonnie held Poppy’s hand as we lifted off the ground. As the back of plane dipped I heard a few ‘oohs’ from fellow passengers as their stomachs jumped upwards.

I checked the time on my watch and made a mental note of the position of the second hand. As we climbed, I watched the time tick by. Four minutes were gone in no time and I leaned forward and fished around below my seat. Just as Roxy had told us, there was no life jacket, but I could feel something heavy. I lifted it out and placed it on my lap. With ten seconds to go, I unzipped the bag, took out the gas mask and placed it over my head.

Poppy looked at me and screamed. My heart broke as I saw the vision of pure innocent fear on her face. Jonnie put one arm round her shoulders and covered her face with his other hand. The seconds ticked by and one by one I saw the passengers drop off into a deep sleep. Poppy’s body slumped forward and Jonnie fell to his side, his head lolling around in the aisle.

The plane levelled off. There was a low ping as the seatbelt lights went out on the panels above us.

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