Tempt (Take It Off)(7)

By: Cambria Hebert



Blinding white lightning shot through the sky, lighting up portions of the storm. I understood now why some people said a thunderstorm was really the gods fighting. This was intense and powerful.

“Go sit,” Nash barked.

I did as he asked because I didn’t know what else to do. I’d never in my life felt so helpless than I did right then. It was like seeing a clear future toward imminent death and not being able to do a thing to stop it.

I started to pray. I said every prayer I knew and then I closed my eyes and just begged God to help us.

With every tilt, lurch, and bump, my breathing became a little more shallow. I moved over to the window seat and stared down below us, trying to guess how far the ground really was.

Too far.

And it was all ocean. The dark water stretched as far as I could see. It looked choppy and churned as if there was also a storm raging beneath the surface of the sea.

Even if we survived the plane crashing, the chances of not drowning were slim. I wasn’t sure which way I would prefer to die. Thinking about it made me feel extremely sick. It was like asking a person if they wanted to be shot or stabbed. The answer was neither.

The answer was I didn’t want to die.

A gust of wind attacked the plane, tossing it up into the air and turning us onto our side. I finally understood the reason for the seatbelt because had I not been wearing it, I would have fallen across the plane and hit the other side.

I sucked in a deep breath. I couldn’t scream. I was beyond screaming. I was so utterly terrified that my body just hung there like a ragdoll and trembled. When the plane righted, my body jerked in the seat, my head bouncing off the window.

And then we fell out of the sky.

The plane literally took a nosedive toward the ocean.

I no longer had to wonder if this plane had the oxygen masks built into the ceiling because they fell out, one of them dangling in front of me. I stared at it, numb, knowing I needed to put it on but unable to command my body to move.

Nash appeared, his face pale and his light-green eyes wild. He stumbled over to me and my eyes snapped up. “Who’s driving the plane!” I demanded, already knowing no one was.

He didn’t say anything. He just strapped the mask over my face and then turned to go back to the cockpit. I grabbed his hand as oxygen made its way into my lungs.

Our eyes met.

His fingers tightened around mine.

It was the kind of moment that needed no words. We both knew exactly what was happening. We barely knew each other. We were only connected through our family ties, and now it seemed we might die together.

His face would be the last one I would see.

His skin would be the last skin I felt.

Both our lives would be cut short and we would be left with nothing but a bunch of what ifs.

“I’m going to do everything I can to keep us alive,” he vowed.

I clung to his words after he disappeared. I replayed them over and over in my head. It wasn’t a promise. It wasn’t a guarantee.

It was all I had.

A clap of thunder boomed through the sky and caused me to jump about a mile high in my seat. It was so close and so loud it shook the plane. The hum of the engine sputtered. I heard Nash radioing for help. I heard him begging for someone to answer. No one did.

The tiny plane plummeted, quickly losing altitude, barreling toward the ocean as the storm raged around us. I unhooked my seatbelt, tore the mask from my face, and went for Nash. If I was going to die, I wasn’t going to be alone.

He barely glanced at me when I sat in the seat beside him. He was pulling on the controls, sweat dotting his forehead and trailing down his face. As soon as he would manage to get the nose of the plane pulled back up, it would only force itself back down again. It was a vicious cycle—up and down, up and down.

As the body of water drew closer, I began to brace myself for impact. I knew the force and speed we were traveling would slam us into the water like it was a wall of concrete. There wasn’t anything left to do.

With a loud curse, Nash let go of the controls. He turned to me. We shared another of those meaningful looks, and then he was leaping over the controls separating us and covering my body with his.

He was trying to protect me.

Tears leaked out of my eyes and fell onto the cold, hard floor of the plane.

Nash started speaking softly to me. In Spanish. The cadence of his words was like a song. I didn’t bother to ask him what he was saying. I didn’t care.

I was just glad the last sound I would ever hear was his beautiful voice.

The plane screamed on impact, buckling under the pressure of whatever we hit and groaned with such ferocity that any hope we would survive vanished.

And then there was nothing.





THE ISLAND…





3




It could have been hours. It could have been days. I didn’t know how long we floated between the living and the dead. All I knew was that time had passed. The peaceful sound of the waves crashing along a sand-filled shore was the first thing I heard when my ears came alive.

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