Silent Ridge

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
A small commuter plane has crashed on a remote mountain. It's position is unsafe, dangling on the brink of sliding over a huge cliff. One false move and it will once again be a silent ridge.

Submitted: January 04, 2008

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Submitted: January 04, 2008

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Mitchell Brett was the first one to break the heavy silence.

“Don’t anyone move. I believe the aircraft is resting on a mountainside. Its position could be rather precarious. I will investigate. I have spent four years in the Navy Seals, and I have some experience with this sort of thing. If we all remain calm, I am sure we will get out of this safely.”
His calm words took the force out of the panic that was rising in everyone.
With that he stood, very slowly, until he had reached his full height of six feet and one inch. No sooner had his knees fully straightened than the aircraft shifted a millimeter or two. His gut tensed and he held his breath, waiting for it to slide further. Several seconds passed, with no change, so he made his way slowly and carefully towards the front of the plane, leaning into the incline.
Fortunately, the door was not jammed. With infinite care, he swung it open and stepped out into the wind and blowing snow. He saw that he had been right. The airplane was nose-first on a shelf that sloped towards a cliff. The cliff surface was rock worn smooth by the forces of nature, and had a thin layer of ice and blown snow. The tail of the crashed commuter plane was maybe three feet from the edge of the cliff, and there was a good chance that if it started sliding, it would go all the way off the cliff. He edged over to the cliff to see how far the drop was, and swallowed hard. It was a black void that seemed to go on infinitely. If the plane went, it would solve all the problems of those onboard.
Then he examined the aircraft itself. One wing had somehow been sheared off, and was nowhere to be seen. The nose had been crushed so badly as to offer no hope for the pilots.
Then he looked around the cliff, seeking some sort of shelter. There seemed to be a way around a large rock, so he walked over to it. It did indeed lead around, and it went to a cave that would comfortably fit all seven passengers and the one flight attendee, and offer a respite from the wind and snow.
He walked back to the plane, fear tying knots in his gut. He frowned and pushed away the thoughts, concentrating on the task at hand.
He got in the plane and said, “The aircraft is in such a position as to slide off a cliff if anybody makes a sudden movement. First of all, is there anyone that cannot move on their own?”
A small, yet strong voice came from the back, “I can’t. I think my leg is broken.”
He looked to see the face behind the voice and saw the pretty face of a sixteen or seventeen year old girl. Her face was pale from pain, and set with determination.
“Anybody else? No? Okay, Miss…”
“Andrews.”
“Miss Andrews, once everyone else is off the plane, I will come back and carry you off. I understand you are in a great deal of pain, but please try not to move.”
She nodded.
“Miss Christy,” he said, recalling the attendee’s name from the name tag above her breast pocket, “I would like you to gather all the extra blankets and emergency gear you can once everyone but Miss. Andrews and I are off the plane. Set them in a pile outside the plane so that someone else can transport them to the shelter. Can you do that?”
Her voice failed her the first two tries.
“Y-yes.”
“Good. Okay, you sir, in the back. Please make your way forward with the uttermost care, and bring you blanket and coat. Make sure they do not snag on anything. If any of you smoke, please bring your lighters, as they will come in handy when it is time to build fires. When you get off the plane, take twenty steps away fromthe cliff edge, turn left and go behind the large rock. You will find a cave to offer shelter from the elements.”
He had decided to have the people in the back go first, so that the others would not have as far to go if the plane started sliding. The fat man in the back stood, and wasting no movements, folded the blanket and coat, and walked off the airplane slowly, and with care, though he seemed in a daze the entire time. The process was repeated five times, until only Mitchell, the flight attendee, and the girl remained. At one point the airplane slid again, this time a couple of inches, and everyone held their collective breaths, but it held. After everyone was off, Miss Christy gathered the blankets and kits, her hands trembling, making three trips to make sure she never carried too much and made a mistake. He helped her carry the last bit back to the cave so he could address everyone.
“If I could please have everyone’s attention. Thank you. I am going back to try to get the girl out. If the aircraft slides off the cliff while we are in it, you must go down the ridge. Try to find a stream or river to follow, but always go down. Eventually, you will come upon a house or town. Make camp well before dark, and do not waste your energy. Do only that which is necessary. Understood?”
Everyone but the fat man nodded.
“Come on, man, think! Leave her there! She’ll probably just die on us anyway, and until she does she’ll just slow us down and be another mouth to feed.”
Mitchell gave him an icy glare, though his voice remained much the same, and said quietly, “Sir, I am quite sure your viewpoint would drastically differ if it were you on the airplane, with a broken leg and no way to get out under your own power.”
The man’s face turned a deep red, and he closed his mouth abruptly.
Mitchell turned to go back to the plane when he heard the attendee’s voice behind him.
“Be careful.”
His step faltered. When was the last time someone had said something like that to him? He couldn’t remember. He continued on, until he stood before the plane, fear tearing at him like a living thing. Snow swirled about him in the icy wind, but he neither saw nor felt it. He tried to go on, but he couldn’t force his legs to move. Finally, after a hard battle won by sheer will, he took a step, then another, and another. By the time he reached the door, he had the fear bottled up inside so the girl could not see it. In order for her to be strong, he had to be strong. Panic was contagious.
He made his way very carefully to the back of the plane until he stood over her.
“I am going to have to pick you up, and it is probably going to hurt very badly, but you must try to hold still.”
“Okay.” She searched his face. “You don’t have to do this.”
He gave a rare smile, and she was amazed at the way his face lit up.
“Yes I do.”
He bent over and carefully put his arms behind her back and under her knees. As he stood, the plane slid several inches, and he thought it was going to go all the way, fear dealing him a solid blow to the stomach, but again, it stopped. He thought he had heard the girl whimper, whether from the pain or the sliding, he was not sure.
They started up the aisle, her clutching him tightly around the neck, and he could feel her trembling outwardly, and himself trembling inwardly.
He was just nearing the door when two different things happened simultaneously; the girl whispered “Thank you”, and something in the plane fell, starting it sliding again. This time he knew it was going all the way, and he lunged for the door in great steps. Just as he got there, the plane’s nose started tilting up, as the tail started tilting down, into that awful, endless black chasm. It was going to flip off the edge at any second, so he threw the girl to the ground below, and she screamed when her leg hit the unforgiving stone, but he did not hear.
He lost his balance and nearly fell, losing precious time regaining it. Just as he did the plane started to flip, and he made a desperate jump at the lip of the cliff. His chest hit and he bounced off, barely finding a fingerhold. The plane slid past him, the nose missing him by mere inches. The girl was scrambling over to help him. He muscled an elbow up just as the girl got there and grabbed his jacket to help pull him up. That was all he needed, and a few seconds later he was sitting on the cliff top with the girl.
He held his hand out, palm down. At first it was steady, but as the seconds wore on and the shock wore off, it started to shake violently.
He looked at her, “Thank you. You were very brave. You saved my life.”
“And you were just as brave and saved mine.”
He looked off into the distance and said quietly, “I was never in the Navy Seals. I was never anybody.”
She smiled, “You are now.”


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