Home > BZRK (BZRK #1)(4)

BZRK (BZRK #1)(4)
Michael Grant

“Hey, I see her head. That’s her, on the left,” Stone said. “End zone.” Making conversation so Grey wouldn’t think he was upset about the mention of Mom. From this height the tops of heads were a mere suggestion of a dot.

“No,” Grey said, “She’s closer to midfield.”

Like he knew right where she was sitting. Playing along, Stone thought. Although, sometimes it seemed to Stone that their father knew Sadie’s every move. They had something, those two.

Sadie and Grey fought—word battles with all kinds of subtext Stone could hear but not understand. Word ninjas, those two. Fortunately Stone had always gotten along with his sister, because he’d be the first to admit he could not throw down in a verbal battle with her. The girl could put a knife right into your ego.

Sometimes it made him jealous that Sadie and their father could yell at each other. He and Grey never did.

The jet banked a sharp left. Like the pilot had read Grey’s mind and wanted to give the boss a chance to peer down and make out the top of his daughter’s head. Or like—

The turn was too sharp.

Way too sharp, hard and sudden. The right wing was arcing downward.

Stone was pulled against the bulkhead by gravity. The pad fell from his father’s lap. Grey’s FAIRLY DECENT DAD mug scooted across the table and toppled over to roll down the aisle.

“What the hell?” Grey demanded.

There was an intercom in Grey’s armrest. He punched the button. “Kelly. What’s the matter?” Kelly, the pilot. She’d flown the jet for six years. Like a member of the family.

No answer.

“Strap in,” Grey told Stone. He stood up, but the g-forces threw him off-balance so that he had to sort of twist around his seat. He fell against a bulkhead and then pushed himself back up and lurched toward the cockpit door, moving like a drunk in a strong wind.

Now the jet was tilting not just to the right but downward. A definite dive. Like way too steep. Through the window Stone saw the field below already closer, and tilted crazily. Big men on a green rectangle seeming somehow to run uphill. He saw the Jumbotron screens showing a replay.

“Kelly!” Grey had reached the cockpit door, barely holding himself up. “Are you okay in there? What’s happening?”

Grey rattled the little door handle. The door did not open.

That’s when Grey looked back at his son. Their eyes met.

Weird how much a two-second glance could convey. Fear. Sadness. Regret.

Defeat.

Grey banged on the cockpit door. “Open up, Kelly! Open the door!”

Stone unbuckled and lurched to his feet. But the floor was falling away from him. It was as if he couldn’t fall fast enough to keep his feet on the floor. Like when a roller coaster crosses that first big crest and suddenly you are gravity’s toy. The ceiling came down and hit him. Not hard, but the ceiling had no business hitting him at all.

Stone didn’t walk to the cockpit door, he tumbled. He snatched at seat backs and missed, fingers slapping tan leather, feet scooting uselessly on carpet. He plowed hard into his father.

Grey was slamming himself as well as he could against the cockpit door. Yelling. Cursing, which was not something Grey McLure did.

The plane was tilted so sharply now that it was more vertical than horizontal. Stone lay on his back on the carpeted floor and kicked against the cockpit door beneath him, while his father lay pressed against the bulkhead and slammed himself against it.

“Dad! What’s happening?”

Stone kicked again and again.

A sudden give. The doorjamb cracked. One more hit would do it.

Stone hauled himself back up, using the seats to climb, like a slippery ladder, then dropped, feet punching out with every bit of power he had to give, and with a sound like a breaking branch the door gave way.

Stone fell through in a tangle with his father. The two of them hit Kelly’s seat and crashed into the instrument panel, smashed into the windshield. Pain shot through Stone’s knees, his elbow, his shoulder. Didn’t matter because now the green field was so near. Zooming up at him.

A flash of Kelly’s face, eyes blank, mouth bleeding from hitting the instrument panel, short-cut gray hair matted, staring hard in horror. Staring at something maybe only she could see.

A flash of the stands full of people.

His father flailing, legs tangling, something broken, head hanging the wrong way, too confused to …

“Dad!” A sob, not a shout.

Stone pushed himself back from the instrument panel and somehow found the stick with his right hand and pulled hard.

Kelly turned to look at him. Like Stone’s action was puzzling to her. Like she was amazed to find him there. With dreamy slowness she reached for the stick.

The three of them tangled together in a heap and the field rushing up at them. So fast.

Way too fast.

And Stone knew it.

But he pulled back on the stick and yelled, “Dad!” for no reason because there wasn’t anything Stone could do but look at him with eyes full of horror and so sad; so, so sad.

“Dad!”

The jet began to respond. The nose started to come up. The stadium seats looked like they were falling away, and now the top of the stadium, the upper rim was in view.

And some remote, still-functioning part of Stone’s brain realized they were actually inside the stadium. A jet. Inside a bowl. Climbing toward safety.

Faces. Stone could see thousands of faces staring up at him and so close now he could see the expressions of horror and see the eyes and open mouths and drinks being spilled, legs tripping as they tried to run away.

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