“Mayday! Mayday! We are going down. I repeat -- we are going down,” the pilot shouted. “We’ve been hit. I repeat -- we’ve been hit and are going down!” Sweat beaded on his high forehead, dripping down into his eyes, blurring his vision. Risking it, Dave swiped his arm across his face, grabbing hold again the airplane’s violently vibrating steering wheel with a death grip. Teeth bared, he fought to keep the plane’s nose up. He shot a frightened look at his equally terrified co-pilot.
“Steve, we’re in deep trouble here. Go back there and wake ‘em up!”
“It’s morning, Dave! They’re in sleep mode.”
“Just do it,” Dave screamed, desperately holding onto the steering, praying the vampires would be able to wake up in time to save their lives.
Steve yanked off his headphones, unbuckled his seat belt. Holding onto the walls to steady himself as the plane bucked and dipped, Steve wrenched open the cockpit door. He froze. His mouth slacked in surprise at what greeted him.
“What?” Dave shouted, bracing his feet to hold the steering wheel straight.
Steve shouted over his shoulder, “We’ve got a fucking hole in the rear wall!”
“Shit! Are the coffins safe?”
Scanning the back end of the Jet, the chrome coffins gleamed in the faint light cast from the jagged hole “Yeah, they appear to be in one piece.”
“Then wake up Walker! He’ll know what to do,” Dave shouted, desperate to hold the shuddering plane steady.
Struggling against the rushing wind and roller coaster of the plane struggling to stay in the air, Steve made his way to the larger of the chrome coffins and unsnapped the three locks and opened the lid. Dark gold and brown hair whipped about Alexander Walker’s sleeping features. Walker slept on, oblivious to the disaster befallen them. Handsome to the point of being too good-looking, there was in the set of his mouth the grimness of a man who’d seen more than any mortal dreamed. Then again, Walker wasn’t human -- he was vampire.
“Forgive me, sir. We need your help!” Shaking the unresponsive vampire to no avail, Dave’s frantic gaze dropped to his wrists, and an idea struck him.
Grabbing a knife from the bar, Steve cut his wrist as he rushed back to the vampire. Dripping blood onto the vampire’s lips, it had the effect he hoped. Walker licked his lips, unable to resist tasting the fresh blood. Without warning, the vampire’s eyes flew open, glowing bright green in the shadows of the coffin. In a blur of movement, Walker was out of the coffin. Fangs long, the vampire paused, staring in surprise at the large, jagged hole in the right side of the plane, toward the rear. The vampire rushed over to open the other coffin and checked to make sure his companion, Kai Jordan, wasn’t injured.
Shielding his eyes from the faint sunlight, Walker demanded of Steve, yelling over the wind, “What the hell hit us?”
“Don’t know, sir, but we’re going down,” Steve shouted back.
“Where are we?”
“Thirty miles from Magdeburg, Germany.”
“Magdeburg?” The vampire’s eyes closed briefly, as if physically pained by the name of the city. His eyes flew open as he cocked his head, listening to something. Then he grabbed Steve, shoving him toward the cockpit.
“Tell Dave to get your parachutes on,” Walker shouted, hurrying back to Miss Jordan’s coffin.
“What’s going on?” Steve demanded as he grabbed the bundled items from under the seats.
The fiery blast as the rocket hit the plane’s tail sent them crashing upward into the ceiling before dropping them hard onto the floor. The tail of the plane splintered, metal shredding as the wind grabbed hold and ripped it all the way off. Steve screamed, sucked out of the cabin. The earsplitting roar of the engines sputtered. Coming back to life, the high-pitched whine split the air as the plane careened, heading full speed toward the heavily-treed forest below.
Alex fought his way back to the now upended coffin. Wrestling it upright, Alex opened it and swept the unresponsive Kai up into his arms. Conflicted about what to do for Dave, he heard the hissing of another rocket launched. Running with his precious load, Alex leapt out of the plane by way of the missing tail. Clutching Kai to him, he struggled to slow their descent when the full force of the mid-morning sun struck him.
The skin on his face started to burn, his flesh caught on fire. Screaming in agony, Alex could not hide from the bright sun, nor could he stop their fall toward the heavily treed forest below. Unchecked, the vampires fell faster and faster out of the sky. Pain beyond anything he’d endured in his life engulfed Alex. Blood blurred his vision. The explosion as the plane hit the ground made Alex flinch, aiming away. The wreckage sent a massive ball of jet fuel and flames shooting upward through the trees.
Focusing all his power inward, Alex forced his dying body to partially shift, growing bat wings large enough to carry him and Kai. Smoke and flames rolled off him. Swooping downward, Alex made for the trees. The God-awful pain of burning alive forced all rational thought from him, replaced by the overpowering instinct to survive. The leathery vanes of his wings ignited like crepe paper. Alex cried out. He shielded Kai as they hit the first branch, unable to slow their decent. Jagged limbs struck his legs, sides, tearing at his clothes and burning flesh. Stars of bright light blinded him when he smacked the back of his head. As they neared the ground, Alex dropped Kai’s legs, using his body to buffer her when they met the hard earth with a ‘thud’.
The huge trees mercifully blocked out the glaring sun. Groaning, he struggled to open the earth. Alex used the last of his strength and rolled into the grave, taking Kai with him. The soil covered them, bringing an end to his suffering. The earth would heal him.
Before sleep engulfed Alex, the word so hated, so filled with anguish and torment arose in his mind.