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Midnight Flight

V. C. Andrews

  Midnight Flight

  Broken Wings #2

  V.C. Andrews

  Copyright (c) 2003

  ISBN: 0743428617




  Just like someone rising to the surface of a pool

  filled with ink. I slowly awoke from what felt like a month-long coma. My eyelids flickered, but they were two tiny lead curtains slamming closed repeatedly until I managed with determined effort to keep them open. Shadows swirled and wavered and then gradually came into focus. However, the shapes they began to form made no immediate sense to me.

  Something was roaring in my ears. For a moment I thought I was right beside a waterfall, and then as my eyes focused. I read the instructions on the back of the seat in front of me: KEEP YOUR SEAT BELT BUCKLED WHEN IN FLIGHT.

  In flight?

  I lifted my head and looked about. I was in a small airplane that had room for what looked like twenty or so people. and I wasn't just buckled in the seat. A thick, black leather strap was around my upper body, tightened just below my elbows, keeping my

  arms so close to my sides I could barely move my hands.

  No one else was in the plane!

  I had been in an airplane only once before in my life when Daddy and Mama took me to see Daddy's father in an old-age home in Richmond just before he died. I was only five at the time. but I never forgot being on a plane. Mama wouldn't let me sit by the window. She wanted me between her and Daddy so I wouldn't really think about being up in an airplane. Daddy thought she should let me sit by the window, but she wouldn't have it.

  "I don't want no kid screamin' and cryin ,,bout being afraid. It's enough I agreed to go on this depressing trip." she declared.

  Mama never cared about raising her voice in public, and the only way Daddy could stop it was by looking away and stopping the argument.

  I wasn't afraid of being in a plane. Actually. I was fascinated with everything, especially the feeling of being lifted into the sky. When my heart started to pound. I closed my eyes and smiled to myself It was better than the time Daddy had taken me on the Ferris wheel, However, when it came to my getting up to go to the bathroom. I was nervous. Daddy wanted Mama to take me and she was annoyed.

  "She can go to the bathroom herself at home. She can go in a plane." she told him.

  I went myself, and when I came back to my seat. I curled up and fell asleep. The next thing I knew we were getting off the plane in Richmond. Because I'd behaved well. Mama let me sit by the window on the way back. I couldn't stop looking at the clouds and the earth below where houses looked like toys. I thought to myself that this was the way God saw the world every day. He rode inside a cloud or on the back of the wind.

  But this plane ride was different, so different. I felt I was being transported from one dream to another. Was this real? Or would I wake up any moment and realize it had all been a terrible nightmare?

  I was so busy looking around that I didn't realize immediately how I was dressed. Gone were my clothes. Instead. I wore what looked like a thick, faded white nightgown created from an old potato sack. It was that coarse. Whatever was on beneath it didn't feel like my panties either. Where were my jeans and blouse? And my watch? Even the ruby ring Daddy had brought back for me from one of his sales trips was gone.

  I squirmed in the seat and glanced down at my feet. I was wearing white stockings, the sort of stockings I saw nurses wear, and instead of my pink and white sneakers, I wore a pair of the ugliestlooking black shoes with thick heels I think I had ever seen.

  What was going on? "Hello!" I screamed.

  The only response was the continually monotonous roar of the engines. Whoever was in the cockpit might not be able to hear me. I thought.

  I looked around the plane again. How had I gotten here? Who had strapped me into this seat?

  I struggled through the maze of blurred memories, desperately trying to understand, to remember, and then, as if a dam in my brain had broken, it all came rushing back over me, and as soon as it had. I wished it hadn't.

  After Mama had left Daddy and me and I had been in trouble too often in Atlanta. Daddy had convinced Mama's sister and brother-in-law, my aunt Mae Louise and uncle Buster Howard, to take me into their suburban home in Stone Mountain and enroll me into a better school. Daddy was on the road too much to keep an eye on me. Unfortunately, I got into trouble quickly with a boy there named Ashley Porter, who came from a wealthy white family, and then after Daddy had been killed in the car accident. I had decided to run off.

  I had learned that Mama had been left in a clinic where she was being treated for substance abuse. and I was headed there. I was hoping she would be well enough to get out and go somewhere where she and I could start a new life. I was hoping she would be as excited about that as I was, but when I arrived at the clinic and went to see her, she was so confused. She just couldn't or wouldn't understand what I was telling her about Daddy being killed in a car accident and me being forced to live with her sister. Mae Louise.

  Unbeknownst to me. while I was visiting Mama, the doctor at the clinic had called my uncle and aunt and my aunt called the police. The state police were sent to bring me back. I wasn't supposed to leave Stone Mountain for any trips since I was to go to court for hitting a boy named Skip Lester with a small desktop statue when he. Ashley. and the other boys had all ganged up on me. Girls from my new school tricked me into joining what they called a sting operation to permit the police to arrest Ashley, who had been spreading stories about them and me. He was going to be arrested for selling and using drugs. Of course, the girls were in cahoots with Ashley and his friends to trap me and have fun with me. I still couldn't explain why I was so stupid and gullible enough to believe them. That's how you get when you're so desperate to have friends. You can have only one friend. I concluded. yourself.

  The state policeman who picked me up at Mama's clinic dropped me off at a roadside diner to meet my uncle Buster. I thought my uncle was just going to bawl me out without my aunt being present and then he was going to take me home. Instead, he left me there to be taken to what he called some special school for troubled teenagers like me. girls whose parents and guardians could no longer contend with them and their problems.

  No one wanted to listen to my side of things, especially my aunt and my uncle. My uncle didn't even have the courage to tell me what he had secretly arranged to take place at the diner. He tricked and betrayed me. I went to the bathroom and when I came out, he was gone and so was my suitcase.

  A man and a woman came for me in an ambulance, and when I resisted, they stuck a needle in my arm and gave me something that made me dizzy and confused. I passed out as I was being loaded into the ambulance. That was the last thing I remembered,

  And that was what my aunt and uncle had done to me. and I was supposed to be the bad one in the family?

  Now. here I was alone in this strange plane. Had I died? Had they given me something to kill me? Was this how people were really transported to the other world?

  "Hey! Anyone! Please," I screamed. "Someone, help me!"

  I twisted and pulled and tried to kick the seat. Frustrated and frightened. I went numb inside and the tears in my brain flooded and washed my screams onto my fact.

  Still, no one responded. I gazed out the window at the wing and the engine. It was twilight, that time when the earth became a want sponge and absorbed all the light around it. The dark sky lying in wait came rushing in behind like a black velvet ocean. I saw some stars appear. Their growing brightness comforted me until we flew into a wall of puffy, gray clouds that whirled about like so much smoke.

  Every nerve in my body grew tighter and tighter, threatening to snap. My throat was so dry and my shoulders ached, the fingers o
f pain stretching down from the base of my neck. I continued to struggle against the straps, but they were too thick and too securely fastened. All I was doing by struggling was irritating my skin. Helpless. I relaxed and closed my eyes, trying to keep a lid an my boiling rage. Whoever had done this to me was going to be sally, I vowed, As soon as they unfastened these belts, they'd see. How dare they take my clothing and put me in this rag and these ugly stockings and shoes!

  As best as I could, I wiggled my fingers and explored what I was wearing beneath. It felt like... like a diaper, firm as plastic on the outside like one of those special undergarments women who have bladder trouble wear.

  What was going on? Who dared to undress me? Was someone playing some sick joke on me? How long have I been on this plane? Where was I being taken? I thought I was going to some school. Why wasn't there anyone else with me? What if something terrible had happened to me? What if I was being kidnapped to become someone's slave? Who would know? Would that satisfy my uncle and aunt? All they cared about was getting rid of me. Whatever happened to me wasn't important.

  As I thought of these things, the rage began to boil over again. I tried to turn and press my body against the straps in hope of breaking loose, but nothing helped. They felt woven of steel thread. Beads of sweat popped out on the back of my neck and my forehead because of my efforts. It was another futile attempt. I was just wasting my energy, energy I might need the moment I was finally released.

  Inside, my stomach was churning, grinding rocks of frustration into sand. I closed my eyes and, taking deep breaths, again tried desperately to calm myself.

  "Get hold of yourself. Phoebe Elder," I muttered, "Easy. You'll get out of this soon. You've been in worse places."

  No. I haven't, I thought.

  I opened my eyes and looked at the closed cockpit door. Why wasn't anyone at least interested enough to see if I had regained consciousness?

  "Damn you!" I screamed. I could feel the veins in my neck becoming embossed in my skin. I shouted and then just released a long, animal cry of pain.

  As if my scream affected the plane, it bounced and then dropped. I balled my fingers into fists and pressed them against my sides. gasping. What was happening now? Were we crashing? The plane bounced again and again and then rattled. Looking out the window. I saw how we dropped lower and lower until we were out of the clouds. Way off in the distance. I could see the lights of same small city, but other than that, the landscape was dark, just like that pool of ink out of which I had imagined myself rising.

  The plane continued to descend. Finally. I heard wheels being lowered and locked into place and then the plane touched down with a small bounce. It slowed and taxied until it turned. Wherever we were wasn't much of an airport. Maybe because of the angle I was at. I couldn't see any lights or people or cars. I heard the engines being shut down and the propellers slowing. When it all stopped. I waited in anticipation to see who would come out of the cockpit. The door did not open for so long. I began to think no one was flying the plane.

  Then, the two pilots emerged. They looked so young to me, too young to be in charge of an airplane, but they had wings on their white shirts and goldthreaded bars on their shoulders,

  "Where am I? Who did this to me? Why am I tied down?" I fired my questions at them in machinegun fashion.

  They looked at me, but neither spoke, making me feel as if I weren't really there. Instead, one of them undid the door and lowered the steps. I heard a woman outside ask if everything was all right.

  "Just peachy keen." one of the pilots said, and the two left the plane. No one else had emerged from the cockpit. Who was in charge here?

  "What about me? What is going on?" I shouted after them. I watched the doorway and then tried to kick at the seat in front of me, "What's going on, damn it!"

  Finally, a young woman with short, dark brown hair appeared. She was as tall as I was, about five feet ten or so, and she was wearing a dark blue uniform jacket with brass buttons and a pair of blue slacks. I thought she wasn't much more than nineteen or twenty years old. She was wide in the hips and small on top with narrow shoulders, making it look like two different bodies had been slapped together when God was busy attending to other matters.

  "Who are you? What's going on?" I demanded.

  "Keep your voice down." she said sharply, and approached. When she drew closer. I saw she had a pudgy face with thick lips and wide nostrils. A streak of freckles burst down the bridge of her nose on both sides and over the crests of her puffy cheeks. She wore no makeup, not even lipstick, and a small, thin scar was on the left side of her chin.

  "Where am I?" I asked as softly and as calmly as I could. First. I had to have some answers. Then I could take some action. I told myself.

  "You'll see." she replied, and began to unfasten the straps.

  "Who are you? Am I at some school? Where is this school that I had to be flown here?"

  "You're wasting your breath asking me questions," she said, stepping back. "Get up and get out."

  "What happened to my clothes? Why am I wearing this rag dress?"

  Her untrimmed eyebrows lifted and I thought she smiled, although it was hard to tell because her lips were so stiff. She seized my right arm and tugged to get me to stand. When I did. I wavered for a moment and she had to grab my shoulders to keep rue from falling.

  "I'm so dizzy," I said "They put me to sleep. Maybe they gave me something poisonous."

  "Oh, you poor little thing," she said with exaggerated sympathy and sweetness. Then she snapped. "Walk!" She poked me at the base of my spine with her thick, right forefinger, which felt like the barrel of a gun.

  I scowled back at her and made my way down the small aisle to the door. For a moment I was dizzy and nauseated again, Then I caught my breath and navigated the half dozen metal steps. The outside area was well lit, but all I saw was what looked like a building made of concrete. It had bland gray walls and a metal door with no windows on it. The front of the building had no windows either.

  The first thing I noticed when I started down the steps was how hot it was It was dark, but it felt like the middle of a summer day in Atlanta, especially in the poorer part of the city where we had lived. It wasn't true that people of African descent didn't notice the oppressive heat and humidity as much as white people.

  "Where is this? It's so hot."

  "Hell," I heard her say behind me. "Keep walking toward the building before I have you carried there." she threatened. and I continued slowly. Where had the two young pilots gone? Why wasn't anyone else around? I stopped to look and she gave me another shave to move me toward the building,

  "Where are we going?"

  "Just walk to the building and keep your mouth shut," she ordered.

  Every time I turned my head to look around, she pushed me. "Keep your hands off me," I warned.

  "We've got a long night ahead of us. Move it," she commanded.

  When we reached the door, she stepped ahead and opened it. The hinges squeaked as if it hadn't been opened far a hundred years. It was like opening a tomb. How could this be a school? Why was I being brought here?

  "Go in." she said.

  I hesitated and she reached out, seized my wrist, and pulled me forward, driving me into the building with such farce. I nearly stumbled and fell.

  The inside was poorly lit by some weak overhead neon lights. but I could see it was just a dusty, empty warehouse or something. At first I didn't realize anyone else was there. They were both so quiet and so still, Then I saw a petite, rust-color-haired girl sitting on a stool in front of a desk on my right. Her hands were folded, the fingers gripping like the fingers of someone in pain. Her knuckles looked as if little white buttons had been sewn onto them. She was dressed in the same sort of one-piece rag I was wearing, and I could also see she had the same style shoes.

  Sitting off on my left was another girl with styled pecan brown hair. Even though she. too. was dressed like me and the other girl, she held her head with a more ar
rogant air, her posture firm, but her arms folded under her breasts. I thought I could even make out a small smirk of impatience on her lips. Who were they? Was this concrete building supposed to serve as a classroom? Why was it so poorly lit then? A hailstorm of questions peppered my brain.

  "Sit," my escort ordered, and pushed me toward the empty stool and desk at the center.

  "What is going on? Why am I in here? This isn't any school. I'm supposed to be taken to a school. I want to know where I am." I demanded more loudly, my hands on my hips. My voice echoed in the tomblike building.

  "Just sit and shut up." my escort blared. "The longer you act stupid, the longer this is going to take."

  I looked at the other two, who glared back at me with an expression of annoyance that suggested I was making things harder for them as well,

  Reluctantly, I did what she said.

  "Now what?" I snapped back at her. She did finally smile.

  "Now, it begins." she said, turned, and walked out of the building, closing the door behind her.

  I was right about that door. It sounded like a lid being shut on a coffin.




  The moment we were alone. I turned to the girl

  on my left.

  "What is this? Where are we? Why are we in

  this place?" I asked.

  "Why are you asking me? How would I know?"

  she shot back at me. "What do I look like, information


  "Well, you were here before me so I thought

  you might know more." I threw back at her with just

  as unfriendly a tone.

  "We got here only a little while before you

  did," the second girl said, somewhat softer. I turned to


  "So we don't know any more than you do. I'm

  Teal Sommers. That's Robin Lyn Taylor. She didn't

  tell me her name." Teal added with a smirk. "I heard

  one of those girls call her that." She leaned forward to

  glare past me at Robin Lyn.

  "I'm not exactly in a party mood, you know.

  and I told you, I don't like to be called Robin Lyn. Just