The Last FlightChapter 19


I lay quietly, listening to the sounds around me but mostly I listened to Pascale breathing, gentle now, steady. “Karen…” she said, slowly, as if considering her words. “Yes, Pascale?” I replied. “Karen, I am sorry I got turned on by your story. I didn’t know that boy was so horrible.” “That’s all right, Sweetheart. I do understand, honestly.” “You are sweet,” she said, “How did you turn out so well after all that you have gone through?” “It is just how I am, I suppose. Deep down, I look for the good in people.” “Will you tell me some more about your life, please?” “Pascale, I will tell you everything you wish to know,” I promised, “but not right now, it is getting late and you need to sleep.” “Oh, yes, I am sorry but soon?” she insisted. “Yes,” I laughed softly, “Soon!” She went out to the kitchen from where I briefly heard the sound of running water, then returned, a few minutes later. “Sorry,” she whispered, somewhat abashed, “I had to clean up a little.” “Ah, I see,” I chuckled. She flicked up the switch by the door and extinguished the dim bulb hanging from the centre of the ceiling. Once again I lay still and listened to the rustling of her blanket and little creaks of the cushions as she made herself as comfortable as she could in the big old armchair.. “Goodnight, Karen,” she whispered. I hope you are able to get some sleep. I am here if you need me.” “Goodnight, Pascale,” I replied. “Thank you.” And then, all was quiet. I listened as her breathing changed form general, easy breathing into the deep regular breaths of sleep. I smiled inwardly, happy. From the darkness I heard a crow cry, raucous and loud. It flew down and landed upon the top of the darkened, shadowy form of the curve on the top of the stone beside which I was standing. I looked about me. All I could see in the almost complete darkness were gravestones. Some straight, some leaning. I could see the black silhouette of a stone Angel ahead of me and to my right, a large Celtic cross, barely visible in the blackness. The air was cool but not cold, on my flesh. The crow squawked again and I looked at him, his head tilted to one side as though elvankent escort bayan studying me. I began to realise that, although dark, there was enough moonlight to be able to see the names on the stones. I recognised them all. They were the names from the passenger manifest. A great sadness washed over me but also, a calmness inside. A calmness I had not experienced for so long. I felt quite strange being there. I had no sense of fear, even though, in the eerie silver light of the moon, much of what lay ahead was hidden in the shadows. I began to walk, moving slowly with silent footsteps, from stone to stone. At each one I stopped and read the name. I could see the faces of each one as clearly as if they were standing there. I saw the name from seat twenty-three, George’s colleague, I saw the faces of the elderly couple from seats one and two, they were smiling up at me, as on the day when I first saw them whilst I carried out my cabin checks. At each grave a different face, all as vivid as if they were really there. “I’m sorry, so truly sorry,” I whispered to every single one. I realised that the crow was following me, stopping where I stopped, watching me intently, his shiny black head tilted, first one way and then the other. His deep black eyes blinking. I stared at him as he stared at me. “I couldn’t save them,” I told him, “I should be here with them. I tried but I failed.” The crow blinked once, then again and tilted his head. With a last cry, he spread his wings, jumped into the air and flew away. I watched as he disappeared into the blackness. “Just like everyone else,” I shouted after him, “Leave me on my own!” “You are not on your own, Karen. I am with you everywhere you go.” The soft voice startled me, I hadn’t heard any sound of footsteps or anything thing else that alerted me to the fact someone had approached. “Mum?” I spun around to face the direction from whence the voice had come, “Mummy!” I exclaimed, running the few short steps to where she was standing and throwing my arms around her, holding her so tightly, never wanting to let her go, ever. “I Escort emek will be with you, watching over you until the day that you finally join me.” “But I should be with you now, with all of these…” “Ssshhh…” She put a finger to my lips. “You did all you could, more even. You couldn’t save them, it was not your choice. That decision had already been made, you could not change that. Those whom survived, the ones you led to safety, their time had not yet come, the decision on their future, and yours, has not yet been made but you prevented their early demise.” I looked carefully at her. “You mean that had I done nothing, they would still have survived?” “Oh no, make no mistake, Karen. Doing nothing would have allowed the Reaper to collect more souls. He will take whatever he can. You cannot prevent him taking those whose time has expired but that doesn’t mean he won’t take those whose time has not yet come!” I thought for a moment. “And you?” I said at last, “Could I have saved you?” My mother smiled. “No,” she said, shaking her head sadly, “You could not, no one could.” I heard a Raven cry out in the distance. “I must go. Don’t worry, little one, I will always be near.” Once again I put my arms around her waist but they closed about my own, holding nothing. She was gone. I stood, motionless, lost, I had no idea why I was there or where I should go and so, eventually, I stepped out into the darkness, aimlessly. I did not know where I was walking to but I could see a faint orange glow ahead so continued towards it. As I got nearer I saw that it was the glow of a fire but not a visible fire, one that was hidden deep in the earth with the glow flickering from a hole in the ground like a fissure, the like of which I had seen in movies of volcanoes erupting. Beside the fissure I could see a man, silhouetted against the glow, his back to me, looking down into the heat. “Who are you?” I questioned him. He didn’t answer but just continued to stare motionless into the gaping abyss. “Come away from the edge, you will fall,” I called out, trying to make myself heard above the clamour coming eryaman escort from below. “He cannot hear you,” a man’s voice said, “His time has come and gone, you cannot save him.” I looked about but could see no-one. The orange glow flickered and illuminated the nearest gravestones in an eerie light and I spotted the name on the one closest to the edge of the fissure. “Yes, that is right,” the unseen voice spoke again, “You know him. As he lived his life, so shall he be rewarded in death!” I didn’t answer, couldn’t answer. I was in shock and, suddenly a brighter flame flared from the opening and the man turned and stared at me. “I will be waiting, his time will come!” The words seem to appear inside my head rather than come from his mouth, which didn’t move but I knew they came from him. My eyes opened in horror and I clapped my hand to my mouth as he fell backwards with a blood-curdling scream. “Noooooo…!” he cried and the scream was lost in the cacophony that rose from below before the fissure snapped closed and it was as though it had never been there. All that remained was the gravestone with the his name amongst all the other gravestones with the names I knew. I stood still, silent, staring towards were the fissure had been. I felt strange but, oddly, not afraid, I felt as though there was something I should know, something I had to do, and yet, had no clue whatsoever what it could be. I began to walk back the way I had come until I saw a low stone table, Something seemed to draw me to it. When I reached it I brushed away the dust upon its surface to reveal the name engraved thereupon but, to my surprise, it was blank! I sat upon the edge and, after a moments thought about who’s name should be there and why there would be a grave which was not exactly inconspicuous, I swung my legs up then lay back against the weathered stone surface and closed my eyes. I felt as though I had been there before, in another life perhaps. I closed my eyes and crossed my arms over my breast, a hand upon each shoulder and listened as the blood flowed through my ears, pumping loudly with each and every beat of my thudding heart and all my worries and fears seemed to leave me. I felt a peace flow over me and then a warmth enveloped me as though someone was holding me, protecting me, keeping away all the bad memories of fear and loneliness. Slowly, the hard pounding rhythm began to slow and the tension I had felt drained away.

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