Chapter 1 Fire and Water

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A panicked scream tears from my throat as I jerk backward. My eyes snap open to find a fiery world of shadows and blinding tongues of fire. I gag on the thick smoke, tearing up from its intensity. I crawl blindly, searching desperately for a way to escape.

I keep my head low to the ground, yet it does nothing to ease the burning sensation. Fire crawls up the walls and begins to eat away at the chairs hanging from the ceiling. Terrified, I stare up at the sky of intense flames before realizing I'm still inside the plane.

I'm going to die here.

Luggage and lumps of black around me and burn with small fires of their own. The smell of burnt flesh is overwhelming.

The dirt beneath my hands is hot as coals. My clothes are stained with scorch marks. One of my shoes is missing. My entire left shoulder is numb. I can't feel my arm.

Blindly, I begin crawling towards where I pray is an opening. My heart races inside my chest. My breathing is uneven, struggling to get enough oxygen. My head is spinning. The ground sways dangerously to the side. My left arm might as well be nonexistent. I can't put weight on it without it giving up from under me. I focus on balancing myself on my working hand and knees before continuing my crawl forward.

"Help me!" a desperate voice cries out.

I look over my shoulder to find somebody moving among the lumps of luggage and... bodies. Those are bodies.

A shadow of a person drags themselves forward, struggling to army crawl underneath the thick cloud of smoke. A tear-stained face stares back at me through the darkness. His mouth opens in silent pleading before his eyes roll back into his head. He collapses onto the ground, face-first. He is still for a moment. Then he weakly reaches his hand towards me.

He's still alive.

In the corner of my eye, a white light flashes through the darkness of smoke and fire. I turn forward again and catch a glimpse of the exit. Slowly, my gaze returns to the guy who still struggles to remain conscious.

A shower of sparks rain from the burning ceiling. I yelp in pain as some land on my exposed skin. I pull back sharply and make the mistake of looking up. The ceiling cracks loudly and a few chairs are shaken loose and land in the sand with a soft thud.

This is going to collapse, I realize. I have to get out of here.

"Please," the guy wheezes, "please help me..."

Using the last of my energy, I crawl to the guy's side and grab his shirt collar with my right hand. I heave him forward and begin helping him towards the exit. He coughs violently as he drags himself forward like a worm.

"Come on, follow me," I meant to tell him but my voice barely raises above a whisper. I cough loudly from the heavy smoke only to inhale more from desperation to breathe.

The guy finally gets on his knees and starts moving on his own. I check the ceiling again, sensing the end is near. My heart pounds against my chest. My breaths begin to hitch from lack of oxygen. I'm starting to suffocate. I force the panic from my mind and focus on solely getting myself and this guy out of here.

I can't afford to waste my time thinking about how painful burning to death will be.

Up ahead, the light glows brighter. I begin to hear the sound of distant screams and calls for help. I ignore the rising fear in my chest and focus on the bright side that somewhere beyond the plane there are other survivors.

The guy's pace slows as he begins to sway sideways. I turn back around and yank him forward, hissing for him to move faster.

Just a little further...

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