“This is the captain speaking. The storm has taken a turn for the worse. We will be landing in Chicago instead of River Rapids to wait out the storm. In the meantime, please remain in your seats with your seatbelts fastened. We have about fifteen minutes until we reach Chicago.”
The captain’s words are almost completely drowned out by claps of thunder. Hail is beating against the plane so hard Eliana is afraid the windows will crack. Lightning flashes all around them. Josh squeezes her hand. “Fifteen more minutes,” he says, his voice far from reassuring.
Eliana’s body is shaking but not with fear. Since taking the essence of Isis inside her, in addition to the essence of Ra, her power has become more difficult to control. At the time, she and her new friend Xandra needed the additional power to fight an evil Archangel and Eliana gladly welcomed Isis. But Isis does not sit calmly within her. She is tempestuous and exerts her will more firmly than Ra.
It is taking every iota of will power Eliana has not to reach out and attempt to calm the skies. She can’t do that regardless of her growing need to make sure everyone aboard is safe. Subtlety has been lost to her. If she uses her powers, it would be obvious to those around her and she can’t risk the exposure. Besides, the pilot must have flown through storms like this before. Surely he can keep the plane under control for another fifteen minutes.
As if the cosmos want to prove her wrong, a flash of lightning strikes again. It hits one of the plane’s engines and a burst of fire erupts from it. Josh’s grip on her hand tightens and their eyes meet. No, not yet, they say silently to each other. The plane will be fine without that engine. Around them, passengers are beginning to panic. Fearful words and tears fill the cabin. Two babies who have been calm most of the flight begin to wail. When the plane dips suddenly and the oxygen masks drop, panic turns to terror. Several screams rip through the air and even the flight attendants struggle back to their seats to strap themselves in. Another dip causes one of them to fall before she can reach her chair. She hits her head on the arm of a seat hard enough for blood to begin trickling down her forehead. A nasty bump begins to form. Eliana wants to reach out and heal her, but she mustn’t. She tells herself it’s just a bump. The flight attendant will be fine without her intervention.
The plane rights itself, but it is only a matter of seconds before lightning strikes again. The hail increases in intensity and the plane is struggling to maintain a straight course. Eliana’s eyes meet Josh’s again. They both know the time has come to act. She cannot wait any longer. Eliana must calm the storm before the plane is ripped apart or crashes to the ground. Before everyone aboard is killed.
“They’ll know,” Eliana whispers.
Josh squeezes her hand. “They will know something, but they won’t know the truth,” he reassures her.
Eliana tries to convince herself the others on the plane won’t understand the details. But, does that really matter? They are going to figure out something supernatural is going on. And they’re going to freak out about it. In the big picture, she’d rather have them alive and freaking out rather than everyone dying in a fiery crash. Resigning herself to this, Eliana lets go of Josh’s hand and closes her eyes. Reaching out with her mind, she imagines herself standing on the ground as the storm rages around her. Narrowing her focus, she finds a single piece of hail falling from the clouds. One piece out of millions. Warming it with the heat she can generate, she begins to peel it apart until it is once more single rain drops. Spreading her power, the heat repeats this action over and over. No longer is her power focusing on single bits but on sections of the storm, beating back curtains of damaging ice. A chain reaction is created and soon, the pounding of hail against the sides of the plane becomes the soft patter of rain. Without the hail colliding in the clouds, the lightning ceases and the thunder quiets.
The wind is still attacking the plane, though, causing dips and sharp movements as the pilot struggles to maintain control. Harnessing the wind with her mind, Eliana wrestles with it until it has no choice but to obey. It too begins to calm. With each deep breath she takes, the wind slows. It does not become a gentle breeze, but it has lessened considerably. It will no longer affect the plane’s course or the safety of those on board. Eliana is unable to completely halt the storm, but she has diminished the danger.
As her mind lets go of the elements, she realizes the panic within the plane has not lessened. It seems to have grown. Frightened words are still being spoken, gasps of shock and fear uttered. A scream cuts through the din and Eliana opens her eyes. She looks to Josh first. His face is ashen and his eyes big and round. He glances down at her seat and then lifts his eyes to hers again. Only now does Eliana feel the pressure of her loosened seatbelt against her abdomen and the sense of her bottom no longer touching the seat cushion. She is levitating about six inches above it. Almost ready to panic herself, she closes her eyes again and focuses, forcing her body back down. Levitating has not been in her arsenal of powers before and she is as shocked as Josh.
“Your hair,” Josh whispers.
Eliana’s hands shoot to her head. Five minutes ago, her dark hair was straight and snarl-free. Now it feels like a tornado raged through it making it a tangled mess. It is her turn to panic. What did she look like while she was using her powers? “What happened?” she whispers, trying to ignore the growing cacophony around her.
“Your hair was blowing around you like you were in the storm,” Josh whispers back.
The flight attendants have left their seats and are busy trying to calm the passengers. They are having less luck than Eliana did with the storm. There was a mass exodus of the seats surrounding Eliana and Josh while Eliana used her power and everyone is crowding to the back of the plane. This is almost as dangerous as the effects of the storm. They are throwing off the balance and again causing the pilots to have control issues.
Eventually, everyone is found a seat at least two rows in front or behind Eliana and Josh. The captain announces the plane will still be landing in Chicago despite the calming skies. His voice is only slightly less worried than it was before. Of course, Eliana muses. Not only is an engine destroyed, there is a freak aboard. She wants to crawl under her seat and not rise again until the plane lands and the rest of the passengers disembark.
Time has never moved so slowly. Each minute the plane is in the air is another minute to add fuel to the pyre of ruefulness building inside her. Waiting to discover her fate after exposing herself and her powers. The flight attendants refuse to walk by her and she can make out words from the frightened whispers filling the air. What is she? How did she do it? Are we all going to die because she did something to the plane? The last is the hardest to hear. She has saved the plane, but how would they know that. Finally, after what seems like forever, the plane lowers to the ground. It taxies to a gate and the ground crew readies the exit ramp. Eliana’s fear jackknifes when no one leaves their seats. Where passengers would usually move en masse to retrieve their carryon items from the overhead bins, there is a deafening stillness.
After several minutes, three people board the plane. Two are dressed in TSA uniforms, one older with graying hair and a stocky build and the other young with ebony skin and a lean, muscular build. The other person is a tall, thin blonde woman in a navy blue suit. Her face is pinched, making her features sharp. She has an air about her that indicates she is in charge despite her smaller stature. They walk directly to Eliana and Josh. “You need to come with us,” the woman informs them. “Please leave all of your belongings here except your purse and your wallet.”
There is no point in arguing. The only alternative is for Eliana to use more of her power to allow them to escape. Something she refuses to do for a number of different reasons. Mainly, she wants to remain on the right side of the law. Resigned, Josh and Eliana rise and follow the woman off the plane. Eliana is certain she hears the other passengers sigh in unison as they leave. If only she could explain to them she probably saved their lives.