Mobius: Eyes Above the Clouds- Chapter 7
I followed Alice back to the flying craft, on the lookout for Daniels. The sheets of material that had been draped from the side of the exterior of it had been taken down and folded up once again into neat squares beside the rear wheels. I finally caught sight of the captain coming down the ramp from inside the craft. He nodded at Alice as we approached.
“Padilla. What were you able to see?” He asked, arms folded.
“I followed the trajectory back from where we landed. Found the spot you all showed to me originally.”
Daniels nodded slowly. “Good eyes. I knew I could rely on you.”
“I rigged up a line so we can get supplies down, as you asked.”
“Even better.” The captain added, flashing one of his rare smiles. He cleared his throat and shoved his two sets of fingers in either side of his mouth, letting out a shrill whistle that rattled my eardrums.
The others began to approach. Mary hung one of the folded tarps over her intertwined hands. Joseph and Harris came last, the pry bar swung over the big man’s shoulder. Samuel peeked his head out from inside the craft and carefully marched his way down the ramp.
“Seems we are set to head out sooner than expected,” Daniels addressed us, his eyes drifting among the group. “We’ll be out of this cold weather and wind soon enough. Miss Padilla has mapped the way down into the creature.”
I licked my dry lips and watched as the other’s faces struggled to take in the news. We had all taken in practice rappelling down a rope line, but not in wind like this, nor with half-frozen fingers.
“Alcott.” Daniels spoke up again. “Tell ‘em what you told me.”
Samuel stepped up and swallowed hard. “We are more west than when we landed up here. Over the Atlantic, likely.”
Daniels nodded. “And you know what that means. No nice place to land if you lose your grip. You’ll all have your parachutes, so in the case of something not going to plan, deploy it as soon as possible and tune in on your emergency radios. Mr. Rees was nice enough to get us the frequencies for the coast guard and their ships in case something goes off track- which it will not, as long as we all keep our heads on straight. You’ll have an hour to pack away anything we’re not bringing with us on the craft. Everything else gets broken down like we practiced.”
A few of the crew nodded and rubbed their hands together. Daniels looked back to Samuel beside him, who nodded out of reflex. “Well, shall we get started?”
It was some time later that the remainder of the supplies had been unpacked and laid out by who would be transporting them. Some of the wood from the crates had been broken down into a bundle for possible kindling or for miscellaneous uses. Chase took his kerosene stove and cooking supplies and little more. Mary took what was left of his gear and some of the food. Harris had with him, what seemed to me, the unnecessary amount of medical supplies. Alice and Babir had their own tools and supplies, as well as a bit of other equipment. Between myself, Joseph, and the captain, we were left with several encumbering jugs of water and more food, clothes, and supplies. They were all piled several paces away from the craft.
I managed to pry up one of the remaining stakes holding the craft’s anchoring ropes out of the skin. We took that rope and added it to the things we would bring with us, to Alice’s delight. Lorraine said a few words to Daniels while Samuel walked about the craft to make sure everything was in order. It was not but a few minutes later that the pilot and copilot were both inside, the engine running with a loud hum. Daniels had posed himself by the window to give the signal that everyone was clear and that they could once again return to the sky on their own. As the sound of the mechanical rumbling and smell of smoke died away, the feeling of true loneliness crept over me.
Alice had deposited her supplies at the edge of Mobius while she headed down the rope she had laid previously. We prepared the various sacks and bundles with clips in order to send them down the rope. Alice eventually poked her head up. “Still good. I personally think Joseph should head down first to help unload at the bottom. There is a decent shelf down there before it heads deeper.”
Daniels nodded at Alice before turning to Joseph. “I shall bow to your expertise. You heard her, big guy.”
Joseph looked into my eyes unblinkingly before switching his gaze to the harness around his waist and thighs. Alice shuffled around near the edge, offering up a length of slack for him to lock into. “Slide yourself down slowly, and ease yourself off the edge. Gravity should take you the rest of the way down. I’ll be right after you.”
I held my breath and looked away as Joseph slowly disappeared beyond the precipice. After a few long moments, I heard Alice’s voice call out again. “Get some things sent down. We’re in place.”
“You heard her.” Daniels spoke up. He patted Chase on the back, who picked up the first, and heaviest of his gear. “Chase, I trust you two to start to get everything sorted.”
“Yessir.” He replied, buckling himself in first, followed by the pack holding his gear. He slowly shuffled himself down, trailing the bag behind him.
Mrs. Dunn followed, while Daniels and I watched on. He leaned his weight over the edge brashly, looking for the members of the team trailing down to the bottom. “Sengupta, Richards, next,” he directed.
The rope trembled as the next two traveled down. The captain finally looked to me. “I’ll run anchor, so you head off next.”
I sucked in a frigid breath and nodded. Through the cold in my fingers, I manged to lock myself in. One jug of water came with me, on a rope attached to a clip. As I leaned my weight into my legs, I could feel the heavy pack containing the chute pull against me backward. I struggled to keep my balance as the ground disappeared out from behind me.
I was finally at the point of no return. The clip dragged against the rope, lowering me little by little. Another weight caught on the rope behind me. I looked up to see Daniels poking his head over, attaching one of the remaining bits of supply to the relay- the bundle of wood.
“Pass it over you, keep it going down, Sami!” He called out.
I felt it bump into my side and add more weight to the rope. My free hand traveled up to the cold metal of the clip. I unlatched it and passed it between my legs, switching it between my hands and grabbing back onto the rope to support myself with the now free one. The weight of the bundle continued to pull against me. As I hefted it over my legs, I could feel the strength in my hand failing. Before I could latch it back to the relay line, it slipped, sending it falling down into the blurry light blue expanse below.
“Sami, what are you doing!” I heard Daniels call out. I couldn’t allow myself to turn back to up look at him. I pushed on the jug of water beside me, cautiously continuing farther down the rope. It was only when I felt a horizontal surface under my feet I had realized that I had had my eyes closed shut tightly the rest of the way down. I felt a tugging on my arm, and opened my eyes to see Joseph pulling me in the rest of the way.
Daniels was down shortly after me. I glanced at him, but distracted myself with the supplies disorganized around us. “No harm, no fowl, Sami.” He huffed.
“Could’ve been something worse.” Harris hummed.