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Contamination | Invasion Survivor Book One | Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Two

Luckily, it was summer, and they had a few more hours of daylight time. It got dark in New York City at around nine p.m. They approached the Brooklyn bridge and could see it was packed with cars. People ran across it, able to weave between the stationary vehicles.

Unfortunately, the noise of the motorbike drew a lot of attention. By the looks on people’s faces, having the most effective mode of transportation earned them a lot of disapproval and even antipathy.

They had to get on and over the bridge as it was their quickest route. Paige cursed herself for hanging out at the movies for so long.

As they approached, a group of people nearest to them looked as if they had returned from the war or escaped prison with their multiple facial tattoos. The mob began to move toward them, clearly coveting the best means of escape—their motorbike.

Luckily, their attention was drawn upwards to the horizon. Watching them all crane their necks like a bunch of prairie dogs would be comical in any other circumstances.

Some simply stared with a mixture of disbelief and distinct fear in their eyes, while others started running away.

Dave made a sudden semi-circle and came to a screeching halt, and they both gawked skyward. There in the air, a plane was headed straight for the bridge.

“Is that our mothership?” Dave inquired.

“I wouldn’t count on that,” Paige replied. It was a regular plane full of innocent people who most likely had the misfortune of traveling with a pilot who was infected. Now, they were trapped and heading straight for the bridge.

Thinking about all the lives that would be lost in an instant brought tears to her eyes, and she brushed them away.

“Hey.” Dave nudged, her noticing her sadness. “Don’t quit on me now.”

Grateful for the encouragement, she nodded, wiping a few tears that had already escaped.

Reality seemed to kick in, and the spectators that remained gave way to panic, running from the oncoming plane.

Paige set her jaw resolutely. They had to get over the bridge. It would take them too long to go around.

“I’m no quitter. You game to race the plane?” She grinned her best AJ grin, hoping it would work on Dave.

“Race a plane? Sure, why not. It’s on the top of my bucket list.” He chuckled, and she heaved an inward sigh of relief. It worked.

He gunned the engine and swung into a tight turn, then accelerated again across the bridge. Paige looked over at the plane which was so much closer now. She wasn’t sure they’d make it, but if they didn’t, they’d sure die trying.

She wished the crazy contest was their only challenge, but they had the additional difficulty of avoiding people. There had been panic before, but now it was absolute pandemonium.

Paige saw people pushing one another, trampling over those who had the bad luck to fall and would certainly never rise again. She bit back a scream, sure she couldn’t take any more.

The emotions bottled up inside her pushed against her control, wanting to vent in a primal shout of rage and mourning.

One man reached for her arm, trying to pull her off the motorbike, but she lunged at him with her new favorite weapon. He took the hint and backed away, joining the pack of people running for their lives.

The quick movement she made going for the man wasn’t a good idea.

The motorbike skidded, and Dave was helpless to do anything about it. They were thrown off balance, and once again, Paige landed on the ground. This time, the motorbike crashed down on top of her. From the corner of her eye, she could see the plane bearing inexorably down towards the bridge.

That split-second glimpse of approaching destruction was swallowed by sudden darkness.

“Paige, come on, wake up!” Someone was calling out to her, but she couldn’t seem to respond.

Eventually, the pain in her lower back pulled her into reality. She groaned, wishing she could have stayed in the dark and painless place. Then she remembered that she needed to survive so she could get to Willow. Thoughts of her sister and mother pushed through the grogginess that had swallowed her mind.

She finally opened her eyes. It felt like she’d been lost in darkness forever, but it could have only been a few seconds.

“I gotta stop waking up like this,” she complained, and Dave chuckled, even though it was obvious he was worried about her.

“Let’s get this thing off of you. Can you move?” he asked, and that was when Paige noticed that she was still pinned to the ground by the motorbike.

“Yeah, I think so.”

He heaved the bike and she helped and managed to wiggle until she was free and on her knees.

“Thanks,” she said, trying to catch her breath.

The loud drone of the plane caught her attention.

Looking up, she saw it still on its path and heading straight for the bridge. We failed.  

“Yup, that’s our cue.” Dave hauled her up from her knees. “The way I see it, we have two choices, but we’ve got to make it now.” He rushed over his next words. “We can jump or stay and try to hold on to something.”

Paige tried to process that in as little time as possible.

No matter what they did, the plane would crash, which meant both choices could be fatal. But there wasn’t a third one.

If they were thrown off the bridge, the fall would likely kill them.

All around her, people were jumping into the water on their own.

She even saw one couple arguing about it.

“No, I can’t,” the girl screamed, terrified, but the guy, probably her boyfriend, remained relentless.

“Dawn, we have to,” he urged. And when she simply shook her head, standing there in tears, he pushed her and followed close behind.

Paige gasped, not believing her eyes. He pushed her.

What if she doesn’t know how to swim? She couldn’t shake the feeling of dread.

On one hand, what he did was very wrong, but on the other, he obviously assumed it was the better choice. Still, she wasn’t so confident about it.

It was like adding one more way to die on their already hefty list. But maybe that was the point. People were desperate and knew they would die, so they simply decided to take matters into their own hands and stop fighting.

Paige couldn’t do that.

She needed to live, so she chose the second option.

“We stay on the bridge and hope for the best.” She yelled loudly to be heard over all the noises of destruction around them.

“I was afraid you would say that.” Dave deadpanned, gesturing toward the railing. “After you. I think we may need to change your name for Night Girl to Deadpool. It’s like we’re in our very own Deadpool movie—which adventure will kill us next?”

She glanced down at her jeans. They were splattered with blood, but it was more brown than red. “I don’t really have the outfit for Deadpool. I’ll stick with Night Girl. Come on, School Boy, let’s tick another thing off our bucket list. Surviving a plane crash.”

“I’m not sure it counts as we’re not actually on the plane.” He grinned, but Paige could tell he was a scared as she was. They moved toward the iron railing and crouched beside it.

Her hand shook as she tried to grip the bars as hard as possible and not to panic.

“I think it counts.” She watched the plane’s rapid approach, unable to look away.

Dave’s shoulder pressed up against her as they moved closer to one another. “I agree.”

She turned quickly to him. “Wait—you agree with me? Did you bump your head as well?”

“Wait, what, me agree with you?” Then he paused. As one, they looked away from one another again and back toward the plane that was headed right into the middle of the bridge.

Paige’s fingers tightened around the metal railing as it vibrated and shook like an earthquake had hit it.

She screamed as the bridge shook and contorted underneath her. Dave reached out and managed to hold her in place when she started sliding away. He wrapped one of his arms around her, while his other one held onto the bridge.

Once again, her fingers found purchase on the railing. Strength wasn’t the problem. It had more to do with the fact that her hands were sweaty from fear. I don’t want to die here. She sent a message to the universe, praying someone was listening.

During all the chaos, Paige couldn’t decide what was worse—the visuals, the plane still ablaze and in pieces everywhere, the sounds of the people hurt by it and crying out for help, or the smells of the hot metal and flesh.

It engulfed them all at once, a horror for which there seemed to be no escape.

“Somebody, help me,” a man screamed as he ran past them. His jacket was in flames, as were his pants, and in a panic, he heaved himself over the bridge and into the water below.

Then the maimed structure heaved and groaned as the back of the plane, hanging in mid-air, began to pull the burning front free of the rails and girders.

The cargo must have been knocked back, Paige realized, adding weight to the rear. Gravity now did it’s best to drag it towards the water. The sound of the metal scraping over the concrete screeched, but it ended quickly as the plane slid with a final grinding protest and tumbled backward into the river with a thunderous slap. Its funereal path took a huge chunk of the bridge and road, along with the cars that spiraled in its wake.

Those who jumped in earlier in an attempt to save themselves or find eternal peace, sank with the aircraft as the water swallowed everything in a muddy swirl.

It took only minutes for the plane to disappear into the murky river, leaving behind only a few large ripples as any sign that there had been anything there. Some floating debris bobbed on the surface.

“Smart choice,” Dave joked without actual humor.

“Thanks,” Paige replied automatically, still in a daze.

She looked back at the city, the Big Apple, from the middle of the chaos and knew with every part of her body and soul that she would never recover from that day. Even if she survived and carried on with her life, some parts of it would always stay with her.

“We should bounce while we still can,” Dave announced, getting back to his feet.

“Does the motorbike still work?” she asked, suddenly in a panic.

“We shall find out.”

She could have cried with relief when Dave brought the metal beast back to life. “Ta-da.” He presented it like a magician, and Paige wanted to cheer but couldn’t.

Other people who had remained on the bridge and survived focused on them as soon as they heard the engine. The motorbike had been a prize before, but now, the faces around them reflected a desperation.

They want the motorbike.

The cars wouldn’t get them anywhere, and certainly not across that damaged bridge, so the motorbike they had stolen was the only real means of escape in sight.

“You are right. We should hurry.” Paige spoke curtly, making sure she grabbed her backpack, but then she glanced over to where the plane had hit and cursed.

“Well, damn.”

A wide empty space now gaped between the two halves of the bridge. The gap had to be about the length of two school buses.

“What now? Find another way? Try to cross it anyway?” Dave was thinking out loud, his observations matching everything Paige was thinking herself.

The empty space didn’t seem impossible to jump, but it wasn’t exactly the most inviting obstacle. There was the small matter of plummeting to their death if they misjudged the jump or the distance.

Looking at the gap, Paige tried doing the math in her head.

“Definitely jump,” she replied, and Dave jerked.

“Hey, I was joking.”

“We can do it,” she argued.

“How? Are you seeing the same thing I am?”

“Shh.” She stopped him from spiraling into the same panic she fought to keep at bay. “Let me concentrate.”

Quickly, she ran calculations to see what exactly it would take for them to make that seemingly impossible jump.

 “With the right speed”—she talked while walking back and forth in front of him—“and if you’re able to yank the handles up hard enough, we should be able to make it.”

Looking one more time at the failing city, Paige’s mind was made up, and she hoped Dave would back her up. But she would do this with or without him. She had to continue with her mission.

“If?” Dave countered. “Should?”

She looked at him and nodded, and he shrugged.

“Okay, that sounds fine to me. So, how are we doing this?”

As crazy as it was in the circumstances, she couldn’t help but grin in triumph.

“We need to gain enough speed to make the jump, and since it is carrying both of us, we should probably start from back there,” she explained, pointing farther along the structure. “That will give us enough time to reach maximum speed.”

He nodded and straddled the motorbike.

Paige followed suit.

They circled and rode back the way they had come and at some point, he yelled, “Is this good?”

She nodded. “Yeah.”

He made a U-turn, then paused, revving the engine. They had a lot of ground to cover before attempting to cross, and she felt kind of detached now that they faced the reality. She couldn’t believe they were actually going to do this.

“No second thoughts?” Dave asked.

“None whatsoever.”

“Then lets rock and roll.” He laughed like a maniac and gunned the motor.

Paige was right. There was enough distance to gain the speed they needed, and besides, at this point, there was no going back. Forward was the only way, and it was too late for second thoughts.

Dave accelerated, pushing the bike to its limit, and Paige’s heart pounded crazily.

She screamed at the top of her lungs as they neared the hole and Dave followed suit.

They reached the gap in no time, and as they were about to hit the edge, he immediately pulled up on the handles. The motorbike soared into the air as they flew over the water so very far below.

We aren’t going to make it, a small voice warned her. It wasn’t that hard to accept or believe that. But she fought to stay positive. Perversely, screaming helped a lot with that. She watched, amazed, as the second half of the bridge approached quickly.

Before she knew it, the front wheel of the motorbike slapped the crumbling pavement.

They jerked forward and then were tugged back the back wheel caught on the broken edge of the concrete.

“Jump!” Dave ordered as he threw himself off.   

Without hesitation, she leaped off and landed in a heap on the cement on the other side of the bridge.

We made it!


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