The Calling Page 2

We had to get him to a doctor and, until then, I could only presume it was heart failure and perform CPR if he stopped breathing.

I unbuttoned the mayor’s shirt. When Nicole inched forward, the pilot snapped at her, and Corey told him to go to hell, which really didn’t help matters. I glanced at Daniel.

“Nicole,” Daniel said, “I know you’re worried, but he’s okay. He’s breathing and we’re looking after him.” He turned to the others. “Sit down, guys. Everything’s under control.”

It didn’t matter that Daniel barely raised his voice and the pilot’s shouting and the noise of the helicopter almost drowned him out. Everyone sat. Even Kenjii, who’d been anxiously nosing the mayor’s hand.

“We need to get him lying down,” I said. “If it’s cardiac arrest, his heart may stop. I can’t perform CPR while he’s sitting.”

“Then you aren’t performing CPR,” the pilot said. “There’s no room. We’ll be landing soon.”

I laid my palm against the mayor’s bare chest. I could feel his heart. Beating, but fluttery. Was that a sign of a heart attack? As I moved back, I saw a spot of blood on the shoulder of his shirt, where we’d peeled his jacket away. I remembered the mayor putting on his Windbreaker before climbing into the helicopter.

“We need to get his jacket off,” I said.

As Daniel helped me get the mayor out of it, the pilot yelled, “Whoa! Hold on! Back in your seats. We’ll be landing in a few minutes.”

Fortunately, as long as he was flying the helicopter, all the pilot could do was yell. And if there are teenagers who actually respond to adults shouting at them, I’ve never met one.

When we got the mayor’s jacket off, I checked his upper arm. There was a puncture wound. A dot, slightly swollen, crusted in dried blood.

“Injection?” I mouthed to Daniel.

He frowned and leaned to my ear. “Could be an insect… No, wait. Before we got on, the pilot clapped Mr. Tillson on the arm. I remember the mayor rubbing the spot, like it hurt.” He paused. “Like he’d been injected.”

Daniel slowly turned on the pilot. I could feel the rage pulsing off him. I grabbed his arm and squeezed so tight it had to hurt. Only then did he drop his gaze.

“His heart’s beating fine,” I said to the pilot. “Just have someone waiting at the pad.”

I refastened the mayor’s seat belt, then started moving back toward my seat. I don’t know exactly what happened next. My gaze was on Nicole, who looked terrified. I think the pilot grabbed for me. Or maybe he just reached out to get my attention.

Daniel yelled “No!”

That’s all he did. I’m sure of it. Daniel shouted and the pilot snapped forward. His headcracked against the instrument panel, and he crumpled in his seat.

“Wake him up!” Hayley shouted. “Someone wake him up!”

Daniel and I shook the pilot. The helicopter dropped a couple of feet and we stumbled. Corey ran over.

“Help me get him out!” he shouted to Daniel as he grabbed the front of the pilot’s jacket. “I can fly it.”

“Based on what?” Sam appeared at his side. “Video games?”

Corey scowled. “You got a better idea?”


The boys pulled the pilot out of the way and dumped him in the narrow gap behind the front seats.

Sam slid into his spot, grabbed the throttle and the control stick, then planted her feet on both pedals. The helicopter stabilized and began to rise, but listed to one side.

“You have to get her level,” Corey said.

“No, really?”

He reached for the control stick. Sam swatted him aside.

“Do you know helicopters? Or just planes? Because they’re not the same.”

The helicopter leveled for a second, then started to spin.

“Sam doesn’t know what she’s doing,” Hayley said. “Stop her.”

“She’s keeping us in the air,” I said.

“Everyone else?” Daniel said. “Sit down and put on your belts. Now.”

Hayley and Nicole obeyed, but Corey hovered at the front, wedged between Sam and me.

I reached for the radio and put on the headset. It took some fiddling to get the radio going, but we had a shortwave at the park, so I had some idea how to operate it.

“SOS!” I said. “Helicopter out of Salmon Creek. Pilot unconscious. Repeat, helicopter pilot unconscious.”

I stopped transmitting and listened. Static.

“SOS!” I said. “Emergency situation. Helicopter over Vancouver Island. Pilot unconscious. Repeat, pilot unconscious!”

The helicopter dropped again.

Corey bent to look at the control panel. “You need to—”

“I’m working on it!” Sam snarled.

“Here, let me—”

I didn’t see what Corey did, but the helicopter pitched to the side, hard and sharp. Corey fell onto the mayor. Kenjii barked, claws scraping the floor as she slid onto the unconscious pilot.

Sam swore, her hands shaking as she reached for a lever. “Everyone sit down. Just sit down!”

The helicopter lurched again and Sam’s hand hit something. A crack and a rush of air. Nicole shrieked. This time, Hayley joined her.

“The door!” Corey said. “Holy hell. The door’s open!”

“Everyone hang on!” Daniel yelled. “Maya, grab Kenjii!”

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