- Pages: 320 Pages
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Imprint: Razorbill
- ISBN: 9780593526002
An Excerpt From
MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY
June 22, 12:06 a.m. CDT, seven hours after takeoff
The cabin is deathly silent except for the low, constant thrum of the airplane’s engines beneath the wings. Like a wasp buzzing in my ear, the sound grates against my tattered nerves, unsettling me almost as much as everything that’s happened since the flight attendants distributed those horrible letters. Almost, but not quite.
Feet sinking into the carpet, I wrap my trembling fingers around the heavy glass paperweight and pluck it noiselessly off the desk. The surface is burled walnut—my dad used to have a desk like this in his home office—just a bit nicer than a plastic tray table. Normally, that kind of luxury would seem out of place at a cruising altitude of forty-two thousand feet, except this isn’t a normal transatlantic flight—not by a mile.
A curtain of hair escapes from behind my ear and falls across one cheek, obscuring my peripheral vision. My heart lurches as I tuck the strands back, the brief blind spot making my pulse race. I clutch the makeshift weapon at my side. Track lighting along the floor and dimmed lighting overhead create a soft yellow glow in the otherwise dark space. It would be cozy if not for the bodies tucked away in an upstairs compartment.
I’d never seen a dead body before this trip. Maybe because I’ve been at boarding school and had to miss relatives’ funerals. Or maybe my mom’s fractured relationships mean she and I don’t get invited.
You always hear about how stiff and cold and waxy a corpse is, but nobody talks about those first moments when the skin is still warm and it looks like all you’d have to do is give the person a good shake and they’d blink. It’s the eyes that give it away—the way they glass over and go hollow. Nobody’s in there anymore.
My throat closes up at the thought, but I force myself to swallow. Nothing can be done to help the ones we’ve already lost, but I can save the rest of us. Maybe.
The sense of betrayal stings deeper than that sea nettle that wrapped around my leg last summer on Cape Cod. My grip on the paperweight falters, and I tighten my fingers before it can drop to the floor with a telltale thunk. The evidence is clear, and no matter how I feel, I have to do this for the rest of us. Maybe this is my punishment, my moment of redemption, in which I finally pay the price for my mistakes.
Maybe that’s why the killer chose me to frame. I know all about betrayal.
Tears sting my eyes. I swipe them away as I pass through the sliding doorway and into the next dimly lit space. Plush chairs and computer workstations rise like black ghosts from the floor, ready to swallow anyone looking for a place to hide.
The glass paperweight is smooth beneath my fingertips, the mass of it satisfyingly heavy in my palm. Weapons aren’t exactly easy to come by on airplanes, even private ones. The thought of hitting anyone on the head with this thing makes my stomach churn, but my intention isn’t to kill—only to incapacitate.
I make it out of the workstation compartment alive and tiptoe past the door to the plane’s galley and the storage space on the other side of the corridor. Images from the past hours flit through my mind, stuttering my steps and threatening my sense of purpose: Lily’s red hair draped against dull skin, her breathing too shallow. The bruises around her throat.
No, I can’t think about that now. Instead, I focus on her last words before she slipped into unconsciousness: We were wrong.
I pause at the entrance to the dining room. Someone has cracked open a few of the plane’s window shades, letting in narrow streaks of golden-hued early morning light. The large table, long since cleared from last night’s dinner, gleams like a dark lake in the middle of the room. Probably the flight attendants would be setting it for breakfast now—if they weren’t unconscious in one of the staff rooms upstairs.
A shadowy figure leaning against the far bulkhead glances at me as I enter. He straightens. “Hey,” he whispers. “Where are the others?”
How can he ask that question? Doesn’t he figure I found the bodies already?
I point my thumb over my shoulder, swallowing a hard lump in my throat, ignoring the pounding in my chest.
Like the rest of the plane, this room is ridiculously luxurious, but it isn’t huge. It’ll only take a few seconds to reach him. And then . . .
My fingers tighten on the paperweight. Now isn’t the time to second-guess.