Chapter Thirty Six
As our helicopter rose into the sky I looked out of the window constantly. I wanted to at least see the weapon that would shoot us down from the sky.
We were in a small helicopter so we felt the wind outside as it battered against the sides. The force shook the helicopter and it made my stomach ache.
March saw me as I gritted my teeth in pain and he administered another shot of morphine. I felt the warmth wash over my body almost instantly and the edges of my vision started to blur. I’d never done hard drugs before but I imagined this must be what it felt like. A mixture of curious pleasure with an edge of fear.
A voice crackled over the radio. “This is the Birmingham control tower. Please confirm your destination and your airspace code.”
“Ok everyone. This is where it gets tricky,” said Saloma as she increased our speed.
“I repeat,” said the voice on the radio. “Please confirm your destination and your airspace code or we will be forced to take extreme measures.”
“Don’t we have one?” I asked, starting to feel hazy from the drug kicking in.
“No,” replied Gabe, “but Saloma is the best pilot I know. She’ll get us out of this.”
I hoped that was true, because getting into the city hadn’t been easy. I imagined getting out as fugitives would be even harder.
“You have thirty seconds to confirm or we will take action,” said the voice on the radio.
“Thirty seconds!?” shouted Saloma. “That’s not right. They usually allow longer. This helicopter is fast enough to reach the city limits in two minutes but not thirty seconds. We’re in trouble.”
“What!?” shouted Gabe. “Can’t you try?”
“This is all I can do now,” Saloma increased her acceleration and tilted the helicopter down slightly to give us an extra bit of speed. I started to roll forward in my wheelchair but the supports I’d been tied to helped keep me in place.
“Emergency,” a computerised voice could be heard inside the helicopter. “Emergency,” it repeated.
The dashboard in front of Saloma lit up in a dark red and the words “Emergency,” appeared on the screen. She watched the radar as a small red dot closed in on us.
“What is that?” asked March.
“It’s a surface–to-air missile. We’re out of the main part of the city now. If we crash land in the poorer areas no one will bat an eyelid. The people who fired on us will be called heroes. I’m sorry everyone but we can’t outrun it. We have to grab parachutes and go.”
“I have two wounded. There’s no way they can make it out in time,” said Gabe.
“Then I’m very sorry. I’ll try everything I can to dodge the missile but it will hit us.”
A solemn air filled the helicopter. We’d gotten so far but couldn’t survive a missile. To try and calm the situation I spoke to Grace about our favourite TV show and tried to remember what life had been like before all of this.
I heard a beeping sound as a message appeared on Gabe’s phone.
“Saloma. Get on the radio now!” shouted Gabe.
She flicked the radio on and repeated a code as Gabe read it to her. “887-6359-271, Newcastle. Do you copy? Over. I repeat 887-6359-271, Newcastle. Over.”
The computerised “Emergency,” voice continued to shout over the radio and the red dot got ever closer to our position.
“Confirmed,” said the voice on the radio as the missile behind us rose up higher and higher into the air until it exploded far above us. Debris rained down around us, small chunks of metal from the explosion just missing the sides of the helicopter. “Don’t leave it so late next time.”
We breathed a sigh of relief. Gabe would later ring his mystery texter back, who explained to us all she had seen our position rise by ten thousand feet and she figured we might need an airspace code. It seemed even Gabe was surprised by just how good a hacker she was.
We flew over the main train station and the large gates that led into the city. Somewhere down there my motorbike sat in a giant garage unlikely to be seen again. A remnant of my old life. Just another thing that I’d lost.
As I looked around the helicopter at my new allies I hoped I wouldn’t have to lose them too.