April pulled the mask down from her face and took a deep breath of dry, hot air. Small, loose strands of her dark blonde hair escaped and brushed against her red round cheeks. Her sharp blue eyes scanned the abandon desert scape, taking in the metal shells that had once been aeroplanes. She heard the sound of sand grains gritting across each other and the plane hulks, but beside from that there was nothing else.
Taking in another forbidden breath, April began to climb down the outside of the tunnel shaft. Gripping tightly on with her gloved hands and focusing on the pale grey concrete surface framed between the rungs, she went down, slowly. The rusty ladder creaked, but held her too small nineteen year old body weight as she placed foot after a foot on each rung. She glanced down at the last few steps and thought about jumping. The image of Cal twisting his ankle last time quickly changed her mind.
Her heavy metal and leather boots hit the sand, causing a small dust cloud. She turned and pulled her mask back on. The planes, which hadn’t seem so daunting from ten foot above, now took on a different form. They rose above her and April felt threatened by their giant emptiness. She sidestepped and wiggled out of the rucksack that was too tight on her back. Holding it, she looked through it and checked the items inside.
Above her, came the sound of more boots clumping on metal. April looked up and saw through the cloudy protective screen, two people standing on top of the shaft. One waved to her then began descending. April waved back. Dropping her eyes back to the inside of her rucksack, she made sure, for what had to be the hundredth time that the tops of her water canteens were on. Feeling they were, she fastened the straps and slung the backpack on again.
Not wanting to look at the decaying planes, April watched Trigg, who was the same age as her, came down the ladder. He was fast then she had been, more confident in his feet. Soon, he was beside her and they were staring at each other through the cumbersome masks. She watched him press the mic button and heard his voice hissing in her ear.
‘You took your mask off, didn’t you?’
‘Just for a few seconds,’ April responded back, ‘it doesn’t do any harm.’
Trigg shook his head, ‘beside from the fact that everyone is going to know. I can see it fogging up from here!’
She sighed deeply and looked away as he tugged off his rucksack.
‘I’ve a got demister…somewhere,’ Trigg muttered.
‘Joe’s almost here,’ April pointed out, watching the older man coming down the ladder.
Trigg held out a small plastic bottle with a spray top on it. April quickly took off her mask and let him spray it. She held her breath.
‘Problem?’ a voice crackled through the speaker.
‘No,’ Trigg replied back, ‘just condensation. April was breathing too hard.’
April bit her lip and held back a nasty reply. She put the mask on and took a deep breath of filtered air. Looking out her vision was now clear. She focused on the planes, disliking herself for it, but knowing she couldn’t meet Trigg’s or Joe’s eyes now.
‘You okay?’ Joe asked.
‘Yes. It was nothing,’ April said quickly.
Trigg reached out to pat her shoulder, but April dodged him and began striding across the sand. She left deep footprints behind as she approached the first plane. It was a small two person craft and looked like it had been over salvaged all ready. April remembered it from last time and walked past it.
Over the intercom, Trigg called for her to slow down, but she ignored him. Gun was the leader on this mission and the only person April planned to fully listen too. However, he had been late and so was the last to come up. Plus, she was the only woman on this eight man crew. So, she had to stay strong.
Coming to stop beside a discarded plane wing, April turned and saw Trigg and Jo trailing behind her. In the distant, there were two figures standing at the bottom of the ladder, another two at the top and one man climbing down. She looked away, out across the plane graveyard and wondered what they’d find today.
To Be Continued…