New Tomb Raider short story! Focuses on Amelia Croft. Just a pet project will be finished shortly.
Turbulence rocked the cabin of the plane bouncing me two feet in the air for the second time. Loose baggage was flying through the cabin dangerously. I grabbed my nine-year-old daughter from her from her position looking out the window and dragged her by the arm into the nearest single chair fastening her seatbelt tightly.
"Lady Croft, please remain seated," the pilot cautioned me.
I ignored him. My daughter's safety came before mine. Once she was securely fastened in her seat I took the one opposite of her securing my own seat belt.
"Are we going to crash?" my daughter asked.
"Not unless it's absolutely necessary," I assured her.
I gripped the arm rests so tightly my knuckles went white bouncing with every jolt. Across from me my daughter was doing the same. If not for her seatbelt she would have been tossed about the cabin like a rag doll. From the cockpit behind me I could hear the pilots shouting back and forth technical babble none of which sounded good.
"We're going full nose down!" one of the pilots cried despondently.
"Close your eyes, darling," I said to my daughter.
"I don't want to close my eyes," she responded bravely ever her father's daughter.
Moments later the cockpit windshield exploded inward at the force of impact. The plane rocked and quaked as it slid across the frozen ground. When the plane finally lurched to a stop my head snapped back so hard I was knocked unconscious. Everything went black as my head slumped forward.
"Mother, mother," a small voice said distantly.
I felt a hand gently shaking my shoulder. My head slowly cleared and I opened my eyes.
"Mother?" my daughter said once more.
"Darling!" I quickly unsnapped my seatbelt and wrapped her in my arms. "Darling, are you alright?"
I ran my hands across her face searching for any kind of injury.
"Mother, mother, I'm fine, really... but you're bleeding," she said touching my scalp pulling back red fingers.
I winced and placed my fingers on the large cut down my hairline. A shard of the broken window must have grazed my scalp during the crash. Now that I was aware of it, it was stinging something terrible.
"Are you alright, Mother?" my daughter asked.
"I'm fine," I said with a reassuring smile. "What about the pilots?"
Lara instantly began chewing on her fingernails when I asked.
"I don't know," she admitted. "I was too afraid to go up there."
"That's perfectly alright, darling," I said brushing my hands across her hair. "Stay here."
I rose to my feet and hesitantly stepped toward the cockpit motioning for my daughter to stay back. There was a good chance the pilots wouldn't have survived. I only saw briefly what had happened in the cockpit before turning away in shock. The two men had been shredded when the windshield exploded and their blood now stained almost every surface.
"My God," I said hand over my mouth grateful my daughter hadn't seen this.
Quickly stepping away from the cockpit I moved back toward my daughter who had resumed sitting in her chair. We needed to get out of here. There was no telling how stable the plane was. She looked up at me expectantly with her big brown eyes.
"The pilots?" she asked.
"Darling," I said kneeling down and taking her hand, "I'm afraid the pilots are no longer with us."
She didn't say anything but I was certain she understood. My daughter was very intelligent for her young age.
"We need to gather what supplies we can and find shelter elsewhere," I said heading for the back of the plane.
I found the emergency supply kits and handed the smaller one to my daughter. I wrapped her up tight in her coat and scarf trying to keep her as warm as possible. Setting the woolen beret on her head I reached for my own coat. Luckily the coat I had was longer than my skirt and would hopefully protect my legs from the cold. Unfortunately my navy sport jacket and pencil skirt weren't exactly mountain climbing attire. I desperately hoped to find a pair of snow boots but none were to be found leaving me to scale the mountains in my navy colored heels.
"Come along, darling," I said slinging my pack over my shoulder and making for the door.
Lara followed suit with a sort of maturity far beyond her years. I pulled the latch releasing the cabin door. It fell with a crunch onto the snow leaving the stairs pointing at dangerous angles. I carefully climbed out then turned to help my daughter.
"Hand me your pack," I said.
Lara tossed me her pack then moved to climb over the stairs. Suddenly the expression on her face changed.
"I've forgotten something!" she said running back into the plane.
"Lara!" I yelled.
I tried to get back into the plane but before I could she was back at the door a small pink book clasped in her hands.
"Lara, don't do that!" I exclaimed hand over my heart. "Who knows how precariously this plane is lodged here."
As if on cue the plane started to shift. I grabbed Lara by the arm and pulled her from the plane just moments before the snow collapsed under its front end sending it tumbling down the cliff to a lower ledge. I clutched her to me heart threatening to beat right out of my chest.
"You could have been in that!" I said turning her to face me. "Don't ever to that again."
She nodded her face pale. The thought of falling down the mountainside had obviously terrified her. I gave her a hug for a moment before making sure she was okay. I tucked her journal into her pack and handed it to her.
"Let's get moving."
Lara slid her small soft hand into mine and I gave it a reassuring squeeze.
If took us and hour to climb out of the crag our plane had landed in. Lara was still rather small and was struggling with the climb. The sun was just rising over the horizon as we topped the first ridge. I cried out in despair. In every direction as far the eyes could see there was only mountains and snow. Not a sign of civilization anywhere.
"What's that?" Lara said pointing.
My gaze followed her pointing straight to the building in the distance. My heart leapt. Shelter!
"An old Tibetan monastery," I told her, "an abandoned one by the look of it. We should be able to reach it by nightfall. Let's go."
I took my daughter's hand once more and together we began our trek. Unfortunately the monastery was farther away than I had estimated. Lara's feet started dragging early on. Nine-year-olds weren't meant for cross country trekking. The sun had already sunk below the ridges before we had reached the monastery.
"Are we there yet?" Lara asked again rubbing her sleepy eyes with blue tinted fingers.
"Just a little farther darling, I promise," I said for about the fifth time.
Finally a cavern appeared with architecture hinting at an entrance to the monastery. Once inside I could tell we were finally there. Buddhist carvings and architecture surrounded us covered in layers of ice.
"We'll stop here for tonight," I said. "Let's see if we can find something to start a fire."
I took a small hatchet from our survival packs and looked for any kind of exposed wood. Eventually I was able to hack off enough wood for a menial fire. I took what I had managed to get and added it to what little Lara had found. It took me another half an hour to get the frozen wood to burn. Once the fire was going I took out the food packets and attempted to make us some supper. I handed Lara a cup of watery soup when I was done. She took it and sipped at it cautiously. Stirring it she lifted her spoon then placed it back in the cup without eating any of it.
"Is something wrong?" I asked.
Lara set her cup aside and hugging her knees to her chest looked at me across the fire with the absolute seriousness only she could attain.
"Mother, are we going to die?" she asked.
"Oh, no, darling, no," I said quickly moving around beside her and hugging her to my side. "We are not going to die. We are Crofts and if there is one thing you should know about us Crofts is we are survivors, we won't die easily. I want you to remember that, alright?"
She nodded not saying anything. I could tell she was scared. I was too. Despite all my comforting words I honestly had no idea how we were going to get out of here. My only hope was that as soon as our plane didn't arrive in London Richard would realize something went wrong and start looking for us. Until then we just had to stay alive.
"Now let's try to get some sleep," I said.
I pulled the blankets from my pack and wrapped them around us. Lara nestled into my side and as the firelight flickered fell into a peaceful sleep. I smiled glad she could rest. Sleep would not come so easily for me.