When you've read the same paragraph three times in a row and still can't make sense of it, it's time to do something else, thought Michelle Ravenswing muzzily. She decided that she might as well take a nap, so she'd be reasonably alert when they landed at Sea-Tac in the morning.
She woke to panicky voices. "Huh? What?" As Michelle attempted to flag down a flight attendant to find out what was going on, an announcement came over the PA.
"This is your captain speaking. I have reports that several passengers, and one of the crew have vanished from the plane. I... I don't know how such a thing could happen in mid-flight, but I implore everyone to try to remain calm. In order to determine just who is missing, and how many have disappeared, I'm asking everyone to make a list of who they're traveling with and note if anyone is missing from your party. If you do not have paper and pen, the flight attendants can provide them. When you have completed your list, please hand it to one of the flight attendants.Thank you."
Michelle had flown to the conference alone, but on the return trip she had sat with a pediatrician who'd also been there. He'd surrendered to sleep a couple of hours ahead of her. Now she looked over at his seat to see his clothes stacked neatly on it with the pants legs hanging over the front. Pulling out a pharmaceutical company freebie pen and paper, she made note of his absence while fighting back her own fear. What could cause something like this, and how would you go about finding out? Was she going to vanish too? Where had they gone?
Somewhere behind her, a woman was screaming about somebody named John who wasn't breathing. Michelle grabbed her purse, and headed back toward the sound of a much more mundane emergency. She found herself at the seats of a couple in their mid-fifties. A quick assessment of the husband confirmed that not only wasn't he breathing, his heart wasn't beating. Michelle swore under her breath, invoking a couple of Native American spirits that clearly had it in for her this morning. The only place she could really do CPR was in the aisle... with flight attendants running around trying to cope with the panic over the disappearances. This was not going to work, unless... Michelle managed to snag a flight attendant and get her to bring over the on board defibrillator. Then she got work doing CPR. The flight attendants would just have to work around her. When the AED arrived, she placed the pads, and let it do its thing. A couple of shocks later, the patient had a pulse, and Michelle was able to get him back into his seat with some help from a male flight attendant. Then she spent some time talking to the patient's wife and found out that they'd been coming back from vacation with a daughter and her two kids. The kids were among the vanished, and the daughter had fled to the bathroom. The patient already had a history of heart disease, and the stress of the disappearances had been too much for him. Michelle decided that she'd probably better stay nearby until they landed.