Home > Drop Dead Queen (Corium University Trilogy #2)

Drop Dead Queen (Corium University Trilogy #2)
Author: C. Hallman

 


1

 

 

ASPEN

 

 

My eyes drift open and closed as mayhem surrounds me. I can’t tell if this is reality or a bad dream. Disorientation leaves me confused. I’m not sure what is up or down. I force my eyes open once more, even though I’m tempted to keep them shut.

Everything is spinning, and an insistent ringing fills my ears.

I look down and see that I’m still strapped to the seat. Rubble from the crash surrounds me, and I realize the entire side of the helicopter is blown out.

I lift my arm and reach out to touch the tree we crashed into. My fingertips run over the rough surface of the bark, scratching my already tender skin.

Oh, god! It’s not a dream. Panicked, I survey what’s left of the helicopter or at least what I can see from where I’m sitting. The pilot is slouched forward in his seat, but I don’t have to ask if he’s alive or not. Not with the tree branch poking through his chest.

“Remain calm. We’re experiencing what seems to be some type of engine failure,” the pilot yells as the drop of altitude causes my stomach to flip.

I grip the seatbelt straps a little tighter and squeeze my eyes shut. Oh, god. I knew this was a mistake. That something bad was going to happen. Engine failure? How? We just took off.

“Oh, shit! We’re going to need to prepare for an emergency landing.”

My eyes pop open at the pilot’s words, and I look out the window at the rugged landscape lined with trees.

“We won’t make it. There is nowhere to land,” I yell over the roar of the engines.

“There are no other options,” he shouts.

The smell of fuel tickles my nostrils, dragging me out of the memory. I let out a groan, my eyes catching on flames as they flicker, burning parts of the aircraft.

I try to lift my arms once more, but my limbs feel like they weigh ten thousand pounds, and while my heart is beating hard in my chest, I feel nothing. My body is numb, but I already know I’m simply in shock. Adrenaline is coursing through my veins, keeping the pain at bay, but that’s not going to last forever.

Looking around one more time, my body tells me to stay put, but my brain tells me to get up and find shelter. Forcing my limbs to work, I unstrap and push out of my seat. My arms are like Jell-O, but somehow, manage to hold me.

However, it’s not my arms that seem to be the problem after all. As soon as I move to take a step forward, an unexpected pain shoots up my leg. Groaning in agony, I lose my footing and fall backward into the seat.

I grit my teeth, fighting off tears, waiting for the lightning bolts of pain to subside. My thoughts spiral as I try to devise a plan to get out of the plane. I have to start moving soon. The smell of fuel becomes more pungent every second I remain here.

Looking down at my leg, I’m positive it is broken. Not only can’t I put any weight on it, but my foot is slightly bent to the right. There is no way I can walk with this injury. The only option I have is to crawl out of here.

While I build up the strength to move once more, I survey the rest of my body for any other injuries. My head is pounding, making it hard to think. Every breath I take causes my lungs to burn, and I know I’m going to have some type of bruising from the seatbelt.

I can’t put into words how thankful I am to be alive. My eyes drift to the pilot, I didn’t know the man, but I’m sure he had a family, at least a wife, and maybe kids. They’ll never get to see him alive again. No one will see me alive either if I don’t get out of this helicopter.

That thought ignites a fire in my belly, giving me a boost of adrenaline. Yes, my leg fucking hurts, but I’ll be dead if I don’t start moving, and I can’t die out here. I won’t. I haven’t endured all I have to die in this stupid fucking forest outside Corium.

With my teeth gritted together, I slowly lift myself out of the chair. My chest heaves with the effort it takes not to put any weight on my broken leg, but with slow, precise movements, I make it to the edge of the opening. Looking down, I notice there is more than a foot of air between me and the ground.

Which means getting off this piece of crap is going to hurt.

This part is going to be the most grueling, as there is no way for me to get off the helicopter without dropping to the ground. I stare out the opening, my muscles quaking, exhaustion tightening its hold on me. Keep going! a voice yells inside my mind.

Tears blur my vision, and a scream of anguish escapes my lips as I force myself out of the helicopter and onto the ground.

I land on my side with a thud that knocks the air out of me. I suck in a shuddering breath before the pain becomes all-consuming. Slowly, I roll over onto my stomach and press my cheek to the cold ground. The pain slowly recedes but doesn’t disappear fully, and regardless of it still being there, I know I have to keep moving.

I let out another ragged breath, press forward, and start crawling, using my good leg to push off while dragging my bad behind me.

It takes forever to even make it a few feet, and the sweat beading on my brow forces me to stop. I wipe it away with my sleeve so it won’t run into my eyes. The ground is cold, but the heat from the burning helicopter behind me is overwhelming.

It’s a reminder that I must get away from it. There’s a possibility it could blow up. And while that might help a rescue team find the crash site, it doesn’t help me if I’m too close.

The thought of a rescue team makes me wonder if they would even send one. Am I even worth it to someone like Lucas? God, I hope so.

All my worries and fears compile. I’m going to die out here. I’m going to die, and no one is going to know or care. My thoughts warp and twist. Will they even tell my parents? I can’t help but think how right they were. I should’ve stayed at Corium, but how could I have known this accident would happen?

I tremble and have to force myself to calm down so I can keep going. Sucking deep breaths into my lungs, I focus on pushing myself one crawl at a time. My muscles burn with exhaustion, but I continue forward even as the pain in my leg intensifies.

My eyes scan the ground, and when they land on a white box with the word ‘emergency’ on it, I almost scream with joy. I try not to get my hopes up that there might be something in the box I can use, but I can’t help it. This is a beacon of light in my eyes.

The box is about fifteen feet away, with sharp metal pieces from the aircraft surrounding it. I’ll have to drag myself over the metal, but if that box contains anything important that might help get me rescued, I’d be stupid to pass it up.

Before I can think any longer, I’m crawling toward the box, focusing all my attention on it. Pieces of metal slide across my injured leg, and blood smears my hands as metal and glass slide over my palms. I’m not sure how I do it, but I shut down any feelings. The pain is nothing more than a dull ache in the back of my mind.

It takes me a little while to reach the box, but once I do, I sigh with profound relief. A loud pop meets my ears, and then I see flames.

I press my face to the cold ground as something on the side of the helicopter explodes. The burning smell of plastic makes my nose wrinkle, and I move toward a set of trees, my grip on the emergency box tight while I struggle to get away from the fire.

I’m not really sure how much time passes. At this point, it could be minutes or hours, but I finally make it to the tree line, far enough away from the crash site but close enough in case there was anyone who saw us go down. I rest my back against the tree, the bark digging into my back. The tree might be uncomfortable, but nothing hurts more than my leg, which I straighten out slowly, the pain only receding once I stop moving.

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