Although all VFR-rated pilots at the Errol airport had been grounded, the pilot of the plane, Bud Graves, was Instrument-rated, therefore free to fly through the storm if he elected. The flight was filled to capacity with six of his colleagues, both male and female attorneys at Benson, Graves & Sneed, and two couples that had unofficially chartered their seats. They had already boarded and were ready to go when he had received the Center Weather Advisory. A storm was moving into the White Mountain region at an alarming rate, yet Graves had an important case in court the next day and couldn't take a chance the system would snow him in. The advisory had warned of adverse conditions with turbulence, low-level wind shear and clear ice in the clouds, but Graves was not to be daunted. He had picked his way through many a storm without incident and wasn't about to let even the northern wilds of New Hampshire keep him down. By his calculations, he would be landing in Boston a mere two-hundred and ten miles away, just in time for supper.
"My radar's working fine," he had responded to the report. "I'll find a hole in the pattern just like I always do." Yet in touting his competence to Air Traffic Control, he failed to mention one factor: he hadn't waited the mandatory eight-hour turnaround required by the FAA between the time a pilot consumes alcohol and the time his feet leave the ground.
KYLIE O'ROURKE had just drifted asleep when the turbulence first hit. The plane dropped suddenly, then immediately rose again. Her husband, Jack, instinctively grabbed her hand.
"What was that?" he asked, looking about the cabin. The group of attorneys at the front of the plane were passing around a bottle of Scotch, unfazed by the jolt.
"It's all right," Kylie said and kissed his cheek. "It's just a little bad weather." Just then the floor seemed to fall from beneath them, then forcefully rush back up. It repeated the motion several more times, drawing screeches from the passengers. Their drinks were spilled and their bags tossed about until finally the plane leveled out again. Sunlight broke through the windows and a cheer came from the group of drunken attorneys.
Kylie peered out the window at the storm cloud that had released them. She looked over at Jack, whose lips had gone white. Tiny beads of sweat had formed at his temples. "Are you okay?" she asked.
He gave her a half-smile and adjusted his body in the seat. She could see that he was terrified and felt guilty for dragging him onto the flight. His father had died in a plane crash when Jack was fifteen. That had been twenty years ago, but the fear of flying had stayed with him, making him apprehensive from the moment the trip had been proposed.
"Fly? Why do we have to fly? New Hampshire's the next state over. It's silly to take a plane," he had argued. His point had been reasonable enough: the Dixville Notch area was a mere four hours from Boston in good weather. Yet the chartered seats on the aircraft had been part of a gift from an appreciative clienta ski-package to the famed Balsam's Resort. Located in the northern region of New Hampshire near the Canadian border, the four-star destination was not exactly Kylie and Jack's style, but they knew it would be a much-needed break. After ten years of hard work building their own interior design firm, it was time to enjoy the perks. "But we can't just take part of the gift," Kylie had argued, fearful of offending their client. "Besides, the weather up there is so unpredictable. It could take forever if the roads are bad."
At the thought of having to trudge through the back country on a snow-packed highway, Jack had finally conceded, and until that moment, the trip had been a success.
Kylie's best friend, Amelia Blackwell, and her husband Dix, had flown up from Savannah to join them, both couples taking the last leg of the journey together. After six days of non-stop skiing and warm, pampered nights in the luxurious hotel, the two couples had caught the flight bound to Boston, where Kylie and Jack would remain while Amelia and Dix continued back to Savannah. Kylie would report back to her client, Alex Newhunger, that the trip had been a pleasure and tell him that the next time he needed one of his mansions refurbished, she and Jack would be there for him again.
With another jolt of the plane, Kylie squeezed her husband's hand. "We'll be on the ground soon," she promised.
He threw her a glance. "That's what I'm afraid of," he grumbled.
"Now, now," she whispered, kissing him tenderly on the cheek. As much as she hated to see him uneasy, she couldn't help but admire the way it made him look. He was a handsome, if not beautiful, man with long, lean angles to his delicate face and lanky bodyattributes he had acquired from his mother, much to his father's dismay. His father, who had been a stocky, beer-drinking, cigar-smoking man, believed it necessary to instill in his winsome young son a strong sense of manhood to counterbalance his almost feminine comeliness. Jack's high cheek bones, small up-turned nose and soft skin had long since been roughed and scarred by years of football, basketball and every other type of activity that proved he was more than a pretty boy. His body was strong and muscular and his hands worn from sixteen years of work as a carpentercertainly a respectable occupation for the son of a brawny factory worker from South Boston. After years of tough discipline his father had succeeded in his quest and had turned out an insecure son that would never be accepting of his beauty or of anything else that he encountered, but Jack was masculine if nothing else.
From the moment Kylie had met him, she had been intrigued by the vibrant intensity with which he approached life, as though by sheer concentration he could change anything around him or within himself, even obliterate all traces of vulnerability or grace. It was the glimpses into the man that should have been that kept Kylie riveted. As he sat beside her clutching her hand, his face lost its virile hold and took on the frightened innocence of a child. His curly blonde hair, blue eyes and pouting lips gave him the guileless look of a cherub; but a cherub Jack was not. It was an interesting juxtaposition that brought a smile to Kylie's face.
"What are you smiling at?" he asked, the tiny line between his eyes returning.
"Nothing, Jack," Kylie said, unable to remove the grin from her face. "I was just thinking about how cute you are."
"Give me a break," Jack grumbled, slouching in his seat.
Dix Hamilton peered around from the seat ahead of them, his short black hair standing on end. "Looking a little pale there, Jack," he said with a mischievous smile.
"You're one to talk, you bloodless albino," Jack retorted to Dix's delight. "Just turn your cheerful, earring-ed butt around, 'cause I don't want to look at it."
Dix laughed and disappeared again.
"You're lucky he's got a sense of humor," Kylie said.
"He just likes to torment me," Jack said.
"That's because it's so easy," she said, unable to suppress another smile.
"There you go again," said Jack with genuine irritation. "You're enjoying this aren't you?... Getting me on this damn plane. These guys are idiots, I'm telling you," he scowled, glowering at the loud attorneys.
"Jack, just relax," said Kylie, suddenly growing irritated herself.
Amelia's head slowly appeared over the seat. She glanced at Jack, who sat pouting, then turned to Kylie with a heavy smile.
"Don't worry," said Kylie, motioning toward Jack. "If he doesn't behave we'll stick him out on the wing."
"Kylie," reprimanded Amelia. "Leave him alone."
The two smiled at one another. They had wanted to sit together, but Jack was insistent on having Kylie next to him. It was painful for the two women, who lived 703 miles apart, to be so close yet unable to talk. From the time they were seven years old, when they had met on the playground of St. Mary's School for Girls in the Historic District of Savannah, the friends had been inseparable. Even after Kylie had moved from Savannah back to her hometown of Boston at the age of twenty-two, the distance hadn't kept them apart. In the following twelve years they had talked daily and visited often. While most friendships would have dwindled, theirs had only deepened.
"Hey, you're bleeding," Amelia said.
Kylie suddenly became aware of the sweet taste of blood in her mouth. She touched her lip and felt a small cut.
"It must have happened during the turbulence," she said reaching for her bag.
"Here," Amelia said, offering a tissue.
Amelia smiled and disappeared once again onto the other side of the seat. Kylie pulled out a compact and dabbed the blood from her lip. Adjusting her long auburn hair, she frowned to see that her eyes were still swollen from the night before. She and Jack had argued until nearly daylight. The long night's tears and lack of sleep had created a puffed look that, in spite of her concern, went unnoticed by anyone other than Amelia. Most strangers would be too taken with Kylie's clover green eyes and long dark lashes to notice any temporary flaw. In fact, most found it hard to look into her strong gaze for long without looking away. Her lionlike mane of hair, full lips, tawny freckled skin and self-possessed confidence made them cower under her attention. Her casual attitude toward her appearance only seemed to add to her disheveled beauty. With the exception of ruby lipstick, she rarely wore make-up. It was simply too time-consuming. She was indifferent to her looks, except of course when they revealed more than she cared to tell. Her eyes had betrayed her that morning. When she had descended the long stairs of the hotel, Amelia knew instantly it had been one of many rough nights and Kylie felt embarrassed. They usually experienced each other's problems from afar, with seven hundred miles of phone line to ease the reality of marriage or lack thereof. It always made for an awkward adjustment every time they saw each other and realized that the voice had a body and face that time was slowly changing.
Kylie sighed as she closed the compact and returned the bag to the floor. Within eight hours, her closest friend and strongest source of stability would be hundreds of miles away from her in Savannah. She had implored Amelia to stay in Boston for a while, but her beloved friend had to get back for work. Saying good-bye was always the hardest part, and it left her feeling sad. Though the friends came from totally different backgrounds, they had formed a lifelong bond that gave them both a profound feeling of security. Upon their first meeting, they had connected instantly, each finding in the other what their own self was lacking.
Kylie had been born into a poor, volatile household, where every day brought about a new adventure of one countenance or another. She was Boston Irish: curvy, strong-willed and with a temper to match. In spite of her buoyancy and a firm sense of survival, grim things always seemed to happen in her roller-coaster life. There was no middle ground of experiences in Kylie's life, only extreme highs and extreme lows. While some would consider her the luckiest person on earth, others would consider her ill-fated.
Amelia, on the other hand, had been raised by cultured parents steeped in the strong traditions of Southern wealth. It was a quiet household governed by the stifling forces of unbroken formalities. She was blonde, thin and delicately sublime, her tenor equally clandestine and tender. She had been sheltered and protected, and within the overly maternal walls a timorous spirit had formed.
The most stable influence Kylie would ever know was Amelia. She learned from Amelia the importance of boundaries and that her erratic energy could be focused so that the demons within would not destroy her. Whenever she ventured too far, Amelia was always there to pull her back. When she lacked the refinement of one born into the socially elite, Amelia smoothed her rough edges and taught her poise.
Kylie, in turn, showed Amelia how to risk in order to live. When Amelia lacked the confidence of a rebel, Kylie led the way. As an adult, Kylie helped to bring the single most important love into Amelia's life: Dix Hamilton. She had given Amelia the strength to marry the penniless young musician against her mother's wishes.
It was a perfect friendship in every way, so perfect that Kylie felt the same understanding and accord lacking within her own troubled marriage, but she loved Jack and was committed to making it work. She had been drawn to him for the very reasons that now caused their suffering. Theirs had been a rocky relationship that followed the same pattern as everything else in her life: no middle ground. The good times were incredible and the bad times, devastating. They struggled to learn where the middle ground was, but neither knew how to find it.
Kylie suddenly felt like holding him, just taking him into her arms and keeping him there; instead, she merely took his hand. He was unusually quiet, watching the attorneys party instead of joining in. She knew by his pursed lips and stunned gaze that he was afraid, but she was lost as to how to comfort him.
She laid her head back against the seat and looked out at the billowing clouds looming ahead. They created a surrealistic wall that seemed impenetrable. She looked out at the wing of the plane as it glided through the turbulence. She had often wondered how the appendages could withstand the constant pressure, the rivets holding all of the many pieces together. The bright light danced on the silvery surface as the arm quivered. She looked down at the mountains below, their uneven edges appearing so distant. Just looking at the vast frozen area made her shiver. She took Jack's hand and nestled into the seat, her gaze falling once again to the wing of the plane. The roar of the engines had replaced the voices around her. She lay back and let the steady blare lull her into a drowsy calm. Then out of the corner of her eye she saw something move onto the wing. Her stomach dropped as she turned. It was a birda large black raven facing sidewaysand it seemed to be string in at her.
"Jack, look!" she exclaimed, clutching her husband's arm, but when they turned back to the window the bird was gone.
"What?" Jack asked with alarm.
"I just saw a bird. It landed on the wing and"
"Jesus, Kylie, you scared the hell out of me," he groaned, wiping his brow. "How could a bird land on the wing? We must be going two hundred miles an hour."
"It did," she said defensively. "It was just standing there."
"There's no way."
"It was," she grumbled, but when she turned back to the window, to the smooth surface of the wing, her conviction waned. She had been drowsing, so it was possible that her eyes had deceived her. "Maybe it just lit there for a second," she said quietly, but Jack was already on to his own thoughts. His quick dismissal of the subject left her feeling saddened and chilled. She sighed heavily and closed her eyes, but the image of the bird refused to leave her. It stood solidly on the wing, its tiny eyes peering into her soul. The wind rushed past, but the bird was unmoved. She abruptly became aware of the speed of the plane, herself trapped in the belly of the roaring beast. With a start, she quickly opened her eyes. She was prone to claustrophobia and recognized the beginnings of an attack. To her dismay, she found herself in the worst seat imaginable. Not only were they in the back of the plane, but luggagestrapped by a cargo netformed a wall behind them. Sitting in anything other than an aisle seat was always a mistake, but she had relinquished it to Jack so that he would feel more comfortable. She looked over at her husband, who sat twisting a napkin in his hands. She shook her head and smiled to herself. "What a pair... the brave Irish O'Rourkes," she said softly. The comment drew a smile from Jack. Kylie's heart warmed, for he was simply beautiful when he smiled. As she looked into the childlike eyes, a shadow passed over the cabin. Both O'Rourkes turned to the window. They had finally reached the wall of clouds, the billowing thunder heads rising around them like skyscrapers, the plane carefully making its way through a valley between them.
"God, I've never seen anything like this," murmured Kylie. Jack sat silent beside her.
As the plane penetrated one of the storm cells, the cabin was swallowed by the darkness.
JACY GREERS sat at the radar scope inside the Air Route Traffic Control Center with headsets on and a space heater at her feet. She had a twin-engine requesting assistance through an impossible storm over the White Mountainsa range notorious for bad weather. The pilot was foolishly attempting to penetrate a solid line of thunderstorms and needed guidance through. She had been handling the flight for the past twenty miles and had been anticipating the call with mounting anxiety.
"Irresponsible dumb-ass," she grumbled as she scanned the monitor for a hole in the hazardous line of weather. If the macho types would just stay out of the skies on days like this, it would make her job a lot easier. She shook her head and just as she was about to depress the push-to-talk switch an impatient voice came back through the radio. It was the voice of Bud Graves.
"Center, Merlin Niner-Six Alpha. I'm getting knocked all over the place up here. I need to stay out of these cells. Every time I go in, I pick up more ice."
"No shit," she grumbled to herself. She herself had warned the pilot of the storm as soon as he had come onto her frequency, but it had not deterred him. Now he wanted options and she had none to give. She knew from the Center Weather Advisory that the storm cells were towering to 45,000 feet. The Merlin IV was incapable of climbing over the storm and if the pilot tried to get under it, he would run the risk of boxing the plane inside a canyon without power enough to clear the mountaintops.
Before she could respond, Bud Graves came back over the airwave. "Center, Merlin Niner-Six Alpha, I'm getting severe icing here at seven-thousand feet. I need to get lower now," he said emphatically.
"Negative, Merlin Niner-Six Alpha," she responded. "Minimum Vectoring Altitude in your area is sixty-five hundred feet. I can't take you any lower."
"Center, Merlin Niner-Six Alpha. Cancel my IFR flight plan."
Jacy shook her head. The pilot was cutting his cord to Air Traffic Control so that he could engage in scud runninga term given to the dangerous endeavor of an aircraft picking its way through unfamiliar terrain beneath low-lying clouds. But there was nothing she could do to stop him. Now that he was dumping his flight plan, he could go wherever he wanted as long as he stayed out of the IFR-governed clouds.
"IFR cancellation received," she reluctantly responded. "Remain on that squawk code for flight following."
With shoulders tensed, she watched the plane's descent until it sank below her radar coverage. "Merlin Niner-Six Alpha, I've lost radar contact," she said.
"You're on your own," she said softly as she stared at the place on the scope where the signal had vanished.
"WHO NEEDS you anyway?" Graves muttered, the sour taste of indigestion rising into his mouth. He stared nervously through his ice-covered windshield at the canyon before him. After changing his heading, he found the skies beneath the heavy clouds more suitable, but he was concerned about the new, unfamiliar course. He had flown in and out of the Dixville Notch area several times before and had always been able to follow the same flight path. Since he had deviated from that plan, he was forced to take the terrain as it came at him, but at the moment his reflexes were slower than he would have liked and his head felt like someone had rammed a poker into his skull. For the first time in his life, he was regretting those last few Scotch and sodas.
THEIR NEW altitude seemed dangerously low to Kylie. She stared intently out the window, watching the sides of the mountains pass so closely it felt as though they were going to scrape one of them. The cabin of the aircraft was completely quiet; the party had stopped and no one seemed to be laughing anymore. It was clear when they had abruptly dropped into a ravine that Bud Graves was not exactly in control of the situation. The misty clouds were squeezing down on them, while the dark, wooded terrain seemed to be closing in from both sides.
The sliding door to the cockpit was suddenly yanked open. Graves looked back into the cabin, his face taut. "Murphy, get up here and help me with the charts," he directed what appeared to be the drunkest of the attorneys.
Jack straightened in his seat. "You've got to be kidding. That guy's going to help him?"
"That's right buddy," Graves said, overhearing the comment. "Unless you happen to be a pilot."
"He's been knocking back booze the whole flight," Jack retorted.
"Don't worry about it," chirped Murphy pivoting back to him. "I'm not going to fly the planeI'm just going to check the charts for him. Isn't that right, Bud?"
"Just get your butt up here," said Graves.
Murphy obediently made his way to the copilot's seat, where he began rummaging through a flight bag on the floor. "Jesus Bud, you've got the whole country in here. Which chart is it?"
"The Montreal Sectional."
The passengers watched in silence, their confidence in the situation waning as the attorney fumbled to unfold the awkward paper. When he finally wrestled it open, the stiff chart nearly filled the cockpit. Graves had to bat it aside to see through his windshield.
"We're about twenty miles southwest of Berlin," Graves said. "What's the highest altitude in our area?"
"Let me see," muttered Murphy. "6,288."
"Check it again," Graves said under his breath.
"6,288 feet," Murphy repeated.
Graves looked at the chart himself and was clearly disturbed by what he saw. He abruptly reached back and yanked the cockpit door shut, closing the passengers off from further view.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)|
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reads like a cross between a cheap thriller and a gratuitus romance novel, with a few interesting comments on death and the afterlife thrown in for readability. Somehow, I found myself hooked into the story, even though the dialouge and sex scenes were distastefully done quite frequently. I admire the author's use of research and creativity, but the style was seriously lacking in some other reguards.
I can easily see this novel being turned into a film. Very visual and good characterizations, with some fascinating chills thrown in. The sex scenes, however, were gratuitous and forced and I skipped over those when I was reading this. Otherwise, not a bad way to kill an afternoon or two :P
You know that movie, what's it called? "Final Destination?" Where the kids avoid death in a plane crash, but are then "stalked" by death because they were supposed to have died? This is book is kind of like that, except smarter.After Kylie O'Rourke, her husband Jack, and her best friends narrowly escape death in a plane crash, Kylie can't shake the feeling that something weird is going on. Her psychiatrist tells her that the strange experiences she recalls having prior to their rescue from the wreck of the plane simply did not happen -- she never met an angel of death, and she certainly never met and talked to passengers who died on impact. Kylie tries to believe this, but after she realizes she is being stalked by a man who looks exactly like her "imaginary" Angel of Death, she begins to suspect that she was never meant to survive.This is a tense, well-written thriller, but at times I felt that Schilling got carried away with all of her various plot elements. Some of the story seems both over-the-top and needlessly complicated; we've got sparring spouses, infidelity, repressed memories, past tragedies, Church history, and a dozen other elements all combining in a way that doesn't always work as coherently as one would hope. Still, this book keep me turning the pages, and I found the ending very satisfying.
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The concept of this story sold me from the start and the first part of the book, I was ready to roll, but somewhere at the third way through mark I got lost a little and from there I was in and out of this book. Kylie O'Rourke and her husband and another couple are on a private plane and for many reasons the plane crashes. She barely survives the crash and from there her world is turned upside down. The book is less about the actual crash and more about the aftermath of it all. With survivor's guilt and paranoia and PTSD, Vivian Schilling explores all the effects of surviving a near death experience.
***Possible spoilers you have been warned*** I was absolutely into the first half of the book. I loved the dark setting, the dark descent of madness for poor Kylie and trying to figure out what is happening to her and her world. The mood and the setting is dark and meant to be so, this part is excellent and sets the tone of the book. You get the eerie creepy feelings and the writing style is good enough that it could be played out like a movie in your head. So Kyle as a character is all right. She has her flaws, her marriage has flaws but I’ll be honest to say I really did like her and Jack together. You knew they had major flaws and issues that should have been resolved but they just never got around to it. But their chemistry was excellent and you could feel their love even though sad to say, it was going on a path that just wasn’t meant to be. Although their relationship wasn’t that great to begin with, love was never a problem and they looked and seemed great together but it just wasn’t meant to be. So let’s get to the plot. It started off on the right foot. Lots of creep factor. The plane crash incident well done. Kylie’s recovery, and the slow descent to what looks like madness (but isn’t) and the book tries to explain this to you while you read. Okay. I can handle this. I wanted to know what happens next. Then we come across this incident in Kylie’s past that’s coming back to haunt her (see what I did there? Har har) okay. It’s pretty traumatic, and well you did send the guy to death because of a crime he committed so I get it. Julius though….This guy was a grown man while Kylie was a little girl when he died and all of sudden he’s going all creepy touchy feely and managed to induce this semi wet dream/alternate reality sequence with present day Kylie while she was on public transportation. Yeah. Ok. And stop calling her Kylie Rose. It’s annoying but also creepy in a Pedo kind of way. So after being introduced to Julius the incubus ghost wannabe the plot just slides down the hill and it becomes almost a chore to read through. I can’t believe this book has to be 608 pages as we already know what’s going on with Kylie and her crew about 200 pages in. It gets too descriptive, too mushy and it attempts to do some sort of surreal thing about life after death yadda yadda yadda. I tried to like it. I can’t. If you cut the book in half and redid the ending so it wasn’t one long dreary part then the book would have been much better and more enjoyable to read. But this falls so short and it’s unfortunate the theme had promise and even the characters had potential.
Kylie O’Rourke was on a charter plane with her husband and two friends when it goes down in a snow storm. Kylie, her husband, two friends, and another person from the plane are the only ones to survive. She wakes in a hospital and goes on to try to get back to her life. Unfortunately this is not possible. She clearly remembers talking to someone from the plane that died on impact. She goes to a psychiatrist and is told that none of this really happened and she needs to get on with her life. But Kylie gets the feeling that no one should have survived the plane crash. She thinks someone is stalking her and plans to wright the wrong of five survivors. If this is not enough to give you the creeps, the story also twists and turns around everyday issues of infidelity, suppressed memories, and so much more happening in the story. I liked the whole concept of you can’t cheat death. I liked the Angel of Death stalking her. But I have to say that there were so many other little subplots floating through the story. They didn’t really add a lot to the main story and made the book start dragging. The book is 600 pages and could have easily but trimmed back. Over all I did like the story and am very curious to read Vivian Schilling’s Sacred Prey. This is a good story and one that you should give a try. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
A few years ago, I used to frequent my local bookstore to just simply browse for a new book. I picked this one up on a lark. It sounded interesting enough, and I thought, 'Sure. why not.' What I didn't expect was how deeply captivated I would become in the novel. I found myself so wrapped up in the story that I simply could not put it down. Recommended for anyone who can set aside conventions and delve into a book with unexpected twists and turns.
I bought 'QUIETUS' after hearing the author on a radio talk program, discussing her research into spirituality and life-after-death. The book is truly superb, and I would highly recommend it, regardless of your religious predispositions. A book jacket quote from the Cleveland Plain Dealer describes the book as 'profoundly insightful' which I agree with completely.
If I could only recommend one book this year, Quietus would be it! After my wife and her friends raved about it for months, I finally picked it up. Once I read the first few pages, I was hooked. Schilling's sense of pace, of style and the depth of her characters pulls you in and won't let you rest until you've completed the last page. Quietus is a visceral thriller that explores death and the afterlife like no novel I've ever read. Some may be daunted by the author's bold approach, but others will find it touches them in ways they never expected. An excellent and haunting read!
I had actually been looking forward to a good thick novel to read on the beach while I was on vacation. While the topic summary seemed intriguing, I found the plot to be ridiculous and far less suspenseful than I had anticipated. Character development was weak; I also had a hard time believing anyone could accept the fate of themselves and those around them so easily. Words were used repeatedly (such as 'entreaty' and all the characters who use the term 'gonna') that it got on my nerves. I made it to the end of the book though and when I did I dropped it in the nearest trash receptacle.
Had to pick this one up after seeing the sensational review in the N.Y. Times. Schilling is definitely one of the best of the hot new writers.