At 200 feet, the car edged along the once new cables. Rivers of rust flowed unbroken through the chipped red paint of the exterior.
Inside, sheltered from the elements, a lone boy shifted his wait from foot to foot in anticipation.
300 feet. The battered car let out a low moan as it continued to shuffle skywards. The laboured cables crackled sharply in response.
The boy’s eyes scanned the interior. They hooked onto a sign, reading, “Maximum 25 persons.” His eyes swept through the cramped space in a frantic attempt to count the bodies.
As the boy continue to count, and then recount, hoping to prove himself wrong, the battered vehicle came to a halt. A light breeze, as if sensing a new target, picked up its steady rhythm, leaving the car swaying from side to side.
30. The boy had finished counting. His heart rate accelerated as he felt the nauseating sensation of the sway. With his head spinning, he tried to choke out a warning, but the words wouldn’t come.
The engines back at base, far below, began to cough and moan as they restarted the cars unsteady assent to the peak.
Back inside, there was a variety of people. A young couple were with their son, an older man with a pipe leaning against the window, a little girl dressed in pink bouncing on her father’s knee. All those people had one thing in common. They were oblivious to what could happen. All accept one. The boy.
The engines were strained, and with a final cry of defeat they faltered once more. Then nothing. Deafening Silence. The car was on its own now.
The boy realized something was going to happen. Good or bad; he’d have to wait and see. He searched the confined compartment, seeking a glimmer of hope, of rescue. A rope. It was curled up like a sleeping snake on the floor, opposite him. And he had an idea.
Outside the first of three, seemingly sturdy cables began to unravel itself, as if it believed the car was a monster and it couldn’t get away fast enough.
The people inside felt their stomachs lurch uneasily as the car fell. Realising the implications of their situation, one by one they froze, like a game of musical statues. As the car slowly steadied itself, the boy began to scream at them. They stared back with blank faces, a dullness in their eyes. Fear. There were no screams, but an eerie silence, louder than thunder, descended like a thick fog on the passengers.
A few broke themselves free from their zombie-like trance, panic stricken, they quickly followed the instructions the boy was yelling at them.
His idea was simple. There were two long ropes which would end three or four feet off the ground. Objectives: Slide down, Jump, run.
The emergency exit door groaned in protest as it was hitched open. The rope was dragged across the metal floor and dropped. They had to hurry before it was too late. Just don’t look down…
350feet to the snowy wasteland beneath. The second cable began to retreat into itself, buckling. Individual fibres snapped, one at a time.
15…18…20. The boy was helping organize the safe descent of his comrades. He was no longer afraid, as he felt optimism and sheer focus on what he was doing. His duty.
The second cable gave way. The car lurched forward, dropping once more.
21…23…25. 5 more civilians left to go. Those already down, against all odds, began their marathon run for shelter.
The car began to sway violently. It lurched forward, backwards. Again and again. There were only 3 people left: The boy and the father clutching his little girl.
They were pushed about by invisible forces as the boy helped the pair to descend. He knew at that moment, when a sharp snapping sound reached his ears, that he may be too late. Before their feet could reach the ground, he leaped after them. Panic seeped steadily, like a lion cautiously stalking its prey, through every bone in his body.
The last cable detached itself swiftly from the car with an ear splitting snarl. It quickly gained speed as it prepared for its collision with the solid earth.
The boy had hit down hard on the surface. He bent over, aiming to catch his breath. Before he could look up and see his fate coming towards him at 100 miles per hour, his instincts made him dive forward. With his last burst of strength he turned himself around and pushed back, just in time to see the car crumple on the ground, inches from where his foot had just been. The deafening sound of the sudden impact roared through the valley, up to the highest mountain peaks.
Slowly, the boy regained control of himself. He looked dead ahead. Just two more inches and… He banished that thought from his now weary mind. He had help the others flee.
He had survived.