Eleven Minutes Essay

One thousand feet above the jagged mountain base, a solitary cable car was grasping to stay suspended. The car was aged, no real colour, a base coat of white plagued by rust. The inside was dark, cold and claustrophobic- claustrophobic in the sense of being ensnared; no escape.

The ancient cables above were decrepit. The car struggled to fight the abrasive mountain weather. Trembling, the car shuffled upwards. Blackout.

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All power was lost. The car jolted as it came to an abrupt stop. With nothing to resist the ferocious winds, the car began to sway. To the inhabitants inside, the jagged rocks below were becoming more apparent by the second.

Asif, an Asian adolescent began to panic, his breathing heavy; his movements sharp. Sweat began to break on his forehead. Anxiously, he approached the side of the car. He felt isolated as he peered out across the horizon. Alone in the vast wilderness of the world. Gradually his eyes flickered and looked below. He could just make out the tips of the rocks. The rocks were veiled under the approaching mountain mist. Creak. Asif’s head flung towards the window in the ceiling, the window below the wheels that clung onto the cables.

The ancient cables were weakening. Two minutes now since the loss of power. Groans began to echo around the car. The bodies looked around. Their insignificant lives beginning to cease; losing hope. No rapid movements, only the unhurried movement to peer into the mountain mist. A feeling of acceptance promulgated around the car: acceptance of destiny.

Asif though, was different. A typical youth fuelled on testosterone declined to accept. He calmly and cautiously scoured the car for an emergency procedure or something that could aid his escape. It was an arbitrary decision, but it was his natural instinct.

Four minutes since blackout. The cables creaked. The bodies gasped for air, as the cable car sharply stopped swaying. Hearts could be heard pounding. The wheels of the car fell into a divot in the cables. The pressure on the cables was beginning to surpass their limit. The ancient, gnarled, feeble cables were fraying: weakening by the second.

Asif continued searching. He turned to the corner of the car. An old woman sat alone; she looked so fragile and innocent. He turned away. What was that? It couldn’t be. Thoughts throttled through his head at the speed of light. He apprehensively turned back and proceeded to brush the old lady to one side. The letters became clearer, as his eyesight locked on to the sign “MAXIMUM 25 PEOPLE”. Asif took a deep breath. It was in this moment that he knew how it felt to be falling from the top of a cliff. You know you will die on impact and there is nothing that you can do to stop it: it is just a matter of time until the inevitable happens. Destiny was evading Asif’s grasp. The sign said “MAXIMUM 25 PEOPLE”; inside the car there was a minimum of 30 people.

For the first time in his relatively short life, Asif was overcome with dread. He knew that there were more than thirty people in the car. Creak. His eyes swerved haphazardly in an attempt to identify the source of the piercing noise. It was the cables. The pair of them were weak. The left of the two had frayed substantially enough to have halved the diameter of the original.

Seven minutes since blackout. Asif froze. He didn’t want to change the distribution of weight in the car, in fear of furthermore weakening the cables. The other bodies in the car were beginning to stir. Their obtuse minds couldn’t fathom the fact that their lives could be in danger. Asif urged them to be still, not to move. He could not be heard in the commotion. He shouted as loud as he could. No response. It was as is he would be better off talking to a brick wall. Creak.

Eight minutes. The left cable had deteriorated so much that it was little more than a thread. Asif knew what was about to happen. The countless, poorly produced movies that he had seen dictated in his mind that the car would fall. The others scrambled to get out, clawing at the glass coffin’s windows. Asif clung to the handrail. All of his strength focused on his hands. Ping.

The left cable snapped. The car was on its side. The door that had been adjacent to Asif prior to the cable braking was now hanging perilously open about ten feet below his dangling legs. Several bodies spewed out of the door as the car fell to its lopsided position. The others lay face down against the car’s side windows; now the car’s base. The windows were never intended to have to cope with enormous strain now placed on them. One sudden movement would surely be too much for them to cope with. Asif looked in terror towards his sweaty hands.

Ten minutes. The sweat generated from Asif’s tight grip was acting as a natural lubricant against the smooth, chrome handrail. He peered fearfully beneath him. Bodies scattered on a slender pane of splintered glass. The lives of those below depended on Asif’s grip. A grip that he was losing. He was now beginning to accept that this was his destiny, and that he could not control it. His fingertips clung on. They could not support his weight.

Eleven minutes. His grip was gone and with it went the lives of all of the other inhabitants of the car. He gasped for air as his body plunged towards earth.


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