Even as she shouted, the ground was rapidly growing farther away. She could see them, alerted by her shouts, running to grab the ropes, while Marybeth jumped up and down and shouted “Hurry, hurry, it’s getting away!” But it was all to no avail. When Mike and Will were arguing, it had accelerated into a physical battle, and they let go of the ropes. As soon as they did, the balloon gave a jump and was on its way, soaring upward, with Margadele as sole passenger .A very unhappy one.
She stood, holding the side of the basket as they all became smaller and smaller, until she was so high they were barely discernible and at last, disappeared. At that, she sighed and took stock of her situation. Fortunately, all of the supplies had been loaded, enough for four people for at least a month. But of them all, she was the least trained and experienced in hot air ballooning. She felt like sitting down and crying, but that wouldn’t help.
“Ok,” she said. “I have food, water and everything I need to stay alive. I know how to keep the balloon up, and maybe I can steer it. But I am way too high now, so I have to …..” she paused, thinking. “How do I lower it, without actually landing? Hmmmm. She stood for a few moments, thinking. Then she remembered she had packed the instruction manual in her backpack, just in case; though she hadn’t expected to need it so soon.
Sitting down, she dug in the pack and got the manual out, and read for a while. Ok, that’s simple enough. She got up and pulled the cord to open the vent at the top. Some of the hot air escaped, and the balloon lost height. She noticed that it was much cooler up here than it had been on the ground, and she was chilled. Going back to her pack, she dug out her warm hoodie and shrugged into it, sipping it to up to her neck. Feeling more comfortable, she moved back to the side, and looked down.
The ground was still very far away, but after a half hour, she knew she was getting lower. Now, what was down there; OK, that was a country road, and there were several farms in sight. She looked at the compass where it was attached to the basket rim. She was going west, and the altimeter showed her height at 132feet. She still needed to go lower; she was too high to distinguish landmarks easily, and it was still quite chilly. She wondered just how high she had gone, but was sure it was high enough to be dangerous because of the thinning air and cold. Ok, one more venting of the hot air should do it.
Yes, that was better. She was still too high to read road signs, but close enough to make out rivers, lakes and highways. With that, and a good map, she would soon know where she was. Then she could find a landing spot and contact John, or David. She felt much better now, and settled down for a light lunch. Of course, there was still the problem of no toilets in a hot air balloon basket. Another sigh; well, she’d figure that out when she had to.