The plane went down somewhere in the Pacific. Just where I really couldn’t say. I was sleeping through most of the flight up to that point. I remember a storm, some turbulence. I was drifting in and out of a jet lagged haze. Then there was water, lots and lots of water. I swallowed so much I thought I would surely drowned. I remember gasping for air as I fought to breathe. I paddled my arms and kicked my feet in an episode of hysterical panic. I was still attached to the backpack that I carried on the plane. I kept it on my lap seeing how it was just a little too big for the overhead storage. It’s straps wrapped around my neck choking me. I managed to pull myself up on a piece of fiberglass from the aircraft that was floating near by. Thank God it was, for it most definitely saved my life.
Several hours past I think, it could have been minutes but seemed like forever. I finally found myself washed on shore on a strand of sand that ran the length of a small island. The morning sun was coming up bright and I could see that there were others who survived. Out of two hundred and eighty passengers on board only twenty-two made it to that beach. Most of the first class made it through the crash. Their section of the plane broke apart and stayed fairly intact until it eventual sank to the bottom of the ocean with the rest of Delta flight 7734.
There was a politician who was presidential hopeful among the survivors. I remember seeing him on television during the debates. There was a teenage pop singer, a famous sports model and a four times grand slam winning tennis player. It seemed from the start each one was trying to take control of the group. Egos were exploding like the waves tumbling down on top of each other. People began to argue with one other. Each with their own theory as to what had caused the crash. Some believed that the plane was shot down by a group of people looking to take out the man about to enter the presidential race. They used the storm as a cover but never planned on the island being here. Some thought it nothing more than a lightning strike on the tip of one of the wings.
After several hours of trying to get everyone to join together and come up with some sort of plan, I set out on my own to find drinkable water and a food source. I came across a series of tide pools filled with blue soft shelled crabs. I scooped up a few and took them back to the others. I cooked them up for myself and a few of the older passengers. This upset some of the others because I did not bring back enough for everyone.
After the day had come and gone I thought it best to explore the island. After a few hours of hiking I came upon this cave a few miles into the woods. Inside the cave I discovered an old radio transmitter. It was covered in dirt and ivy vines. It looked like someone had carried it in there quite some time ago. I cleaned it up the best I could. It had a hand crank to supply its power. After turning the handle for about five minutes I got it to light up. It was clear there was someone else on that island before me and either they used the radio to get off or they died somewhere on that island.
I covered the entrance to the cave and returned to the group. Upon arriving I could see it was total chaos. Some of them wanted to stay on the beach and wait for a rescue team to arrive, some wanted to make a camp somewhere out of sight. I figured it was best to stay on my own and hide out in the cave for as long as I could.
I figured at some point that the plane had indeed been shot down for there was another small group of people on the island and as I hid in the dampness of the cave I could hear them standing over me talking about making sure that the politician had not made it on the island and to take care of those who had.
The cave was dark and small, I couldn’t see anything but the light from the radio dial. I made a small hole in the top with a pipe. I pushed it through the soil above so I could use it as a look out. I stayed in there as quiet as I could and searched for a radio signal.
….This is the story I would tell myself over and over. I was very young, maybe 7. The cave was my closet, the radio was a cardboard box with buttons and pins glued onto it. I had an old CB radio I found in the alley behind my house. The lookout pipe was an empty paper towel roll. I would sit in that closet for hours with just a flashlight. Turning imaginary dials and pushing make believe switches. Whenever someone would come in the room I would be as quiet as possible so they wouldn’t know I was in there. They were the enemy after all. I would go over this story in my head so many times that it became as real as any reality. I could see the characters so vividly. I knew their names and where they grew up.
Now a days you can just turn on an Ipad and tuune out of reality, but back then, all we had was our imagination.