You can’t always put your finger on the exact moment when something happens.
Sometimes, it's a chain of things.
Sometimes, a stewardess brings coffee to the pilot.
Sometimes, the coffee is too bitter.
Sometimes, the pilot gets up and goes to make himself a new coffee, because no one will make him a new coffee.
And he really, really needs this coffee. like, right now.
And this is just a regular flight, what could happen?
Three minutes, a new coffee, continuing as usual.
so here’s the thing,
Sometimes, the three minutes that take to prepare coffee, can cause passenger plane 27194 to hit an air pocket, tilt sideways, burn a side engine, and all of that, as mentioned, only in three minutes.
Three minutes that make a whole flight of a hundred and fifteen passengers from National City to India in Asia to crash at sea, and no one survives.
Well, no one but two.
You can't always put your finger on the exact moment when something happens.
But for Maggie Sawyer, the exact moment she realized she was in trouble when she finally raised her head above the water, took a lungful of air and looked at the wreckage of the plane around her.
This was the moment when she realized,
That something terrible had happened.
And until they fix it.
When the world was flat,
We dreamt of its edges
"HELP, HELP!" Maggie almost ran out of air. She had to keep screaming, maybe someone would hear her. Someone, something, anyone... "Help!" She screamed again. She fished in the water around her to hold herself floating above the water. She was still wearing her jacket and it was heaving on her, and she took it off, letting it sink in with all the wreckage she had seen on her way up in the water. She clutched a plank floating beside her, giving her muscles a rest. Around her, she watched planks, open suitcases, bodies... She tried to ignore her nausea and swam to a larger board of wood. She climbed and lay down on it, gasping from the effort, and closed her eyes. Okay. she thought. Okay, I can do it. There must be something in here that sends a message to the control tower.. a few hours.. or days... She was horrified at the thought that she was going to stay on this board for a few days, with all those bleeding bodies scattered around. She couldn’t resist the urge to vomit and turned on her side, throwing up into the water. After emptying her stomach, she sat down on the plank, washing her face in the seawater. Okay. Now what. She looked around again, trying to see from a distance.
A bird. Maggie's heart jumped. A bird says there's land in the area, right? She stood quickly, cautiously, studying the horizon. Another bird. At least five. They circled for a few seconds, continuing in the other direction. Maggie squinted, trying to see the horizon. Nothing.
Well, it's worth the shot to move along at least, right?
She grabbed a smaller, longer piece of wood and began to row, moving slowly between the floating things in the water.
Something breaks out of the water. A sound of gasping.
Maggie turned her head sharply.
Someone struggled to float above the surface.
"Help, somebody, help me!"
"I'm coming!" Maggie shouted, beginning to row toward the voice. It was hidden by a few boards and Maggie pushed them aside, hurrying toward the sound.
A woman with short, chestnut hair and an anxious look patted her hands in the water. As soon as Maggie came into view, she opened her eyes with frightened eyes.
"Help me ..." Her voice was weak.
"Hey, come here." Maggie grabbed her hand and tried to pull her to the board, praying with all her heart that it would hold both of them.
The woman finally lay down on the plank, panting from the effort.
"My leg," she murmured. Maggie now noticed that the woman's right leg was badly crooked, and a large wound was visible on her left tibia.
"Oh no," Maggie panicked. She tried to find a piece of cloth to stop the bleeding but the woman stopped her. "I need... a small piece of plank and something like a.. like a cloth." She said as she gasped. She would’ve sounded in a great pain, but there was still a tone of authority in her voice and Maggie listened without hesitation. She tore her right sleeve and handed it to the woman, who tore the piece in two with her teeth. She wrapped the first piece with surprising skill on the wound and kept the other half in her hand. Maggie carefully broke a piece of wood from the edge of the plank that held them, handing it to the woman as well. The woman looked at it for a moment, appraising it, and realizing that she didn’t have many choices. She placed it carefully on her leg and started dressing it along with the second piece of cloth.
When the woman's legs were bandaged she sighed and cradled her face in her hands.
"Do you see any more people?"
Maggie looked around. The view hasn’t changed, and she saw no movements in the water. She tried to listen if there was an unusual voice, but she heard nothing. She sat down beside the woman. "Nothing."
They were silent for a few moments.
"Well, we can’t stay here forever, it can take days for someone to arrive."
The woman looked confused. "So what now?"
Maggie grabbed her paddle back.
"Now," she said. "we're trying to see how to survive this shit."
Maggie continued to row. The woman lay beside her on the plank, resting. They passed between suitcases and bodies and pieces of planks that were floating there, and eventually, there were hardly any objects around them.
After about ten minutes Maggie stopped. The rowing exhausted her, and she put down the improvised paddle carefully, standing to see the horizon better. Still nothing.
She sat down with a sigh. The woman was still lying, covering her eyes with her hand.
"I can’t believe it's happening. We always hear stories about people who survived this, who was rescued, but that is… completely screwed up." Maggie looked at her. The woman sat down carefully, grimacing.
They looked at each other for a few seconds.
"I'm Maggie." She held out her hand to shake.
"Alex." The woman shook it and nod.
"So, Maggie, do you have any idea how to get out of this shit-hole, because if there's no land in the area, we're going to die soon." Alex would have sounded cynical but Maggie had noticed that there was despair in her voice.
Maggie pointed toward the sky. "Every so often a few birds pass by, and they fly in that direction, I assume birds say there's land in the area so I try to get there until we find something."
Alex nodded. "Good idea."
Maggie took the paddle again. Alex reached out to take it from her. "Let me, I can,"
"No, rest, your legs..." Maggie tried to say, but Alex laughed bitterly.
"It's just… it’s fine, I'm fine, I'll live." She took the paddle. "Or not, if we stay here long enough, we'll never know."
Alex began to row with surprising skill, the muscles of her shoulders suddenly visible. Maggie tried very hard to concentrate on the fact that they were probably going to die at sea and not at the fact that this woman had extraordinary arm muscles.
Alex continued to row, and the sun that stood in the sky burned their necks. Maggie figured it was about nine or ten in the morning. She didn’t want to spend the whole day there and hoped they would find something before it'll get dark. Or someone would find them. She looked up to look for rescue planes.
They rowed alternately for nearly an hour, then- "Here, there, what is it?" Alex's voice suddenly sounded. Maggie looked quickly at the direction Alex was pointing.
"It's a tree." Maggie stared at it. "fuck. it's a tree!"
"A tree, thank god," Alex murmured and continued to row harder. Maggie tried to help with her hands, and they strode quickly toward the tree, which was now visible to them, and next to it were more trees, stones, and, God, a land.
The island came into view and they came closer and closer to it until they jumped from the plank to the ground, dragged along the shore. Maggie lay on her back, panting. Alex lay a few feet beside her.
"What now?" Maggie said after a few minutes. She looked at Alex.
"Now we’re waiting for someone to pass here."
The sand was white, whiter than any sand Maggie had ever seen. Palm trees were spread out along the coast, and later on, more trees were seen, and the beach was replaced by flowering shrubs and tropical greenery, followed by a wooded area with dense trees, whose branches formed a green dome. She looked back, where Alex had pulled the big plank to shore instead of leaving it in the water. She went to help her quickly and they both dragged the plank to the beach.
Maggie wiped sweat from her forehead and stood, staring at the horizon. "Should we.. light some fire? you know," Maggie swallowed, "to signal." Alex looked at the horizon as well, studying the sky. "I don’t know how to light a fire without a lighter. I guess nigher do you.” Maggie shook her head. "I once heard that you need two sticks or flints ..." She looked at the sand around her and then at the forest. "In any case, if we stay on the beach, they'll see us, we just have to hope that the plane will fly low enough."
They tried to write SOS on the beach, but the words were not prominent enough. Alex suggested writing with leaves but the wind blew the leaves before they could make a word. There were no particularly large stones, and they were looking for something to hold the leaves. The running made them feel the heat more intensely, and Maggie felt a growing headache. She looked desperately at the horizon. Just a blue sea, all across space, not even an airplane or a ship close enough to see or hear.
"Someone.. someone should know about the crash, right?" Maggie said, gasping with fear. She looked at Alex. “They're supposed to know, they're supposed to send a rescue team, aren't they?” Alex's eyebrows shrank in the dark, and she looked close to despair but she didn’t give in. She sat down on the beach, burying her forehead in her hand, closing her eyes, and Maggie set down next to her. The sun stood high in the sky and Maggie looked at it, tears rising in her eyes, and she turned to look at Alex, whose face was very serious.
"What are we going to do?"
They were sitting there, looking at the sky and the horizon, trying to see the search team that was supposed to arrive.
"They'll come," Alex whispered. "They must come."
They sat there for more than an hour, and then another, and another.. but there was nothing on the horizon except a few birds circling overhead and into the forest. The heat continued to wear down and Maggie's head began to turn foggy from the heat. Her thoughts never stopped clinging to the words a little longer, just a few moment, they’re close, they would arrive, just thirty minutes... ten minutes... five more minutes...
"Well, we can’t sit on this beach forever," Alex said suddenly.
She stood and looked around. "Over there," she pointed, and began to walk, limping slightly because of the bruised legs. Maggie looked in the direction. On the seam line between the coast and the forest, there was a wave of scattered stones, very large ones, and more trees. Maggie followed her quickly, both of them walking toward the stones, into the forest. Maggie's shoes, fortunately, remained on her feet, even if they were slightly wet. She looked at Alex's feet that still had her socks, but her shoes must have disappeared into the sea.
Alex walked among the stones, checking them and looking around. Maggie felt so lost she could hardly understand what Alex was doing. Alex kept walking around and suddenly stopped. "Like I thought," she murmured. She motioned Maggie to look, pointing at some of the stones. "There's a place here where we can settle until they find us." Maggie looked. There were two or three stones that formed a cave-like depression, the size of a small niche. There was room for both of them to sit or lie down, but not to stand upright, and there were still nine or ten feet inside. But it seemed it was protected from sun or rain.
"Wait, you mean-" Maggie said uncertainly, and Alex sighed. "I don’t like the idea of staying here more than you do, but if we want to survive until they find us, we have to find a place to sit and try to survive." She folded her hands and looked at Maggie. Maggie pinched the bridge of her nose in despair.
“Now, the next step is to find a fresh water source and food to eat. " Alex looked at the ground and picked up a rather long branch, leaning on it. "Do you want to come with me, or...?"
"Wait, just... wait a minute," Maggie raised her hands and closed her eyes. She took a few deep breaths. "I need, I need, wait, I have to breathe." Alex approached her cautiously. Maggie buried her face in her hands.
"I can’t believe this is happening to me." She whispered. To be stuck on a desert island? How many times does someone ask you this question? What would you take to a desert island? What would you do if you were stuck on a desert island? people don’t even take these things seriously.
She tried to breathe deeply. to think. She just boarded a flight to India for a few months' vacation. She wanted to travel, to breathe, to think. She wanted to see new places, new people, climb mountain peaks, breathe fresh air, clean her head.. stop thinking about Darla, about her miserable life about everything... Stop thinking, period. She felt so lost in her life, so detached from anything, flying in the void... She was afraid to admit aloud (not that she had someone to admit in front) that she also had hope that after the trip she could start a new life. Find a better job, maybe go learn something... get on that horse. This empty feeling, it must disappear. And now... now she's stuck on a desert island, with no possibility of starting over.
Maggie looked around with tears in her eyes. She looked at Alex, whose eyes were also a little wet.
"We'll find a way to survive, and someone will come to save us, someone will come," Alex said. She tried to sound confident and calm, but Maggie heard a little stress in her voice.
"I understand how you feel." Alex put a hand on her shoulder. "But now we must find a way to survive until someone arrives."
Maggie wiped her eyes and nodded, taking a few more deep breaths. Alex is right.
"So," Alex said again. "We need to find some big leaves, something to eat, and most importantly, fresh water." She leaned against the improvised cane and began to move toward the forest. "You can stay here if you want to, but I'm going to go get these things, and you're welcome to come with me."
Maggie looked at her for a moment. "Alright, alright," she said and started walking beside Alex toward the forest.
"How do you know all these stuff?" Maggie asked as they entered the forest.
Alex studied some trees, knocking them in her fist. "My sister and I used to play this game like we're on a desert island, taking blankets and mattresses and pretending that these were our leaves and cave, balls instead of coconuts, a pile of clothes instead of a bonfire." Alex smiled sadly. "I checked online how to survive on a desert island to make the game more realistic for Kara." She kept walking toward a tree with very wide leaves. "I never thought I'd need those skills in the real world." She studied the ground and picked up a particularly sharp stone. "You have to cut those leaves off the root, and then we can use them." She looked at Maggie. "Find a similar stone and do as I do." Maggie swallowed and nodded.
They returned to the cave after an hour or two, their hands cluttered with wide leaves, branches, and quite a bit of moss that they had pulled out from shrubs and trees. In the forest, they also found coconut trees, from which they managed to knock down some coconuts, and a few small-looking berries, which also collected a large pile. They didn’t go far because Alex's leg began to ache, and Maggie suggested that they return to shore so she could rest, and so that they could see rescue planes on their way when they came.
Maggie put everything on the ground and sat down. Alex did the same, grimacing.
"Are you sure you-" Maggie began.
"I'm fine," Alex said dismissively, sitting down with a sigh of pain. "I will be fine." She corrected and held her foot. She looked around at the loot.
"I have a feeling that this moss will be more useful than your sleeve," Alex said, carefully removing the bloody cloth. She cleaned the wound a little with a rough leaf, then covered it with moss, tied it with one of the leaves, which turned out to be very strong leaves.
"You seem to be good at these things," Maggie pointed out. Alex smiled. "I'm a doctor," she said. "Mainly treats head, brain, and spine injuries, but I have other skills among other things, a doctor should know more than they’re expert on," she finished tying the impromptu bandage around her tibia and next checked the sprain.
"Hmm, okay." She studied her crooked leg as if it were the leg of a patient sitting in front of her on a table rather than her own leg. She carefully removed the piece of wood. Maggie looked at the leg with apprehension. "I'm gonna need your help." Alex looked at her. "I need you to pull your foot in that direction, as hard as you can."
Maggie turned pale. "You're not really..."
"Yes, I am, come on, I can’t do it myself and I don’t have any medical supplies here," she breathed heavily. "You have to help me."
Maggie sighed with concern and reached out cautiously. Alex adjusted Maggie hands on her ankle and she took a deep breath. "Wait, wait," Alex said suddenly, putting a piece of wood in her mouth. Maggie looked into her eyes and Alex nodded, closing her eyes tightly. Maggie pulled with all her strength and Alex let out a moan of pain, pounding hard on the ground.
"Sorry, sorry!" Maggie said anxiously, looking at the leg, which now seemed more straight. Alex rose, her face still twisted with pain. She felt her foot, pressing and pulling carefully, and a smile suddenly came over her face. "Good."
Maggie breathed with relief. "Thank God."
Alex smiled at her. "We're a pretty good team, aren't we?"
Maggie was momentarily swayed by Alex's smile, which lit up her slightly dirty face. "Yes," she said, smiling shyly.
Alex threw two more branches into the bonfire, which burned pleasantly. Earlier, Maggie went back into the woods to collect some wood for a fire, forbidding Alex to move, commend her to rest. Alex guided her with which trees and leaves were the best, and she emerged from the forest half an hour later, laden with branches and leaves. They were now sitting by the fire, trying to keep warm from the evening that had begun to envelop them.
"I still can’t believe you managed to light a bonfire."
Alex shrugged. "I'm just imitating things I've seen. lucky for us you found dry enough leaves on this damp island." She looked at her hands, which were still slightly red from the effort of rubbing the branches together.
They sat on the beach almost all afternoon, waiting for the sound of a helicopter or even a passing ship, but nothing was in sight. The sun was setting and they hoped that a rescue crew would pass through the area tomorrow. While they waited, they tried to open the coconuts, but without a knife or anything sharp, there was no chance. They threw the coconut, tried to crack it with a large stone, but no success. They put the coconuts aside in disappointment and ate some of the strange small berries they found, which were small and very unsatisfactory.
Maggie glanced at Alex, the light of the fire reflected in her eyes. She rubbed her hands against the fire, warming her frozen hands. The air around it, which was hot and humid during the day, had grown colder as the sun went down, and now at night, nothing around them had warmed them except for the little-improvised bonfire.
"What are we gonna do tomorrow?" Maggie asked, a slight concern in her voice.
Alex sighed, looking away from the fire to look at Maggie. "First of all, we must find a source of fresh water, otherwise it will be very difficult for us keep on surviving." Suddenly Maggie became very aware of her dry throat and remembered that she hadn’t drunk anything since she was on the plane. "I thought we'd try to find a tree with resin, and maybe try to build a receptacle tool for water and food, with leaves and resin." Maggie looked at her in surprise. The idea didn’t even occur to her. "Next," Alex said, not notices Maggie's reaction. "We should try to find a way to fish, to have something to eat." She looked at Maggie. "I hope you eat fish."
Maggie shrugged. "I'm not a big fan of fish, but I guess I don’t have many choices."
Alex shook her head. "I hope we won’t really have to use all these things.. I think they'll be coming soon, maybe a day or two tops." She seemed confident when she said these things, hardly worried. "We're not far from the crash site, we'll see them when they’ll arrive."
She took a deep breath and looked at Maggie. "Umm... also I.. I know it’ll sound strange and everything, but I think we should sleep together tonight." slight flush rose in her cheeks. "I mean, close, to protect ourselves from the cold, you know." Maggie's mouth curled into a smile. "Of course, good idea," she nodded.
Alex looked back at the fire. "Before I jump into bed with a girl I usually like to get to know her first," Maggie said with a smirk. Alex blushed harder now, giggling in embarrassment.
Maggie reached out a hand. "I'm Maggie, Maggie Sawyer." Alex smiled at her and squeezed her hand. "Alex Danvers," she replied. "Originally from Blue Springs, Nebraska," Maggie continued, then she stopped. What else could she say about herself? Was abandoned at the age of 14 and since then she has learned to live without being dependent on anyone? Working part-time at some bar and can barely finish the month? Abandoned by her last girlfriend less than two weeks ago? She closed her mouth and shrugged. "That's.. about everything. You?"
"Originally from Midvale, California. I live with my sister in National City, she's studying journalism at National City University and I'm a doctor at National City’s general," She was silent for a moment. "I actually did an M.A in biochemical engineering, but after a few years, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor who cures and heals, and to do more than sit in the lab all day... I believe that there is no higher calling than helping others. So I went back to med school and studied medicine, and now I'm a doctor at the hospital. That's where I met this guy, James, and since then we've been best friends. " She smiled sadly and bowed her head. "When I happened to meet him with Kara, they both started talking and... it wasn’t long before they decided to be together." she shook her head when she remembered. "My sister and my best friend. most people wouldn’t let it happen to them, but when I saw them together, I had no doubt they were meant for each other." Maggie tossed two more branches into the fire, listening carefully. Alex sighed, a sad look in her eyes. "Kara. She must've heard of the crash already." She looked down again, closing her eyes. "She must be terribly worried." Maggie felt the need to put a hand on Alex's shoulder.
"They'll find us," she told her, repeating the words Alex herself had told her a few hours ago.
"So," Maggie said, trying to convey the murky atmosphere that enveloped them. "What did you do on a plane to Asia?"
"My department received a letter from this clinic in India with a few difficult cases, and we decided to send a delegation there, and I was supposed to board everyone's plane two days ago. I was delayed because of a patient, and I planned to get there late." She buried her face in her hands, holding back tears. "God, I can’t believe it happened to me." Maggie looked at her compassionately, moving slightly to approach her, placing a hand on her shoulder. Alex wiped her tears with the back of her hand. "What about you?" She said weakly, clearly trying to divert her attention.
Maggie cleared her throat. "I... umm.. I went on a vacation. I wanted to go travel, see new places, new people... clean my head a bit." Alex nodded at her. "Well," she shrugged. "You can’t say you didn’t get what you wanted."
Maggie smiled at her, and they looked at each other for a moment. Maggie noticed that Alex's face was pale, and beneath the layer of dirt were delicate, soft freckles. Her eyes were dark, beautiful, and Maggie found herself sucked into them. She stopped herself quickly, clearing her throat again, embarrassed. Alex moved a little, hugging her knees harder.
"We'd better go to sleep."