"The Days are Numbered"
Monday, September 25th, 9:23 AM.
Four Days before the Great Turn
McArthur Air Flight 157 traveled from Schiphol Amsterdam Airport to its destination, the Portland International Airport, and out of the 246 seats, it carried only 180 souls on board. It was a nonstop flight, a total of 16 hours, which made Anna Gonzalez's body numb and painful from attending to every demand the passengers made. She had been in the business for four years now and she thought of transferring to another career with better pay and easier lifestyle compared to hopping to one country to the next. The fun factor of her job had lost its touch after countless unnecessary demands from the passengers made her want to open the latch doors and throw the bastards who complained their seats were too tight for the millionth time. It wasn't her fault that the airline decided to cut up space to put twelve more seats to inflate their wallets. She poured two cups of coffee and entered the cockpit, as Captain Winters was busy talking to Air control in Portland.
"Hello boys, how's the bird?"
"Fine and dandy. The turbulence an hour ago didn't knock anything out back there, did it?" Winters asked. He was an old man at his sixties yet still healthy as a fox. Anna still couldn't believe he married his fifth wife three months ago.
"One passenger puked. Gave him a paper bag yet he doesn't look too well." She put the cups beside their chair. "Be careful, it's hot."
"Thanks, Anna. You know, that passenger probably has that flu going around." First officer Dekker said.
"The one in the Middle East? God, I hope not." She laughed nervously.
"Yeah, me too. Hey, did you hear about the riots in Amsterdam? Airport was shot down three hours after we left." Dekker said.
"Well, I'm glad we're out there. I don't want to get stuck there for another day. I want to get home to my comfortable bed and have a proper bath." She walked to the door and asked them if they need anything else, but they just shook their heads.
She went out the door and entered first class. The cabin was half empty, most of them were asleep except for a boy of nine playing on his PlayStation Vita, concentrated on smacking his thumbs on the keys without realizing the bag of nuts beside him fell off and scattered on the floor. Anna rolled her eyes and walked toward him, picking up some and put them in the palm of her hand. The boy noticed her, his eyes widen as he realized what he did.
"I'm so sorry!"
"Don't worry, you have nothing to be sorry about." She smiled. His parents beside him were sound asleep.
"Are we almost there?"
Anna glanced at her watch. "In half an hour or less." She gave a quick pat on his curly hair before walking to the galley and threw the nuts on the garbage. The public-address microphone switched on in a slight pitch before Captain Winters' voice crackled throughout the cabin.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are twenty minutes away from the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon and would be touching down shortly. We ask that you remain seated and your seatbelts buckled as we approach the city limits. Cabin crew, please make sure that the passengers are well seated, window shades up, and everyone ready for landing. As you may know, here at McArthur Air appreciate you choosing us and on behalf of First Officer Dekker and myself, we hope you enjoy the flight and fly with us again soon." The PA crackled off as the passengers stretched and buckled their seatbelts.
Anna put a couple of carts back in the galley with Sophia, a new stewardess in the flight, a bit bubbly and pretty, just like how McArthur Air like them. She hadn't talked to her since the flight started, but she was too tired to have a bit of chit chat during the job. Anna secured the carts making sure they wouldn't move when they land as Dawson sauntered into the galley, red and flustered, turned toward the faucet and washed his face. He grabbed a bottle of water, twisted it open, and gulped it down.
"What happened? Where's your cart? I told you to bring it here." Sophia asked.
"It's over there." He pointed at the tail end of the plane. "I got distracted. The passenger at 30A kept complaining about the noise of the plane, says it's pounding inside his head. The Air marshal is now handling him. I'll get it later."
"You mean the sick guy?" Anna said as she peeked into economy class where the guy on 30A was talking to a man in a black leather jacket, a badge sticking out of his belt. The passenger was Mr. Jansen, a doctor from Amsterdam on a vacation. Anna remembered him talking about his job when he asked for a paper bag to puke on, giving an excuse as a non-frequent flier afraid of flight. She found her eyes on Mr. Jansen's bandaged arm, an injury he said was caused by a patient of his in the hospital. "I hope Bill handles it. What did he do to you?"
"He spit on my face. Like, full on spit."
"Why would he do that?" Sophia asked.
Dawson only scoffed. "The guy had the nerve to say I was mocking him."
There were shouting in the cabin as the first class passengers started hearing the scuffle and turned toward the noise. Anna peeked out and saw Bill, the air marshal, had his hand on Jansen's shoulder preventing him from getting out of his seat. Jansen started wheezing, his face red and sweating, as if he's choking. Then, he threw a hard punch at Bill, knocking him down the floor. Anna ran toward them, as the passengers tried to hold down Jansen, but he overpowered them knocking another guy back to his seat as he ran to the back galley and locked himself in a bathroom. Anna found her way to Bill.
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. Get the passengers back." Bill pulled out his gun and cuffs and walked to the rear galley.
"Okay, everyone, if you could all please stand back and return to your seat!" Nobody listened to her as all the other passengers' eyes trained at the rear of the plane. Bill was knocking hard on the lavatory door, but Jansen didn't answer back.
"Sir, this is your last warning. This a complete violation of…" Bill paused for a second, trying to discern the noise coming from inside. "Sir, are you alright?"
The lavatory door burst open as Bill was pulled inside, his gun went off, and a bullet shot through the cabin floor. Anna dropped to the ground, her palms and arms covering her head. She could hear the screams and shouts of the other passengers as couple more shots were fired hitting a seat and at the wall. Then, another shot was fired, and Anna felt the air of the cabin knocked the air out of her lungs. It didn't take long before the cart was sucked in toward the window near her, blowing a wide hole as a couple of the seats were sucked out as well. Thankfully, there were no passengers sitting on it.
Anna tried to hold on to one of the seats as two men held her arms. She felt her feet rose off the ground as the oxygen masks were deployed. The plane jerked down, shaking, and the men holding her slipped off and she felt her body engulfed by the wind, carrying her out.
Anna screamed and felt the cold high altitude air as she flew among the clouds as gravity pulled her down toward the trees below. She saw the hole of the plane, getting bigger as more debris went out of it, a couple more bodies went after. The plane fell beside her, getting farther and farther away, like an injured bird trying to gain its ability to fly.
The Sheriff's Station
There was a saying: never to be on the ground long when you fall, always stand back up. It was a creed Rob Lovell lived by every day. Ever since he was six and saw the man he trusted and loved the most in his life walked out of their home and never looked back, he always reminded himself to not be that man. There, sitting in Sheriff Edward Darby's office, he felt accomplished in life. Trained for the past 30 weeks in the academy in Portland, he looked back on his achievements, top of the class with a perfect psychological evaluations, and he didn't regret entering those doors and change his life for the better.
Sheriff Darby stared at him for a minute but it felt like hours, the air of the room started to get hot. He called him into the office for a talk, but Rob had no idea what it's all about. Rob felt the sweat under his tight uniform, and tugged at his collar, letting air in a little bit, and awkwardly looked around the office. He debated whether to say the first words when the sheriff cleared his throat.
"Are you going to a porno shoot?" Darby asked. He was a bulky and muscular man, with tanned skin, sapphire eyes and salt and pepper hair, yet he remained younger looking than most men in their early forties. Rob was caught off guard by the question and realized he was talking about his clothes.
"Um, technical errors on the orders. I just received them yesterday." It was a mistake on the online form, and was delivered a medium-sized short sleeve twill shirt that made him look like a cardboard cutout of a porno flick from the 70's. "Don't really have a choice to correct the order in an 8-hour timeframe. I have to wear this in the next couple of days."
Darby laughed. "Well, all I can tell you kid is that you're going to be scoring with the ladies if you parade that around." He opened his drawer and pulled out a bottle of scotch and two glasses. "Kidding aside, I want to officially welcome you to the family. It's your first day around here, and a fresh blood but you'll get the hang of things. I don't see why you have to choose the most boring place on earth."
He poured the scotch on both glasses and gave one to Rob. Rob hesitated for a half second, then accepted the offer. He took a quick gulp, the alcohol burned down his throat and lungs like a firecracker, the after taste slowly seeping on his tongue.
"Thank you, sir. I would do everything I can to benefit this community."
"Chill out, Rob. The interviews are all over. You're a Drake-born kid, heart and soul. I saw you grow up right in front of my eyes and now here you are, a boy who turned into a man, protecting his turf. Isn't that sweet?" Darby got up from his seat and walked toward the door. "Let me show you around."
Rob got up on his feet, rising taller than Darby, whose height was only four inches short than Rob's 6'3 stature. Darby opened the glass door and went out of the office as he led him to every corner of the station. It wasn't the first time Rob had visited the place when he was young, although the tour usually involved getting thrown behind bars. Of course, Darby led him to the jail cell pointing at a particular spot where Rob had called his second home.
"I remember a lot of fond memories in this cell." Darby laughed. Rob joined in as he reminisce about his past youth's promiscuity as well as vandalizing properties in his "I'm an artist" phase. He fortunately turned things around after a long and brutal conversation with not only Sheriff Darby but his mother and the rest of the town. You're just like your father, they would say. That woke him up from his destructive path.
"I'm glad I'm on the other side now."
"How does it feel?"
"At least you'll be the one to find a new tenant for the place."
They walked toward the largest part of the building where most of the officers and desk workers worked and hanged out. It was a poorly lit room only filled with fluorescent light because of fewer windows, with crammed spaces from the desks and file cabinets. The walls were creamy pale, with pictures of police officers, both honorary from past and present, hanged staring at the other side.
"Rob!" A man in his early thirties called out. He walked up to them and eyed Rob up and down. "Wow, its fucking weird seeing you wear those."
"You're welcome?" Rob didn't know what to say.
"What Jenkins here was saying, he's glad to see you here." Zoe Valdez playfully hit Jenkins on the shoulders. She was a beautiful woman, with chestnut eyes and dark hair up in a pony tail that heavily vaunt her Hispanic features.
"Rob, you probably know Deputy Buck Jenkins and Zoe Valdez. Buck is a prankster and the idiot one," Darby introduced them as Buck clasped his chest, as if shot and stung by the hurtful remark. "And Zoe here is the smartest woman you've ever met. Hard-working but don't get on her bad side."
"You know, for having a few misdemeanor charges, I'm surprised you even made it to the academy, with their fancy background checks and stuff." Buck interjected.
"I barely made the cut though it also took a lot of convincing that this is what I want to do in life."
"Wow. Spoken like a true changed man. Welcome to the family." Buck opened his arms and dove in for a hug, patting Rob's back before breaking it off.
"Oh yeah, he's also a hugger," Darby said. Buck was a lanky guy, with a goatee and short, light reddish hair and slate gray eyes. "Hey, where's the rest of the crew?"
"Cal and Sullivan were working on a 390 up at the Thompsons place," Zoe said. "It's Hank."
"Christ. That drunk is going to get himself killed one day. How bad?"
"Public indecency and very intoxicated. They're bringing him here now."
Darby turned to look at Rob, put a hand on his shoulder and chuckled. "Well, kid, you picked the perfect day to listen to Hank's gibberish. You'll like him. He has certain…interesting qualities."
Rob knew who Hank Thompson was as Sheriff Darby and his mother tried to cite him as an example of the worst possible way a man could go down deeper into the gutter. Though, Rob felt sorry for the guy even though he never met him, alone and living in the woods outside of town isolated by the people who spoke worst things behind his back. Worse than Andy Stutzman up in Camp Braveheart.
"Come, there's one other person I want you to meet." Darby led him to the lobby, a small space with two wooden benches on both side of the room. A glass window shielded a desk inside and a woman, in her late forties, sat twiddling on the computer.
"Rob, meet Darla Carroll. She's the one who takes the calls and a lovely woman with the best Chicken Marsala I've ever tasted in my entire life. Even my ex-wife can't compete with her culinary skills."
"I live to please everyone's taste buds." Rob noticed the hint of a southern accent from her. She was a big woman, with golden dark skin and short curly dark hair styled in a bob. "As a welcome gift, I'm giving you your first assignment down at Robertson Street. There's a disturbance out there. Probably Eric's kid having another one of his crazy parties."
"First assignment. Think you can handle it?"
"With 30 weeks of training, let's see what I can do." Rob smiled as Darby shook his head as he chuckled.
"Okay, son, I'm going to let Jenkins come with you, just in case. Jenkins!" He called out and Buck came running out into the lobby. "You're coming with Rob up at Wilks' place."
"Sure, it'd be nice to show the rookie around." Darla handed him the car keys as Buck led Rob to the entrance doors.
"And be careful. I don't want a fresh blood getting wounded in his first day."
"Nah. I know Eric. Guy won't hurt a fly." Rob said.
"No, I'm talking about his happy trigger son. He's a scumbag."
"Duly noted." Buck made a casual salute and went out of the lobby.
The bright light stung Rob's eyes for a few seconds, the sun shining brightly up on the clear blue skies. The sheriff's office was built in an old building probably built in the 1900's back when the town was founded. Beside it was a small parking lot filled with police vehicles. They walked toward the nearest car. Buck whistled at him as he threw the car keys.
"You're driving, rookie." Rob almost lost his grip as the keys landed on his sweating palms.
Rob's heart skipped a beat as he entered the car. He felt the leather seat pressed against his back, and he gripped the steering wheel tightly. If my dad could see me now I wonder what he would say, he thought. Buck poked at him, snapping him back from his thoughts.
A sudden sound of a large engine pierced the clear blue skies, growing in intensity above them as it slightly shook the car. Buck and Rob quickly got out of the car and looked up, the shadow of an aircraft, huge and monstrous from a man's eyes down below, inching its way toward the ground. It swerved and flew above like an injured bird roaring with the sound of thunder, and Rob estimated it's probably four to five thousand feet above town.
"I've never seen a plane like that close to the ground before! Where's it going?" Buck said as they follow where the plane's path. A large commercial aircraft flying low is definitely unusual especially when the local airport only accommodate smaller Cessna-type planes. In an instant, Rob knew.
"It's not going anywhere. It's crashing!"
They jumped back into the vehicle and switched the siren on. Rob drove out of the parking lot and stepped on the gas as he sped through downtown, the siren wailing against the roaring engine of the aircraft above.
"Where's it heading?" Rob knew what Buck was thinking, concerned that it may crash in a heavily populated area. Rob turned to a corner out of downtown and entered the highway, other cars swerved quickly out of their way. The plane jerked right back up, ascending out of the radius of the town and Rob felt relieved it won't crash. Rob blinked for a quick second and the plane made a full turn when it fell from its ascension nose first, its wings broke off from its main body. Within a few seconds, the plane vanished behind the heavily forested hills that bordered the town. Then, they both saw it.
A mushroom-like cloud of smoke and flame light up behind the woods, the sound of the explosion traveled a few seconds late back to Rob's ears. The smoke rose ominously to the on looking citizens of Drake, Oregon as the plane had crashed right in front of eight thousand people.
"It's heading for the lake."
Drake High School
Kate Darby occupied the second to the last seat near the window of Mrs. Dunlap's AP biology class. She always picked the seat near the window on all her classes, watching the trees and the breeze outside calmed her. Mrs. Dunlap's room overlook the school's courtyard filled with beautiful shrubs, flowers and trees, shedding their leaves for fall. The school's emblem was at the center, the mighty lions of Drake High School roared ferociously at the feet of whoever dared step on him. The courtyard also had a few benches and wooden tables, and perfectly cut green grass for everyone to lay on and enjoy the last days of the sun. Oregon weather has always been weird. 3 months of sunny and hot skies and then the rest of the year, they had to endure countless rainy days till May.
Kate looked away from the window and stared at the worksheet in front of her. She was mostly done with every question, with a couple of them she wasn't sure of. Biology for her was like a second limb, it's something she knew and learn quickly, and passionate about, a passion Mrs. Dunlap appreciate and liked about her. Kate didn't like to think that she was the most favorite student since freshman year by Mrs. Dunlap but it's true. She's been acing the entire class without a single hiccup. Now, in an Advanced Placement class, she's planning to do that again.
Amy inched closer toward her, and peeked at her sheet. "Wow, lady. I'm not even in number five and you're almost done." She laughed. "Want to work together on this one?"
"Sure. Just so you know, you owe me lunch." Amy nodded as she dragged her chair closer.
Kate and Amy Langston had been best friends since kindergarten, and has been inseparable ever since. They've been through a lot together, both good and bad, and supported each other since Amy's parents died in a car accident as well as Kate's parents' divorce that isolated herself from her other peers. Now in their senior year and at the brink of adulthood, they both promised each other to stay in touch even when they're from different corners of the country. For this school year, Amy dyed her hair pastel pink, with a hint of her original blonde color at the tip of her long wavy hair. She showed it to Kate before school start, a sign of support for Ms. Lawson, Amy's favorite art teacher, who found out she has breast cancer last spring.
Kate glanced around the room and found herself staring at the empty seat in front of her.
"Do you know where Liam's at? I tried calling him last night but he wouldn't answer." Kate asked.
"Beats me. I don't know where he is, either. Probably hooking up with some guy. Maybe that dude he kept telling us about but won't say who it was."
'Coming from someone who moans everyday about the lack of gay people in this town? I don't believe he's with a guy."
"Maybe he stuck his fishing pole in the closet and found a fish. There's plenty of fishes in that pond."
Kate suddenly heard a weird noise, sounded like an engine slowly approaching. "Do you hear that?" She turned to Amy who was busy scribbling on her paper.
"Heard what?" She froze, trying to listen to what Kate was hearing. The roaring sound grew louder, and soon the rest of the class stopped and listen as well. Some whispered as the sound approached with intensity.
"A plane." Kate answered. The room shook as the jet engine rumbled above them drowning the nervous chats of the other students and Mrs. Dunlap's screams to quiet down. She felt the plane really close to the ground when beyond the window, she saw the body of the aircraft flying above the school ground. No, not flying, almost nose diving. The plane ascended all of a sudden and then turned to the left before disappearing behind the pine trees. The others ran to the window trying to catch a glimpse of it. A mushroom-like cloud rose into the air and Kate could feel the hearts of everyone inside stopped and skipped from shock. Some of the girls screamed as the others gaped.
"Everyone! Stay away from the windows!" Mrs. Dunlap said and everyone didn't listen as they stare at the fire. A hundred birds flew out of the woods soaring up enormously to the clear blue skies like locusts.
"It probably crashed near the lake!" One boy shouted.
Kate's eyes widen and fumbled for her phone inside her pocket. She tapped on the directory and called for her mother as she lived closer to the lake.
The fire alarm blared like the siren of the damned waking the others from their trance and shocked state. Mrs. Dunlap quickly snapped from her thoughts and led the others out of the classroom. The phone on the other line didn't answer and Kate feared that the plane might be on top of her mother's house right now. She shook the thought off of her mind as the hallway was filled with students crowding toward the exit doors as the alarm continued to wail hauntingly down the halls. Kate never let go of Amy as they walked side by side, bumping with other people almost knocking them off the floor.
"I got to find Danny!" Amy shouted and ran the other way but Kate tugged her back.
"We'll find your boyfriend when we get out."
They reached the exit doors and slipped their way out, the hot rays of the sun stinging on their skin. Kate looked up again toward the rising cloud, the smoke now being caught by the wind and leaning toward the left. Kate called again and again as she and Amy led their way to the football field where Principal Carl Norris ushered the other students into groups based on their year.
Standing tall above the crowd was Danny, lean and lanky with chestnut moppy hair and scruffy stubbles. He saw them at first, and ran toward them, his guitar strapped around his back. Amy jumped into his arms and kissed him as Kate peer away from the sight. She never liked Danny that much. For the fifth time, she was sent to voice mail and Kate quickly left a message before turning to the other two.
"Did you get hold of them?" Amy asked.
"No. The line's busy," Kate said, her voice almost cracking.
"I'm sure they're safe. Your mom is probably out in Portland and George is at work. And your brother is in school so they're safe."
"What if Benjie was sick and stayed home and George was home as well and-"
"Kate, they're fine. Come here." Amy grabbed her into a hug.
"Have you seen Liam?" Kate asked Danny.
"I saw him last night but this morning, no. I'm sorry."
Three fire trucks drove past the school in haste followed by two police cars at their tail, their sirens howling toward the highway leading out of town. Kate forgot to call her father if he's alright as well and she got her phone out again and dialed his number. It didn't take long for his father to pick up.
"Dad, are you alright? Are you seeing this thing?"
"Yeah, Zoe and I are now driving toward it. Listen, Katie, I want you not to go near the lake. You hear me?" Sheriff Darby said on the other line but his words were a little jumbled, calm and reserved in tone and Kate couldn't tell whether he's panicking as she did.
"Dad, I couldn't hear you clearly. But the lake, mom is-"
"I know, I've been calling her but the plane might've taken down one of the cell towers nearby the lake. I'm going to check out their house and see if everything's fine and then I'll call you. I promise. But for now, stay put. Stay in school or go back to my house. You know where the keys are, don't you?"
"I know, I know. But what if-"
"I'm sending men to other houses near the lake and evacuate them for a bit in case there will be a forest fire, and your mother's is one of them. I'll make sure of that." There was a pause and Kate could here Zoe talking on the other line. "Listen, kid, I have to hang up. Stay put, okay?"
"Just please…be careful." She could feel her father smile from the other line.
"I always do. We Darbys always…"
"…beat the odds." She finished and it made her a little bit better.
"Say hello to Liam and Amy for me. Be safe." And then, the line went dead. She didn't let go of the phone for a few seconds before putting them back in her back pocket.
Kate remained fixated on the smoke as the other remaining students filled the entire football field. Principal Norris stood in front of everyone shouting orders at the crowd but Kate didn't listen to any of it. A few school buses showed up a few minutes later and Mrs. Dunlap led the others to the curb as a couple of buses stopped in front of them.
Amy and Danny walked Kate to her bus offering to stay with her until they get to her stop but she refused.
"I'll come by your house tonight. With Liam, if I could ever find that fucker. Where would he go on a Monday?"
"Skipping, probably." Danny interjected.
"Not the first time." Amy rolled her eyes. "Well, I hope he's alright. So, 6:00, tonight?"
"Yeah," Kate looked at the smoke once again. "God, I hope they're okay."
Lake Altaha, 5.3 miles North West from Drake, Oregon
Less than fifteen minutes ago, the plane wheezed past Liam Holbrook's head, landing half a mile north of where he and Carter Garibay sat inside his 1969 Ford pick-up truck. The noise was deafening at first, and sounded like an earthquake and a thunder at the same time when Liam caught the wings of the plane broke off of its main body. They didn't know where it crashed, and so the boys got out of their car and ran into the woods toward the smoke. Liam had been in Lake Altaha's trail many times, his brother and him would usually do their camping every summer. It was easy for him to pick out the trail, crossing down heavily forested area as the other boy tried desperately to catch up to him.
"What kind of plane was it?" Carter shouted. He was a man at the brink of eighteen, with buzzed cut hair wearing his letterman jacket, his eyes in a beautiful aquamarine that matched his dark olive complexion. Liam was shorter than him, standing at five feet and six inches, he felt smaller compared to Carter, lean with chestnut short brown hair, and lacking any muscle on his body, average at best to anyone's eyes.
"I don't know. From the looks of it, probably a commercial jet." He answered back as he dodged a branch from a nearby tree.
"Like with passengers?"
Liam didn't answer back. He had read online that some commercial jets carried no passengers and just cargo sometimes. It is uncommon but it happen usually carrying a flight number higher than 9000 to distinct it from the other flights. He hoped the plane was one of them. They burst through an open field near the banks of the lake, one of Lake Altaha's park where employees used for some of the town events, and Liam was caught off guard of the thing in front of him.
The plane was broken in half, its tail sticking out of the water while the front were mangled and contorted on the shore. There was fire everywhere, on the plane and on the trees as well. Liam shielded his eyes away from the mutilated bodies of the passengers scattered on the banks of the lake. One of the clipped wings was sticking out of the restroom area, like a cupid's arrow glued to the heart. The plane's jet engine still functioned and roared that Liam had to cover his ears as he made his way closer to the plane.
Carter grabbed his arm, pulling him back to the tree line. "What the fuck are you doing?"
"There might be survivors, Carter!" Liam pulled his arm off his grip and ran toward the plane.
He didn't hear any cries for help, only the sound of fury from the flames and the creaking sound of the wreckage, moaning, or dying. He tread carefully down the slopes, trying not to think of the dead bodies lying on the ground near him. His head was spinning and he felt like he couldn't breathe, coupled with the smell of smoke and gasoline as well as the smell of burnt human flesh. Liam could see the cabins of the plane, its roof were torn off, and many of the passengers still buckled on their seats covered in blood, some were missing their limbs. He shield his eyes away from the sight. He could feel the heat of the flames tickling his skin as he walked closer. Hundreds of luggage and cargo lay over what used to be a green field that Liam and other Drake residents do their picnics. It reminded him of the scene from War of the Worlds, the debris were everywhere and Liam almost tripped over a luggage.
"Hello?" He shouted at the top of his lungs but he didn't receive any replies. He looked back and saw Carter checking up on the bodies. He shook his head at him, dead.
Liam stood in front of the plane, the cockpit's windows were broken with the mangled body of the Captain sticking out of it, his blood dripped down on the white surface of the plane. The sirens of the fire trucks and the ambulance echoed from the distance. Liam moved closer to one of the entrance doors of the plane, a man in a flight attendant's uniform lay on the floor, his head smashed against the wall. Liam ran to a corner and hurled the bacon and eggs he ate this morning.
"Hey, we should go! The fire trucks are almost here!" Carter shouted as he pointed far off the hill where the main road was, two fire trucks, one ambulance and a couple of police cars parked on top of the hill. Liam could see Sheriff Darby getting out of the vehicle.
A noise rattled behind one of the collapsed walls. Liam hesitated for a moment whether to investigate further or to run for the woods. The responders were on the scene and could professionally do their job. He looked back at Carter standing a few feet away from him, glancing back and forth at the tree line and the cars parked on the hill. Granted, they were the first on scene, and they would be the ones interviewed by the police, and possibly the media, of what they'd seen. Liam knew Carter would rather run off. Go. I'll understand, anyway. Liam thought.
It's not easy telling the rest of the town the reason why two boys, who had never spoken to each other since they were kids, suddenly came together in the woods and witnessed a plane crash was because they were making out at the back of a pick-up truck. Though, it's a lost cause as Lake Altaha was known for countless lost virginities and baby-making, and if they were ever to invent a reason why they're there, others would connect the dots, especially Carter's father. A reverend always saw through their children's sins.
Liam heard the noise again and he turned his back away from Carter as he made his way behind the collapsed wall.
"Liam, we need to go!"
"Hold on! I heard something!"
Liam turned to the left and peeked out behind the wall and saw a boy stuck between a first-class seat and the green grass. His deep-green eyes were open and staring at Liam, his face covered in blood, but Liam didn't realize he was alive until the boy blinked, yet remained still, his PS Vita gripped tightly on his hand while his game was still running.
"Over here! I found someone!" Carter came running and peered behind him. Liam grabbed one of the seat handles and pulled it up, as Carter wrapped his arm under the boy's armpits and pulled him out. The boy screamed and kicked his way out of his grip, his arms failing until it hit Carter right on the face. Carter let go, and the boy ran off. Liam dropped the seat as he went after him. A few feet away, the boy collapsed on the ground in front of two bodies, a man in a polo shirt and khaki pants, and a woman in a pink dress, both their hands holding each other. The boy burst into tears and wrapped his little arms around the man's neck and buried his face on his chest.
"Where'd he-" Carter came up behind him but stopped when he saw the boy.
Some of the cops and emergency personnel had made it halfway through the plane carrying stretchers and a couple of fire hoses. The boy warily got up from his feet and turned toward them, staring wildly like a deer on headlights breathing hard as if going on an asthma attack. He raised his arm with his finger pointing at the lake. Liam couldn't help but turn around and looked back, but there was no one.
"Monster." The kid whispered before his eyes rolled back, his slowly body swayed to the left but Liam caught him just in time before he hit the ground.
Sheriff Darby ran toward them, a CB radio in hand, and a shock expression crossed his face upon seeing him there. "Liam?" His eyes wandered to Carter, standing there like a statue and to the boy in Liam's arms. He realized he was a passenger from the plane. He turned to the crowd coming down the hill and shouted, "Hey, we got a survivor over here!"
The sheriff knelt down beside Liam, putting his ears on the boy's chest as he tried to hear for a heartbeat. He gently seized the boy's hand and checked for his pulse. "Still alive. Were you here long?"
"We arrived two minutes ago."
"Saw other survivors?" He asked.
"Just him. I don't know about the tail section of the plane. It's submerged in the lake." Liam said as he pointed at it. But from the corner of his eye, he saw something splashed in the water, but was obscured from the debris and smoke that when he blinked a second later, it was gone.
"Okay, go back up the hill, and stay there. We don't want you both hurt from debris or from other explosions, you hear me?" Darby said.
The two boys nodded their heads and turned toward the hill. Liam looked back at the boy, the paramedics already surrounded him as they secured him on a stretcher.
"What are we going to say? I don't want my-"
"I'll find something to say. Don't worry about it," Liam interrupted as they reached the top of the hill.
"You sure? Because…"
"Carter, I don't want to think about it right now. We just…saw dead people. A kid just… he just lost..." Liam collapsed on the curb, his hands shaking and he realized it was covered with the boy's blood. He tried to wipe it off of him, and tears started welling up on his eyes. Carter knelt down in front of him and gripped his hands, felt his touch electrify his whole body, and then found his lips onto his. It was a quick kiss, and both boys looked around if anyone saw but there was no one. It was all Liam needed to calm down.
Camp Braveheart for the Youth
The smoke across the lake had finally died down, the voices of the emergency personnel echoed throughout the lake as well as a couple of helicopters hovering over the crash site. Andy Stutzman looked out from his window watching the plane at the comfort of his chair. He didn't see the plane went down with his own eyes as he was busy fixing a fuse in the basement. He regretted not being outside to watch it go down. He always had a fascination for disasters, only he couldn't put his finger on why he liked them so much.
Lake Altaha was four miles wide from east to west and three miles north to south. It was a medium-sized lake, and Andy couldn't see clearly what the people on the other side were doing. He had to wear his glasses in order to see clearly and it looked like they were hauling the bodies in body bags.
He took another sip of his coffee, the warmth of it seeped away leaving a cold bitter taste. Camp Braveheart for the Youth is a summer camp for the kids in western Oregon, and often accommodate from 100 to 150 kids per week. Now that summer's over, the Camp would reopen next at late spring, at the last week of May as per the tradition of the Braveheart crew. Andy's father had bought the property since the 1950's and turned it into a summer camp, later becoming one of the popular summer camps in North-Western Oregon. Now in his early fifties, he inherited the place, as well as some patches of land around the lake that he had turned into small parks that the town could enjoy, making a bit of money for Stutzman. He remained unmarried for a long time as he hate kids and after a couple of bitter divorce, he avoided courtships. Now left alone in solitude, he didn't have to worry about kids for the next eight months.
He had a reputation in town, although they only whispered it in secret, thinking it wouldn't reach his ears but it did. They called him ignorant, racist, narrow-minded, and a snob. He couldn't care less of what other people say as he stayed true to his core values, not what society dictated. At least he came in second to Hank Thompson, who lived a mile off the road from where the camp was. Andy pitied the guy, living in an old, messed up cabin in the woods like a hillbilly drowning himself in liquor. He tried to give him a job as a groundskeeper but hesitated on it, fearing the guy might turn out to be a pedophile.
He got out of his seat and went into the kitchen, putting the cup of coffee down the sink. The TV blared the same crap of news since last week, something that bored Andy to death. The media has been up in arms of a flu sweeping across the Middle East, inciting riots in the cities from various countries, but on this news covered its emergence at a tropical country in South-East Asia. Yet, the news about the virus has been jumbled, and no one really knew how the virus spread. Most of the medical communities had been baffled by the higher mortality rate compared to the ones of Ebola. Andy shut the TV off as he couldn't care less about those countries. Good, terrorists deserve what they get in return. He believed that it was one of the more scare tactics for the media and the medical community to squeeze their influence on the consumer market.
Andy walked out his back door and found Hector had left early than usual, his lawn half mown and it looked ugly on his eyes. "Damn, that Mexican piece of shit. I'm going to fire his ass." He mumbled as he walked out into the yard. "Hector! Where are you?" He shouted although he didn't received an answer.
He walked around the house to the front yard, regretting not to put his slippers on as his feet ached from every step on the gravel path. Hector's pick-up truck was still parked in front, and it seemed the man was still in the property. He walked to the car to make sure the man didn't fall asleep inside but found it empty, the keys still in the ignition.
Andy looked around toward the two cabins across his house. They didn't looked like someone had entered the building and Hector didn't have the keys for the doors anyway. His eyes found a curious object on the grass, and as he advanced toward it, he realized it was a shoe, black in color and in men-sized, something a child won't wear if they ever left it here. Andy picked it up and he quickly jerked his hand back when he felt something slimy touched his fingers.
It was Blood.
"What the fuck?" Andy knelt down and looked closer inside the shoe, finding bits of pieces of flesh and blood. Andy swiftly wiped the blood off on his shirt, and ran back to the house, intending to call the police when he caught something at the corner of his eye.
The boat dock stood at the small bank next to the property, an old rickety dock that Andy had planned to upgrade but didn't have the time to do it. On top of it was a man, standing still at the end of it, looking out to the crash site across the lake.
"Hector, is that you?" He moved closer toward him, shielding his eyes from the rays of the sun to get a better view. The man remained motionless, and he noticed his arm has been bandaged and that he was dripping wet. Andy glanced at the plane across, then to the man, and realized he could be a survivor who swam to shore. Andy, rescuer, the man who saved a life. It has a nice ring to it.
"Sir, are you alright? Do you need help?" Andy climbed onto the dock, the wood beneath his feet creaked with each step. "Are you on that plane?"
It was harder to see from the glare of the sun against his glasses, and he could only see the shape of the man against the light. He heard the man moan something inaudible but Andy didn't catch what he was saying. Andy stopped on his tracks.
"Sir, I didn't quite catch that."
Andy took another stepped and clasped his hands on the man's shoulder but the man swiftly turned around and tackled him, his air escaped his lungs, as he fell off the dock and into the water.
Andy kicked and swung his elbow, hitting the man at the temple and he felt his arms unwind, using the opportunity to give another kick before rising to the surface. He inhaled hard, trying to breathe more air back into his lungs. He swam for the docks and got hold of the wooden floor and hoisted himself up, kicking at the water to push.
He heard a car pull up his driveway, but he couldn't find the voice to scream for help as he struggled to stay up on the dock. He got his upper body out of the water's surface and clawed his way out when a hand grabbed his ankle and pulled him.
Andy held on the wooden planks of the dock, and felt a sharp pain on his abdomen as a liquid slime bubbled its way up his throat and into his mouth. The liquid burst out of his mouth onto the old wooden floor, realizing it was his own blood. His hands slipped as he dragged his nails on the wooden floor, before he fell again, back into the water.
Rob Lovell knocked again on door, but the Stutzman place only greeted him with silence again. He peered into the windows finding the living room empty and he could see the kitchen as well with no soul in sight. Buck Jenkins remained seated inside the car and he turned around to him and shrugged his shoulders.
"Andy's not in there?" Buck asked.
"Probably out in town or maybe drove up to Portland." Rob said as he made his way toward the car. He entered the driver seat and stared at the house. "It's eerie."
Buck scoffed. "Hah! His house always gave me the creeps." Buck turned to the side and eyed the black pick-up truck beside them. "Alvarado's truck is here though. But I don't see Hector in sight."
"Captain said we need to check up nearby residents if some debris fell down their house."
"Doesn't seem like part of the plane fell on his roof. Though, I wish it did." Buck said, laughing.
The two men looked around, trying to see movements from any of the windows. "Hold on." Rob said as he got out of the car toward the lake.
"Where are you going? We should just probably tell Darby Andy's out." Buck went out as well, pulling out his aviator sunglasses and put them on as he followed him.
Rob went down the slope toward the rickety dock, his boots crunching the sand and mud beneath his feet before stepping onto the old wooden planks. He walked to the edge, and crouched down, touching at the puddle of water on the wood.
"What is it?" Buck asked behind him.
"Water. Puddle. Someone was standing here soaking wet."
He shook his head. Rob tugged at his collar again, his sweat running down his brow as the sun beat down on him. Man, I really need that new shirt right here, right now. Rob sneaked a look down the murky water, his brows furrowed, trying to see any movement.
"What's that beneath your boots?" Buck moved closer and crouched beside him, taking off his aviator sunglasses.
Rob moved his feet away and saw red spots of liquid on the wood. He lightly touched it, rubbing it with his other finger trying to feel its texture. "Damn, its blood."
Buck snatched his hand away, as it almost touched it. "What's it doing here?"
Rob took another quick glance at the water and around the lake, the crash site across them was still busy and surrounded by the FBI and the FAA, now involved with the crisis.
"I don't know." Rob got up and looked at the Stutzman's place. "Let's go back and checkup the house before we go. Just in case everything's alright."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed the story so far. Its gonna be a bit slow, but I promise it'll be worth it at the end. As always, reviews are greatly appreciated! :)