Copyright© 2022 by Lazlo Zalezac
Betsy watched a tree remove the wing from her side of the jet, thinking that this had to be the trip from hell. The jet made another spine wrenching jog when another tree removed the wing from the other side of the aircraft. There was a jolt, then the jet came to an abrupt stop, and then the world went black.
Unable to guess how long she had been unconscious, Betsy woke with a start. She glanced around the little commuter jet that was supposed to have taken her and ten other passengers from Winnipeg to Montreal. The interior of the jet was completely trashed. Seats had come loose and flown toward the front of the plane in the midst of the crash. It wasn’t until she turned to face the rear that she realized the last ten feet of the aircraft was gone, as were the three people who had been seated there.
She unbuckled her seat belt, and stood up. She made her way around the cabin checking out people. The stewardess was in a heap on the floor, her neck in an odd position. There was a woman who was groaning, but appeared to be in one piece. Her son was unconscious, beside her. The seat assembly on which two businessmen had been seated had come loose. Their legs were definitely broken. She found another passenger buried under a seat that had flown through the cabin. He was alive, but was pretty torn up. An elderly couple was shaken up, but appeared to be okay.
She headed up to the front cabin to check on the pilots. It took all of her strength to pry open the door. She stuck her head in, afraid of what she would find. One pilot had a large branch sticking through him. If he wasn’t dead, then he wouldn’t be alive for much longer. The other pilot was groaning. She didn’t see any blood spurting out, so she figured that she had better treat some of the other passengers first.
She rummaged around the front of the plane until she located the first aid kit. She opened it and shook her head. It wasn’t good for much beyond simple cuts. There was one small roll of bandage, a bunch of band aids, a burn cream, and an antiseptic cream.
She went back to the passenger who was buried under a seat. He was bleeding, but it wasn’t an arterial cut. It didn’t look that bad. She patched him up the best she could, and left him there.
The elderly man staggered up to where Betsy was studying the two men trapped in their seats. He looked at them, and shook his head, knowing they were in pretty bad shape.
He asked, “Do you think we have to worry about fire?”
“No. The wings are gone, as well as the fuel they held. The fumes are not very strong, so I think we’re safe for the moment,” Betsy answered.
“I don’t really know what to do, but my wife and I will help you in any way we can,” the man said.
“Could you go over to that man over there, and put some pressure on his cut? It would be great if your wife could take care of the woman and the kid up front. I’m going to have to figure out if I should move the seat or if I should leave it there.”
“Sure,” the elderly man said.
Betsy could see bones poking through the pants of the two men. It looked like their knees may have been smashed, too. One of the men had a bloody nose. It looked like his nose had hit the back of the seat in front of him. The other one had a huge bruise in the middle of his forehead. She hoped that neither man had a neck injury.
Betsy decided that it would be best to leave them where they were, until they regained consciousness. She wasn’t going to move them in case they had neck injuries. She went over to the elderly man.
“I’m going to leave them there. I don’t know if they have neck injuries, or not.”
“That’s probably a good idea.”
Betsy said, “Would you watch over these folks? I’d like to see what happened to the folks in the back of the plane.”
“Go ahead,” the man said.
The tail of the plane was fifty yards away from the front of the plane. The people inside were obviously dead. Betsy looked away, saddened by the loss of life. She circled around the tail and spotted a line of luggage along the path the plane had plowed through the trees.
She grabbed four suitcases and headed back to the plane. She made another round trip to bring back another three suitcases, one of which was hers. She opened up her suitcase, and looked at the clothes. The neat packing job Sally had done had been destroyed by the crash. She dug through, and found two tee shirts.
She returned to the elderly man and said, “The others are dead. I found some suitcases though. We can use the contents to survive this thing.”
“Did you find a medium size blue suit case?”
“My wife’s medicines are in it,” he said.
The man on the floor groaned and then opened his eyes. “What happened?”
“We crashed,” Betsy answered.
“I hurt everywhere,” the man said.
Betsy said, “Save your complaints for the lawyers. Until then, we’ve got to survive.”
He glared at her.
“You’re alive, which is something that five other people who were on the plane can’t say. Can you get up?” Betsy asked.
The man sat up. It was obvious that he was in significant pain. The short little yelp when he tried to straighten couldn’t have been faked. He did manage to make it to his feet.
“Can you make it outside?” Betsy asked.
The man slowly made his way out the back of the plane. He was walking a little crookedly.
The elderly man asked, “Did he injure his back?”
“I don’t think so. I think he pulled a couple of muscles. I’ve seen folks in tournaments walk that same way when they landed incorrectly,” Betsy answered.
“Let’s see if we can get your wife and the other two out the back of the plane,” Betsy said.
“Why are you trying to get everyone out of the plane? Shouldn’t we stay in it?”
Betsy said, “We’ve got two guys over there, and the pilot to deal with. I’ve got a feeling there’s going to be a bit of blood and screams. We don’t need a crowd in here, getting squeamish, or in our way.”
“You’re right,” the man said.
“Why don’t you deal with your wife. I’ll check on the pilot?’
Betsy made her way into the cabin. The pilot was awake, and much more alert than she had expected.
When she approached, he said, “Don’t move me.”
“I’m pretty sure my back is broken,” the pilot answered.
“How do you know?”
“I can move my arms and head, but I can’t feel anything below my waist.”
“You’re probably right. Are you in pain?”
“I’ve felt better. How many survived the crash?”
“Nine, including me and you.”
“There were fourteen on board.”
“I know. What caused the crash?” Betsy asked.
“We lost power. Everything just went out. Engines, radio, and ... well ... everything. This is a fly by wire jet. When we lost electricity, we couldn’t steer the plane. We just dropped from the sky.”
“You aren’t just whistling Dixie. We couldn’t radio in our position, I think the transponder went out, and we might not have even been on radar for as long as two minutes. They aren’t going to be able to find us. Their search area is going to be two thousand square miles.”
“You’re just full of good news, aren’t you?” Betsy said with a smile.
“I do have some good news. I’ve got a map here and I’m pretty sure that you can use the GPS in your cell phone to locate where we are.”
“So we just fix the radio and call in our location,” Betsy said before looking at the instrument panel. “Let me guess. The box with a branch sticking through half of it is the radio.”
“Any chance of cell coverage?” Betsy asked while pulling out her cell phone.
“We’re in the middle of nowhere.”
“It will take my Dad at least a day to find out I’m missing. It could be the next day before he learns that I was on a plane that crashed. He’ll call Annette, and she’ll find us. The earliest we can expect to be found is in a day or maybe two.”
“Some woman will find us? How?”
“Annette will find us. She’s a Druid gifted with far-seeing.”
The pilot laughed. “Your Dad can just call up a Druid to look for you. That’s rich!”
“My Dad is a Druid,” Betsy replied.
“Hmmm, then I guess he can call up a Druid for a little help.”
“Where’s the map?”
“There’s a big black case next to me. It’s got a lot of maps in it. You’ll have to look through it.”
Betsy found the bag he described. It took her a few minutes to locate the map that covered the coordinates she’d gotten from her cell phone. She looked over the map carefully.
“It’s not too bad,” Betsy said.
“What do you mean?”
Betsy said, “There’s a highway about twenty-five miles south of us. The nearest town appears to be thirty-five miles east of us. I could probably reach the highway in about six hours. I could reach the town in about eight hours.”
“I think it would take you a bit longer than that. This is rugged country. It could take you two or three days.”
“I do Parkour. I love running through rough country,” Betsy said with a smile.
“That’s that weird obstacle course running thing, isn’t it?”
“That’s as good a description of it as any,” Betsy said.
“It’s going to be dark before you know it, so you aren’t going anywhere, today.”
“I’ve got a couple of people to patch up in the back,” Betsy said.
“Go ahead. You aren’t going to be able to help me.”
Betsy said, “I’ll be back.”
She found the two men in the chair in a semi-conscious state. From the way they were moving their hands it was obvious their necks weren’t broken. Still, it didn’t mean they were going to be moving anywhere any time soon.
Betsy went out the back of the plane. She paced around in front of the others. Realizing that she didn’t want to have to refer to everyone as ‘Hey you’ she decided now would be a good time to exchange names.
“Hello, everyone. I’m Betsy. Who are you?”
“I’m Cal,” said the man who had pulled the muscle in his back.
“I’m Sharon, and this is my son, Jimmy.”
“I’m his wife, Millie.”
“It’s very nice to meet all of you,” Betsy said.
Millie asked, “How bad is our situation?”
“It’s not that bad,” Betsy said.
“What in the hell do you mean? It’s not that bad! We crashed in the middle of nowhere. We’re going to die out here,” Cal said.
The young boy, probably about nine years of age, shook his head in disgust. His mother put a hand on his back, to keep his from saying something rude.
Betsy said, “The pilot is alive, and quite alert, but he broke his back. I talked with him and we determined that we’re twenty-five miles from a highway, and thirty-five miles from a town. Unfortunately, they are in different directions.”
Cal said, “So we radio it in and they come get us.”
“The radio is busted.”
“We use a cell phone.”
“So where does that leave us?”
Betsy said, “It leaves us taking care of three seriously injured people for the next couple of days.”
“We’ll starve,” Cal said.
“We won’t starve,” Betsy said. “I can always catch something.”
Jimmy said, “In cub scouts, they told us you have to take care of the essentials. Food, water, and shelter. It’s going to get cold tonight so we probably ought to build a fire.”
“You are so right, Jimmy,” Betsy said. “I’ll fetch some firewood. Why don’t you and Cal see what you can do about making a fire pit?”
“I can do that,” Jimmy said pleased to be assigned a meaningful task that would help the situation.
Cal asked, “Who put you in charge?”
“I did,” Betsy answered.
“Why should you be in charge?”
Betsy said, “Well, it’s like this: I’m the strongest, fastest, and healthiest one among us.”
“I should be in charge,” Cal said.
“Really?” Betsy asked in disgust.
Jimmy said, “Actually, she should be in charge. She’s the only one of us who’s actually done something constructive. She patched you up. She’s found out where we are. She’s made a pretty good assessment of the situation. She found our luggage. She’s organized us. All I’ve heard from you are complaints and dire predictions.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more, Jimmy,” Melvin said.
Millie said, “The young man is right.”
“Are you two senile? Are you really going to listen to a stupid young kid and follow some airhead woman?” Cal said.
Millie said, “You don’t get to be our age by following idiots.”
Ignoring him, Betsy said, “Melvin and Millie, why don’t you go back in the plane and see what we have in the way of food and water?”
“We can do that,” Melvin said.
“Sharon, could you watch over our injured for a bit?”
“Sure, but I don’t know much about first aid,” Sharon answered.
“We aren’t touching them until we find out how bad they’re injured. If they wake up, just talk to them,” Betsy said.
“I can do that,” Sharon said.
It only took Betsy a few minutes to collect a decent pile of wood. The plane had taken out a lot of branches during the crash. Most were pretty green, but they’d burn a long time once they caught fire. There were a few branches that were deadwood that could be used to get the fire started.