“Is this thing on?” Samantha Locke asked as she closely examined the buttons on the camcorder she held.
“I think so,” Claire Knight replied. “I see the red light is on.”
“Ok, this is Samantha Locke and we are just about to go to Cancun for spring break!” Samantha looked into the lens as she sat in the departure lounge of the immense Chicago O'Hare International Airport, pausing briefly to brush her long brown hair away from her eyes. “I’m so excited!”
“Sam, are you going to film our entire trip?” Trista Austin asked, with a slight tone of annoyance in her voice.
“I just want something to remember it with,” Samantha replied.
Samantha heard a familiar voice behind her and turned around to see two boys around her age occupying a couple rows behind her.
“Oh my god! Derek!” Samantha shouted. “I didn’t know you were going to Cancun!”
Derek and the other boy turned around to face her. “I never told you? I thought I did. Jake and I have been planning this for a while.”
Jake smiled at her, his face partially hidden by the brim of a baseball cap. “Small world.”
A woman’s voice came over the terminal loudspeaker. “United Airlines Flight 501 to Cancun is ready for general boarding.”
“That’s us,” Samantha said as she stood up, took a swig from her can of Mountain Dew, and walked toward the departure gate with her carry-on bag in hand. Claire and Trista followed alongside her. Behind them, a man carrying a small bag ran up to the departure lounge. Upon reaching it, he paused, out of breath, relieved to not have missed his flight. They presented their boarding passes to the ticket agent and boarded the 767-300ER. Samantha walked down the narrow aisle in front of Trista and Clare until she found their seats among the back rows. After placing their bags in the overhead bin, Samantha settled into her seat next to the window. Claire and Trista sat next to her. The smell of jet fuel and upholstery was faint but noticeable.
Several rows behind them, a man in his early twenties unsteadily clambered into his seat. In his hand was a bottle of beer.
Trista giggled. “Looks like someone is starting the party early.”
“I wish we were on first class,” Samantha said, shuffling her feet. “They don’t give us any legroom.”
“Just be glad we were able to get on this plane in the first place,” Trista said. “Almost every flight to Cancun was booked full.”
“I can’t believe my parents actually fell for it,” Samantha said, grinning.
“Me too,” Trista replied. “My folks don’t even have a beach house in Florida.”
“Promise you won’t tell anyone when we get back?”
Trista chuckled. “What happens in Cancun, stays in Cancun.”
“Your parents won’t let you do anything, Sam,” Claire said.
Samantha sighed. “I know. I wish they would realize I’m no longer ten. Hell, we’re graduating in a few months and then we’re going to college. I think I can handle a spring break trip without them breathing down my neck.”
Samantha was the first to suggest spring break in Cancun the previous fall. It was their last spring break before graduation and the three wanted to make the most out of it. Samantha knew her parents would never let her leave the country so she told them that Trista had invited her to her parent’s beach house in Florida. She purchased the plane tickets as soon as she turned eighteen, using the money she saved from her job. During the previous several months, her parents never suspected anything.
As Samantha’s mother dropped the three of them off at the airport and wished them a wonderful trip, she felt a pang of guilt but soon pushed the thought from her mind.
Samantha pointed the video camera at Claire. “So what are you most excited about our trip?”
Claire grinned sheepishly. “The cute college boys.”
“I just hope we get there fast,” Trista said. “I don’t like flying.”
“Hey, relax,” Samantha said. “It’s a lot safer than driving a car.”
One of the flight attendants paused in front of their row. “Ma’am, you’re going to have to put that away for takeoff.”
Samantha nodded and slid the camera under her seat. “Ok, that’s fine,” she replied.
Shortly after the last passenger boarded, the plane slowly backed away from the terminal. Samantha glanced out the window as the plane taxied towards the end of the runway. She took brief notice of the flight attendants performing the safety demonstration at the front of the cabin. As the plane began its takeoff roll, she felt herself pressed to the back of her seat from the acceleration. Lightly gripping the armrests, Samantha looked out the window as the plane became airborne. She watched as the ground dropped beneath her as the plane penetrated the heavy cloud layer and into the bright light of the early evening.
A lone L-1011 flew high above rural Missouri searching for prey. It was the result of a failed experiment performed by the US Air Force in a facility in Palmdale, California to create a biomechanical carnivorous plane to be used as a weapon. The L-1011 escaped from the facility when a powerful earthquake destroyed three months ago and killed most of the people inside the building. Since then, it has flown across the country and eluded military capture, preying chiefly on humans.
It was perfectly designed to hunt and kill its prey. Its talons, currently retracted inside its wings and fuselage, were lethally sharp and serrated. Its teeth were razor sharp and serrated on the backside, well-designed for tearing flesh.
The plane was running low on fuel. During the last several days, it had difficulty finding enough prey to sustain itself. It had recently killed a horse, however it was still low on fuel. The L-1011 carefully scanned the ground for small signs of movement.
The plane’s powerful visual sensors caught sight of a herd of cattle in a field 35,000 feet below. It began to lower its flaps to descend towards its prey when it noticed a metallic glint far away in the sky in front of it. The L-1011 retracted its flaps and picked up speed, banking towards its new target.
Samantha pointed the video camera at Claire, who had her seat reclined and was asleep. She pointed it away from her and focused on a man seated across the aisle wearing a business suit and was typing busily on a laptop. He smiled briefly and nodded at her before resuming his work. She turned around and pointed the camera out the window at the sky.
“You’re going to use up that entire memory card before we even get there,” Trista said.
“I thought I saw something outside,” Samantha replied.
“There’s nothing out there except clouds.”
“I swear I saw something.”
Samantha squinted out the window. The bright glare of the setting sun made it difficult to gaze out at the sky for long. Below the thin wispy clouds was the mosaic pattern of farmlands dotted with the last remaining patches of snow. She thought she saw something dark and large quickly approaching directly in front of the sun, although the intense light made it impossible for her to see much detail.
“There’s something out there,” Samantha said. “It’s heading right at us.”
Trista leaned in her seat and glanced out the window. “What the hell is that? It looks like another plane.”
“Jesus Christ!” Samantha shouted. The thought of a mid-air collision entered her mind. She glanced out the window again. The outline of the approaching plane’s wings and tail were noticeable.
Around them, the other passengers noticed the approaching plane. Concerned voices and whispers were heard throughout the cabin.
Samantha turned to look at Claire, who was still asleep, when a passenger nearby screamed. Clare woke immediately; jerking up in her seat with a gasp. Samantha quickly looked back out the window to see that the plane was much closer. She screamed when its nosecone opened, revealing dozens of razor-sharp teeth lining its jaws. The L-1011 flew low above the plane, its taloned landing gear almost grazing the top of the fuselage. The plane dipped and shook violently from the L-1011’s jet wash as it passed. Screams filled the cabin. Samantha screamed and gripped the seat rests tightly as the plane dipped sharply, her drink falling off the seat tray and spilling onto her lap. A passenger that was walking down the aisle was knocked off his feet and slammed painfully into the back of several seats. Samantha looked out the windows on the other side of the plane and saw the L-1011 making a wide banking turn to make another pass at the plane.
Samantha braced herself for the impact, thinking the two planes were going to collide. She heard its engines as it flew low above the plane and yelled when it dropped into view. Its landing gear was down and she could see its large, curved talons. A long and thick piece of chain, about twenty feet long, was attached to one of the plane’s clawed landing gear.
The L-1011 opened its jaws wide and bit down hard on the plane’s wing. Its front talons gripped the leading edge, piercing it and causing fuel to leak out. It dropped into flight, taking a quarter of the plane’s wing with it, causing the plane to swerve and roll sharply. Unrestrained items and passengers were thrown to the side. Samantha and Trista shouted as a large suitcase narrowly missed them. Several overhead compartments opened, sending suitcases and bags pummeling through the cabin. Out of the corner of her eye, Samantha saw a large suitcase strike the businessman sitting across from them, knocking him unconscious. Blood dripped from a gash above his eyebrow.
The L-1011 turned and flew at the plane again. Its talons were down and aimed directly at the fuselage. There was a violent jolt as the L-1011 latched onto the side of the fuselage with its talons, using its own weight to bring the plane down. The plane went into a steep dive as screams filled the cabin. As the plane went into a near-vertical dive, Samantha felt herself become weightless. Her seatbelt dug painfully into her waist. She looked out the window to see the ground fill the window. With horror, she realized the plane was inverted. Several passengers screamed as they slammed into the ceiling hard with loud crashes.
Samantha picked up the video camera and shouted into it to make herself heard over the screams of the passengers and the engines of the two planes: “This is Samantha Locke on Flight 501. If anyone finds this, we have been attacked by…what looks like another plane.” Tears streamed down her face. “I just want to say goodbye to all my friends and family…”
A sudden jolt hit the plane and Samantha lost her grip on the camcorder. For a split second, she saw it hit the floor before rolling under the seat in front of her. She screamed as she saw the L-1011 flying alongside the plane. She could just hear the flight attendant’s instructions for the passengers to get into the brace position above their screams and the rushing air of the slipstream outside. Frantically, she leaned forward and put her head between her knees, waiting for the inevitable crash.
A massive jarring impact was felt as the plane’s right wing struck the ground. The impact sheared away the engine and large pieces of the control surfaces. The momentum caused the plane to flip as the forward section of the fuselage impacted the ground before breaking away and rolling on the ground. Samantha’s body jerked forward and her shoulders struck the seats in front of her as she screamed in pain and terror, the seatbelt digging painfully into her waist. Both wings and the lower section of the fuselage were torn away as the plane skidded across the ground, sending fragments of shrapnel flying in all directions as the fuselage decelerated. The deafening shriek of tearing metal was loud enough to drown out her screams and those of the surviving passengers around her. Samantha’s seat broke off the floor from the impact and she fell over, landing painfully on her side.
She felt wetness on her forehead and wiped at it, realizing it was blood. There was a tremendous pain in her sides, and breathing sent sharp shooting pains radiating throughout her body. She wondered if she had cracked her ribs. For a few seconds, she felt light-headed and disoriented but the feeling passed as soon as she looked her side and saw part of the plane’s wing on the ground on fire. She realized at once what had happened: she was in a plane crash.
The fuselage lay on its side, the shattered windows on one side facing upward toward the sky. Most of the seats had broken free of the floor and were scattered haphazardly throughout what was left of the cabin. The few survivors lay dazed in the wreckage while bodies were strewn throughout. During the crash, the overhead compartments opened and suitcases were scattered everywhere. The panels lining the inside of the fuselage had fallen away, revealing the thick control cables underneath.
“Trista! Claire!” Samantha shouted, turning painfully in the direction of her friends. Trista winced painfully as she lay across the wreckage on a mass of tangled cables and wires, her arm pinned under a heavy section of the overhead baggage compartment. Claire sat motionless in her seat, bleeding profusely from a large head wound.
Samantha unfastened her seat belt and screamed as she fell from her seat and landed on the ground several feet below, almost landing on the body of a man still strapped in his seat. She groaned in pain, clutching her ribs with her hands before slowly rising to her feet.
The smell of jet fuel and smoke hit her nostrils. She knew it would be only a short period of time before the wreckage of the plane exploded.
“We need to get out of here!” Samantha shouted. “Are you ok?”
Trista screamed in pain. “I can’t get this off my arm! What happened?”
“We crashed!” Samantha screamed
There was a loud jolt and the fuselage section caved in as the L-1011 partially landed on it. The few remaining intact fuselage windows shattered under the L-1011’s weight. The surviving passengers froze in terror and looked upward as the plane clawed large gashes in the fuselage and snarled down at the terrified humans below. One of the other survivors threw a jagged piece of metal at it. It struck the L-1011’s nosecone and it snarled threateningly at him.
“I’m going to try to get this off your arm!” Samantha shouted to Trista, trying the best she could to not look at the L-1011. “As soon as I try to lift it up, you try to move your arm out!”
Samantha grunted in pain as she climbed over pieces of wreckage and crawled over to Trista. She leaned down and grabbed the bottom edge of the overhead compartment. A fresh agonizing wave of pain struck her as she struggled to lift the heavy piece of wreckage. She managed to lift it a few inches.
“Move your arm!” Samantha shouted. “I can’t hold it much longer!”
Trista yelled in pain as she moved her arm out from under the overhead compartment and Samantha let it fall again. Trista’s arm was covered in blood and it was bent in an unnatural angle.
The L-1011 hissed as it widened the gash in the fuselage with its talons. An injured man crawled below it before the plane lunged and snatched him in its jaws. Samantha and Trista screamed as it tore him apart as he screamed in agony. They looked away but caught a glimpse of it tearing off and eating his arm.
Samantha and Trista turned their attention to Claire, who sat motionless in her seat. Her head was covered with blood as she gazed expressionlessly upward. Trista nudged her, calling her name repeatedly with increasing volume.
“Trista, she’s gone! We need to get out of here!” Samantha shouted.
“We can’t just leave her!”
“There’s nothing we can do! If we stay, either that…plane will kill us or the wreckage will explode! If we stay here, we’ll die!”
We’re leaving! Now!” Samantha shouted.
Trista turned away from Claire’s body and followed Samantha toward a gap in the fuselage, clambering over dislodged seats and cables. A wave of nausea struck Samantha as they passed bloodied bodies strewn throughout the remains of the cabin. Behind them, the L-1011 grabbed another passenger in its jaws. Samantha and Trista cringed as they heard his screams as it devoured him alive. Samantha was relieved that it had not showed any signs of attacking or even noticing them. They had nothing to defend themselves with.
They reached the gap in the fuselage. A few other survivors had gotten to the narrow opening before them and were trying to get through. It was large enough for only one person to go through at once. The passengers going through were being assisted by the other people waiting to get out. As Samantha waited, the acrid smoke in the air stung her eyes and caused them to water. She coughed and again thought about the possibility of the spilled fuel exploding.
Samantha turned around quickly when she heard the L-1011 snarl. It was eating another person and fresh blood was smeared around its jaws. It paused and growled in her direction before starting to move toward them. Within a second, the plane tore another large gash in the fuselage directly above them. The sound was deafening, resembling that of nails being dragged on a chalkboard. Samantha and Trista both screamed as the L-1011 snapped at them, missing them both by inches. It snapped at them a second time and Samantha screamed louder as its teeth grazed her shoulder, ripping her shirt. The L-1011 jerked back, taking a small piece of her shirt with it. They both threw themselves down and lay as flat on the wreckage as possible, hoping they were out of the plane’s reach. The L-1011 viciously snapped at them again and missed by several feet. It snarled as it focused on another person closer to it. It lunged and snatched him in its jaws. The man screamed and stuck uselessly at its nosecone as the plane pinned him down under its talons before biting at him.
Samantha and Trista rushed for the gap. Samantha winced in pain as she bent over and crawled through the opening. Once on the other side, she grabbed Trista’s uninjured arm and helped pull her through.
Samantha and Trista froze at the scene in front of them. They were in the middle of the crash site surrounded by flaming pieces of wreckage that was hardly recognizable as once being a plane. The larger pieces of wreckage were concentrated near the center of the crash site while smaller pieces were spread throughout the entire area. The tail section of the plane had broken off and lay on its side nearby, the airline logo largely obscured by the flames and smoke. Samantha noticed some slashes on the vertical stabilizer that she doubt was caused by the crash. Further away, one of the engines on a separated wing was still running. The intake picked up a piece of metal and sucked it into the engine. It exploded and Samantha and Trista felt the shock wave and heat. The crash site was littered with bodies and dazed survivors who wandered around the site, some more injured than others. Several bodies were still strapped into seats.
The L-1011 was still partially on the section of fuselage they were in. It quickly glanced around the crash site before lunging into the air and dropping down onto a survivor who had gotten too close. It pinned him down with its front talons before biting savagely at his torso as he screamed in agony. It tore a bloody piece of flesh from his midsection before gorging on his entrails.
Samantha and Trista screamed at the sight of the mutilation. The L-1011 hissed at them, blood dripping from its jaws, causing them to back away. Samantha looked around, trying to find somewhere to try to take cover from the plane. Her eyes rested on a smaller section of fuselage less than thirty feet away.
“We can hide in there,” Samantha whispered.
They slowly made their way to the wreckage, trying not to attract attention to themselves, passing what was left of the cockpit. It was smashed beyond recognition and Samantha tried to keep herself from vomiting when she saw the half-eaten body of the pilot nearby. Samantha nervously looked back, relieved to see that the L-1011 had focused its attention on several mangled bodies laying on the ground. She crawled into the front section of the plane and helped Trista enter. Her ribs were in agony but she tried to keep her mind off the pain. She strongly considered the possibly that at least one, probably more, were broken. She looked down at her body to see that it was covered in small gashes with a large wound on the right side of her chest that stained her tattered shirt crimson. Trista was in the same state, her broken arm covered with blood.
Samantha glanced out of one of the shattered windows in the fuselage. The L-1011 had finished eating the bodies and was looking around for more prey. It was a large plane, about the size of the one that they had been traveling on, perhaps slightly smaller. The top half of its fuselage was black and the lower half was grey, with a green stripe running down its middle, starting at the back of its mouth and ending at its tail. The chain attached to its landing gear dragged along the ground as it moved. The L-1011 began stalking a survivor too injured to get away. The plane lunged, shrieking, and pinned the woman to the ground. She screamed as she futilely struck at its nosecone with her arms. The woman screamed louder than before as the plane sank its razor-sharp teeth into her abdomen and tore at her flesh. It swallowed the meat before tearing out and ravenously feeding on the intestines.
Samantha felt sickened. “It doesn’t even kill them first,” she said aloud quietly.
Trista glanced at the L-1011 feeding and screamed loudly.
Samantha quickly turned in her direction. “Shh. Be quiet. Don’t try to let it know we’re here.”
Tears ran down Trista’s face. “It’s going to kill all of us! I just know it! It won’t stop until we’re all dead!”
“It’s going to be ok,” Samantha said, in an effort to reassure Trista, as well as herself. “We’re going to get through this. It’s all going to be ok.”
She glanced at the L-1011 again. It held a severed arm in its jaws. The woman’s body had been reduced to a mass of pulpy flesh, hardly recognizable as once being human. The L-1011 continued to feed on her body before turning in Samantha and Trista’s direction. Trista screamed and the L-1011 snarled at them. It moved quickly toward the piece of wreckage they were hiding in, half-flying. It lunged into the section of fuselage with enough force to knock it to the side. Samantha screamed in pain as she was knocked off her feet and landed painfully on her stomach. Trista held onto a seat before it broke free from its fairings and tumbled several feet to the side of the fuselage. They screamed as they hid themselves under several dislodged seats. The plane began tearing the section of wreckage apart with its hooked talons, determined to reach its prey. It overturned the seats they were hiding under with ease and snarled at them.
Samantha screamed and struggled frantically to get out of the section of fuselage. She heard a loud piercing scream behind her and looked back to see Trista struggling in the L-1011’s jaws. Its jaws were clamped on her broken arm and she frantically struck out at it with her uninjured arm. Samantha grabbed Trista around the waist and tried to pull her out of its jaws. She screamed as its dagger-like teeth dug deeper into her flesh. On her second attempt, she succeeded in pulling her free. The L-1011 hissed and moved away in search of easier prey.
Trista screamed in pain. Her arm was badly lacerated and bleeding profusely. Samantha noticed a bit of a dark fluid on the edge of the largest gash and wiped it away with her hand. Immediately her hand began to tingle and she wiped it off on the ground. Her gaze fell on the middle section of the plane that had broken off at impact. It was the largest piece of wreckage and she could see half a dozen people around it.
“I think we’ll be safer there. You think you can make it?”
Trista nodded, her eyes wide with fear. She slowly rose to her feet.
Samantha moved as fast as her injured ribs would allow. Each movement sent fresh waves of pain shooting from her chest and midsection. She looked around and saw the L-1011 climbing over a large section of wreckage, pausing briefly to yank a person out of the mass of twisted metal and cables, nearly tearing off his arm in the process. She looked back to see Trista walking slowly behind her.
“My legs feel tingly, like they’re falling asleep,” Trista said. “It’s getting a lot worse.”
“Keep going,” Samantha replied. “It’s not that far.”
Trista collapsed onto the ground. “I can’t get up! I can’t move my legs! Is the plane coming back?” She shouted.
Samantha remembered the frothy fluid on Trista’s arm after the L-1011 bit her and how it made her hand tingle after she touched it. The plane probably had some sort of paralyzing neurotoxin in its saliva, Samantha thought with a chill.
“No, it’s not coming back,” Samantha replied as she rushed back to Trista. “I can’t lift you but I might be able to drag you toward the front section.” She said as she grabbed her uninjured arm and slowly pulled her across the ground. Her ribs ached but she tried her best to ignore the intense pain.
Samantha suddenly turned her head around when she heard the shrill screech of the L-1011. It hissed once before lunging into the air in their direction. Its jaws parted slightly and they saw that the inside of its mouth, normally silvery grey, was stained dark crimson with blood.
“Get down!” Samantha screamed as she threw herself to the ground. The L-1011 flew overhead, its talons grazing Samantha’s back. She screamed in pain as she felt blood trickle down the small of her back. The wind and heat from its jet blast was nearly unbearable as the L-1011 passed overhead before it started to bank sharply back at her, its wingtip clearing the ground by less than twenty feet. Small pieces of wreckage and a flurry of dirt were blown into the air from the plane’s powerful jet blast. The L-1011 opened its mouth wide and shrieked deafeningly as it flew at her. It landed with a heavy, ground-shaking thud, blood dripping from its partially-open jaws. It hissed lowly at the both of them, as if deciding which human to attack first.
Samantha tried to pull Trista toward the wreckage faster despite her protesting ribs although she knew that she wouldn’t make it. The distance was too great.
“Just leave me. Go on without me,” Trista said.
“No! I can’t do that!”
“Just do it! I don’t stand a chance against it anyway!”
“No!” Samantha shouted. “I’m not losing you too!”
The L-1011 snarled as it pinned Trista to the ground under its front talons and sank its teeth into her flesh. Trista screamed in agony as Samantha continued to grip her hands.
“Just let me go!” Trista shouted.
Samantha let go of Trista’s hands and turned toward the large fuselage section. Tears filled her eyes as she endured the sound of Trista’s agonized screams.
Inside the fuselage, she saw half a dozen other survivors. Some were seriously injured while a few others were largely uninjured like herself. They were all frozen with terror and stayed low below the windows to not be seen.
“How long h…” Samantha was about to ask when a man shushed her. She lay flat against the buckled floor away from the windows.
Movement outside caught Samantha’s eye. She saw that the L-1011 had finished eating Trista’s body and was advancing toward a man backing away. It suddenly lunged into the air before snatching him in its talons and taking off. The roar of its three engines filled the air. She watched as the plane flew low above the crash site before gaining altitude. Loose debris were flung into the air by the L-1011’s jet blast as it flew out of sight.
Samantha sat on a piece of wreckage as she watched the L-1011 disappear into the setting sun. Tears filled her eyes as she began to sob silently.
“Ok,” a survivor whispered. “It’s gone.”
“Does anyone know what the hell that thing is?” A man loudly demanded.
“That’s not important right now,” a young woman replied. “What we need is a way out of here and fast. Does anyone have a working cell phone? Mine’s broken.” She reached into her pocked and produced a cell phone with a cracked screen.
“Mine still works,” a man said. “Only I can’t get a signal. We went down in a pretty rural area.”
“Does anyone know where we are?” A man asked.
“I know we’re somewhere in Missouri. About ten or so minutes before that plane attacked us, the captain said over the intercom that we were near St. Louis.”
“If we stay here, someone is bound to find us. They probably have the exact spot where we crashed on radar.” A different man said. “We were flying over farmland. So that means there are people in this area. Someone will find us.”
“How long will that take?” The woman replied. “That…plane could come back and finish us all off before rescue comes.”
“Then what do you suggest we do?” The man said. “Have someone go out and find help?”
“That’s suicide! It won’t do anyone any good if someone goes out and gets eaten by that plane. Maybe that’s what that plane wants us to do. Making us think it’s gone so we’ll come out from cover.” The woman said.
“It flew away. We all saw it.”
“Just because we can’t see it doesn't mean it’s not watching us.”
“I think that sending someone out to get help would be a good idea,” another man wearing a torn and bloodied business suit said. Samantha recognized him as the man that sat across the aisle from her. He had a bloody gash above his eye where he had been struck by a suitcase during the attack. “The plane is gone and there are people in this area so whoever goes won’t need to go far.”
“Exactly,” the woman replied. “Since there are people in this area, one of them probably saw us go down and is sending rescue right now.”
“One of us should go and get help,” another woman said. “We don’t know for sure if there’s anyone around. This seems like a pretty rural area.”
“Then we should put it to a vote,” the man said. “Who thinks we should send someone for help?”
Over half of the survivors raised their hands.
“What about you?” The man pointed to Samantha, who had moved to the end of the fuselage away from the group. She tried her best to not be noticed by the group.
She looked at them, her faced wet with tears. “No! They’ll be killed! That plane will get them! You don’t know for sure if it’s gone!”
“It seems like we made our decision.” The man said. “Any volunteers? Or will a draft be necessary?”
“You can’t do this! What gives you power over everyone here?” Samantha said.
“It’s a majority vote,” the man replied. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the individual.”
“What if no one volunteers? Are you going to force someone to go?”
“If it comes down to that, then yes. Any volunteers?”
No one raised their hands.
“Ok, then,” the man said. “We’ll need someone that is the least injured.” His gaze stopped on a young man whose only injuries appeared to be a few gashes.
“What? You’re not going to make me go, are you?” He said, his eyes widening with fear.
“You voted to send someone out, didn’t you?”
“Yes, but I thought that someone was going to volunteer. I didn’t think that you would make someone go against their will.”
Two large men firmly gripped the man’s shoulders and escorted him to the opening in the fuselage.
“No! You can’t make me do this! Let me go!” The man struggled but the two larger men grasped him firmly. “If that plane comes back and kills me, it won’t do you any good!”
Samantha felt herself growing angrier by the second. She got up, unnoticed by the other survivors, and walked quietly behind the man that forced the other man to leave the crash site. When she was closer, she ran up to him and punched him as hard as she could in the stomach, despite her aching ribs. The man yelled and fell to the floor in surprise and pain as another survivor ran to him, carrying a piece of cable. A third survivor held him down as he struggled. He dragged the man to an upright piece of wreckage and quickly tied his hands together and then to the wreckage.
“What the hell are you doing?” The man shouted. “I was trying to save us all!”
The two large men holding the young man looked back at the commotion at the back of the fuselage, allowing him a chance to escape. He twisted around in their grip before running away from them.
Samantha slowly walked away from the small group of survivors and sat on a large piece of wreckage. She gazed westward toward the setting sun. It had almost disappeared below the horizon and the sky was a deep crimson color. There was no sign of the L-1011.
Samantha’s emotions began to overcome her. She began sobbing again, more intense than before. She thought about Trista and Claire and how she wished she could trade places with either of them. She put her head to her knees and continued crying loudly. She thought of her family and how she had deceived them to go on the trip. She reached into her pocket and retrieved her cell phone. The screen was cracked and the phone would not turn on.
“Fucker!” Samantha angrily threw the phone into the wreckage.
Slowly, her sadness was beginning to be replaced by savage anger towards the L-1011. She wanted nothing more than to destroy it, although she couldn’t think of any ways how to.
“Are you ok?” Samantha looked up to see Derek standing over her. His face was smeared with dried blood from several wounds and his clothes were torn in several places.
“Do I look like I’m ok?” She replied.
“I’m sorry,” he replied. “I thought that you would like someone to talk to.”
“It killed my friends!”
Derek’s turned into a pained one. “I’m sorry to hear that. Same for me.” Tears filled his eyes.
“Why are you so interested in me?”
“I liked how you took on that guy that was about to force that other guy out to get help. That was pretty brave.”
Samantha managed a weak smile. “I appreciate your company.”
“It’s my fault this all happened.”
“What do you mean? How could it possibly have been your fault?”
“I was the one that suggested this trip.” Samantha started sobbing again. “It was all my idea. If I had just decided to stay home, my friends would still be alive! It’s not fair! Why did they have to die but I survive? Why couldn’t it have been me?” She said between loud sobs.
“I don’t know how I can answer that,” Derek said quietly. “I feel the same way too.”
“And my family!” Samantha cried. “They don’t know I was on that plane! I wasn’t supposed to be going on this trip.” She thought of her parents and wondered if they had been informed of the crash yet.
Samantha leaned against Derek’s shoulder and cried loudly. He placed his arm around her back and wept.
An hour later, Samantha looked out towards the crash site to see half a dozen people walking about and opening suitcases that were scattered around. “What are they doing?”
“Everyone decided that we should try our best to defend ourselves if the plane comes back. They’re checking the bags for anything that could be used as a weapon.” Derek said.
“That’s a good idea,” Samantha said as she stood up and walked to a nearby large wheeled suitcase. It was partially burned and the zipper wouldn’t open fully. She opened the bag as far as she could and started to remove its contents. It was clothes and a shaving kit. Nothing she could use as a weapon.
Samantha sighed and moved to the next suitcase. It was slightly smaller and had a large rip running down the front, partially revealing its contents. She crouched down and pulled a woman’s swimsuit from the rip before opening the bag. Just more clothes and beachwear. This person was probably expecting a fun-filled week in Cancun, Samantha thought with a twinge of sadness.
Samantha stood up and walked toward the other side of the section of fuselage. She hadn’t been there yet and was wondering what she might find.
As she walked around the other side of the fuselage, her gaze fell on a deep gorge cut into the earth as the plane’s wing struck the ground during the crash. The strong smell of jet fuel hit her nostrils as she noticed the gorge was soaked with spilled fuel. At the end of the gorge was part of the plane’s wing. It was torn open and fuel still continued to drip from one of the larger gashes.
Samantha turned back towards the fuselage section. More survivors had taken refuge in it and there were now about a dozen people in and around it. As she entered, she saw a flight attendant and a passenger tending to the other survivors. They had a large first aid kit beside them as they bandaged a large wound on a man’s arm.
They turned their attention to another man who was lying on the cracked and buckled floor.
“Help me, I can’t move my legs,” he said weakly.
Samantha saw a large deep gash on his shoulder and she knew at once what had happened to him. She immediately thought of Trista and tears filled her eyes again.
“Are you injured?” The passenger asked.
“I think I broke my ribs,” Samantha replied.
The passenger retrieved a bandage roll from the first aid kit and went to work bandaging her side.
“Where did you find that?” Samantha asked.
“She found it after the crash,” the passenger said, motioning to the flight attendant. “I have first aid training so I decided to help.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it.”
Samantha saw Derek approach from the corner of her eye. She turned around to face him.
“Did you find anything we could use to defend ourselves with?” He asked.
“No, just clothes.”
“Do you think that plane will come back?” Samantha asked.
“Probably. I don’t see why it wouldn’t.”
“What should we do if it does come back?”
“Not much, I’m afraid.”
Samantha looked out at the sky. A sense of profound terror struck her. She felt as if she were in a speeding car about to crash.
Samantha gazed out the shattered window in the section of fuselage she and the rest of the survivors had taken refuge in. More people had moved into it since the L-1011 left and now there were close to twenty people sitting on dislodged seats and walking around what little space they had. Twenty survivors out of two hundred total people, Samantha thought.
They all glanced nervously at the sky.
The sun was down and a dim band of light remand westward. Samantha remained focused on the sky, expecting the vicious L-1011 to return any second.
Samantha heard a dull noise, growing louder each second. The other survivors heard it too, since they became quiet and leaned forward slightly. A pang of panic struck Samantha, thinking it was the L-1011 returning to finish off the rest of them. As she listened closer, she realized the sound was not a plane.
“A helicopter,” one of the survivors said. “They’ve finally found us!”
The survivors rushed out of the fuselage and into an area relatively clear of debris in the crash site, yelling loudly and waving their arms. Samantha followed them, picking up a piece of wood and placing the tip in a fire that was still burning. She joined the survivors, waving her makeshift torch and hoping to attract attention.
The helicopter appeared from behind a group of trees. It was lit brightly and a large searchlight on the side cut a wide swath through the darkness. Samantha could see that it was dark colored and had military emblems on its side. The spotlight paused on a large piece of wreckage and then on the survivors waving up at it and yelling. The side door opened, revealing a standing figure in military fatigues.
The sound of the helicopter was drowned out by the roar of jet engines. Samantha looked around to see the L-1011 fly at the helicopter at an unbelievable speed, shrieking deafeningly.
“No!” Samantha screamed. The other survivors gazed at the scene gape-mouth, and with a look of profound dismay on their faces.
The pilot had no time to react when the much larger plane grabbed onto the small aircraft’s side. Its talons tore into the thin metal, leaving jagged gashes in their wake. It began to plunge toward the ground from the L-1011’s weight. The plane hissed as it smashed its nosecone through the helicopter’s windscreen and snatched the screaming pilot in its jaws. In an instant, it let go and launched itself back into the sky.
The helicopter exploded as it hit the ground, flames shooting into the air like Roman candles. The L-1011 flew low above the wreckage, the flames illuminating its underside. Although she was far away from the crash, Samantha felt the heat from the flames on her face.
As the L-1011 circled to descent, the survivors panicked and tried to rush back toward the fuselage. A man already injured from the crash sprawled on the ground as he tried to run and he could only scream as the L-1011 landed in front on him and sank its teeth into his body. He screamed in agony as the plane held him to the ground and tore off large pieces of bloody flesh from his torso. He was killed when the plane bit into his throat piercing his carotid artery, creating a spray of blood.
Samantha made it back to the fuselage section as the L-1011 finished devouring the man. It lunged into the air and partially landed heavily on the section, causing it to cave in further. The plane snarled and hissed as it slashed it open with its large talons before snapping viciously at the terrified survivors below. A woman screamed in agony as the L-1011 bit down hard on her arm and jerked back, tearing it off in a spray of blood. The plane snarled as it hungrily gulped down the severed limb before attacking another survivor.
“We need to get out of here!” Samantha screamed to Derek.
They both ran towards the end of the fuselage as fast as their injuries would allow. The L-1011 hissed as it noticed their movement and moved toward them. Samantha heard Derek scream and turned around to see the L-1011 snatch him in its jaws and pull him out of the fuselage.
“No!” Samantha screamed.
The L-1011 turned its attention away from Samantha as Derek screamed and struggled in its jaws. He struck out at its nosecone before the plane pinned him down with its talons and sank its teeth into his flesh. The sickening sound of ripping flesh filled the air as the L-1011 jerked its head, tearing Derek’s body in two before feeding on his entrails.
She ran as fast as possible away from the L-1011 before taking refuge behind a large piece of wreckage. Nervously, she peered out to see the plane attacking the few survivors that remained. She knew that when it finished killing them, it would go after her. She frantically tried to think of anything that she had seen at the crash site that could be used as a weapon.
Her mind fell on the jet fuel soaked gorge and the wing leaking fuel.
She picked up a fallen tree branch and placed the tip in a fire that was still burning and ran in the direction of the gash in the earth. She looked back with relief to see that the L-1011 was still focused on the remaining survivors. Samantha ran quietly and tried to stay within the shadows to try to draw the least amount of attention to herself as possible.
When she reached the broken wing, she saw the L-1011 was still attacking the survivors. Samantha took a deep breath and picked up a piece of metal on the ground nearby. She took another deep breath and banged hard on the wing. The L-1011 hissed and turned in the direction of the sharp noise.
“Yeah, that’s right!” Samantha yelled. “Come and get me, you worthless piece of scrap metal!”
The L-1011 snarled and launched itself into the air as Samantha ran to the end of the gorge as fast as her injured ribs would allow. She knew her plan was most likely suicide. She remembered seeing something similar in a movie, however, she doubted it would work. She pushed the thought out of her mind, knowing if she didn’t do anything, the L-1011 would kill her anyway.
Samantha reached the end of the gorge as the L-1011 was flying over the broken wing. Its talons were down and aimed for her as it screeched loudly.
“This is for my friends!” Samantha shouted as she dropped the lit branch into the fuel-soaked gorge. Immediately the gorge burst into flame as the fuel ignited. Samantha shouted as she ran back away from the heat of the fire.
There was a ground-shaking blast as the wing exploded as soon as the flames reached the leaking fuel. The heat was almost unbearable as Samantha was hit by the shock wave, knocking her to her feet. The L-1011 shrieked deafeningly as it was hit by the explosion. Its flight became unstable and it went into a steep roll and disappeared behind the wall of flames.
Samantha smiled as she gazed at the flames.
There was an ear-splitting screech as the L-1011 lunged into the air over the flames like a phoenix, its underside blackened by soot. Samantha screamed and tried to run as the plane landed beside her, snarling fiercely.
She screamed and backed away, glancing around frantically for something to defend herself with from the attack she knew was coming any minute. Her eyes rested on a large sharp piece of metal. She picked it up and held it in front of her like a sword. The L-1011 advanced toward her, striding smoothly like a leopard on its sharp hooked talons. She looked down and saw that it was missing a claw on its front landing gear. It hissed, not intimidated slightly by the rudimentary weapon. Samantha looked to her side and realized with horror that she was wandering away into the open. She knew she would never make it back to anything that could serve as shelter.
The L-1011 shrieked and snapped at her head but missed by a few feet. She swung the metal shard quickly. The plane sized it in its jaws and jerked back so suddenly that Samantha was almost knocked off her feet into the air. She lost her grip on it as the L-1011 flung it to the side.
“No!” Samantha said quietly, almost in a whisper. She knew that she was close to death and there was nothing she could do to deter the L-1011. Tears began streaming down her face as she reflected on Clare, Trista, as well as her own death that she knew was seconds away.
The L-1011 shrieked and pinned Samantha down with a front talon. The sharp pain was unbearable as her ribs cracked under its weight and breathing became labored. Blood filled her mouth as the sharp edge of its talon sliced deep into her flesh. She looked up at the L-1011 as it opened its jaws, revealing its blood-splattered teeth. She screamed in agony as the L-1011 sank its jaws into her torso and tore off a piece of flesh. Coughing up blood, Samantha weakly struck at the plane’s nosecone with her fists but was rapidly losing strength from blood loss. She screamed as the L-1011’s jaws opened and closed over her head.
Samantha Locke knew nothing more.
THREE WEEKS LATER
NTSB investigator Grace Harrison wandered through the crash site of United Airlines Flight 501. The NTSB had been investigating the crash for several weeks and they still had no theories as to what caused the crash. As of yet, the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder had not been found. She and the other investigators had noticed unusual details surrounding the crash. There had been over two hundred passengers on the plane and no survivors, however a majority of the bodies were never found.
Grace saw a military vehicle in the distance and several people wearing military uniforms. The Air Force had been conducting their own investigation and had been secretive about what they had found, claiming it was a matter of national security.
Something caught her eye in the wreckage. She crouched down and pulled out a video camera that had been resting under several seats. As she examined it, she saw that the lens and casing were cracked.
Rob Phillips, another investigator, turned to Grace. “Maybe the memory card is still intact.”
“Maybe,” Grace replied. “Let’s go to the van and see. There could be something on this.”
They both walked to one of the vans parked at the outer edge of the crash site. Upon entering, Grace turned on a laptop that was on the dashboard.
“Let’s hope this works,” she said as she removed the memory card from the broken camera and inserted the memory card into one of the laptop’s slots.
“It’s loading,” Rob said.
Grace clicked on the play button and the face of a brown-haired teenage girl filled the screen.
“Ok, this is Samantha Locke and we are just about to go to Cancun for spring break!”
When the video ended, both Grace and Rob stared at the screen, their faces pale.
“Jesus Christ,” Rob muttered.
They were started by a loud knocking on the window. Grace opened the door when she saw it was a man wearing an Air Force uniform.
“I’m afraid you’ve seen too much.”