Stranded Ch. 00

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Prologue

I emerged from the water, my burning lungs on the verge of exploding as I sucked in a great gasp of air.

Oh my God.

I struggled to keep my head above water; I was already so very tired. How did I get here? What happened? Taking in another lungful of air, trying not to hyperventilate, I looked around, trying in vain to see if there were any other survivors.

Survivors. It came back to me in a flash; I was in a plane. It crashed. Somehow, I survived and managed to free myself of the wreckage. All the teasing and playful warning I had given her, just for us to go down in the middle of lake.

“Oh my God.” This time I actually said it. Brittany! She must still be in the plane! I immediately swam as fast as I could back to the burning wreckage still sticking slightly out of the water. I dove, trying to move my body faster. The logical part of my brain told me she was likely dead, as images of the dead passengers I had passed whirled through my brain. But there was a chance… I was alive, I was conscious, I had gotten out.

The old Challenger CX90 was rather large, and only about 3 feet of its tail was visible above the surface of the frigid water. What little was left was on fire, with tendrils of fire spreading out around it in a rough circle.

I have to get under those flames, get inside, and see if anyone is alive. Being a mediocre swimmer, the feat was easier said then done. I treaded water, precious seconds ticking away as I decided what to do.

Taking yet another deep breath, I went under, swimming as fast as I could to the almost arctic temperature of the water. I had always had quite sensitive eyes, and even though the fire above shed some light, it was still as dark as night. I could just barely make out the outline of the plane, though. So I headed for it.

God the water was so cold. My joints felt like they were locking up, my lungs still ached from before. But I couldn’t waste time, I had no idea how fast the Challenger was sinking. There! Finally I reached the open door (had I opened it?) I quickly launched myself inside, looking around.

I repressed the urge to vomit, but only barely. Some poor lady had her head split open, a red mist seeped out of her continuously. I made my way past her, and to my surprise, found that I actually was able to stick my head above water. Must be a pocket of air trapped in the back of the plane. I remember being enormously grateful to whatever deity was in charge illegal bahis of such things.

Taking a few breaths, I looked around the dimly lit space. Where had I been sitting? On the left… So…

Sure enough, there she was, still strapped to her seat. I choked back tears, fearing her dead. Her usually quite stylish auburn hair was wet and mottled around her face, I climbed up onto the seat in front of her, near vertical due to the steep angle the plane was taking. It was a swift reminder that I needed to get the fuck out of there, quickly.

My fingers refused to work as I tried to unhook her harness. I couldn’t even feel them anymore. It didn’t matter, I had to get her out. I had to. She couldn’t be dead, she looked completely unharmed.

I didn’t even bother checking for a pulse, probably wouldn’t even register on my numb fingers anyways. I’d get her safe first. Safe. Yeah right. I’d get her out into the freezing cold lake, and then what? No time to think of that now. The harness unclasped finally, and I was reminded abruptly of the laws of gravity.

She fell on me, I fell backwards, and we landed with a thud, half on the back of a seat. I let out a startled yelp when she moved.

“What the fu-” She started, then her eyes went wide in fear. “OH MY GOD! JET?!”

“B-b-b-britt… w-w-we h-have to get o-out of h-here,” I hardly recognized my hoarse, shivering voice, “G-get my pack.”

She looked stunned. I was tempted to slap her, honestly, not that I’d ever hit a female, but just to snap her out of it. But she looked over to where we had put our luggage and quickly made her way over to it. Shivering, I tried to warm myself, being briefly out of the frigid water. It didn’t really work.

She retrieved to bags, and made her way back. “O-ok, we need to swim clear of this thing,” I grabbed my luggage, “The plane is sinking, I’ve already been outside. I saw land nearby. We get there, we’re safe. It’s fucking cold. There’s nothing I can do about that. Swim fast.” I spoke in a halting voice, words were hard to get out.

She just nodded, so I flung myself into the water before I could think of avoiding it. It wasn’t so bad now, considering I was mostly numb. I also figured that to be a bad thing, but there was really nothing else I could do… short of trying to start a fire in a sinking airplane.

This was more difficult. I had to carry this big piece of luggage around my neck, constantly look over my shoulder to make sure illegal bahis siteleri she was keeping up, while half blind, with hypothermia surely on its way. I don’t think I had ever been in a worse situation, and I had been in… a lot.

There was no use looking for other survivors… I probably wouldn’t survive a full search, I wouldn’t be able to get into the cabin (not that the pilots had been likely to survive, and to be honest, I didn’t give a rats ass. I saved one person, the one person that mattered to me, and now I was getting the hell out of there. Does that make me a horrible person? Or a hero? Who knows and who cares?

Finally, we made our way out of the plane. I was still wary of the fire above, but it looked a lot farther away now. That was probably a bad thing. I motioned for Brittany to follow me, though I’m not too sure she was able to see me. Her night vision was worse then mine, and I could hardly see.

Just a little further now, the large bag I used must have retained some air because it kept hitting me in the head as I swam. I mentally cursed myself for bringing it, even if the logical part of my mind knew that it had the best chance for my survival. I had enough food in there to keep us alive for a few days, a week or two if stretch, and all this freezing water would mean we weren’t going to dehydrate.

If I didn’t get to the surface soon I was going to learn just how much water there was in this damned lake.

Finally! I gasped for breath, that now familiar burning sensation in my lungs subsiding, as I broke the surface of the water. Brittany was seconds behind me, with no less an enthusiastic response. I couldn’t believe it. Twice, I had tempted fate and twice I had won.

Getting Britt’s attention, I pointed, “L-land. L-lucky we m-missed it.”

Despite everything we had just gone through, she laughed. More of a nervous chuckle, but a laugh nonetheless. I think that was about the time the first shred of hope entered my body. It’s amazing what such small reactions can do to a person.

Swimming above water was a hell of a lot harder then swimming below it. Sure, I could breathe, but the air seemed colder then the water now. It was as if the air was laced with razor sharp needles that would penetrate any bit of skin that happened to be above water. I kept going, for all I knew the exertion of swimming was the only thing keeping me alive. It would suck to go through all the hassle of saving Brittany only canlı bahis siteleri to die on her before we reached shore.

Closer, and closer, I could hear Britt’s huffs and puffs behind me. The bag seemed like a lead weight around my neck, but the land was…right there. Right in front of them. Looming now, it stretched out for what seemed like an entire horizon. It certainly wasn’t an island, it was land. And where there was land there had to be civilization, right?

Beach! Glorious beach! I could feel it on my toes, my feet sinking into the sand as I trudged closer to it. A glance told me Brittany was still there, but her lips were turning blue. I’m sure I looked just as bad, probably worse. My chest was now above water… I took another few steps and sank to my knees, letting my aching, tired arms rest for a moment.

“No…” I heard her from behind me, “Just a little further..”

I sighed in irritation, “I-I’m not giving up. I’m j-just thankful I d-don’t have to swim n-no more.”

When she slowly made her way past me I figured I had had enough rest. To be honest, I could have stayed like that… I could have died like that probably. Hmm. Maybe she just saved my life.

Nagging me was easier then diving into a sinking plane though.

I finally set foot on dry beach, wanting to collapse right there. So I did. I was half covered in sand, exhausted, freezing, and about ready to call it quits, but somehow I willed myself off my feet a second later. Hypothermia was an interesting thing, I hardly felt anything anymore. I was aware that the bag was still hanging around my neck only because I could see it out of the corner of my eye.

We were in Canada; I had spent the weekend out fishing with a few friends of mine. I’m not much of an avid fisher, far from it. This had been a mini-vacation for me, and Britt had simply caught a ride, I had offered to let her use the company Jet to visit with some family up north she hardly ever saw.

It wasn’t winter; in fact, it was as warm as it got in Canada, early summer. But we were quite far north, and summer didn’t mean the same thing in Canada as it did in the US.

She was resting on a log when I caught up with her, shivering against the cold wind blowing out from the lake. We saw in the (incredibly far away) distance the remnants of the fire burning. It would have to do as a funeral pyre to the six or seven people who died on that plane. I gave them a nod of respect. At least it had been over quickly for them. I was both guilty and glad that I had taken the very back seats of the plane. It probably saved my life.

It was the only thing I could really think of before slumping to the soft sand, the entire world turning to darkness.

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