The Mystery of Flight 2222
by Thomas Neviaser Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Two strangers meet while seated together on a long distance air flight. The more seasoned of the two creates a game to pass the time. They choose seven passengers and proceed to guess their names, age, occupation, marital status, and personality. Later, they are informed of severe mechanical problems disabling the plane, leading to a crash into the sea. They survive along with only seven other passengers, incredibly the seven people from the game they had just played. The subsequent prolonged and horrifying adventure in a raft presents many obstacles to their survival including sharks, severe weather, death, hunger, thirst, declining physical and mental health, paranoia, and pirates of the high seas. Their long awaited rescue from the ravages of the sea is just the beginning of their trip to Hell and back.
The sun was setting, and a cool breeze had begun to blow. Frank awoke to see Yuto and Soo Mi staring at the sea, then splashing their faces with seawater. Helen’s head was lying in Frank’s
lap, the back of her head blood-caked. He soaked a rag with water and attempted to moisten the blood to remove it. She tried to open her eyes, but the seawater mist had evaporated, and a salty crust covered her eyelids. Frank dabbed the rag on her eyes gently.
“Thanks. Any signs of…?” Helen whispered.
“No. They’ll be here soon.”
“How do you know?” she asked.
“Hey, this is the twenty-first century. Technology and all that stuff. They know we’re down. They will search for us,” Frank said authoritatively.
“It’s been quite a while, you know.”
“Yeah, I know, but only a day,” he said, panning the sky. Noticing more water at his feet than just a few minutes ago, he grabbed one of the plastic cups retrieved from the plane and bent over and bailed water out of his area of the raft and passing it on to Yuto, motioning that he do the same and pass it on. “This will be an ongoing thing unless we can stop it,” he said to Yuto.
The others also seemed to understand.
Feeling a bit refreshed, Frank stood carefully, inspecting the nooks and crannies of the raft hoping to find something new. The tip of a red strap peeked out under Otto. Kneeling down and crawling to him, Frank pointed down. Otto reacted and rolled to his left, and Frank pulled on the rubbery material attached to the strap. Whatever it was, it was huge and bright red.
“That’s a cover for this raft. This will stop the water from soaking us, and if it rains, it sure will be a Godsend,” Kimberly said softly while replacing the rag on her bloody head.
Frank wondered why she hadn’t offered this information before. He guessed she was injured more than she or he suspected. She, indeed, was acting unusual.
That gash is pretty big. Did she suffer a concussion, too?
The cover was spread out, the edges lying on each passenger’s lap. Each connection on the cover fit raised areas on the top of the sides of the raft, and the cover was soon being attached in an
organized fashion. Once raised by two inflatable poles in the middle and to the sides, window flaps could be lowered to allow the breeze, if any, to ventilate the inside yet keep out the penetrating sun and exhausting heat. A silent celebration of sips from liter bottles of water followed.
Flairs, a beacon, water, food, a flashlight, and now a cover. Christ, this is incredible. Kate would be proud that we found them. Now, I have to be sure we don’t lose them. We really need food.
“What about food?” Otto asked.
A mind reader, now?
“There’s a two-day supply of food rations in all rafts, uh, and, I think, saltwater desalting kits. I’m getting sort of goofy so let me think here. There is also a little, uh, fishing kit, I think. Yeah,
there is. What else? Uh, a knife somewhere, and, geez, I can’t seem to remember everything.”
“We have some unused platters from last night’s dinner, too—not many of them, mind you. Have to go slow with them just like the water,” Frank said, considering the request spooky,
especially right after he’d thought of food.
“I’m damn hungry. Break one of those suckers open now,” Otto said, raising his voice.
Frank viewed the other’s affirmation of Otto’s request and opened two dinners. The food was devoured in no time. Frank reminded them not to drink too much water, but his pleas were being ignored, especially by Otto and Homer.
Better get found soon. The water and food will be gone shortly if these fools don’t heed the warnings. Shit, the more that fat bastard drinks, the more the others will drink to keep up.
“Listen up, folks. I’m not kidding. I know you all think we are going to get rescued soon, but what if we were way off course, and they’re searching elsewhere? We have to conserve food and
water for the worst possible scenario.”
No one seemed to hear his voice.
Finally, Helen spoke up. “Listen to the man, you assholes. Stop drinking all the fucking water and eating the food. Before you know it, we’ll be destitute out here. Get real. We’re survivors of
a shitty crash. How often does that happen? Now, we need to rely on each other and get out of this shithole in one piece. Do you jerks want to live or die of stupidity?”
All eyes were upon Helen as she spoke about how cooperation must exist in this floating cosmos. Frank’s pleas had been rejected, but the faces of the others showed understanding,
reasoning, and concern.
Swearing at these idiots got their attention. I’ve told Kate this multiple times. She always scoffed at my justification for cussing. Wait until I tell her this one!
Cussing at times was a serious contention between Kate and Frank. Frank had been brought up with a bunch of boys in the neighborhood, and cursing was the way they made themselves feel
like adults and all grown up. The more you cursed, the more the others thought of you as ‘cool.’ However, Kate was not a fan of it. Her father did a lot of it, and it turned her off and embarrassed her for as long as she could remember. She loved her father, but his constant repetition of these words deflated his effect as a father figure in her eyes, and she didn’t want that to happen to their children so she always showed some obvious disappointment when he cursed, often saying, “You don’t want your little girl to grow up cussing, do you?”
But it was so difficult to stop cold turkey. It was as if the cursing was automatic, ingrained, so to speak. The words just blurted out without him thinking, often before he even knew he’d said
them. He thought Helen’s screaming and using the ‘F’ word proved his point. The people who weren’t listening were shocked into listening for sure. Wasn’t that a good thing?
“What’s that in the water?” Irving said, pointing out of his portal in the cover.
Everyone leaned toward him, and the raft shifted, throwing several of them into the middle, crushing some of the dinners. Some continued to try to view what Irving had seen while others
salvaged the food.
“Where?” Maxine asked.
“There,” he said.
“Shit. It’s a fin, a fucking shark’s fin. He’s going to attack. He’s a Great White. Jesus Christ, get us out of here,” shrieked Homer.
“Shut up, Homer. Stop making noise. It will only make him more suspicious. Sharks don’t attack just to attack,” said Irving.
“They do if they are hungry,” Homer blurted.
“Contrary to your stupid beliefs, they don’t, especially rafts and boats,” Irving replied in a sarcastic tone.
“Yeah, I saw Jaws,” Homer said with authority.
“That was Hollywood, not real life. Calm down. Keep quiet. Just watch the thing for now,” Frank suggested.
For the next few hours, they remained fixated on the shark. It flowed through the water effortlessly while the front end searched and the back end guided the head to and fro. Its movements were repetitive and deliberate, and it certainly was not in a hurry and wasn’t acting agitated. At times, it seemed the shark actually was looking up at the passengers and then glancing down as it turned.
The gray leathery covering of its body was quite mesmerizing, and the dorsal fin was the central point, allowing them to follow it wherever it went. Occasionally, the shark dipped below the water, and the fin of the tail replaced it, but shortly after that, the dorsal fin reappeared and moved slowly past the raft. There were other sharks nearby, but this one was the closest and for the longest time.
Then, it was gone. They were all gone. Rain in the form of a warm shower began. Frank and Yuto, with the help from Kimberly, fashioned the cover’s top into a funnel to direct the rainwater into some empty bottles. Others scooped up any extra rainwater they could and drank it. It was considered a blessing from above, for sure. Otto seemed to be a dying animal trying to suck up and swallow any water near him. He couldn’t use his right hand, but he licked his shirt and pulled it up to his lips with the left hand, all the while jerking his body around to lick the raft’s edge where the raindrops were so obvious as they hit. Kimberly used a gentler technique, cupping her hands and sipping from the heels of them as water fell onto her fingertips. Others just leaned back with open mouths, and others placed their hands in a circle around their mouths as funnels.
Dr. Neviaser is a retired orthopaedic surgeon and author of many medical articles, papers, presentations, and contributions to medical texts. He’s written extensively on shoulder conditions, his specialty. He is available as a speaker on most orthopaedic conditions. His dynamic presentations involve a great deal of audience participation and personalized attention to attendees.
Dr. Neviaser is proud of his orthopedic guide book for the lay person, THE WAY I SEE IT: A Head-to-Toe Guide Guide To Common Orthopaedic Conditions and his first novel, YOU DEAR SWEET MAN.
He is now especially excited to introduce to his new novel, THE MYSTERY OF FLIGHT 2222,
to be published this 2018 summer.