By: Kelbie Biron
Miss Gelling awoke filled with despair as she remembered the bright lightning striking the engine. She looked around, felt the pull of her sweaty skin on the faux leather seat as she stood to take a head count.
The children were starting to stir. She counted Hawke. Olivia. Lucy. Amy. Eric. Kalmia. Max. She paused coming up short. Maddox, Harold and Ophelia were nowhere to be found. Miss Gelling burst out of the open door in a desperate hope that they were okay, and had only wandered out of the plane. The other students followed suite.
The air was sticky and the forest thick, she ran to the shore and found Maddox, Harold and Ophelia sitting on the beach talking.
“Are you okay? Is anybody hurt?” Miss Gelling said through gasping breaths.
“Yeah, we’re fine.” Maddox replied.
“Why didn’t you get me right when you woke up. I was worried sick about you,” Miss Gelling said.
“We went to see the pilot first to see if he knew where we were.” Maddox replied.
“Well does he?” Miss Gelling asked.
“No, he doesn’t he’s dead,” Maddox said.
“That’s inconvenient,” Olivia said. “How did he die?”
“Well, I am pretty damn sure it was the tree that crashed through the windshield and spilled his guts that did him in,” Maddox replied.
Miss Gelling knelt down and placed a hand on his shoulder. He quickly shrugged it off as he stood.
“First things first, we need to ration off the food that we have,” Maddox said. “Olivia and Lucy, you girls are really good at math, you figure that out.” He paused to see if they objected. They were silent.
“Hey Amy and Eric you guys go camping a lot why don’t you two look for wood to build a fire, you know how to start a fire right?” Maddox asked.
Eric said “Yeah, the only problem man is that storm completely soaked all the wood but we will try our best.”
“Harold and Kalmia why don’t you two go search for a fresh water source.” Maddox said. “Okay, that works for me.” Kalmia said. Harold just sighed but agreed, he’d rather be partnered up with Ophelia.
Maddox motioned to Ophelia to beckon her to him. He whispered in her ear “I have a special job for you. I need you to keep Hawke out of trouble, please keep him from ruining things you know how he is.”
Ophelia nodded and said “Hawke you and I are going to search the plane for usable parts, okay.” Hawke just rolled his eyes and slipped his cheesy straw hat over his eyes feigning sleep.
“Max you are with me. We need to bury the pilot. I can’t do it by myself, the dude is pretty heavy, I figured you were strong like me.” Maddox said.
“Well, I am glad we figured that out as a team. I just love how everyone is working together.” Interjected Miss Gelling while clasping her hands with an excited but nervous giggle.
Everybody started to separate to accomplish their assigned tasks. Miss Gelling walked over to Maddox and whispered “What would you like me to do?”
Maddox replied “I thought that you could keep up everyone’s spirits and make sure that everyone is contributing. You know since you are a natural born leader and great at pep talks.”
“That’s a great idea Maddox.” Miss Gelling said.
“Your plan to bury the pilot is not going to work.” Max said while he began to point to the available areas in which to bury the pilot. “The forest has too many roots and I definitely do not think burying him in the sand is a good idea because the changing of the tides will eventually dig him back up…” Max said.
“Exactly.” Maddox replied cutting him off because he knew Max would keep ranting because he was uncomfortable around the dead due to the loss of his family. Maddox had taken that into consideration, but knew he had made the right choice because Harold and Eric just did not have the strength or muscle mass him and Max had. The girls definitely would not be able to lift him or bring him very far not to be sexist or anything they were just all rather petite.
“Wait what?” Max said.
“Do you see that outcropping of rocks there at the top where there is a ton of rocks.” Maddox said motioning down the shore to the cliff. “We are going to wrap his body up in a blanket or something and bring him up to the top of that cliff and …”
“Throw him off of it into the ocean.” Hawke said leaping into the conversation and laughing at what he thought was a funny joke.
“No. Hawke aren’t you supposed to be with Ophelia helping her find useful things in the plane.” Maddox said.
“Yeah, but I ditched her. She was cramping my style. All work and no chill, know what I’m saying.” Hawke said elbowing Maddox.
A few minutes later Ophelia came bounding across the shore to meet up with the boys who were huddled in a group. She then convinced a begrudging Hawke to go back and help her.
“Essentially, we are going to make a cairn.” Maddox said “Which is a really fancy way to say we are going to bury him under a pile of rocks. It’s the best idea I have, this way animals won’t be able to eat his body and the ocean won’t wash him away.” Maddox adds.
Maddox and Max entered the cockpit suppressing the desire to wretch, for the smell in the heat and humidity had utterly fermented into a vile stench. They found a flask that reeked of vodka and Max said “No wonder we crashed.”
“Dude the storm was probably more the culprit than the vodka, it didn’t help the situation but I don’t think it was the sole reason we crashed.” Maddox said.
They quickly wrapped him in one of those silver emergency blankets and bungie corded it around him. Next Maddox grabbed one side and Max the other and they lifted him straining against his weight.
According to Max’s watch it took them two hours just to haul the pilot to the top of the cliff. When they got there they cleared a spot and began putting rocks over his body until the pilot was indistinguishable and all that was left was a huge mound. They stood there a moment in silence staring at the mound until Max broke the silence and said “Fienberg you were a good man and will be missed by those you have left behind.” Max then grabs a few smaller pebbles and sprinkles it onto Fienberg’s cairn.
“His name was Fienberg?” Maddox said.
“Yep. Didn’t you pay attention when he introduced himself?” Max said.
“No, I guess I should have.” Maddox said.
Maddox looked around to see the landscape. Not too far off he could see the ocean directly opposite to the ocean that was behind him.
“I think we are on an island.” Maddox said.
All that surrounded them on all sides was the crisp blue ocean, civilization appeared to be leagues away.