Anne finishes eating her burger, and looks up to see that Marquez has finished his as well. He is staring out into the ocean, and he says, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“The sea,” he says.
“Yeah, I guess.”
Marquez laughs. Anne asks, “What time did you say we’re going to leave?”
“Uh, maybe an hour and a half after we got here.”
“Well, it’s time to go then.”
“Ah, that’s too bad. Looks like we’ll have to reset our beach walk for another day, eh?”
“Yeah.” Anne glances at her watch. Almost five. They get up, Marquez walking over to an outside desk and coming back a few moments later. “All paid for.”
He smiles, and nods, motioning her to the street, where the two begin to walk. Anne quickly stays in step with Marquez, who’s moving a bit fast. “I’m guessing it’s around five now. We better be getting over to the plane soon. The other customers are probably getting mad.”
“That reminds me. What do I owe you?”
“Forget it. You don’t need to pay.”
“Anne, it’s fine.”
“Ok,” Anne says. Marquez laughs. She asks, “Where is this plane?”
“We have to walk about a half mile to get to the edge of Jaco. Then we’ll be at the tour house, where we will then take a short little drive over to the strip. I’m sure Rico has already taken the customers over, so we can pick up any left behind.”
“How longs the drive?”
“Two, maybe three minutes.”
“And who’s Rico?”
“My co-pilot,” he laughs. They walk in silence for several minutes: Anne getting tired of carrying her suitcase. She looks in through the shop windows they pass by, not seeing too much before they’re completely past it.
Finally they turn a corner, and Marquez says, “Ah, here we are.”
She stands there, watching as he looks both ways and begins jogging across the street towards a building simply marked: “Jaco Air Tours,” in both English and Spanish.
Anne begins to follow and she watches as another man comes from around the building, stepping onto the pavement to greet Marquez. As she draws near, she hears the man say, “Looks like we’ll have to cut the flight over Tortuga from today’s flight.”
“Why,” Marquez asks.
“Some restriction today or something. Looks like we’re going fly over a cruse ship booked by some millionaire and his family. They ‘rented’ the airspace because they don’t want any disturbances.”
“Can they do that?”
“Pal,” the man says. “They can do anything today.”
“I guess you’re right,” Marquez laughs.
The other man says, “We’ll probably just have to cut it right to La Cinco Muertes. Hopefully we can get there before the sun completely goes down. Hopefully catch the islands in the sunset for the tourists.”
Anne comes up behind Marquez and stands silently. The man gazes over Marquez’ shoulder, as Marquez asks, “Maybe we cut a flyby over Domingo in.”
“I don’t think so. If we can pass by in it’s proximity, that could be good. Otherwise let’s just head for the Deaths.”
“Ok.” Marquez turns around. “Ah, Anne.” He puts his arm around her shoulder and moves her in front of him. “Anne Jones, this is Rico. Rico, this is Anne. She’ll be accompanying us on the flight.”
“Anne,” Rico says simply, shaking her hand. Rico Martinez is a middle-aged, short Costa Rican native. He’s dressed in jean shorts, a tinted brown shirt, and his bare feet sweat inside his sneakers.
Anne nods, with a smile. “Hello.”
Marquez cuts into the silent introduction. “Well, I guess we should be going then.”
The three move around the side of the building, into a grassy area where a golf cart is parked. Anne looks past it, towards a dirt path beaten outward. They climb in; Anne in back while the two men are up front. She hauls her suitcase into the back with her.
In seconds, Rico starts up the cart and it rolls backward down the path, until he finally turns it around. Anne can see that the path ahead bends around a small rise in the plains to the left, blocking her view of wherever it goes. To their right, they pass within yards of straggling palm trees.
Rico glances at Marquez, jabbing a thumb back at Anne. “Tourist?”
Marquez begins to reply, when Anne says, “No.”
Rico’s hand returns to the wheel, and he says, “Marquez here’s quite a charmer then, eh?” She hears him laugh, and Marquez shakes his head, smiling, turning away.
Anne smiles as well in the back, the breeze pushing through her hair. “One could say that, yes. Treated me to lunch.”
Marquez says, “I hope you enjoyed it.”
“I did, thank you very much.”
Marquez laughs, and the cart begins to angle as the path turns. As they move around the hill, Anne can see a small gravel runway stretched out in front of them. Closer to them, at the near end of the runway is a yellowing-white plane.
The crunch of gravel fills her ears as the cart turns onto the runway, and moves around the edge to the side of the plane. Surrounding the stairwell to the door, she can see nearly a dozen or so people: most of them American.
Now these are tourists.
They all get out of the cart, and as Anne pulls out her suitcase she hears the click of someone’s camera as they take a picture of them. Rico turns to Marquez, “That reminds me. Two of them couldn’t make it.”
“Ah,” Marquez says. “That’s fine.”
Anne follows the two men towards the plane, where the other passengers begin to crowd around. One gawky-looking elderly man asks, “You do know how to fly a plane right?”
Marquez nods. “Yes, I do.”
“Good,” the man says. “Because if you don’t, I’ll have you arrested.”
“Go right ahead, sir.” Marquez looks back at Rico, who rolls his eyes, smiling. Anne can’t help but smile as well.
She stands in the back of the group, as people push to get on once Rico and Marquez are inside. She nears the stairway when a teenage girl ahead of her turns around. Anne watches as the girl looks her up and down, and then glances at her face. She seemingly snarls, baring braced teeth, and Anne raises an eyebrow.
Ahead, she hears a woman say, “Julia? Come on now, get on the plane dear.”
The girl asks sarcastically in response, “Why?”
“Just get on honey.”
The girl rolls her eyes, throwing herself up the stairs into the plane. Anne follows slowly, finally stepping inside. Rico is there.
He nods, moving past her, and pulls down the door. He locks it, and moves past her to the cockpit. She looks up and down the cramped cabin; the tourists that are seated looking up at her or adjusting cameras.
She looks up at the front, where Marquez stands next to an empty set of two seats. He motions for her to sit down. He smiles, as she moves in, and says, “Take the window. You won’t be displeased.”
“Ok then.” She smiles back, sitting her suitcase into the seat next to her, and slides open the window cover. Outside she can see a few feet of gravel, ending in dirt, then grass, leading away to sand where several palm trees sprout up.
Marquez leans in, and says, “Enjoy the flight. Looks like we’re going straight to the Deaths. I’ll make an announcement when you have a view of Sorna. I’ll try and get you closer, but then again—“
“Thank you Marquez.”
“Have fun,” Marquez says, and pushes up, moving inside the cockpit. Several minutes later, the tourists become quiet as the intercom crackles. Mixed with the crackles, Marquez’ voice fills the plane: “We’re about to take off. Please adjust your safety belts. We’re on restriction, so we’re flying to La Cinco Muertes. It’ll be almost an hour flight, but we are going to try and get near several other islands along the way. We hope you enjoy your flight.”
Another click, and it turns off. Anne locks together her belt, as the plane begins to rumble, slowly moving down the runway. She can hear the faint crunch of gravel outside, before it is drowned out by the sound of the turbines beginning to spin.
The plane begins to accelerate down the runway, and Anne hears the old man say in the back, “Hear that? That’s the plane beginning to fall apart. We’re never going to make it off the ground.”
She rolls her eyes, as the plane begins to level out in the air. Marquez’ voice crackles over the intercom once more: “You may now unbuckle your safety belts, but please do not get up. We estimate we’ll be at the La Cinco Muertes island chain within the hour, so please feel free to talk. Thank you.”
The old man yells, “Bah! Talk. How can we talk over the sound of this thing falling apart?”
Several tourists laugh, and Anne looks out the window at the endless blue ocean.
Her eyes begin to shut, and the sound of the plane and tourists melds together, fading away into a distant buzz. She yawns, her eyes closing shut.
Within seconds, Anne Jones is asleep.
“And now we’re within sight of Isla Pena.”
Anne wakes up, yawning. She looks back, twisting her stiff neck. The tourists are crowded on the left side of the plane; her side. They stare out the windows, snapping pictures. One man is fumbling with a video camera.
“Looks like we got fog up ahead to our right, where Sorna is.”
None of the tourists pay any attention, but continue to stare at the island nearby. Anne gets up when Marquez mentions Sorna, and moves to the right side of the plane. She walks down the aisle, pushing to get behind the others, and places herself near the back.
She gazes outside, but only sees fog.
Someone says, “What the hell?”
She glimpses the opposite windows. Fog is there too.
The old man says, “Perfect. I pay thirty dollars to be surrounded by fog?”
Marquez speaks on the intercom: “Sorna to our right.”
Anne squints through the fog, and barely makes out the dark outline of an island nearby. She whispers, “Jeez Marquez. You’re getting pretty close.”
The plane rocks. Someone shouts about their knee, while another person curses as they drop their camera.
The intercom crackles. “Please remain calm.”
Sorna’s outline is getting bigger, and Anne’s mind races full of ideas. Something’s wrong.
The plane rocks again, and someone shouts: “Something’s out there!”
The old man: “The plane’s engine probably fell apart.”
Anne yells, “Shut up already!”
The tourists turn around, looking at her angrily. The old man looks confused.
A loud crash is heard coming from outside. Some of the fog on the left side of the plane begins to turn black. The old man yells, “I knew it!”
The intercom crackles, filled with background noise. Rico’s voice barely makes it over the intercom: “We have a propeller failed. We can’t be sure. Please remain calm. We may need to make an emergency landing on Isla Pena. Just remain calm and we’ll be fine.”
What the hell is going on?
The plane rocks again; more violently than before. More jerky.
There’s a groan outside, and the old man says, “I knew they didn’t know how to—“
He’s cut short as Anne swings out a fist, decking him in the face. He falls to the floor, as several people gasp. A woman crouches down next to the old man who is her husband. She begins putting her hand through his hair, crying. Her husband is unconscious. She glares at Anne, cursing.
Anne sits back down, feeling sweat drip down her face.
Marquez? Rico? What’s going on up there?
She wipes away a bead of water as it drips onto her eyelid. She blinks.
Marquez speaks over the intercom. He sounds frustrated, nervous. “Um, please remain calm. Uh, we’re trying to locate the coordinates of a safe place to land on Pena. Please bear with us.”
Someone shouts, “Bear with you? We’re going to crash!”
Marquez coughs. “We’re very—“
The plane bows down, flipping three people over their seats. Other tourists frantically grab for chairs to gain hold. The plane starts to shake, unstopping.
Marquez yells. “Oh my God!”
The intercom cuts out.
Anne peers out the window. The outline of the island is huge now, and she wonders if it is Sorna. Marquez said they were trying to get to Pena for an emergency landing.
That’s it. It’s Isla Pena, that’s all. We’re going to land and it’ll all be over.
She hears muffled shouts from the cockpit, and a thud. Anne waits for the intercom to crackle to life once more.
She waits, as the plane continues to shake, and angle down.
God, why’d I ever say yes to come on this plane. Hell, why’d I ever listen to Jill and mom to come to this place at all? Anne, you’re so stupid!
Several people begin to shout, gripping the seats. Some pray.
Anne watches as the teenage girl, Julia, falls to her knees and begins to cry. A woman—which Anne guesses is her mother—steps over, wrapping her arms around her. Her shoulders begin to move up and down: she’s obviously crying.
Anne whispers to herself, “We’re not getting out of this alive.”
She gets up, moving into the aisle. She steps over the old man’s unconscious body, and begins towards the cockpit, when the plane bounces, and angles down further. Her legs slip out from under her, and she falls back.
Her head collides with the man’s shoe, and she feels a hand swipe the side of her face. Her body begins sliding down the aisle, moving towards the cockpit on her back. She grasps for a hold on anything, and finally does, several seats back from her suitcase. She tries to stand up, eventually finding a way to do so.
She moves from one seat to the next forward, passing by one or two tourists in each seat who are whimpering. She begins reaching for her suitcase when the plane rocks again, and her entire body is thrown forward.
She twists sideways, trying to make a hold on a nearby seat.
She glimpses her suitcase jump into the air and begin flipping over the seat behind it, a split second before she crashes through the cockpit door. She hears the wood collide with another surface, as she continues to slide through the cockpit.
Anne passes by flickering lights, monitors, and boards. She feels her body lift for a single moment, before her feet return to the ground. She passes by the co-pilot, Rico, who’s seemingly unconscious on the board in front of him.
She is able to see Marquez’ face, who’s looking shocked. Color had drained from his face, and she sees him trying to unbuckle the straps that create his harness.
He reaches for her, but it’s too late.
Anne is careened through the cockpit window as Marquez begins for her. She hears the glass smash for a split second, before a blinding pain races through her head, traveling down her entire body.
Anne Jones slips into unconsciousness as her entire body is thrown from the falling plane.