Anne Jones heard the chirping of birds. Her eyes slowly opened. She groaned, her body ached all over. She tries to move, and mutters, “Oh my God.”
She rolls her head, her neck stiff, slightly pained. A jolt races across her forehead that slowly dies down. She reaches up, to feel dried blood. She sits up, stretching her arms, and looks around.
She’s on a beach.
Around her is sand, with palm trees here and there, almost like the—
Almost like the runway.
Everything floods back into her mind. Marquez, the plane, the old man, the crashing noises, and then pain—immense pain.
She stares out at the beach, her eyes widening. In the distance she can see shrapnel, clinging to the rocks of a small little island several yards wide. Closer to the shore, she can see the tail of the plane, sticking at an angle upward. The front is gone.
She gets up, her bones aching. The sun beats down on her face, and she wonders if she had been asleep on the shore all night. She stretches, the pain in her forehead feeling fainter now. She moves to the waters edge, splashing water on her face.
For a moment, she feels the sting of saltwater in her cut, but it soon fades away. She looks down, taking off her dirty over-shirt. She unbuttons it, revealing a white shirt underneath. She uses the buttoned shirt to wipe away the wet blood, and then drops it in the ground.
She turns around, searching for any sign of the front of the plane.
She puts her hands on her hips, her back turned to the water. “Hello? Marquez? Anybody? Are you there?”
“Oh, great,” she sighs. She looks at her watch, the cover is shattered. It’s no use anymore. She takes it off, dropping it in the sane. “Well then. I guess this is Isla Pena. Maybe they found someplace to rest. Maybe civilization.”
She stretches once more, and looks around at the palm trees. “It’s beautiful here at least. Not exactly what I planned for a vacation, but what the heck.”
Leaving behind her over-shirt and watch, she starts inward. As she walks, the sand becomes grassier in different spots, and more foliage begins to sprout up.
Anne walks on for several moments, reaching the side of a hill rise too steep for her to climb. She turns around, seeing that the entire area around the beach is coved in. “Great. Trapped here. Figures the one spot where I survive won’t let me out. I knew all along this was a stupid idea.”
She stands there for a moment, staring back across the plants a dozen yards away to the spot on the shore, staring at the water lapping lazily against the sand. “Give me a break here! It’s not like I can swim to America!”
She kicks the sand, spraying up a small wave of dirt. “Come on Anne. You can get through this. You’re a big girl. Just think.” She looks around, and spots something she missed before.
Hiding behind a turn in the hillside, she spots a pile of boulders, stacked up just high enough to get to a ridge. She shrugs. “Let’s give it a chance.”
She quickly moves over to the rocks, and inspects them.
Without hesitating, she places one foot on the lowest rock, and pulls up, her hands placed higher up. She strains slightly, finally grasping the next rock. She glances up as she pulls herself onto the second rock. She takes a deep breath, and stands. The rock shakes, and she realizes it won’t hold for long.
She jumps, landing half atop the next rock, as the rock she had been standing on pushes away, and tumbles down, hitting the ground. She hears it roll away several feet, as she pulls up onto the next rock.
She mutters, “No way I can go back now.”
Anne jumped from boulder to boulder now, since they were more leveled out, until she finally reached the ridge. She kicked off the boulder, jumping the small gap between it and the edge of the ridge. She landed hard, and tumbled, her legs sliding out from beneath her.
She landed on her side, and began a steep roll, which quickly leveled out, until she stopped. Anne lay on her back, and she coughed. She wiped away some dirt on her face as she got up.
As she stood, she turned around, facing the ridge. It had only been a few yards, but it was angled up pretty high.
She turned forward, scanning her new surroundings. On either side of her was a tree, and leaves were scattered across the ground. Past that, she saw several more plants, which blocked a partial view of—
Behind the plants she saw a wide dirt road, going straight past the tree to her left, and then angling off into the distance. “Maybe this’ll lead me to the others, if they found this too.”
She quickly stepped through the plants and onto the path. She scratched her cheek—not realizing she had peeled some mud under her fingernails—and looked both ways. “Now which way do I go?”
She shrugged and said aloud, “I guess I’ll just see where it takes me.”
Anne began following the path left, following the bend. She waked on for several minutes, listening to the birds chirping and the steady buzz of cycads.
“Shouldn’t there be monkeys or something? This is an island after all.”
She laughed, stepping over a branch.
<i>Hmm… That’s odd. If this road is used, someone by now would’ve moved that branch. It’s huge.</i>
She returns her gaze forward, and sees that the road turns left again up ahead. A tree is at the corner, at the edge of another hill, but she can see that the road begins sloping down around the corner. She turns the corner, and stops.
Ahead of her, the road dips down into a small cluster of walls. Around them are several stacks of crates, and drums, crudely pushed together in clusters. The road goes through it all in one straight line, the clusters and walls closely hugging it on either side.
To the far left of the road, only several feet from the walls is a sheer cliff, leading down. Anne can see the ocean below it as she starts to walk down the trail. “If crates are here, then people have got to be around here. They wouldn’t just leave them here.”
Anne steps off the road, moving over to inspect the crates. She pushes on one.
“Well there’s a good reason why they left them.” There is a stenciled image on the side of the wooden crate, but it’s smeared out. She can’t read it. It’s the same on the other crates.
Anne tries the drums, which she finds, to her surprise, are also empty. The image stenciled on the outside of the drum is rusted over, also illegible. She raises an eyebrow, and moves past the crates, towards the cliff.
She crouches down, looking over. Below, waves crash against jagged rocks, and she whispers, “If anyone else survived the crash, they sure as hell wouldn’t of survived that.”
She pushes a nearby rock over, watching it spiral down towards the water. She loses sight of it moments before it hits the water, and she cannot hear the splash above the low crashing of the waves.
Anne stands up, returning to the road, and walks continues down, passing several more piles of crates and single standing walls. To her right she sees that there is a low rise a few feet tall, and the road ahead bends off to the right, where the rise ends.
At the curve, she sees a single standing wood post on the right side. It’s old, rotted. She looks to the left, scanning the area and spots a second post. It’s cracked, lying by a nearby bush.
She rubs her hand on the standing post, feeling chips peel away in her hand. “I wonder what these are for.”
She glances back once more at the broken post, and then begins following the short curve. To her left is another hill rise, which—like the previous one—is too steep for her to climb. She looks to her right, passing by the end of the rise, and feels the ground begin to angle. She looks ahead, realizing the road slopes down several yards, and then levels out for quite a distance, before ending in a wooden wall.
She begins to move faster, scanning all the space to her left quickly. It had been blocked by the rise earlier, but now she can see that there’s nothing but grass, plants, and several more crates here and there amidst the ground.
Why are these all here?
As she nears the fence, which runs across the landscape as far as it can—before ending in the hillside on both sides—she says, “I wonder what’s behind fence number one.”
She reaches the fence, still standing on the road. She sees that the road itself stops just short of the fence itself, but probably continues on the other side. She places her hands on the fence, and pushes.
It shakes, wobbling slightly. She hears minor cracks, and takes a step back. She quickly scans the frame of the part of the fence in front of her, and sees there is a small little gap on the far right between this frame and the next.
She steps forward, wedging her fingers in the gap, and begins to pull on the wood. She groans, struggling. It barely moves, but as she begins to give up, it budges, sliding a bit faster to the left. She lets go, after pulling it open a few feet, and then looks at where it went.
The sliding frame, she sees, goes into the frame on the left, which is slightly wider to allow it to go in. The frame next to that is partial, built into the hillside.
She coughs, dust beginning to cloud up, and then steps into the new area. Ahead of her the road continues on, disappearing in a slight dip after several yards. She can see the remains of another building past where the road dips.
She looks left, into an empty area of grass, and then turns her gaze to the right. She finds a sandy clearing, where a several more crates lie around. A metal drum, lying on it’s side, sits off to the side, against the hillside.
She looks from one crate to the next, and asks, “More? Why?”
Unable to think, she continues down the road, reaching the dip. Below her, the road forks. To the right, the road leads several yards into the remains of some sort of building. Several walls connect, forming a roofless complex reminding her of a small maze.
To the left, the road goes up, onto a ridge hugging the mountain side, which follows the length of the building, and then angles right, following the back of the building. The entire area is mostly surrounded by the mountain on either side, except for the area where the road to the left disappears. Behind the building, a small beaten path in the low-growing plants forms up the rise towards the road.
She walks down the dip, turning off to the right, towards the building. She steps off the road, where it ends, passing between two short walls. She looks up, realizing they are only two or three feet taller than she is.
She steps into what she guesses are the insides of the building, and looks around. The walls formation show no form of what the layout of a house would be, and once more there are a few crates lying around, pushed against the walls.
Anne whispers, putting her hands to the concrete walls. “This sure isn’t somebody’s house. Even if it was, it seems to old to have been built recently. So, why is it here?”
She rubs her hands over the cold concrete, her fingers passing over several faint cracks. She turns away, beginning to move to the back of the building.
If you could call this a building.
As she steps onto the beaten path following the rise up onto the passing road, she looks back at the remains of whatever had been—or was going to be.
She scratches her chin, hearing the crunch of dried leaves beneath her as she steps onto the road. She continues on, soon passing by the two corners of the mountains on either side. The road curves away once more, to the left, continually hugging the mountain.
To the right there are small trails of rocks, hidden next to and around several small hills, which block different views as she walks down. On the opposite side of the area, she sees another wooden fence, coming out of the nearest mountain and extending straight into the opposite one.
She shoots a glance up ahead, noticing that the road curves once more to the right, several feet short of the mountain side, and heads off to the fence.
Anne looks at the area to her left, glimpsing boulders, and what seems to be a dried out stream.
Then something shiny.
She moves faster down the road, her view of whatever it is blocked by the rises. She turns the next curve, starting towards the fence, and stops, seeing what it is.
She runs off the road towards it, passing down into the rocky area. Rocks grind together as she steps on them, making her way over the truck.
She pushes through a loose rock, hearing it rumble across the ground as she moves on. As she looks up at the truck again, she sees that it’s an angle. On it’s side.
She gets within several feet of it, and stops. The truck’s tires are blown, much of the rubber seemingly worn away. It’s lying on it’s undercarriage on one of the slopes, it’s only support from falling further saved by a boulder pushing against it’s mid-side.
The front window is smashed out; both the passenger and driver’s side windows cracked badly. The driver’s side rear window is gone, completely ripped of its hinges. She moves closer, placing a hand on the rusted truck to gain support in climbing over another jumble of rocks.
It groans, as she moves around back, taking her hand off it. She looks down at her hand, wiping off dirt, dust, and faded paint, before inspecting the back.
There is no license plate, much of the rear fender digging into dirt. The truck isn’t carrying any load, except for another crate. It’s covered in dry leaves, a pile building up around it in the back of the truck.
“It looks like it’s been here for years.”
She climbs back over the rocks, returning to the front, and tries to look in the driver’s side window. She shakes her head, because she can’t see through the damage. She looks around, picking up a rock, and smashes the window.
It instantly shatters, and she drops the rock. The truck rocks slightly; a slight screech from the metal grinding against its supporting boulder. She cranes her neck in, looking around the interior.
The wheel is oddly distorted, and all the glass on the board is cracked. The plain cushioned seats are dirty, stained with something. Several leaves have found their way in.
Nothing she can use.
“Ok,” Anne mutters, pulling out of the truck. “Crates are here, remains of buildings are here, fences, and now an old truck? Where are the people?”
She sighs, and begins climbing back over the rocks, to the road. Behind her, the truck groans again, and another screech rings out as the metal grinds against the boulder. She pushes away, turning around to look as she gains footing.
The truck rocks; sliding down slightly over the supporting boulder. A cloud of dirt and dust erupts from beneath the truck, and several rocks trickle down, finally free of the truck’s hold.
The truck whines once more, and then becomes silent. Anne turns around, and begins climbing over the rocks.
Ten minutes later, Anne Jones finds herself standing in front of the next fence. She looks for a gap to pulls once more, but no luck.
“Well,” she says. “I guess door number two’s a bit different.”
She walks forward, placing both hands against the center of the wood, and begins to push. It jolts, pulling out of the dirt, and pushing it away. The door slowly begins to arc out, grinding against the dirt as Anne pushes.
The door jams in the dirt, and Anne’s arms fall down. She steps through the new opening, entering a small area, where the road wraps around a corner to the left. The mountains quickly press in on both sides, and she follows the road to the curve.
She reaches the top of a hillside, where she looks out. Large plants grow along the slope, and trees block her view of what’s below. She looks down the road to the left, watching as it presses tight against the mountain, disappearing from view soon behind the trees. She’s up pretty high.
“It probably leads down below. It looks like it’ll be a long walk.”
Her gaze returns down the slope, and she sticks a foot out, putting it on the slope itself. She says, “I wonder if—“
She begins to say no, when her foot slips. She falls forward, and she tries grasping for a nearby branch. Her hand passes by it, as she begins tumbling down the slope.
At first, she tumbles head-over-heel, but slows in the dirt. She moves herself into a sideways position, rolling sideways.
She feels her arms and legs getting whipped by branches and rocks, but keeps a protective shield over her head and face with her arms and hands.
Something hits her leg, and she feels the pain rush up her body. She doesn’t scream, but bites down on nothing as she continues down the slope
When is this going to stop?
Just as if the slope had heard her thought, she began to level out. Her body turned, and she finally stopped her slowing pace with her right arm. She stopped on her stomach, and she quickly got up.
Her body ached.
Anne began wiping off dirt on her arms and legs, as well as on her clothes. There were twigs in her hair, and she pulled them out, dropping them on the ground. She looked down at her leg, where the pain had begun to subside.
She looked around, finding herself in an area surrounded by plants and trees. The road was no where in sight. In the distance she saw the mountain.
“Great,” she mutters. “Just great. Well, I guess I’ll get no where just standing here.”
She looks back up the slope, and then starts into the forest. As she walks, she listens to the crack of pine needles, twigs, and leaves under her feet.
After walking for several minutes in complete silence, trying to focus in on the forest around her, she sees that he forest ahead ends in a large cove of several boulders. She starts to jog, passing out of the forest and pressing against a boulder.
She looks around, the trees thinning out but still blending as part of the surrounding. She walks by a boulder, passing within range of a fallen tree. She turns around it, stepping quickly over a small grouping of rocks.
With one hand, she wipes away the sweat on her face and—without looking around—spots the road. It passes in back of a large pond, and then slopes up, disappearing over a hill. She starts to jog, passing by another set of trees, and stops within yards of the pond.
She stops motionless, her ears filled with the sound of amazingly loud pounding to her left.
Anne turns to her left, and her eyes widen.