Disclaimer: At the time when this post is published, there are no definite answers, mainly speculations, on the enigmatic disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. May our thoughts and prayers be with the people on board flight MH370 and to their families, may they find the closure they need. This post is written based entirely on imagination and no offence intended.
Jamie opened his eyes slowly. Groggily, he blinked a couple of times as he tried to make out his surroundings and realized that it was pitch black. Something ruffled in his laps; as he felt the object, he deduced that it was a magazine. An inflight memory, as memory started coming back to him. He was travelling to Beijing on a business trip alone. He was a little stiff from sitting too long and thanked his lucky stars that he was promoted to Business Class at the check-in counter earlier that day, or that sore pain in his neck may be worse.
Why is it so dark? They were in a plane. In a plane, the emergency lights were located at the bottom of the seats along the aisles and should have been switched on automatically. There should be illuminated signs on the exits. The wheels in his head were turning. The fact that there were no lights at all made absolutely no sense.
He instinctively took out his smartphone. A smartphone was handy tool, and the LED backlight on the screen should shed some light on the surrounding. He grope his pockets and pulled out the device from his left pocket. He pressed the home button. Nothing. He tried again. Still nothing. It was pitch black.
“Hello, is anyone there?”
He called out, half expecting silence to greet him. Someone answered him. By that time, the other passengers must have started to wake up as he heard footwear rubbing on the floor, keys jingling, creaks, rustlings and yawns and murmurs. Sounds that usually annoyed him sounded like music to his ears then. He was not alone.
The window. Someone should open it. He sat in the middle aisle and he was a little afraid to move about in the dark.
Just as he was thinking it, there was a sudden bright light that shone from the right side of the plan. He squinted almost immediately, as he allowed his eyes to adjust to the light. More windows opened. There were a few muttered curses, understandable.
His eyes darted around the plane; air stewards and stewardess are huddled at the gallery in front of the cockpit door in hushed conversations. The confident looks of smart looking men in suits he saw during takeoff was replaced with confusion and a rare look – panic. Men who normally kept their feeling in check were paralysed with fear when they looked out of the plane.
It was all blue; vast landscape of blue right until the horizon, where it meets the green sky adorned by white clouds. It was as though in the world was turned upside down, and they were suspended in midair. He had never seen the sky so clear – and green – or the land so empty and blue. As he boarded the plane, he was going from a busy city to an even busier (and more polluted) city, where the beautiful landscapes were replaced with high-rise buildings and clear sky, smokes.
Where are we? Someone asked.
Now that’s a million dollar question. There were no runways or control towers. It did not seem like a crash, the exteriors of the plane looked as pristine as when it took off. He wondered if they had reached their destination, or the pilot decided to play a prank on them, but he could not shake that uncomfortable thought of knowing something was terribly wrong.
He looked at his wristwatch. It showed 2:40:01 pm. The second hand stopped ticking. Odd. He checked his phone again, which doubled as his second watch. Either it was not working, or his battery had gone flat.
“Is your phone working?”
He turned to the voice, where his eyes met the gaze of a beautiful working class woman with rimmed glasses. She looked like the type he would be interested in, but he was distracted – because this was not a coincidence. Her phone was not working too. The plane began to fill with chatters and questions, acting like a bunch of teenagers who just realized that the supplementary teacher had left the classroom. Nobody’s electronic gadget were working. All the batteries either coincidentally died midflight, or something so powerful sucked out all the power in the plane.
Another chill ran up his spine.
At the rear end of the plane, Sarah was one of the last people to wake up. She heard frantic chatters that replaced what could have been a beautiful sleep. Being a writer, she had just secured a book deal and was flying out to her new office in Beijing. She frowned and turned away from the bright light from the opened windows.
Then the thought dawned her – should it not be dark outside. She had taken this flight on purpose, to sleep her way through a possible jetlag. She had been up all night finishing a chapter in her book was counting on the tranquil of a night flight.
“Can all of you just shut the hell up?” She thought angrily as she gripped her hair in frustration.
She must have screamed her thoughts out loud because the entire plane turned dead silent. Everyone froze for a moment to look at her, decided that she was nobody they needed to listen to, and continued to talk among themselves. As she glanced around, she spotted a few air stewards and stewardess gathered at the gallery discussing their course of actions.
The noise gradually became unbearable again. The crowd was starting to panic. Just as she was deciding to fake a meltdown, a matured-looking air steward, she guessed to be the chief steward, silenced them with his booming voice. The cabin speakers must not be working.
“Ladies and gentlemen. May I have your attention please? My name is Anthony Cheng. I am aware that all of you want some answers now, but unfortunately we are unable to provide that information to you right now. We are trying our best to communicate with the cockpit and figure out what is going on. Till then, please remain seated and calm and we will update you as soon as possible. Thank you. “
“Are we dead?” A question was called a few seats in front of her.
“Hell no, if we were, I wouldn’t want to be with you.” A quick comeback from the guy seated next to him. They were clearly acquainted. The mood lightened, as the passengers laughed, although deeply aware that there was nothing funny about it.
Antony walked over from the economy class to the business class, closing the curtain that divides the two classes behind him. He saw his fiancé, Elizabeth, who was in hush discussions with the other air stewardess and quickly walked over to her.
“What’s going on, El? Have anyone manage to get in touch with the pilot?”
Elizabeth looked at him and he could see the terror in her eyes. She held a weak smile, aware that the passengers are looking at her direction. That was the code of duty, to remain composed at all times, even though we are terrified deep inside.
“We couldn’t. The phone wasn’t working. Mark is working on the door now.” He looked over her shoulders and saw the bulky young air sterward who recently joined the crew trying to use a level to open the cockpit door… or break it down. It was near impossible as a cockpit door was meant to be inaccessible from outside the cockpit due to terrorisms precautions.
“We’re going to figure this out.” Anthony was not sure if he was comforting her or himself.
Philip rocked his beautiful 2-month old baby gently in his arms. Even with all the commotion, she was sleeping soundly. There was no reason to wake her up, although he had held his fingers below her nose and waited for the exhaled breath. He had also checked her pulse for several times. His baby girl had a rare but potentially fatal condition and was getting medical treatment from a doctor in Beijing.
He was mildly aware of the air steward standing next to him. Anthony spoke again.
“Ladies and gentleman, we are unable to contact the pilot at the moment. We believe that it is in our best interest that all of us remain seated for the time being. We will inform you as soon as we have any updates. Thank you for your cooperation.”
“Remain seated? For how long, exactly? We have to go out eventually!” An angry passenger exclaimed. Some nodded in agreement and another voice responded: “We must open the cabin door and get out now!”
“Out? Out where?!” Another angry passenger refuted. “In case you haven’t noticed, we are in the middle of nowhere, our gadgets are not working and we don’t even know if we are still alive or not! Perhaps the only thing keeping us alive is in this plane where there is, you know, oxygen. Once you open that door, we are as good as dead!” Some applause was heard.
“Do you know what’s out there? Answers. More than I can say being stuck in here!” Another yell.
“It’s safe in here! Stop being selfish and think about all of us here! Don’t you think we all need answers too? What good does it do adding more unknown into our lives right now?”
Tempers were rising. The passengers were divided. But Philip did not care. He was barely listening. All he cared was his little girl, safe in his arms.
Mark was determined to open the cockpit door, even if that was the last thing he did. He could feel his strength draining out, when miraculously – if he could call it a miracle – the door unlatched by itself from inside. He muttered a silent prayer of thanks and opened the door wide. It was not what he saw that scared him, but rather what he did not see. It was an empty space – no flight instruments, no control panels, no pilot or copilot. Anyone who walked in would not even guessed the room or whatever you want to call it, was a cockpit.
As he let out a shrill that echoed throughout the plane, he felt his body went numb and slowly slipped into unconsciousness. Whatever that was happening, it was nothing that anyone could explain.
Not for now.