Last 5 Minutes

Posted: December 10, 2011 in Fictional stories
Tags: , ,

The copter veered first to the left and then to the right. A strange clanking noise followed by a small thud or was it a boom like a car back firing. Sergeant Nick Kendall couldn’t tell for sure. He just knew something wasn’t right. The occupants looked at each other with trepidation and a creased brow. They had this weird feeling in the pit of their stomach as the copter continued heading north towards the Killaon Mountains where they were to meet with the rest of the brigade for mountaineering activities they were training for. The CH-47 Sea Night, a Marine transport helicopter was often used for these activities when not engaged in war. The chopper had gone through routine inspections at the base before take off and the six army personnel had backed their army rucksacks and headed for duty.

Sergeant Jimmy Johnson had kissed his wife hurriedly and told her he would meet her in a week after the exercises were completed. Ryan their 8–yr-old had left for school that morning in the school bus. Jimmy had promised Ryan a toy remote controlled copter on his return. He sat buckled down to his seat now, his palms sweating. He knew something was wrong. The pilot had announced that they were having technical problems.

Unfortunately for the occupants there was no clear landing spots for as far as the eye could see. The swollen Shamrock River flowed in a yellow sinuous path between thick and lush jungles of Chile. The mountains stretched endlessly covered in lustrous green. The only available landing areas were far beyond the mountains where the training was scheduled. They knew this and what followed were an ominous silence and a clear and present danger of loosing it all in a hostile environment with no chances of survival. Each one of them lost in heir own world of thoughts and last minute prayers for their near and dear ones.

Shawn looked out of the window and noticed they were losing altitude soon. The whirring of the propellers sounded eerie and out of sync. His face broke out into a sweat. It was three years since he joined this brigade and had loved every moment of it. But now he wished he had opted for the ground training he had earlier set his sights on. Visions of his pretty wife and 2-yr-old kid flashed before his eyes. Sheila and he had fallen in love at the academy and had run to the altar for their wedding vows. They couldn’t wait to be with each other. How were they going to manage without him? Sheila and he had planned on having a second child soon. She was the love of his life. He wished he had told her so more often. He wished they had made love yesterday, when all he did was turn away claiming fatigue from his drill. Tears welled in his eyes.

Rory McKnight sat quietly and thought about his parents in Midfield, Chicago. His father had survived a prostate cancer and was recovering. They had promised to meet for Christmas after his training. There wouldn’t be one anymore. He had forgotten to call them that morning since he was running late. His mother would be waiting for his call he knew.

Patrick put his hands in his pocket and pulled out his wallet. The pictures of his family choked him. His wife Glenda and his two lovely kids were in the picture they took last year at a mall. “I love you all,” he whispered. His only sister was in Detroit. He hadn’t talked to her in over a year over something so silly; he couldn’t even remember what it was. Why hadn’t he called up and patched up with her. He felt an overwhelming remorse and sorrow. This wasn’t supposed to end this way at all. He wanted another chance to set things right in life. It would weigh on his conscience for ever.

The copter lost altitude steadily and the pilot was trying in vain to ease it into a small clearing on the ground. His duty called both to salvage the chopper and save the occupants. The rotors were spluttering and not co-operating. After sending the required May Day signals and location grid he said a prayer and just stared out into the blue sky.

The copter crashed into the thicket at 1100 hours. There were two survivors with varying degrees of disability. The last five minutes of their life was a flash of light and their life a gift to renew. They would live on to look at everything with a different perspective. Things they took for granted.

Yesterday is history

Tomorrow is a mystery

Today is a gift, hence called the present!


-Suja Sukumaran


Comments are closed.