Chapter 11:

Surviving and living are different things- you know that

Castaway Isle

It takes the airline crew at least 2 and a half hours before they can organize themselves enough to really address the crowd of downed passengers.

3 People have perished. It was determined to have been caused by stress, shock and heart failure as these passengers were either elderly, sick or already had a predisposed condition. It was unfortunate but it was a good thing no one else was seriously injured or harmed.

Some of the airline attendants were a little banged up more so than the general passengers but for the most part no one was hurt.

It was a forced landing, in order to avoid a more dangerous collision or worse, a water landing, they hand to land as a preemptive. The engines were overheated, operating oddly, and one was down but the other 3, given time, were more the less okay.

The crowd was hopeful, does that mean they could get back in the air? At least enough to get them to civilization and another airport?

At this point in time hope was still high.

However, the crew were still concerned and requested everyone's time and patience as they exahimed the vehicle for any further damage. They were currently doing their best to get the aircraft up and running again with trained crewmen attempting to contact help as they speak.

Sophie had already heard it all from the last time and did not bother. She could easily make a similar speech out of memory alone. Instead, she rested at their makeshift camp but sent Mattie to go rejoin the group on the beach listen in to the cabin crew's announcements.

He didn't like to be kept out of the loop and uninformed about situations at hand. He was a grown boy and though a part of her wants to lock both him and June up until it was all over, that wasn't feasible. To ease her paranoia she sent him off with the gps tracking watch and the small attachable walkie talkie, just in case. If anything, they could still contact and find each other on the island.

This much should be fine though. There would be no infighting in the first couple of weeks, nothing outside petty frustrated arguments of course.

The real violence would take time, slowly uncovering itself in layers.

There was also the news, though unconfirmed but for the eyes of the pilots in the cockpit, of another plane wreckage on the island. The one June was on.

The flight crew and staff had agreed to withhold that piece of information till the next morning, believing the shock of their own forced landing was already too much for passengers to take in. The crew wanted to see if they could radio and communicate with the other aircraft first, and account for the situation there.

Sophie took this quiet time alone to write down the sequence of events to the best of her memory into her journal. It was a pretty leather hardcover thing that a younger Sophie had found at an artsy popup market stall. It must have once been a book in somebody's library but cleaned and refurbished into a blank diary. The faded gold script still visibly spelling out a title and author in a Latin root language she couldn't understand.

No one had ever bothered stealing her journal in all those years, thinking it to be a foreign but common book. It's not like someone's personal diary was very much worth stealing anyway. Sophie had thought about installing a lock on it but decided against the notion. It would be much more suspicious if she did so, hiding in plain sight was much more effective.

Still, the contents spilling out into the pages of her journal were now sensitive information, from major events to spats between survivors even little tidbits on the plants and wildlife on the island. She was not detailed nor intelligent enough to come up with her own secret language, instead, she wrote in a jumble of languages she knew and phrases only she recognized.

The base was English but sometimes switched to her parent's native Chinese and Vietnamese or the barely passible Spanish she learned in high school. In between, she would sprinkle and twist into other languages. She could not claim to be fluent but living on a wrecked island with so many people of different cultures and languages, she picked up in a few things trying to communicate. If a group of people gathered, perhaps they could decipher enough to make sense of her writings but it was unlikely.

With this, she felt assured in writing down everything freely without being found out.

Mattie returned right before the sun started to set, arms full of the handouts given by the airline. He had shown his id and confirm he had his sister waiting for him, then managed to grab two of the airline's crumpled blankets and pillows.

"They only gave me one food box though, since it's first come first serve. Think we'll be good with all the shit you bought but I grabbed you an extra can of ginger ale and some water bottles. You could get in line in you want?"

Sophie thanked him for the gingerale and set it aside. She should not pass up the opportunity to get any sort of meal, even if she didn't feel like moving. This body needed all the calories and energy it could get.

"Watch over the camp alright Mattie, you might want to put up the mosquito nets at this time. Radio me if anything happens and-"

"Yes yes I got it, I'll be fine. I'll be nice and good here making a little coconut fire and contemplating what the fuck is my life. Go Sophie get in line before they're out, and relax a little, we got enough to worry about."

"Keep a stick or something you can use as a weapon nearby, don't plug in your earphones all the way, you want to hear if someone's coming and-"

"I got it Sophie, breathe. How are we gonna survive for the nest how many years if you're already like this? I can take care of myself but radio you if anything happens, actually I'm the one who should be worried! "

Mattie indicated from his figure and biceps, muscular from years of playing team sports, and then to own her small frame. There was a stark difference. She wasn't out of shape, though it's been years since this body of hers really worked out or played sports, not since high school. This was not the body she trained and honed over the years of living on this island either, it was relatively very weak and looked even weaker.

Sophie really needed to get some more muscle built up, she could do some core exercises tonight without too much strain. Make Mattie do them too, the stronger they were the better.

Swallowing down her anxiety she checked her pockets and gear and left their makeshift camp behind the grove for the first time.

She could still see lines of people waiting for the provisions provided by the airline and casually crossed the sand to join them. The majority of people had opted to say on the beach in open view of one another and nearby the downed aircraft. In the past she and Mattie had also done the same, cowering in sun, ocean wind and sand with the rest of the with the herd. They were desperately waiting for news, clinging to safety and familiarity.

At least now the crowds were more spread out and better set up. A few campfires were even going and some people in the not so far distance were already gathering rocks and leaves to spell out an S.O.S in the sand. Occasionally a child's cry could be heard in the picking up wind and chatter.

Sophie's eyes did not linger on anyone, or at least she forced herself not to. For the most part these people and their faces were a blur, only casualties waiting to happen. The big statistic of those who wouldn't ever see home again. But her mind already picked up on and recognized a few, as if muscle memory had also come back in time with her.

She gritted her teeth and ignored it.

Not now, she could strike anyone right now, it wasn't the right time yet. At this time everyone is still just technically innocents in this tragedy, it was too soon for killing to be acceptable yet. She did not want to be outcasted and labeled as a threat, not this early on.

While her thoughts raced, no one from the outside would be able to tell at all. They would see nothing but a calm young woman, maybe even an unaccompanied minor, waiting for her turn in line. Even at 21, she was often mistaken for her sister's age or younger.

This physical aspect of hers was inconvenient at times but it could also be a weapon.

When it was her turn, she gave a sweet smile to attendants passing out meal boxes, the contents still warm.

"Thank you but I have a question if you have the time."

Seeing she was at the end of the line, besides those who had tried to rejoin the line to get extra portions, the attendants passing out food politely agreed.

"My name is Sophie Quan, my sister June went on an earlier flight, number XX-XXX. I know it's weird but I think they're here too. We have this gps on each other and mine is showing that she's around here, to the North."

Sophie whispered, keeping her voice low enough that only the attendants can hear her. One of them had a confused expression on her face but the other nodded solemnly to her.

"Small world huh? Everything is still being investigated but there is reason to believe another aircraft has made an emergency landing at an earlier point of time. I hope we can keep this sort of thing under discretion until we can better do something about it."

"I understand, I'll keep quiet. But I am concerned about my sister and I do know her general area."

"We don't advise going on off on your own here."

The attendant, a tall not quite middle-aged African American woman warned her. She looked around her surrounding stealthily to see if anyone else was listening in before further whispering to Sophie.

"We have their location, and a scouting party will be organized and sent sometime tomorrow. I honestly think you'll be better off staying safe and put here young lady. If the Lord be kind, we'll be connected soon enough and you'll be reunited again."

"Alright, thank you for everything. I may not look like it but I am a little handy around tropical places." she gestures to her face, gear and around them.

"My brother Mattie and I will be staying around the palm grove over there, let us know if we can help in any way. Anything that would help us get to June, she's only 16 and alone out there."

"Yeah, the tall Asian boy with the glasses right? You two got the same face no offense meant. Stick with your big brother young lady, you need looking out after too."

"Younger, he's my younger brother. I'm the eldest actually."

Sophie smiled wryly, she knew that in the eyes of many non Asians her age was, even more, a mystery. In some places, she could get away with 'kids 12 and under eat free' if the disguised herself well enough. Though she planned to take advantage of that the best she could here, she needed the airline crew to trust her to a certain extent. Right now they were the authority on the island.

She needed them to listen in order to direct and avoid certain events.

"Again, thank you and please let me know if we can help in any way. By the way it's going to be a hot one tomorrow, no clouds after morning time, so just a heads up."

Sophie picked up her mealbox, some chicken quinoa thing with the typical airline sides, and politely took her leave. She was so close to getting out the concentrated herd of people when a strained voice called out to her.

"Hey...thank you, for the advice."

It was the mother Sophie had spoken to earlier. Her husband and some other men, mostly young people, did not take heed about the brown coconuts, eating and drinking from them directly after smashing them open with a rock. They were complaining about intestinal pains and were paying the price for it now.

Sophie nodded but didn't make small talk. She did want to make a generally good impression but she could not really help anyone and did not want them to get the wrong ideas. If they wanted to live, and live well from now on they would have to do so on their own abilities.

It would be nice if they could make the attempted community last and thrive longer this time.

Sophie rushed to return even though she knew more likely than not Mattie would be fine, she still breathed a sigh of relief to see him there. Just chilling against the fire and swinging on his hammock. As if nothing was wrong.

"Did you know they gave us carrot cake in these things? Like the food still sucks but the carrot cake is pretty bomb I have to admit. Don't nag I saved the crackers and shit, I know something about rationing."

"Good to know then."

"What are the chances you wanna give up that carrot cake?"

"Zero, absolutely zero Mattie. The cake is mine."

"Awww but fine, that's fair. Now hand over those sandwiches I know you hoarded!"

Even though her fear wasn't gone, it may never be gone, she could feel her mental stress lightening around her brother's chatter. He was trying to lighten the mood and distract her, they both could tell. But this could work, they could get by like this as long as they had each other. The supplies packed also didn't hurt.

Now all that's missing is June.

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