Duke knew right away that he was in trouble. The energy wave in the air that he passed through seemed to kill all the systems and the plane went from soaring to descent. It was a no brainer. With no time to call for help, Duke Reed unlatched the cargo door and dropped out of the spiralling aircraft. He prayed that always wearing his parachute would finally pay off. With the chute engaged, he watched as the white and red Cessna Skyhawk dropped out of the sky and crashed onto the desert floor beneath him. The explosion rocked the sea of Sand upon contact, just like a large ripple in the water would. A pinnacle of smoke and fire propelled up into the hot Egyptian sky. In the distance, Duke saw his intended destination. He had left
Cairo earlier that morning and headed southwest towards and the Great Pyramids. With no need to refuel for such a short trip, he planned to do a fly-by then return to the airport 15 minutes away. It was clear he wasn't going to keep his schedule. He floated softly onto the sands and shuffled about collecting his chute which he had disengaged from his body. He stood dumbfounded, both hands placed on his hips while staring into the blue middle eastern sky. He took in a deep breath, got his bearings and headed towards the plume of black smoke just over the nearest sand dune. As he neared the crash, the trail of fumes began to fade away. Giza
There wasn't much to salvage from the single-engine plane once the fire and smoke subsided. The crash and resulting explosion incinerated most of the contents and gutted the avionics, leaving little but a burned out shell. The radio was melted and even the black box compartment seemed to be compromised. Duke Reed was all alone, with no water, no real shelter from the searing afternoon sun and only a pocket knife as protection. He sat for the longest time, huddled under his parachute, which he had secured over a burned out wing with piles of the charcoal rubble. He waited, shielding himself from the desert glare. He expected the GPS and homing signal to bring him much-needed assistance. Surely someone had seen the thick black smoke billowing into the cloudless sky. Although his watch must have been damaged in the accident, his pilot and survivor training eventually told him that no one was coming. His only ray of hope was some water that he discovered in his carry on bag. Once the cabin had somewhat cooled, only three plastic containers of liquid love had been conserved by his titanium briefcase. His fishing hat and cell phone would be useful in their own accord. Unfortunately, he couldn't get a signal, so he gathered what he could and headed for higher ground. Despite the heat, he knew he had to remain in his flack suit. The sun would literally eat him alive if he exposed himself to it. His cap gave little relief from the sweltering sky. His heavy boots anchored him as he climbed the highest sand dune he could find. Between the ungodly temperature and scaling the dusty monument, he had exhausted himself before reaching the top. When he hit the summit, he fell into the baked crust.
He carefully rationed each drink of water, taking only a small amount in order to keep himself somewhat hydrated. When he stood, he was weak and literally lost. He swore he had seen the three pyramids as he drifted towards the ground, but they were now nowhere to be seen. He just assumed that each dune, after each dune, blocked his view from this vantage point. He tried his phone again and again but to no avail. He looked in every direction and cringed at the endless layers of drifting and shifting sand. He spied for roads and bi-ways leading through the desert but he could find none. If he had landed within the slightest distance of those monoliths then there should be civilization somewhere, at least to some degree. There were no settlements like Al Omraneyah surrounding the modern tourist trap. He knew that this place was heavy and congested with people. He had seen the hotels and servicing centers circling the
attractions. As far as his eyes could see, he saw nothing. Not a single person was in sight. There were no cars, no animals, no signs of life. It was an endless ocean of bitter sting and suffering. Giza
"If Moses could do it," he joked out loud. "So can I."
The further he travelled in the godforsaken wasteland, the more he felt like a pork chop, sizzling under an oven broiler. The longer he pressed on, the more futile his journey seemed to be. His only guide was his greatest foe. The position of the sun, and his pocket knife sitting in the sand, made for a makeshift sundial, revealing what he hoped was the approximate time and the direction he should be heading. From his initial approach by air, and the position of the pyramids which he swore he had seen in the distance, he continued on a southerly course. The blazing sun bounced off his grainy host, occasionally almost blinding him. As his sight slowly returned, he was greeted by even more sand and more dunes and nothing else but misery. He wondered where civilization had gone. He knew that the plane had crashed mere kilometres from one of the most popular tourist destinations in the modern world. He recognized that there was no indication whatsoever that anything was at all but him, tracking through hell itself. He was tempted to change his aim to the southeast in hopes of finding the Nile river, but fearing he might get further lost deterred his gut instinct. He carried on over a land that was fit for no man, especially one quite ill prepared for the journey.
It was completely impossible but it seemed to Duke that the Sahara Desert had swallowed up any trace of man or beast. There was nothing, no marker, no signpost to help him find his way. Since
Giza is the third largest city in , he figured he was standing somewhere within plain sight of the flourishing centre of commerce and tourism. If in fact he wasn't anywhere near Giza, he half expected to discover the town of Al Doqi or Kafr Tuhurmis at any moment. The suburbs of the ancient city seemed painted over with red and orange grains of glass and doom. If he had indeed crashed beyond these settlements, then there must be some reason why had he not crossed Ring Road, a main artery between old and new Egypt and the Giza Necropolis to the south. He knew that the densely populated area between both of these cities was rich in urban sprawl. In his estimation, the population would have jutted much further out into the scorching desert, far beyond where he now stood. He moved forward into forever, the piles of resting dust a constant reminder of his torrid fate. He fought on, constantly starting then stopping, then to start again. Sips of water did little to quench his need. When he saw the large shifting dune, he told himself to give it one more try. He used his last resolve to quickly scale the monster. He almost fainted from the exercise, falling to rest at the top of it. Cairo
All hope left Duke Reed as he sat up and surveyed his lot. He saw the plain truth, stretching out into nowhere. Perched on the sand, he almost went out of his mind. It had become quite obvious to him that something beyond explanation had occurred. He was sure he had not strayed off course. He realized the world as he knew it had completely disappeared. He searched his intellect for answers, for an account of what had happened. Perhaps, he carefully considered, it was not modern civilization that vanished but somehow he had. He pondered any other rational solution but came up empty. It must have been that breach he passed through in mid-air. Although he had only experienced it for a moment before it swallowed him and his plane, he was sure that this could be the only explanation. He imagined that, like with a wormhole, he had been stolen from one place to put down in another. For all he knew, that portal had deposited him far out in the middle of the
Sahara. He was grateful that it had not chosen to leave him floating out in an ocean or melting in an active volcano. He realized he could have landed in any desert, anywhere in the world. This could be the Australian Outback or even the Arabian Desertto his east. Still, it might have been easier for him to have died instantly in that crash, rather than shrivelling in this scorching heat and merciless sun. He didn't know what was next. Why bother moving when he could just surrender and be done with the entire struggle. He reached deep into the improvised satchel that he had clipped from his parachute and pulled out the one remaining bottle of water. Only 500 millilitres of pure spring refreshment now stood between him and sheer agony, then death. He rested, propped up high on a sandy peak with no idea what the hell he was supposed to do. He finally mustered enough strength to push himself up.
Everyone looks for God when lost in the desert.
He had never been a praying man, but Duke called out for anything that might be listening. He started to panic given his unfortunate circumstances. He begged and he pleaded to the God he had never had the time for or the disposition to even consider. He grew dizzy and noticed he had stopped sweating. Recognizing the telltale signs of heat stroke, he called out into the distance with one last appeal. He checked the phone which had long ago run out of power. As he headed down the side of that giant dune, he tripped from exhaustion and rolled to the bottom. The sun had risen into an afternoon sky, of that much he was sure. He closed his eyes before they disintegrated into puddles of flesh. He flipped over to shield his face and block the glare which continually attacked him throughout the day. The wind had arrived and was blowing ever so slightly against his exposed skin. He supposed that even this minuscule relief was nothing but some tease, meant only for Divine entertainment. He felt punished. He knew madness. He gave in to abandon and surrendered to the sand.
The whole of the desert meant silence. He screamed out loud, cursing anything Holy in one last reprieve. Hope then rose from the desert floor. Despite his state of mind, he could hear something in the distance. It was some form of flapping, some lingering noise that remained on the wind as it picked up speed. He rose onto his elbows to look around. He knew that he had seen nothing but desolation as he had approached the dune that he lay at the base of. He was convinced that he had journeyed so far for nothing. Even now, he saw only more hills of death and isolation. Reaching for the water, he gulped some down then stood against his shining foe. He listened and heard it once again. It seemed to be coming from somewhere over the dune just beyond him. Tiny pieces of earth stung against his face as he raged into the meagre sandstorm that had called to him. Each step he took was instantly covered by the wind blowing up the sand. He rushed as much as he could, tripping several times into the searing ocean of meant to be glass. His breath was shallow yet racing. His eyes were filled by the looming orb. He mustered everything that was left within him and he sped around the ridge. He dropped to his knees when he found it.
The ruffle from his compromised parachute danced in the breeze.
Natalie Reed watched her husband through the thick piece of glass in the observation room door. It had been three weeks since the plane crash and little had changed. As the only survivor, she realized how lucky he was to be alive. Duke sat in a corner of the fully white space, rocking himself in an obsessive motion. He uttered nonsense while bouncing against the padded wall. They had found him covered by his parachute, lying face down in the sands. The only thing they knew for sure regarding the incident was that someone had opened the cargo door in mid-air, forcing the plane into a tailspin due to the change in pressure and wind speed. The craft plummeted to the ground. The pilot and other passengers died instantly upon impact. The white and red Cessna Skyhawk was burnt out beyond recognition. Somehow Duke had managed to break free, landing less than 100 feet from the wreckage. When they found him, covered in sand and his means of escape, he was intact or so they thought.
"All he wanted was to see those damn pyramids," she whispered to herself.
The wall of energy appeared out of nowhere. The plane flew through it and the engine and system conked out instantly. With little time to escape, he secured the parachute he was wearing and flew out the plane's cargo door. He floated to the ground as he watched the Cessna Skyhawk take a nosedive and drop sharply from the Egyptian sky.
The resulting explosion sent a pillar of smoke and fire and ash straight up into the air. Duke Reed seemed to hover, softly hanging above the desert floor. In the distance, like a beacon of hope, he spotted three pyramids just to the south.