fairchild

They huddled together, haunted by images of plane crashes. All remembering the pilots voice trembling beneath a cloak of calm, as he announced the three words that most shake the human heart: "brace for impact." The fog of clouds and snow kept the words from sinking in as the mechanical bird sank from the sky.

The pilot’s voice was all they could think of now as they lie wounded but alive, surrounded by ice, rock, aluminum, close friends and family members. They had crashed somewhere in the snow-covered Andes and there was little hope of survival. They were at high altitude. It was difficult to breathe. There are very few people that must endure this in life: to sit and think of family members back home mourning your death, without any way to change it. They scrambled about here and there, working to devise escape plans and to collect anything they could find from suit cases, plane parts and cock pits to satisfy a basic need. Various snacks, wine, metal, leather, foam, clothing, a few medical supplies. They ran out quickly.

Day twelve, seventeen dead and the rest giving up - Screaming at the sky and folding themselves into isolated, lonely parts of the fuselage. They could all feel their fingers shrivel and bend from frostbite. The walls of their stomachs closing in, gnawing against one another.  Their minds busily working through the stages of grief and loss while trying to conserve energy. Blood flow in the capillaries constricting their movements and eventually, their thoughts. The flesh of dead friends and family members beginning to freeze and crystallize. Their ghosts hovering above. Back, again, at the height of clouds. This time, never to fall.

Day seventeen, twenty five dead and they could feel nothing but cold, numbing sensations. Listlessness. Withdrawal. Their bodies beginning to burn and break down, their brains beginning to eat themselves. The frostbite crawling into their bones. Breathing, heart rates, thoughts: All shallow. Their eyes sinking in. Skin flaking off into the snow. The dead bodies around them consumed their minds. Looking at them was like looking into the future.

Day thirty four, twenty six dead and their hearts blackening through the cold nights. Their stomachs full and bloated by edema. The primitive parts of their minds taking over. The dead bodies around them had become predators, feasting on their minds. They had to make their decision - to make these predators become their prey. The flesh was there to be forgotten or made famous.

Now they were surrounded by ice, rock, aluminum and meat. They pulled and tugged at the bodies of their dead friends and family members. Did their best to warm their frozen flesh on metal parts from the fuselage. Tore at the tendons with their teeth. They had no choice but to exchange community for communion, society for survival, sentiment for sustenance, love for life.