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The salty sea water burns your throat as you vomit your modest lunch into the sand beneath you, to be carried away by the gentle waves. You clamour and claw your way onto dry land and collapse, your sore muscles robbed of their strength. In the moments before you recover enough to move, you remember the crash.
They were all screaming as the oxygen masks fell from the ceiling. The pilots desperately tried to regain control, but their efforts were in vain. You saw the ocean come closer and closer, until... you woke up here. Where is here?
You weakly lift your head and examine your surroundings. It's hard to see through the thick, eerie fog, but you can barely make out the small shacks dotting the shoreline. There's a dock, not too far from your location.
Rolling onto your back, you raise your hands to block the sun, only to find that it isn't there. You realize that it's dark. Not the dark of night, but darker than the most overcast day you've ever experienced. Maybe it's normal in this part of the world, like the polar night in Alaska. You've never left California.
How far did your plane make it to your destination, Singapore, before the engines failed? You reach into your pocket and pull out your phone. Waterproof case. Best 60 dollars you ever spent.
One bar. All you can think to do is send your coordinates to your mother or girlfriend--or anyone, for that matter--and hope for the best. You go into "Maps" and copy your location, and then paste it in your messenger program. Before you can send it, however, your screen fades to white, then black, then a swirling mess of colours, before turning off entirely.
Sighing and stuffing it into your pocket, you prop yourself up with your elbows and carefully climb to your feet. As you scan the vicinity once more, you feel uneasy; alone, yet, at the same time, as though you are being watched.
It's only a two-minute walk to the nearest hut, and all the while, you can't shake the feeling of dread weighing you down like a lead vest. You gently tap on the flimsy door before you. "Hello?" no response. "There's been an accident!" You look around, and consider trying the next hut, when you notice the door is slightly ajar. As far as you remember, it was closed before.
Given the circumstances, you figure an intrusion will be forgiven, and slowly push the door open. There's no one inside. The fire-place is still burning, and the table is set with handcrafted ceramic plates and mugs, holding food that you don't recognize. It looks fresh enough, but is half eaten, as though the occupants left in a hurry. There's a kerosene, or perhaps naphtha lamp on the table adjacent to the doorway. Looks to be from the 1920's.
You grab the handle of the lantern and gingerly carry it over to the fireplace. It's kind of heavy, but nothing you can't handle. You pull a twig out of the kindling rack and hold it to the fire. You let it sit for a moment and turn to twist the valve of the lamp. You smile as it begins to hiss.
As you return your vision to the fireplace, you find it is nearly dead, the roaring fire reduced to ashes and a few stray embers, all in the time it took you to activate your lamp. A small flame dances on the tip of the twig. You grab it and bring it to nozzle of the lamp, which ignites with a satisfying "whoosh".
Tossing the twig into the fireplace, you adjust the large jet of burning gas to a more acceptable level. The fireplace is out, now. The twig is gone. Curiously, you reach your hand towards it. The air around the once burning hole in the wall is cool. Pushing your luck, you press your hands into the small pile of ashes. Nothing. No burning, not the tiniest bit of warmth.
By then, you notice the smell, not unlike moldy bread and rotting meat. You pick up your lantern and unleash it's light onto the table behind you. The food, once fresh and new, has rotted.
Maggots and flies buzz around the blue, black, and green mess adorning the once pristine earthenware, which is now chipped and dusty. Your fear returns with renewed vigour. You look around the room, turning your light on every nook and cranny of the small dwelling, until you see it.
On the wall, written in crimson letters, "Hell's Sinking". You back up against the wall, the bright lamp casting shadows on the broken, splintered wall. Broken, splintered wall? You run your hand up and down the wood behind you. It feels as though it's aged incredibly from when you first entered, as if it has been left exposed to the elements for years in the span of minutes. "Hell's Sinking".
You turn and walk out the door. It's night time now; pitch black. You can barely see through the dark fog, which seems to have thickened. The only light you can vaguely make out is the dock you noticed before, in the distance.
You decide to head in that direction. After the first few shacks, each one more decrepit than the last, and each one bearing the same strange writing, "Hell's Sinking", you decide not to bother entering the rest of them. After about half an hour, you make it to the dock. It appears less decayed than the other buildings you have encountered.
You look over your shoulder and stop in disbelief. They're all gone. A few foundations remain, and old pieces of pottery and driftwood are strewn across the beach, but the buildings themselves are gone. Just then, the earth beneath you grumbles and you almost fall over. An earthquake, maybe?
You grab the railing for balance, but it crumbles to dust in your hands, and you fall flat on your face into the dock wood. You need to leave. Now. You climb back to your feet and run into the dock-house, pushing the door open.
It looks like some sort of Port Authority building. Boat keys hang on the wall behind the termite-infested desk. You lean over it and grab one, before recoiling and brushing the brown insects off of your shirt. As you lift your lamp back up, you see it again. But it's slightly different this time.
"Hell's Sinking. Find Land." As you turn to leave, the tremors increase and you hear a loud "boom" somewhere in the distance. You dive out the doorway just in time to dodge the rotting wood collapsing behind you, spilling your lantern in the process.
You clamour to your feet and begin to run as the dock catches fire, the burning wood and fungus burning your lungs, threatening to choke you out then-and-there. Another boom, and the sky lights up. You turn around to see the hills burning brightly, ash and magma spraying into the sky. You turn around and run down the dock, towards the single boat tied to the end.
You feel the molten rock smash into the dock a few meters behind you, smashing it in two and lighting another fire. The flames chase after you. burning the soles of your feet as you leap into the small motor-boat, your weight almost capsizing it immediately.
You jam the key into the engine's lock and turn it roughly, before yanking the pull-start. It takes a couple of tries before the engine roars to life and you hit the throttle, rocketing you forward, away from the rapidly burning island. You don't look back. You can't look back. You put the pedal to the metal and lock the throttle, falling to your knees in a mixture of laughter and tears.
As if on cue, the freighter's lights enter the horizon as your engine dies. You reach into the emergency case and pull out a road-flare. In one brisk motion, you pull the cap off and strike it against the end, the brilliant red light nearly blinding you.
You tie the harness around your waist and crotch and give the rope a sharp tug, causing the men aboard the vessel to pull you up. You collapse on the top deck and two men help you up while a third holds a water-bottle to your face. "Hey man, what you doing here?" You look around.
It's a Filipino shipping freighter, bringing a shipment of cheap, crappy electronics to Hawaii. "What you doing in the water? You far from land. Where you from?" the deckhand queries once more through his thick accent. You take a few gulps from the bottle and hand it back to him. "My... my plane crashed."
The man looks at you in disbelief. "The Singapore plane? We hear that. We told to look for people."
By then, the navigator has joined the crowd on deck. He's very old, carrying a wise aura about him, earned through years of sailing the seas. He says something in his native tongue. "He say, where boat from?"
You point in the direction from which you came and the pair converse.
You feel your leg begin to vibrate incessantly. You reach into your pocket to find that your phone is once again operational. 115 text messages and 20 voice-mails in the span of 6 hours, all from worried friends and family, wondering if you were on the plane. "He say there is no island there. What are you talking about?"
You describe what happened, minus the rapid aging and seismic events, which the shipmate relays to the navigator. The old man furrows his brow, and looks somewhat angry. You look at your translator, puzzled. Did you offend him? "He say, you think this a joke? There were a port there. He used to get supplies there. Island sink 10 years ago. Volcano." You look at your texts and notice that your coordinates were saved as an unsent draft text. "That's impossible. I was just there."
You plead desperately, as if begging the men for your lost sanity. You give him the coordinates: 60.1708° N, 24.9375° E.
He translates them to the navigator, who lets out a hearty laugh and replies in his native tongue. "That not here, that Helsinki, in Iceland." explains the deckhand, much to the amusement of another member of the crew. "You dumb fuck! Helsinki not in Iceland..."
You don't hear his correction, and you don't need to. You think back to all of those signs, written in blood red letters across the island. No, you know where Helsinki is. The words echo in your head, over and over.
"Hell's Sinking, Find Land."