shrill ring echoed through the darkness, tearing Gareth from his deepest
sleep. His mind still numb he tore back the covers and swung his legs over
the side of the bed. He tried to focus on the bright red numerals on the
clock face as he turned in the darkness towards the bedroom door. Hands
outstretched he stumbled through into the hallway; kicking something, and
still barely awake reached for the handset; only to let it slip from his
grasp onto the timber flooring. He could hear a distant voice, as he fed
the cable between his fingers, pulling the sound to his ear. “Gareth.”
He said automatically, and without enthusiasm.
reply was hesitant. “Hi Gareth, its Clive.”
Gareth tried to remember the briefly glanced red numbers displayed on the
alarm, while wondering why a workmate; even one he considered a friend,
would call him so early on a Saturday morning. “Is everything okay?”
Gareth could sense hesitation. “Is there a problem at the plant?”
He said unease replacing sleep.
plant: no; why?” Clive's voice took on a friendly almost humorous
tone. “Sorry; it is a bit early isn’t it?”
couldn’t hide his irritation. “Is it? Actually I don’t
know what time it is, other than it is pitch black, and I was, fast asleep.”
Clive said meekly. “I know, but I couldn’t leave it until later.”
couldn’t?” Gareth was unintentionally sharp; he wanted to climb
back into bed, but his curiosity was awake even if he wasn’t.
I’ve got a very good excuse for calling at this time.”
always have if I recall.” Gareth softened his tone as he smiled: Clive’s
life was far too full to call anyone, almost anytime. “And generally
there’s a woman involved somewhere.”
not this time.” Clive paused for a moment, and his voice lost part
of its frivolity. “This time it’s a real excuse. I’ve
broken my leg.”
smile made it easy to laugh.
was little humor in the reply. “It’s not funny “
smile disappeared, but faint amusement lingered. “You’re serious?”
It’s not a joke. I have broken my leg.”
my right leg, and I can assure you it’s not funny.”
Embarrassment overwhelmed Gareth’s amusement. “No of course
reply was a little sulky. “You sounded like you were laughing?”
tried to sound serious. “At this time in the morning why would I find
well, anyway, I’m at the hospital; with a plaster cast almost from
my toe to my armpit. Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it feels
tried to sound concerned, but the image entering his mind revived the smile.
“I’m really sorry; was it an accident?”
think I’d break my leg on purpose?”
I meant what happened?”
got hit by a car.”
concern brought him wide-awake. “You are all right?”
It was more of a shove than a hit. Long story; but you were kind of right,
there was a girl; we were coming out of club twenty-three. There were a
couple of other guys; you know how it goes, mind elsewhere, stepped too
far onto the road; bounced off the side of a passing car and fell badly.
I can fill in all the details next time, but as I said, I’m at the
hospital. I’m here for twenty-four hours, maybe more; and that’s
okay; we’ll cover for you at work. You just get yourself sorted.”
with you and work? It’s nothing to do with work. It’s about
trip?” Gareth didn’t have to think too hard; it was all Clive
had talked about for the last week. “The Antarctica flight?”
have to be at the airport in a couple of hours. I can’t: obviously.”
a shame. You’ve been looking forward to it for ages.”
know,” sighed Clive.
are you going to do?”
nothing, I can’t go.”
mean have you rang them. Swap flights for one next month?”
have and I can’t. It’s almost the end of the season, there's
only one more and that's already full.”
too, anyway that’s why I’m calling. Do you want to go?”
The offer surprised him, and he was not sure how to respond.
were a bit down last week with it being your daughters first birthday since
the divorce; and all the other guys have families; anyway you said you wanted
vaguely remembered he had; but mostly it had been to pamper to Clive’s
excitement. “You can’t get your money back?”
too late to get a refund, and I never got around to taking out insurance.
I never thought I wouldn’t go.”
well; do you want to?”
a bit sudden. I don’t even know if I can get a cab this time of the
already booked. I can call and tell them to come to your place instead of
got it all organized.”
I’ve even paid in advance for the cab.”
thought of money suddenly sprung into Gareth’s mind. “I’m
not all that flush with cash right now,” he said trying to think of
an excuse that didn’t sound like one. “The truth is I really
don’t have the cash to pay you back.” As he spoke Gareth suddenly
still I really didn’t expect you to have it in your wallet.”
There was a momentary silence. “Look I’m going to lose my money
anyway, so just say you’ll jump in the cab and go”.
feel bad about taking the ticket, especially in the circumstances; without
paying you back.”
understand, but it’s not about the money. Like I said it’s gone,
and I’d rather you go than waste what I’ve: sorry I didn’t
mean it to sound like. You don’t have to pay me anything back, but
if it makes you feel better you owe me a favor sometime.”
have to be a big one.”
worry I’ll make sure it is. So; do you want to go?”
Gareth replaced the receiver he was unaware that kilometers away a totally
different timing would be on the minds of the small group of airline staff.
They sat, comfortable and relaxed in a small room listening intently to
the forecasted weather patterns. Thoroughly briefed and totally understanding
the implications explained to him, senior pilot Alexander Hill got up from
his seat, satisfied; as were the rest of the crew, that there would be little
cause for concern during their working day.
A108 would leave Mascot Airport on schedule for Antarctica: taking with
it a full load of armchair adventurers. They would leave the warm morning;
head up into the clear blue Australian sky that hung over Sydney, to follow
in the footsteps: without replicating the frostbitten footprints, of Casey
and many others who had suffered the ice without benefit of Champagne and
are few environments on planet Earth that are more unpredictable, or more
unforgiving than ice fields, especially those of the southern icecap. Without
warning a fine, clear day can transform into frozen hell, as violent blizzards
blow up from nowhere; scouring the icy wilderness with merciless fury.
the few human outposts that maintain the tenuous hold on life in these conditions,
dedicated men and women are well aware of the always-present danger, but
to others danger has become to be a measurable commodity. To those families
and individuals waiting in the boarding lounge these considerations would
have been far from their minds. Gareth joined them, slightly out of breath,
and not entirely convinced he had made the right decision. In fact he felt
a little guilty looking around. Everybody seemed excited, breaking away
from the boredom of daily life. Others seemed to treat the adventure as
another place to add to their been-there, done-that list. To parents it
was expanding their childrens minds, and to some: like Gareth, the luck;
or bad luck of life’s lottery draw.
found a seat and sat looking out of the glass wall at the aircraft. Seeing
it so close reminded him he had never been totally comfortable with flying,
and the great shape parked outside the lounge did look slightly intimidating,
but it carried a familiar and trusted logo. Seeing that was all he and everyone
around him needed to know. The emblem was without peer when it came to the
safety of its aircraft, staff and passengers, so if there was any slight
trepidation in the room, it was more to tingle with thrill, than to permeate
with danger. It seemed he had just sat down as the gates opened.
first passengers were on the aerobridge as a fresh weather report came in.
Ground conditions below the flight path had deteriorated. It was not welcome
news, but the aircraft would be flying far enough above the surface for
conditions on the ground to be of no real concern to the flight crew, other
than the icecap would be partially obscured. The fact was high on Captain
Hill's mind when a few minutes later he regretfully announced this during
his welcome aboard address. To mollify his passengers he added that any
final decisions would be made closer to Antarctica.
was only slightly disappointed, and in truth there was little he or anyone
could do in any case. He found his seat; made himself comfortable, and gazed
out of the window at the ground staff as they wandered about the apron.
He had a strange feeling seeing them go about their work; he put it down
to guilt. After all he was benefiting from Clive’s misfortune.
you need help fastening your seat belt sir?”
polite but firm voice brought him back to reality. “No. I’m
fine,” he mumbled, quickly snapping the catch shut.
Cathy Howard smiled; as only hostesses can smile, and went on to her station
to report to the captain that there had been a some grumbles of dissatisfaction
and comments that the several hundred dollars paid per person would buy
no more than frozen mountains jutting from what would probably look like
a cloud bank. But as she had pointed out to them, it would be a genuine
Antarctic cloud bank. That aside the cabin was ready for takeoff
reality it made no difference whether the passengers complained or not,
it was Captain Hills call. Faced with a minor public relations backlash
on one side, and conditions that the company saw as well within the airlines
safety perimeters on the other, the aircraft lumbered down the runway and
slowly lifted into the air.
the greatest part of Gareth’s discomfort in flying was during takeoff.
He had read somewhere that this time: and during landings, were the most
dangerous parts of a flight. It wasn’t helped as the plane vibrated
and lurched as meter-by-meter the two worlds separated. He listened uncomfortably
to the bangs of retracting wheels and the whines of flaps adjusting as the
heavy aircraft slowly clawed its way into the sky.
feeling eased as below them a vista of ocean, patterned as far as could
be seen with tiny ripples coincided with the first refreshments being served.
Soon excitement overcame any other emotion as the crew and passenger settled
down to work, or to enjoy the adventure of a lifetime.
the plane rose into the sky, purified and scented air, recycled through
the cabin. No one gave a thought to the fact that second by second the sunny
thirty-degree plus temperature of the Sydney tarmac was left behind. Outside
the aircraft the temperature plunged below freezing: a point from where
it would never return.
thousand kilometers ahead, and eleven thousand meters below their flight
path, winds were swirling at seventy kilometers per hour, and the chill
factor had dropped to minus sixty degrees
Hill had kept them well informed on his decent towards Antarctica, and by
the time the aircraft was approaching the edge of the floating ice, the
cabin was abuzz with excitement and anticipation. Gareth was not above this;
they had been seeing icebergs for some time and with the announcement from
the cockpit that the ice floes were up ahead he was swept up in the general
exhilaration. Minutes later they passed over the edge of the expanding ice
sheet. Soon after they could see what appeared to be low cloud.
down even the previously most vocal were not as harsh in their criticism,
and even they agreed that the storm added a spectacular dimension. True
there were little surface: at least low-level surface, features that could
be made out. Yet even in its most hostile mood, the raw beauty of the ice
continent was awesome to behold.
were still well above the effect of the ground weather: well inside Captain
Hill’s safety zone, so what actually happened was impossible to know
in the minutes that followed the first ‘bump’. Captain Hill’s
reaction was immediate as the warning sirens started to scream through the
flight deck. Adding an audible dimension to what seemed: in his surprised
mind that the entire control panel illuminated in warning lights. He glanced
over his shoulder with an inquiring look.
man met his gaze: his words tinged with concern, but not fear. “Engine
two; turbine fragmentation.”
had only noticed a very slight, though definite shudder, followed by an
almost imperceptible second. It felt like the undercarriage had gone down,
and at first he dismissed it as turbulence, but seconds later he was convinced
there was a discernible difference in engine noise from either side of the
first shudder had brought an immediate quieting to the hubbub in the cabin,
and in the comparative silence everybody became aware that the engine tone
had changed. Captain hills voice broke the silence. “Cabin crew return
to stations!” Anxious eyes were still watching where they had disappeared
behind the thick curtains when he spoke again. “This is the captain.
Can I have you attention please?” Immediately he had it. “We
have a minor problem with one of the engines.” The words seemed not
to fit the situation for those looking out from the forward part of the
cabin, where they could see a gaping hole in the engine cowling. The view
to passengers’ further back was hardly less comforting as they could
see a fine spray was trailing behind the pods. As realization came over
the stunned watchers, others, less able to observe could hear that both
engines on the port side had stopped working. It only took the shrieked
words of one man. “The engines on fire,” to bring chaos to the
cabin. In seconds the euphoria of minutes ago had turned to incomprehension,
and then passed quickly through to full blown panic.
on the opposite side of the aircraft had seen nothing outside before, but
now he could see flames had ignited the fuel spewing from the wing tank,
and the flickering blaze streamed past the rear windows; and on out of sight.
Gareth watched in fear, Captain Hill and his crew, from co-pilot to purser
had already swung into his or her own emergency procedure, and what appeared
to the passengers to be a whitish smoke began to stream with the flame,
as slowly smothering the fire, the extinguishers saturated the pods
remaining engines became louder as now the voice of the co-pilot came over
the public address system trying to calm the passengers; telling them that
everything was under control and they were returning to cruising height.
Hill was desperately examining his options. His first was to return across
several thousand kilometers of the Southern Ocean to the nearest airport.
Considering he only had two functioning engines; and he would have to fight
the whole way against the turning motion that the plane was now locked into,
that was quickly dismissed; but the other choices open to him were just
as impossible. He knew that with the doubtful exception of the American
base there was nowhere to land an aircraft the size of his at any station
airstrip. That wasn’t even considering if they could get that far,
and that depended on how much fuel they were losing.
checked that the wing fuel tank had been isolated. Considering he had ruled
out a return to New Zealand or Australia, the remaining fuel was not the
most immediate problem. What was; was the loss of balance. One side of the
aircraft had two functioning engines and fuel, the other non-functioning
engines and a rapidly emptying tank. He began to pump fuel into the central
tank, and set the engineer to calculate distance against thrust for the
two remaining engines. Whatever happened, he was now faced with the most
difficult flight he had ever commanded, and that was ignoring the possibility
of any other damage that was yet to make itself apparent.
the aircraft came fully around he could see open water in the distance.
The seaways that circumnavigate the Antarctic continent are the loneliest
on the planet, and the frigid waters the most merciless. If he had to ditch
it would have to be close to land, but the scientific communities were not
equipped for a full-scale sea rescue, in fact he wasn't even sure they had
a single boat. He tried to recall the ocean surface when they had passed
over, but was aware the even most benign weather could create a swell that
could reach higher than the superstructure of a ship. To attempt a ditching
in anything but absolute calm would be disastrous. Even if he did ditch
safely, the aircraft’s life rafts were not for sailing; and once on
the water they would be at the mercy of the strong ocean currents that rolled
unrestricted around the latitudes circling the pole. It was highly likely
that they could be dispersed over hundreds of kilometers before a rescue
vessel of any size located them. If in that time one overturned, or someone
found themselves in the water; the exposed human body would have only minutes
in the bitter cold before hypothermia would wrench life from it. Going down
onto the water close to shore would minimize exposure, but vastly increase
contact with submerged rocks. Reluctantly he decided that ditching; like
returning was out of the question, He pushed the thoughts from his mind
as he realized the plane was feeling sluggish.
starting to collect ice,” said Simon, the co-pilot.
nodded to him. “Have the Americans responded?”
have a team out checking now, but.”
had a blizzard there last night. There’s a probability the strip is
obstructed with fresh snowdrifts. It could take several hours to clean it.”
said nothing but knew that if they were to land on an unprepared strip they
could just as well land on the ice below. As bad options went it was not
the worst. The Australian base of Davis wasn’t too far away, and in
the circumstances they could mount as good a rescue as anyone could expect.
But even if everything went off perfectly, it would be in conditions that
would test survival and rescue beyond imagination. The grim truth was that
it would be impossible to bring the aircraft down anywhere without some
loss of life.
looked down out of the window. Somewhere below the swirling ice and snow
was their nearest salvation, and he was thankful that basically everything
bar the engines still worked. As long as he could put down safely on the
ground they could support life inside the cabin for many hours, and if necessary,
at a bare minimum that could stretch to days. He had life support, and he
had potential rescue within that margin, all he had to do was land on the
decision was made during a flurry of communications back to Australia, when
it was confirmed that the Americans would need more time than was available
to clear the strip. The other bad news was that no ships were close, and
a full rescue would have to be launched from thousands of kilometers away.
Acknowledging that help was now measured in days rather than hours he was
authorized to land as close to any research station as he could.
authorities of Australia and New Zealand had already put their air forces
on standby and he was told that at least four heavy-lift planes would soon
be in the air. They would go with supplies to the nearest station, and if
possible attempt to land wherever flight 108 finally came to rest. The three
closest stations were already being contacted to mount or assist in whatever
rescue they could. Captain Hill looked down at the desolate wastes. It was
all very reassuring that a full-scale emergency rescue had been initiated,
but they couldn’t just circle around until everything was in place.
Long before then he would have to put the huge aircraft into the swirling
storm far below them.
Davis the weather had turned bad. Although he was reluctant to endorse setting
the aircraft down on the ice, the senior officer at Davis station reported
that scientific ground parties had over the last few months surveyed several
emergency airstrips. But none had been considered for such a large and heavy
aircraft, and only begrudgingly did the officer agree that as a final; desperate;
last resort, one of these could suffice for a landing. All of them would
be on the ice that had recently reformed with winters approach: they were
relatively smooth expanses of ice, though not exceptionally thick. That
would come later as winter fully took its grip, but by then the surface
would have become heaved and cracked.
Hill discussed each location through an improvised link with the stations
field staff. Like those on the ground his concern centered on the planes
undercarriage. Though his more on the wheel structure, and how it was not
designed for the pounding a rough surface would subject it to. The stations
staff we’re apprehensive about the effect of the initial localized
impact on an uncertain thickness of ice. Either way there were no guarantees,
other than there seemed little chance that once down, the plane would never
take off again.
was the station engineer who proposed that the aircraft land with the undercarriage
up. Providing that they could minimize the impact, and maintain a forward
direction, they would hopefully slide across the un-fractured ice, where
the weight distributed over the entire fuselage should prove not too heavy
for the thickness. It was the best option but Captain Hill rejected the
idea outright, and after all he had to land the plane, but by the time they
were in sight of Davis; or would have been, he had reluctantly agreed
Hill pondered all that had been discussed over the radio. The aircraft’s
manufacturer was involved now, producing more detailed information on speed,
technique and procedures than they would be able to absorb in the time they
had left. In a training room environment everything seemed entirely plausible.
The final details we’re being worked out, but he still had to land
softly; while blind; and keep the aircraft on course against its urge to
turn in the middle of a gale. He was also doubtful about the area they had
finally chosen. It was not necessarily the best, and was certainly not the
closest to Davis, but it was the one they had the most recent information
on. Three days previously, a party of biologists had spent four full days
investigating a large penguin colony in the area. At that time they reported
a smooth ice field trapped between the continent and a large, grounded iceberg.
As long as Captain Hill ‘touched’ down on his calculated co-ordinate,
he could slide for several kilometers without fear of any major obstruction
emerging from the ice.
had already brought the aircraft down to less than four thousand meters
when he spoke to a fear-silenced cabin and told them what he was about to
attempt. His voice was calm and his intentions clear, and full of what was
heard as confidence. He almost succeeded in creating a feeling that this
was a bonus to the flight as he continued to explain that as weather patterns
in the southern half of Australia were determined by events in Antarctica
and the southern Ocean, Australia maintained a major meteorological presence
at Davis; he went on to say that he had been assured by the senior meteorologist
that they had no reason to believe the storm would last more than another
twenty-four hours, and by then all rescue operations would be all in place.
Though he omitted to say that, that was a comparative word, as ‘all’
to Davis's resources were far short of rescuing close on two hundred, untrained
consummate skill Captain Hill maneuvered the aircraft down towards the co-ordinates.
He could see the top of the iceberg on his left and further to the right,
the higher sheer rock of the island continent. Both jutted out of what from
a height appeared no more than a mist.
he dropped lower, the apparent mist resolved into a swirling, convoluted
mass, its beauty masking the raging blizzard that he knew awaited them.
only half the power the aircraft had, had when it took off from Sydney,
Hill had become possessive of what remained at his fingertips. He judged
that rather than let the two working engines be responsible for all the
required maneuvering, he would drop the undercarriage; using the drag of
the extended wheels to help slow their airspeed. At the same time he intended
letting the turning motion he had fought against bring the plane around,
hopefully so that the slide would be in the direction of the hidden land.
It was comforting both to him, and he assumed the passengers as the clunk
of the wheels locking down resulted in a slowing of the aircraft. He applied
only enough power to avoid stalling, and let the plane drop towards the
not a devoutly religious man he still whispered a prayer, as they brushed
the top of the blizzard and the ground proximity warning buzzers began screaming.
It was almost a suicidal impulse he felt as he eased down even further,
and then almost instantly flight 108 was engulfed in the mist and visibility
was reduced to zero. He could see absolutely nothing through the windshield,
and the lower he went the more the driven snow and ice overcame any ability
to clear it. An unearthly darkness engulfed them.
was living the nightmare of all pilots. Landing on unknown ground, in a
crippled aircraft, on the darkest night. He pushed the thoughts from his
mind and concentrated on the instruments as they skimmed blindly, meters
above the unseen ice.
everything, Captain Hill felt the landing was going as well as could be
expected: that was until he tried to raise the undercarriage. Nothing happened;
and it took only seconds for him to realize that the wheels were frozen
down. There was a moment of panic, but in a way he was almost relieved,
he had never been totally happy at the thought of a belly landing, no matter
how soft, and after all up to now it was almost textbook. They would land
with the wheels down.
Skill and judgment were Hill’s most
reliable instruments as the last meters closed and the wheels touched the
surface, but in the chilling wind the rubber of the exposed wheels had frozen
solid. As the weight of the aircraft crushed them down onto the ice one
by one they began exploding. In seconds half of the rear and almost all
of the front tyres had shattered into a million
pieces of rubber. There was a sickening lurch as rims and struts bit down
into the ice sheet carving deep channels; only being prevented from punching
right through by their twisting and buckling.
an un-giving surface they may have failed completely, and the plane may
have cart wheeled into a tangled crash, but the ice below what remained
of rubber and metal, eased the impact. The undercarriage dug deep into the
glassy surface turning it into a storm of ice shards, as the engineer desperately
began to pump fuel back out of the mid tank. The aircraft now raced towards
the nearest to land that they would reach.
station commanders fear that the impact would break through the ice filled
Hills mind, and he applied a fraction more thrust to maintain forward motion,
while slightly lifting the plane; just high enough for the wheels to climb
out of any holes that they may have dug. Maybe he could smash them enough
that they could belly land after all. It was a rough and bumpy ride, but
within a few seconds he was confident enough to ease off the power. There
was a shuddering crash, immediately replaced by loud, grinding sounds, as
the fuselage impacted on the ice. He tried to ignore the screams and shrieks
from the cabin as he began to apply a small amount of reverse thrust to
slow the aircraft out its wild slide. It seemed endless but eventually the
crescendo from below eased to an almost soothing shudder. At the very least
they were down, and miraculously intact.
before they had come to a complete halt, confusion had erupted in the cabin,
as people began struggling to stand ready to evacuate the aircraft, but
the airliners crew blocked all the doors. “Please remain seated.”
Bellowed Hill over the intercom. “No one will be allowed to leave
the aircraft.” His reassuring voice demanded attention. “We
are safely down on the ice field. There is no danger of fire. We have more
to fear from the conditions outside than we have by remaining calm and staying
inside.” He repeated his warning several times before the panic eased
even a little. “The authorities know where we are, and have already
begun a rescue. I repeat, assistance is on its way, so stay calm, remain
in your seats. We can only survive until the rescue party arrives by keeping
calm and staying in the aircraft.”
words: as well as the fact that it had already become apparent that the
plane was not about to explode, slowly sank in to the minds of all who heard
him. Reluctantly the passengers settled down to an uneasy waiting, unaware
that the ice field they had come to rest on was not part of the Antarctic
continent but part of an ice floe over deep water. It now became a waiting
game and Hill settled down to conserving their resources, and preserving
life. He avoided telling his passenger’s rescue from Australia, New
Zealand or even South America was days, or at worst weeks away; as he also
omitted making it general knowledge that bearable conditions in the aircraft
would be measured in hours. Their only hope was now in the hands of the
isolated scientific station.
Davis news of the safe landing was greeted with a mixture of relief and
anxiety. They were as ready as they could be, but visibility outside the
huddled group of buildings was less than three meters. There could be no
attempt until the blizzard eased.
in the darkness; minute-by-minute snow and ice continued to cover the huts;
and many kilometers away, the fuselage of the airplane. Loading it with
tones more weight than any engineer had ever considered. Fuel was still
leaking; creating a pool close to the remnants of the undercarriage; where
it began to eat into the surface ice.
the first few hours radio communications were constant. At the beginning
there were the necessary directions and confirmations. Then in small groups
the passengers were allowed to call loved ones and reassure them.
had only been on the ice a very short time when the bar stocks were opened.
While not encouraging anybody to become drunk, the crew had certainly not
limited anyone who needed the stupor that alcohol brought. Gareth didn’t
bother, he had been down that path when his marriage had failed; well maybe
crumbled was a better word. He tucked the blankets closer to his body, and
would have liked more but the flight attendants had handed out all that
were available soon after they were down.
time went on the captain’s words of immediate salvation seemed a little
hollow and Gareth became more realistic. He was not afraid to die; in fact
emotionally he already had, some time back: it was just that this way seemed
such a waste.
avoid increasing concern Captain Hill had not applied any restrictions at
the beginning of their ordeal, but as the hours passed they were slowly
imposed, not least to conserve their dwindling power. Lights were dimmed
down to emergency. Heating was adjusted down so that the use of blankets
became even more necessary. Air purification became minimal air circulation.
passed and everybody sat quietly, listening to the creaking of the fuselage
as more and more ice formed just above their heads. Or to the worried murmurs,
or sobbing that resulted from the occasional more violent buffeting.
by bit life support systems were reduced until the carbon dioxide level
in the air reached its critical limit. People huddled drowsily together
for warmth and comfort
Gareth cursed his luck, or lack of it. His
life seemed full of complications: so maybe he had muttered once or twice
that he would be better off dead, but they were words spoken in frustration,
rather than hope. He didn’t want to die; not like this. It was always
going to be in a spectacular car wreck. A swift enough end that left only
enough time to hear wailing ambulance sirens against a background of flashing
police beacons. It wasn’t his time: it should have been Clive huddled
in the dark: freezing to death. Clive had forced him to take his place.
Maybe Clive had, had a premonition, or his horoscope had, but through the
anger he knew he had responded to Clive's offer with more than it being
just a pleasant surprise. It was even harder to accept that following the
phone call he had come to see the journey on flight 108 as a breaking of
the mould; a rekindling of excitement that would
somehow bring meaning back to the loneliness he felt. Instead it had isolated
him even more as in the last hours he watched parents clutch at their children,
and lovers each other. The fact that he had made an absolute mess of his
life was brutally stark, and it was far too late to change it now. He turned
away from the dim cabin and lifted the window blind. It was pitch black
outside; all he could see was light reflecting off the ice that was working
its way towards the center of the glass. Whatever the pilot had said, rescue
was not imminent; that was obvious. Their survival now depended on the heat
generated from the remaining engines, and they could fail or run out of
fuel at any minute. He turned back as he sensed someone close. A young stewardess
was leaning over towards him.
you alright sir?” she said sweetly.
a moment Gareth couldn’t help smiling as his mind took in the weird
assortment of clothing she wore. She smiled back and he wondered how she
could act so normally when she must know more than he was just guessing
at. “I'm fine.” He answered.
you like something to read?”
noticed that a bundle of magazines and books were held to her body by an
unseen hand. It was too dark to see the words on a page, but it seemed ungrateful
to point it out. He nodded and she dropped a book on the seat beside him
without even looking which it was. “We will be serving a meal shortly,”
she said softly. “I can’t say what it will be,” she tried
to smile as if making a joke. “Other than warm, but if you have any
preference, I'll try and see what I can do.”
Really I'm fine, whatever comes.” He glanced across at a mother and
two small children. “Look I understand what’s happened.”
His words faded as he realized that maybe he didn’t. “I’m
kind of prepared; don’t worry about me. Look after your own needs.”
He tried his best to sound nonchalant.
smiled back again as if she understood. “We’ll get out of this.”
we will,” he said knowing neither of them believed they would.
the woman pulled a blue cardigan she was using as a scarf back up over her
lower face, he regretted not bringing any thicker clothes with him, but
at the time he packed the cabin bag, there seemed little point on board
a flight that was never intended to touch down. It puzzled him that others
had, had more foresight, but he was thankful at least for the stewardess
that every bag anyone had brought, had been ransacked. Gareth reached out
for the paperback, it was a Star Wars novel. It had been years since he
had read one and with as little of his fingers as possible holding it, he
lay back in the seat and opened to the title page. In the dim light he had
to concentrate on each word, but he began reading.
passed, and as the time slipped by the mood in the cabin sunk deeper into
hopelessness. The cabin crew had done what they could, and now even they
had retreated to their own little group.
was seated in a double seat well to the rear of the cabin; no one was standing,
and to all intents and purpose he could have been alone on the plane. Alone,
the thought struck him again. Unseen people would die in each others arms;
he would die alone. But maybe being alone wasn’t the worst thing,
men would see their women die; mothers would see their children pass away.
A significant buffeting shook him out of his morose feeling. His body tensed
until the gusts died away, but he was left with a feeling that the lean
of his seat was slightly more than it had been.
all the other passengers he had no way of knowing that the violent vibration,
combined with the weight of plane and ice, concentrated onto an almost rubber
less strut had finally broken through the floe. As the cluster of broken
wheels sank, the warm outer engine cowling touched the ice. Yet more time
was to pass as it settled through the slush and water ran over the lip and
through into the turbines. One of their two remaining engines spluttered
to a stop.
preferred to dismiss the tilt as being due to the howling blizzard outside,
but the change of tone had brought him out of his thoughts. Listening intently,
his ears picked out a sound he had not been listening for.
was a faint sobbing that seemed closer than the other miserable sounds.
He had thought he was alone in this part of the plane but it was coming
from the seat behind. Trying to stay in his cocoon he twisted around until
he could glance back between the headrests. It still looked empty but the
soft whimper bored into his mind. He tried to ignore the sound. He was comfortable,
at least as much as he ever would be. He was barely warm; to move and take
a proper look would disturb what had taken hours to achieve. He fought against
the curiosity for a long time before reluctantly he twisted around to look
over the seats.
aisle seat was empty but propped against the cabin wall was a pile of blankets.
At first he thought they had been missed when the flight attendants had
come around, and a feeling of pleasure swept through him as he contemplated
using them himself. Then he realized they were not unused, and that the
whimper was coming from something small inside them. The sound was too pathetic
to listen to, and for reasons he couldn’t explain he struggled up
from his wrappings and slid over to stand in the isle.
cabin was now almost in darkness and appeared deserted if he looked forward.
On the roof he could see a faint glistening where breath; turned to condensation,
had begun to freeze. He glanced back and down. It seemed impossible that
anything could be in the blankets, but that was where the sound was coming
from. He leaned over and gently touched the folds. “Are you okay?”
he said immediately realizing the stupidity of the words.
sight of the dismal bundle reminded him that he wouldn’t be the only
person who was feeling alone. Suddenly he had an overwhelming urge to talk
to someone, but the words sounded stupid almost as he spoke them. “Is
anyone sitting here?”
pathetic child’s voice came back. “I'm scared.”
words tore his heart out. “Don't be scared,” he heard himself
say as confidently as he could.
whimper had turned to a soft sobbing. “I don't want to die.”
the voice he guessed it was a girl, or a very young boy, he didn’t
know. “No,” he said. “And I'm not going to; and neither
are you. In a couple of days we will both have our picture in the newspapers
and be telling everybody about what an adventure it all was.”
tiny piece of face appeared from deep within the blanket. “I've never
been so frightened.” The emotional voice screamed into his mind for
attention. Gareth felt totally inadequate, and wondered why he had said
anything. He looked back up the aisle help, or to see if anyone was moving;
and searched his memory for a man or woman passing him, but there had been
no one. “Where’s your mum; or your dad?”
at home.” The voice broke into weeping.
alone?” he said in surprise, as without thinking he sat beside the
bundle. “It’s okay,” he said, wanting to put his arm around
the child as he had done to comfort his own daughter when she was distressed,
but he stopped and pulled his arm back. “It is scary, I'm a bit frightened
too, but things will work out. Any minute now a rescue party will be knocking
to come in.” He could see definitely now that it was a girl.
really think they will?”
know they will. I owe a fortune on my credit cards, so if nobody else does,
my bank manager will come looking for me.”
saw what could have been a smile. “Is that meant to be a joke? It’s
a very bad joke,” she said wearily
He gave a weak smile back
Carrie,” she said softly.
Carrie, I’m Gareth.” He reached over the seat and grabbed his
blankets. “Can I sit next to you?”
I know; is it okay?”
don't want to die alone,” She said pitifully.
are not going to die Carrie,” he said it with such assurance that
he surprised even himself. “I’m going to tell you something
that I’ve never told to anyone before.” He sat close and covered
them both with his blankets. “In fact all my friends would have laughed
at me if I had, but a long time ago I had my fortune told. You know what
I’m going to live to be over a hundred years old.”
could see her eyes deep in the blankets. “You believe that?”
course I do. I knew the guy who baked the fortune cookies, and he promised
me they never lie.”
could see her shaking her head, and felt sure he could see her eyes smile.
mum said I should never talk to strangers. I didn’t know she meant
it because they had such a terrible sense of humor.”
a while they talked, learning about each others lives; only stopping as
the plane lurched again.
the heat molding the inner cowl into the ice allowed water to flood into
the invert of the pod.
Captain Hill noticed or not would never be known for though the radio still
worked he made no further attempt to contact their rescuers. Of course there
was nothing those trying to make contact: thousands of kilometers away,
could have done to stop the hot engine parts hissing as they went below
the surface slush.
happening?” said Carrie anxiously
okay Carrie; it’s just the storm.”
than a minute later the last engine died, leaving the cabin in silence.
Gareth didn't know if she realized; with the blankets covering her head
and most of her face, but he knew that unless they were rescued very, very
soon, it really was the end. Everything now depended on keeping warm until
felt her shaking; he knew it could have been fear, but he took the trembling
to mean that she: like him was feeling the rapid drop in temperature. He
had never considered himself self-sacrificing; in fact the opposite was
truer. Neither was it a conscious decision, it was more of a response to
feeling the girl shudder that just seemed the natural thing do. Gareth pulled
the blankets from around his body and wrapped them around the child. Strangely
he didn’t feel as cold as he had been before, and as the lights began
to fail Gareth partly curled on the seat against her, holding himself as
close to the bundle as he could, and drifted off to sleep.
the last engine failed the temperature in the cabin plummeted. Core body
heat dropped from the life sustaining thirty degrees plus to zero in so
short a time that every living thing inside the fuselage was virtually snap
were beyond hope; and unheard by human ear the cracks of fracturing ice
reached under the fuselage, and the plane slowly settled through to wallow
in slush and broken ice. Time had already lost its importance as water flooded
into the wheel bays and seeped into part of the cargo hold. The fuselage
continued to slowly settle into the water, and as the heavy ice coating
detached, the plane started to gradually sink to the seabed.
meters below the sea ice, flight A108 settled deep into the sub-zero seabed
in a cloud of disturbed silts, looking much as if it were parked on the
apron, ready for takeoff.
the blizzard continued for three more days, and when at last the wind stopped,
and the sun returned to Antarctica, it bathed a refrozen and pristine landscape
with no trace of the tragedy that had played out on its surface
there had been an urgent flurry of rescue attempts, but with the slower
than expected abating of the weather; and the chances of finding any person
alive diminishing, no actual attempt was ever made.
the weather cleared Australasian air force planes began a search. The news
to distraught relatives was that flight 108 had disappeared without trace,
and that the ice had reformed. A ground party confirmed that the faint marks
in the ice observed from the air could have been made during 108’s
crash landing, but there was nothing to indicate exactly where it had come
to rest. Of that location nothing could be found. One thing was obvious
though, and that was the ice was continuing to thicken. As winter drew its
veil over the continent it became impossible to recover the bodies: that
would have to wait until next spring. The several ships already sailing
for the area were turned around.
after, an American spy satellite equipped with cloud and ice piercing radar
was diverted to locate the wreckage, but it was not until several weeks
after that, that the US navy nuclear submarine Washington, diving beneath
the ice found the still intact fuselage.
divers slipped out of the Washington's escape tubes and through the silent,
eerie murk set eyes upon the tomb of a hundred and eighty-three souls. With
the depth and the cold they were limited to eight minutes inspection; consequently
almost all the video tape they recorded was of the failed engines, the great
bulk in the background was now not as important as ensuring that whatever
had happened did not occur again. Yet it was impossible to not see and wonder
what poignant sight lay behind the row of dark windows that disappeared
in either direction, into the murky silence. The film was carefully edited
and was never publicly released in its entirety.
the subsequent months several salvage attempts were proposed, but the combination
of distance, hostile location, and short window of opportunity in the unpredictable
Antarctic Summer led each one to be postponed.
greatest concern of the aviation officials was to determine the reason for
the downing. So after examining the detailed reports of Captain Hill’s
transmissions from the ice, and combining this with the evidence from the
Washington's videotape; it was determined that an external object: or several,
had entered and disabled both engines on the one side. With the reason for
the disaster sufficiently known the overriding drive now became humanitarian.
The motivation was originally there, but as time passed the political will
to ease the grief of the relatives by being able to finally put their loved
ones to rest, faded. New disasters occurred, elections were to be fought.
almost eighteen months a suggestion was made to proclaim the area a grave
site. It was slightly satisfying that these people would after dying together,
spend eternity together.
little over three years later attended by a select group of representatives,
a commemorative plaque was placed on the closest land and everyone said
his or her last good-byes.
Carrie, Captain Hill, the stewardess’s, the men, women, and children
were now only memories to each individual’s loved ones. To everyone
else they were just more victims of another disaster: committed to remain
forever at the place where they died.
the seasons changed. The waters froze; and the ice thawed. Year passed to
year, and the twenty-second century dawned. Again politics took a hand.
It was an election year, and President Mary Meadows of the Federation of
Pacifica agreed to attend a centenary service to mark the crash of flight
political arrangements go it was one she made clear, she preferred not to
attend. Antarctica was a long way away, and of the things climate change
had changed, the Southern Ocean was still the Southern Ocean. But choice
was something politicians sometimes had little of, and after the results
of an Internet poll had shown that a majority of the populace considered
it fitting that the tail section of the actual aircraft be cut off and erected
as a permanent memorial she had to attend. The idea seemed pointless, and
she still couldn’t understand why a trivial little accident in the
distant past had even been remembered: though as she thought on it, a lifetime
after the Titanic sank it had still captivated the imagination.
blades of single massive propeller slowed to almost stopping, as its helmsman
balanced current and momentum. It was not an ideal place for a submarine,
even one as big and sophisticated as the E.U. Mikhail Androv, so the remote
camera was dispatched as soon as the suspended silts were carried away in
by sonar, the tiny craft cut through the water: trailing its umbilical cord
until it was within a hundred meters of its target. At that point four powerful
floodlights switched on creating a small patch of light filled with curious
fish, and hemmed in by crushing, utter darkness. After almost a hundred
years human eyes once again saw the silt-coated aircraft, and peered through
Catherine,” Mary Meadows looked up momentarily at her personal secretary.
Downs would like to see you.”
Mary looked at her watch. “At this hour?”
he has a report from the Mikhail Androv.”
Mikhail Androv?” Mary pressed a button at the side of her electronic
diary with a slightly puzzled look.
not a he, it’s a submarine. One of the salvage vessels sent to plan
the recovery of flight One-oh-Eights tail.”
yes.” Mary’s finger came off the button. “Sorry Catherine,
this new directive I have to implement,” she opened her hands at the
data displayed around her in a hopeless gesture. “Is driving me to
was going to leave it until tomorrow, but I thought you would be interested
to hear what he has to say.”
thought I would be interested in something Philip has to say?” Mary
said in curiosity
was a knowing smile. “He is very keen to see you.”
see.” Mary was intrigued at what could have made her usually overly
formal and correct assistant, so obviously eager. “And what is so
important that it can’t wait until the morning?”
has an analysis on the conditions existing inside the cabin.” Catherine
seemed hesitant to say more.
nose betrayed a slight reluctance to hear whatever it was. She sighed. “Then
you had better send him in.”
later Downes stood beside the two women. He mused like many before him that
they looked to the world like mother and daughter; or at least a thirty-year
older version of the other; if it had not been for the younger having hair
the color of obsidian and Mary still a pure blonde.
tells me that you have been examining the interior?”
glanced at the younger. “Not directly Ms. President.”
I don’t recall any permission being given to disturb the grave site.”
Ms. President: there was none attempted.”
not sure the public or I, are in the mood for a morbid examination of the
investigation of the site was purely to assess the feasibly of the project,
and was never intended for public consumption.”
is a sensitive issue Philip. There are people still alive who could be considered
close relatives of; those aboard.”
understand that madam.”
must be no suggestion that the grave site has been disturbed.”
are all alert to that madam, but we also have a responsibility to ensure
that the waters of Antarctica remain pristine. Surveys have to be carried
out as part of the pollution assessment before we cut off the tail.”
Philip, tell me what's so important that you come here at,” she glanced
pointedly at her mantle clock. “Ten forty at night; that will not
wait until the morning?”
Madam, the tail section is undamaged and would serve the suggested purpose.
There are unlikely to be any problems with removing the section other than
it has been recommended prior to that work that we drain any remaining fuel,
or fluids so as to avoid any likelihood of contamination, but all that has
been discussed before.”
has, and I accept it has to be done, but I can’t say I consider it
good news,” Mary huffily. “I’ll be honest with you I would
have preferred a negative response. In fact I consider the whole thing crass.
I don’t know how this poll ever got momentum. Sticking a bit of old
aircraft in the pristine,” she stopped as she saw they were looking
at her; she sighed and looked slightly crossly at Catherine. “So is
looked nervously at Catherine as if he was unsure how to proceed.
just tell the president what was inside.” Catherine prompted.
Mary’s head spun to look at her. “I thought we just agreed.”
Her voice had a distinct trace of distaste in it.
the outside ma’am,” Catherine, added quickly in defense. “They
only observed through the windows.”
began again. “Initial examination of the Androv’s video show’s
that as far as could be gathered all of the passenger’s remains were
huddled together in groups, and.”
Mary interrupted in shock.
madam; passengers; that’s what they were.”
understand that,” she said huffily, “But you could see them?”
of Madam. Reflections from the windows made it difficult to discern actual
details of them but.”
Mary interrupted “You mean these people are still; there”
he said unsurely,
mean they haven’t deteriorated; away?”
no madam, from what little was seen they look okay: if that’s not
a contradiction. In fact we can make a confident assumption that it’s
highly likely they died of hypothermia.”
froze to death. That is not surprising, or at this point in time hardly
important,” said Mary disdainfully.
but this report adds a slightly new perspective.”
actually two fairly significant ways. You are aware that under certain conditions
water can drop below freezing point and not freeze”
am not a physicist Philip.”
nodded. “Apparently water can plummet well below in the right situation;
while remaining liquid.” He gave a strange smile. “It seems
as it warms it then freezes; quite ridiculous really.”
is much we still have to learn about our world,” said Mary, in a tone
that indicated she was far less impressed than Philip.
temperature of any liquid,” he continued. “Including super-cool
water, affects anything immersed in it, consequently the temperature inside
the fuselage is, and it seems has been constant at about minus thirty degrees
centigrade, for some time.”
said I’m not a physicist and it’s some time since I was at college,”
Mary interrupted. “All I vaguely remember is some law relating to
heat, pressure and volume…”
he began, but she stopped him.
from my memory of those lectures, that sounds a considerably lower temperature
than I would have thought reasonable, even at that depth, or location.”
is most unusual, but there are special contributing factors.”
it’s too late to explain them; so just give me the facts.”
The aircraft is at the very edge of the continental shelf. The depth plunges
quite steeply close by. This is one of the reasons why the ice forms thick
and early in the sound.”
suggesting the movement of a great deal of cold water may somehow have caused
a kind of chill factor?”
was explained that the down; or upwelling envelops the location, in a kind
Circulation. It’s an effect of super-saline seawater,” volunteered
glanced at her momentarily. “Some words like that were mentioned in
the briefing,” he said before turning to Mary again. “Basically
the passing mass creates a response similar to a household refrigerator.
Warmth is absorbed and transported away.”
still fail to see how that results in a minus thirty degree temperature;
but please don’t feel you have to enlighten me “
seemed slightly exasperated. “It wouldn’t madam, as I said there
were other contributing factors; and I am trying to explain in as simple
terms as possible.”
expression did not change as she nodded for him to continue.
to say that there have been no investigations into a combination of such
phenomena before, so it’s all fairly theoretical.”
I said there are still a great many things we have to discover about our
own planet. Though other factors now seem a greater priority,” she
glanced at her display.
it was for him or not, Philip took it as a hint. “Yes: well if we
can ignore all the physics, we have come across something that appears impossible.”
he had all of Mary's attention. “Impossible?”
the reports at the time record that the plane landed safely: miraculously
if one believes the newspaper headlines of the days following the downing.”
plane is sitting on the bottom; it is upright and almost buried in mud and
silt to the window line; but the point is that the fuselage is totally intact.”
has been since the day it went down. Yes, I am aware of most of this.”
you would probably not know that the cabin is dry.”
she looked at Catherine, and noted that the other woman appeared to be waiting
went on. “In the past hundred years, none; or at least an insignificant
amount of water has entered the main cabin.”
not. The fuselage was pressurized to fly at high altitude so to all intents
it is both airtight and watertight.”
but from ground right up into space is, if I remember only a single atmosphere.
At forty meters that’s… four or six or something. The structure
wouldn't withstand that extreme. Would it?”
air from all the lower pressurized compartments was driven up by water penetrating
through from the wheels, a significant air pocket at equilibrium with the
ambient pressure could have been created.”
now, after all this time?”
could compress to a point of in-compression.”
already concluded I'm not a physicist, or a mathematician Philip.”
interrupted again. “What Philip is trying to say is that as the cabin
is substantially dry, the bodies have not been immersed.”
a point that is correct,” said Philip defensively.
said Mary curiously. “We’re talking about human remains aren’t
we?” She looked cautiously at the other two. “The word bodies’
comes to my mind; as implying that they have been preserved in some way?”
nodded. “Basically they are blocks of ice.”
of ice: as in frozen?”
He waited a second as if enjoying having the woman’s curiosity. “And
there is an excellent chance we can recover them.” He declared with
see,” said Mary dubiously. “I suppose that could change the
situation.” She looked at them both as if she was trying to see what
courses of action were now open. “Didn’t one of the options
we looked at propose re-internment?”
said Catherine. “It was rejected.”
nodded as if remembering, “I’ll be quite honest and say that
at this moment I fail to understand how this significantly changes things.
The site is a declared grave site, and while there could be some political
benefits recovering the bodies for a normal burial, it was never the projects
madam, but you fail to understand what I am saying,” said Philip impatiently.
“It’s not about politics at all?”
it’s late. I’m tired, I have work to do that I don’t want
to do and you have told me nothing that could not have waited until tomorrow,
so unless you are about to, can we leave this until the morning?”
I am not trying to be confusing. I have only just come from being told myself,
and I find the whole as troublesome and difficult to comprehensively explain
don’t mean to be unsympathetic to these people, even at eleven pm,
but up to now you have presented me nothing that I would call new, never
mind noteworthy, beyond a few technical trivialities
apparent dismissive attitude seemed to give him purpose. “Neither
would anybody else madam without the flight recorder. It was recovered during
the feasibility exploration. Once examined it was found that the tape had
stopped working for likely the same reason all the passengers died. It froze
solid, but in the thirty minutes that it recorded before it froze, it recorded
a drop in temperature of fifty degrees Celsius.”
looked at him doubtfully. “Fifty degrees: in thirty minutes?”
it was fifty-two degrees in just over fourteen minutes; they were to all
intents and purpose, snap frozen.” He waited for his information to
register. “If I can state the obvious, in the right circumstances
freezing an organ at such a rate could result in almost perfect preservation“
jaw dropped. “Wait a minute,” she interrupted him disbelievingly.
“Are you telling me that these people are in cryogenic state?”
can’t know that at this stage; but we have reason to believe that
they are,” he smiled savoring what he was about to say. “More
than that, if it is the case then we can recover them and.”
Mary said standing and opening her palms towards him. She looked at Catherine
and then at him. “Are you going to suggest what I think you are?”
think he is,” said Catherine nervously.
no, it’s not possible: is it?” She looked directly at Philip.
information is that it is.”
there will be tissue damage; the brain; neuron damage. They will be vegetated?”
where they are,” began Philip. “And disturb the balance in any
way; that includes removing the tail section, and there will be irreversible
damage. The bodies will begin to decompose. Remove them to a controlled
area and almost anything is possible.”
audibly gasped. “Do you realize what ethical, legal, moral, oh heavens
I can’t even think of what minefields are possible.”
realize that madam, but we are talking about a hundred and eighty-three
looked at him. “Are we Philip? Are these people alive; or are they
dead like the rest of the World thinks they have been for the last hundred
he could answer Catherine spoke. “Madam maybe I can remind you that
the Eurasian court in its clone ruling of two thousand and fifty-seven decreed
that a potential for life carried the same rights as a functioning life.”
looked at her. “And you just happened to remember that?”
bit her bottom lip in unease, but said nothing.
looked at Catherine. “We thought a disaster recovery crew. High on
technical: and low on scientific expertise?”
was dubious. “Can a disaster team be trusted to remain silent?”
not, but with the right selection and a briefing emphasizing the almost
certainty of cell damage, it could be run like a normal recovery, reburial
has been assumed may be no more than an assumption,” added Catherine.
“And once the experts have done their examinations it may turn out
to actually be a case of reburial madam.” Mary seemed less eager to
protest so Catherine carried on. “We can issue an amendment to one
of the news briefs that while our intention is that nothing be disturbed,
if some accident occurs we will; for purely moral reasons, recover for re-
internment. Once the ceremony is over and the recovery is complete the specialists
can undertake detailed examinations in total secret. If there is any suggestion
of testing it can be claimed it’s to establish DNA identification;
to contact any descendants?”
Philip spoke. “The Antarctic has been warming for the last century.
The currents have, and continue to change. We cannot guarantee that the
conditions in that fuselage will last another day. Water could fill the
cabin at any time. Raising the temperature even a fraction would start to
defrost them; and start the deterioration. But right now, with our technology
they could be alive, and waiting for us to resurrect them.” He looked
at Catherine, then at Mary. “And if I can be as bold as to point out
madam, by touching the aircraft we technically could be accused of killing
put her face into her hands. For some time there was silence until she looked
up at them. “The question is. Would they want us to bring them back