Six Seasons

The Drop

               The chopper tipped more to the left, and her insides leaped as she held firmly still to her seat. The blatant beating of the helicopter blades deafened her, and although she could see the other two men yelling and gesturing towards her, she could neither hear nor make out what either of them were trying to tell her.
            Suddenly, the man on her front left made another lunge at the pilot, trying to get him off his seat. He had collapsed. A heart attack. Seizure maybe. She couldn’t tell. Her brain screamed at her to do something, anything. But she knew she was helpless.
            Helpless.
            The helicopter made another steep lean, this time to the right, and just as it did so, something hit her seat, hard. She lost her grip, and nearly, just nearly, fell out of the chopper. She was hanging onto the handle of her seat. The man who was now laying to her right, now top, of her seat recovered from the blow and reached out his hand. She reached her left hand for it, but missed. Her right hand gave away as she lost her grip.
            She took a blind grab and clutched onto something freezing cold. As she tried hard to breathe, she realized she was hanging onto the helicopter skid, and horrifyingly knew she was now dangling outside the helicopter.
            The chopper swung left, then right, desperately trying to shake her off. She hung on, trying to resist. Tried to block it from her mind. It was useless. The chopper continued to swing. Despite looking straight above her, she could feel the emptiness of the ground below her. The force was too great. The ground was craving for her. Hungered for her.
            As terror filled every inch of her body, she became petrified as she saw her fingers slip, counting down the last seconds of her life.
            She let go.

            She was falling now. It took a second for her to realize it. She had let go. Let go of the hope that was alive only moments ago. Now she was going to die.
            The helicopter grew smaller and left her view as she fell straight down. She stared at the sky, suddenly realizing it was all there. White on blue that become all that she could see – the canvas that painted all of her life.
            High pitched screams echoed in her ears, and she knew, despite not feeling anything, that they were hers. As streaks and dabs of green and brown entered the mural, she knew it was all coming to an end. Something hit her left arm, but she felt no pain, only a sound “thump!” to note what had happened. The impact made her turn slightly to the right.
            She felt nothing though. The last couple seconds of her life seemed the longest she had ever felt, and yet she felt nothing, as if she was already gone.
            She took a breath, one last reminiscence of her past self, and then it was black.

The Awakening

            “No!”
            Cindy Taylor screamed and bolted her eyes open. A searing pain had awoken her and instinctly made her reach for her left arm. Doing so, her right shoulder ached.
            “Ohhh…” she moaned.
            She felt like a golem. A stunted, mechanical like creature made of stone. Every move she made hurt her, deteriorated her. Despite this however, her wincing eyes absorbed the bright sun, and she knew she had to get up. Its rays had pierced the makeshift leaf roof she had made for herself, and she could feel her skin baking. She laid both palms onto her sides and began to fill her lungs.
            “Aaargh!” she yelled as she pushed herself into a seated position. Grunting and breathing as if she was running a marathon, she inched backwards until her back was against the cool wooden wall.
            It was her home. She had invested a large amount of her energy in building her shelter. But it was necessary. And now she was happy.
            “It was a week ago,” she whispered to herself.
            No… That couldn’t be right.
            “Two weeks.”
            It felt like a month. How many days was it? She had no idea. Ever since the end of her first three nights of which she spent out cold and hungry she had stopped counting. There was hope in it. If she didn’t count, it would seem faster. The ordeal would end when it ended.
            But would it? The question had echoed in her ears a million times. Why hadn’t she already been found? After she fell out of the mayday helicopter, why hadn’t the two guys turn it around when they resumed control? They must have known where she fell. Surely they couldn’t have forgotten… Could it have crashed?
            She closed her eyes and bit her teeth. She had cried many days before. Endless uncontrollable sobs and flow of tears. At first, she had let them come. Silent, unprovoked urges that came usually during long sighs. They had comforted her. Made her forget herself, even for just a few seconds. She had let her tears carry away her worries and pain away for some time.
            But not today. Not now. The chirping of birds and buzzing of insects brought her back and she relaxed and opened her eyes.
            Her stomach fell and it forced her, grudgingly and painfully, to her feet. Hunger.

The Assignment

            Bobby Mace picked up his Sandwich as he gave Cindy a hard look.
            “Sorry, do you mind if I eat while we talk? Terribly busy day. Missed my lunch meeting.”
            “No, it’s fine,” she replied, spotting the chair in front of her and taking a seat. “It’s fine.”
            “Thanks,” he smiled, taking a bite.
            “Now. I assume you know what’s going on around here,” Bobby grumbled, his mouth half full of food, “nearly every single other journalist in this building is covering either the oil feuds in Pakistan and Israel or the rumours of the Republican scandals. As it is, you and I are one of the only few that know about the insurgent activity in Eastern Chile.”
            “Okay,” Cindy replied, leaning a bit forward.
            “Right, so the thing is – I know of this guy, an informant, who claims to have inside information from the rebels and is offering to set up a meeting. I need someone on the job. Now I…”
            “I’ll take it,” she snapped, a sharp tone of confidence in her voice.
            “Oh, whow. Whow. Slow down there. Let me finish first. The thing is,” he continued, “I don’t want this thing spreading throughout the whole damn building. I swear if that Watterson throws another bullshit lie about how he just came across a story from an anonymous secret source of his…” Carl shook his head.
            “Anyways, Bensen’s taking time off and Grant’s busy on his new story. You’re the best I’ve got left.”
            “Like I said,” Cindy’s eyes were slightly more open, “I’ll take it.”
Bobby leaned back and put his sandwich to the side.
            “You’re impressive Taylor,” Bobby stated, nodding his head, “I read your column. Freedoms On Internet Speech – Cyber Neo-fascism In The Coming 22nd Century. Very good work. But this story…” Bobby looked straight forward at her. “This is a field report we’re talking about Taylor.”
            “I’m a trained reporter, Sir. I’ll know what to do.”
            “Probably, but have you done one before?”
            Cindy looked down and slightly away, thinking of what to say.
            “Don’t worry about it. It was just a question.”
            She looked back at him, hopeful.  Carl edged around on his seat. Momentarily, he shuffled a few papers, reviewing some notes he had written on some of them.
            “Like I said before, you do good work Taylor. I have my complete trust on you for this assignment. I’m sure you’re up for it. That’s why I called you in.”
            Cindy smiled. She had finally gotten what she wanted, thanks to her past dedication.
            “Thanks sir.”
            “You’ll be flying in two days. Jackson will fill you in on the flight details. A chopper will carry you to the informant in the town of Arica. Good Luck Taylor.”
            Carl held out his hand. She quickly shook it as she got up to leave.
            “Give me a call when you get there,” he said, smiling and picking up his water bottle.
            “Oh, and one more thing.”
            Cindy turned her head, the door to his office half open.
            “Try to stay out of the sun. I hear it’s hot as hell down there at this time.”

The Clearing

            How far had she gone? Cindy placed her hand to her forehead as she approached a mountainous clearing. The trees had provided her with shade - a shield from the burning sun. Now that she had left them, the sudden brightness struck her an uncomfortable blow.
               How far had she gone? Throughout her entire time stranded in the forest, she had never wandered as far as beyond half a mile or so from where she had initially fell. And now she had wandered beyond the forest. That was her first mistake.
            Mistakes. She had made others. The aching pain from her stomach had made her think irrationally. Made her senseless. Now that it occurred to her she was lost, a shiver washed throughout her body.
            She had changed directions numerous times as she walked, convinced each time that she had heard the sound of flowing water or the sweat scent of wild strawberries.
            Cindy had seen them before. Large, round bright red gems that grew in clusters. Finding then was like finding a chest full of treasure – Enough to make a girl rich and happy for as long as she could tell.   That however, was a mistake. Finding them for the first time, she had eaten as much as she could, as eager and hungry as if she hadn’t eaten for a year. When she had eaten her fill, she grabbed every single remaining berry which she could not eat into her ragged pouch. She had brought them back to camp and kept them at a corner in the shelter.  Her greed had made her commit mistakes. The next day they were gone.
            Not gone perhaps to say, but gone nevertheless. The pouch emitted an overwhelmingly sweet smell of overripe berries. The scorching hot sun took its toll on her precious rubies, and opening the pouch she found little crawling thieves stealing what was left of treasure. The berries no longer glistened exquisitely, but instead now bore a dull, crimson shade that resembled course jam.
            Her stomach growled. She placed both her hands upon it, noticing at the same time her heart beat. Realizing her breathing quicken, she closed her eyes, trying to focus.
            “It’s okay.” she assured herself, “You’ll get out of this.”
            The thumping continued. It would take more than a few simple statements to convince herself otherwise of the obvious truth that she was hopelessly lost.
            “Another deep breath,” she sighed. She took it as she turned around.
            It was still there. Somehow, the mountain intimidated her. Blocking her way, Cindy wondered how tall it was. The sun discouraged her from looking up, however in her range of view, it appeared to tower over her, as well as stretching both left and right for as far as she could see.
            “Good, at least we won’t be getting more lost than we already are.” came a voice deep down. She failed to find it neither amusing nor assuring.
            Something drew her towards it, however, as she approached the rocky mountain. It was as if it was calling out to her. There was no breeze, but she could hear it. A whisper, begging for her to investigate.
            The collection of gravel and rock beneath her feet made it hard for her to walk, however the rough sounds of rock on rock had a pleasing rhythm, taking her away for a moment. Looking slightly down in front of her, it slowly caught her eye. And then she saw it.

 

The Abyss


           
The Crevice lay a couple meters from her feet. Even with the brightness of the sun, it was dark. Nothing grew along the edges of the long chasm. It was completely barren and lifeless. She heard it then. She froze, and momentarily, heard it again. It was beneath her. Beneath her feet.
            She bent down, putting her hands and cheek to the ground, trying to verify her sense. The sound became muffled, now almost hard to hear.

             She got back up and turned back at the crevice. She stared at it. Looking at it, it felt almost as if it was looking back at her.
            Cindy didn’t know what it was about it that interested her. She stood there however, frozen. It was as if the dark fissure in the ground was eating up her pain.
            It slowly drained from her. Slowly, her feelings mixed. She forget that she was hungry, that she was lost. Even realising this, it unfazed her. The crevice soothed her. Calmed her. Yet, there was something chilling about that hole. As if it held secrets. Answers she desired.
            The whispering continued, coming from the mouth of the crevice. Was it whispering?
“No,” she told herself. It sure sounded like it though. But she knew. It was the water. It was calling to her, using the mouth to lure her.
            She took a few steps towards it. As she did so, she felt strange. The rough sounding steps, the whispering. It came to her slowly, with every step adding more to it and it slowly became clearer and clearer to her.
            Taking one last step, it hit her. She had felt it coming. Heard it. But when it finally hit her, it made her entire body numb.


The Epiphany

            It made sense then. She was there. Cindy Taylor, the twenty six year old journalist from New York City, was there. Simply there. Yet, not so simple.
            The darkness continued to shroud the crevice. Despite her being nearly at the edge, the bottom was still not visible. Looking down, she had a terrible, yet surreal, sensation as if the hole would swallow her body as her soul continued to stare into the perpetual darkness.
            She was there. Only there. Lost and hungry and perhaps doomed to die with no one looking for her. Her life, her entire life – all twenty six years of it, she had only simply been there as well. Where she was now. Here.
            The hole continued. It was as if it knew of everything. Throughout her life she had always been lost. She pursued her life with no purpose, no sense of accomplishment. Every single day she had woken up without asking “What do I want today?” she had no reason to. She had everything, yet had nothing.
            The whispering of the hole continued. She had always been hungry. An insatiable hunger. A hunger which drove her. A hunger that blinded her of her lack of purpose. It all came to her. There was something she had always wanted, yet she had never realized why she had wanted it so bad. Money. But why? What had she ever spent with her money? She had never been this hungry in her life. She had never been this afraid of not knowing where she was. She had never been this scared of the night.
            Was it to buy happiness? She knew now it couldn’t buy happiness. The only recalling memory of her being truly happy was during her days in the forest. Finding those berries. Finishing the construction of her home. Those had cost the price of her time. The only thing she had an abundance of since the beginning.
             It was time, now, that cost her to realize it all. To realize how, after everything, she was there. Still there. And simply there.

            She had been dead all along. And today, today she had woken up and answered it. She had answered the question.

            “I want to be saved. I want it the suffering to end.”
            She had been dead all along. And today, she was born. And then it swallowed her, and everything went black.

 

The Fall

            At first she thought she was finally dead. She had fell for the longest time in complete darkness. When she finally hit her, it was so strong and unexpected that it felt as if a truck had just slammed into her from behind.
            She was submerged now, realizing it as the icy cold water sent piercing stings throughout her body. She tried to swim upwards, her arms heavy by her sides. Wincing at the sudden amount of pain, she bit her teeth forcefully, scared she would yell out and lose the little amount of oxygen she had within her lungs.
            She wasn’t sure of how deep she was, and opening her eyes, she saw only a shimmer of light refracting in the water of where she was facing. She focused on it as she gave a thrust of all her strength in its direction.
            Seemingly from nowhere, she summoned the strength for another, then another, as she surprised herself with her determination to escape the watery grave the fall had dug for her.
            With one last push of her arms, she exploded out of the surface of the water, wheezing for air, greedily sucking new life into her lungs as she choked on both air and water alike. She clawed at the water, her chest rising and falling repeatedly, as she pulled air again and again, until she felt as if her lungs would collapse.
            She saw it then – the hole of which she fell through it was there. Just there. Unreachable. Staring at it. It was still staring at her, now mocking her. Anger boiled in her, causing her to shake as it mixed with the freezing water that blanketed her. Stupid, she thought. Stupid.
            Panic came, however, as she realized the light was getting further and further away. It was now a good distance away. She tried swimming towards it, although terrifyingly found it impossible as the water continued to carry her away.
            There was nothing to grab onto. Nothing to save her. She heard it then. Again. This time more clearly than before. The sound of water against rock. It was faint, but as she tried to concentrate, it sounded as if it was coming from all sides.
            It grew louder. And louder yet. She was already facing it. A blinding light that stole her sight. With her eyes closed, she knew what it was. The roaring. The current grew stronger, and she could feel it pull her. It was beyond anything she could do. Yet, as the roaring become nearly deafening, she could still hear it. The whispers. And surprisingly the soft sound of water against rock. Music that carried her away. It was angelic.