This story is by Peter Pytlik and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
3:06 PM October 6th
My name is Alan Mathews. I’m an accountant in Buffalo, New York. I was on a plane headed to Sacramento to visit family, but something went wrong because I’m writing this from inside the wreckage of our plane. It’s still relatively intact, the left wing and the rear end are missing but the rest is pretty good. I don’t know exactly what happened because I was woken up by the sounds of panic as the plane went down. To think, I used to find my alarm clock annoying. I feel relatively okay, just sore and bruised. I’m certain that I’m the only survivor. The plane crashed three days ago and I’ve been living out of the cockpit. I can barely stand the sight of all the… passengers. I thought about burying them, but the energy I’d waste won’t help me survive long enough for rescue. I feel horrible leaving them there.The only things I’ve had to eat or drink are what the plane had to offer. I’m pretty scared. My phone broke in the landing and I didn’t found one that had service, if they were working at all. Least my watch still works. I never thought I’d be in a situation like this. Do I leave and look for help, or stay and hope someone finds me? Speaking of which, where is here? Due to my poorly timed nap, I don’t even know what state I landed in. I know I’m near trees, because I’m in a forest. It’s just me, myself and the changing leaves. So here I am, writing in a little pink notebook I found in the aisle. I’ve never kept a journal before, I hope it helps. The rest of the evening I’m going to take a look into the luggage compartment to see if I can find anything useful. From there… no clue.
7:00 PM October 11th
Hello again little pink book, it’s been five days since I last wrote. Surviving in the movies always looked so adventurous and thrilling… but this seriously couldn’t suck more. The only good thing I found was a stream I passed as I left the plane behind. I climbed a tall tree to get a lay of the land but all I see are distant hills covered in more trees. If I make it out of this I hope I never see a tree again. I mean it. On Christmas I’ll just decorate a chair or something. Anyway, I finished off the last of the plane’s food supply two days ago, but I’ve been scrounging for a few recognizable berries and plants to eat. Thanks Bear Grylls. I’ll have to find a way to hunt , I’ve never done it before. With a lighter and some metal containers I retrieved from the plane, I’ve been able to boil water to drink. But when I was getting water from the stream, a wolf or bobcat trotted by on the other side. I waited until it passed to practically crap myself and run back my camp for the night. It’s getting colder but clothes aren’t an issue, and wood to burn isn’t scarce. I’m at the fire now. Just thinking about what life is going to be like when I get back.
10:24 AM October 13th
I feel like garbage. Yesterday I ate what I thought was a mushroom and now I can’t keep any food down. I just need somebody to fly overhead, see me and take me away from this Godforsaken place. I wish I was home just going through each day, not worrying about being eaten by wolves or bobcats, or bob-wolves. I just want to be back in my cubicle, punching numbers, paying for overpriced Pepsi at the vending machine and stealing glances at Liz. She’s just a girl I work with. We talk a lot, but a girl like her would never go for a guy like me. She’s gorgeous, independent, smart, funny, and has a smile that brightens any room. Then there’s me. Just a suave guy, who can quote any line from any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, only knows how to cook cereal and can’t floss because I’m afraid I might breathe it in and choke on it. Yes, I am well aware that’s very unlikely, BUT HOW PATHETIC IS THAT? Those reasons are probably why the only two relationships I’ve been in never lasted longer than a few months. It just didn’t feel right yet I guess. It doesn’t matter now anyway. I’ve never told anyone this before. You and I are becoming pretty close Jenkins. That’s what I’m calling you now. It sure beats “little pink book”. That being said, I should go. I have to go check my attempt at a rabbit trap I saw on the discovery channel.
5:00 PM October 18th
They didn’t see me. It didn’t even slow down. A rescue helicopter flew overhead. I started tossing leaves and branches onto the fire like crazy to try and signal them. I even did the two arm wave to let them know I was in danger. I read that you should do that in a magazine or something. God, why me? I was told once that everything happens for a reason, but I can’t believe that I’m destined to spend my days eating woodland creatures, traveling from one make-shift shelter to another, hoping I’ll be saved. Also… I’ve been thinking Jenkins. The more I think about it the more I realize… my life SUCKED back home. Working the same dead-end job, day in and day out, and pretending I had a social life when co-workers asked me, just to sound normal. It was such a lame existence. Don’t know how I didn’t see it before. I wonder if anyone knows I’m gone? If Liz knows I’m gone…
6:00 AM October 20th
I’ll tell you what Jenkins, if we make it out of this, I’m going to ask her out. Just for coffee or something, nothing too fancy. She’d order an English tea, with two packets of sugar, and just a dash of French vanilla creamer. That’s what she always gets. I told her once in the break room when she added the French to the English, it was now European tea and she laughed. She told me it tasted good considering they hadn’t gotten along in the past. That was a week before my flight. Liz had gotten me through every single day and I didn’t even realize it. What I’d give just to see her again… just to hear her voice. I’d give anything. I have to get back. I have to live.
10:30 PM October 30th
We’re SAVED! If I hadn’t gone to get extra firewood I’d have missed it, lights in the distance, over the hill! Hopefully, they’re from a city or a town. I don’t want to try to risk navigating through the dark though so I’ll head there in the morning. I knew we could do it. The first thing I’m doing is taking a shower, then straight back to work. I know it sounds cliche’ but all that’s keeping me going is the thought of telling her how I feel. So cheers! Goodnight Jenkins, for the last time.
12:30 PM October 31st
Hey, it’s Alan from two cubicles down. I’m sure you saw my that plane had gone missing on the news, but I survived. I’ve been living in the wilderness for 29 days now. I’m writing this to you because I want you to know that not one of these 29 days went by without me thinking of you. I was planning on asking you out for coffee the minute I made it home, I don’t mean to stand you up, but if you’re reading this… I’m probably dead. On my way to what I thought was salvation, I fell down a steep hill and broke my leg pretty bad. The bleeding won’t stop and I don’t know if I can make it much longer. If this is it for me I just want you to know, that you are the kindest and most beautiful person I’ve ever known. You made every day special, and if I was there right now, I’d tell you that I love you. I think I’ve always loved you, from the second I saw you walk in on your first day. Whenever we spoke, it was all I ever wanted to do with my time. Whether you were venting to me about how your dog peed on the carpet, or just saying hello as you passed by. I’d give anything just to see you again… I wish things could have been different.
She set down the worn pink notebook. After all these years, it hadn’t lost its effect. She walked to the window on the cool October afternoon to see her two children playing in the leaves, and smiled.