The Edge of Tomorrow 2 - 1992
Full Circle - Liaket Ali
(page 3/13)

Full Circle

The F-20 cork-screwed through the air; its left wing exploding as a missile made contact. Rapidly it descended earthwards. The pursuing MIG-31 attempted to perforate its fuselage with cannonfire but missed.

As it screamed past the smoke trails of the F20, the MIG suddenly lost control. The pilot tried to correct the plane but his craft failed to respond. He had five seconds to realise that his plane's entire electronic system had malfunctioned before he and his craft were vaporised by the aerial detonation of a nuclear bomb.

Night came quickly to the desert that day. The smoke and dust thrown up by the day's fighting had succeeded in veiling the sun from the carnage that lay exposed on the sands below. The dark clouds of the post-nuclear exchange extended across the entire desert and beyond. It knew no boundaries as it crossed the man-made borders to meet its fellow clouds and to merge with them.

Colonel Smith spat sand from his mouth. He felt some of his teeth come away from his gums and he spat them out so that they joined the bloody spittle on his overall. He coughed up more blood. Blood was all that he could sense around him. He couldn't see it, only feel it's damp liquid form on his skin and clothes. He could smell the blood and something else. He smelled death. His.

"I should be dead," he told himself. I can't have survived the crash. He remembered how his F-20 lost control when it was hit by the Russian's missile. The left wing had exploded and his engines had been jarred, making them unresponsive to his controls as his craft accelerated towards the desert sands below. He had been too low to use his ejection seat when he had recovered from the initial shock of the hit; his plane had fallen below fifty feet. He had been jarred by the impact as his plane ploughed into the sand. He blacked out.

Now that he had come to, he realised that he had impacted at a cushioning angle. He couldn't see anything outside, the cockpit was fully submerged. But how deep was he entombed in his plane? How long could he last? The cockpit's lighting did not work. Darkness was his sole companion in this potential sepulchre. Then he heard rain.

"Rain? In the desert? I must be crazy!" he thought in disbelief. But it was rain which dripped onto his face. Water leaked through the cracks in the cockpit and he tasted the sandy droplets on his tongue. He knew that he must be near the surface since he could hear the rain. Now he only needed to get out of the plane. He slowly moved his hands to release the seat harness, fully expecting the pain from his wounds to overwhelm him. But there was none. His body didn't even feel sore. His guardian angel must have worked overtime, he thought to himself.

He found the emergency cockpit release and pulled it. There was a faint click as the locking mechanism was released He pushed at the cockpit window, hoping that he could lift it up.

Sand poured gently onto him as the glass shell gave way to the pressure. He was thankful that it didn't weigh too much for his strength to match. He stood up, slowly pushing the cockpit window with him. Suddenly he felt the chill desert wind whipping about his face and he breathed in desert air. He threw the window to his side and stood in the desert rain, letting the wind and rain strike him fully. He was alive!

Slowly his eyes adjusted to the desert night. He looked up but couldn't see the stars. As his pupils dilated, he knew why. "My god! what have they done?" he thought in disbelief.

"The desert sun must have come up by now," Colonel Smith told himself. But it was difficult to see through the clouds. He had spent the night sitting in his cockpit under the dark desert sky. The monotonous drumming of the rain falling on the cockpit window was his only companion as he sat there thinking about his life. The world. Death.

Death was his main concern. He knew that he was almost dead - that he should be dead - and that he was the last man alive on the Earth. He didn't know why he had come to these conclusions. He just had. And all of it was true. All he had to do now was wait for the powers-above to discover that they had forgotten the last man on Earth. They would be back pretty soon once the stock taking was done and the results found not to add up.

Then he suddenly realized that he must be going crazy if he was thinking like this. He couldn't crack up. He told himself that he was just one of many still alive. The whole planet couldn't be dead. They wouldn't have used all the bombs. There was a chance that he might even be rescued. But he wasn't going to wait. He was going to find his way out of this desert. His emergency rations weren't going to last long and the radiation wasn't very healthy, he mused. There was nothing for it, he had to get out of this cockpit and get back to bombshelled civilization.

And there was no better time than the present.

He walked along the shallow valleys between the damp dunes. It had stopped raining now but the clouds still loomed. Sometimes he thought he could see the sun through temporary gaps in the clouds. But he couldn't be sure. He wasn't even sure where he was going. He had walked for two hours when he realized he had not brought his map. He decided not to go back for it, he would probably have lost his way already, and anyway he somehow knew that he was close to the edge of the desert. He just had this feeling that he would soon reach safety...

Ten minutes later he climbed to the top of a sand dune and looked down to see an oasis so perfect that he instantly suspected the worst. A mirage! Yet he knew it was real. It had to be. He ran down the side of the dune and towards the redundant shelter of the trees. As he neared the trees he slowed down. He walked up to a tree and touched it gently.

It was real. His senses told him so.

He walked into the oasis. There a pool awaited him and he drank from it. He knew he shouldn't; it was definitely radioactive, contaminated. But he felt that it was right to do so. After drinking, he got up and walked around the pool. He soon stumbled upon a wooden crate half-sunk in the sand.

He broke it open using a small rock and looked at its contents. It was full of apples. Red apples, each in their own individual paper wrapper. He ate one there, took another two and continued his exploration of the oasis.

He found a second pool further in. It was much smaller than the first and circled by rocks forming a barrier between the water and the poolside foliage. As he walked towards it he heard a woman singing. He couldn't make out the words, they sounded like Arabic. Suddenly the woman appeared from behind a large rock. She turned round arid stopped her singing when she saw him. Colonel Smith thought that she was afraid but he couldn't see any fear in her face. He didn't know what to do next.

The woman smiled then, as if she knew him. Smith smiled back and instantly knew what he had to do. He stretched out his arm, offering her an apple. She approached gently and gazed into his eyes as she took the fruit from his hand. They both unwrapped their apples and began to eat.

Smith pointed to himself and said, "Adam." He pointed at the woman.

She pointed to herself and smiled.

"Eve," she said.

Liaket Ali