Tuesday, October 20, 2009

DAY 1: A Game of Fate

10:05 am
The stifling interior of the school bus was getting to me. I slid the window open a notch and allowed the cool air to disembogue into my face. I gazed through the grimy glass absent-mindedly, the endemic flora a green blur as we drove past. Sundry emotions flooded my mind; I was both excited and nervous, enthusiastic but hesitant; I couldn’t describe the feeling as anticipation gnawed at me. It was clear that everyone had the same thoughts as I sensed the ambience in the bus.
After a week of preparation, we had finally set off on our journey to Matainui, the uninhabited island off the coast of Raglan. Everybody was agog for the adventure ahead of them but none of us could have been quite prepared for the fates that awaited us.
I was oblivious to the sound of gravel crunching under the bus as we came to a halt. “Dilshen, c’mon,” I turned to see Kieran gesturing to the exit as the last few people made their way outside.
“Oh, sorry. Are we at Kawhia already? That was a short hour,” I replied as I hastily grabbed my backpack and followed Kieran down the aisle.
10:20 am
I felt queasy as I entered the claustrophobic cabin of the Grumman Albatross HU-16. As the plane began to move, a student’s voice was heard through the crackly intercom over the whirring noise of the plane.
“Why is Sam on the intercom?” I turned to Kieran; his face displayed a mixture of anxiety and trepidation. “You OK?” I asked.
“No, and I don’t think any of us will be after this is through. Sam’s flying the plane,” Kieran said.
“What?! He’s eleven, how could he be a certified pilot? This can’t be good. Who would let a student fly this thing?” I knew the shock was clear on my face.
The plane suddenly lurched forward. I gazed through the window and watched the scenery slide by, as the seaplane skidded across the calm waters of Kawhia Harbour, upsetting it in its wake. We slowed down, and then stopped altogether. For a moment I could feel the cabin swaying from the undulating waters, but this didn’t last long before the plane convulsed and reeled again suddenly, shooting tremulously over the water. I felt the plane start to lift, to gradually take-off. The shuddering ceased and we ascended higher and higher, leaving the mainland a dark contour and flying on towards Matainui.
10:30 am
My ears began to block as we soared higher into the clouds. I couldn’t wait until we got to Matainui. I was in a group with Kieran, Maddi, Kim, and Haylee, and I was eagerly anticipating the adventures which lay ahead.
A bright flash from the sky broke my reveries. Lightning. Vehement thunder rolled in the distance. A dark cumulonimbus loomed portentously ahead of us. How strange, I thought to myself, the weather forecast never mentioned any tempest. I braced myself as we advanced towards the ominous clouds and into the heart of the electrical storm…
Surges of wind battered turbulently against the seaplane, lightning cracked, thunder roared deafeningly.
All of a sudden, the cabin went silent. The rumbling in the sky was gone and the whirring of the plane had ceased. I looked out the window to see nothing but pitch black. I noticed the plane had stopped moving. I felt a strange sensation come over me as I became weightless.
“What’s going on?” Kieran asked as he hovered vacillatingly over his seat. I heard exclamations and small screams as others, too, became mysteriously buoyant.
The plane jarred violently and we slammed into the seats. The aircraft swayed on the undulating eddies and then we suddenly dropped, my heart leaping.
“I never passed my pilot license test!” Sam screamed over the roaring of the wind. We plummeted through the air, emerging from the cumulonimbus; in the distance I could see Matainui.
Terror pervaded me; screams filled my ears. I slammed my head into the seat in front of me from the jolting impact as the Grumman Albatross HU-16 plunged into the ocean. After a moment, the plane resurfaced, bobbing on the undulant water.
I rubbed my throbbing forehead and looked around. The horror in the cabin was perturbing. There was blood, tears, and broken limbs everywhere.
My heart pounding, I grabbed my bag and scrambled to the open hatchway. I jumped. I felt a sudden enervation grip me as I plunged into the icy water of the ocean, my heart beating against my chest.
It is difficult to swim when lethargy engulfs you in its apathetic embrace, especially when swimming one hundred metres in the middle of the sea is a strenuous and exigent task. My heavy backpack was only slowing me down. I grudgingly decided to let it go, watching as it drifted into the dark depths of the ocean.
11:30 am
I sat down on the balmy sand of the coast, allowing the morning sun to warm me as I heard the sounds of waves crashing and birds chirping. Off the golden shore of Matainui, I could see a smaller island, with a sandy beach and coppice. I was chewing on an energy bar Maddi had given me; though the snack was soggy, my hunger had subdued the taste.
Half an hour earlier, I had swum to the shore of the island and collapsed onto the warm littoral, too tired to move. Our group had a game plan; we were to journey to the small mountain on the other side of Matainui where there was a fresh water spring; even now I could see the dark peak silhouetted against the sky. We had already walked a kilometre south to the large beach where we had pitched up the tent.
I stood up, wiping sand from my clothes, and walked towards where Maddi and Haylee were talking. I began to wonder about the other groups, what they were doing and where they were going, what adventures awaited them… What adventures awaited us…
7:00 pm
The firelight cast an orange glow over the sand. In the distance, I could see ominous clouds looming towards the island. The night sky above us was empty, destitute of clouds or stars, but as black as Indian ink.


  1. Wow! Your writing is brilliantly crafted. You certainly love extending your vocab - probably more than anyone I've ever met! I think sometimes your words are close to being used correctly but maybe not quite there. I still think it's better to try than not to - I love it!

  2. Wow thanks for the feedback on Machu Picchu! We should so totally go there together like if we still know eachother when we are like in our twenties aye! Oh my gosh it would be awesome! I would absolutly love to go there!