When the Sun Blinked
The beginning – 08 October 2015
Had anyone been near the beach that morning, they would probably have been startled as masses of birds, in the thickly wooded and shrubby vegetation that covered the mountain range, on the surface of the ocean or on the beach itself, exploded skyward almost simultaneously.
Seals that had been resting on the numerous rocks that poked out of the sea leaped back into the water in panic. Penguins that had been strutting along the shore joined the seals in the water. The same shrub and forest that had disgorged the birds now bore witness to every animal on the mountain range running mindlessly away from where they were. It seemed to all happen together; a split second of action becoming pandemonium.
At the same time, a dark black cloud appeared about mid sky over the distant mountains and disgorged a large shiny object. This was followed by a gigantic clap of thunder that seemed to split the world and would have scared the living crap out of anyone in the vicinity. The large shiny object turned out to be a fast-moving aircraft, seemingly doing its best to turn a current flight path resembling a wobbly brick ejected from a cannon, into a somewhat more stable glide.
Roughly three kilometers from the beach, however, the aircraft was finally forced down by gravity onto the surface of the sea in a series of giant belly flops across the placid water; each time being pushed back into the air again and again, as though the sea was doing its best to help keep the plane alive.
By splashdown four most of the massive wings had been ripped off the aircraft together with portions of the fuselage, leaving an unguided missile still skimming across the water shrouded by huge plumes of spray on either side. It now looked to all intents and purposes like a badly abused, monstrous cigar holder.
Some three hundred meters from the beach and by now significantly slower than when it started its splashdown touchdown race, the plane met a force far greater than itself as it slammed into the side of what just had to be the largest damned rock in the area.
The impact crushed the cockpit and sheared off most of First-Class, leaving what remained dumped approximately mid-way down business class and leaving what was left of business class and front rows of economy class doing their best to merge with the rest of the aircraft. Luckily, this was prevented by the sheer structural strength that still held what was left of the giant aircraft together.
As this happened two other things occurred in concert; the sides of the aircraft already weakened and gashed open when the wings were ripped away, now ejected more passengers, loose luggage and some of the cargo in the hold. Apparently not yet finished, the broken airliner then attempted to cartwheel itself, tail leading the charge out of the water, threatening to tip over onto its back.
Gravity proved stronger and after raising nearly its entire, but somewhat shortened length out of the shallow ocean, fought briefly by hanging in the air, before crashing back down in a massive spray of water, living passengers, dead bodies, associated debris, and blood. Lots of blood.
But, like the zombie that would not die, the absolute grand finale of the dead aircraft was to lurch sideways and come to rest at an angle, supported by one stubby wing and the crushed nose of the aircraft at a lower height than the tail. This left the fuselage and passenger windows staring down into around three meters, or ten feet of water. The other side, the rock facing side, was now gazing out along most of its length, either directly onto the rock or facing the sky.
It could have been a stunning sight had anyone still on board been of an inquisitive nature. As it was, those who were conscious and could move had but one thought, which was to get out. Those who were unconscious or too badly injured would not have cared less about the sudden change in view anyway.
For a while, pandemonium reigned in the water. Those passengers who had been unceremoniously dumped out of the plane, seat and all and who were neither horribly injured nor absolutely panicked, managed to struggle out of their seat belts and attempt to swim and wade to the closest shore. Those passengers who were unconscious, too badly injured to do the same or too panicked to react, met their fate unable to comprehend what had just happened.
The final result left several distinct groups of passengers. There were those who had been miraculously spared, not many, though, who managed, somehow, to get off the plane. There were some who were also spared injury but for whatever reason were unable to get off. There were those on the plane who were either already dead or in the process of dying from their injuries and there were those already in the water who were either able to swim, drag or be dragged to the nearest shoreline. After that were the ones in the water, unable to do anything about it and about to die. And then there were the lucky dead.
Through the screams and absolute pandemonium both at the site of the wreck and in the shallow water near the beach and on the beach itself, the previously spooked birds returned, but this time heading for a curiosity frenzy and feeding bonanza. They were circling and investigating and looking to take a possible diet change seriously.
The sea between the distant slowly sinking aircraft wings and engines and the wreck jammed against the rock started to show the fins of numerous large sharks that had originally been engaged in their daily seal hunt ritual. When the mammoth impact of the aircraft meeting the sea had happened, their initial instinct had been to flee.
Now, driven by natural curiosity, opportunism and the smell of blood and gore they homed in on its source. The closer they approached, the more enticing the vibrations and tastes filtered into their senses. For any struggling survivors still in the water, it was past time to get the hell out.
That is what someone on the beach or nearby would have seen and heard. But the only witnesses were fish, seals, birds, and animals. Other than them, no human eyes or ears followed the death of what had once been such a triumph to technology, filled with the thoughts of those who had been about to land at Cape Town International airport.