“Mr. Purdue, Mr. Purdue, are you alright. I need you to wake up, sir!” A young man shook an older man gently, but frantically, as he feared for his life. “Sir!” his voice more elevated, “The pilot is dead and no one else knows how to fly a space ship! Sir!”
Purdue pained himself to begin moving and looked through one of the small, thick windows on the rear side of the shuttle, “How many made it, son?”
“Bryan, sir. My name’s Bryan.” Still trying to catch his breath, the young man began trying to wake up more who were on board and unconscious.
Purdue made his way to the front of the shuttle and tilted the dead pilot out of the seat. After checking the vital signs of the ship, he turned around to see that the lad was unable to wake most of his passengers. “Bryan,” he lifted up and floated into the cabin, “How many are dead?”
Bryan, now checking vital signs replied, “At least twelve. What happened back there?”
“I’m not sure, son. But the earth is gone. Fell out from under our feet.” The two remained still, just taking in the shock. “Bryan,” eased Purdue, “We’ve got to get the dead outa here. They’ll spread disease.”
One by one, and with burden, the two men loaded the passengers who were presumed dead into an already broken escape vessel. After loading it, they released the vessel.
Watching in amazement, they saw a source of gravity grab hold of the vessel and pull it toward a point in space. Further investigation led the two to realize that there was a planet that had locked them into orbit.
Purdue walked his shuttle to see how many passengers he had picked up before trying to escape the falling earth.
There were seven men, three women and one small boy altogether, along with three dogs and, oddly, one horse. There was one bag full of guns: four rifles, two handguns and an over and under. There were ten freeze-dried meals and one sportsman’s bottle of water. One of the ladies found a flask of vodka in her handbag. She immediately began to drink it. There was only one question on everyone’s mind, though: How were they going to make it?
After a day or so of revolving around the planet, one of the passengers hailed Purdue and pointed toward a large green area amidst what otherwise appeared as a barren wasteland. Were those trees? If they were, there was a chance for survival. Where there were trees, there was surely water. Water would save them!
Purdue, as quickly as he could, floated to the cockpit and planned a trajectory near the edge of what looked to them all like a forest.
When they landed, Purdue checked the area for oxygen. Sure enough, they would be able to breathe. He opened the door and the crew slowly walked out onto the alien planet.
One of the dogs immediately, and enlivened by the natural surroundings, broke free of the shuttle and ran into the woods.
“No! Bear!” The small child began running after his pet before being scooped up by one of the women.
The crew looked into the woods. “We don’t know what’s out there,” Purdue claimed, “We have to be careful. There’s no leaving this place now that we are here.”
The small child, still reaching toward the woods, whined under his breath, “Bear…”
They heard the dog begin to bark loudly and furiously in the distance. Bryan turned to Purdue, “I’ll go find him.”
“It’s too risky right now…”
Bryan interrupted, “He may have found food. That is something we will need. You set up camp and I will be back.”
Bryan took the shotgun and a handgun, mounted the horse and darted toward the dog’s bark.
“Bear, Bear did you find something?” Bryan called out as he travelled in the direction of the last bark. As he emerged into a clearing, he saw a wild man pointing a rudimentary bow in his direction. Out of the corner of his eye he also saw Bear’s lifeless body on the ground with an arrow protruding from it. Before he could move, he was also on the ground with an arrow in him. The horse disappeared into the woods with the shotgun lassoed around its neck. Bryan drew his handgun, pointed it at the wild man and pressed his finger against the trigger. “Crack!” The sound of the shot echoed through the forest.
As the man fell, Bryan noticed a village behind him. There was society here. Bryan stood and sprinted back toward where his shuttle had landed.