A Lone figure stood among the carnage. Kathy Sanders looked back
toward what had once been her ticket to paradise. The stench in the air was taking her
breath away. Combination of so many putrid things, burning metal, wood, fuel, and though
she has never smelled it before the scent of what she thought was burning flesh. She
looked to the horror before her still dazed by the events. It happened fast and yet seemed
in slow motion at the same time. It all seemed a bit fuzzy to her. Her head was riveted
Kathy looked down to her arm. The source of it's own pain. Her hand and wrist seemed to be
in a bent and slightly wrong angle. She tried to move her fingers and pain shot through
her arm like a bolt of lightening.
Tears rolled down her face as she looked back again towards the still flaming plane. It
seemed ripped in three parts like some giant beast had grabbed it up and tore into the
thin layer of metal to get to the occupants within. Occupants, others, where were the
others? She scanned the area quickly at first. Where was everyone? There were like a
couple hundred other people screaming a few moments ago. She could still here the echoes n
her mind. The chaos was devastating if the last moments. They all knew it was going to
happen. They were going to crash. It had been mere minutes that lasted hours of time as
they could see the flames shooting out the back of first one engine, and then the other.
The stewardess was trying to get them all in the un-natural position to kiss their asses
goodbye. The screaming, that God awful screaming seemed to still be ringing.
She saw no real major movement around her. No voices, no more screams. There was just an
eerie silence and the crackling of the burning flames. The ground was littered with
remnants of possessions. She looked at the odd set of suitcases setting a few feet in
front of her. They looked like their owner had just put them down and had walked away for
a moment. Unopened untouched. Papers blew across the area between her and the broken
plane. What is that? She couldn't quite make it out. She moved toward it slightly
to get a closer look, like a moth drawn to the flame. What IS that? She thought
again. Oh, a what?... .shoe..... no.
it can't be "Oh my God,
noooooo.... She now recognized the gore. Her body wilted like a rag doll falling to
the ground. Her voice faded into the silence of the burning.
The next thing she knew there were sounds; voices all around her. Ruffling feet on the
ground. Sizzling sounds of water upon a fighting to survive flame filled her ears. Where
am I? She thought. She struggled to open her eyes.
It was dark now. Flashlights played the ground like lightning bugs as they turned from one
direction or another.
"Hey over here!!! I think I found someone alive, A voice shouted out from a few
feet away. She was blinded as the light hit her eyes. She closed them hard to shut it out.
She could hear feet pounding over the ground, as they got closer to her. She remembered
now. The flames and the screaming seemed to flash back to her memory as if happening all
over again. It was a crash a horrible crash. She struggled to move but she couldn't for
"Let's get some help over here. She's alive!!" came the voice again. She could
feel them checking her for a pulse and moving her arm. Pain shot though her suddenly as
they moved her hand. She cried out, but she couldn't hear her own voice. She knew they
were moving about her, getting her ready to move.
"I think she's in shock"
"Careful, we don't know the extent of her injuries"
"On the count of three, one two three" She could feel her body being lifted up
to a stretcher.
"Have they found anyone else alive yet?"
"No, not yet. It's pretty dark but we found her so there is hope"
She wanted to cry out. To tell them there was no hope. Everyone was dead. She already knew
it inside. Why? Why me? She thought to herself. Why not that little girl, why
not the man sitting next to me? Where was everyone? She remembered. She had seen. Oh
yes, she'd seen.
She heard the voices swirling around her occasionally picking out few words. She was too
caught up in her own mind to piece them together right.
"She's the only one so far...."
"Nope nothing.... She hasn't said anything..."
"Hard to tell...."
"Just damn lucky...."
"Not her time."
Her consciousness blurred back into the world of darkness.
"Ah, your awake. Great, how you feeling." Immediately a flash light beam was
shining into both her eyes one at time. I'm Doctor Rudely. You are in Mercy General
Hospital. Can you tell me your name?" Her blurred thoughts swirled for a moment and
then focused in the brightness of the light in the Room.
"Kathreen... Kathreen Sanders." She struggled. Her mouth was terribly dry.
The nurse poured her some water into a cup and putting in a straw brought it to her lips.
She sipped lightly unsure if she would be able to swallow.
"Would you like to sit up?"
"Yes" she managed. She could feel the back of the bed beginning to rise up and
it felt good to her Like she had been in that position a long time.
"Do you know why you are here?" The doctor asked. She knew he was quizzing her
to check how her mind was doing. She closed her eyes to the memory of it.
"The plane crashed, she said unemotionally. It seemed a long time ago now. It
was like it was a dream, a very bad dream, which had not really happened. Only she knew it
did. She knew too well as once again hearing the screams and seeing the fire blazing from
the engines. Again she closed her eyes to it, trying to brush it aside.
"You were in shock when they brought you in. You seem to have no internal injuries,
other then a slight bang on the head and a broken wrist you seem to be doing fine. We want
to keep you here over night at least for observation". She nodded in understanding of
what the doctor had said.
"How many others?" she asked. It still felt hard for her to talk. Another drink.
She reached for the cup with her unbroken hand after realizing it wouldn't work with it in
a cast. She hadn't noticed that before. Why hadn't I noticed that? She took a sip
and looked quickly to see if there was anything else broken she didn't feel.
"There were no other survivors, I'm sad to say, you were very lucky"
"How many?" she asked
"193 was the last I heard. Let's not worry about right now. How do you feel?"
"Alive" she replied dryly. Sore, and tired" she added.
"Is there someone we can call?"
"My husband. He's away at guard drill. National guards. Larry Sanders. I am not sure
how to reach him. It's our home town unit" she struggled to remember how to get hold
of him in an emergency but for the life of her she couldn't remember now. Her mind was
still pretty foggy. It seems from time to time the clouds were breaking clear. How
worried Larry must be if he's heard about the crash.
"Well, you get some rest. We'll get it figured out and get hold of him for you. There
are some men from the airlines that need to talk to you as soon as you are able. I will
keep them away as long as I can. Rest now, everything else can wait" He shut off the
light and he and the nurse left the room.
Easy for him to say, she thought to herself. So tired...
The nurse returned to explain how to get hold of her and how to work the bed. She got her
another cup of water and made her as comfortable as possible. "This is to help you
rest." She handed Kathy a little cup with a couple pills in it. Kathy took them
gratefully. The nurse reclined the bed once more. "You need anything just use the
button." She walked out the door again turning off the light on the way out.
Kathy laid there thinking for a while. Now what? All those people. Larry must be so
worried. Her thoughts were jumbled. Cluttered by so many thoughts all at once. Where
did the Doctor say I was? She couldn't remember if he had told her. How is Larry
going to get here? Is he even going to come? After all, I am all right, the
doctor said... Tired. She yawned. So tired.
She again closed her eyes this time the screams and the fires didn't come. She slept
It was a few hours later when the nurse came in to check her vital signs. She opened her
eyes. "Everything alright?" she asked the nurse'
"Excellent considering what you have been though. You are definitely the hospital's
latest miracle wonder. How you feeling?"
"Not too bad." Kathy stretched a bit trying to work the kinks and stiffness out
of her back. "Other then feeling like I have just been run over by a freight
train..." She paused and shook her head slightly at own unintended pun.
"Hmmm, well that is an interesting way of putting it." The nurse smiled, amused
by the comparison.
"Do you know... did they find any others alive?" she quizzed the nurse
"No Honey, they didn't. You were indeed blessed".
"Well, I've always heard when its your time to go you will, but if its
not, you wont. It's just so hard to believe, with all those people, I was the only
one whose time wasnt up. She shuddered at her own ramblings. She had a
combination of nervousness and an inability to know what to say being a lone survivor.
"Maybe there is some unfinished work you have yet to do here on this earth, the
If you need to use the bathroom I can help you get your legs moving in that direction if
you like" she added getting back to the business at hand. Being a nurse she had seen
her share of miracles but never anything like this. This girl amazed her. .
"Sounds like a plan to me." Kathy smiled at the nurse warmly as she was helped
into a sitting position Her first few steps were a bit shaky and she was glad the have the
help getting started. Wonder why they can't make the whole bed go up and down not just the
back so people could get out of them easier. It wasn't as bad as she thought it might have
been after she took the first few steps. Her legs seemed to still hold her own pretty
While she was in the bathroom she heard the phone ring. She hurried, as she was sure it
was Larry. Nurse held out the phone to her. "It's your husband."
Kathy moved as fast as she could across the room to the phone. Clearing her voice slightly
so she could sound fine to him. "Hi Larry"
"Are you all right?" came the concerned voice from the other end of the phone.
"Yeah I'm fine. I have a pretty nasty bruise on my forehead and a broken arm, couple
scratches. All in all pretty dog gone good."
"That's great. They called me in from the field told me there had been a plane crash
and you were in the hospital but couldn't tell me how bad you were or anything. You sure
you are okay?"
"Yeah, Babe I'm fine"
"So, was it a runway crash or something?" he asked
"No, it was a full-blown crash like the disaster movies on TV. But I walked
"Yes way. Guess you must not have too may portable TV's in the field, as I am sure it
has been all over the news already. Seems I am some sort of a Hospital Miracle child right
now." She still couldn't believe it herself. It felt really strange to her even to
"What do you want me to do? I can come there if you want, he
told her. He didn't know what to do since she said she was fine. Kathy didn't sound too
bad. But he wanted to be there for her if she needed him.
"Nah, according to the doctor I am only going to be here for observation over night.
He might be letting me come home when he gets in to see me and I am doing well. I am
already tired of being here." She turned towards the nurse. "When will the
doctor be in to see me?" Kathy inquired.
"About an hour" the nurse responded.
"If you can give me a couple of hours and then I will let you know what is going to
happen here. I would hate to have you come here and by the time you get here I be on my
"Anything you want babe. I am so glad to hear you are okay. How bout I call you back
about 1300 your time"
"Sounds good to me. Can you call mom for me let her know I am all right? I don't
think she knows I was on that plane but you know what well meaning friends can do"
"Sure thing, consider it done." She could hear a TV in the background of where
he was. Larry paused
catching the news flash on the screen of a near by Television. The pictures of the still
burning plane on the news feed shocked him. She thought she heard him gasp. She could
sense what was happening on his end. "Oh God Kath, I had no idea... Are you sure you
are all right? "
"Yes Larry, I am fine I Promise you" There was a knock on the door and a man in
a suit standing there looking in. "Larry Love, I am going to have to let you go.
Looks like the questions will be starting. There is someone here. I Love you and will talk
to you in a couple hours."
"Okay babe, I will make the call to your mom and call Michelle and Melissa too. God,
I am glad you are all right. I Love you"
"Love you too babe. Bye love" She put the phone back on the receiver thinking
she heard a tear in his voice. She paused for a second and turned to the black suited man
at the door.
"Can I help you?" she asked
"Yes, I'm Jeffery Daugherty USB airlines. Airline Investigations department, I'd like
to ask you a few questions if you are feeling up to it."
Kathy looked to the nurse who seemed a bit disappointed she would not get to return to the
conversation with the local celebrity. The nurse took on a more professional air. "If
you need anything Ms Sanders, you know how to get hold of me." And she headed out the
"If I can Mr. Daugherty."
"Call me Jeffery if you like"
"Well, Please call me Kathy it's much more friendly"
"Okay, will do Ms... Kathy he smiled at his almost slip. "Can you tell me
what ever you remember just before the crash"?
"I remember looking out the window and seeing one of the engines on the right side of
the plane on fire out the back of it. I guess it could have possibly been coming from the
front as the wind could have been blowing it over the top.
But anyway," she continued, "that one was on fire and after about a minute maybe
less it's hard to remember now the other one caught fire too same way."
"Do you remember any messages from the captain saying what had happened"he
"There was one but by that time people had already seen the fire and were screaming
and talking so loudly with his accent I couldn't hear him." Her mind again flashed
back to the chaos of the time. " I think he said something about landing but I
couldn't be sure right now. My mind is very blurry as it happened so fast." She
winced a bit in the memory of the nightmare.
"I understand your discomfort in talking about this right now, But I have just a
couple more questions if you can bare with me." she nodded for him to continue.
"Do you remember anything prior to the fire any explosions or turbulence. Was the
weather normal? Just tell me what ever you can remember."
Kathy thought back for a moment it was a strain to try and remember, Every time she did
she heard the screams of terror again over and over. "It was sunny no storms or any
rain or anything like that seemed pretty clear." She struggled to remember. "I
didn't hear any explosions either, there was a slight single sort of bounce almost like a
single turbulent just before it happened. I don't think it was a bomb or something like
that if that is what you are getting at. No sort of explosions like that. I guess I just
wasn't paying real close attention for noises or anything like that. Never figured I had
any reason too"
"As soon as it happened things sort of got nuts. People moving around some trying to
see, and trying to move away like that would help, and some were just screaming."
She shivered a bit remembering it as if it was happening all over again. People panicking.
Pushing and shoving yelling, and praying, Coming from every direction She kept thinking of
the silent little girl in the middle of everything holding her teddy bear and just staring
at the fire as if hypnotized by it. She seemed oblivious to all the turmoil going on
"The stewardess' tried to calm us down at first telling us we could fly with an
engine out and not to worry to remain calm." she continued after a moment of thought.
It seemed to work okay for a moment until the other engine started fire. Then it gets
blurry for me."
"I understand, but anything you can remember is very helpful at this point. Any thing
at all even if it doesn't seem very important." Jeffery Daugherty had been trained
for this but the real life event was something that classes of training can in no way
prepare you for. The families of the victims, the press, the airline executives, everyone
demanding of knowledge no one had. They had a right to their answers but they all took
time. Even this woman living thru all this doesn't have any answers. Silently he
pitied her and all she was going to have to go thru over and over in her mind after this. How
does one heal from an event such as this? He wondered.
"It's hard to explain what it was like, unless you were there, there is no way you
could understand" She couldn't piece it all together into one thought the images kept
jumping in her head. Then the mental pictures broke out in her head again.
The plane shifted suddenly things started falling from the cargo bins over the seats
hitting people. Stewardesses were trying moving frantically up and down the aisles trying
to get people to fasten their seatbelts and to remain calm with no avail. The lady behind
her screaming "WE'RE GONNA DIE! WE'RE GONNA DIE! Over and over it sounded in her
mind. The little girl gripping her teddy bear in her arms covering her ears from the noise
the adults were making crying. People were calling out their prayers. The pure utter fear.
No, he would never understand. Never know how it felt, what it was like to remember and to
be asked to remember. Trying to get into a duck and cover position when unable to keep her
eyes from the sight of the terror, the flames. They should have known that wouldnt
help anyway. People pushing and shoving up and down the isles for no reason screaming at
people like they could control what was happening. Then feeling the plane in rapid decent.
Everything was falling all over. People who would not stay seated being thrown brutally
forward their head smashing against the seats. And again flashed the silent little girl
standing there. Holding her bear and trying to cover her ears. But silent and calm
compared to everyone else.
Her own tears fell hard now, She closed her eyes as tight as she could trying to block out
the memories of the sight of the terrible awful last moments of so many peoples lives.
Again she asked herself why she had been spared. Again some thing inside told her some
things were meant to be. She watched her mental movie play itself out again. She wanted to
turn it off but she couldn't.
"That's all I can tell you. You could ask me a million questions and that is all I
can remember." There were tears streaming down her face. She turned her head away and
covered her face trying to force away the visions of terror that now haunted her.
Jeffery Daugherty looked to her with compassion in his heart. He knew she was right he
could never fully comprehend what she had been through. He thought about his mother in a
flash of memory. He seen her there before she got on her ill-fated plane. The smile and
wave she gave him as she got aboard her own flight of death. He was a bit overwhelmed by
"I just thought you might want to know. I do have some understanding to what you are
feeling. I lost my mother in a plane crash about 20 years ago. So I understand some of
your pain. Definitely not all
the first hand horrors, but I have dealt with the loss. I am truly sad that this has
happened to you. If there is anything I or the company can do for you please don't
hesitate to ask." If you think of anything else, anything at all that might help,
please let us know."
Kathy tried to understand he was doing his job and tried to be patient with the man
sitting in the chair next to her. She felt sadness for his loss and suddenly for the loss
of all the families of those that died. Lucky they were strangers to her. She thought of
the man sitting next to her and his little girl and wife he had left behind while he flew
off on his business trip never to return home. She thought of the little girl and her
mother that sat across from her and the loss her daddy was feeling loosing his wife and
child like that. And the grandma who would be thinking if only she had not asked them to
visit her they would still be alive. Suddenly she felt very over whelmed by it all.
"Jeffery, I don't feel up to any more questions right now and that is all I know.
Please I need some rest, Kathy cried as all the feelings erupted. She had a sudden
realization of the families and loved ones and their loss.
"Yes, Ms. Sanders, I can get back in touch with you tomorrow if I need anything else.
Again I am only a phone call away if you think of anything else or need anything at
all." He reached into his pocket pulling out his business card and placed it on the
table next to her bed.
He too was relieved to get away from her for a while. Not her personally, but from
reliving his own pain, though hers, was nearly breaking him even after all these years. He
touched her hand for comfort though he knew there was so little he could really do to
comfort her now. He turned and started to leave, and then looked back again.
"Anything" he added. He turned and quickly went though the door. What a
horror for her to have to live though he thought. It must have been horrible. He
walked down the hall to leave ready to step into his paperwork mode while he wiped away an
escaping tear of his own memories resurfacing.
Kathy laid back and tried to relax. She again wiped away the tears from her cheeks. What
if it had been Larry there beside me? The 'what ifs started to take over.
She tried to push them away knowing 'what ifs' never could change what was.
She closed her eyes and fell back to sleep. Her dreams were filled with the visions
reliving it yet again; only this time Larry was the man beside her. He was the one with
the death terror in his eyes. They were his screams she heard as the plane headed on it's
awkward decent to the inevitable end. "HOW DARE YOU LIVE!" came a disembodied
She awoke suddenly. Her doctor was checking her pulse. "Dreaming" he asked. She
nodded. "That will probably happen for a while. It always does after something like
this. I am going to give you a prescription to help you sleep for a while. She looked at
him still shaken from the nightmare.
"Prescription, does that mean I'm going home?"
"Sure does, no reason to keep you here just for a broken arm." He smiled.
"How soon can I leave?"
"As soon as you can arrange for transportation home and I can get your release
paperwork done. You can be ready to go in a couple hours." he replied
"Hey no problem. May I advise you to look for a good counselor you may need one in
order to get past all this. I will write down a few names but since you are not from
around here they won't likely do you much good. It won't be easy for you to do this alone.
You shouldn't try to deal with things by yourself. He tried to give her a concerned smile
as he turned to leave the room. He couldn't help but feel no matter what he said or did in
this it could come off as inappropriate. How is one supposed to act in circumstances
like this? Even he didn't know.
"Yes, I know and I will find help when I get back home." She too tried for force
a genuine smile for him
as he left the room but found she just couldn't pull it off..
"I'm going home sweet home" she spoke aloud to herself. Larry should be
calling soon. She decided to let Larry meet her at home. She picked up the card that
Jeffery Daugherty had given her and dialed his number.
"Jeffery Daugherty's office"
May I speak with Mr. Daugherty please?
"May I ask who's calling?
"Yes, tell him its Kathleen Sanders"
"Right away Ms Sanders" she could hear the urgency in the woman's voice. As if
she was told to expect a call from her and to put it right though.
"Jeffrey Daugherty here, Hello Ms Sanders. Is everything all right?"
"Just fine Jeffery." She accentuated his name in reminder she liked her first
name better then the Ms one.
"You told me to call if you could do anything for me. And I would like to take you up
on that if I may."
"Sure just about anything" he said lightly sensing her attitude.
"I would like a trip home if you don't mind"
"Can do when do you want it?"
I will be getting out of here in about 2 hours the Doctor said and I would like to go
No problem, I can have a car there for you when you are ready to leave to take you to the
Kathy cut him right off.
"Ummm if you don't mind I think I would prefer ground transportation."
"No problem I think I can arrange that too. Train okay?"
"Sounds great to me"
"I will have an open train ticket waiting for you at the train station to take you
home. I will have a car there for you in two and a half hours if that is okay"
"Have a safe trip home and I will be in touch with you there. I think I have your
number there let me check. I have 819 555 1515."
"That's it, she verified.
"I will get in touch with you at home tomorrow"
"Great, Thanks Jeffery"
Kathy hung up just as the friendly young nurse walked in. "I hear you will be going
home in a couple hours."
"Yep sure am"
"Well, I have something for you, you probably didn't think of in all the
excitement" Kathy looked at her for a moment thinking about it.
The Nurse held out a purple sweat suit. "It' s not anything fancy but I figured that
they were better then your birthday suit under a hospital gown for traveling. I figured we
were probably about the same size and I keep this as an extra outfit in my locker hope it
"Well, thank you" Kathy said all red faced. "You are right I hadn't though
about that at all. I guess this gown here would be a bit too revealing to suit some people
" She laughed.
"Guess I better get back to work. Hope you have a good trip home" she turned for
"I will, and thank you again, I really appreciate it" The nurse smiled and
winked back over her shoulder as she left the room.
Kathy hurriedly put on the sweat suit. A bit snug around her cast but other then that if
fit pretty good. Should be comfortable for traveling.
The phone rang and she looked at the clock on the wall quarter to one. "Hello"
"Hi Kath. It's me, any news?"
"Hi Larry, I am on my way home. I have a cab coming for me and I am going to the
train station and getting a ride home. Meet me there?"
"Already arranged baby. You alright?"
"Yeah really I am. I had a couple nightmares but the doctor gave me some meds to help
me sleep for a while. He said I might have to get a head shrink to help with them."
"What ever it takes. Better let you go so I can beat you home leave a message at the
house on the machine on what train arrival time you will have so I can be there to pick
you up. "
"Will do. And Larry, I love you so much. Thank-you for being such a great
He laughed at her sentimentality. "I love you too babe. Hurry back I miss you"
She made a kiss sound in the phone just before he hung up. He is such a great guy.
Kathy lay back in the bed, dressed, just waiting for the final okay to leave. She again
closed her eyes and the fire and the screaming started all over again. This time though
the other people were yelling at her. "It's not fair.... WHY YOU?"
"YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED TOO!" Then came the terror screams and her waking up on
the ground only this time there were dismembered body parts surrounding her. The arms had
life of their own and were trying to pull her under the ground.
She awoke in a sweat, to the voice of the young nurse coming in the door with a wheel
chair. "Ready to go Ms Sanders. Your chariot waits. " Kathy stood up and moved
to the chair. "This isn't necessary you know."
"Yeah I know, but its hospital policy. One quick stop before you go, Paperwork
"Ah! I should have known this was all too easy"
"Just sign here and here, date it and initial it here," the lady behind the desk
instructed pointing to all the spots that required her attention.
"Haven't I signed my life away yet? she teased
"Just about.. okay one more right here." Kathy finished signing all the
forms.. "Okay all done" the out processing department woman chirped. She was
glad to be done, Kathy couldn't get home soon enough to suit her.
The young nurse wheeled her toward the exit doors. Kathy could see a huge crowd of people
outside the door. Cameras, and TV crews waited her arrival at the car. "Oh damn,
another thing I hadn't considered" she announced. It made her really nervous. I
should have known this was going to happen. She tried to take a deep breath and
remain calm. She decided she didnt have to say anything to them at all. She decided
she would just try to ignore them.
The young nurse paused "you want me to find another door and call the car back around
"No thank-you, I have to face it eventually might as well get it over with now."
The double sliding automatic doors slid open. The young nurse slowly wheeled her out as
hospital security tried to hold back the crowd.
"Ms Sanders, how does it feel to be the only one who survived?"
"Do you know what happened?"
"What was it like?"
When did you realize you were the only one alive?
Kathy had not at all been prepared for the pushing and shoving and questions of these
people. The young nurse pushed her closer to the waiting car. The commotion took her back
again. The screaming. the chaos surrounded her again.
All she could think was escape. She had to get away. She stood up quickly, getting out of
the chair and tried to run to the other side of the car where the driver was standing. She
had to getaway from the people screaming, shouting chasing her. They were like a
pack of blood thirsty wolves, set on attack.
"Dead... soul survivor... feel... death... crash... fire on the
Kathy screamed in terror as she again tried to escape the horror of the crash again
flashing thru her mind. She ran out into the road on the other side of the limo.
".... You should have died too?" came a voice that stood out from the
She spun around to face the voice. Then she saw the car. Way too fast. Way to close.
There was a thump as her body hit the ground. It seemed to hit twice as the pain came,
then there was a squeel of tires and a sudden silence.
"OH MY GOD!"
"When it's your time, it's your time..."
Things started fading to black as the pain and the terror screams subsided.