The buzzing of Davis Pine's phone hauntingly pulled him out of his sleep.
The entire room was pitch black except for the small blue glow of the illuminated phone, dancing across the counter top of his desk across from his bed. He grumbled indeterminately as he slouched across the room to the phone on the desk. He brought the phone to his ear and answered the call.
They were sorry to bother him, as usual, but an unscheduled flight had crashed down in an unmarked section of land out in the desert. They needed him on the scene as soon as possible. They were sending him the coordinates.
He didn’t even respond. He just hung up the phone. He didn’t need to be polite anymore. They knew he’d comply, and he knew that regardless of how rude or anti-social he was, they would never fire him because he was the only one who had any experience in this godforsaken job.
“So much for a vacation” he thought to himself as he shook the remaining sleep from his eyes.
He turned on a small bedside lamp that only illuminated enough of the room for him to see where he was going. He disliked the light and tried to avoid it whenever he could.
As he got ready, he caught a glimpse of himself in the bedroom mirror. Old, gaunt, weary, and sunken; he no longer resembled that wide-eyed boy of ten looking up at the sky. He was just a shell now. He was the literal face of what it meant to be the walking dead. He did not live; he only breathed in and out, ate and drank, and slept only when necessary.
He got in his car. The dashboard clock read 4:30. The sky was pitch black; too cloudy for stars; no wonder the craft went down. He thought about lighting up a cigarette as he drove out to the desert, but he decided against it. He only had three cigarettes left and he’d made a promise to himself that this box was the last one he would ever purchase. He always said he had promised himself, but the truth was, he was promising her, or rather, the ghost of her. His word didn’t mean shit to her now, but it was better late than never, he told himself.Asphalt turned to dirt roads that eventually turned into nothing but barren endless desert. He had to walk the rest of the way to the location coordinates they’d sent him. Walking through the desert at night always made him think about walking through a void. After a few minutes of trudging through darkness, he reached a small rocky incline that he felt his way through. When he reached the top, he saw the white orb light of the perimeter markers surrounding a giant silver disc lodged into the face of the earth. Orange embers and dark smoke curled out of its green windows.
A man in a containment suit exited the craft, noticed Mr. Pine at the top of the hill and ran up to greet him.
“Mr. Pine! I’m glad you’re here.
He didn’t have any time for formalities.
“Where are the pilots?”
“Well…that’s the problem. They’re not anywhere on the site.”
Mr. Pine put his hands in the pockets of his black trench coat and gazed out at the expansive landscape. As the gravity of the situation sunk in, Mr. Pine decided now was as good a time as any to light up one of his three remaining cigarettes.