The throbbing pain emanates from my chest to the rest of my body. Feeling slowly returns as I sense water, freezing water, falling onto my face. There is something digging into my back, what is it? I force my eyes to open up to the low clouds hanging above me, as if they are suspended from above. The rain pours from the grey masses in a steady, rhythmic beat, soaking my already wet red jeans furthermore. Red jeans? My thoughts start to spin as I try to comprehend why I have red jeans. I could have sworn they were blue when I put them on this morning. The answer as to why they’re red suddenly fills my head. Blood. Realising that I can’t feel my left leg, I try to move it. Nothing. Nothing moves, nothing happens as the rain continues to pour. I squint at my leg as the rain spills down my face and then see a slit in the fabric of the jeans with dark blood oozing out of it. Rolling my body to the side, the pressure is relieved from the small of my back and a small crushed tussock grass is revealed. It is only now that I begin to take in my surroundings.
Sheer walls of rock seem to surround me, trapping me like a cage. Tussock grasses cover the small area of ground and a little lake lies 100 metres away, blocking the only way out of this gnarly gully. Then I see it. The torn, ruined wreck of the machine. What happened? Memories begin to flood my mind. The tower had radioed me before take off, telling me to be prepared for the incoming front that was forecast for 5pm that day. The deceitful blue hue that had filled the sky that morning had only spurred me on to finish the final job of the day. I took off at ten past three on the dot and headed straight down Lake Wakatipu on my way to… The memory ended. Where was I going too? What had happened? I sat up in an attempt to get a better view of the heli. Pain arced through my chest as the effort became too much. Falling back to the ground, I closed my eyes, writhing in agony as the pain slowly subsided away and retreated into my body too await my next movement. I slowly rolled over and opened my eyes.
It resembled a scrap metal man’s dream. The bubble lay cracked, but intact and the skids had collapsed underneath it. The front of the bubble looked as through a knife had cut clean through it, probably the extortion of the rotor that was clearly missing from the mast. The other rotor held the body upright. The tail boom sat mangled, about 10 metres away from me. Torn, bent and crumpled metal littered the ground in a 10 metre radius around the wreckage. The rain suddenly became heavier and I began to shiver, bringing me back to reality. The whole thing was an atrocious mess, and I was lying in the centre of it.
A thought struck me, sudden as death, had I activated the ELT? Would help be on the way? A quick glance at my watch revealed the time, 4:47pm. The dark clouds above didn’t give it away, but evening was beginning to fall, and soon I could well be spending the night out here if I hadn’t activated that damn ELT. I pushed my upper body into a sitting position. Standing up and walking like a normal person seemed like the obvious action, if my body would allow it. The gash in my leg throbbed as I tried to ignore the pain. As I began to stand, my leg screamed in pain, echoing throughout the rest of my body as it became unbearable. My body collapsed in heap on the sodden ground, and I felt defeat hit me like a punch in the stomach. I knew I was going to have to crawl, confirming that the ELT had been activated was essential to being saved.
Managing to sit up again, I forced my upper body to move. A quick glance at the heli, only 15 metres away. I flopped to the ground, reached up and grabbed a hold of the first tussock. I pulled on that tussock, and pushed with my right leg and slowly dragged myself in the direction of the heli. Tussock by tussock, I made slow progress, all the while, my leg emanating pain. Little shards of metal cling to my saturated and muddied clothes. It doesn’t take as long as I expected before I’m reaching for a grip through the door frame of the cockpit. I drag my body into it, into the cracked leather of the pilots seat. A moment. I need a breather. My eyes close, I feel my body, feel the pain. I open my eyes in the direction of where I know the ELT switch is. Except it isn’t. And some of the other dials are missing from their respective spots. I plunge my hand into the darkened spot where the ELT switch once was and my hand goes through the fire break cloth, straight out of the cockpit. My hand was where the front of the bubble once was. The ELT was gone. A sudden thought occurred to me, simple yet important, how the fuck was I going to get out of here?