“This is your pilot speaking. I’m afraid we’re going to have some difficulty landing.”
The passengers didn’t find this very funny at all. In fact, the majority of them were still unconscious from the Earth-shattering explosions.
Literally Earth-shattering. One moment Earth was hanging underneath them. The next it was a ball of fire.
Now there was nothing.
Earth had exploded.
The plane had been catapulted into deep space at an incredible velocity. The force was so powerful that every passenger was immediately knocked out. It took ten minutes for the acceleration to slow, and for the plane to to stop spinning so rapidly.
The copilot had been one of the first to wake. When he looked out at the ground, he saw that there was no ground.
There was black space outside. Infinite black space.
The copilot shook the pilot awake. “Sir! Sir! What happened?”
It took a lot of effort to rouse the pilot. His eyes were bloodshot when he opened them. The force of the explosion had caused serious damage to his brain, though he didn’t know it yet. His head had also slammed into the console repeatedly. “Crashed?” the pilot gurgled.
“No, we’re in the air,” the copilot said. He looked out at the blackness again. “At least… I think we are.” For a moment he thought that they were deep underwater, but the plane wouldn’t withstand being submerged. He was reminded of his night flights.
“Where are we?” the pilot moaned.
The copilot grappled with the controls, lightly maneuvering them, though he found that nothing he did could change the plane’s course. According to the monitors, they were spinning. Spinning? How could that be?
The copilot unbuckled his seatbelt, and that was when he realized something that he should have when he’d first woken up. He had been too dazed to notice, but he wasn’t completely situated in his seat. In fact, the moment that he unbuckled, his body started to rise upwards.
“Sir?” the copilot said wearily. “Sir, we have a serious problem.”
The pilot was a much older man. While the copilot was in his late twenties, relatively inexperienced, the pilot had been flying planes for three decades.
But nothing had prepared him for this moment.
That was when he had made his announcement to the passengers.
The pilot didn’t realize that Earth was gone. He considered it a possibility, but all that he knew for certain was that a massive explosion had launched them out of the atmosphere and into space.
Space. Hm. The pilot thought it over. There was no feasible way to locate Earth, if it was still out there at all. Which meant that this plane would never reach solid ground again. It was a disturbing thought, but as a pilot, he had trained himself to think objectively in a crisis. While most crashes happened while the plane was still on the ground, the pilot had experienced his fair share of close-calls in the air. Throughout his career, he’d had to make four emergency landings during cross-continental flights, either due to inclement weather or due to faulty equipment.
The copilot was not able to think so objectively. He was leaving the cockpit to investigate what had become of the passengers. However, he had only made it halfway to the door before panic set in. No gravity meant many of the plane’s controls would fail. The engines could move them forward, but it would be difficult to counteract the spin that the plane was currently experiencing.
Basically they were dead and they were never going to see the ground again.
The copilot didn’t handle this realization very well.
It was probably for the best that he didn’t make it out the door, because the situation out amongst the passengers was far more alarming. In fact, they could faintly hear the screaming and shouting from the other side, but both the pilot and the copilot were too tense to notice.
The passengers were in an absolute panic. By this point, they collectively had reached several more conclusions than the pilot and copilot combined.
For example, if they were never going to land the plane, then that meant there was a limited amount of food. Furthermore, there was an even more limited amount of air. None of them were clear on the specifics, but they were correct in believing that the oxygen was leaking out of their plane at an alarming rate. Normally they would all have about two and a half hours to live. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, several passengers had died from the massive explosion and sudden increase of velocity, and none of them were taking in oxygen. This saved the rest of the passengers approximately half an hour.
This half of an hour would actually be wasted, because almost everybody was hyperventilating, but it’s quite understandable.
In most situations that involved such a level of anxiety, the mayhem would escalate and some sort of brawl would break out. That’s what the intention was, at least. Several passengers were going to storm into the cockpit and attempt to commandeer the plane for themselves, because obvious the pilots had been flying them in the very wrong direction. Luckily for the copilot and the slightly brain-damaged pilot, the passengers didn’t get that far, as the lack of gravity made it much harder to maneuver than they’d expected. Moving without gravity is one thing, but moving through a group of flailing people, all of whom are panicking, was much different.
These were not the only humans left in existence. Four other airplanes had survived the explosion of Earth, with surprisingly few casualties. At the time, seven people had been aboard the International Space Station, and they had the highest chance of survival. Unfortunately, every single one of them happened to be male, so while they would last the longest, they would not be able to reproduce and save the species.
The copilot did eventually make his way out to greet the passengers. He was unable to calm anybody, because he wasn’t especially calm himself. Fights kept breaking out as people flew around the cabin, crashing into each other and throwing fists. The fights never lasted very long, as they were surprisingly exhausting, but another fight would break out only moments later on the other end of the plane.
Some people were scavenging for food already, stuffing their faces with little peanuts from sealed packets, drinking sodas and beers as quickly as possible in an effort to get an upper hand.
None of this would stop the oxygen from pouring out of the plane.
This was how humanity ended, wrestling and screaming.