Editor’s Note: I am pleased to present this the first in a series of original short stories, authored by Perpetuelle’s very own James Bond, that will be published on Perpetuelle this summer. Of course, there is a watch in every story. Enjoy this departure from the usual!
The private aircraft was on a course from Brisbane, Australia to Honolulu, Hawaii and had, so far, been smooth flying. The Captain glanced at his watch and adjusted the second time zone to reflect Hawaii’s time. He was wearing a Rolex GMT-C in two-tone. Local time in Brisbane was 1:17pm and in Honolulu it was 9:17am the following day. He loved his GMT-C and always trusted the time it read. Three hours after the takeoff the weather had been clear and sunny at 38,501 feet. But now, that positive outlook changed when the Captain saw the clouds moving in. The autopilot disengaged when turbulence struck, forcing the Captain to take control of the aircraft.
The Captain checked the air speed which read 275 knots, the equivalent of about 316 mph. Outside of the plane the temperature dropped significantly with precipitation increasing rapidly and seconds later, the aircraft’s recorded airspeed dropped sharply from 275 knots to 58 knots. Unbeknownst to the Captain, the crew, and lone passenger, a severe storm system similar to a Mesoscale Convective Complex had formed all around them.
The pilots were presented with conflicting warnings and information that made no sense because it was not reflective of the aerodynamic condition that the airplane was in. In actuality, the pitot tubes on the outside of the aircraft had become obstructed by ice formed during the rapid drop in temperature combined with precipitation. In nearly no time the plane experienced a high-speed stall, where the wings no longer provide lift, sending the plane in to a dive toward the ocean below. The altitude was now 36,668 feet and descending at a 70 degree angle. At 22,019 feet a horrible vibration was felt throughout the plane. The pilots were unable to regain control of the plane. All hope was being lost fast!
The plane kept falling, descending at a rate of 1,000 feet per second. They had sent a distress call but there was no answer on the other end. The plane began to spin violently, pinning the people on board to the walls. For a split second the Captain imagined he saw something green below. At 1,222 feet the spinning fuselage broke in to two pieces, sending the rear of the plane and one wing a thousand yards out to the ocean. The cockpit cabin was tossed like a Frisbee across the water and impacted with brutal force. As quickly as it began it was over and there was pure silence.
Two days later the sun was shining again and the sky was blue. It was almost like the crash had never happened. He opened his eyes and felt the blinding sensation of the sun beating down on him. The pain in his body was excruciating, but nevertheless, he tried to move. ‘Where am I? What happened?’ he thought. His head was pounding. His desire to know what had happened and where he was made him ignore his headache.
Looking around, the man held his face in his palms and said aloud “This must be a bad dream. I cannot be here, right now. I am at home with my wife. Just wake up, wake up dammit! Wake up!” The man then looked at his Rolex GMT-C on his wrist. It was wet and sand had been encrusted in the tiny crevices along the case and bracelet. The time read 9:52am, which was off because judging by the position of the sun it was sometime in the late afternoon. But the date on the watch confirmed two days had elapsed since he last looked at it. He unscrewed the crown and wound it. As best as he could judge based on the sun, he set the time to 4:00 pm. After taking a deep breath and letting out a long sigh, he decided it was time to get up and take a look around. The man, who was the Captain, was still having difficulty assimilating his situation. But now something caught else convinced him he was not hallucinating. When he tried to stand up, his legs were almost black as a result of internal and external trauma to his legs during the crash. His heart started to beat faster and faster. Tears ran down his face while he sobbed and moaned; he felt defeated, helpless, and alone.
Gangrene had set in because arteries in his legs had been severed and infection had spread. The Captain desperately called out for help, hoping another survivor would hear his distress and come to his rescue. His calls went unanswered. He had been the only survivor from the crash. He had escaped death for two days, but now death was coming for him. There was nothing around him. He knew the gangrene would spread quickly throughout his body. It was to be a slow death. He began to feel envious of those already dead as a result of the crash. His body exhausted, the Captain removed his Rolex GMT-C, unscrewed the crown and wound it a few more times, and then placed it on a rock near him, and then closed his eyes….
A man in his thirties walked across the beach on a remote island in the Pacific. He had removed his shoes because the feeling of sand and water between his toes was a refreshing change from his boots. He worked for a prominent land developer that was surveying the island for construction of a new luxury resort. The Surveyor held his Leica camera up to his eye and took a photo of the horizon alongside the beach. ‘That would do nicely for a pier’ he thought to himself. The Surveyor arrived on the island along with six others from his company and had been on it for close to four hours. He looked at his watch to check the time. It had a battery powered LCD display. The dial read 3:59pm. He radioed to the other members in his party because it was getting late and they needed to return to ship.
He spoke in to the radio “Sherman, do you read me? Over.”
The man on the other end answered. “Yeah, I read you. What’s up? Over.”
“It is getting late and we need to wrap it up and head back. Are you all finished in your section? Over.” asked the Surveyor.
“Yeah, all done. We’ll see you at the landing sight. Over.” concluded Sherman.
The Surveyor took one last look around and then turned to head back to the ship. While walking along the beach something reflected in the corner of his right eye. He stopped and took a step back to see where the reflection originated from. There was something among the rocks about thirty yards away and parallel to where he was walking. He set off to investigate what made that reflection.
When he reached the rocks, he looked down and saw something that resembled a watch. The Surveyor leaned down and picked it up and brushed the sand off of it. The case had many scratches and was weathered. He turned and walked back to the ocean, knelt down and rinsed it off in the sea water. The name on the face read ROLEX. The man was confused. ‘How could this be here, on this island? The island is supposed to be virgin territory.’ he thought to himself. Putting the watch in his pocket he ran back to the ship.
When he got back on the ship, he took a cold shower, had dinner with his team, and then adjourned to his room. He told no one about his treasure find.
The Surveyor’s computer, named Eta, was a highly advanced form of artificial life. Its advanced intelligence was created using the cerebral cortex from a human grown in a laboratory and attached to a circuit. Eta was so advanced, the user could converse with it the way humans do to one another in a natural manner.
“Eta, I found something while out surveying today. It looks like a watch, except the case is round and there are these batons attached to the center under the glass. Also, there are numbers around the glass outside. Can you help in identifying it, please?” he asked.
“Let me take a look at it and I will search my memory.” responded Eta. The Surveyor placed the watch on a circular plate beside Eta. Eta looked it and after 0.22 seconds Eta had an answer.
“This is a watch from a company called ROLEX. The company was founded in the year 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf in what was then known as London, England. The display is called analog and the internal mechanism is mechanical. It works by movement from your wrist. Those batons attached to the center are called hands and they indicate the time of day or night. The numbers around the glass (called sapphire crystal, by the way) are on what was known as a rotating bezel. This particular model is called GMT or Greenwich Mean Time. The bezel and the fourth hand with the triangle end are used to read a second time zone.” explained Eta.
“Please remove the metal bracelet attached to the case.” After a moment or two the Surveyor finally managed to remove the bracelet and placed the watch back on the plate. Eta, again, looked at it.
“Rolex is still around, but does not make anything like this. How old is this watch?” the Surveyor thought out loud.
“There is a serial number on its side starting with the letter G. Rolex’s with G-serial numbers were made in the year 2013.” said Eta.
“2013?! That means it is 100 years old!” exclaimed the Surveyor, “Can you tell me how it came to be on the island?
“This serial number was registered to a man from Boston, Massachusetts in the United Americas’; formally called the United States. Using information from his motor vehicle operator’s licence given when he purchased the watch I have found he was a pilot of a small private aircraft. This man was declared ‘presumed dead’ when the search for the private aircraft he was piloting was abandoned after it disappeared in the year 2013 and no remains were found. The last known position of his aircraft was just twenty miles from here.” said Eta.
“So, this Rolex is from a pilot whose plane crashed in the year 2013.” said the Surveyor.
“Yes. It would be a major coincidence if the watch and the last known position of the pilot’s aircraft were unrelated” said Eta.
The Surveyor looked at the Rolex GMT-C and asked Eta “Do you think it still works?”
Anticipating the next question, Eta answered without delay. “The parts inside the watch are mechanical and are activated by unscrewing the knob on the right side and rotating it in a left-to-right motion. Rolex made highly reliable mechanical watches during that period, but I doubt after 100 years the watch will work.” said Eta.
The Surveyor unscrewed the knob and wound it left-to-right a few times just as Eta instructed. He looked at the dial’s second hand and gasped…
[Ticka Ticka Ticka].