The ocean boiled around them as the Retvizan hauled itself to the surface. Commander Gorshin hastened through the top pressure hatch onto the open con. Behind him Pavlov, his second officer, pushed the long range binoculars through the hatch before climbing to join him. Fixing them to the mounting on the side rail he swung them towards the green cone in the distance.
"Take a look, sir?" he asked his chief.
Gorshin took the scope himself and squinted through it.
"Volcanic in shape," he announced, "long extinct probably. It may be the peak of some sunken ridge. I see a clearing that doesn't look natural."
"Perhaps? Or once was. I see no signs of recent activity."
"Maybe we ought to send a party ashore to take a look?"
"Hmm. I'd prefer if we waited awhile. The natives might not be friendly."
"I'd imagine they've taken to the bush, sir, once they sighted us."
"Nevertheless, there's too few of us left to get into wars. We'll wait."
There was more movement and Ben Roscoe squeezed through the hatch to join them.
"Whazzup, skip?" the American said.
Gorshin had got used to the American's lack of formality. In fact, the two men had grown to respect each other.
"An island," Gorshin told him, "do you recognise it?"
Ben studied it through the scope for a few minutes.
"It kind of reminds me of a mountain just north of Los Angeles. It's hard to say, though, could be anywhere."
"It can't be California," Gorshin told him, "unless the sun's shifted."
"I wouldn't discount that either, skip." Gorshin looked sideways at Ben, raising his eyebrows. Nothing could be discounted anymore, that's for sure. "Y'goin' to send a boat over?"
"In a while. I want to see if there's any inhabitants and what their demeanour is."
"Y'think there could be people?"
"Take a look at that clearing on the north side? It looks manmade."
"Caves, maybe? That mountain back home was riddled with them. Basalt, old vents, lava chambers... all kinds of shit."
"Con?" Gorshin spoke to the microphone, "stop engines and come about. I want anchors laid out."
Gradually, the 22,000 ton monster prescribed a gentle curve, the faint hum of the main engines slowing. The swishing of the wash past the light grey hull abated as the submarine came to a halt.
The Retvizan was not nimble on the surface nor particularly fast. Because of the salinity of the water, it rode unusually high and a good metre of blade appeared above the surface from the two spinning props. The tops of the twin rudders, too, were plainly visible, particularly when the bulbous bow dipped into a trough.
The higher friction caused by the salt content also affected her underwater speed and Gorshin found the Retvizan could barely make 18 knots under full power.
The Akulas had never been designed to operate in such temperatures the Retvizan now encountered. Originally, the 6 vessels of the class had been designed for Northern waters, beneath the Arctic ice, not in water that often topped 25 degrees Celsius. The humidity was tough on sensitive equipment and machinery and prevented the feedwater condensors from cooling efficiently. Consequently, they had to make do with decreased power.
Depth soundings recorded only 6 metres of water under her keel. Gorshin decided that had to be close enough or the Retvizan may hit bottom in the event of a storm.
Gorshin, Pavlov and Roscoe spent an hour on the fin before retreating below. The second officer organised around the clock observation, with no-one in the open for longer than an hour because of the ultra-violet radiation.
Later, the three bent over the chart table while Pavlov brought up various maps in sequence as far as the coast of California.
"Overlay the seafloor," Gorshin told him, scratching his jaw. "Section that area," he pointed. "Hmm... anything look familiar to you, Roscoe?"
"Could be the high point of Oahu. There used to be a State Park there. We had our radar at this point."
"Why?" Pavlov asked, "you haven't got a 360 degree sweep."
"Ask our Generals?" the American shrugged.
"Pavlov, I want an armed landing party of twelve in two boats," Gorshin told him, "each man to be equipped with two days rations, tropical kit, D-20 and 100 rounds of ammo."
"D-20?" Roscoe raised his eyebrows.
"It's a short automatic rifle, specialist marine weapon. They adapted them for use in confined spaces with a soft nose bullet to limit ricochets."
"Sounds like a perfect weapon for inside a submarine?"
"Yes," Gorshin grinned, "that's the idea. You don't want ammo that will penetrate bulkheads and damage vital machinery."
"Yet be there if the crew mutiny?"
"Or we're boarded."
"You got many on board?"
"A dozen or so," he sgrugged, "and about the same number of AK-74VDs... ah, a paratroop, folding stock assault rifle."
"So you have two dozen rifles and, what, officer's pistols?"
"Not a big arsenal, skip?"
"No, and not a lot of ammunition either. You must remember, unlike you, we're not on a war footing. We just have the basic peacetime equipment. What are you thinking, Roscoe?"
"I'm thinking there might be trouble. If we came here, what if the Japs came too? You can be sure they'll shoot and ask questions later. That's what they do. They could be waiting for your boys to get inshore."
Two months before;
Commander Gorshin ducked through the hatch that led to 3C. His first Officer looked tired and drawn, his eyes red. He'd wished he'd been alerted sooner and decided to speak to Fedyunski. The book of rules was one thing, but some times you have to step aside from it. This was an emergency and he should have been woken earlier.
"Talk me through it?" he told his exec.
"Skip? Communications, SatNav are down. We have passive sensors, radar, sonar but otherwise we're deaf as a post." There was exasperation in his voice, clearly born out of frustration. Nevertheless, the Commander needed a briefing.
"Sir. We've run every test known to God. We have a multi systems failure. There's absolutely no provision in the manual for something like this."
"Ok, ok," Gorshin put up his hand, "go to your quarters and get some sleep. Get the relief in here and give these men a rest. We'll see if the next watch has better success."
"Wish you luck, skip. This gear is fucked, if you ask me."
"Thank you for your diagnosis, Fedyunski," Gorshin smiled, "now beat it!"
The Commander strolled carefully around the consoles studying the read outs as the watch departed from their posts. He tapped the ping test on the Admiralty Net and received nothing, no reading whatsoever. He sat down and punched out the call sign and waited. The alpha-numeric code hung lifeless on the screen. No answering scroll, no nothing. There should have been an automated reply if nothing else.
There was a shuffling behind him and the next watch busied themselves to their posts. Gorshin gave up his seat to the specialist who was going to run through exactly the same tests that Fedyunski ran all night.
When everyone had settled he gave his instructions. They were going to run diagnostics on all the equipment. He could feel them groan, but, out of respect, their feelings remained unvoiced.
"Raise mast," Gorshin commanded, "let's have a look around. Pan it, Pavlov," he told the new officer of the watch, "let's see the new day."
The image appeared on the large screen mounted on the forward bulkhead. It was of a clear, red sky and ocean as far as they could see. They saw there was a low-level swell, about half a metre, subtly disturbed by the passage of the submarine just below the surface.
"What's our INS, Shapalaev?" he asked.
"Off the Azores, skip, about 12 kilometres."
"Come again?" asked Gorshin, "where are they?"
"It should be there, skip," the tech said, slightly agitated.
"Well it's not. Check your bearings. Don't tell me we're lost as well?"
"Um, I don't understand. Check the chart?"
"You check it! Pavlov, take us to the surface. We'll do a solar fix. It's unthinkable we don't know where we are."
"Yes, sir!" snapped the exec. "We're surfacing," he announced, "sound the alarm. Main planes 10 degrees vertical inclination. Open vents on tanks 1 and 3... 5 and 6..." Gorshin listened to the orders repeated from the relevant navigational crew. They went about their jobs efficiently. How could things go so drastically wrong? "trim ship... my depth?"
"45 metres, exec... 40... 35. Rising rate 4 metres per second, sir."
"Good... breaking... mast down."
"Mast down... fin is up, exec. 10 metres... we're on the top, sir."
"Commander, we're on the surface at a speed of 10.5 knots, bearing 135 magnetic."
"Right, Pavlov, let's go up top?" Gorshin said.
"Sir!" cried one of the techs, "Aerial radar contact 85 degrees starboard."
"Identify?" Gorshin asked, pausing by the ladder.
"Um... a slow moving aircraft of medium size. It appears to be propellor driven."
"And your guess?"
"Um... could be an Orion, sir, but it's moving too slowly."
"A slow moving Orion, perhaps?" the Commander asked. The tech shrugged and Gorshin shook his head in frustration. He climbed the ladders leading to the navigational position on top of the fin.
The fin was in three levels with an equipment room housing the hydraulic motors for raising the mast, an electronics room for the various sensors, and a con position for running on the surface in rough weather. Top most was the open con. It took the two officers three minutes to climb to the very top. Gorshin spun the lockwheel for the top pressure hatch and it hissed open. The men took the last metre of the ladder and looked around.
"What the..." gasped the Commander. Pavlov plugged the com in and Gorshin grabbed the mike immediately. "Navigation," he barked, anger making his voice ring around the control room below. "Time and course, please!"
"0530, sir, course 135."
"Then what the Hell is the sun doing to the East?"
"Sir, ah, I don't understand."
"Let me explain. Our course is South. The time is 5.30 in the morning. The sun should be rising in the West: that is to starboard, Navigation, not to port. Could we have sailed a reciprocal?"
"Um... let me check, sir... ah... INS, fine sir. I really don't get it, sir."
"Shit!" Gorshin spat.
"Skip? Kinda weird sea, don't you think? It's running the wrong way," Pavlov said.
"Got your glass there, Pavlov. Let's do it the old fashioned way. Fix the sun and see where we are?"
"Sir. Shall we have a look at that aircraft?"
"May as well. I hope he knows where he's going," Gorshin grumbled.
"Ah... ah... there, I see it," Pavlov said, looking through his large, fixed binoculars. "It's four engined... 'bout 4000 metres... heading this way. I don't recognise it as yet."
"Probably a Spanish patrol plane."
"It's not an Orion, sir, the configuration's all wrong. It's more like an old flying boat."
"What? Like one of those wartime Sunderlands?"
"More like a Martin, I think. Yes, it's American, a Martin flying boat."
"Must have been restored by some enthusiasts," Gorshin told him.
"I'd say. It's painted up in old US Navy colours. Want a look?"
"Right now, I'm more interested in finding out where we are and where we're going."
"Sure, skip. Um, sir? The sun's going down."
"What? Are you sure?"
"Yes, it's evening. Our chronos must all be 12 hours out. We are on 135, sir, except it's evening, not morning. And sir?"
"What?" Gorshin said, trying to digest the information.
"The sea's running the wrong way. I think we've slipped hemispheres."
Commander Gorshin moved forward to the rail and looked out over the ocean. "Pavlov? I don't know what's going on. What's your fix?"
"Moment, sir." Pavlov flicked through his tables. "Here, thought so. We're in the middle of the Pacific, sir, according to this. Assuming we're at 1730, not 0530, we're here, sir, 120 kilometres west of Hawaii."
"That's impossible. Check again. Our INS is telling us we're off the Azores. The sun is telling us we're in the middle of the Pacific. The GPS doesn't say anything at all and we can't raise anybody on the radio. What does that tell you?"
"Um... we're lost, sir?"
"Exactly! Radio?" he called through the com, "call that plane and ask them where we are?"
"Sir, we can't do that," Pavlov said in alarm. "It's against standing orders."
"I'm changing them. Radio, pipe it up, on second thoughts I'll talk to them." Gorshin switched the com to shortwave and broadcast on all civil frequencies. There was no reply, so he tried Naval bands. "Martin flying boat, this is Russian submarine ahead of you. Can you give me a navigational fix, please?" Gorshin spoke English, as the universal civil aviation language.
"Russian sub, Russian sub, this is Foxtrot patrol. Sir, ah, I was hoping you could help. We've lost our radio fix."
"We've no SatNav and my Navigator has just fixed us in the middle of the Pacific. Can you do better than that?"
"Sir, ah, Hawaii should be on your beam, sir. Can't say for sure how far. I think we'd better head back the way we came."
The Russian officers looked at each other open mouthed. "He can't be that lost, sir," Pavlov said, "he'd know what ocean he was in."
"So should we, exec. Foxtrot, we're you supposed to be going?"
"Well, sir, can't really say, sir. We're on long range patrol, that's all I'm at liberty to tell you."
"Patrol?" Gorshin chuckled, "for who? What are you patrolling in an old plane like that?"
"US Navy, sir. And sir, ah, I have to ask you what you're doing here? I thought you were a Jap. You're lucky we didn't drop a trash can on you."
"What the Hell are you saying, Foxtrot?"
"Japs, Russian sub, Japs, sir. I don't recognise your type, sir. I ain't never seen a sub that size, sir."
"US Navy? You must revise your recon charts. We are an Akula class missile boat. You call us Typhoons, I think."
"Typhoons, sir? Ain't heard of them. Say, ah, can you contact Hawaii for us? We can't raise them."
"Negative, Martin, we've been calling up everybody and can't raise a smile."
"Same here, sir. Guam doesn't answer, nor Midway, nobody. Y'reckon it could be sun spots?"
"Unlikely, Foxtrot, but I'll listen to any theory. You know we're supposed to be in the Atlantic, off the Azores?"
"Hell, sir, now that's lost! Say, Russian sub, how come you haven't got a deck gun, sir?.
"A deck gun?" laughed the Commander, "you serious? Haven't seen one on a sub for 50 years."
"50 years, sir? Weren't many subs around then, I shouldn't think. When did Holland launch them? Maybe turn of the century? Don't remember."
"The Dutch? You've lost me, Foxtrot."
"Holland, sir, the inventor of the submarine. I think it was around the turn of the century."
"Well, I'd love to discuss history with you, Foxtrot, but I've got more important problems.
"Yes, sir, sorry sir. If you like, I'll direct any nearby vessels to your assistance. Meanwhile, I should be getting back to Hawaii before I run low on fuel."
"Sure, Foxtrot, and thanks."
An hour later, they were no closer to fixing their position. All failed systems were rechecked three times. Communications equipment appeared to be running normally, but could not contact the outside world. In addition, passive electronic recievers could not pick up any background chatter. There was always something, civil aircraft, military signals in code... The only signal they could monitor now and again was the Martin, trying to contact Hawaii.
The Russian crew could hear the steadily growing agitation in the voice of the American pilot. Clearly, he hadn't located Hawaii and was running dangerously low on fuel.
"Call him up on TBS, radio?" Gorshin said, "we'll guide him back and he can land on the water. Thank goodness it's calm. Better hurry or he won't make it," the Commander added, looking at his watch.
The crew were uneasy. Even off duty crew looked into 3C to check on what was happening, Obviously Gorshin had to make a general announcement, an 'ustase' the crew called it.
"All quarters, all quarters! Special announcement following." Pavlov waited until all the crew stopped what they were doing and ceased chattering.
"Gentlemen," Gorshin said, "as you are aware, we have suffered unknown failures with some of our communications and navigational equipment. Work is underway, round the clock, until solutions can be found. Meanwhile, we are to rescue the crew of an American aircraft that is running out of fuel. I want two inflatables prepared and rescue details on standby. Senior Lieutenant Pavlov will direct the operation. That's all, and welcome these Americans, huh? Look after them, but keep them away from security areas, please."
Gorshin was grateful for the rescue operation. It would take the crew's minds off their boat's problems.
"Russian sub, Russian sub, this is Foxtrot," the TBS called, "number 1 is shut down and we're losing number three. I think we're going to have to splash down, now sir, can you find us, sir?"
"Foxtrot, this is Russian sub. That's a positive. Closing on your position. Pavlov? Steer for that American."
"That'll be, 120, skip. Hear that, Nav?"
"120, sir. 15 port helm, speed?"
"14 knots, Pavlov, let's not keep them waiting too long," the commander interrupted.
"Speed 14, confirmed."
The giant submarine heeled noticably as it swung onto the new course. The wake behind them foamed as the huge props churned the water as power was boosted.
Some half an hour later, the lookout stationed on the top of the fin announced he'd spotted the flying boat, in the water and dead ahead. As they got closer, Gorshin, now topside, spotted two of the flying boat's crew standing on the wing waving. He ordered the sub slowed and brought her around on the aircraft's lee.
The sub's rescue detail promptly pushed the inflatables over the hull into the water and motored over to the American aircraft. 20 minutes later, it returned carrying the two pilots. Gorshin had them brought down to the officer's mess just aft of 3C.
They were dressed in US Navy leather flying jackets, loose trousers tucked into high boots, leather flying helmets and carried khaki duffel bags. They looked the part, Gorshin thought, vintage clothes for a vintage aircraft.
"Commander Gorshin," he said, in English and extended his arm. "Welcome to the Retvizan Submarine. How many of you are there?"
"Thank you, sir," one of the men said, "I'm Captain Benjamin Roscoe, US Navy. This is Lieutenant Tanner, my co-pilot. We have another five, sir, Navigator/ Bomb Aimer, and four gunners."
"What," chuckled Gorshin, "you going to war, Roscoe? In a piston powered World War 2 flying boat?"
"Sir? Of course, sir. Standard crew for our class of boat. This submarine, sir, I mean, it's gigantic!" Roscoe looked around him, clearly astonished.
"We have a 10 metre extension to the hull," Gorshin explained, "better hydrodynamic efficiency and makes for a quieter boat. I can't give you the current dimensions, of course, such information is classified."
"Oh, sir, I understand that. This thing's like a city! I mean, what the Hell do you do with a sub this big. You got aircraft on board?"
"No," the commander grinned, "we're a missile boat. Although we're just carrying dummies. We're on a training cruise before we go back to Russia for mothballing..."
"Mothballing? This?" the American said, in awe, "how come?"
"It's too expensive to maintain," he sighed, "we don't have a need for these cold war warriors anymore. The Russian Navy is leaner and meaner," he grinned, "we don't need hundreds of floating ICBMs nowadays."
"Come again, sir?"
"Still lost me!"
"Nevermind. My exec Pavlov will find you some quarters and detail an escort around the boat. You appreciate we have security areas? You must stay away from the reactor rooms and missile silos. Our Command and Control Centre is also out of bounds, I'm sorry. Standing orders."
"Well, sir, if I knew what those areas were I'd certainly keep out. Y'know, I thought our Gatos were big, but, Hell, I know some guys who'll want to see this."
"Gatos?" Gorshin looked up, "your old diesel boats? You call them big? What about your Tridents? I'd say some of your latest boats aren't far short in displacement to this. We're around 22,000 tons, the USS Alabama must be, what, 15, 16,000 tons?"
"The Alabama? Hell, that's a Battleship and I'd say it's closer to 60. I tell you, we ain't got submarines anywhere near this size."
"A battleship?" Gorshin said, in surprise, "perhaps we're not talking about the same thing? A battleship in Russian is 'line ship.' It used to have many big guns..."
"Yeah, like 16 inchers..."
"That's right," agreed Gorshin, "we don't describe submarines as 'line ships' in Russia. There are 'missile boats, ' attack boats'..."
"Well, sir, in American, a submarine is a submarine and that ain't a battleship. A battleship sits above the water, submarines underneath, and they have torpedoes, not rockets nor big guns."
"Are you telling me, Roscoe, that the USS Alabama is one of these big gun battleships, not a nuclear submarine?"
"Yessir, that's what I'm telling you."
"Ok, ok, well, anyway, enjoy my ship," Gorshin told the man. "Have yourself a jacuzzi, work out in the gymnasium. Pavlov will show you where you can get food. The cooks have hot meals available 24/7."
"Hell, sounds like the Ritz, Tanner. You Russians sure look after yourselves, Commander."
"We try, Roscoe. Now, we have some communications problems that need attending to. Later, you may be willing to talk us through your own problems? Perhaps we can compare notes?"
"Sure thing, Commander."
Commander Gorshin and his exec, Pavlov, stood on the top of the fin looking carefully at the Martin heaving slowly with the swell. The Retvizan was still drifting, with engines stopped.
"Y'know, Pavlov?" the Commander said, "my father was a navy flier, my grandfather, an Admiral and Hero of the old Soviet Union. I've tried to live up to their high standards. This crew," he nodded towards the huge hull of the submarine, "expect me and all my officers to make command decisions. It gives them confidence to know their leaders are on top of their game. But, this?" he pointed towards the flying boat, "has got me beaten. What the Hell is a World War 2 flying boat doing out here? Are we in a movie? The recovery detail told me it has machine guns, fully armed. Manuals are period and show no sign of age. There is a newspaper with the date 12 September 1943. That crew speak as if they're at war with the Japanese..."
"And sir?" added Pavlov, "we 'Soviets' are at war with Hitler, apparently. One of the Americans asked us how we were doing at Stalingrad."
"Stalingrad? Are you serious?"
"And the Pacific, Pavlov, what the Hell are we doing in the Pacific? No-one navigates into the wrong ocean. We can't flit from the Atlantic to the Pacific in the blink of an eye. None of this makes sense. What do I tell the crew? How can I explain it?"
"Do you believe in time travel, sir?" asked Pavlov.
"Time travel? You think we've gone back to the Pacific War?"
"No, sir, I don't. We'd be picking up more traffic. I think we're somewhere else I can't explain. I think the Americans are also lost... somewhere. They cannot find their base, nor raise them on radio. It's because they're not there anymore. My theory!"
"Your theory? You're a fantasist, Pavlov. Time travel is not possible otherwise where are all the time travellers? Hmm? There must be a rational explanation."
"Of course, sir, I'm sure there is."
Gorshin stared long and hard at his second officer.
The two inflatables sped inshore towards the island. Starskiiy Leytenant Pavlov had been a Marine before transferring to sea duty and so, logically, had been chosen to command the landing party. Captain Roscoe was in the other boat, having insisted on coming along.
Pavlov's hand rested on the lock of his D-20 apprehensively. Like them all, he wore camoflage overalls with hoods as some defence against the sun. He insisted he carry his share of the equipment and on his back he wore a 25 kilo pack.
The 100x 5.75mm rounds were clipped in magazines around his waist. One advantage of the smaller round was that you could carry more of them. Roscoe had insisted on an AK-74, with its consequently heavier 7.62mm ammo. He preferred the bigger punch of the standard rifle round.
Pavlov understood, though, that the D-20 fired more accurately, that it didn't have the kick of the AK-74, and, in semi mode, a much better weapon for jungle fighting.
But fighting, Pavlov earnestly hoped, was not part of the plan. They would explore the island and seek out any inhabitants. They would then establish some contact and, hopefully, be a little more along the way to finding out what happened to all of them.
Talk of the Japanese by Roscoe had unnerved Pavlov a little. There was no reason why the Americans' WW2 enemies hadn't made the jump to this time. What if there was a desperate group of isolated Japanese soldiers on this island? It made little difference that the old USSR hadn't been at war with Japan in 1943. A white soldier was a white soldier and therefore an enemy.
As the boats grounded on the sand, Pavlov hastened 8 sailors to the bushline to establish a perimeter. They spread out and deployed in cover. Pavlov then oredered the boats to be drawn up the beach and secured. Only then could he take stock of the situation.
"Roscoe?" he called out in English, "conference?"
Roscoe was easy going and he and Pavlov got along fine. The Russian had good English and appreciated the American's irreverent sense of humour.
"What's the plan, John?" Roscoe said, hurrying over. He used the English equivalent of Pavlov's first name.
"See any tracks?" Pavlov asked.
"Y'think we should stay off them?" Roscoe asked.
"We don't want to alarm anyone," he replied, "if we come sneaking around..."
"Ok, then keep half the men back. You got them walkie talkies..."
"Radios? Sure we got radios. Shapalaev?" he called, "you're in charge at the beach. Roscoe and you two, follow me."
Pavlov plunged into the bush followed by the three others. Stunted palm trees soon gave way to grass that tangled the feet and made the going slow. After 100 metres the ground began to rise towards an extinct volcano, which dominated the island.
The grass thinned and was replaced by sharp basalt. The going was hard and Pavlov ordered a halt to rest. They were all dripping with sweat from the heat and exertion.
Their position offered them a panorama view and they carefully examined the terrain for signs of movement. Suddenly, a patch of grass trembled and a wild pig broke cover. Roscoe already had his gun to his shoulder but Pavlov carefully laid a hand on the barrel.
"Hold your fire," he ordered, "we can go hunting later."
"At least there's game," Roscoe said, "now if only we could find water."
"Springwater," Pavlov cautioned, "streams are probably contaminated."
"With what?" Roscoe asked.
"Mercury, lead, nuclear materiel..."
"What the Hell did we do to the world?"
"We'd better be careful of consuming wildlife, too. They drink from the same streams."
After a while they commenced climbing again. They were heading for the mysterious clearing they'd seen on the North side of the island. Presently they came to the fringe.
"What d'you make of it?" asked the American.
The area was littered with tiny fragments of metal. Pavlov picked one up and hefted it in his hands. "An aircraft," he announced, "one crashed here a long time ago. This is weathered, but you can still see the signs of burning, see, around the edges. A plane crashed and exploded."
He continued to walk around the site, examining this and that. After a while he returned to the others. "It's interesting there's no bigger pieces... no sign of the engines. It can't all have disintegrated into such small fragments. There's no personal items, no suitcases or items of clothing. Nothing whatsoever to show there'd been people on board?"
"It'd be all burned up, surely."
"Maybe, but even in the worst crashes fire leaves something behind. Here, there is nothing but debris."
Pavlov noted by the pattern of the clearing that the plane had been on a near flat trajectory. Almost, he mused, as if it'd been trying to land. Scarring on the hard basalt was minimal. But if a plane had hit hard, surely there'd be a crater of some sort.
He kicked over a piece of metal and stopped in his tracks. There on the ground was a colour brochure, miraculous prevented from fading by the covering aluminium. Clearly, in red lettering, were the words, 'UNITED AIRLINES WELCOMES YOU TO HONOLULU.'
Pavlov showed it to Roscoe. "Thought so, he said, "we're on Mauna Loa, Hawaii Island. Or," he added, "what's left of it.