[Voice message found in a mobile phone]
Life is a mystery, isn’t it? One day we are in control of everything, taking exams, passing tests, choosing which job interview to attend. And then, if we work hard, we move up in our career, step by step.
But the whole time, there’s a parallel universe that we don't control that affects us strongly. Our boyfriends get transferred to different cities, our employers go bankrupt, our friends get sick.
I’ve made the right choices my entire life. I was polite to others, took care of my parents and grandparents, helped my brother’s studies, went to a good university, said all the right things in job interviews. Now, I’m on a plane that might be crashing, and cancelling out every right choice I've made in my life. Then, there’s probably some classmate of mine back home in Tianjin that made all the wrong choices who is safely behind a cash register at a 7/11, watching funny cat videos and planning what he's going to eat for dinner.
Maybe Muslims have the right idea. It’s all in god’s hands. Chinese, we aren’t religious, maybe we're missing something. Who knows? If things in our history took a different turn, our way of thinking might be different today.
I've always enjoyed flights. They were a time I could forget my worries. Nothing bad ever happens on a flight. No one ever loses their job or goes to the hospital. It's when I get off, that's when I need to think about things like the results of my next pap smear, whether Jia and I are actually good together or not. I don't know where I'm going with this...
Sorry, the pilot is announcing something, I need to listen.
[end of message]
Michael felt saddened reading the transcript of the message, knowing its writer was dead. The message was one of many that had been recovered by the FAA. More accurately, by the US Navy who had located the wreckage of MH370 and delivered it to the FAA looking for answers. The case had become political, so they brought him in as an outsider. A Professor of Air Safety at the University of Illinois, he was considered an independent party. But he was sure people on the internet wouldn't believe that. Conspiracy theorists now dominate the discourse.
Michael refilled his coffee and got down to reading the other recovered messages. Someone had translated and transcribed them from all the various devices they found within the wreckage of MH370.
[Email draft found on a mobile phone]
The pilot came over the intercom and said there was a serious problem with the airplane, and we might want to write a message to our loved ones. I don’t have anything to write on, so I’m typing this into an email. Maybe it will get sent out if I don’t make it out of here somehow. I am an optimist and have never been afraid of airplanes. Statistically, they are far safer than cars. As my older brother, I appreciate all the things you taught me. Especially…trying to think what to say…
[Unsent SMS message found on a mobile phone]
To: my husband
If you are reading this, you must already know my Malaysian flight had something go wrong. Everyone is in a panic, and no one is telling us anything.
I wish we could watch the dragonflies at sunset on that hill above the Sungai Besi campus again
I don't know if I will ever see you again, but I want you to know that I love you. You have been my rock and my support, and I am grateful for every moment we have spent together.
Please take care of yourself and our family. I hope to see you soon.
Your wife, Kasih
[Message found in an email on a recovered laptop]
To: Freescale Semiconductor
From: John Anderson
The pilot has announced he’s no longer in control of the airplane. That’s all he’s told us so far. The technology we are carrying has military applications. I am wondering if we are the target. And if they might hijack the plane and take us to a third country, Afghanistan, Iran, or North Korea, if that’s possible.
From the pilot's announcement, it’s not clear if the plane has been hijacked, or if somehow the flight control system has been taken over from outside.
[Message found on mobile phone]
To: Malaysian Civil Aviation Authority
From: Co-pilot of MH370
The man who is supposed to be my teacher has locked me out of the cockpit. It’s likely he will depressurize the cabin. No matter what happens, you must hold Captain Shah responsible.
[Message found in cockpit flight recorder]
This is the pilot of Malaysia three seven zero. The cockpit controls have stopped responding to all commands. After banking sharply, we are now at three five thousand feet heading of 343 degrees, flying on autopilot.
I don’t know how loss of all controls is possible. We have tried everything in the Boeing 777 operations manual to restart the flight control system. We will continue to attempt to reboot the system.
I would like the Malaysian Civil Aviation Authority to know I have done my best for our 239 passengers and cabin crew.
[Message found in a mobile phone]
To: The Head of the Iranian National Guard
From: A loyal citizen
We sought to avenge the downing of Iranian flight 655.
I’m sorry our plan didn’t work. As we had anticipated, the co-pilot did open the door to let a young woman into the cockpit. I followed her as if moving forward to use the toilet. At the moment she entered, I wedged my foot in and pushed my way into the cockpit.
With the pilot strapped to his chair, it was easy to incapacitate the co-pilot, and then shove the young woman out of the cockpit, locking myself in with the pilot. Reza made his way to the electronic compartment and deactivated the transponder.
Threatening force, I asked the pilot to steer the plane toward Diego Garcia. I told him we would land there and seek international news coverage to make a stand for the freedom of the island from the US military. I told him the names of his family members and that our group was watching them as we speak.
Looking back, I suspect the pilot didn’t believe my story.
He assured me we were heading toward Diego Garcia, showed me his instruments. Six hours later, the plane alarms began to go off. When I asked him what they meant, he said the airplane was running out of fuel.
When I asked if we were close to Diego Garcia, he shook his head no.
[Message found in a notebook]
Tanam selasih di tengah padang,
Sudah bertangkai diurung semut,
Kita kasih orang tak sayang,
Halai-balai tempurung hanyut.
I planted sweet-basil in mid-field
Grown, it swarmed with ants,
I loved but am not loved,
I am all confused and helpless.
[Message written on the inside of an in-flight magazine]
Everything I wrote previously was a lie. I wanted to imagine how things could be in a different world.
[end of message]