He opened his eyes and immediately wished he hadn’t. The fierce yellow glare of the sun flooded his vision, stunning him. He blinked rapidly, his eyes quickly adjusting to the brightness. He squinted for a while at the sky, unable to think. Where was he?
His breath caught in his throat as he realized he wasn’t on the plane. He was lying on his back, outside, staring up at the sun. And his ears were ringing.
Without thinking, he sat up. A rush of blood to the head blurred his vision momentarily, but that wasn’t enough to block from his sight the carnage that he was surrounded by. He was on a beach, sitting right in the middle of a disaster scene.
There was fire and metal strewn throughout the sand. The ringing in his ears was gradually replaced with the chaotic sounds of people screaming, flames crackling, and a lone turbine roaring in its death throes –
The sound was unmistakable, but he couldn’t believe that he was hearing it. Hell, he couldn’t believe that he was sitting in the middle of a plane crash! He didn’t have time for irony, though. He knew, whether or not the turbine was the one he remembered, it was likely to explode.
He shakily pushed himself up, his hands slipping in the fiery sand as he struggled to gain a foothold. He looked over to his left and saw a bald man doing the very same thing.
This isn’t possible I’m imagining things I’ve probably been hit in the head and I’m delusional–
He closed his eyes, hoping that when he opened them, it would all go away. He was hallucinating, he knew it. This was impossible. It simply wasn’t real!
He opened his eyes slowly, glancing to his left. The bald man had vanished, but the beach was still there. The fuselage was still there. The burning sun was still there. Though one aspect of the delusion was gone, he was still there.
Struggling to push himself into action, he began to run. He didn’t know where; he didn’t have a destination. He just ran and hoped it would all go away. He’d wake up back on his plane and swear off ever eating seafood ever again.
There was a loud explosion, and he dove to the ground as shrapnel flew past him, embedding itself into the beach. He lay flat for a few moments, waiting for the fiery rain to subside. He opened his eyes again, and blinking through the sand, saw a piece of shrapnel stabbing into beach less than a foot from his head. It was a piece of the cabin wall. Embossed on it was a familiar logo: Oceanic Airlines. He blinked at it for a moment, unable to comprehend it until it suddenly hit him.
This was not his plane.
An hour ago, he was ready to punch Ryan in the face.
“It was amazing,” Ryan was saying. “It was so emotional and heartfelt… absolutely brilliant.”
“It was stupid,” Kevin argued, gripping his drink so tightly that the plastic cup was buckling a bit. “It was a trite, stupid cop-out. We don’t know anything else about the fertility issues on the Island! We don’t know where the statue or the hieroglyphics came from! The only thing we know is that Jack is dead and the whole thing was utterly pointless!”
“Look,” Ryan said. “Just because you didn’t like it doesn’t mean that it was awful. I loved it.” He paused. “It proves that the show is all about the characters.”
Kevin sighed, burying his face in his hands. An uppercut to Ryan’s jaw wouldn’t hurt that much, he reasoned.
“The show was never about the characters, Ryan!” Kevin argued, shaking his drink so that a little sloshed over the side. “I liked the characters just as much as you did, but the show was about the Island, and we learned absolutely nothing about the Island in that entire six years!”
“They left it open to interpretation,” came a new voice, and they turned to see the man sitting across the aisle from them. The man was typing furiously into a Mac computer, taking advantage of the plane’s wi-fi. “When you look at the chronology on Lostpedia, you can see stuff that obviously happened that we just didn’t see.” He turned to Kevin. “Would it have been a better show for you if we watched the group of Egyptians build the statue? That was obviously their only purpose on the Island, so what does it matter if we saw them doing it?”
Kevin frowned at him. “Were you at the party?” he said, changing the subject. “You look familiar.”
“Yeah, I was at the party,” the guy replied. “Sat in the third row.” He extended his hand across the aisle to Ryan. “I’m Jeff Olsen,” he said, grinning. “I run the blog DeadLockeLost. The name’s sort of a Doctor Who pun.”
“Kevin Stafford,” Kevin replied, shaking it. “I’m just a big fan of Jay and Jack, and I was a big fan of the show, until last night.” Olsen smirked at this, extending his hand to shake Ryan’s.
“I take it your name is Ryan,” Olsen said. “Have you lost all faith, too?”
“Not a chance,” Ryan grinned. “I loved the finale,”
“Me too,” Olsen said, and then frowned a little. “Still, it feels a little odd being on a plane so soon after, you know?”
“Yeah,” Ryan agreed. “It is kind of eerie.”
“Don’t be silly,” Kevin laughed, having finished the rest of his drink. “If we go down, that’ll be the biggest stroke of irony since… since I don’t know when.”
“Don’t fool yourself,” Olsen smiled, leaning back in his seat and refocusing on his Macbook. “Irony is the sincerest form of fate.”
He stared at the Oceanic logo, his mouth quickly going dry. He must have taken quite a hit in the fall, he reasoned, because this wasn’t possible, dammit!
He blinked, using the same tactic he had used when he’d seen Locke earlier. If he just closed his eyes, it would be gone in a moment. He slammed his eyelids shut and counted to five.
The logo was still there.
He stood up, his ears ringing again from the explosion. There was even more fire among the metal now, and a couple of chunks of what he presumed was Gary Troup. It was all too real now. If he was hallucinating, it felt real enough that he needed to go along with it.
And then he heard his name being called. “Kevin!”
He spun around, staring through the smoking wreckage at the figure running toward him. It was Ryan, looking incredibly bloody and battered, but alive. There was a gash across his forehead that was still leaking blood, and one of his eyes was slightly swollen.
They met in the middle, glad to see each other alive. “What happened?” Ryan asked him as they parted, looking around. “Something’s happened.”
“There’s been a plane crash,” Kevin replied, feeling sick to his stomach. “But it isn’t the right plane. It’s Oceanic.”
Ryan nodded. “I saw the logo. I don’t know what to think of it, though… Oceanic Airlines doesn’t exist! Have you seen anyone else from the plane? Olsen?”
Kevin shook his head. “Haven’t seen anyone I know but you. I thought I saw–”
“Kevin,” Ryan interrupted, pointing into the distance. “Kevin!”
Kevin’s eyes followed Ryan’s finger and he saw a figure disappearing into the woods.
“Kevin, I saw Kate,” Ryan said. “It was Kate!”
“Evangeline Lilly, you mean?” Kevin asked, though the knot in the pit of his stomach knew better.
There was suddenly a giant creaking noise, and they both looked up to see the wing of the plane, which had been perched precariously on top of the fuselage, swaying. It was going to fall. He remembered this.
Suddenly, Ryan was running past him, down the beach. Kevin tried to call his name but it was fruitless. Ryan wasn’t running away from the wing, he was running toward someone. A pregnant girl and a large man were sitting down the beach, and Ryan was running to save them, just as a man in a suit was doing the same thing.
The wing fell just as Claire and Hurley were safely out of the way, and a giant explosion swelled up from the wing’s fuel pocket. The force of the blast threw Kevin through the air, and he slammed into a wall of the plane. He slid down the fuselage and collapsed in the sand, unconscious.
Ryan stood up, glancing down at the girl in front of him whose life he had just saved. She was crying.
“Claire,” he said, helping her up. “It’s going to be okay. Your baby is going to be okay.”
Still sobbing, she glanced up at him in confusion. “How did you know my name?” she asked, but he was already gone, running back in the direction which he had come.
Kevin’s unconscious body was crumpled in the sand when Ryan found him, and for a brief, terrible moment, he thought that Kevin was dead. Kevin was breathing, he soon realized, and immediately reached down and picked him up, pulling his arm over one shoulder. He began half-dragging Kevin from the site down the beach.
He dropped Kevin in the sand about a hundred yards down the beach, and sat down next to him, staring out at the ocean. This was too impossible to be true. It had to be some sort of hallucination. Maybe it was a group hallucination, though he couldn’t even tell whether or not Kevin was real or just a figment of his imagination. His thoughts were a jumbled mess, and he didn’t know how to express them.
A shadow suddenly fell over him, and he glanced up to see Rose Nadler standing over him, almost in a trance. “Hello,” she said absently, glancing out to the ocean. “Is your friend okay?”
Ryan quickly stood, extending his hand. “Yes,” he said slowly, unsure. “He just got knocked out when the wing exploded.”
Rose nodded, shaking his hand slowly. “I still don’t know what happened. I can’t find my husband anywhere.”
Ryan smiled warmly. “Was he in the tail section of the plane?” he asked, feigning ignorance.
Rose nodded again, staring out at the waves. “He went to the bathroom…The tail section didn’t even land on the beach,” she said, her voice shaking. “It might be out there somewhere,” she said, gesturing to the ocean.
“Don’t worry,” Ryan said, still smiling. “Your husband is alive, and he’s probably thinking the same thing about you.”
Rose smiled briefly, but the flash of happiness was soon gone from her face. “How do you know that?” she asked, doubt wavering in her voice.
“I have faith,” Ryan said. “And I know you do, too.”
Rose smiled again, faintly. “Do you mind if I sit down?” she asked. “I nearly died this morning and I’m a little out of sorts.”
“Feel free,” Ryan said. “In fact, will you keep an eye on Kevin here? I need to go look for someone.”
Rose nodded, smiling. “Absolutely. But I never caught your name,” she said as Ryan turned to leave. He glanced back over his shoulder at her.
“It’s Ryan,” he said.
“Thank you, Ryan,” she said. “I’ll look after your friend for you.”
She seated herself where Ryan had been sitting, and reached for the ring that was hanging around her neck. Ryan turned and began walking toward the fuselage.
When Kevin awoke, he looked up to see Rose sitting next to him. It was twilight, and the sun had almost gone completely down. Through his blurred vision and throbbing head, he could see a fire being built on the horizon. A signal fire.
They still think they can be rescued, he realized, and snorted. Rose glanced down at him. “Finally, you’re up,” she said. “Your friend Ryan’s had me looking after you,” she said, smiling.
“Ryan,” Kevin said, standing up. “Where’d he go?”
Rose simply looked at him. “I don’t know… he went toward the fuselage about two hours ago and I haven’t seen him since. Maybe you should sit down.”
Kevin smiled, ignoring her last sentence, thanked Rose, and immediately set off running for the fuselage down the beach.
Ryan was sitting beside the fire when he found him, talking to a hooded man with shady eyes. But the hooded man was laughing, happily. That wasn’t how Charlie was supposed to look. He was supposed to be angry, introspective.
“Yeah, yeah!” Ryan was saying. “I liked you guys a lot. ‘You All Everybody’ was a classic, for sure.”
Charlie laughed. “I wrote that one by myself, but Liam made me put his name on it, too. Sort of like Lennon/McCartney, you know?”
Ryan nodded. “I can imagine. But to be honest, I thought you were a lot more talented than Liam.”
Charlie grinned. “Thanks, man. I always thought–” he stopped suddenly as Kevin approached the fire.
“Ryan,” Kevin said, “We need to talk.”
“Kevin!” Ryan replied, standing up. “How’s your head? You were bleeding something nasty when–”
“We need to talk, now,” Kevin said, his hand instinctively going to his head. “It’s important.”
Ryan’s brow furrowed, and he turned to Charlie. “Look, I’ll see you later,” he said. “I’ve gotta go.”
Charlie nodded, looking back at the fire. “If they don’t rescue us before then,” he shrugged hopefully.
Ryan and Kevin took off across the beach, passing a familiar man leaning against the fuselage and smoking. Soon they reached a part of the wreckage that no one was around. Kevin turned to face Ryan, holding up a finger.
“What have you said to them? Who have you spoken to?”
“Well, there was Charlie,” said Ryan, “and I talked to Boone for a while. Jack and Kate were too busy setting up a tent for the marshal, and Hurley was already off rationing food.”
“You haven’t told them anything, have you?” Kevin asked anxiously.
“Told them anything? What is this, Stranger Danger?”
“No,” Kevin said. “This is… something. I don’t know what, but it’s important that we don’t change anything.”
“Are you kidding me?” Ryan scoffed. “This probably isn’t even real?”
“I think it is real,” said Kevin. “I was unconscious. If this was a dream, I wouldn’t have blacked out. You can’t do that in a dream.”
Ryan stared at him thoughtfully. “A hallucination, then?”
“Think about what you’re saying. This doesn’t make sense. A group hallucination? This isn’t Fringe, buddy.”
Ryan shrugged. “Look, say this is real. I don’t think it is, but let’s go with your assumption. Why do you not want me to tell anyone what we know?”
“So you haven’t told,” sighed Kevin with relief.
“No, I haven’t told, but why shouldn’t I?”
“You know what happens when you try to mess with the future. Either things course correct and somebody dies, or it just doesn’t work at all.”
“Faraday’s bomb plan worked. He changed the future that way. He made a difference.”
“No, he didn’t. It didn’t work. It became the incident. Didn’t you watch the finale?”
Ryan stood for a moment, shaking his head. “What if we’re here for that reason, though? What if we were meant to change things?”
“That’s what Jack thought! Look what happened to him. He killed Juliet, and ended up creating the chain of events he was trying to prevent!”
“Jack didn’t appear in the wreckage of a plane he wasn’t on,” Ryan said. “If this is real, we’re meant to be here. We have a purpose.”
There was suddenly a crashing in the jungle, and the trees began to shake. People cried out in terror as the familiar ticka-ticka sounds of the monster began to echo throughout the newly darkened night.
“Telling them will only alienate ourselves,” said Kevin as they watched the trees fold under the might of the unseen smoke. “Hell, they might even get Sayid to torture us. And if we alienate ourselves on this Island,” Kevin said, pointing out into the darkened jungle and the collapsing trees, “we’ll be stuck with him.