Geo and Niri stood at the bottom of the cliff, looking up to the expanse of wet-sand coloured rock above them. It was dark in the belly of the canyon, dark and dank.
Behind them lay the smoking wreckage of a plane, blackened metal mixed with still-burning flames of fuel.
On their back remained the straps of their parachutes. Geo’s ankle was twisted and Niri had a bloodied rash on her forehead.
‘Now what?’ Geo asked, his voice a low drawl.
‘Down then. Through the canyon.’
‘We can’t just sit here and wait. They’ll find us. We’ll be sitting ducks.’
Geo paused before answering, thinking through their limited options, his cynical brain searching for flaws. ‘Won’t they find us anyway? All they need to do is follow the canyon.’
‘Maybe. Maybe they’ll assume we died in the crash.’
‘They’re not stupid.’
‘So you say!’
Another long pause. Geo kicked at the bulk of the parachute which had bundled around his feet. Niri looked up again at the imposing flat face of the cliff. She shook her head, there really was no other choice.
‘We’ll need to hide the chutes well.’ She said.
Geo nodded briefly in return and, almost as one, they scurried back to the main body of wreckage, hiding the tell-tale silk of their saving chutes and searching for bits of equipment, food and water that they might be able to scavenge.
‘Ready?’ Niri asked, clutching the few supplies that had survived the fall. Her head wound still bleed slightly, tiny rivulets of red trickling down her left cheek.
‘Ready.’ Geo didn’t sound so sure.
‘Let’s go then.’
Neither of them moved.
‘Up or down?’
A sharp look in either direction revealed nothing of any substance.
‘Well, do you know where it goes?’
A negative shake.
‘Or where it starts from?’
‘Then it really really doesn’t matter.’
‘Then let’s assume down is easier.’
They set off, one hobbling, one laden with the weight of the crash.
The canyon floor was littered with debris amongst the sturdy shrubs and, in a shallow depression in the centre of the few metres between sheer cliff walls, ran a slow moving sludge of a stream. There was little life down there, the clear blue ribbon of sky above them indicated that it was a sunny day but down there, down in their narrow pit, it may as well have been that cold and uncomfortable hour before dawn…