They found the passports. They found the luggage, clothes and boarding passes, but they never found the passengers.
They found the plane easily enough. It had made a safe and controlled landing in a field not too far from where Control had seen it disappear from the radar. There was no sign of engine trouble- no smoke, no flames- but the rescue teams still braced themselves for the worst.
They found nothing.
Well, that’s not entirely true- they found open books, lonely iPods still playing music and cold cups of tea still brewing. But there were no people- living or dead, passengers or crew. When they entered the cockpit they saw nothing concerning, there were no flashing warning lights and plenty of fuel for the journey. When they played the recording on the black box there were no cries for help or signs of struggle, just inane conversation between the pilots and the occasional air-steward. The last words that could be heard on the recording were the co-pilot taking about his family.
“Carrie’s just got her dance scholarship. We’re so proud. Amy’s making her favourite, maca-” And that was it. Cut off mid-word, but the recording didn’t stop. The rest of the tape was crystal clear silence, as if both pilots had ceased to exist.