The Mystery of Munroe Island

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Translation of Satyajit Ray's Shonku adventure.
The advent of Professor Trilokashwar Shonku of Scottish Church College faculty, in the literary sphere of the Bengali Science-fiction adventure, emerged in the year of 1961 for the first time. “Byomjatrir Diary” (The Diary of the Space-Traveller”) was first published in the Sandesh Magazine. Written by Satyajit Ray, the Bengali Oscar-winning film-maker and author. That was merely the beginning. And Professor Shonku novels became megahit since the very beginning. Since then, total 38 complete Shonku adventures have been published until 1992.
This scientist cum explorer Professor is a bona fide Bengalee. He is a globetrotting scientist and eccentric genius. He is intrepid in the wildest fiercest expeditions, but then again incredibly humble. He has been received with utter respect in the international academic community. His self-confidence, inner strength and versatile innovative talent are astounding. Prof. Shonku has travelled the world in connection with his research and discoveries, and has been honoured by the Swedish Academy of Science. Shonku novels are outstanding cocktails of world-wide travelling, mystic adventures, supernatural thriller drama, reckless campaigns, mysteries, fantasy and hair-rising suspense. Shonku series are allrounder that keep entertaining the readers of a wide range of ages. They include Ray’s marvellous illustrations as well.

The advent of Professor Trilokashwar Shonku of Scottish Church College faculty, in the literary sphere of the Bengali Science-fiction adventure, emerged in the year of 1961 for the first time. “Byomjatrir Diary” (The Diary of the Space-Traveller”) was first published in the Sandesh Magazine. Written by Satyajit Ray, the Bengali Oscar-winning film-maker and author. That was merely the beginning. And Professor Shonku novels became megahit since the very beginning. Since then, total 38 complete Shonku adventures have been published until 1992.

This scientist cum explorer Professor is a bona fide Bengalee. He is a globetrotting scientist and eccentric genius. He is intrepid in the wildest fiercest expeditions, but then again incredibly humble. He has been received with utter respect in the international academic community. His self-confidence, inner strength and versatile innovative talent are astounding. Prof. Shonku has travelled the world in connection with his research and discoveries, and has been honoured by the Swedish Academy of Science. Shonku novels are outstanding cocktails of world-wide travelling, mystic adventures, supernatural thriller drama, reckless campaigns, mysteries, fantasy and hair-rising suspense. Shonku series are allrounder that keep entertaining the readers of a wide range of ages. They include Ray’s marvellous illustrations as well.

 

Professor Shonku’s remarkable discoveries, medicine, device, weapon:

Annihilin - A pistol capable of annihilating (obliterating) any living being.

Miracurall - A drug that cures any ailment, the name is an acronym of Miracle Cure for All Ailments.

Omniscope - A combination of telescope, microscope and X-ray-scope which looks like and can be worn as spectacles.

Air-conditioning pill - A capsule to be carried in pocket, that keeps the body temperature normal in extreme climate.

Remembrain - A device that revives memory.

Botica Indica - A pill that replaces the body’s need for food and water for 24 hours.

Microsonograph - A machine to hear subsonic sounds and speeches.

 

Consult Wikipedia for a complete list.

 

The Diary of the Space-traveller, 1961

Professor Shonku and the Egyptian Terror, 1963

Professor Shonku and Macaw, 1964

Professor Shonku and the bones, 1964

Professor Shonku and the Mysterious Dolls, 1965

Professor Shonku and the Mysterious Sphere, 1965

Professor Shonku and the Chi-Ching, 1965

Professor Shonku and the Ghost, 1966

Professor Shonku and the Little Boy, 1968

Professor Shonku and Robu, 1968

Professor Shonku and the Mystery of the Bloodred Fish, 1968

Professor Shonku and Cochabamba Cave, 1969

Professor Shonku and Gorilla, 1969

Professor Shonku and the Box in Baghdad, 1970

The Island of Dreams, 1971

The Strange Animal, 1971

The Mystery in the Desert, 1972

Corvus, 1972

The Unicorn Expedition, 1973

Dr. Sherring’s Recollection, 1974

Hypnogen, 1976

Curse of Saturn on Shonku, 1976

Shonku’s Golden Opportunity, 1977

The Mystery of Munroe Island, 1977

Compu, 1978

The Messenger from Space, 1979

Mr. Nokur and El Dorado, 1980

Shonku’s Expedition to Congo, 1981

Professor Shonku and UFO, 1982

A Bizarre Creature, 1983

Professor Rondi’s Time Machine, 1985

Shonku and the Prehistoric Man, 1986

The Tomb of Nephrudet, 1986

Shonku’s Study of the Afterlife, 1987

Shonku and Frankenstein, 1988

Dr. Danieli’s Discovery, 1988

Prophecy by Don Christobaldi, 1989

The Gold Shrub, 1990

Intellectron, 1992

Adventure on Drexel Island, 1992

 

 

 

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The Mystery of Munroe Island

written by Satyajit Ray

translated to English (UK)

by Dr. Anjana Sen

 

 

 

The Munroe Island, 12th March

 

The description of all the incidents in last 3 weeks prior to our arrival on this island is written as a draft in my diary. Now that I have time in my hand, I am writing them down in an organized manner.

 

It’s perhaps needless to say that, I have again become part of an expedition team. This island might have a name, since three hundred years ago from today humans landed here, but the name didn’t reach the civilized part of the world. For now, we would call it Munroe Island.

 

We are total 5 people in the group. My old friend Jeremy Saunders is one of them, he is the one who initiated this expedition. When it comes to the initial ideas in the beginning of this exploring expedition, it’s necessary to introduce Bill Callenbach. He is part of our team as well. Resident of California, tall brawny guy with a daredevil disposition, and photography as profession. He is soon turning 45, but carries himself with the deportment of a young man of half the age. Saunders and Callenbach have been acquainted with each other for several years now. Last December Callenbach travelled to various cities in the North-West Africa on behalf of the National Geographic magazine with a purpose of taking pictures of some local festivities. There had been an astonishing incident when he came to the city of Agadir in Morocco. Agadir is a city at the seashore, there is a lot of fishermen living here. Callenbach went to the fishermen quarter with a purpose of getting acquainted with the residents there and take pictures of them. In one of the fishermen’s home, the fisherman’s 3-year-old son caught his eye. The boy was playing with a stopper bottle in his hand. A piece of paper inside that bottle aroused Callenbach’s curiosity. When he took the bottle from the child’s hand and inspected it closely, he found out that, the bottle is sealed and the piece of paper inside is a letter written in English. From the handwriting style, it seems that, the letter is ages old. After asking the child’s father, Callenbach found out that, they had the bottle in their family since his grandfather’s time. Those fishermen are Muslim, speak Arabic, hence taking the letter out of the bottle to read was out of the question.

Callenbach took the letter out of the bottle and read it, and only a few days later he finished his assignment over there and left for London.

He visited Saunders in London and showed him the letter.

A letter of a few lines written by pencil.

Latitude 33° East - Longitude 33° North, 13 December, 1622

On this unknown island we have come across such an amazing plant that its ambrosial qualities have the potential to bring about revolutionary change in human life. Despite Brandon’s embargo against disclosing this news to the outside world, I am putting this letter in a bottle and tossing it in the sea. Blackhole Brandon is now the ruler of this island. After reading my floating message, in case a group of explorers ever comes to this island with a purpose of collecting this plant, they should come prepared for an encounter with Brandon. I am soon going to be Brandon’s victim myself.

signed

-Hector Munroe

 

 

The first thing Saunders did after the letter came to his hand is to go to the office of the Navy in London and enquire whether any ship sank in the Atlantic ocean in the time period of 1621 - 1622. Navy keeps sea voyage-related ancient documents as well. Hector Munroe’s name was in the list of passengers in one of the three ships that sank in 1622. This ship, named “Conquest”, was sailing from Gibraltar to the Virgin Islands located in the Atlantic. The ship sank near Bermuda. Reason unknown. The Navy report says, nobody survived. But Now we have got the evidence that Hector Munroe survived. However, about the person named Brandon as mentioned in Munroe’s letter, there was nobody named Brandon in the passenger-list.

Saunders made further enquiry into the case and managed to dig up this piece of information that, in the early seventeenth century there was a fierce and ruthless pirate called Greg Brandon. Rumour has it, he was missing one eye, just a hole in the eye-socket instead. And that gave him the name “Blackhole Brandon”. This Brandon killed over thousand people out of greed for gold.  Jamaica island was one major base for the British pirates at that time. Perhaps the ship Conquest got captured by Brandon’s pirate ship, got wrecked as a result and sank. One of the reasons why Munroe survived was perhaps Brandon himself kept him alive on purpose. We have to keep in mind that Munroe was a physician. At that time on pirate ships there was high demand for good doctors.

In the old days while travelling by sea, once diseases like Scurvy, Pellagra, Beri-Beri hit the ship, there was almost no hope for recovery or survival. That’s why a good doctor – who is capable of medical treatment of these diseases, and can perform surgery if necessary – was absolutely indispensable at sea. Hector Munroe was definitely no exception. However, there was no information found on how Munroe and Brandon ended up on this unknown island.

In short, after collecting all these information, Saunders became very adamant about travelling to that strange island at least once, even though three hundred and fifty years have already passed. As soon as he wrote to me about this, I immediately agreed to join the expedition and arrived in London within seven days. On arrival, I saw that, the travel arrangements are almost finished. Callenbach of course kept us informed that, he will join if we ever go on exploration. After a conversation with him, I realized that, he dreamed of making a fortune by taking pictures for TV channels.

The fourth member of the team was a Japanese scientist. His name is Hidechi Suma. Proof of one of his numerous talents and skills is standing at the sea-shore right in front of us. It’s a jet-powered sea cruiser vessel. It’s called Sumacraft. We have already experienced how amazing it is after travelling one and a half thousand miles on sea. This Sumacraft has never let us down so far even in various adverse situations.  This is the seacraft Suma came to London for the purpose of giving a demonstration for, and that’s the time he met Saunders. Suma is not only the creator of this jetboat, he has brought with him many more of his self-invented devices, which he thought would be useful in our expedition. Besides, Suma is a first-rate Biochemist. Finally, there is one more of his remarkable qualities, Suma’s introduction and description would stay incomplete, if I don’t mention that. I have never seen another person as neat and tidy as him. Any time you look at him, he always looks like as if he is still in his own city Osaka, and is ready to go to work at once with his briefcase in his hand.

Before I say the name of the fifth member of our team, let me tell you how he became part of our team.

Right after finalizing the decision of our exploring expedition, Saunders called for candidates to join our team by publishing advertisements in all newspapers of London. A list of five required qualifications were given as eligibility, – one, prior experience of sea-voyage; two, prior experience of participation in at least 2 Scientific expeditions; three, one higher academic degree in any discipline of Science; four, good health; five, experience in using weapons. This fifth member of our team didn’t qualify for any of these other than just the first one. This guy is not a Scientist, but his expertise is in literature; he never participated in any expedition, Scientific, non-Scientific, whatsoever; his only adventure turned out to be getting into a group as a school student and climbing up one and half thousand feet on Ben Nevis mountain in Scotland. One cannot call it a significant accomplishment, as Ben Nevis is almost four and a half thousand feet in altitude. Then what’s the reason for this selection?

The reason is, David Munroe is Hector Munroe’s descendant. If we go several generations back, we will see that he is directly related to Hector by blood. As soon as David saw the ad, he came straight to Saunders’ house and made earnest request to accept him in this expedition. He said that, he heard about Shakespeare’s contemporary Dr. Munroe from his father and grandfather. Hector Munroe was the doctor in British Naval Commander Duke of Effingham’s own ship, at the time when the British Naval Force defeated the Spanish Armada in naval warfare. David became even more stubborn when he came to know about Blackhole Brandon’s involvement. Since his childhood he has been reading tales of pirates; he is even familiar with stories about Blackhole Brandon. It would be a memorable adventure for him, if one of Blackhole Brandon’s treasure-chests still exists on this island, and if there is still treasure in it. It’s necessary to mention here that, David is only 22 years old.

One cannot help but doubt this young man’s health conditions and toil efficiency just by looking at him.  It’s obvious that his hands had never held anything other than a pen, stay aside weapon. The nonchalant look in his eyes, his style of speaking in a soft voice, his shoulder-length messy blond hair, all these reveal that, his physical strength is very little, no matter how strong his imagination is. But this is the young man Saunders ultimately selected, because he couldn’t ignore this one qualification, – blood of that person who wrote the letter in the bottle is running through David’s veins.

Moreover, there is one more member of the team, which is a canine; David’s pet Great Dane dog Rocket. There is no doubt that, this is the team-member who has the best health among us.

We just arrived here this morning. Even after travelling three hundred miles per day, when there was no sign of shore last two days, we started to doubt whether there is any island at all in this part of the Atlantic Ocean or not. When Saunders was looking through the binoculars earlier this morning, he said he can see a shore through the fog, Callenbach got ready with his movie-camera right away. It was a bit astounding for me, because usually gaggles of seagulls fly in and announce in their hoarse voice that a seashore is approaching, long before the shore actually comes to sight. This time we noticed the exception.

After our arrival on the island, we realized that, there is nothing astounding about this, because even after hiking around nearly five Kilometres all day long, we failed to see any animal other than a couple of insects and some crabs on the strand. Furthermore, we didn’t notice any unusual or atypical plant species either. We didn’t see anything other than the vegetation, plant-life and fruits that are typically expected to grow in these regions. It was however merely some parts of the West side of the island that we explored today.

We are camping near the beach. This is the South part of the island. There isn’t really any plant on this side; only sand and rocks. This island is quite small in size, and has a somewhat flat terrain; but the middle zone – which is five or five and a half Kilometres away from our camping area – is relatively high, and full of large hillocks.

David seems to be in good mood, good to see him running around on the beach with his dog Rocket. The way he looked in London or during our trip on sea, that has obviously changed a bit within only a few hours here since our arrival.

Trouble is however Callenbach. As soon as he set foot on the island, he sneezed about thirty times in a row, followed by coming down with fever along with chills and shivers. Needless to say that, we couldn’t take him along with us in our exploring campaign today. Suma and Callenbach stayed in camp. Suma is busy with installing his devices and apparatuses, putting them in function, and setting up a miniature laboratory as well. Chemical analysis is going to be necessary, in case we find a new plant.

Despite fever, Callenbach predicted that, we are going to pack up and leave this island within merely a couple of days. In his opinion, there are numerous islands like this one all over the entire Atlantic Ocean.

I am, however, constantly thinking about Hector Munroe’s letter. As the latitude-longitude matched, then this must be the exact island mentioned in that letter. This is where Munroe discovered that extraordinary plant.

 

13th March, noon

 

Callenbach’s prediction didn’t come true. There is no question of leaving this island within one or two days. Let me tell you why.

This morning after sea bathing and breakfast, when we were getting ready to go out for our exploring expedition, David showed up and expressed his wish to venture out alone for a round of hiking, taking Rocket along. He has become more daring; it was already showing yesterday. In fact, being a writer and all, it’s difficult for him to hang around with a bunch of scientists like us. We have come here with a mission to scrutinize every single thing, and that calls for time and patience. David explained, he intends to explore those distant hillocks, whether there is any cave or something. He believes, Blackhole Brandon’s treasure might still exist hidden in a cave over there. “I’ll go and explore and return within half an hour,” he said.

I tried to explain to him that, although there are no large beasts on such islands, however, it’s highly probable that there might be venomous snakes and scorpions. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to take the risk. David still remained adamant; saying that Callenbach has a gun, which he is going to bring along; besides Rocket is coming with him, hence no need to be afraid.

While I have been mulling over how to restrain this stupid boy’s childish stubbornness, I heard, “No – no no no !”

Suma came out of his camp shaking his head.

“No – no no no !”

What’s the matter ? It was quite amusing to see such a stern prohibition with a smiling face. Suma put down a small apparatus from his hand on sand and said, “There is something big here. Some living thing. Five point seven Kilometres from here – that way.”

Suma raised his hand and pointed at those distant hillocks. Then he showed us his extraordinary device that he designed and built himself. He has named it Telecardioscope.

With this device, it’s possible to listen to the heartbeats of any animal even at long distance. It’s up to ten Kilometres. One can locate the direction and the distance of the animal’s position by turning the receiver and a knob in the machine. The sound of heartbeat starts in the machine as soon as direction and distance match, at the same time a coloured lamp indicator starts blinking.

The indicator lamp turns deep violet at a distance of ten Kilometres. As the animal approaches, the indicator lamp goes through all the colours of the rainbow in the order of VIBGYOR, finally becoming red at a distance of one Kilometer. At the same time, the sound of heartbeat becomes louder as well. The device doesn’t react any more, when the animal approaches closer than one Kilometer.

“The animal is still in the same location,” Suma told us, “and I think it is quite big.”

“What do you mean ? How big ?” I asked.

“Larger than human, I believe. Larger the size, slower is the heartbeat. Heartbeat of a normal human is about seventy per minute. This appears to be little over fifty.”

“Can it be a tortoise ?” I asked. It’s not unusual to find tortoises in these regions. Besides, there may be other large animals on this island, such as, deers or apes, their heartbeats are faster than human.

“The way it seems to be lying still in the same position, it can very well be tortoise,” said Suma.

“But indeed, the question is, what is it doing in the middle of the Island so far away from the beach.”

Saunders completely ruled out the idea of tortoise. He believes it’s some other type of animal, and perhaps this island’s only large living being. Therefore, in this situation, it’s not wise to let David wander away all by himself.

After we watched this sound and light show for another minute, Suma switched off the device. I couldn’t help but applaud Suma’s innovative achievement. Dogs like Great Dane are capable of sensing the presence of animals nearby long before humans do; but even Rocket seems to be a mere infant in comparison to such a machine. We are all ready to go, only problem is Bill Callenbach. Even after taking a variety of medicine that he brought along, nothing worked. On our return, I will make him take one Miracurall pill. This medication that I invented can cure all ailments except common cold. That poor guy is now lying in bed squirming impatiently. Because the news of existence of an animal on this island has shown him the light of hope that his TV-camera won’t go in vain. Today also Suma is going to stay in his camp. Just another hour’s work and his miniature lab will be ready, he believes.

Three of us went out taking Rocket with us. If any animal approaches us, it’s up to Rocket to let us know, and there is nothing to worry about as long as no animals are nearby.

However, those hillocks in the middle of the island are not our target of expedition. That area doesn’t appear to have any vegetation at all. Today we are going to explore the East side of the island. We plan to proceed along the coastline, and as soon as the flora starts getting denser, we will leave the coastline and enter the forest. All three of us are carrying weapons. Saunders has his German mannlicher rifle on his shoulder, David has Callenbach’s Beretta automatic pistol in his pocket, and my Annihilin or the weapon that obliterates and exterminates everything is in my vest-pocket. When I had told Callenbach about this weapon of mine, he gave me warning that he won’t let me use it when he is with us in the team, no matter which animal approaches us, because he cannot take picture of things that get obliterated.

While hiking, we made an agreement that, if any of us intends to saunter off, he must call out loudly and repeatedly to let us know his whereabouts. It’s however not allowed to leave the team and wander off too far. This pact is of course for David’s sake, because I began to notice quite well that, some sort of restlessness has replaced his natural nonchalant idle mood. At the moment, we are in an area where there is no chance to disappear even if one of us wanders off from the group. Because there is no high hummock or tall tree nearby.

There is one thing that is going on in my head – Suma’s machine indicated only one animal; are there more ? If yes, are they all located longer than ten Kilometres away ? Perhaps not, because I believe this island’s area is not even 10 Kilometres either direction, length or width. Just seven days’ hiking and we will finish exploring everything on this island.

After a mile or so along the coastline, the scenery changed. Now we have to leave the coastline and enter the inner area of the island. Here on our left hand side – that is to say on the opposite side of the sea – at first a forest of short palm trees; thereafter that forest gradually got denser. There are several various larger trees here side by side with banana, papaya, coconut trees etc. On this side, there is no more rocky ground, and under our feet there is undergrowth of grass and shrubs instead of sand.

All three of us plus Rocket entered the forest. One thing that is astonishing is lack of birds’ chirping. I have never seen such a quiet forest – particularly in this part of the world, where there are at least eight to ten varieties of cockatoo birds alone. Besides, there is often a type of sound that one can hear in such forests, that’s the sound of movements of reptiles through grass, and that is absent here. It’s like a cursed forest. The trees that have survived so far may not stay alive for long.

After hiking for ten more minutes, the forest became somewhat sparse, and right after that we reached an open area, and all four of us were taken aback and had to come to an abrupt halt. David was in front and he was the first who let out a shriek mixed with fear and shock and then turned speechless. Rest of us came forward, and what we saw is the following –

In that open area in the middle of the backwoods, there are animal bones, ribs, skull, etc. scattered all over occupying a large part of it. We had hard time recognizing two deers, four large reptiles like Chameleon – most probably Iguanas – and several varieties of apes. It’s obvious from the condition of the bones that they are ages old.

It means that, once upon a time there were animals on this island, but not anymore. We don’t have enough information in hand in order to explain why these animals became extinct.

After staying frozen for a while, words came out of David’s mouth.

“That monster ! – It’s that monster who devoured all these animals.”

We figured out, the animal we heard the heartbeat of through Suma’s machine only a while ago has already turned into a monster in David’s imagination !  However, it’s not yet the time to just assume that some monster has eaten these; it can also be natural death. But why would so many different types of animals come to this particular place and die ?

We continued hiking.

In front there is a forest of Mahogany trees, there are also a few cedar trees among them as well, and there are flower-plants in the family of Jasmine and Hibiscus scattered around the area, and Bougainvillea plants. I have seen plenty of Mahogany trees, but the bright blue patch on the trunk of some of these Mahogany trees which we see here, that I have never seen before.

On closer inspection, we understood the reason for the blue colour. The colour doesn’t belong to the tree itself, it’s coming from numerous tiny fruit-like things which looked like beehive stuck on the tree. It’s also necessary to mention the smell. This part of the forest is filled with an ineffable fragrance. The fascinating colour and fragrance of this extraordinary plant stunned us for a few moments. After coming back to senses from that stunned state, young David rushed there in exultation and was going to touch the fruits, Saunders and I scolded him and restrained him. The fruits started to get loose and fall to the ground as Saunders touched gently with his rubber gloves on. We filled plastic bags with hundreds of those fruits and came back. It’s absolutely urgent to get Suma perform Chemical analyses of these fruits without delay. We have never seen something like this before. My intuition is telling me that, these are the mysterious fruits mentioned in Munroe’s letter. It’s evidently a parasite plant; it survives by sucking sap from the Mahogany trees.

Suma’s miniature laboratory is ready, he has already started the Chemical analyses of the blue figs. We found out that, there is no harm touching the fruits. I have been in Callenbach’s tent and showed him one piece of these fruits. He took it in his hand, inspected it thoroughly, sighed and left it on the side table. I can see that, he regretted missing the opportunity of capturing the special moment of fruit-discovery on his TV-camera. I have given him one Miracurall pill. I must get him on his feet any way I can. Callenbach doesn’t want to take any medication other than those from his own country, but being helpless and finding no other means he has now agreed.

 

 

13th March, 09:00 p.m.

 

My optimism is growing stronger that our mission won’t go in vain. It’s impossible to anticipate the consequences, but the way things are turning out, it indicates that we will be able to return home with some amazing experiences.

Today I served Callenbach only a little chicken soup at lunch. His pulse seems quite weak. It worries me to see the way he looks after only a couple of days’ illness. Despite his physical condition he curiously asked about that beast. Have we been able to find it ? Has it come nearer yet or is it still where it was?

 

That Telecardioscope machine is however kept turned off for now. Suma is still deeply absorbed in his Chemical analyses of the fruit. His occasional shout was indicating that his study was progressing excellently. Saunders and I are anxiously watching Suma’s experiments. The reactions that are occurring in front of our eyes are not unknown to us. We can clearly see that, existence of all sorts of vitamins in this fruit is gradually being revealed. In Munroe’s time, the word “vitamin” wasn’t even created yet. Science was still in infant stage back then, and the beginning of the usage of edibles came another two and a half hundred years later.

At half past three o’clock, Suma uttered just two words as he stood up from his chair. First “amazing”, then said, “and mysterious”, as he pushed his handkerchief quarter inches down into his pocket.

We didn’t notice when Callenbach left his bed in the meantime and has been standing behind us. As I looked at him, he reached out his hand, grabbed my hand and shook it firmly, and said, “Great ! Your medicine is simply exceptional. I’m completely cured !”

“What ? Already within these few hours ?”

“As you can see,” Bill Callenbach smiled.

Even I wasn’t aware myself that my medicine can cure illness so incredibly fast.

“And here you go – this was on my table.”

“What ? This is my medicine, the pill I gave you !”

It didn’t take long to solve the mystery. In delirium of high fever, Callenbach has consumed that blue fruit from his table instead of my pill. And that’s what cured him miraculously. Furthermore, the quality of the fruit is not only reflected in his healing; the shine in Callenbach’s eyes which I notice now, that I have never seen before.  Saunders said to Suma, “No more research is necessary; Let’s bring as many of these fruits with us as possible and go back home. When we cultivate this, all medical companies will go bankrupt !”

Even though Saunders said it as a joke, Suma responded with a solemn seriousness. He said he must continue his research. At least one more day. Other than vitamins, there is a lot more things in it, which he hasn’t yet been able to obtain.

At Callenbach’s insistence, Suma was forced to stop working and had to turn on the Telecardioscope. It indicated that, the animal is still right there where it was. “But his heartbeat is slower,” said Suma.

That’s quite apparent. Yesterday it was fifty, and today it’s below forty.

“Holy crap !” shouted Callenbach, “Is it gonna die ? And you guys are wasting time on that damn fruit, when such a mysterious creature is living on this island?”

“We have already got the fruit, Bill,” responded Saunders. “Tomorrow we are going to explore the middle area of the island. Don’t lose patience.”

Nonetheless, Callenbach kept on grumbling and went back to his own tent.

 

14th March

We cannot go out today anyway. Thunderstorm along with heavy downpour is going on all day long. Having no other way, Callenbach used his camera to take pictures of us, and recorded interviews with all of us on his tape-recorder.

At noon after lunch, we listened to tales of pirates from David. Indeed, this lad really does have a fantastic stock of such stories.

One bad news we got from Suma, if there is anything other than vitamin in this fruit, it’s not possible to find those out by studying in this miniature laboratory. That task needs to be performed in the real laboratory on our return home. Of course our main purpose of coming here has been accomplished. There isn’t much time left to return home. For the time being, Suma specifically forbade us from eating that fruit. If just one piece of these fruits is capable of healing Callenbach’s serious illness within just one hour, then that obviously indicates the incredible power of this fruit. In Suma’s opinion, it wouldn’t be an unexpected surprise, if this fruit inflicts harm side by side with its beneficial effects. I don’t know whether this peculiar boost in appetite is harmful or not, but today at lunch Callenbach has gobbled up three cans of ham all by himself.

 

15th March, 07:00 a.m.

 

Bad news.

Callenbach has gone out all by himself without notifying any of us.

It was David Munroe who gave us the bad news. Callenbach and him are sharing a tent, I am sharing one of the other two with Saunders, and in the third one Suma is staying with all his machineries. When David woke up at 06:30 a.m. this morning, he found Callenbach’s bed empty, and his camera and accessories, which used to be on the table, are also gone. David came out of the tent right away and called out for him repeatedly. But didn’t get any response. Ultimately, he decided to use his dog Rocket’s help, and let it sniff Callenbach’s handkerchief, which was lying next to his pillow. When he saw that, Rocket has started to run towards those distant hillocks, he called it back again.

Suma fell asleep early in the morning after a whole night’s work; we woke him up and gave him the bad news. He immediately turned on his Telecardioscope, and showed us the vibrating yellow light, which indicated that, Callenbach is three Kilometres away from our campsite and proceeding towards the direction of those hillocks.

We are going to leave in just five minutes. It looks like a good day today. All four of us are going today. Saunders couldn’t stop regretting; he kept grumbling repeatedly, “How stupid of me to bring along this reckless guy.”

 

15th March, 05:30 p.m.

So many thrilling incidents at the same time that it made my head spin.

After hiking nearly two Kilometres to the East from those rocky hillocks in the central region of the island, we are now sitting on the sandy beach. Saunders is busy with writing notes in his notebook. He has contracts with three daily magazines for writing articles on our expedition here. This is the first time he opened his notebook after our arrival here.

Callenbach is nowhere to be found; the only things we found are his camera-case and tape-recorder. Both appear to be in deplorable shape. He usually carries his movie-camera strapped to his waist; in case he has become victim of that unknown predator, then that must have happened along with the camera.

David has borrowed Suma’s Japanese Mikiki revolver, and is now exercising target practice by firing at pebbles placed on a stone-block fifty yards away. Seems like, three more days’ practice like this and he is going to become a master shooter.

Suma is pacing back and forth on the beach. Precisely forty paces this way and forty paces that way. Even after eight hours’ hiking, there isn’t a single crease in his clothes, not a single strand of hair out of place !

Inside the leather bag that is hanging from his shoulder he has this amazing device which he has designed himself. It’s called Sumagun. About 18 inches long, it has a button in place of the trigger, it fires a capsule with a needle attached to it instead of bullet, this capsule contains a deadly poison, which Suma has invented himself. This capsule is capable of causing death within only three seconds upon entering any part of the body of a living being.

Now let me tell you our amazing discoveries. The first discovery is, we have found evidence from a few skeletons scattered in a cave, and several glass and metal items such as, drinking glasses, bottles, knives, earrings, etc., which indicate that, there were more people on this island other than Brandon and Munroe. Looks like, this is the island all those people from Brandon’s ship came and took shelter on. We have found total 22 Cutlasses, the type of swords pirates used. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any treasure-chest. However, there is a lot more caves like this on this side of the island; who knows what’s lurking inside those?

 

About ten minutes after we came out of the cave and navigated, we heard Rocket howling, which led us to a place where we found Callenbach’s camera case and tape-recorder left on the ground. Looks like he threw away those two things to become lighter in weight and be able to try to escape. However, we have no idea whether he succeeded to survive or not. We already got Suma to turn on the Telecardioscope when we were there. The outcome wasn’t at all encouraging.

Even by rotating the receiver to all directions, we failed to detect any heartbeat other than the known animals around. One possibility can be that, Callenbach is, for instance, within one Kilometer distance, but what on Earth is he doing there? Is he lying injured? He has the pistol with him, he can at least let us know his whereabouts just by blank-firing. The heartbeat of that beast is again back to fifty. The indicator lamp is lighting between green and yellow; which means the beast is somewhere little more than three Kilometres from here.

We came back with Callenbach’s things to get some rest and have coffee. The first thing Suma did after our return was to lay down the damaged tape-recorder on the sandy ground and turn it on. It started playing just fine. The smile of self-satisfaction on Suma’s face was perhaps because it was a Japanese product. We stood around the machine in the setting sun of the afternoon and listened to Callenbach’s voice.

“This is Bill Callenbach. 14th March, 08:10 a.m. My solo expedition is successful. I saw the beast just now. It came out from a cave about fifty yards away in front of me. Somewhat larger than average human. Most likely quadruped. At times it stands on two legs though and looks around. I was hiding behind a tree, so it couldn’t see me. It went back inside the cave before I had the time to attach the telephoto lens to my camera. It didn’t look like a ferocious monster from a distance. The way it was walking, it seemed ill or doddering old. I’m very cautiously making my way towards the cave.”

That was the end of the narrative exposition. Now it’s our time to return. Who knows what is waiting for us tomorrow.

 

16th March, 06:30 a.m.

 

Gruesome experience. Around 02:30 a.m. last night Rocket’s repeated howling along with David’s scream woke us up. When we came out, we saw that, Rocket is continuously barking facing Northwards, and at the same time trying to free himself off by pulling hard on the leash in David’s hand. It’s a night of no moon, and cloudy sky on top of that, so there was no way to see what made Rocket upset. Saunders had gone back to the tent to fetch the flashlight, but even before that Rocket managed to pull hard throwing David down on the sand and started running towards North in the dark. In the meantime, Suma has turned on the Telecardioscope, but no result. If that beast has come, it’s within one Kilometer.

Utter silence for a while, nothing can be seen even with the flashlight, because Rocket disappeared behind a small hillock. While we were pondering whether it’s a good idea to go ahead and explore, a sudden shriek from Rocket turned our blood run cold. This isn’t a howl of boast or outrage. This is a groan.

Now with the help of our flashlight, we could see Rocket coming back. David rushed towards his beloved dog. We ran after him too. Now we realized the obvious reason of the groan; blood is seeping out of a deep wound on Rocket’s back. However, it became obvious as well that, the beast didn’t only hurt the dog, got injured as well. Its blood was on Rocket’s mouth.

We tended Rocket’s wound with some medication that will heal the lesion by tomorrow.

After testing the blood from Rocket’s mouth, Suma declared it’s blood type A. Several species of apes happen to have this type A blood like humans do. There is no doubt that, this beast belongs to the zoological family-category of apes. Just half an hour ago we went there and discovered its footprints on the sand, fifty yards North from our camp. There were also impressions of fists right in front of the footprints. There are five toes, little bit larger in size than human foot.

In today’s expedition, it’s absolutely necessary for us to be prepared to confront this wild ferocious beast. It has filled our mind with apprehension and panic that, an island that offers such a fruit of divine nectar also harbours such terrorizing ambush of this monstrous ape!

 

17th March, 09:00 p.m.

We are leaving tomorrow morning. There’s no point describing our state of mind, because, after this type of experience of adventure, it seems impossible to recount anything by using banal words like joy, sorrow, surprise, etc. I have actually noticed that, none of my expeditions turns out to be a complete fiasco or absolute success; there come exciting gains side by side with irreplaceable losses. There is only one truth I can state about our expedition this time, my life has become even more replete with experience, knowledge and wonder.

After we returned to the site where we found Callenbach’s camera case and tape-recorder yesterday, Suma turned on the Telecardioscope. Today also the machine detected the heartbeat of only one animal. The beat rate is fifty per minute, and the indicator lamp has turned to orange color. The animal is located 2.4 Kilometres away from us to the West. But it’s not staying steady at the same place, because Suma needed to keep rotating the receiver repeatedly. This animal is not really swift on feet, which we already knew from Callenbach’s description, that means, even if it comes towards us, we still have at least half an hour in hand to explore the place. It’s still hard to believe that, Callenbach is dead and gone. Perhaps he is lying somewhere severely injured, and we are unable to hear his heartbeat as he is located within one Kilometer.

But a brutal blow on our optimism came in just ten minutes. Saunders discovered Callenbach’s deadbody behind a Poinsettia shrub. It wasn’t the whole body; most of the lower portion is missing. It was easy to guess that, the rest of the corpse has been devoured by this monster.

Callenbach’s movie-camera is still attached to his waist by straps, the lens is broken into pieces, lesions and lacerations all over his body, but the camera is still there. We were astounded to see our Japanese friend’s reaction. He muttered, “Maybe interesting film”, and took the camera along with the film off the corpse. We could not stand that shocking and tragic scene any more. We must arrange for Callenbach’s burial, but not yet; right now we need to move on.

The cave in front of us, is that the one Callenbach mentioned? We all noticed that dark cave at the side of a relatively large hillock.

We proceeded farther. From our campsite, this area looks like it has nothing more but rocks, but now that we are close, we can see there are also trees in between. However, it’s also obvious to us, those wonder fruits most probably don’t exist anywhere else on the island except for that particular location.  

When we reached closer to the cave, David left us behind, went ahead quickly and entered the cave before us. David cannot resist temptation of caves. Over last couple of days, David entered each and every cave that we came across on our way, no matter large or small, and explored inside of them thoroughly with a flashlight. He keeps doing it actually in the hope of hidden treasure. Did he ever think himself that ultimately his hope will get fulfilled today?

He declared his discovery by a loud scream, “Yo Ho Ho !” just like real pirates. It sounded like as if Brandon’s blood is running through David’s veins, not Munroe’s.

The reason for that scream was actually genuine. We are all aware of how pirates’ treasure-chests look like. An ancient treasure-chest, which looks exactly like that, is standing at the corner of the cave. From outside, we didn’t realize that, this cave is so huge. At least one hundred people can stay in here. It’s obvious that, this was the main lodging among the caves the pirates in Brandon’s gang used.

David is standing in front of the chest and staring at the closed lid. He approached to open the lid, but looked like his hands froze by some invisible force.

Finally, Saunders came forward and opened the lid, and immediately after, David let out another wild scream and fainted. But Suma brought him back to senses right away by tapping with the tip of his index finger right in the center of David’s forehead.  However, we have to admit that, there was enough reason for him to faint.  His childhood dream has now been fulfilled today; the chest is overloaded with Spanish gold-coins from Seventeenth Century; looted treasure by Blackhole Brandon.

Meanwhile, another discovery has created excitement among us all over again. It’s a trunk, but rather smaller in size than the first one. The letters on a copper plate on the trunk are still clearly legible - Dr. H. Munroe.

After opening this trunk, we found an incredibly valuable thing besides some worn-out clothes along with some medical equipments inside the trunk - Hector Munroe’s diary. This diary started the very next day after they arrived on this island. The piece of information about how Munroe landed here is also written in the diary. Our guess is not totally wrong. The ship Conquest sank after the pirate attack. It was Brandon who rescued Munroe and picked him up in his own ship. Afterwards, they began their journey towards Jamaica. On the way the ship met with a severe storm. As a result, the ship got lost and started to sail towards the wrong direction. Meanwhile, an illness broke out among the sailors in the ship. After seven days, the ship sank near this island. Brandon and Munroe along with thirty-three more people somehow reached the shore and saved themselves. A sailor with the name Ragland discovered those blue fruits by chance. Ragland was ill at the time. He recovered within just one hour after eating those fruits. After this, all of them in the gang got magically cured by eating those fruits. Munroe named this fruit Ambrosia. It raised a question in Munroe’s mind, whether the animals and birds also eat these fruits.

He wrote -

“Perhaps not the other type of animals, but at least the apes here eat these fruits, this I have realized from their health and swiftness. Not only that; the apes here are not herbivorous, they are actually carnivorous. I have seen them hunt and eat chameleons and toads.”

The reason why Munroe wrote this got cleared in his next statements. He tasted this fruit himself even though he wasn’t ill -

“Today I got the taste of ambrosial nectar. This fruit has an incredible ability to increase appetite. This morning we savoured deer meat with great relish. There is no shortage of fruits and greens here, but that does not fill the stomach or satiate our appetite. Is this wonder fruit going to remain here for ever on this unknown island? Won’t the rest of the world ever find out about it?”

After this, there is an indication that, as there is no more need for a doctor, Brandon was planning to get rid of Munroe. Munroe kept running away to save own life, but he was beginning to realize there is no escape from Brandon’s hands. Meanwhile, food shortage has begun. Brandon’s pirates had finished hunting and killing island’s deers, now they started hunting and eating birds and apes. Nobody has any interest in fruits and greens any longer.

We felt strange when we read what Munroe wrote at the very end. He is writing:

“I don’t know if I did the right thing sending my message in the letter in a bottle. It also raised doubt in my mind whether it’s appropriate to call this fruit Ambrosia. I can see that, all these people are going to turn into wild beasts right in front of my own eyes. Am I going down to the level of beast as well? This perpetual healing, this insatiable appetite, is this beneficial to human race?”

After finishing Munroe’s diary, we are all sitting inside the cave and sulking, suddenly it occurred to us that, now it’s a good idea to turn on the Telecardioscope and try to detect.

We turned it on immediately but no luck. It means that, beast has now come closer than one Kilometer.

Right at that moment it was me who first detected a smell which wasn’t there until now. We were sitting at the front entrance of the cave so we could read the diary in daylight. The smell is coming from inside the cave, and it’s continuously increasing. That means, there is another entrance to the cave at the back. The beast is approaching very cautiously, because we cannot hear the footsteps behind us yet.

Now a muffled sound. A stone got displaced. Next moment, all of a sudden, a blood-chilling howl, and at the same time a piece of rock came flying out from the dark thrown right at Saunders’ head. Saunders groaned, passed out and collapsed on the cave floor, and David Munroe left us all dumbfounded when he picked up the double-barreled gun, which dropped off Saunders’ hand and fired twice aiming at the dark inside.  

Now the beast came to our sight in the dim light from outside, and we heard its harrowing scream. It got up on two feet instead of four, reaching out with its two hairy hands and started chasing after us. Even before I got the chance to take out my Annihilin, a poisonous capsule whizzed out of the Sumagun making a high-pitched whistling sound and pierced the beast in its chest, and the beast instantly collapsed lifeless on its back on the cave floor.

This is the first time we saw Suma getting excited. He shouted, “Shonku, now you realize the special quality of that fruit! I figured it out, and that’s why I forbade you all to eat it. Once someone eats that fruit, that person becomes eternally exempt from death, and would never perish, apart from starvation or accident. After this beast alone on this island finished devouring all the other living beings, it was near death due to starvation. It became revitalized after he managed to feed on Callenbach. Now his appetite has permanently come to an end!”

After saying this, Suma turned the wrist of his left hand towards that animal and clicked a button on his wrist-watch, and an intense beam of light emerged from the center of the watch and lightened up that animal’s face.

“This deceased creature you are looking at”, said Suma, “he was even older than four hundred years.”

“Blackhole Brandon !” —David Munroe shouted so loud that it made the cave quiver.

Saunders has now regained consciousness. All four of us are staring at the dead beast. There is no way to recognize this tall hairy beast as a human any more, but the deep hole in place of his right eye, which looked even deeper in the light of Suma’s flashlight, is the one that is revealing his past identity.

It was David Munroe’s bullet that injured him first, and then Suma’s poisonous capsule has stopped its heartbeat.

Now my weapon permanently obliterated this Shakespeare’s contemporary brutal pirate from the face of the Earth.


Submitted: April 25, 2021

© Copyright 2021 anjanasen. All rights reserved.

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