The Island

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Island is a short story which beings on a dilapidated war ship in a clear an open ocean. A massive floating island is in the distance, and being guided my an invisible thread, the main character beings their journey into this strange, exotic and beautiful world where the story unfolds around them.

Submitted: April 10, 2016

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Submitted: April 10, 2016

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I became aware of my presence in the middle of the afternoon, on a hot day in nearly open waters.  The grandiose ship I’m on leaves a wake that creatures of the sea ride in and out on.  The waters are so clear that white and yellow sands of the ocean floor can be seen clearly from where I stand at the stern of the ship.  The pastel blue sky reflecting on the water casts the glassy wakes into translucent blue shells that roll over themselves. 

We are circling a massive island that does not touch the ocean floor.  Instead, the body of the island is like a long dark root that merely grazes the floor.  It casts long dark shadows under the waters where massive beasts hide.  Their heavy dark bodies move about in the deep shadows where they escape the rays of the sun.  They are hard to see and define as the never leave these shadows, retreating from the light as if it hurts them.

The island itself, is lush and green.  How it came to be is a mystery and yet here it is existing as a floating paradise in these pristine waters.  Exotic birds are heard calling and singing even from where I stand so far out at sea.  There is a small mountain in the middle of the island, covered in trees and white rock.  People live there.  I know it is what we are here for.

I leave the stern and run out along the catwalks that line the skin of the ship.  Long narrow trails of archaic rusting metal take me past hatches that lead into the dark and musty depths of the old behemoth.  I hear excited voices coming from inside the ship as crew members run outside into the light, driven by their excitement and curiosity to see the island. Down in the water below, more voices are cheering in excitement as people ride out on the wakes left by the ship.  They stand wind surfing on large boards with huge white sails caught billowing in the breeze.  I follow the walk to fork where a long metal ladder well drops down closer to the water.

I follow it down and find myself with one other person who stands in the frame of the hatch bracing himself against the rocking of the ship.  From here an old platform stretches out from the under the shadow of the ship into the sun and over open waters.

“Are you going?” 

I look at the man standing the door way.  I’m not sure if I’m ready to or not, but when there is shouting from the bow of the ship and calls from overhead to “look out,”  I find my answer.  Ahead of where I stand a wave lifts the gargantuan body of the ship and begins to roll back along the body of the ship towards myself, still standing on the catwalk.  I don’t think I only move, following the invisible thread from my heart leading out into the water.

Time seems to stand still as I turn on my heels and sprint out towards the end of the platform.  When I reach the end of the platform I push off with all of my strength, leaping out over the open water. The wave’s crest rolls beneath me, completely engulfing the catwalk and crashing with such force it makes a crack and slap as water splashes into the air.  I hit the water feet first, landing behind the swell. 

In the deep clear water I can see the exotic fish and creatures of the open ocean fleeing me.  They dart away in different directions as I float for a moment regaining my senses.  There is a warm glow from the sun here, and I have never felt so safe.  The salty water stings my eyes slightly and I’m pleased to find the water is warm.  It is almost gentle to the touch.

I swim back to the surface and look back at the ship.  The male from the door way is standing out at the edge of the platform.  When he sees me, he throws a large sailboard down to the water.

“You’re out of your mind!” 

I smile and wave swimming out to the board. 

It takes some effort to untie and unfold the sail as I bob in the water.  Once it is free though, I’m able to climb up and take a relaxing breath.  The sun heats my bare shoulders and the clinging tank top and shorts bother me some, but when a breeze blows I feel my discomfort released.  I pull myself to my feet and pull the post of the sail up right. When the wind blows again I pull a tie that releases the sail.  The air catches it and I am immediately being carried away from the ship.

Behind me, I can clearly see the massive body of the grey and rusty orange ship against the vibrant blue dome of the sky.  Port holes and open hatches dot the skin of the ship.  The huge and open hangar bay in the center of its body is full of people moving and working.  From where I sail, they look like ants.

Ahead of me the people who had left earlier are nearly to the island. They mess around in the waves and winds, sailing back and forth, racing and taunting each other.  I can clearly see them as I approach. One notices me and calls out, “Hey!  Are you going to help us?”

“I guess so.  When are we going ashore?”  As I reach this young girl, sunburnt and red-eyed from the salty water and wind, we both collapse the sails on our boards and drop down to take a seat and watch the others.

“I’m not sure.Soon I guess.  That wave was massive!  It picked the stern of the ship up at least 20 feet!”

“Yeah I saw it,” I nodded. “I was on the catwalk when it hit, I thought it would kill me under the hull.”

“What did you do?”  Her voice raised with her brows as she looked at me amazed.

“I jumped.”

“Wow.  That’s crazy!”

There is a deep and powerful female voice that calls out over the chatter and laughter of the group.  It was hard to spot her with the ebb and flow of the waves, but she was loud enough. 

“Alright every one!  Get it together, we have the go ahead to move to shore!”  There is a cheer and the girl beside me hollers with them. 

“Com’on,” she insists.  She stands on her board and drops the sail when the wind blows.  Her board is immediately caught and she is pulled away over a small wave that swells. I stand and follow her.

~

As we reach the island we are able to make out a long  stretch of shallow beach that extends out into the water.  The edge starts as rock and gradually becomes sand.  When we are close enough, myself and the seven people I am with step off our boards and carry them to them to the dry beach. 

We leave the boards there and begin making our way inland following the deep voiced female.  The air is dry and clear here.  It is fresh with the scent of the flowers in bloom on climbing vines and cacti.  The sand turns to rich dirt and gravel and the sound of insects buzzing and birds chattering fills our ears.  The palm and fruit trees sway as the warm wind blows.

Our leader pushes onward and steps out past dense prickly shrubs calling back to us, “watch your step, there is a cliff here and a bunch of cacti.”  I am the last to step into the clearing and see what everyone has paused to stare at. 

There is indeed a massive cliff with several long patches of blooming cacti, but there is something even more impressive. At the bottom of the cliff is a large river of clear water that runs deep along a canyon.  The mouth of the river is a water fall where the cliffs are at sea level and the ocean is pouring in its clear warm waters.  Living in the clear water are swarms of beasts that had become trapped in this natural basin.  Sharks, fish and the undefined, swim in and out of the depths threatening anyone or anything that may fall from the face of the cliffs.

“Come on.”  Our leader starts on.

In what feels like a minute we seem to cover several miles.  We push back the vegetation as we reach our destination, a small village on the side of the mountain. 

As we step out from the trail and into a road that runs through the center of the village we see people barely moving around us.  They seem drunk as their vacant eyes cannot acknowledge our presence.  Curiosity divides the group as we each try to find anyone who can communicate.

I walk along the red dirt road lined with brick and adobe square houses.  The people here seem so tired and distracted.  They don’t notice me even when I look them in the eyes.  They seem hollow and lost.  The air here feels stale now, and when I reach a pond I’m surprised to see how dark and gray the water is.  There are several people lying down in the sand or sitting in chairs.  No one is talking.  They all just sit and stare blankly into nothingness.

I look around.  No one is moving here and there nothing left to do.  Having followed the thread from my heart it seems to have stopped here.  So I sit down and watch the water and wait.  For what, I don’t know.

“I would leave if I were you.”  A very old woman and fat woman holding herself up on a cane moves slowly towards me. 

“Why?”

“Our end is near.  We know you are here to rescue us, but no one wants to be rescued.”

Is that what I’m doing here?  I think to myself.  “What has happened here?”

“Everyone has left this plane of existence.”

“What?  What does that mean?  How?  They are all sitting right here.”

“Yes, they are here in the physical sense, but their spirits have almost entirely left.”

“How?” 

“I put them in a trance.”

“Why?  What is happening?”

“I told you, our end is near.” 

I thought about this as I looked around the pond and the faces of people staring blankly into the air, “We can save you though.  Why don’t you wake everyone and come with us?” 

“We will not leave this island. We are part of it.

Our people is a very old people.  We have been on this earth since the beginning and we have spent generations here never leaving.  No.  We will not go now.  Our God has come to end our reign.  We have achieved all we were meant too.

“Why though?  Is this what you want?”

“It is what is.  There is nothing more to be said,” she finally found a place on the shore of the pond where she could sit.  She lowered he weight to the ground and leaned back against a tree exhaling heavily, “or to be done.”

“Who is your God?”

She looked to me and smiled gently with tired eyes, “he is a Demi-God, a transcended being existing on a high plane than our own.  He may even be mortal, though he has outlived many of our people’s generations.  He is nameless, and only to be seen by those who exist between our world and the spirit world.”

“Have you seen him?”

“Of course.” 

I could hear someone running toward us, “Hey!” the male voice called out.  “It’s time to go!  We need to get out of here!”  The young man stopped when he saw the light in the old woman’s eyes.  “Is she okay?  Hey, can you walk?”

“I’m not going anywhere,” the old woman scowled.  There was a groaning reverberation through the core of the island.  Everything went silent.  I went to the woman, wanting to persuade her.  Instead, she took my face in her gentle and weathered hands.  Her cloudy eyes stared deep into mine and she smiled, “It is time.  Go.  Now.”

“Come on, come on, come on!”  The young man yeller urgently before he turned to run. 

I kissed the woman on the forehead, stood and ran after the young man.

~

I stayed on the heels of the young man.  We ran past the motionless people who now stood staring up to the sky.  As we reached the entrance to the city, we regrouped with the other six and ran leaving behind the village of silent, entranced people. 

Running as fast and carefully as we could along the ledge of the cliff we noticed below the in the clear waters of the canyon, it was turbulent as the beasts thrashed and fought.  The waters were now discolored with kicked up dirt and blood.  There were no birds calling, there were no insects moving.  The breeze felt chilly as we made our way back down to the beach where the sailboards still laid.  We each ran out to a board, pulling on the sails so they would drop and catch the wind.  As quickly as we could, we abandoned the island and fled to our ship. 

No one knew what was really happening.  No one really even spoke. As we put distance between us and the island, the wind became warm again and the tension left us.  We all reached the ship after sailing for only a moment. 

At the waterline of the stationary vessel was a basket hung from the upper decks. We each collapsed our sails an secured them before tying them into the basket.  Alongside the basket was a long heavy rope ladder the stretched down from the hangar bay.  I was again the last in line.  I climbed the rope ladder with tired muscles when it finally happened.

I was half way up when the wind stopped.  In that moment if felt as though the air stopped moving completely.  No one was breathing.  No one was speaking.  The only sound was that of the water lapping against the skin of the ship below. Then suddenly there was a deep groan.  The sound like what I had heard on the island.  It was deep and guttural.  Its vibration was heard within my chest as pressure on my body threatened to crack my sternum.  Then there were gasps.  A couple of females screamed when the island began to tilt.

It happened slowly at first.  The groaning of the island continued on stronger and louder as the landscape began to tip to a harsh and unnatural angle from left to right.  As part of the island began to disappear under the waves of the ocean, the other part began to rise up like an exposed bone from flesh.  The dark and dripping wet underbelly of the island began to rise into the sky as the dank root of the island continued to emerge from the now murky and disturbed waters.

Frantically I realized I was still hanging from the side of the ship.  I forced my tired arms to climb.  The captain must have realized we were still stationary in the water at that moment, because the anchor suddenly began to vibrate the ship as the heavy chain was being hoisted.  There were orders being given over the 1MC and the crew began to scatter.

When I reached the hangar bay level, I was helped up before being told to hurry and tie something down.  Everything was to be secured for high speed maneuvering.  I looked back at the island turning over on itself, the tip of its root was now lifting up and out of the water.  

I then grabbed a long thick line, harness and hooks before I ran to the stern of the ship.  I don’t know why I went there.  I didn’t know where I was supposed to be.  All I knew was that was where I wanted to be.  I felt like I needed to be there.  That was where string tied to my heart led.

I fought past the people who scattered and moved around me.  They were beginning to disappear into the bulkheads, locking hatches and hiding away.  I ran through the dark and empty p-way that led me back and out onto the stern of the ship.  There I climbed a ladder to the second deck of the stern and began to put my harness on.  I tied the line around myself, pulling on the clasps and hooks tight, before tying myself to a heavy metal pillar that supported the upper decks.

As the ship was beginning to pull away from the island and gain momentum, I was better able to see the island as its massive root was now almost completely exposed.  The dark and exposed heart of the island was covered in dangling roots from the vegetation that was once above. It was impossible, but I could see that the island was, in fact, a true root. It then began to move faster as the wider and more shallow half of the island was almost completely submerged. Suddenly the root then shot up vertically into the cloudless sky with a loud roar as it flipped entirely and displaced the water beneath it, causing a massive wave.

Tied to the stern of the ship, my heart stopped with my breathing as I watched the murky wave rise and begin racing towards the ship.  I began to panic as the ship was caught in the wave and lifted at its own sharp angle up its face.  When we reached the top I thought I had died.

The sun was just past three in the cloudless sky.  The air was cooler than before as the new black and wet mountain pointed to the sky.  And there, floating in the air alongside the new megalith was a man, with long thick hair, tied in knots and draped in heavy ancient robes.  He was erect in the empty space with his arm outstretched, guiding the movement of the island.  He appeared to me calm and unaffected by the events taking place.  He seemed peaceful.  Then he turned to me and spoke. 

His words were thick and heavy, but sweet like an unfiltered honey.  I could hear what he told me, and I felt a movement in my being, but I could not capture what the words were, or what they meant.  They were ancient and other-worldly.  What he said sounded like, “all is as it should be,” but this was not them. This was only my feeble attempt at understanding them.

Then came the wind. As the ship fell backwards down the wave, a cool wind rushed over my face.  The ship leveled out and I was sprayed by sea water.  On the other side of the wave, the sea was calmer.  There was rocking, but the surface of the ocean was smooth.  It wasn’t clear anymore and now we were hidden on the shadowy side of the new mountain.  The air smelled like cold and musty salt as the kelp, sea weed and trapped ocean creatures decorated the peak.  The ship had stalled and there were people emerging now to look at the new island.

It was over.  The island and its people were gone.  I had come into this existence as an aware being to witness this event.  I untied myself and watched the swarms of sea birds flying in and out of the rays of light that was cast in streaks by the sun, now hidden behind the sharp peak.  The floating Demi-God, unseen by the others remained for a while observing his work, occasionally looking in my direction. 

The sounds of the people began to drift away as I watched the Demi-God. The vision in my eyes started to fade out into a darkness and my awareness was lost to the moment.  I then left that existence.


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