Six Little Doomed Survivors (part 1)

By , brattleboro, VT
Trees rushed by, a kaleidoscope of color. The screeching of birds and breaking branches filled the air, but still it seemed deathly silent; the only sound I could hear was the frantic beating of my own heart. Adrenaline pumped through my veins as I sprinted through the forest, wet leaves smacking me in the face. It was right behind me. I could hear it still crunching his bones as it came for me. The smell of death was everywhere, emanating from it and filling the air with fear. As I sprinted in terror, tripping over roots, it suddenly hit me. If he was dead, that meant I was the only one left. I was all alone. Milo had been right.

Okay, wait a second. Let’s go back to where this all started. It was September. The twelfth to be exact. We were heading home after 27 months in Tonga, a group of islands in the South Pacific. We were all in the Peace Corps but, stationed on different islands. There were six of us on that plane, including the pilot. It had been a long slightly hectic flight from Niuatoputapu and I think we were about halfway to Auckland International when things started going wrong.

Now, don’t ask me what happened exactly. I’m just an environmentalist volunteer after all. I know nothing about engines and machines. All I know is one second, we were flying up in the clouds and the next, we were hurtling towards the crystal blue ocean in a nose dive. The crash was a blur to me. Our pilot (his name was either Fred or Ted, I’m not sure) was freaking out and yelling at us not to panic. Rita was screaming her head off next to me. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I was screaming my head off too. Time slowed down as we watched the water rushing up at us, the air shrieking past our deaf ears.

When we hit, my seatbelt finally gave and I was flung forward so hard I blacked out momentarily. I came to underwater. My eyes stung with the salt and I could feel water trickling down my throat. I commanded myself to not breathe in. I knew enough to know that wouldn’t be such a good idea at the moment. I floundered towards the light, and I hoped, the surface. I emerged, gasping for air.

By some luck, a life jacket floated nearby. I grabbed it and held on for dear life. Finally, I looked around. Huh. There was sure a lot of water. Suddenly, with a great splashing, a blond head came up just a few feet away.

“Toni!” I rasped, “You’re alive!” She could only nod slightly, she was too busy coughing. I noticed she already had a life jacket tucked under her arm. When her fit finally subsided she managed to gasp,

“Look, land!” I looked in the direction she was pointing and to my surprise, saw an island, looming large right behind me. The current was already bringing us towards it so we paddled a little and let the ocean do the rest. When I finally lifted my face out of the wet sand, I saw, to my amazement, Seth, leaning against a rock with a hint of a smile on his face.

“Glad you could make it.” He said with a grin.

“Too bad Rita didn’t.” Toni said softly, pulling herself up.

“What?” I asked in shock. Rita had been the only one I actually knew. The others were all stationed too far away on other islands. “What happened?”

“I think her neck snapped when we landed. I swam past her.” There were a few tears dripping down her face.

“What about Milo?” I asked. “And the pilot?” Neither of them knew. “They could be out there floating around somewhere. Maybe even injured. We have to look.” I shielded my eyes and stood up, scanning the vast blue ocean for any signs of life.

Seth said softly, “Somehow I doubt they’re alive. Even if they were, there are a whole lotta sharks around here.”

So we sat around in silence, no one actually wanting to think about what the future held for us. Finally, as the sun was starting to set, Toni said, “We should look for fire wood. We can leave food and water for tomorrow when we will be able to see better.” We both agreed and got up to comb the little beach for drift wood. Toni suddenly called us back, “Guys! Look out there!” She was waving frantically and pointing towards a small outcrop of rocks a little way off shore. Something white was waving in the salty breeze.

“What is it?” I wondered, walking over to her.

“I think it’s a person.” She said in amazement. It was hard to tell in the dying light but I realized she could be right. I saw a flash of skin and what might have been a hand, waving something white in the air.

“What do you know?” Seth said. “It looks like Charlie here is right.” They both, of course, decided this meant I had to be the one to swim out there and see if it really was a person or not. I, of course didn’t want to get eaten by sharks. “They’re sleeping.” Seth told me, with a pat on the back. “You’ll be fine.”I didn’t believe him one bit but, being a Good Samaritan, grabbed one of the life jackets and started swimming out towards the rocks. And there I found Milo, holding on to a skinny rock with one hand while waving his shirt around frantically with the other. He sighed in relief when I arrived.

“My leg is broken or something.” He gasped as soon as I was in hearing distance. Yeah, or something. I could see a stub of white bone sticking up through the skin. Hopefully someone could fix that. I lent him the life jacket and we made our way back to land where Toni and Seth had managed to get a small, but welcome fire going. I guess you do learn some useful skills by being in the Peace Corps. We took solace in its warm light and thus, our first night on the island passed. There would be many more to come.

The paucity of food was going to be an issue. We found a few trees baring papaya and another fruit that we thought was bread fruit but that was it. Luckily enough, we found a fresh water spring just a little inland so we won’t die of dehydration anytime soon. For those first few days, we just stayed near the beach. Milo couldn’t walk that well, even with the crutch we had fashioned him, and we figured our best chance of getting found was staying on the beach, with the fire that we kept going all day.

“They will find us.” Toni insisted every day. “They are already out looking.” I didn’t voice my opinions that I didn’t think anyone would even bother looking for three Peace Corps members who disappeared somewhere in the middle of a dangerous ocean. Finally, after three days of doing absolutely nothing but sitting around on a beach, we decided to explore the island and, hopefully, find more food. By “we” I mean Toni and I. Seth was vehemently opposed to “getting lost on this stupid island while we were already lost in the middle of this stupid ocean” and Milo still couldn’t walk.

Toni and I took off sometime in the morning, leaving Milo behind to watch the fire and dragging a complaining Seth with us. A few hours later found us on top of a craggy mountain like hill of rocks. As far as we could tell, our island was shaped almost like a crescent with rocky hills creating the outside curve. The hill we were standing on was directly across the island from the beach, the space between them filled with thick jungle. We had walked most of the way here on the very edge of the thick trees, not wanting to get lost. Behind us, the rocks dropped away steeply, straight into the ocean below.

“Good thing we crashed on that side.” Toni murmured. Looking down, I felt my stomach lurch as I realized she was right. We could have all been smashed to pieces against those rocks instead of washing up safely on the sandy beach. Seth must have been thinking the same thing because he shuddered and stepped back from the edge.

“What do you think is in there?” I asked, turning away from the drop off and looking out over the mass of green trees, towards the little strip of beach. You could just make out the twirling black smoke from our fire.

“I don’t want to find out.” Seth said fervently.

“But there could be food.” Toni responded.

“There could also be something that wants us as its food.” Seth shot right back. As if to punctuate his comment, a roar echoed across the jungle. It came from far away but it scared us enough that for once we both agreed with Seth. We walked the long way back the way we had come. There was definitely something menacing about that jungle.

The days passed. It was looking less and less like anyone was going to find us. And things just kept getting worse and worse. We hadn’t been able to find any more food on the island and Milo’s leg was infected.

“I don’t know what to do.” Toni moaned while staring at the swollen red skin with the bone still sticking out of the blood red gash. None of us had been volunteering as doctors but we had done the best we could when we first saved him, wrapping it up tightly and making a tourniquet type of thing out of sticks. It hadn’t worked at all, the bone was still broken and now it was infected. Milo, seeing how distraught they were said,

“Oh, it’s fine. It doesn’t hurt that much and they’ll save us before it gets worse.” I caught the wince of pain that shot across his face, proving his pain to be real, but Toni looked reassured. “Where’s Seth?” Milo questioned, taking our attention away from his leg.

“Right here.” Seth spoke, startling us all as he stepped out from the trees. “Look what I found!” He was waving a leafy green plant around.

“What were you doing in the jungle alone?!” Toni almost shouted at him. I looked at her in shock and saw Milo do the same. “We don’t know what’s out there! What were you thinking?” Seth threw his hands up in the air saying,

“Well, sorry for trying to help! I can go where ever I damn well please!”

“What if you had gotten hurt?” Toni shot right back. “You can’t go into the forest alone!” Seth glared at her. I could tell they were really going to start screaming if I didn’t do something.

“Guys come-” I was immediately interrupted.

“Who are you to tell me what to do?” Seth growled.

“I’m just trying to look out for you! We have to be careful and smart to survive! You should know that!”

“Guys-”I tried again.

“Shut up Charlie!” They yelled together before going at each other again. They were both screaming now and it seemed as if they were yelling just to yell. Nothing important was said.

“You are going to get us all killed!”

“I’m trying to help! I even found some aloe vera, not that you care! You just want Milo to die so you don’t have to look after him!”

“How dare you!” They kept going until Milo suddenly shouted at the top of his lungs,

“Will you both just shut up!? We’ll all die if we can’t even get along! I’m lying here dying and you are arguing over a little trip into the jungle. How would you feel if I were to die right now while you were busy fighting?” I thought he was being rather over dramatic but it shut them up. Seth threw the aloe on the ground before stalking off down the beach.

“Don’t go into the jungle!” Toni yelled after him. He flipped her off over his shoulder before purposely turning and walking into the trees. She gave a sigh of frustration and walked off down the beach in the other direction.

“Idiots.” Milo broke the silence. I smiled at his surprising comment before picking up the aloe vera and getting to work on his leg. I worked in silence for a while, crushing up the aloe and rubbing it all around the wound. “You know,” Milo said thoughtfully, “My leg won’t ever heal if that bone isn’t back in its place.”

“Oh, no…”I knew where this was going. He raised his eyebrows at me.

“Scared of a little blood Charlie?” I glared at him.

“I’m not pushing that bone back into your skin. You’ll just have to wait.”

“Wait for what Charlie? You know it’s doubtful that we will ever be saved. Please? I want to be able to walk again…before we all die of starvation.”

“Don’t think like that.” I said even though I was thinking the same thing. “Fine. I’ll try.” I muttered after a pause. “What do I do?”

“Well,” Milo started, “I’m not actually sure. I guess you should just grab my ankle and yank it down. Or maybe you should just push the bone back in.” I glared at him some more before moving down towards his leg. I made one last attempt to get out of this.

“Couldn’t we just amputate it or something?” He gave me a look like I was crazy so I heaved a sigh and grasped his ankle tightly. I placed my other hand over the little stub of bone protruding from the skin. He was already wincing in pain.

“You ready?” he just nodded and closed his eyes. “Okay, on three. One…two…” I suddenly yanked his leg down at the same time I pushed the bone back in. There was a click as the bone slid neatly back into place. He yelped in pain and a little bit of blood started running down his leg. I quickly wrapped it up in his shirt as tightly as I could. His whimpering finally subsided and he glared at me.

“What the hell happened to three?”

“I was surprising you so it wouldn’t hurt as much.” He continued to glare. “Anyway, I think it worked just fine. The bone slid right back into place.”

“Thanks.” Milo sighed. “Man that hurts!” I walked over to our meager pile of fruit and brought over a papaya for us to share. As we were eating, Toni made her way back over to us joined us silently.

Despite the fact that we were stuck here and were probably all going to die, I couldn’t get over how amazing it was. The crystal blue waters and cerulean sky seemed to simply turn into one in the distance and the white sand of our island sparkled in the sun. We all sat there quietly together until a scream echoed chillingly out of the jungle. We immediately all jumped up thinking the same thing, Seth. There was another scream, closer then the last and Seth suddenly came bursting out of the trees, a look of pure terror on his face. I ran to him as he collapsed onto the sand, aware of Toni at my shoulder and Milo limping along behind.

“Seth! Are you okay?” I asked as soon as I reached him. He looked around frantically.

“Did it follow me?” he pretty much screamed the question into my face.

“Calm down,” Toni said, “there’s nothing here.” It was true, everything was silent. Not even birds seemed to be close by.

“What happened?” Milo gasped, plopping down on the sand next to him. Seth took a few deep breaths before saying,

“Something attacked me. I don’t know what it was but it was big and scary and wanted to eat me. It almost got my leg.” He rolled up his very worn and ripped pants to show us some deep scratches across the side of his leg that were dripping little tears of blood.

“Oh, gross.” Toni gasped. “You should wash that.” As Seth stumbled to the water to rinse his leg, with quite a bit of swearing involved, Toni turned to me and asked,

“What could have done that Charlie? I thought there weren’t usually big animals on little islands like this.” I shrugged my shoulders. I hadn’t a clue.

“Let’s just stay out of the jungle.” They both nodded their heads in agreement and we went to help Seth out, thinking we were safe. How wrong we were.

Of course, we didn’t find this out until that night. When the thing came back. Whatever it was. I was awoken by a loud scuffling noise, but it was the panicked shout that actually got me jumping to my feet. It was dark. I mean, really dark. Our fire was dead. No moon at all cast its trail across the sea. It was hiding behind clouds.

“What’s going on?” I asked the darkness. The only response I got was another gasping moan of pain. A hand on my shoulder nearly had me leaping out of my skin but it was only Toni.

“What’s happening?” She whispered in my ear. The only sounds we could hear were some moans and quiet gasps, coming from a little farther up the beach. A scream suddenly split the night, echoed across the entire forest and sent Milo leaping to his feet. “It’s Seth!” Toni was gripping my arm so hard; I knew I would have bruises. The scream seemed to have scared away the clouds, for the moon suddenly showed its face, casting a pale glow across the beach. In a way, I wish it hadn’t.

Seth was no longer lying where he had been. A deep grove in the sand, leading up to the tree line showed where he had gone. The trail in the sand was accompanied by a trail of blood. Milo suddenly gasped, “He’s still alive!” I gave him a look. How did he know that? I followed where he was pointing and took off sprinting up the beach. A head and shoulders and a single arm were sticking out of the bushes, thrashing mildly. I grabbed Seth’s arm and he looked up at me and screamed,

“It’s eating my legs!” Sure enough, I heard the tell tale crunching and slurping sound of meat being consumed. Toni fell to my side and we started pulling as hard as we could while Seth screamed his head off. Whatever was eating him, didn’t want to let go. As soon as we started pulling, it pulled back, harder. The bushes were slowly closing in around him. It was a tug of war match and at first, we were winning. We pulled him far enough through that we could see where his legs were getting chewed up when it happened. I saw its face through the dense greenery.

Smoldering eyes in a reptilian face glowered at me. It removed its fangs from Seth’s leg long enough to give me a toothy grin before sinking in again. I couldn’t help it. I stumbled backwards slightly. Toni couldn’t hold out on her own and with a tremendous jerk from the other side; the bushes closed in entirely and swallowed him up with a final scream. We heard the wet slurping of blood and then the sound of something heavy being dragged away.

The rest of that night, we sat in a huddle as close to the water as we could get. None of us slept a wink.

Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Hook11lives said...
Mar. 15, 2011 at 12:07 am
suspensful. cant wait for more
slackernerd19 replied...
Mar. 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm
thanks! i just posted part 2...
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