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Lord of the Flies: After the End
The salty waves lapped at the side of the large ship as the grimy haze of dawn approached. The boys had been aboard this ship for days, preparing for the moment that they would attempt to rejoin society.
The first day had been extremely difficult. All of the boys were battered and worn out, and their greasy face and hair- as well as injuries -made their struggles evident. At first Ralph had to be secluded from the others. If the hunting were to start again, they may as well not return at all.
The general had sympathized with them at first, reprimanding them on occasion for being improper. He would explain to them about what society would expect, and frequently remind them not to be afraid of any more "beasties".
"Do not fear creatures from the dark. Nothing's there, and you need to know that. Don't let such childish thoughts get to your head." He would rant.
He acted calmer than he really was, Ralph could tell. Sometimes he would grimace, and dark expressions would flicker over his face- if only for that fleeting moment. Like candlelight on a breezy day, switching back and forth from entirety to all but lingering gas.
The days were spent attempting to reeducate the posse about living amongst civilized society. It was a difficult chore, but Ralph and the others eagerly complied. It seemed as if the time on the island was just a dark dream, and he was happy to escape it. Anything to rid himself of the horrible memories of that great, solemn rock.
Jack wasn't excited nor deterred by the idea of reestablishing his place in the world. His anger had slowly diminished, leaving him more like a dazed bird that had crashed into a windowpane than the vicious animal he once was. The first couple of days had been harsh on him. His newly gained power had been snatched right from his hands, to be replaced with a much colder truth. Isolation. After the other boys realized what Jack had become, and what they were becoming themselves, they grew weary and strayed from his side. As all the other boys wept and grieved, Jack retreated into the solitude within himself.
On this hazy morning, the captain woke all the boys and instructed them to assemble on the main deck. They proceeded to do so while rubbing their eyes and yawning until they had fully awoken, and began passing one another questioning glances.
"What's so important that we should wake up so early?" Sam grumbled, bumping into Eric groggily.
All of the boys had been sleeping poorly, disrupted by nightmares nearly every night. If they managed to drift into peaceful slumber, they would soon be awoken by another's screams or rustling blankets. Due to this lack of rest, all of the boys had heavy bags or dark rings around their eyes.
"Listen up. You may be wondering why you've been called up here so early. My crew and I have thought long and hard about what we're gonna do with you when you return home," The captain announced. "And we have come to the conclusion that you should not be trialed in court or sent to any sort of prison, but-"
"Wait", intervened Roger. "Did you say prison? Trial? Why would that even be considered?"
The general stared at him in bewilderment. "You mean you find yourself innocent? You're the one who killed that other boy.. Piggy, you called him, right? Or has all I've been told lies, which I know for a fact they are not. As a group, every one of you murdered that other boy, and every one of you took part in acts that would otherwise be punishable by law. However, because you are so young and were out of the eyes of the law, we decided to let you get off innocent. Or have I made a bad decision?" He glared at the boys, as his loud, clear voice spoke with perfect precision, reminding the entire ship as to why he was the captain. "Perhaps you, Roger, need to learn that negative actions will cause negative consequences."
Roger gulped. "N- No.. I know what we did was wrong but.." His voice faded off into a squeak.
“Good. Now as I was saying,” he gave one final look of irritation towards Roger “Unless anybody else has something important to include, we are not going to take this matter to the court. However, your parents will all be informed of what has happened here, and we will suggest to them that they get you some psychological help.” Passing a glance towards Jack, who was located in the back of the crowd, he added “Some more than others.”
After the meeting was adjourned, the boys dispersed into smaller groups to talk about what had just happened. Jack, on the other hand, left to brood in the corner, far away from social interaction.
“Psychological help?” exclaimed Eric, “We haven’t had it that bad!”
Ralph glanced at him uneasily. “Are you sure? Do you not see the world differently now? Is the prospect of nature and adventure… disheartening after all that? Do you just want to go home to get a nice rest? I know I do, and maybe that calls for a shrink.” He told him in a dull voice. “Perhaps we’re more changed than we thought we were..”
“But wouldn’t that be normal? I want to go home too, and not go on any adventure for a long while as well. Isn’t it just.. I dunno… Natural?”
“Maybe, but I still feel like more has changed. I’m not sure what. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it in myself, but I just feel different.”
The groups stayed intact for a little while longer, but soon they had split up again to go their own ways. As Ralph wandered around the ship, his thoughts became less about going home and more about Piggy. He hadn’t realized just how good a friend that he was until the very end. Ralph longed to go back, to do it over again. To at least ask for his real name.
Full of guilt for what had happened on the island, hot tears began to run down his face. They pooled around his chin until dripping down onto the ship’s unsteady floor. If he had made different decisions, and if Jack hadn’t strived for so much power, Piggy would be alive. Maybe Simon would too.
A wave of anger rushed over Ralph. Slamming his fists on the side of the ship, he begged to find a way to go back and fix everything, but he knew it would never be so. He would have to suffer with this eternal guilt, to weep at the loss of innocence forever more, and deal with the fact that the guilty had gotten off without justice. Dark thoughts succumbed him, and malice filled his heart as it did so.
Soon Ralph felt entirely empty. There were no more tears to be shed, or anger to express, but his heart harvested the pain and hate so it would bloom on the most unexpected of times. He would suddenly snap at one of the boys for offering their assistance, or become depressed to the point of not joining in at meals. He felt like a betrayer. Like scum.
The other boys found it odd that he would change so quickly. He had managed to keep both his emotions and sanity in check for so long that they simply perceived this as his true identity. The truth of the matter was much different. He had been fostering the darkness inside of him for so long, and thinking about the island unleashed the true anguish he was feeling. The feelings had built up inside of his veins, boiling his blood and clashing with his common sense, until his heart froze over and he was left an angry shell. He remained the husk of a boy whose true self had been replaced with a much darker one.
The general noticed these changes with alarm. He had thought that it was only Jack who had been lost, but now another was falling as well. His heart was saddened by this change. He had seen it much in the wars and battles he had taken part in. A man will become engulfed in self-pity or anger and become what they had sworn not to, empty.
Nighttime soon arrived, shrouding the boat in darkness. The pleasantries and companionship of the day were thrust aside as the night ushered in all new types of horrors. For all of the boys, darkness had remained a time of terror, instilled in the very stitches of their being. It wasn’t just fear of monsters in the shadows, but also of each other. They had all seen what they could become, and they feared it. Feared that one would lose themselves in the dark and attack. Feared that they would turn on one another. Fear both the truth and the lies. Fear human nature itself. This was the fear that had brought about their nightmares and, for some, faint paranoia.
As the boys’ eyes adjusted to the veil of darkness, they passed one another uneasy glances.
What is he thinking? Is he going to go crazy? Is he evil?
The paranoia would build up until they had to force themselves to shut their eyes out of fear. It was forced only because they believed that somebody may turn on them when they weren’t looking; that they wouldn't wake up to the next dawn.
However, nothing emerged from the shadows to strike down upon them this night. They remained safely nestled in their bunks, while the only thing that attacked them were their own guilty consciences and fear.