The Island, Part 1
by Rene DeWees
My skin has become a red ornament of pain. With no way of shielding me from the sun’s rays I am left at its mercy, though mercy seems to no longer exist out here in the open ocean.
I drank the last of my water today. I savored the final drops as if they were nectar gifted to me by God, but when that last drop went down my throat I realized that it was not God’s nectar, but the Devils poison, for now I am certain that I will die.
The sun has begun to set. My reddened skin will finally find some refuge in the coming night, although my stomach still aches and my mouth has already begun to dry, I find some comfort in the setting sun. I fall asleep to the gentle sound of waves breaking on the sea.
I awake suspended underwater with the soft sound of a storm raging above me. For a moment I am captivated by the eerie sense of peace in this submerged world, causing me to contemplate whether or not I should return to the surface. Slowly my humanity catches up to me and reminds me of my most basic and yet undervalued needs, fresh air. My lungs burn with each stroke I make to the surface. Looking up I can see lightning flashing through the waves, revealing for a fraction of a second the dark shadows of the predators swimming around me.
I gasp for breath once I break the surface. My life raft is gone, lost in the inky blackness of the storm. I spend what feels like hours searching for the raft, but with no luck. I have come to accept that my only chance at survival has been lost somewhere in the mountains of water raging around me. I have never felt so small.
In the distance I see the jagged outline of something. What is it? It is about a quarter of a mile away from me from what I can see through the storm. A flash of lightning reveals it for a moment. An island!? Adrenaline mixed with a sense of hope floods my body. I begin swimming with all my might towards the island, praying that the churning tide around me will pity me enough to deliver me to its shores. As I set out to my new found hope the familiar sound of my inflatable raft on water reaches me. I turn around just in time for my raft to crash into the side of my head knocking me unconscious. Darkness overcomes me and I begin to dream.
I am flying above a tropical island. The greens of the jungle below me are outlined by black sand and volcanic rock, with reflective streams cutting veins into the mountainsides. Is this the island I was trying so desperately to reach before my raft struck me?
Smoke begins rising from the island, then flames. The islands colors are no longer visible through the orange fire which engulfs it entirely. The fire begins burning with a greater intensity. It is becoming brighter and brighter! I try to look away, but I find myself hypnotized by its light. The earth around the inflamed island falls away and I become aware that I am floating in space staring at a star. The star before me grows brighter still! I feel as though I am becoming blind until the light disappears.
I awake staring straight up at the peaceful blue sky, my body resting on warm sand beneath me. I am alive.
I lay here for a while to collect my thoughts, trying to remember how I came to be on this beach. Unable to recall what had happened to me while I was unconscious I attempt to rise to my feet, only to be met by crippling exhaustion. Every muscle I move aches from overuse. With my body now slouched over and groaning in pain I notice that the sand I now rest my face in is black. Forcing myself to look up I see before me the dense jungle I saw in my dream, with the same vibrant greens accompanied with the steady trickling of a healthy stream hidden from view. The sound of this flowing water drove me to begin crawling towards the jungle. Immune to shame and on all fours I enter the cool shade of the jungle canopy. Great smooth leafs consolingly touch my face as I crawl on the jungle floor on my way to the stream. Sweet smelling vines above me drip cool water on my tortured bare back. The aches throughout my body begin to lessen the further I crawl. I feel as though I can stand up and begin walking my way to the stream until I set my hand in its crystal clear waters. Almost instantly I plunge my face into the water, drinking large gulps of the heavenly elixir. I surface only to take a breath and then gracelessly plunge back in. Never before have I tasted water that was so sweet. Having satisfied my thirst, I crawl to a nearby tree and rest upon a natural bed of moss covered roots. I fall asleep to the sound of the streams watery lullaby.