This story is by Tiger Kess and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
A thousand eyes latched onto the foreign structure by the shore. Hoards of men, woman, and children came bustling alongside me in anticipation of the sight before them.
The boat clung to the surface, where the weaving flow of the ocean gnashed and pulled in defiance.
After quite some time a wearisome old man, descended from the boat, his pale face partly hidden by the shadow of his beige explorer hat. A rusty compass clasped into his palm and the fleeting remnants of a map bulged out of his pocket.
For every ten men around me, it seemed that ten new colors arose. Faces of fear, frustration, and childish marvel all held prominence. Yet, the dye etched in my own face was colorless, cast by a spell of indifference.
“A man has come to the island, and so what? He will change nothing if he stays.” I thought.
The fat old man stood with an array of elegance and tranquility.
Chief Wakana took forward to the ancient and well-dressed figure before him with pre-caution, gripping a large spear in his hand.
The foreign man fell to his knees and presented the dark-skinned head of the tribe with an intricately weaved basket holding an abundance of fish and the warm pellets of bloodless beasts. Things that beyond culture all men can relate to.
After a period of dialectic struggle, the captain rose up and bit his thumb until it bled. The chief did the same and they pressed their wounded fingers against each other in unison. It was a pact of trust, a sign that allowed the voyagers to proceed to our island.
A deafening roar of applause expelled through the lungs of the villagers, but I remained silent. Years before a group of travelers came to the island and had been treated very well, but I never suspected the same to occur again. One after another the boat spilled with foreign figures onto the beach.
He embraced Wakana with a hug, and pointed his finger in my direction. The old man smiled as he strode towards me.
“You their sir! How is it that an island as wondrous as this has hidden its splendid body from the eyes of common men for so long? My chief desire is to discover it with my own eyes, would you mind showing me around?”
“But of course, my name is Ash and I-”
“The names James Carfield, a pleasure to meet you. Oh, but how boastful of me, I forgot to introduce the others, but don’t worry I suppose those names aren’t worth mentioning as I’m the only captain around here.”
A chorus of laughter sprang in the background. I paced forward with the captain into the jungle’s passage.
“Captain.” one of the shipmen interrupted waving his hand toward Carfield.
“Hold on a moment,” he said to me.
The captain’s chubby feet struggled back to his fellow crewmen. They drew close to each other and spoke through silent whispers and gesticulations whilst giving me peculiar glances.
Carfield scurried back in my direction.
“Sorry for the trouble. Well, we best carry on” he said departing his men.
Our steps collided through the rocky anatomy of the isle as we maneuvered through a militia of snakes and other sinister creatures. We reached the basin of a waterfall and sat down near it. Tiresome beads of sweat clung to the fat man’s shirt.
“How strange.” He said
“What is sir?”
“How strange that if bestowed a square inch to live a man will do it and do it well. That if stripped of all his prior virtues and responsibilities he shall still take the gamble. That crippling obscurity that a man is not formless, and that even a person of learned principles can decay into a feeble-minded pig and still find sweetness.”
The old man chuckled hysterically and gazed into my eyes.
“Your chief has allowed us to remain on this island for three whole days. After that, you and only you are to travel back with us to the Colonial Lands of America”
“Oh no, I could never, I’ve lived on this island my whole life. It’s not that I have anything against you or your comrades, but this place is pleasant to me.”
“Whose to say you won’t find more comfort in a country with ten times the land. It seems quite reasonable that two-three- or even four whole inches of space are worth more than one.”
“Well, one man’s reason is another man’s absurdity.”
“And in this case, the other man is a fool.” he interrupted.
Carfield sat still, staring sternly in the reflective droplets of water caressed by the fragile bosom of a small leaf. His face flushed red and his turquoise veins seemed to branch out and fatten.
“Well, that’s what we intend to do my friend, that’s what we intend to do. You are to leave this island, and if we have to spill blood in the rocks to do it, it will all be the same”
The horrific urgency written in his eyes sent a chill up my spine and my head ached with whirling ideas of confliction. I rushed passed the rocky terrain and into the tribal hut of the chief while a repentant echo melted away in the distance.
The conversation with the chief was short and concise. I told him everything that the man had said. He stated that all matters would be arranged in the coming morning and that I should get some sleep.
My eyes laid awake in the piercing hollowness of the night. Time did not exist to think of the captain’s threat, but his wisdom brought a soulful assault. What if the captain’s words rang true? What if a man is not required to live on a square foot of land, and a much more lucrative offer is in the works?’
Discreet footsteps tapped along the outside of my home. I laid on the grass bed of a hut with a dagger grasped in my hand. It must’ve been nothing.
The crimson sun rose through the veil of my window. On the front of the door lied a letter sealed by a button of red wax. I slipped it into my pocket and chose to wait longer to read it.
Today a ritual ceremony was to be held at the totem pole. I went to the doors of my neighbors and we spoke about all sorts of happenings throughout the island as we made our way to the site.
The base of the totem pole stretched much longer today. Then again it made sense, the appearance of a new image had been added. The top of the pole shined vibrant with a newly etched figure of a head that due to brilliant craftsmanship appeared to be strikingly real. In fact, one might go so far as saying it possessed a resemblance much similar to the captai-
Blood streaked across the sandy floor in obscure patterns. The decapitated figure glistened upon the earth with a gazing satisfaction, it’s countenance far removed from physical sensation.
Tears streamed from my eyes. I broke the red seal of the envelope and the words written flew past my head. Years passed since I’d perceived anything of a literary nature. Deep in the tight pocket of the envelope was attached all sorts of photos and mementos. I rushed to the boat immediately, pressed my hands upon the ladder, and climbed upward it’s feeble architecture.
The deck of the boat smelt of something familiar, it’s vast mainsail cowered over me with white and fibrous substance, and in its warm reflection, I became conscious of many things. New ideas and new cognitions. I became conscious of the color of my skin and the structuring of my own image, of ghost tales told in the light of the crescent moon, of pedestrian crossings and of the seeping syrup of pine trees. At the root of it all, I could remember the slender touch of a woman and of a boy whose breath smelt of my own.
And as these conceptions congested, I then became ignorant of many things. Ignorant of the violent roar of muskets, of the cries of life-long friends echoing in the mainland, and of the rushing steps of sailors swelling onto the deck. I became ignorant of all things attached to this tiny island because there existed beyond it a web of love that I created and abandoned, it’s silky threads dwindling in wait for me to sow them back. I became ignorant, even as the boat detached from the base of the shoreline and sailed forward unto the land I had long forgotten.