Cast Away #FridayFictioneers

Washed up on the island, he had scratched the passage of days into the trunk of a palm tree. Today, there were forty-two lines.

Some of the shipwreck had washed up too and he had used these items to survive. He had hoped someone else might turn up but nobody alive had. The five bodies, he had buried under a marked tree, for recovery later.

The sound of a helicopter broke the air. He grabbed binoculars, a flare gun and climbed into a tree. He searched the sky and when the chopper grew closer, he fired the red signal.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/05/29/31-may-2019/ with thanks).

Adrift #FFfAW

The days and nights had become one long stretch of nothing. It seemed there was only the sea and the sky left, the rest of the world has just gone. Dad and son sat in the tiny dingy, thinking, sleeping, daydreaming, hallucinating, hoping and praying to be saved. The sinking of the fishing boat haunted them but they were far away from that now and everything else. Large waves rocked the boat, the sky grew black, another storm was coming and this time they might not survive.

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2018/11/26/fffaw-challenge-193rd/ with thanks).

Lost Shoes #TwittingTales

It began as a simple thing after the ship wreak, one of the rescuers put the dead boy’s shoes in a tree. More followed and it became a way to keep count of the deaths. The tree was overburdened and it started to wither. It became a memorial; a memory for those lost.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/09/25/twittering-tales-103-25-september-2018/ with thanks).

Drifting

Driftwood, Wood, Beach, Sand, Water, Ocean, Timber, Sea

She clung onto a piece of driftwood, praying for daylight. Around her, the sea and the fading storm echoed in her ears, blocking out every other sound. A huge wave slammed into her and she clung to the plank with all her might. Trying not to cry out and keep her eyes shut, she let the wave roll over.

The driftwood popped out and she come up with it. Spluttering and gasping for breath, she opened her eyes and tried to looked through the darkness. She could not see anything but the dark sea and the black sky. Tasting nothing but salt in her mouth, she pulled herself further up the plank and tightened her grip.

She wanted to rest her head on the wood, exhaustion was dancing before her, but somehow the strength came back to her as another wave came and sent her into a spin. Fighting down a scream, she let the sea do it’s worse whilst still praying for daylight and land.

The wave hit, catching her the skirts of her dress and dragging her down. She wrestled against the current then she popped up again, dragging in lung fulls of oxygen. Untangling her hand from her skirts, she clutched the board again.

Something hard brushed her bare feet. What was it? She tried to explore more with her toes, but couldn’t decided if it was rocks, the sea floor, an animal or something else. Trying not to panic and knowing she did not have the energy for it, she let the next wave carry her further forward.

Fighting the pull back, she put her feet down and felt confident it was only rocks under her. Battling the sea, she walked using the plank to keep her a float. Suddenly, the rock changed and she felt sand between her toes. Crying out, she used the last of her strength to struggle onto the shore.

Climbing up out of the sea’s reach, she collapsed on to the sand and hugged herself. Trying to look around, she saw the beach was as dark as the sea. A bolt of lighting far in the distant had her gaze darting back. A rumble of thunder followed, but it was nothing compared to the roaring of the sea.

She carried on watching, but could not see anything else then there was a glow of light on the horizon. She watched it growing and slowly realized it could only be the coming dawn. Her prayers had been answered.

Banana Bread

She sniffed and wondered what that smell was. Pausing for the first time in hours, she half turned her head to glance at the attic door. A thin paint brush was glued to her dry lips and three more brushes stilled their ball juggling like movements in her hands. The large canvas before her demanded her attention back.

She looked at the overall painting and not just the small bottom sections she had been working on. It was a dark under the ocean scene with just a hint of rolling waves on top. She put down the paint brushes, gently removed the one from her mouth and stood up. Her body ached and protested, but still her bones clicked back and her muscles moved.

She walked away stiffly, like an hundred year old woman then turned once she had reached the bookcase. The painting filled her vision and the sweet banana smell lingered around her. What is that? She wondered and smelt the air again. It was a warm and rich aroma that hummed of homemade baking. It sang to her like a child with a sugary voice.

She shook her head and zoned back into the painting. The wreckages of ships both wooden and metal loomed out of the dark and eerie water. Sea weed and other salt water plants floated next to them whilst sea creatures of all kinds filled the rest of the space. It was good, life like yet with a handful of dark fantasy.

She took a note of different things, for example; the Kraken wrapped around the first wooden ship needed finishing. The hammerhead shark in the porthole faded too much into the background and she needed luminous paint for the jellyfishes. She hobbled back to her stool and sat down again. The two tables on both sides of the canvas and easel where packed with paints, brushes, jars of water, mixing trays, paper sketches and printed coloured photographs. She shuffled through everything and found an image of the hammerhead shark.

The colour is too dark, she realised as she compared things. Gathering a selection of grey paints, she began to figure out which one was accurate. The heavy whiffs of banana hugged around her and tugged her stomach away. Putting down the paints were a sigh, she got up and undid the apron covering her. Abandoning the paint encrusted fabric on the stool, she went to the attic door.

Opening it, she went down the steep staircase with bubbling regret. She stopped at the bottom and looked back up, knowing the painting wouldn’t be finished in time if she did this. She breathed deeply and the cake smell reassured her. She’d feel better it seemed to add. She went across the landing and down the two flights of main stairs to the kitchen.

She stopped at the half opened door and looked in. All she could see was the side of the fridge-freezer, some cupboards and to the other side, the edge of the kitchen table. The smell was at its peak but mingling with the hot oven and lemon cleaner. She opened the door, unable to stop herself and walked in.

From the table, her husband looked up guilty. Wordlessly, he slid an already full bowl over to her. The sight of banana bread in custard brought her almost to tears.

**********

The Story Files is now on Tumblr! http://thestoryfilesblog.tumblr.com/

Still on Facebook too: https://www.facebook.com/thestoryfiles

Water Swell (Part 2)

Crashing: Waves smash over the promenade wall  in Prestwick, Scotland, as the Met Issued issued amber and yellow weather warnings

(Continued from; Water Swell, Part 1)

In the dim light that still lingered in the sky above, he could just make out the outline of the building. It was definitely a large house with a lighthouse stretching up from the right hand side. Trying to steady his breathing, Colton walked up the steps. His boots sloshed with water, but couldn’t compare to the sound the sea was now making against the cliff. He reached the door and touched the cold, rotting wood.

Some instinct told him the place was long abandoned. He glanced over his shoulder, but could see nothing other than the rolling night. He pushed against one of the doors and surprisingly it squeaked open. He looked inside and saw nothing but the pitch darkness. Fear prickled the back of his neck, but he had no choice. He stepped inside, but didn’t close the door behind him.

He shuffled his feet and pressed a hand to the wall as he walked. He could feel the peeling paint of the other door then a freezing cold stone wall. He paused as his hand touched what felt like a curtain. He further explored and found it was a velvet drape. He felt something crawling on the back of his hand and shook it off. Dust tickled his nose and breathed in a musty scent.

Shaking the curtain, he yanked it down and heard the pinging of brass rings. The drape tumbled down and he took the full weight of it in his hands. Letting it fall to his feet, he took off his clothes then his shoes. Collecting the curtain again, he wrapped it around himself and sat down on the floor. He couldn’t decide if he liked the velvet against his skin, but as the sea chill began to lift, he felt grateful.

He looked to the open door and saw that the outside darkness had crept in and had mixed with the darkness of the house. The roaring stormy waves rocked Colton’s ears and he heard the patter of rain. He sighed and dried off his hair, glad to be out of the sea and now somewhat safe. A crack of lightening blinded him and he turned his head away. A growl of thunder started up a competition of roaring sounds with the ocean.

Colton shivered and lay down on the floor. A blast of wind slammed the door and he pulled the drape over his head. Letting out a small sob, he tried to sleep but his thoughts were plague with the shipwreck. He couldn’t really remember what had happened, only that the captain had called The Ocean Wonderer to be evacuated. There had been a scum to the lifeboats and no one had given a thought to the cabin boy. Colton wasn’t even sure how he had survived. Just that as the ship was breaking apart, he had come up deck and gone into a lifeboat that had been abandoned. He shook his head and tried not to give it any more thought. He took in deep breaths of stale air and fell asleep.

His dreams refused to let the trauma of the afternoon go and he slept feverishly. A few times he woke up, believing he was still on the ship and it was sinking. Once he even scrambled up shouting, ‘abandoned ship! Men over boarded.’ Then dragging in deep breaths he saw he was actually in the hallway of a house. He lay back down, curling up like an injured dog and trying to sleep again.

When he woke for the final time, he didn’t know what time it was. Struggling out of the curtain, he went to the door and opened it. Light poured into the hallway, shinning across his bare feet and alighting the grand staircase behind him. Colton looked out and saw a large rectangle of earth that had once been a front lawn. Running from the steps was something of a sand pathway and it seemed to led down to the cliff face he had climbed up.

He opened the door fully then the other one, letting in sunlight and after-storm scented sea air. He stepped out, realised he was naked and went back for his clothes. They and his shoes were still wet. He took them outside and lay them out on the steps. Then stepping carefully, he walked to the edge of the cliff. Looking out, he could see nothing but calm waves bobbing all around. There was no sign of the shipwreck. He looked down and saw the waves tapping against the cliff. There seemed no beach or other island that he could see.

He turned back and decided to walk around the house. He kept just were the edge of the grass use to be and walked the full circle in less than ten minutes. He guessed there had once been a garden with space to grow food in at the back. He saw a large green house that was empty beside from a few dead plants and had some windows smashed in by the wind. He also saw what had once been fruit trees, perhaps.

Inspecting the lighthouse attached to the side of the house, Colton found the small door open. The stone spiral staircase was covered in dust and the leavings of birds. He went straight to the top and found himself face to face with the broken electrical light. He couldn’t tell if a person had broken the light or not. The glass surrounding walls were broken too and he could look out and get a clear view of the sea.

He went back into side the house and roamed through the rooms. There wasn’t a lot to be seen. Maybe when someone had lived here it had looked nice and been full of interesting furniture, but now there was only some fitted cupboards in the kitchen, the large stone slab fireplaces, a fitted bookcase in the wall of what could have been a study or living room. And of course the drapes that hung closed at every window, but the front one he had torn down.

Coming back to his almost dried clothes, his stomach growled. He had seen no food, but there had been an old well in the back garden. Putting on his clothes and shoes, he walked back there. The well was small and covered with a wooden lid. Miraculously there was still a bucket on the floor. Colton shifted the lid and tied the bucket to the end of a spool of rope, that looked little weathered but still good. He lowered the bucket, suddenly realising how thirsty he was.

Praying there was drinkable water at the bottom, he let the rope spool spin around. He heard a faint plop and splash of water. The rope had almost reached its end. Grabbing the turning handle, Colton dragged the bucket back up. It felt heavier, but it wasn’t till the bucket had come fully up that he saw the discoloured water inside.

He grabbed the bucket handle and slid it over the well’s edge and to the floor. He scooped a handful of water and saw it had a yellow colour. He pressed it to his lips and sucked up a little bit. The water wasn’t salty nor was it fresh. There was an after taste of staleness and something else he didn’t know. Deciding that he didn’t have a choice, he filled his hungry belly with the dirty water.

After, he walked around the island again often pausing to look out at the sea. Nothing seemed to change, other than the sky becoming lighter. He sat down on the front steps, wondering what to do. One thought become clear in Colton’s mind. He couldn’t stay here. There was no food and the water was bad. A dread filled him at his next thought; I’ll have to face the sea again if I want to get off here.

Collecting himself, he walked around looking for anything he could use or any clue as to watch direction land was in. He found nothing but the bones of some birds and cat. Finally, having no choice he went to the edge of the cliff and began to climb down. The rocks bit into his hands and thin leather shoes, but he struggled on. A few times he tried to head across, just to see if he could see anything of interested. However, the cliff face didn’t seem to want to let him and he carried on.

Halfway down, he pondered how people had gotten on and off the island. There must have been a staircase of something. Maybe he should have spent more time looking for it? Shaking his head, he carried on and eventually reached the bottom. The waves swirled around and over the large rocks, creating another barrier for Colton. His hands and feet were stinging and bloody. He wiped his hands on his shorts then decided to try and get around the island. The idea that there must have a staircase or some indication of a dock had really got to him. Slowly, he made his way around, being careful of the wet, seaweed covered stones and using the cliff face to balance on. He came across a wooden pole stuck in-between to rocks and next to a small rough staircase had been cut into the cliff side. Growling, Colton looked further around, but couldn’t see anything else. At least he now knew which way to swim.

Getting into the sea trigged bad memories, but he forced them away. Kicking off from a rock, he set off at a good pace and found that the waves were pushing him forward. The cold water caused him to shiver and feel tried, but still he swim on. A few times he paused to catch his breath and to check to see if he was still going the right way. Though of course he couldn’t be hundred percent sure about that.

The first sign he got was another set of rocks and a line of yellow sand. Joy, hope and desperation filled him at once and he swim harder towards what he saw. He past the rocks and a beach came into full form before him. He saw people walked around, some horses and large wooden ship planks. He swum on, feeling the aches in his limbs then his feet hit sand and he stood up. He walked out of the sea and on to the beach.

A man ran towards him as he collapsed and Colton remembered other faces and voices. They were all asking him questions, but he no longer cared. His eyes closed and thought he saw the flashing of the lighthouse against his eye lids.

Wave Swell (Part 1)

Crashing: Waves smash over the promenade wall  in Prestwick, Scotland, as the Met Issued issued amber and yellow weather warnings

The waves swirled around Colton and whacked their white foamy tops against his shoulders. He tread the seawater, trying to keep moving to stay warm more than anything else. A larger wave almost pulled him down, but he managed to keep his head up. Spitting out the salty water, he glanced around, but could see nothing.

The upturned lifeboat he had flung himself into at the start of everything was long gone. The waves had crushed it like a shark’s jaw and he had had to give into the stormy sea. He looked at the sky and decided it looked just like the sea, he was completely surrounded.

Paddling a little, Colton tried not to put a lot of energy into the swim. He knew from reading and watching things that he had to save his strength as much as possible. The water was cold, but he was growing use to it. He met a wave and was splashed across the face. He was half-tempted to wipe the drops away, but decided it was pointless.

Taking a few deep breaths, he tried once again to see if he could see anything, even the glamour of anything that would give him hope. There was nothing, just as he had notice when he’d look over the bow of the ship. Paddling again, he moved forward and after a few moments he thought he saw something.

Colton paused then began moving towards it, not sure what the tall grey blur was in front of him. A spark of hope drove him on and as he got closer he saw a structure. A small doubt called out that he was dreaming this, but another part of him urged him on. Fighting against the waves, he used his saved energy to actually swim. The waves as if realising that he was trying to escape, suddenly surged up around him. He struggled through and his shoes scrapped something.

He gasped in some wet breaths and tried to figure out what was under him, but he didn’t have the time because the waves were threating to drown him. He flung himself back into the swimming and after another round of growing waves, his hand touched a rough stone. Colton tightened his grip, placed his other hand beside the first and pulled himself up. The sea tried to drag him back, but he kicked it away.

He began to scramble up the rocks, deciding that this was just as hard as fighting the sea. Finally, he reached a flat surface and caught his breath. Looking below, he could see the waves crashing and swelling below him. Oddly, he believed the sea really wanted to come and get him. Somehow, the fact that he had survived had angered some force below the waves. He shook water out of his hair and looked up. To his dismay, he saw that he was on a ledge and he still had a while to go before he reached the top, if there was one.

Colton rested for a few moments and became aware he was shivering. He looked down at his cotton t-shirt and shorts. He could take them off, but they’d be useful for protecting his body during the climb. He tried to wring some water out of them then ran his hands over his face, arms and legs to get rid of the water covering them. He turned back to the rock face and began climbing it again.

He found lots of small holes which fitted his hands and feet that the sea had made over time. He climbed up and up, feeling aches in his hands, legs and back. When his shoulders went stiff he looked for a place to stop, but couldn’t see another ledge or big gap. He struggled on, trying not to think about his aching and scratched up body.

A few more steps up and his hand reached out for the next holding spot and hit hard grass. A small sound escaped him and Colton heaved himself up and over the top. Landing on his hands and knees, he kept his head down and took in deep breaths. He shut his eyes, squeezing out tears that had formed in the corners. He opening his eyes again and he looked at the dark wild sea grass underneath him. The sharp blades were digging into his sore knees.

He stood up, gathered himself and looked around. Below, he could hear the sea howling like a distressed wild animal. A grin lit his face as he realised his victory over the sea. Ahead of him, he could see the dark building looming out of the night streaked sky. With a burst of energy, he hurried forward, half-running across the grass clumps and stuck out rock tips. There was no gate, fence, pathway or driveway he could see and he was at the bottom of washed out grey stone steps before he knew it.

To Be Continued…

The Ocean Floor

As the sand settle, I could finally see the giant silhouette in front of me. It looked like the statue of a woolly mammoth, though I could’ve been wrong. My feet hit the sand and I felt the heavy vibrations all the way through the metal boots, my too big suit and my iron diving helmet. My harsh breathing echoed in my ears and I took a moment to establish myself.

Around me the other six divers, who were kitted out just like myself, were also landing on the sand floor. Puffy clouds spread out and rose from their grey boots and the ocean current carried them away. Small dull fish swim above our heads, searching through the disturbed sand partials. I watched two of the large fish swallowing something green down and shooting it out again.

‘Liberty? Can you hear me? I am I coming in clear?’ a voice in my head asked.

Startled, I twisted around and almost fell over. A strong hand caught my shoulder holding me straight. Through the diving helmet, I could make out my father’s concerned face. I calmed my breathing and replied via my helmet mic, ‘Yes. I can hear you fine, Da.’

‘Good. You can get a little closer, but remember to stay out of the way.’

I nodded, before quickly replying, ‘Understood.’

I saw him patting my shoulder, but I didn’t feel it. Then he was walking away and joining the other men as they went passed the mammoth statue and to the collapsing building. Looking passed it and to the sides, I could see more buildings, some of which had once been skyscrapers. The pressure of the ocean had got to most of the weaker structures, creating gapping doorways of twisted metal and fallen bricks. I couldn’t see that clearly through the glass porthole in front of me, but I got the sense that there was something huge off to the side of the mammoth.

I walked forward, struggling through the fast current and the drag my air hose. My boots kicked up more sand, broken shells and small debris. My too big suit was also adding to this as the water tugged the loose folds backwards. I came under the statue and had to look up in awe. It was so tall and seemed to be reaching right out of the ocean. I wondered how someone had built it, let alone come up with the idea for it.

I reached out a thick gloved hand and touched some of the luminous sea moss that had grown on the front leg. My fingers disturbed some of the spores and they drifted away. I wished I could really feel it. I sighed and heard a crackling over the transmitter.

‘Liberty, stay away from the shipwreck,’ my Da’s voice hissed into my head.

‘What? I’m at the statue,’ I responded back.

A crackling and buzzing answered me back.

I let my fingers drop from the statue and plodded around it. I couldn’t really see anyone, but their air hoses were still there. They hung down through the dark bluey-green water like spider’s web lines, only they were a lot thicker. I walked on and thought I saw a diver’s boot sticking out from an actually doorway. I stopped, my transmitter cleared up.

The men’s voices filled my ears and I listened to them finding things and deciding what to take back to the surfaces. I took a few deep breaths then turned to the looming shape to my right. Directly behind the mammoth statue were the red iron reminds of a shipwreck. My breath stuck in my throat and fear quaked my knees.

The warship was three times the size of the statue and more menacing. A rusting tank lay on its side, gun turret pointing right at me. Broken metal speared the sand and a fish popped its head out of a hole in the tank’s corner. There were no other words to describe it other than hauntingly eerie. I imaged that once it would have roamed the oceans sending fear into anyone that saw it.

‘Liberty? Where are you?’ my Da’s voice came though once more.

‘Just passed the statue, I’m coming now,’ I called back and began walking.

As I got closer, I could see the large nets and floatable plastic boxes, that had been sent down from the boat. The men were gathering around them and placing things they had found inside. I saw what looked like a wooden box, a silver candle stick and a collection of china tea cups. My dad was standing near the closest one.

Stomping over, I came to join him and looked down at the pearl necklace in his gloved hands. I cupped my own hands together and held them out as he dropped the treasure to me. The pearls were dull, but milky white.

‘Keep them safe,’ Da’s voice whispered to me, ‘a memento of your first deep sea dive.’

‘Thank you,’ I replied back softly.

‘Everyone ready to move out?’ came a loud voice followed by everyone muttering replies.

We attached ourselves to the nets or lines of the floating boxes and were pulled up alongside them. I looked down and watched the sea closing over the lost old world.