Gimmer of Hope and Shadows of Civilization

Posted by Rebekah
Aug 18 2010

The men woke on day five, looking forward to finally reaching the big island they had been watching for days.  It was their last chance.  If they could not find food and water on this island, they probably wouldn’t make it. Three days without water, especially in the tropical heat, usually leaves a person in a critical state, and they had been out for five days since Flier sank.

Their balance was off, it was difficult to walk on the soft sands.  Every few steps they had to pause and catch their breath.  If they were too dehydrated, their body would stop sweating, increasing their risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, a possibly fatal condition.

As they rounded the south side of the island, they saw something that made their hearts stop.  A dugout canoe, made of a single, hollowed out trunk rested on the beach.  Though full of holes, it proved that at some point someone had been here, and could be again.  The men quickly searched the dugout, trying to decide how old it as, and Jacobson and Baumgart headed into the interior of the small island along a tiny trail one of them spotted to check for people.  But there was nothing outside of the calls of birds and howls of monkeys.

No one and nothing, and the dugout was so so old, it was too rotten to use, so they abandoned it and continued to drag their raft behind them in the surf.

They planned to rest in the shade of the trees until slack tide on the eastern point of the beach, but when they got there, they saw something else unexpected: a house.  They dragged the raft into the shade, and concealed themselves under trees and behind bushes while examining the new island through Jacobson’s binoculars.  They saw no one and nothing again, but with the dugout and now the house, they decided to be cautious, and wait until a couple of hours before sunset, landing just before sunset and creeping up to the house in the darkness.

It went as planned, and they landed on the opposite side of a  small jutting penninsula, keeping low in the water until the last minute to keep their profile down.  They covered the raft in some bracken, hoping to return to it if necessary, and crept towards the house.

They found a long-abandoned village and a coconut grove on the way, but little evidence that anyone had been there for several years.  They also didn’t see any evidence of forced abandonment due to invasion, but it did look like the locals had left quickly when it had happened.

The coconut trees here were heavily laden and dropping coconuts, and Jacobson and Baumgart gathered several coconuts and all headed for the house  where they had another stroke of good luck: a cistern full of rainwater.  Crowley told everyone to drink sparingly in case everyone got sick after the severe dehydration if they overtaxed their systems, but for whatever reason Howell drank deeply.

After a quick tour of the house, the men could tell a few things about the old owners:  they had been wealthy, and traded in cattle and lumber, but had left in late 1941 and probably hadn’t been back.  The house had been well built and was still sound, though doors sagged on hinges, and the disrepair was starting to show.  It was too dark to see much else, and after spending a frustrating hour opening one of their still-husked coconuts with nothing more than a sharp stone, they set watch, and fell asleep.  Jacobson fell asleep stretched out on one of the doors he found on the floor, and said he slept soundly for the first time since Flier sank.

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