I think I’m going through post-even withdrawal, just like I used to go through post-play withdrawal. I’m tired, mildly depressed, and keep returning to my computer like a drug because I’m so used to having to do some posting, editing, correspondence, or graphics. I now find myself sitting at the computer thinking, “Right, now what’s the most urgent thing I need to do…Wait, there has to be a deadline somewhere, right? right?”
The Fliers woke up today in the abandoned house on the big island. In the middle of the night, Howell got severely ill, according to Jacobson, though what exactly is severely ill he never says.
Once dawn broke, Jacobson went to explore the grounds. He saw remains of two very large boats that had been purposefully destroyed drawn up on the beach, some abandoned gardens and several fish in a nearby, brackish creek. He returned to find the rest of the Fliers up and in the yard of the house, getting ready for another coconut and water breakfast. With the news of fishing, everyone agreed that they should stay at the house for a few days and recouperate on a diet of fish, coconuts and the cistern water.
Suddenly, a little boy popped out of a bush nearby, and before anyone could react, another one popped out behind him. They spoke little English and no Flier spoke the local dialect. Captain Crowley finally asked “Americans or Japanese?” One boy said “Americanos! ” and smiled. Then he said, “Japanese” and pulled his finger across his neck olike he was slitting his throat. He pointed at the men. “Americanos?”
“Americanos!” Crowley said.
They they pointed at the cistern everyone had drunk out of the night before and said, “Don’t drink the water,” but could only explain why in his own language so they had to leave off.
The older boy then said “Rice” while patting his stomach, and motioned for the Fliers to follow him into the woods. After a few moments they decided to follow him because if he was friendly they would get food, if they weren’t it was eight grown men (although weak and wounded) against boys and they might make a run for it. At any rate, it was also as likely that these kids used to live in the old village, and if the Fliers had been found by them already, it was just a matter of time.
It was slow going and the boys eventually stopped everyone in a sugar cane field for a quick pick-me-up of raw sugarcane to give the guys some quick energy. They lead them to a roofed platform, much like the covered picnic areas in parks, and quickly set about building a fire, boiling some rice and serving it with smoked fish and water from a nearby stream.
With hot food in front of them, they had just started to relax and feel like things were finally looking up when they heard a rifle cock. The two boys stood up and yelled “AMERICANOS!” pointing at the Fliers.
They were betrayed, and Jacobson said that he felt his heart sink when he knew that there was no hope, they were going to be captured and turned over to the Japanese by the tall, heavily armed men that were emerging from the trees.
But then, one of the men raced over and said, “Welcome to Bugsuk Island!” IN PERFECT ENGLISH. His name was Pedro Sarmiento, and three years earlier, he had been the schoolteacher in the building they were now eating in, a position that included instructing the children in English.
He was now the head of the Bugsuk Bolo Battalion and was glad to have found them. Despite the Flier’s caution, they had been seen last night creeping into the island, but without their uniforms, no one knew if they were friend or foe. The lookouts followed them to the abandoned house and when they were sure that the Fliers were staying for hte night, sent messages all over the island gathering the best warriors, who surrounded the house. When Jacobson returned, they sent the boys after him to discover if they men were Allies or Japanese. If they were Allies they were supposed to come to this house with the men for a rendezvous. If they had said they were Japanese, the boys were supposed to pretend they were on their way to the coconut grove and, once clear, the warriors would have surrounded them and murdered the whole group.
But now was not a really good time for questions. While the Japanese had no permanent base on this (thankfully inhabited) island, they did visit every few days, spending the night in the house, and they were due back in an hour or so. If they suspected anything was wrong they would patrol inland for a while, but not too far. Curious Japanese sentries had a habit of disappearing if they ventured too deeply on Bugsuk.
But they would get to the schoolhouse, and so they did have to hurry and leave. If the Flier had been a day earlier or later, the Fliers would have been found by these patrols, but as it was, they had explored during the short window when these islands were free from enemy eyes.
Sarmiento wanted to get everyone to the north of the island where a boat was waiting for further orders and passengers. But as the men struggled to walk on their ruined feet, through severe dehydration and with the first full meal in their stomachs in days, that idea was quickly abandoned. Convinced they were deep enough into Bugsuk’s jungle to thwart any following Japanese, Sarmiento sent word ahead to a small village where the Fliers gratefully fell into a deep sleep.