Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Island Prison

         There are only two truths for which at this present moment I have absolute certainty. First: I reside on an island. It takes me about two hours to cover the circumference of this island at a steady walk so, considering an average man's pace, I have determined that it is roughly 12 miles around and much longer than it is wide. From any point on the shore I can see land 5 to 10 miles away, close enough to determine that the body which surrounds me is forested and most likely uninhabited yet far enough that swimming the distance is out of the question lest I succumb to the murky tendrils of the deep. The island is densely forested but the undergrowth is such that I may move about freely. There are many steep ravines and hills which provide protection from wind, sun and other weather. There are no man made structure aside from a small shack which I have found and subsequently inhabited. There are further no signs of life aside from a few skittish deer and a family of raccoons which I uncovered one day as well as numeous small birds. The vegetation is primarily coniferous trees with a number of bushes which I recognize as azalea, rhododendron and a few others. The soil is fertile and the beaches are rocky. The island is surrounded by fresh water which is very cold.
          Second: I have no memory of my life before a fortnight ago. That is to say I do not know my name, my nationality, my occupation, or any details of my life before this time. I do know that I am in my early forties, that I speak English and that I have a great fondness for daytime television. This fact (that is, the memory loss) does not frighten me. I have come to accept it. My first few days on the island were very unusual. My memory of this time is mostly shrouded in a haze, or delirium. I recall stumbling about for a few hours, drifting in and out of consciousness, naked and thirsty. I remember a strong sense of terror, though at what I could not say. Much of the time was spent running from hollow to hollow, hiding under ferns and such. When I came about myself I was at the bottom of a ravine, unclothed and shivering. I had a few cuts on my legs and was extremely thirsty but other than that was in relatively good shape. I began wandering immediately and found a scrap of a shirt I must have been wearing which I fashioned into a loin cloth. A few hours later I discovered what I will refer to as "The Cache". Upon cresting the highest hill of the island, in a large clearing, I came upon a large pallet tied down with twine. My approach at first was tentative, but the cries of my body outweighed my fears and I approached. Inside was a collection of canned goods, a ream of paper, clothing, wood, some tarps, and various utensils. I was unable at the time to determine how long the cache had been there for but the food was fresh and the remaining goods were undamaged by rain. I quickly took as much has I could carry and descended the hill to continue my wanderings.
          My current home I came upon after 3 or 4 absolutely miserable nights spent shivering and dirty attempting sleep under some shrubbery. By that time I was fairly confident that the island was uninhabited yet was cautious of the shack and watched it for a number of hours. It was made of light cedar and had a small door. The chimney of a small stove (smokeless) penetrated the roof. Inside I found a bed, desk, and a little window overlooking the water. The walls were bare and the whole enclosure was spartan though comfortable. So and when I noticed the shack was unlocked and clean I quickly inhabited it. My days I spent wandering the lengths of the island. My nights I spent in the shack sometimes sleeping though still fearful of raiders, marauders and hostile wildlife.
         At the end of the first week I awoke to a dull roar on the distant edge of my hearing. Terrified I listened in my bed, the thin light outside an indigo shawl bequeathing nothing. The roar grew nearer and I gripped the covers tighter, broke into a sweat. The drone broke stacatto and maintained its intensity for some time then changed pitch and descended until silence swept in to fill the void. I lay still for at least an hour, sure that it would return but slowly as the light outside ascended through its paces to a clear azure the fear left me and I was able to creakily move out of my bed and look out the window. The world was as it had been the night before, no sign of an intruder. I went out on my daily walk later than usual that day, still tentative after the mornings curious event. Around the island nothing had changed, no sign of an apocalypse presented itself.
           That day saw the first of many of my mishaps and setbacks. There exists a small stream that collects water from one of the hillsides and concentrates then funnels it into the sea surrounding the island. Many times I had crossed it already for the stream is only a few feet wide but rather deep and that night it must have rained as it was showing a particularly strong current. I was forced to jump across it and, at the tail end of my leap, as my first foot (the left one) met the slick quagmire on the other side I slipped down and, alas, the entirety of my right leg up to my knee was submerged. The water was rather cold and filled my shoe, the previously clean sock expanding like a sponge (or other absorbent device...) severely restricting the movement of that ankle. The other leg was spared, though the right shoe was muddied more than I would have liked. The whole rest of my  walk was spent in misery, alternate steps sloshing, the water warming to a sticky lukewarm layer on my leg. I was struck by the thought that the sucking noise made by my shoe might give away my position to any malevolent force that happened to be near by, but this was tempered by an extreme apathy brought on by the blow of the fall, so I continued on my way, despondent, almost hoping to by struck down in my soggy path. Luckily I found that the cache had been replenished and I was especially happy to see a new ream of paper as I was running out of kindling for my fires and the nights had begun to grow a little cooler. I spent the rest of the day merrily carrying loads of goods back to the shack and enjoyed a warm dinner by the fire, exhausted, my shoes drying away in the pleasant heat.
          The other evening, while settling down for the night, a distant memory slipped into my mind. It is the first I have had retuern to me and it left a strange taste in my mouth. I see myself sitting at a table before a bowl of cereal and cup of coffee. I feel ragged, upset. I am holding a publication of some sort and a woman, wrinkled, old and fat is speaking to me though the words are drowned out, or I am ignoring them. I put down the paper and continue eating as the woman continues to speak. There the memory fades. The memory is filled with a feeling of vast horror, and disgust, but I cling to it as it is my only link to my past, my only contact with the outside world.         It has been almost three weeks on this island and my despondency and ennui have grown to an extreme degree. Solitude is the harshest curse and I do not know if I will ever leave this island. I sit now, on the crest of one of the smaller hills of the island, looking out over the heartless sea, the taunting cries of the birds a constant reminder of my plight, the sea breeze mussing my hair and burning my cheeks and the sun's harsh rays beating down on me or at least beating down on the spreading tree under which I sit. I found earlier today a stray piece of paper which escaped while I was starting one of my nightly fires in the shack. In my loneliness I have whiled away a half hour today writing down my experience so far so that, in the event that my body, surely decayed beyond recognition, is ever found, someone will be able to recreate the nightmare that is this island.


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