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Rated: E · Campfire Creative · Documentary · Action/Adventure · #2048688
Trapped in the wilderness, do they have what it takes to survive?
[Introduction] It's been 3 years since they've seen each other and parted ways. To celebrate their friendship they decide to take a trip to overseas together! 4 weeks at sea, and 4 weeks in Europe, so they've planned. They board a passenger ship and decide to meet on deck after settling into their cabins.

Let's use first person, present tense so our story can seem like it's happening real time. We can switch off perspectives each chapter!
08:36
I open the hatch to my cabin and look around. It's better than I expected it to be for the price I paid. There are 2 bunks, one on either side of the door, and a small chest at the foot of each bunk. The ceilings are low enough that my fingertips can brush it if I raise my arms. I walk over to the bed on the right, dragging my heavy suitcases behind me. I plop down and toss one on the bed beside me. In front of each chest is a door; the one on my side has a full length mirror on it and looks to be the closet, the other door appears to be the bathroom, and the door leading outside to the hall in the middle of the two.

I open up my suitcases and start sorting my clothes, placing some in the chest and others on hangers in the closet, leaving room for my bunkmate. I wonder when they'll show up. I'm curious but I also want to hurry up and switch rooms so that __ and I can spend all our time together. It's been so long since we have last seen each other. I always heard people say that it's hard to keep in contact after high school, they were right. But that didn't mean our friendship was over. We are sisters for life! We always talked about going on a grand adventure together, and even made a few ourselves, but this... This was the real deal.

08:55
I finally finish sorting my clothes and run out to the hallway. People are bustling around, still bringing their luggage from the deck down into their respective rooms. Closing the hatch behind me and slipping the key into my pocket I make my way to the deck. There are so many people still bustling around, newly boarded and others who boarded few days prior. An announcement plays on speakers over head:
"Once again Departure Time is 09:00. The ship will leave the port in 5 minutes. Please remain patient."
I laugh to myself, knowing there must have been complaints already. My first time on a real ship and I'm a bit overwhelmed, I can't wait until we finally set sail. I run over to the main deck, ducking and weaving past the crowd to lean over the railing. I feel like Rose from the Titanic and smile as the ocean breeze hits my face. I imagine the faster winds once we're really out in the ocean. I check my watch and frown. ___ should be here by now...
"Eolina! Eolina! Hey!"
I hear someone call my name and turn back to the crowd. I see ___ waving and pushing past a few other passengers.
"Finally! It took you forever," I grab her hand and pull her over tot he railing. "Look at this view~~ I'm so excited! We're going on a real adventure!! I think we should start with the buffets. I hear there is breakfast, brunch, lunch. late lunch, dinner, and midnight buffets. We should get started now!"
08:57

Finally I'm back at Eolina's side. I hear her go on and on about what we should do now, but my gaze is shortly captured by the view she brought my attention to not even five minutes ago. "This view sure is beautiful." I look over to her excite face and notice she wasn't paying me no never-mind. she was smiling wide and talking about the buffets I assumed we would be eating from soon. I laughed and nodded. "I'm starving! tell me how to get there love, lead the way!"she grabs my wrist and ergs "this way follow me." and I do, we were moving quick and I accidentally bumped into a few people. I knocked one guy over, he looked upset. I apologized and continued to follow Eolina before I lost her. "Over here Ta'leanna." she motioned her arms towards the buffet. "I'm coming, wait for me!"

09:00

There was so much food! Another announcement sounds, "attention all passenger, we are now setting sail please do make yourselves comfortable and meet back on the main deck in an hour." I filled my plate with so much food, looking over to Eolina I see her doing the same. I see an older women look at her confused as to where all that food goes, Eolina eye balled the lady and asked if she needed something. I laughed so hard I snorted and almost dropped my food, man I've missed her. We sit down and Eolina looks at my plate. "Why do you have chocolate syrup on your pancakes?" I smile "It's like camping in your living room all over again." she laughs and shakes her head.

09:24

I'm leaning but in my chair, I'm too full to finish my plate. "ughhhh, my eyes are too big for my bodyyyyy." I groan, to which Eolina just laughs and checks the time. "It's 09:25 we should go see if we can get the same room before we have to go to the main deck." I nod. I sluggishly get up, all I want to do is sleep. "Ta'leanna come on." I stretch and follow her, there's less traffic now so this walk should be a lot smoother.
09:30
I drag Ta'leanna to my cabin. "C'mon get ready to put on your sad face, so they'll pity us and let is switch rooms!" I unlock the door and look around. My suitcases are stacked neatly on the chest t the foot of my bed. Nothing else has changed. "Either they didn't board at the same dock, or I have a room to myself!"
Ta'leanna plops down on the second bed and starts rolling around. "Eolinaaa, I am so full." I toss my pillow at her head.
"What are you going to do for the brunch coming up in a few hou--" Something our of the corner of my eye catches my attention. "Look! out the window!"
Ta'leanna leans over and looks where I'm pointing, "I think that's called a porthole, girl. You know had to brush up on my ship lingo."
"Ok, ok just come look! It's not supposed to rain is it?"

From the cabin, you can see miles out over the ocean. Some ways in the distance the sky gets really dark; as if we're approaching night. Ta'leanna gasps and moves closer. A bright flash of lightning pierces the shadow. "But that's pretty far away..."
I nod, "Yeah you're right. The captain will probably steer the ship around the storm..." I hesitate because it doesn't just look like a dark cloud.. The darkness seems just as wide as the ocean...

Ta'leanna slaps my back, "C'mon, let's see if i have more luggage than you. I am not dragging all that stuff back out here when you only have 2 little suitcases."

"You see? This is why I need my butler Chauncey to carry my belongings. Hither to!" I snap my fingers in the air as if a butler were to appear out of nowhere.

We exit the room and head down the long corridors. Some people have their doors open and you can hear laughter and conversation flowing through the halls. We turn left down another corridor and Ta'leanna gestures to an open door. "I guess I have a roommate."

I drop my voice to a whisper: "Dammit. Imagine if neither of us had a roommate! It would be like having 2 rooms to ourselves! Maybe your roommate will be super cool and can adventure along with us? What if you get a creep nasty roommate?"

"Shhhh," Ta'leanna puts her finger to her lips. "If that's the case.. we have to investigate."
10:00
Ta'leanna

We walk into my room and see my roommate unpacking the last few of his belongings, "Heyyyy... I'm Ta'leanna and this is my sister Eolina. I'll be bu--.." I froze, not because this was the same man I knocked over on the way to breakfast but because he was gorgeous. He was what looked to be 5'6 and mixed chocolate yummy yummy. These intense soft brown eyes that I couldn't stare at due to how lovely his bone structure was, strong jaw. With a medium build just how I like them. Eolina reaches over and pushes my jaw up and pulls my arm down removing my right pointer finger from the air. "ehhhh..'' I sound like I was leaking air. Eolina laughs and I look down and elbow her, which only made her laugh louder. I place my face in my hands and mumble. "What is wrong with me." Mystery man chuckles. "Hey I'm Camion, what did you say your name was again." He reaches his hand out. I shake my head no as if I can't talk, Eolina speaks up. "Her name is Ta'leanna, and I'm Eolina." she reaches her hand out formally and he shakes it. The announcement sounds about seven minutes late but thank goodness it came. "Please all come to the main deck for the safety demonstration." I grab Eolina and tug her so we can leave.
10:15
Ta'leanna dragged me all the up to the deck her face red as a beet. "Did you see him? Well, duh. That's why you were tongue tied!" I can't stop giggling and I can feel the heat of Ta'leanna's glare on my face. "Okay, okay. I'll quit."

Overhead speakers begin airing a greeting and routine safety muster. "So do you want to keep your room?" I nudge Ta'leanna in the side.
"After embarrassing myself like that?? How can I?"
"Oh my god. It's not that big of a deal. What happened to the fearless Ta'leanna that I know and love? You better make up your mind before this announcement ends!"

I scan the crowd best I can; standing around a foot shorter than the average person, it's not so easy. Not many people appear to be paying attention to the safety procedures being rambled off, laughing and talking among themselves instead.

"I don't see him..."
"Oh my god, Eolina. It's not like he disappeared. He'll be right where we left him! In my cabin! My cabin!"
"How old do you think he is?"


!0:25

I squint a Eolina, I laughed so had because thinking back on the situation, it was pretty dang funny. "Was I really acting like that Eolina?" I laugh a little hard which drew attention to us."Why don't you two come help us demonstrate sense you think your safety is something to laugh about."I side glance at Eolina and slide out an I'm sorry as we make our way to the front.

10:35

The safety class is over, Eolina and I start walking towards the bunks. "So did you decide on weather or not your keeping your room or not ??" we stop in front of my room. "I guess I will have to it's too late to change it, but we will have to have sleepovers in your room often!!" we both nod and agree. as we finish our conversation and enter the room Camion follows in.
10:35
I follow Ta'leanna into her cabin and sure enough Camion is there waiting, lounging on his bed.
"Oh you're back? Worried I scared you two off," Camion chuckled. I glance at Ta'leanna and she elbows me. "Well, you guys looked good up there for that demonstration. I'm surprised they called you out like that."

"Yeah, I know. Thank goodness you're rooming with Ta'leanna here. She'll be able to save your butt in an emergency."
Camion grins brightly at her. "Girl, finish getting your stuff together! I'll meet you for our next meal!"

I slip out of the room and close the door behind me. I see other passengers in their swimsuits heading over to the pool and others making their way to the bars. Getting a headstart, I suppose. I reach my cabin and cross my fingers with hopes I'll have a decent roommate (or none at all).

I open the door and I see a toddler jumping on the second bed.

"Um.. Hello?" I look around but there's nobody else in the room.

"Hi! My name is Chris!" The child says still jumping on the bed. "I'm waiting for my mom to come back. She went to check on my brother. He was supposed to be our roommate but we saw your things on the bed."

"Ahh," I say and nod my head. "Well, I can swap rooms with your brother. It's no problem. I guess I'll wait for your mom to come back..." I pull the door back open. "Oh, and I'm Eolina by the way." I open up my closet and begin re-packing my suitcases.

"Hey, Eolina. Did you see that weird cloud outside? My mom said we'll pass the storm, but it's really close and a little scary. dontcha think?" He's bouncing over by the window now, speaking a mile a minute as if he hasn't been bouncing off the walls.

"Yeah.. I did see it. Don't worry about it so much. Our captain should steer clear of it." I smile reassuringly.

"Oh Chris, your brother's cabin is nearly on the other side of the ship," I hear a voice call out. I stop what I'm doing and spin around. A middle aged woman comes in the door, her face flushed.

"Oh, hello," I say. "Chris here told me about the cabin mishap. You're not the only one who had a problem even my friend and I were split up. I don't mind switching rooms so you and your family can be together."

"Oh, would you be a dear and run back down and let him know? I have to start unpacking but he should be in cabin 15 down Hall C. His name is Jamie."

"Sure thing." I drag my luggage behind me. "Bye Chris!"

11:00
The door to cabin 15 is open and I step in and toss my bag to the unoccupied bed. "Hey, sorry about the intrusion. Are you Jamie? I just spoke with you mom and I told her I'd switch with you so you guys could be together."

"Oh, yeah that's me. You know you don't have to, but I figure having your own room is better than rooming with an old lady and my little brother," He laughes, running one hand through his hair, and bracing himself against the doorway with his other hand.

I laugh a little. "Chris wasn't so bad."

"Well, do you need help with your other things or is this all," he gestures to the bag I tossed in with a nod of his head. His smile is disarming and I force myself to look away.

"There's.. uh.. another suitcase out in the hallw-" Before I can finish he is brishing past me into the hallway to grab my back. I back into the room, out of his way. "Thanks."

"No problem," he smiles again. "Care to accompany me back to Hall A?" I nod and reach for one of his bags. "Nah, don't worry about that. I got it. Just keep me company?"

"S-sure. Oh, I'm Eolina by the way."

"I was just about to ask." He is all smiles. "After dropping my things off, you want to head up to the deck?"

"Well, I should really check on my friend..."

"She can totally join us, I don't mind."

"Actually, I think she met someone," I raise my eyebrows suggestively. "So it would be good to just run things by her. Maybe they both can join us."

"Sweet. Looks like this trip won't be so bad." He shrugs. "I mean, a family vacation isn't so bad.I think it's my mom's way of getting over the divorce; she's been family trips every weekend and when she say this cruise advertised she just HAD to take us."

"Oh.. I'm sorry to hear that..."

"It's been over a year. I would say I'm adjusted. I even this Chris is too, but Ma.. she's been having a hard time."

I nod silently.

"Did I ruin the mood? Just trying to share a bit." He laughs a little. "Sorry about that. I thought this trip was just gonna be 'ok' but it's turning out better than expected. Trying to get that part across."

"Oh, it's fine. I understand what you mean. For me, it's finally a chance for my friend, Ta'leanna and I, to be together again. We haven't seen each other in years, so I already had high expectations. Everything is turning out nice--"

My gait is a bit uneven and the hall seems to sway. Jamie and I lock eyes for a moment before the ship tilts. I'm thrown against the wall to my right and I catch Jamie trying to swing the suitecase away from me as he comes tumbling in my direction. Instead of the bag catching my stomach, it bangs into my knee. "Ow!"

"I'm sorry. We have to move." He drops the bags and rushes me down the hall towards the staircase. The ship starts to right itself and we jog towards the entrance. As we enter the stairwell, the ship dips again to the right. I'm clinging onto Jamie's shirt and he's holding my arms so that I don't fall over.
"Jamie! What's going on?!"
"We need to get to the deck to find out. We have to keep moving. Let's go up. Carefully."


11:20
We stumble and make our way up to the top deck. The sky is dark and the wind is whipping across my face making it hard to breathe. It's the storm.

11:20

Thanks to Eolina I made a new friend, I'll probably thank her personally when I find her. I'm a little worried because it seems like the captain didn't dodge the storm as my and Eolina predicted. I'm dragging along a wall on the way to Eolinas cabin, "Eolina I hope your in here!" Camion grabs my arm " well if you won't come with me to the top deck, can we make this recue mission a little faster!" I snatch my arm back "She's my sister and I need to make sure she's safe, thank you." He ignores me, gripping my arm and pulling me along. When we get there he pushes the door open and I run inside. "Eolina!!" I look over and she an older lady holding a young boy. "Whats going on?!?!" She ask's, I squint and point out the window. I look around for her lugage which I don't see. " I'm sorry who are you and where is Eolina ??" The lady looks at me like I'm crazy because I'm so calm. "She switched rooms with my son hall c." Camion shakes his head, " We have to go looking for her don't we?" I frow a brow at him. "You don't but I am." Camion frowns slightly which still looks cute on him. "Here take them to the top deck I'll come find you when I find Eolina." I run down the hall to hall c. Eolina better be here! I look down the hall and see a couple of people shuffling around. "Eolina!!" "Eolina!!" I keep calling but no answer. I push past the people in the hall way running to the stairs. " get out of my way you nenees !!!" "Eolina where are you?!?"

11:50

I give up when the hall is clear and I've checked all the rooms. Maybe she went to the top after all. As fast as possible I stubble up the steps. The rocking is worse! "Ehh I think I'm gonna be sick." I get to the top and trip on the last step because boat shifted again. I rub over my knee and realize it's scrapped. "Mmmm be a G don't you cry, suck it up right now!" It's all about tough love. I look up and see camion with the women and boy. I see him shurg and shake his head. "What's going on over there, I walk a little closer and see Eolina. She has a worried expression and is fussing. I wipe my knee off again and begin walking over to them. The boat shifts again and I slip on some water busting my butt. " oooo! If that doesn't make my butt swell I don't know what will." Slowly I get up rubbing my butt. "Well at least I got Eolina's attention.
11:30

"Please remain calm." The speakers on the ship are blaring. But my mind is racing and it drowns out the rest of the announcement.

"Jamie! Oh my God, Jamie! You know I near had a heart attack! Are you okay!" Jamie's mother, cradling Chris in one arm and waving the other madly in the air, is making her way towards us, pushing through the crowd. The wind is whipping her hair wildly across her face. Jamie hugs her and ruffles Chris' hair. I catch a glimpse of Camion peering down the stairwell. But I don't see Ta'leanna. I start making my way to Camion, but Jamie still has hold of my hand.

"Where are you going? They said to stay above deck!"

"Ta'leanna isn't up here!" Jamie nods and lets go of my hand. I race over to Camion. "Where is she??"

"Christ! She went looking for you. She was probably just 2 steps behind you. Let's go to the stairs from C hall." I follow Camion back to where I left Jamie and his family. Jamie looks at me quizzically then gives a short nod to Camion.

"This, gentleman here, helped Chris and I make it here--" She's cut off by the sway of the boat. I hear a thump and look over at the stairwell to see Ta'leanna picking herself up off the floor. I run over and hug her tightly.

"Thank the deities!! When I didn't see you up here with Camion I swear I didn't know what to do! Are you okay?"

Ta'leanna nods. "I went looking for you! I didn't even know you switched rooms until I saw that lady leaving it! I was so worried!" Her frantic tone shifts to a playful one. "While you were up here lounging on the deck!" I give her a slight shove.

The sky darkens and I feel the first drop of rain on my nose. "Ta'le, this doesn't look good." I look around the ship. Everyone is huddled together, children are crying and the announcement speakers are blaring safety information. A staff member who has been making her way through the crowd stops in front of us and reaches into the cart she's pulling.
"You're going to want to put on these life jackets. Once everyone is on deck we will be making another announcement."

I nod and reach into the cart, grab one for myself and toss another to Ta'leanna. The sailor bustles away to hand out the rest of the jackets. As I fumble with the latch on life jacket, the rain begins to really pour. I click the buckles together and look up to see a massive wave approaching the ship, growing taller as it moves closer. I grab onto Ta'leanna and mumble a small prayer under my breath.

Camion steps up behind us. "We don't have much time. Grab hold of the railing. We gotta move."

"Now! Everybody move! Anchor yourselves!" Jamie is shielding his mother and brother against the railing and waving his arms, beckoning us over to the railing. Many other passengers follow suit. I no longer hear any announcements on the loud speaker only the roaring of the ocean, the gasps and cries of the passengers, and the shouts of the crew members attempting to give direction.

"C'mon," Ta'leanna grabs my hand and pulls me to the railing. We crouch down and brace ourselves; Camion shields us with his body and Jamie is beside us shielding his family. "I can't believe this is happen---"

The wave hits the ship.

I feel a sharp pain above my left eye as my body is jolted to the side. I crash into Ta'leanna as my fingers slip across the wet railing. Bodies of the other passengers crash into us and a few lose their balance and roll to one side of the ship. I start to cry but I can't tell if it's blood, seawater, or tears running down my face.

Just as it feels like the ship is about to right itself, another wave hits and I can't tell which way is up. I'm weightless, I'm falling. The ship has rolled.
2:59

I open my eyes and look around I don't see anyone and my life jacket is the only thing keeping me a float. I do my best to remain calm, but I'm so scared? I take a couple deep breaths trying to avoid having an anxiety attack it's been some years. Tears start to fall but I'm not crying. I calmly call for Eolina. "Lina, Lina" I feel myself breaking down so I focus more on my breathing. 'What happened ? Calm down ta'le, just think.' I talk to myself. "You were next you Lina..." I place my hand on my forehead and flinch. Pull my hand back to check for blood. Nothing but it hurts really bad. I continue to look for someone, anyone who could tell me what was going on but theres nothing in site. I start to panic. " Ahhh! Lina please wake me up ! Say this is a dream!" I'm on the brink of crying. "Shut up Ta'le! don't you cry! Do you hear me!!!" My body starts shaking. This water is freezing and I know I gotta keep moving. But which way do I go?
I inhale sharply as I jolt awake. The first thing I see is the clear blue sky. I made it! I'm alive! My life jacket is a size too big and I feel myself slipping slowly, I roll onto my back and pull at the straps on my jacket, tightening them. My teeth begin to chatter as I realise how cold I am.

I've gotta move. "Ta'leanna!! Ta'leanna!!" I paddle in circles but there is no sign of her.

Again I lay on my back and let the current carry me. No reason to strain myself without a plan. "I can't believe this is happening," I mumble to myself.

3:27

I must have dosed off.. But I can hear whimpering! That's both good and bad... That means I'm not alone, but what if that person is hurt?

I lick my lips. They are dry and despite how numb from the cold they are, I probably have sunburn on my face from the sun overhead.

I look around me and try to locate the sound. It looks like a body... No, two bodies, are floating not too far ahead of me. I quickly paddle towards them.
"Ta'leanna!! Is that you?? Are you alright??"

The whimpering stops and I get closer enough to distinguish the people ahead of me. "P-p-please.. Help me-e." The voice is faint and devoid of all energy.

"Chris? Is... Is that you Chris?" I see the little boy leaning heavily on the other person for support.

"Help me," Chris wails. He's shaking and crying and reaching out for me with one hand, the other arm wrapped tightly onto his support. I lunge forward and grab his hand. "Mommy didn't wake up."

My eyes widen in horror. I flip the body he's holding over and sure enough, it's his mother. Blue lipped. "Oh my god." I pull Chris close to me and squeeze him tightly, stroking his hair. My hands are shaking so bad from the numbing cold, it's more like I'm patting him instead. Chris wraps his arms around my neck and continues to cry. I pray silently that Chris and I make it to shore. "And please let me find Ta'le on the way... I pray she's alright."

I paddle aimlessly with the boy around my neck. Afraid to upset Chris any further, I hesitate before I ask, "Did, uh, did you see anybody else while you were floating back there? What about your brother?" He doesn't reply but I feel the shake of his head in the crook of my neck. "Ok, ok. It'll be alright."

Now that I have Chris with me I can afford to just put around. I start to swim long broad strokes.
I have been swimming for hours and I still don't see anybody. Which worries me, but I don't want to put off in another direction just in case I'm going the right way. I pause and catch my breath. You're doing good ta'le, trying to reinsure myself. I turn my head to each side still nothing or noone insight. I push forward wildly thinking maybe it would help me move faster. I'm alittle numb to the cold now but my body feels a slight pain. The sky is getting dark and I cant help but wonder if anyone sent for help. Did the captain ever notify anyone on land that the ship was going down? Why aren't they looking for us ? I hope Lina is okay. Maybe she's with the others i say to ease my mind.

I weakly paddle myself a little further until my arms give out. I roll to my back and decide to let my body drift. My eyes are getting heavy and I have to pee. With out thinking I allow myself to feel the relief. I start to smile, the warmth feels great. My lip tears a little and I lick them to make it feel better. Sleepiness is kicking in so I start laughing. Well Ta'le I guess singing couldn't hurt. I think to myself.

I close my eye and shout out cheerfully " 99 bottles of beer on the wall !!! 99 nine bottles of beer !!!!" From the distances I hear someone shout back. "Take one down pass it around !! 98 bottles of beer on the wall!!!!!" The voice sounded familiar! I laugh historically, thinking this is all happening in my head. "Haha HA!! 98 ! Bottles. Of beer on the wall!! 98! Bottles of beer !" Again the voice sounds. " Take one down and pass it around!! 97 bottle of beer on the wall!" My eye's shoot open. I feel all kinds of excitement. "Hello! Is someone actually there ?" I shout and wait out for a response.
I have no idea what time it is now, but Chris has gotten heavier and heavier on my back. At one point he continued rambling a mile a minute as I knew him to, but now he's rather quiet. "Hey Chris," I shift him higher on my back. I feel him shiver but he doesn't respond.

I don't know how much longer I can go on. I'm terribly tired and cold and Chris is getting heavier and heavier by the minute. I shift so that I can lay on my back and Chris rests on my chest. He's awake and shivering, his lips taking on a blue hue. I close my eyes for a minute...

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Hey, lady. Lady?" My eyes slowly open and I'm face to face with Chris. "Thank goodness you woke up..."

I lift my head and wipe the grains of sand off of my face. "How long have I been asleep? Are you ok?"

He nods and helps me sit up completely. "It's been a while... It's gonna be dark soon."

He's right. I can still feel the warmth of the sun, but soon it will be dusk. I take his hand and lead him further inland away from the shore. "Okay, how about you help me find some firewood, huh? Just stay in sight, alright?"
While Chris is busy retrieving sticks for the fire I take time to survey the area.

Facing inland, the beach goes up about a mile before grass begins to grow and little further back I see the first line of trees. Chris is there. To the east and west the beach continues. To the west, I see the coast veer off to the right. This island isn't shaped like the ones in the movies or storybooks, it's not a perfect circle and I don't know why i expected it to be. It seems that Chris and I are the only ones on the beach but I can't say anything about the rest of the island. I decide to join Chris before it gets any later.


"Is this enough?" Chris drops his pile of sticks down in front of me and I drop my share on top.
"It'll do. Let's see how this goes," I sit cross legged in front of teh pile and pick out a few to start the fire. "Grab some dried grass and I think we'll be set." Chris runs back towards to trees and grabs a few tufts of dried grass.
"Here. How do you know how to make a fire anyway?"
"Everything I've learned, I've learned from Bear Grylls. Let's hope it pays off."


"Take one down pass it around !! 98 bottles of beer on the wall," Chris randomly blurts out. I glance over at him, he's down by the water. I laugh a bit to myself and continue to working on the fire. I've gotten a lot of smoke and a little tiny flame, but it just won't catch.
"Take one down and pass it around!! 97 bottle of beer on the wall!" Chris is now standing and jumping around.
Blow on it! Bear Grylls always blows on the kindling and for some reason that helps the fire catch. I shrug and try blowing on the tiny embers. Surprisingly I'm holding a little flame. I place it gently and add the smaller sticks to the pile. Cool. Bear Grylls was right.
"I'm here! I'm here!! Where are you??" Chris is waving his arms and it looks like he is about to start wading in the water.
"Chris!! Hey!! What are you doing?!?!" I start running down the beach to him. "Don't go out there!! It took everything to get here Chris! What's going on!!"
"Did you hear her?"
"Who? What are you talking about?" I grab his shoulders.
"Someone is out there!"

I look out onto the sea.
I'm over whelmed with joy to hear a voice I swim towards it with all I've got. "HA! HAHA! are you alone!?!" I shout in excitement. Maybe there are more of them. The rest of them. The voice shouts back " No there's two of us!!" I paddle some more and can see to blurry figures one reaching out and grabbing the other. "Two is always better than one I always say!!" I paddle deeper and soon I'm where I can stand. Their faces are still a little blurry but my smile is now huge. "ha ! I'm Ta'leanna..." I'm cut off by Eolina. "Ta'le!?!?" I rub my eyes "Lina!?!... Linaaa !!!" I speed up my pase and a wave comes and knocks me over. I catch my ground and shake my head. I grt back up and run to hug Lina, then I hug the little guy standing next to her.

Lina starts to catch me up on what's been happening. She told me about chis's mum. I look to chis who's now sleeping. She also tells my about how when the wave hit I banged my head against the rail. I then can see where the bump came from. I ask her if she ran inti anyone else beside chis and his mum. She shakes her head no. I hug her. She lays down and I play with her hair til she's asleep.

I stay up hoping someone else would wash up. Hoping they are all alright.

..........................................................................

I start to get sleepy and my head starts nodding, I can't tell what time it is but I knew it had to have been a good many hours, the sky is starting to lighten and the sun peeks around the earth. Chis is snoring heavy and I look at Eolina whos still sleeping soundly. I get up and walk down the shore line trying not to fall asleep until I see at least obe more person. I rub my eyes and see a big stick on the ground I pick it up and study it. I dont know what was so special about it, I shrug and keep walking. For a small island the shore line is so long. Half way down I stop in my tracks. Is that ... I blink hard twice. I drop my stick and ran towards a body on the ground.

I get to the body and drop to my knees. "Hey! Wake up! " I slap the persons face. I got to say my hours floatung at sea didn't really help my people skills. "Wake up! " I demanded. I feel for a pulse and he has one. He looked a little familiar too. I huff and cross my arms, I can't say my lack of sleep is helping me in any way. I grab the body and start to drag him across the beach towards Lina and chris. " you are soooo heavvyyyyy" I stop and look back and see I still have a bit to go. "Well I got you out the water" I say to the body and then drop it. I sit criss cross and post my head on my hands with an attitude.

He finally woke up. "Well finally!" I say. He rubs his head groaning and looks past me. "Chris." He says and stands up stumbling over to him. I get up and follow a little confused. "Chis! " he shout and I see chis's head pop up.
I hear a shout pierce through my dreams. "Chris! Chris!" I open my eyes slowly and I start to remember the night before. After arriving to this island, Chris and I built a small fire and Ta'leanna managed to make it to shore! I was ecstatic and extremely relieved. We sat around the fire for a while, not really speaking just enjoying the fact that we were together again. Chris was rather withdrawn and he kept his back to us though he stayed close to me. I rubbed his back and laid down. Ta'leanna stayed up for a long time playing with my hair as I fell asleep.

"Jamie!" Chris jumps up and starts running. I sit up and see Jamie running towards his little brother. I scan the beach quickly for Ta'leanna and see here standing up and brushing sand off her legs. I let out a puff of air and stand up too. There is sand all over me but I don't mind. The sun is rising quickly.

Jamie drops to his knees as Chris runs and crashes into him. Jamie is squeezing Chris tightly and mussing up his hair. He leans in and says something to him too low for me to hear. I give them their space and redirect my attention back to Ta'leanna making her way back towards us.

"I found him washed up on shore. Pulled him out of the water," Ta'leanna sighs. She has dark circles under her eyes.
"Did you sleep, Ta'le?" She shakes her head. "Go lay near the pit. I'll stoke the fire a bit and look for food. We'll kill the fire when sun gets higher overhead. Relax... It's been a rough night."

She nods and plops down in the sand, laying on her back and shielding her eyes with one arm. I see the boys heading back our way. Both of their faces look flushed, eyes red. Jamie hugs me quickly and bends down to Ta'leanna. "Thank you so much." He takes her hand in his and squeezes gently. She moves the arm shielding her eyes and smiles.

"I think Chris and I were the only ones that got proper sleep. You should probably rest up now..."
He nods and pulls me over to the side. His eyes are sad and I know what he's going to ask me. He clears his throat, "A-about Ma..." He wipes his face with his hand and kind of looks over my head before meeting my eyes.
"Chris was with her. She... she was already... It was too much weight to carry her body. I had to get Chris to safety."
He nods silently and pulls me in tightly to his chest. I feel his shaky breaths and rapid heartbeat. I rub his back and let him cry. Eventually he pulls away and sits down at the fire opposite Ta'leanna.
"Chris, it's okay of you want to stay here with Jamie, ok? I'm just gonna collect some firewood and see if there's anything edible on this island..."

I start to think maybe this isn't even an island and we can travel further inland until we see a town or something. Perhaps civilization isn't so far off. I'm scared to think so optimistically but it does bring about a sense of confidence and relief.

I walk westward, closer inland where the grass just begins to grow collecting sticks and dried driftwood from when the tide was higher.

-------


The sun grows higher and my pile of sticks is just about too heavy to even think about going any further. I've been gone a while, I think. Just as I turn to head back, sweat beading my forehead, I hear a shout in the distance.

"BREATHE! STAY WITH ME!! COME ON!"

I drop the pile of sticks and run in the direction of the booming voice, a little further up west. I see... people!! About 5 people on the beach. 2 are by the water, one lying on her back and the other performing CPR on her. The other 4 are further back watching and covering their eyes. I slowly come forward.

It's Camion performing CPR, on who I don't know. I gasp and jog closer. The girl lying on the ground coughes and sputters, water pouring out of her mouth. The other 4 begin to clap and cheer. "Thank you! You saved her life! Baby, are you ok??" A guy runs forwards and shakes Camion's hand before cradling the woman's head in his lap. She's still coughing.

"You're all... You're all from the ship?"

They finally notice me approaching.
"Lina? Lina where'd you go" I look around "chris? Other guy?" I probably should know his name but its slipping my mind. The sky is pitch black and the fire is out." Hello, is anyone there?" I get up and dust off my clothes. I have never been a fam of being in the dark. Well not unless I was in my room but that entirely different. I cross my arms and start to shuffle around. " Hello ?!" They must of went searching. I try and relax myself. "Huh?" I feel something cold on my foot and look down. I much of wondered into the water. " thats odd I don't remember being so close to the shore line." I frow my brow. I take a couple steps back , the water just seems to follow me and it almost seems like its rising. "Hmm? Oh ah!" Before I know it theres water everywhere. I feel for my life jacket, it's gone. "W-what's going on?!?!" The water is rising fast. "Lina! Lina where'd you go!?" The waters passing my chin and I can't move. I tilt my head back. "Somebody, somebody please ! Help please help me!" The water is over my head and I cant breath or speak. I stroke the water but nothing happens. I'm gasping for air but only water is filling my lungs and I'm dying. I can hear a muffled sound.

"Ta'le." Who's calling me ? "Ta'le...." The rest of the words I can't make out. I feel my body shake and my eyes shoot open.

I wake in a panic and lina is there calming me down. "Breath Ta'le it's okay, you're okay just breath" I look at her as she is giving me instructions. I catch my breath and stay consintrated on her. Tears start to fall. Lina hugs me until they're gone. " How long have I been asleep? " I look to her, "a couple hours at the most, are you okay?" I nod. "I got more wood for the fire, I also found six more survivers." She smiles hard and eblows me. I look at her questionably and chuckle a little. " okayyy? Crazy lady I give. What's up with the goofy smile and the elbow pokes?" She laughs lightly and stands up walking over to other five I assume. Hmm that was weird. I frow one brow while raising the other. I wonder what that was all about. I look to the side and see the guy I rescued with chris. Chis lays on his back drolling in his hair. They must be close. Or well I assume they would be, I feel bad about there lose.

I feel a sudden squeeze and let out a small sigh of discomfort. " huuhh." A squeeze followed my a voice. " Oh I'm sorry I just didmt think I ever see you again. Ha ha I didn't mean to squeeze the life outta ya." I look and see camion. I laugh a little and hug him. "Yea, yeah you didn't miss me Cam, stop trying to make me feel special." He and I laugh a little with each other. The sun crept high and give the island more color. I'm still sleepy but I'm afriad to go back to sleep right now. The other survivers gather around and make themselves comfortable. We begin to introduce ourselves. Lina sits next to Jamie and chis, Jamie must not be much for the mornings. Then there's Rachael apparently Camion saved her life. She sits with her boyfriend Marcus. Yasmine she's around chris's age, I don't see her parients though. Which would explain why she stands off, she's quiet and her eyes are sad. The last too are bother and sister. Kush and Zandrea she prefers the name zani. They came on the cruise by themselves and pretty much stayed together.

After everyone settles down and Lina stokes the fire. Everyone lays to sleep. Lina was going to go search for food but Jamie had asked her to stay with him and Chris so she did. Rachael and Marcus were cuddled up. Kush and Zandrea were closd but not touching, as soon as one would drift into the others space you'd hear a series of grunts. I'd augh lightly and shake my head. I see Yasmine pretending to sleep but she's actually crying. I get up to move towards her and camion grabs my wrist. " where you going? " he whispers and I jester towards Yasmine, he nods and releases me. I don't too much like the grabing and asking me where I'm off to, I'm not use to that kind of attention, thats a problem for another day though.

"Yasmine" I whisper to her and she sniffles and trys to stop crying before responding. "Y-yes ma'am" she hiccups and my heart melts. I scoop her up in my arms her little body adjust and she hugs my tight. "They, they're okay you know." She's trying to convince herself everything is alright. I feel her shaking and I hold her tight. " T-there with my other father now ... Right?" I nod holding back tears "Yes baby, they are." I hold her and rock back and forth humming quitely. She leans back so I can she her face, i take my shirt and dry her eyes then have her blow her nose. She smiles a briken smile at me and thanks me. I nod and continue to hum, swaying side to side. Lina comes to my side and hums with me, yasmine's body relaxes and she sleeps sound. Once she's sleep I tell Lina about her parents and we say a prayer. I confess to her about Camion being a bit clingy , she advised that I be patient seeing as we are all going through something and she's right. I lay my head on her shoulder and she lays hers on my head. " you think we can find some food now?" I question. "Lets go, you can put yasmine next to chis and Jamie." I nod and lay her down next to chris. Jamie makes sure she stays warm and me and Lina are off for our first escapade in years.
It's probably late afternoon and the sun is low in the sky. I figure we have a few hours before it gets too dark. I'm glad I was able to start that fire, but we are going to need a real shelter. The nights are going to be cold. And what kind of food are we going to be able to find here? My mind is racing so I decide conversation is best.

"Can you believe Camion saved all those people?" Ta'leanna turns to look at me.
"He saved them?"
"So I found him giving CPR to Rachael and it looks like he took notes from the demonstration we gave... on the... ship..." My voice trails off as I try to gain my composure. Ta'leanna rubbed my back and nodded for me to go on. "But yeah. They helped me collect more firewood and on the walk here told me about how Camion kept going back to help bring in more survivors that were too tired to swim the rest of the way! He found Kush first and Kush told him that Yasmine was just out of his reach so Camion went back in and got Yasmine! And he just kept going back until he got everyone! It was a pretty amazing story, Ta'le."
"That sounds amazing! How long were they out there? I can only imagine it took him a couple of hours to go back and forth like that!" Ta'leanna shakes her head. "He is something else."
"I know right!" I elbow her in the arm and she swats me away. "What are we going to eat? This obviously isn't a tropical place. I don't see any palm trees! So no coconuts.."
"You act like you'd eat coconuts! You hate them! Think we could catch some fish or crabs?"
"Ughhh that could take hours with little or no reward at all. I have no idea how to spear fish." I try to think about some Bear Grylls episodes I've watched over the years. "Let's go further inland and see if there are berry bushes or fruit trees or something?"

Ta'leanna bend down and picks up a big stick. She lifts her knee and cracks the stick in two. "One for me, one for you! Let's go!"

We start heading towards the treeline sticks at the ready. "AHHHH Oh my god!! Ta'le!! WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT!!!"
I drop my stick and I hop around completely disgusted.
"WHAT??" Ta'leanna jumps and looks in the direction I'm pointing. "Lina! What? That's just a tree root. There's nothing ther--" A huge centipede with a thick shiny shell comes zigzagging towards us, it's probably 4 inches wide and probably over a foot long. "Ahhh!" Ta'leanna stomps on it a few times, its backside still squirming. She turns towards me and starts laughing. "That was terrifying! That was the biggest bug I've ever seen in my life!" She reaches down and picks up my spear.
"Silly me, I dropped my weapon." I facepalm and wonder how I'll even survive. "Isn't it strange how big it was?"
"Think we can eat it?" I point my spear at her.
"I don't like Bear Grylls THAT much. I am not eating any bug!"

We continue walking for another 30-40 minutes when we come upon a huge tree with wedges chipped out of the trunk. The tree is taller than the others so we can't see much further past the foliage of the nearby trees. "Lina. Look at this!" Ta'leanna tucks her spear under one arm and fits her hand into one of the wedges. "It's a ladder. It goes all the way up!"

She's right. The wedges are systematically placed like footholds! Ta'leanna is already climbing and I'm standing uneasy. Who made this ladder? Are they still up there? "Come on," she shouts down at me.
I follow suit and tuck my spear under my arm and follow her up. It feels like we've been climbing forever and it reminds me of the time I went rock wall climbing.. Except without the safety harness... I pause momentarily and take a look around. We are high off the ground now, almost the height of the other trees nearby. It's absolutely stunning. I spot some birds in a nearby tree sitting in their nest. "Lina, isn't this beautiful?"
"It really is!" I continue following Ta'leanna up. "How much further?"
I duck my head down as we break through the first wave of leaves and branches. "Just a little bit more."
There are other trees this height, just spread out. It reminds me of when I learned about the layers of the rainforest in elementary school, though I'm sure the trees are much more condensed in an actual rainforest. What do I know? I'm a city girl.

"Lina! There's a door! It's like a huge tree house..." I hear Ta'leanna grunt as she yanks on the door. Eventually it gives and I cover my head as bits of leaves fall. "Woah, hurry up and check this out!"
I scramble up after her and gasp in astonishment. "Ta'le.. what is this? It's so cool."

The room we are standing in is well built, like a cabin in the sky. The room we are standing in is spacious. There are chairs and a table in the centre. On one side of the room there is a large flat stone surrounded by smaller round ones, in the centre of the flat stone there are scorch marks and the remnants of a fire. It looks like a makeshift fire pit. Ta'leanna walks over to a curtain and pulls it back to reveal a small pantry. "Looks like we found food." Inside there are boxes of food and what looks like MREs.
"Ta'le, what is this place?" I pick up a box and turn it over looking for an expiration date. There isn't one.
"Check this out, Lina." Ta'eanna opens a door on the other side of the room and it opens out to a bridge leading to another room that looks similar to this one. "Let's hurry and check it out! We have to get everyone back here! This is perfect!"

I take the lead this time, moving slowly, but the bridge is sturdy and barely swings... barely. Ta'leanna nudges me forward. I open the door to the second room and I shout back, "I found water."
On one side of the room there are about twenty of those 5 gallon blue plastic jugs of water, most of them empty, but it's a start. On the other side is a large tub there is some greenish water and leaves at the bottom and above it the branches and leaves were cleared out. Whoever was here before us must have used it to catch rainwater. But where are they now?
After checking out the giant tree house and getting back to ground level, I ask Lina how she feels about it. "Ta'le, it's beautiful but it's almost too good to be true...." I look at her and frown. "What do you mean too good to be true Lin? It's got everything we need and its not that far from where we are, come on Lin... Whoever was there isn't there anymore, right? So I doubt they'll mind us using it." She give me a look like ' come on ta'le think about it'. I cross my arms and huff, she's right. Stabbing my stick into the ground, "alright but if we aren't going to live here we might as well keep in search for food, maybe even make our own kick as establishment. I look to Lina and smile. She smiles back. "Pfft we'll make ours way better!" I laugh and agree "yeah like 50,000 times better.

We prepair to continue our journey forth inland when a spear shoot past our faces and into the trunk if the sky houses. I grab Lina just in time, she was laughing to hard to pay attention. What was that ? I drop my stick and look a Lin. Both of our jaws drop and are eyes a wide. Lin grips my arm harder. "Do we run??" Another arrow hits from a different angle. I grab Lin and run as fast I can.
The sky is darkening as we run deeper into the woods. The further inland we go, the denser the trees become. The shade from the foliage overhead blocks a lot of the light left in the sky. I decide to be brave and look behind us, to see if we are being followed by whomever shot those arrows. I can't see anyone.
"Eolina, do you see them?"
"No," I breathe deeply as we slow to a stop. We huddle behind a tree and try to rationalize our next move.
"The arrows came from different directions. It's not like there was only one person!" Ta'leanna has a finger placed over her lip and I can tell she's thinking hard.
"Do you think they're natives? Or maybe they are like us... stranded and surviving..."
Ta'leanna shook her head, "I really don't know. We have to get back to the others." I nod and slowly peer around the tree. I don't see anyone nor do I hear anyone. I'm think I know the direction we came from but there is no way I can be sure.
"Let's walk a little ways east before going back that way. Just to be sure we don't run back into the tree."
Ta'leanna nods and takes the lead. "Keep your eyes peeled for food... We should've taken some from that pantry."

We silently creep through the woods and by the time we arrive back to the group, it's nightfall. I can see the other crowded around the fire.
"Eolina!" Chris notices us first and comes bounding over. I reach down and give him a tight squeeze. I see Yasmine come up and take Ta'leanna's hand.

"You shouldn't have gone out there alone." It's Camion and his arms are crossed. "You guys couldn't wait until tomorrow for all of us to find food? Are you hurt?"
I look over at Ta'leanna and can only imagine how I must look. Her hair is sticking out in crazy places and there are leaves and twigs in her hair. I look down at myself and there is dirt all over me and there's a scratch on my leg from trying to navigate the woods in the dark. I shrug.
"Yeah we are alright, but you won't believe what we found out there."
When we get back to the group I'm too far gone in my head to hear what they are saying. Yasmine is holding on to me and we are walking back to the camp fire, everyone is looking at Lina and I like we're crazy. Who were those people? Were they even people? I swallow hard. Who ever they were or whatever they were, they know we're here. We hardly know anything about this island, until we build shelter and a way to survive we're just sitting ducks.

My face must be stuck lookung crazy because Lina snaps her finger and shakes me out of my daze.
"Are you okay? Snap out of it Ta'le." I shake my head and blink.
"I'm sorry Lin I just got lost in thought." I drop my voice to a whisper and press my hand against my forehead.
"Lin we aren't safe, what we saw in the woods today know we're here. What are we going to do ?" Lin nods, she wraps her arm around my shoulder and pulls me to the side with her.
"We got to stay calm, we don't want everyone freaking out. Its night again and I don't suggest any of us go in the woods at night. We'll have to wait til' morning, I know everyones hungry but we'll have to build shelter first. We are the only ones and you're right about that, so we also need to set some ground rules." I look at the group and nod. "This is our biggest adventure yet Lin, didn't think it would be all of there lives in danger too." She looks back at the group and smiles kind hearted. "Yeah Ta'le I'd say this is one for the books." We both scratch the back of our heads and I begin to pull the twigs and leaves out. I see Yasmine playing tag with Chris while Jamie fusses and trys to get them to sit down, Lin and I chuckle. "Oh let them be Jamie, you ole stick in the mud." He looks a Lin and laughs. "Says the one with a stuck in her hair!" I look a Lin and sure enough theres a stick. She laughs and runs towards him. I shake my head and laugh.
"Good group." I jump and Camion laugh.
"You scared me!" I turn and lightly punch Cam. "Ohh, take it easy killer. You okay?" I look down. "Yeah I'm good, you?" I look at his face. "I've had better days, I heard y'all find something in the woods.... Or well they found you." I nod. "How do you feel about it?" I shrug, "I don't really know, I don't know much about them so for right now I think we should try and avoid going deep into the woods." He nods, he looks at me a second more. "You sure you're okay?" I fake a smile and nod. "Yup, I'm great."
He hugs me tight, and hold on to him even tighter. "No you're not, and it's okay." I hide my face in his shoulder and he doesnt loosen his grip. I feel a little safer but I won't tell him that, besides I think he already knows. We let go of eachother and he takes my hand. We move closer to everyone and take a seat. I between Cam's legs with my knees to my chest. Cam has his arms across my shoulders and my hands rest on his arms. Lin sits across Jamie's lap playing with his cheeks while he laughs, Kush and Zandrea are laughing at Racheal and Marcus because Racheal is trying to teach Marcus how to dance. Chris and Yasmine are also attacking Jamie, Chris is revealing all of his tickle spots and they are playing tickle monster. I laugh at the sight. Cam rest his head on mine, everything feels like its going to be alright and I feel bonds being built. "We need to get some sleep, we got alot of work ahead of us tomorrow." Lin says and Jamie's tackels her. We all laugh and agree. Yasmine runs over to me and I hold her while she fall asleep. Once asleep I place her next to Chris and hug Lin goodnight. I walk back to Cam and lay next to him, he roll's over and holds me, "goodnight." He whispers in my ear. "Goodnight Cam" I whisper back and smile.
Ta'leanna and I are hand in handing running through the trees. It's bright, but it's is an eerie glow that doesn't quite feel like sunlight. "LINA!" Ta'leanna's hand is snatched from mine. I turn and see her crash to the ground and in the dstance behind her I see tall figures heading our way. I lunge and reach out for her hand but the figures behind her have her legs and they pull her away. "LINAAAAAA!!!"
I shoot straight up, scream trapped in my throat. I blink a few times and rub my eyes. It's twilight. I hear the chirp of bugs in the woods, the roar of the waves as they lap on the shore, and a few snores from the group. Too spooked to go back to sleep, I decide to keep watch. After what Ta'leanna and I encountered in the woods and the dream I had, it's probably best that someone monitors the surroundings. Everyone is sleeping soundly. I near the edge of the woods, keeping one eye focused on the shadows, I scan the area for a large stick. I find a fallen branch that I toss from hand to hand. Light enough to carry around one handed but heavy enough to deliver a severe blow when wielded with two hands. It isn't much compared to bows and arrows, but I feel safer with it in my hands. With my back to the group, I stare into the murky shadows of the woods.

How can we protect ourselves? Maybe that group saw us go into their space and that's why they fired... Maybe they though we were the hostile ones trying to take their territory... How many of them are there?
Two little arms wrap around my legs. I look down to see Chris.
"Hey man. What's up? You ok?" I place my hand on his head and stroke his mop of brown hair. He remains silent so I sit down and I motion for him to sit on my lap. In the darkness I can see the glimmer of tears on his cherub cheeks. I place the stick down and brush my hands off on my legs before wiping his eyes. I hold him close to me and rock back and forth. Soon I hear his breathing slow and I know he is asleep.
"You're really good with him. Thank you."
I jump slightly but I recognise the voice. Jamie lifts Chris off of my lap and lays him back down in the sand with the group. He comes back and sits beside me. "He was still holding onto her when I found him. I'm worried about him..." I look over at him. "I'm worried about you. I mean, we are all stranded out here... but I didn't lose anybody..."
Jamie stays silent and I can see his silhouette slowly nod in the moonlight. "It hasn't really sunk in yet, you know... I've got my brother to take care of now. I have to make sure we get out of this alive. I- ," He sighed heavily. "I don't have time to mourn. Let's just get through this."
"Yeah, I'm sorry," I murmur. I look over at him and I can feel his gaze on me. He leans in close, I can barely make out the features of his face. He places a hand on my cheek, his thumb brushing my cheekbone, just under my eye. I take a deep breathe and close my eyes. "Don't... use me as a distraction..." He drops his hand and I exhale shakily.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean-"
"It's fine." I grab my stick and stand up.
"Get some rest, Eolina. I'll keep watch.. I assume that's what you were doing." I hand him my stick and curl up next to Chris; my eyes fluttering closed.

-------


It's morning and seagulls are noisily flying overhead, the sun slowly creeping up. Everyone rouses from their sleep almost simultaneously. After a few moments I decide to get up and start planning for the day ahead. We need food and we need shelter. I call Marcus, Kush, Camion, and Jamie over to me.
"You guys heard about the attack yesterday. We need weapons, even if it's rudimentary, for hunting and for protection." They all nod. Marcus meets my eyes seeming a bit nervous, Camion grins enthusiastically, and Kush has determination etched into his features. "I'd like you all to scavenge for anything that's washed up and to craft tools. We need food and water. Marcus and Camion can you guys scout for water? Jamie and Kush, can you gather supplies for weapons? Later in the evening we'll set up hunting parties if the scavenging is successful. We are counting on you guys." Jamie watches me intently but he doesn't say anything. Camion slaps Marcus on the back and they trudge out into the woods. Jamie and Kush venture opposite ways. Jamie down by the shore in search of wreckage and Kush by the treeline in search of sharp rocks and sturdy sticks.

I spot Ta'leanna with Chris and Yasmine down by the water. I wave them over and gather Rachael and Zandrea. "Girls, and Chris, " I wink at him. "We need a shelter for tonight. We can't stay exposed as we did last night. Fronds, vines, sticks, logs, plastic debris, bottles too, we need it all. Anything you find bring it back here and we can work on building shelter. Maybe the little ones can focus on collecting debris and wreckage. The rest of us can carry building materials. We need to think about alternate foods in case the boys come back empty handed." I turn to Yasmine and Chris. "Clams! If you guys see any clams grab em!"
"What about crabs? I like crab legs," Yasmine beams.
"Hm.. if you can find a bucket or something to put them in. Otherwise, leave them alone. I don't want you guys getting pinched!" She squealed as I reach out to pinch her cheeks.

"What about a fire," Zandrea asks.

"Lina and I know how to start a fire. We'll worry about that later on. The sun just came up and there's no food to cook. Let's get started."

"Yeah, I can't go another night without food." Rachael walks off and starts picking up sticks and fallen fronds.

Ta'leanna wraps an arm over my shoulder. "Good job, sis. We've got a lot of work to do."
After gathering all the supplies we needed Lina and I start to structure a shelter. It took hours to get it all together, we were all running low on energy, no food in at least two days and I could hear stomachs growling like they were trying to be part of a band. A few hours later the guys returned. I don't know where they had went but kush can with sticks and stones no pun intended, meant to create weapons, I looked at Lina she pretty much covered everything. I see Camion and Marcus following behind, they were carrying coconuts and had news to tell about a stream. "Where's Jamie?" I question loud enough for Lina to hear. I see her eyes study the shore line, she looks puzzled. "He was right over there." Kush looks over to us, "what's wrong?" I look at him. "Have you seen Jamie? he was supposed to e forging with you." Kush shrugs and shakes his head no. I look at Lina, "he can't have gone far he knows about the woods right?" Lina nods. "Let's not make a big fuss will give it a little longer no need to worry Chris for no reason right?" She nods again, but I can tell she wasn't going to relaxe. I look over at the group. "Hey why don't you guys try to make some spears, we have left over vines and things like that, then we can try fishing."

Everyone gets to making a spear, I can hear Chis trying to team up with Yasmine, and Kush and Camion talking about who's spear is better Rachel is laughing at Marcus who is talking in a Tarzan voice will he makes his and look over to see Zandrea focusing on every bit of her spear, I can tell she really takes pride in her work.

"While they are busy, lets sneak away and see if we can find where Jamie ran off to." I grip her shoulder, she smiles weakly and grabs a stick that she toss between her hands. We walk along the sorelin, when we reach the end Jamie was supposed to be at and didnt see him we hurriedly went the other way. "That weird." I say and I stop in my track. Lina looks up from the ground to me, "whats weird Ta'le?" I point ahead of me, Jamie was laying in the same spot the exact same way I found him when I first dragged him from the water. I tilt my head. "I feel a bit of deja vu sis." I shake my head. "Jamie!!" She shouts, shd throws her stick down and run towards him. "Lin, no. No lin somethings not right!" I grab her instantly and pull her, but she keeps pulling away from me, "let go Ta'le, Jamie needs help. What are you doing!?!?" I don't let go I keep pulling her back and shaking my head no, an awful feeling take refuge in my body. I feel something against my back I turn and see Jamie standing there, and look to see the figure from the ground rise and run towards us, Jamie doesnt look like himself and Lina changes all of a sudden as well, soon there bodies seem hollow, the figure keeps running towards up and I can't snap them out of this transe, but I can't leave them either. I try and pull them and they wont budge. I hear the figure making some weird noise as it comes closer and closer. I feel it reach out to touch me, and then I feel my body jump. I look around and everyone is laughing Lina got a fire going and fish was being cooked, I looked around for Jamie and didn't see him. Lina and I make eyes contact. She knew something was up. "Whats wrong , bad dream?" I nod. Jamie ever rerurn. "No," she shakes her head. "I think chris is starting to notice." I nod. "You should probably get they all in the hut and let them rest up. I'm going to take a walk." She nods. "You want me to come with?" I shake my head no then stand up.

After I'm sure no one can see me I run to where I found jamie the first time. And sure enough he was there. Laying in the same postion, I stop and my heart is racing. "Jamie!" I say from what feels like a safe distance, the sky is dark and I can hardly see him just his outline. "Jamie!" I say a bit sharper and I see him twitch slightly and hear him grunt. I draw a breath of relief and start to lightly jog towards him until a tall figure comes out of the woods directly towards him. I cover my mouth. "No, no, no, no, no." I whisper to myself. I look between Jamie and the figure. " shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!" I see it get closer and I look at Jamie and try and demise a plan quickly, they figure is liturally 30 steps away same as me, "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fick! Fuck!" I run towards Jamie, no plan just one dumb as idea. "Damn it Ta'le you never thing this shit through." The figure see's my sprinting towards his target and I look over placing my middle finger in the air I run fast and slide on the dirt grabing Jamie and yanking him up, he grunts in pain but doesn't argue. "Not today you big stingy ass mother fucker not today!" I practically drag Jamie along as the figure redirects towards us. "Shit!! Whats this guys problem anyway" Jamie groaning with pain. "Hey buddy keep it down would ya!" He looks at me with one eye open. "Gee I'm sorry, I'll try to contain the pain." Not hardly pay attetion to him. "Much appreciation, slgiht detour coming to our left." He looks confused. "Why would we go into the woods he just came out of" I yank us towards the woods running as fast as I can. " well simple my dear watson we either try are chances with ole "Fee, Fi, Foe, Fum." In the woods or back at camp." I look over to him. "Feel free to give your on the best choice, just know its not being taken into consideration at this point and time." An arrow flys past us as we continue to be chased. "This guy is a really asshole you know that." Jamie's holding his side. "Yes, yes he is." I place my hand on the spot he was hold and place more preasure as we continue to run. "I dont know how long I can last Jamie, I didn't think this through." He nobs. "Thanks for trying to save me then." I laugh while breathing heavy, "anytime don't mention it!" Another arrow flys past us but catches a little meat from my shoulder, "Mmm !!!" I grunt. "Defiantly going to feel that in the morning." Jamies nods. "Yeah sounds pretty accurate." I nod. "Jump!" We both jump over this huge root, and notice the man hasn't followed behind us. I stop and lean us both against a tree. The same tree Lina and I found. I looked around while holding my arm. I looked over to Jamie who was holding his side. I helped him up. "You think you can climb?" Jamies squints and I point at the steps that are somewhat camo flogged by the fog. He nobs. We climb up and I make sure he's settled. We check out his side it was a large bruse, but didn't seem to be more than that. He told me he had slipped on on of the rocks where I found him and hit his side. I here water pouring down. "There's no way we are getting back to camp like this. We are going to have to wait it out." He looks concerned but doesnt argue.

I feel completely drained but can't sleep. "Is Chris aliright?" I look over at Jamie who I thought was sleeping. "Yeah he's fine, haha he's very fond of little Yasmine. They are inseparable." He laughs, "yeah I'm glad he made a friend." I smile and look back towards the window. "Eolina is pretty good with him, well really good with him. How is she doing?" I nod. "She's okay, she worries about you two though."
"She does?" I can tell he's trying to mask his excitement. "You really like her don't you?" He nods. "I do, but I don't think she feels the same." I take another glace outside. " I'm sure she does, but she is going to busy herself trying to take care of everone else." We go on talking til the rain stop and the forest clears a bit. I grab some of the pull back lid type cans and we begin making over way towards the camp. I can't help but think of how mad Lina might be when we get back.
Shortly after everyone got busy making spears, I could see that Ta'leanna was a bit off. She left her spear and curled up in the sand. Camion walked over to her and patted her on the back but she was already out. Camion met my eyes as I walked over. He placed a hand on her forehead. "No fever, she must just be tired. All the adrenaline and she's been running around..." I noded and led Camion back to the group.
"Let's let her rest. We'll just keep an eye on her."

While she slept we continued working. We crafted 15 sturdy spears and Zandrea got to work on weaving an impressive net. I sent Camion and Marcus fishing with the spears, Rachael to start the fire, while Kush, and I worked on the shelter some more, fortifying the work Ta'leanna and I did and making 2 additional lean-to huts to be sure everyone was comfortable. I left Chris and Yasmine to entertain each other, though Chris seemed very antsy. I assumed it's because Jamie had yet to return. We finished up the last lean-to when Camion and Marcus came back with fish. Shortly after preparing and cooking the food, Ta'leanna jumps awake.

"Ta'le, you ok? Whats wrong, bad dream?"
Ta'leanna nods and rubs her eyes groggily. "Did Jamie ever return?"
"No," I shake my head. "I think Chris is starting to notice."
"You should probably get them all in the hut and let them rest up. I'm going to take a walk."
I nod, "You want me to come with?" Ta'leanna shakes her head and stands up. "Be careful," I add.

I watch as she walks away, down along the treeline. I wonder what's wrong. I turn and address the group.
"Okay guys. We have food, we have shelter, and we have fire. Marcus, Camion, how about any drinkable water? Did you guys find anything?"
Marcus nods and holds a finger up, signaling us to wait for him to finish chewing. "Uh.. Yeah, we found a stream not too far from here. I would probably treat it before we dole it out."
I nod. "That's great. Let's figure out how we can bring it back here though... Hey Chris, Yasmine. What have you guys found?"
"Oh we found lots of stuff," Yasmine points to a pile of sand that Chris digs under. He pulls out clams and seashells, some sharp and good for cutting, 2 bent up plastic bottles, a plastic bag, and a weird gray lump. "I don't know what this is but it's cool." I nod and give them a thumbs up.
"Awesome guys. We have water bottles. That's you guys' job from now on. Finding awesome stuff on the beach!" I tunr back to Camion and Marcus. "How far is it? Can we all make a quick run to the stream?"
Camion nods. "Yeah we can make it there and back before dark."
"We don't have the means to treat the water now... But we need to drink."
"Well, it's a running stream," Marcus replies. "Wildlife goes where it wants. We'll probably be okay but we should definitely look for ways to treat it going forward."
"I agree. Let's head out and we'll save the bottles for Ta'leanna and Jamie when they get back."

Camion and Marcus lead the way to the stream as the sun smolders low in the sky. A short ways inland, past the tree line I can hear the trickle of water.
"It's right this way," Camion points ahead.
The water is clear and fast flowing. I walk a little ways upstream to see if I spot any nearby contaminants. "I think we can be ok. No way to be sure without boiling it. We need water. Go ahead drink." We crouch down simultaneously. I dip my hands in and feel the cold water run through my fingers. It's cool and refreshing however there is a distinctive taste. It's nothing like the bottled water at home. It's tastes more like a mineral water. I take mental note to watch everyone closely over the next few days for any symptoms of polluted water. There won't be much I can do if that's the case, but at least we'll know the cause. My thoughts are interrupted as I feel a cold damp hand on my back.
"Eolina.. Let's go back now." Chris is looking a bit down and holding one of the plastic bottles filled to the brim. I nod as I take the bottle from him and hold his hand, my thumb brushing his little fingers for comfort.
"Okay, guys. Let's wrap it up. It's getting dark. Rachael, can you take the bottle from Yasmine so it doesn't spill?"
"Oh sure." Yasmine hands the bottle of water to Rachael and takes her free hand. We trudge back towards the shore and to our campsite, the fire still burning strong.
Neither one of them are back yet... I don't like this. I scan the shoreline hoping to see Ta'le and Jamie heading our way.

The main shelter Ta'leanna and I built looks as if it could hold 5 and the lean-to add-ons could hold 2-3 each. Just enough space for our group of 10. "You mind if we take one of the huts," Marcus gestures between he and Rachael. I nod and try to figure how the rest of us will fit.
Chris hold tightly onto my hand and I know I can't leave him on his own. "Chris, Yasmine, and I will take the other hut for now. Kush, Zandrea, and Camion you guys can take the main shelter. We'll figure this out again when Ta'le and Jamie get back. Sounds ok?"
Everyone shouts, "yeah" in agreement. I tell Yasmine and Chris to get settled down when Zandrea waves me over.
"Hey, Zani. What's up?"
"I feel like we've done a really good job. I wanna thank you and Ta'leanna for everything... Ta'leanna nor Jamie have come back yet. I don't feel so good about it."
I shake my head. "Neither do I. I thought having everybody pair up was good, but it's like Jamie just disappeared. I shouldn't have let Ta'le go off on that walk on her own especially since I could tell she wasn't feeling good..."
Zandrea puts a hand on my shoulder. "Don't beat yourself up about it."
"I just hope they are ok. I want to search for them, but at what cost? Risking everyone else? Those kids?"
"Just relax. I'm sure they're fine..." Zandrea trails off and I know we are both thinking about the attack Ta'leanna and I survived.
"Yeah. Let's call it a night." I nod as Zandrea head under the main shelter. I see Kush prepared a spot for her beside him. I let out a long sigh and Camion comes over to me.
"Eolina. I'm worried." He looks at me intently, his jaw set.
"Me too. I want to go out there right now and get my best friend. But I feel responsible for those kids. Especially Chris. Am I supposed to let him lose his mother AND now his brother? But how can I risk my life when I'm all he has left," I drop my voice down low, holding back tears. "I found him clinging to his dead mother's body! I can't leave him alone!"
Camion sighs heavily and runs his hand over his face. "I understand. Calm down, calm down. I want to go look for them too."
I drop down to my knees in the sand. "Is this even real," I mumble.
"Let me go on patrol." I look at him. "I mean, I can fix up a torch and walk the treeline. I could light the way back if they're lost."
"What if the light attracts whoever attacked us?"
"I'll stay a ways from the camp. You keep watch. If my torch goes out, wake everyone up and move. Keep moving."
I nod. The severity of the situation slowly sinking in. "Ok. I swear if they waltz back to camp tomorrow without a scratch, I'll kill them myself. All this worry..."
Camion grins and I smile back.
As we walk the sun starts to come out and I notice more about the forest as the fog disappears. Jamie trips over a wire and a small log swings past hittung my full force in the stomach. "Ugh, a boobie trap im not to short for, suprising they must get a lot of almsot midgets around here." Jamie gets up and looks back, "Ta'le don't move okay." He sounds scared. "Give it to me straight doc. Whats my poison?" I say to lighten the mood. "Uhh okay, alright sooo your in quick sand, No ! No, dont open your eyes.." I'm worried now. "Theres a huge snake above your head okay ?..." As if that was something I'd be okay with, my body slightly tenses up which just causes me more pain. "Jamie please tell me you have a plan." I whisper. "Mmm, no. But, but if you give me just one second I'm sure I can fix this." I laugh nerviously, "take all the time you need, I'm only sinking and about to be eaten but you take a minute, have a seat really think this one through." Jamie and I laugh to mask how scared we are of this outcome. He looks around and grabs a huge stick and test it for sturdiness and strenghth. "Yeah okay, so surprisingly the snake has yet to notice you, I think I we are careful I can pull you out, are you going to be able to open you eyes and not panic?" I open one eye the snake is curled up and huge, I'm trying not you freak out. "okay come on quick slide me the stick and get me out of here." Jamie slides the stick over to me. "Okay grab it." I grab the stick and he pulls, slowly but surely I'm free. I hug Jamie not remembering his burse we bith flench. "Oh, sorry!" He laughs "its cool after the hit you just took I think you'll have it worst." I nod "yeah that and some serious bowl movement." We laugh and turn to head back in the direction we were going. Another arrow shoots across and I push Jamie out the way, I didn't see the other arrow in my thigh. "Jamie get up, run!" And he does just that, more adrenaline pumping and I run after him not realizing I've been impelled arrows fly fast and quick. I grab Jamie and yank in back the way of the guy last night, "What are you doing?!?!" I cut him off "shhhh! We much protect the others at all cost we can't lead them to us." He nods and keeps up with me, we stop running when the arrows stop raining and the chants are finished. "W-.." I cover his mouth and put one finger to mine. I hear voices but they aren't speaking english well nit my kind of english. I look over the bushes ahead with a golden glow to them. It was the guy who chased us last night there was a village of them, young, old. Huts all over the place. Sorta civilized.... Mire than I expected. I look for the nearedt exist out of the woods its a straight shot but we'll have to be quick and quite. And my body starts to calm down I feel my leg which is wet in blood and throbbing in pain, I wense and Jamie notices. I cover his mouth before he can say something like, 'your leg' or 'are you okay'. I give him a look like we both see it, and it hurts like hell. Then another look like if you get us caught I'm kicking your ass with my good leg. He nods once message recieved. I place my arm around his shoulder and point the direction we need to go. As he helps me stand I bite down on my arm so I don't make a sound. I feel tears jerking everytime I put pressure on it. I hold in all sighs and try not to lean on Jamie too heavy because his buise is on the same side and his face seems a little pinched up and soon as we're far enough away down the soreline and closer to camp I grunt. " Mmm, hhh haha nothing like a good ole souvenir after an adventure." Jamie chuckles. "Come on crippy.... Eolina is going to hate me." He shakes his hesd and trys to pull me up some. "She's not going to hate you, not the first time I did something stupid, plus you saved my ass back there, she's going to thank you." He smiles. "I can't wait to she her and Chris you know he sighs and for a minute the pain on hus side does seem to bother him. I can see the camp. Jamie does to cause now he has me hobbling full speed ahead. When we get there I see Eolina and Camion talking everyone is waking up Eolina doesn't look tired so she's just up bright and early I persum, I can't say the same for Camion who looks tired and disappointed. Chris spots Jamie almost instantly and runs over,"Jamieeeeeee!!!" I smile and Lina looks at me eyes wide. I limp over to her extremely painfully. "Why so glum chums!?" I add a laugh. I really just want to cry. Lina hugs me. "Boy do I have a story to tell you sis!" She laughs lightly, "always the jokster! She looks down at my leg Ta'le!" I laugh " oh that! Girl thats nothing you shiuld she the other guy... Might of been a girl..." I shrug. " truth is I didn't see them either." She smiles and shakes her head. "Camion can you get her in the main tent please", he nods and I wrap my arm around his shoulder as he lift me. I bite my lip to hold back the grunt. "Mmm, theres an art to pain I tell you." Right before we enter the tent, "Hey Jamie !" He looks over to me. "Thanks again for getting me out of there!" He smiles. "I was just returning the favor!" I nod and laugh. Lina looks at him, "Go to him Lina, Camion can examine me and come get you when he's finished." She looks at me. "Go get your man girl. Word on the street is he loves him some Eolina, but if he ask a little birdy told you. Tweet tweet!" I wink st her and she laughs hard. " you think you can handle her Camion?" He smiles and looks at my leg then my face. I place the back of my free hand on my forehead. "Tell me doc. Am I going to make it?!?" I gasp for dramatics. "I think I got thus one cover Lina, go ahead. I'll call you when I've pullef the arrow out." I shoot my head up. "Uhhh! Come again??? Pull what from where?" He looks at Lina and ushers her on. "Umm hello Cam, I'm talking to you... We can talk about this, we dont have to do anything rash." Lina laughs and walks to Jamie not before saying good luck. " oh thats real nice now both of you are ignoring me." Everyone is laughing at our conversation and continue to laugh as I try to convince Camion its a bad idea. Soon I'm biting my tongue as he yanks the arrow from my thigh. He had tied my leg of and asked Chris and Yasmine if they happened to find anything metal. Lina and Jamie come in the tent to see how I was doing. Camion comes back with a hot piece of scrap metal and places it on my thigh to close the wound. "Mmmmm !!!! Ugh!! You're cooking me." He holds my leg still. "Relaxe Ta'le!" I lay there as still as possible. The last thing I remember before passing out, "Does anyone smell barbeque?"
My relief to see Ta'leanna and Jamie quickly turns to worry once I notice the blood and bruising. Ta'leanna has what looks like an arrow sticking out of his leg and Jamie's breathing is laboured. Ta'leanna is full of jokes as always but I can tell she is hurt. I instruct Camion to take her into the main shelter and look at her. In our brief time here on the island Camion has proved that he is best equipped to handle CPR and first aid needs. While he Ties off Ta'leanna's wound and pulls out the arrow I look over Jamie.

Chris bounds over and squeezes Jamie. "I missed you!" He winces but does his best to smile at his little brother.
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that, bud."
"Why don't you and Yasmine go collect some more clams and crabs, huh?" Chris nods and runs off.
"Shirt," I demand and hold out my hand. Jamie chuckles a little and immediately regrets it. He removes his shirt and places it in my hand. I can see a deep purple bruise run down his right side. "Ew. Good job there. How do you feel? Is it worse than it looks?"
He shakes his head. I can hear his breathing slightly and it's raspy. I circle him and only see a few cuts and bruises but nothing serious. I rest my hands on his back and reach up on tip toe to put my ear him, between his shoulder blades. "Breathe in, Jamie."
He does and it sounds horrible. I'm no doctor, but I know something serious is wrong. "Let's go check on Ta'le and then I want you to really take it easy for a few days. I mean it. You may have a broken rib or something. I don't know..."
"I'm fine. Really." I hand him his short back and we head over to the shelter. We hear a muffled yelp and I figure Camion pulled the arrow out.

We enter the shelter and Ta'leanna's leg is tied securely, the arrow removed. The blood isn't gushing out so it appears Camion really does know what he's doing.
"Excuse me." Camion bustles, in a metal rod in his hand. He uses his free hand to squeeze the wound close and the seals the wound with the metal pipe he must've heated over the fire.

"Does anyone smell barbeque?" Ta'leanna's eyes roll and she's out cold. Zandrea pokes her head in and gasps.

"She'll be okay." I reassure her. "Camion took quite the risk though."
"Hey, it would've been a risk either way. It's deep and wide. We have no bandages and no needle and thread."
"Yeah," I sigh. "While you're on bed rest, Jamie, keep an eye on her and watch for infection. Let's everyone else gather outside and make a game plan."

Jamie lays down beside Ta'leanna. Camion follows me out and I beckon everyone over to the fire pit. I leave Chris and Yasmine to their scavenging, making sure they stay within sight.
"We need food and enough water to last through the night. I don't want anyone making runs at night. Let's have some warm food prepared by the time Ta'le wakes up."
Camion suggests he and Kush grab spears and go hunting. "There's birds out there; they look like turkeys. Maybe we could snag 2." I give them a thumbs up and they run off.
"Stay together! Any danger just come back," I shout after them.
"I saw on a documentary once about grass baskets woven so tightly they can carry water. The high grass could be good for that. It's dry." Zandrea also proves to be very resourceful and crafty.
"Oh that sounds great! I'll help you with that and when we are done Rachael and Mark, you guys mind filling the baskets?"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's a few hours to sunset. Ta'leanna is still asleep, her leg blistering up. Jamie has been in and out of sleep. Camion and Kush break through the treeline, each carrying a bird in their hand. Zandrea and I managed to weave 5 baskets. 3 of them waterproof, we tested with the seawater. It took all day to perfect and still could be better. The other 2 reserved for carrying scavenged items. Chris filling one with clams and Yasmine, the other with small crabs.

"Wow! You were right!" I leap up and slap Camion on the back.
"It took us long enough," Kush laughed. They were covered in smudges of dirt and I could spot a leaf or two in Kush's hair.

"We'll run for the water now." Racheal and Marcus grab a basket and the water bottles we found earlier.
"I'll carry the third basket and my spear," Camion follows behind them. I'm grateful he went along. Marcus seems rather timid and Rachael reserved, while Camion is the protective type. I nod and wave as they head out.

I call the kids over to the camp and tend to the fire. Kush begins dressing the birds. Besides just tossing the clams and crabs directly into the fire I don't know how we are to cook them. I rack my brain for a few minutes.
"Chris, did you guys see any seaweed out there?"
"Oh sure, it's kind of gross." He grimaces.
"I hate when it gets tangled in my toes!" Yasime giggles.
I laugh. "Me too. But I think we need some. Let's go!" Before we head to the water, I toss a bunch of rocks into the fire.

We spend the next few minutes gathering seaweed and splashing each other int he water. When we gather enough, Camion, Rachael, and Marcus are back with water. "Great! Let's cook!"

Marcus, Rachael, and Zandrea have pieces of meat on sticks held over the fire. Camion took a basket of water inside the main shelter, washed Ta'leanna's wounds and gave both Ta'le and Jamie drinks of water from the water bottles. I busied myself with the crabs. I dug a small deep hole in the sand and fished out half of the rocks I previously tossed in the fire. Moving quickly, I carefully grab a crab from the basket, wary of their pincers. I wrap it in a bit of seaweed and toss it into the pit. I do the same with the next and the next. Then I grab one of the free baskets of water and toss the remaining hot rocks into the water. It's at a gentle boil. I toss a few crabs in as well as the clams and pray I remembered those documentaries correctly.

I head into the main shelter to check on my friends. Ta'leanna is fully awake now, chattering away. "I smell something delicious~ I think I may be hallucinating, guys."
"Thank the heavens you're ok, Ta'le. The hell happened out there? Where did you guys go?"

Jamie runs a hand through his hair. Ta'leanna sighs, turning serious for a moment. "All I know is this island isn't safe."
I begin to tell Eolina about everything we in countered. She doesn't say much so I know she's thinking, I wish she was speaking though. Jamie breaks in and starts taking over the storie when Camion starts looking over my leg. He's wrapping it up in hopes of less chances thag it'll get infected. But the cloth burns, "Ahh!" I pop his hand. "Thats tight and it hurts." He continues to tie it, and I continue popping his hands. "Sorry beautiful, I have to do it though." I frown and fall back rolling my upper body around. "Ahhh ha-ha tie it alreadyyyyy!!!" Then I whisper slash wine "you're killing mee!!!" Lina laughs, "Well be more careful next time you decide to go all tarzan on people." I frown. "Oh don't give me that look. I know you Ta'le you don't think things through, you're wild and always getting yourself into trouble." I laugh thinking about all our adventures before. "Yeah your right, but you were right there with me through almost all of my crazy life or death skeems." She smiles. "Couldn't call myself a true adventure if I didn't, I'm just glad you're okay." Her face changes. I can tell she's upset, shortly after learning about what we incountered Eolina leave. "Lina?" She looks back. "It's okay Ta'le, I just need a moment to think, get some rest." I nod, but I wasn't looking forward to it. My favorite avtivity has become the worst activity in a matter of weeks. I question why no one has come looking for us yet, and what island we're inhabiting.


...................................................................

I wake when day breaks and everyone is still sleeping. I look over a Eolina she's laying next to Jamie who is holding Chris as he sleeps, he's probably in a lot of pain. I guess the thought of possible losing him has Chris clinging to him kinda tight. I here a small voice. "Mommy? Daddy? .... Mommyyyyy I'm scared where are you." I look around the tent, sounds like Yasmine but I don't see her. "Daddy is not funny anymore where'd you go?" I drag myself to the door of the tent. She's walking towards the ocean and she looks to be sleep walking. "Mommyyyy " she moans like shes really scared. "Don't leave me mommy please", she starts to walk faster towards the ocean. "Please don't leave please come back I'm scared." I crawl out the tent my leg is killing me. "Yasmine I say as calm as I can, Yasmine baby it's okay baby come here, mommy's hear baby follow my voice." Tears are falling out of my eyes as I push closer to her. "Come on baby, come to mommy." She stops walk finaly, "mommy you're crying are you okay, are you scared to mommy." I chuckle a little to help from grimicing at the pain. " Oh-h no baby no, mommy just missed you, come.... Come give mommy a hug." She walk toward me and I push further some more." Mommy wheres daddy?" She ask as she walk closer. I turn over on my butt and drag myself closer to her. "Daddys sleeping sweety." She smiles and walks a little faster. " mommy ?" I reach for her. "Yes Yasmine?" She stops almost in arms reach. "I'm sorry I got mad at you when you called me Asminy, or princess Minny. I know I said I was to old for it but can you call me that again. I miss being your Asminy and daddy's Priness Minny." I lean back and grab her hands pulling her toward me slowly. "Of course you'll always be my Asminy, and your daddy will alway see you as his princess Minny." I pull her in and hug her tight. I pause and think about if she wakes up and quickly revise. "Asminy baby I need you to listen to me okay?" And she sobs out and okay. "I need you to be strong for me okay, and be the big girl I know you can be. Okay..." I pause as tear fall down my face. " okay mommy." I hold her even tighter. "When you open you eyes baby me and daddy won't be there okay?" I don't pause because I don't want her to answer. "But we will leave you with people who love you okay, they're going to take care of you for us." She sobbs hard and I hold her while her body shakes. "Do I have to mommy? I wanna go with you and daddy." I bite my bottom lip. "Noooo baby girl, it's not time. You gotta be a big girl for mommy, be big and strong, okay? You be a little warrior, daddy and I are proud of you baby. I got to go. We love you and miss you very much!" I held her and she whimpered and cried and I just held her. I played with her hair until she was silent and sleeping soundly again, I looked at her face and wiped away her tears as mine grew, I kept my body from jolting. I felt for Yasmine, in these past weeks she lost her world. I admired her because even though her world crashed around her, she walked with a light heart, she was forever smiling. So much so I forgot she was even dealing with a scar so deep. I held her while she slept, and I rocked with her in my arms just amazing at how strong she's been. "I'm here Yasmine, I'm here for you okay?" I whisper and kiss her forehead. Kush and Zandrea arise almost simultaneously from one of the side huts. They look panicked, then they see me and rush over. She must had been with them tonight. "Is she okay kush ask and drops to his knees." I nod, "she's just going through a lot right now." He nod and Zani plops down behind him with her hand on his shoulder. "She's so strong, and so young." I smile down at Yasmine. "Yes she is, we got to look out for each other, we only have us and we are here in a place we hardly know anything about." I look at them and smile. Kush reaches out and touches my shoulder and smiles at me. "I couldn't agree more." Zani smiles at me and then Yasmine, her eyes then travel to my leg which is bleeding from the pressure. "Your leg!" She hurrys over and unties it. "Kush take Yasmine back you the hut so she can sleep and I can tend to Ta'le." Kush doesn't argue he does as his sister tells him and I pass Yasmine to him. I shift in discomfort. "Mmm, ah." I try to keep all the noise down sense majority of the camp is still sleep. Kush rushes over after he finishes with Yasmine. "What can I do?" Zani look at the cut. "Go grab me some ocean water and some seaweed." She looks at me as he run to get what she needs. "You okay? I know it hurt but its gonna get worse before it gets better." We both chuckle. "Now that what I like to hear doc. Give it to me straight." She laughs. "Well I can assure you I'm not mary poppins and a spoon full of sugar isnt what you need." I laugh at her reference. "You're real cool Zani." She smiles. "I appreciate it! Always nice to hear a compliment, now brace yourself." Before I could say anything she's pouring salt water on my wound. She then take the seaweed and blots along the wound to get a better veiw. "I looks like Camions work held up. I dont see anything major just a little tear probably from the pressure but that'll heal." She gets up and goes to clean my bandage. "Kush can you get Ta'le some of the fresh water please." Kush grabs a bottle , once I drinken some he puts it back, he joins my side while we wait for zani. "She's very crafty huh?" Kush smiles." Yeah, thats zani for you. She love to help people, I can't think of a time she couldnt find a solution for something. She's kinda always been like that." I nod "I'm sure theres good reason for it." He nods "Yeah, she's my sister but she's also like a mom in a way, Zani has taken care of me her whole life and never complained not once." He smiles in fondness of his sister. "She's also like my partner in crime you know? Kinda like you and Lina, we would go on these crazy anventures, Zans way of giving me more good memories than bad." I look up at him. "What do you mean?" His face drops but doesn't meet mine. "Are parents use to argue and fight a lot, so much so they stip seeing us really. They where there but so far away at the same time. Zan use to drag me away from the house when they argued. She called every escaped and adventure and dared me to challenge her authority. Soon excapes from the reality or our parents became brithdays that were forgotten, she took me on the wildest crazest adventure ever!" His eyes full of excitement. Then lost the excitement just as fast. "She had been working at this diner for some years, said she was going to save up for an extra special birthday adventure. I was exciteted, I looked forward to nothing more than our adventures. Before I know it we were packing our bags, 7 day cruise. What can I say? She always kept her word. Birthday adventure that doesn't end." He smiled. Zani was walking back up ringing out my wrap as she came. I smiled at her then looked over to kush. " we'll have to wait til it drys out but I'm sure your leg can use a little sun anyway" she run and hangs my rag so it can dry and rushes back, plupping down on the sand next to us. "What I miss?" Kush looks at his sister and smiles, he shakes his head and wipes a tear away quickly. "Kush whats wrong?" She looks worried and saddened. "Nothing sis, I love you, you know that right?" She hugs him tight and he returns it "of corse bucket head whats not to love, I love you more!" I smile and we all relaxe in the sand looking out at the sun rise.
I wake to a rattling cough. I rub my eyes and look around. Jamie is still asleep, but he rolled onto his side which laboured his breathing. I give a quick stretch then lean over to tap his shoulder. He give a grunt but doesn't wake so I gently pull on his shoulder and roll him over.He grimaces and coughs again.
Now where is Ta'le? With an injury as serious as hers she shouldn't be up and about, though I am relieved to see that Camion is not in the tent either so he must be with her.
I pile some sand around Jamie in hopes it will prevent him from rolling over in his sleep again and head outside. Zandrea, imitating my method, is cooking up some crabs. Rachael and Marcus are already eating a few. I spott Kush by the shoreline sparring Chris and Yasmine with sticks, and to the side Camion and Ta'leanna are sitting close together, her head on his shoulder.

"Hey Zani. Rachael, Marcus. Did you all sleep well?"
"Yeah, very well." Marcus grins and Rachael shoots him a look.
"I take that you guys had a good night," I say, brows raised.
"Well, I slept alright but Yasmine didn't. Kush and I woke up a little before dawn and found Ta'le cradling her. She put some stress on her wound but thank goodness she managed to catch Yasmine in her sleepwalking daze."
I shake my head. "That could've ended badly."
"Oh no.. Poor thing," Rachael coos and Marcus frowns.
"Yeah. Yasmine doesn't remember but she sure worried us and definitelt Ta'le," Zandrea shook her head as she fished the hot cooked crabs out of the pit. "I don't think you should bring it up to Yaz. Let her forget."
"Yeah. We'll keep a closer watch on her. Thanks for cooking this morning," I say as I scoop up 2 of the fresh crabs. They are small enough that I just eat them whole. Crunchy but food is food. I walk over towards Kush and the kids. "Hey guys. How's everybody?"
Chris and Yasmine look at each other before turning to me with a war cry.
"Ahh!" I shout as I run away from the two devils.
I hear Ta'leanna laugh before shouting, "You're about to get your butt kicked! You better run faster! Knee to chest, knee to chest!"
We all laugh as the kids chase me around some more. I finally grow tired and plea fir mercy. "Next time, guys, I'll have my revenge!" I jog over to Ta'leanna and Camion, out of breath. "Camion, you know I'm surprised you didn't send Ta'le right back into the shelter! How do you feel?"
Ta'leanna pat her thigh. "You know I'm a tough cookie. Not easy to break." I roll my eyes [layfully and give her a squeeze.
"You know we just need to stock up on water and we'll be ok fir the next few days. Zandrea and Kush preserved some of the meat from the second bird yesterday. We can take it easy for a bit. Let our patients heal," Camion smiles and pokes Ta'leanna.
"That sounds wonderful, really. We can figure out what to do about those barbarians..." I bring my voice to a whisper.I notice Camion mindlessly playing with her hair. "I'm gonna go see about water." I wave as I walk back towards the fire.
"Hey, I think I'm gonna go on a water run. Some help?"
Zandrea shakes her head. "I think the lovebirds should go. You've helped with a lot of preparations and you cooked last night. We should all pull our weight."
I'm surprised by her claim and I look over at Rachael and Marcus. Rachael rolls her eyes but stands and pulls Marcus to his feet. "Whatever." She picks up a basket and tosses the other to Marcus.
"Did something happen," I ask.
Zandrea sighs. "Rachael collected fire wood and started a weak fire. Marcus only collects water. Terrible builder and never offered to hunt. 'Afraid of the woods,' he says. A quarter of the group has risked their lives out there: you, Jamie, and Ta'leanna, twice! The rest of us are running around and getting things done. Even caring for the kids. You know they woke up, didn't even say good morning and just watched me stoke the fire and cook? Then just ate the crabs I made! Ugh!"
"Calm down, chica. I see what you mean. You're right. We all need to put in effort. I'll talk to them." I pat Zandrea on the shoulder and she nods.
"Is Jamie up yet?"
"Oh, yeah. I'll check on him again." I turn and head inside the shelter. Jamie is propped up, sipping from the water bottle. "Hey there... How do you feel?"
Jamie shifts to adjust himself and pats the sand beside him. i walk over and take a seat. "It hurts to breathe and to move."
"I think you fractured or broke a rib or something. I'm worried about your lungs. My grandma had a fall once. Broke 3 ribs and punctured her left lung. It was scary and she was in a lot of pain... Like this. I really want you to stay put. We are no doctors, if it gets worse..." I look away.
He reaches out for my hand I take it with a gentle squeeze. I look at him and our eyes meet; I feel my face get hot under his stare. He uses his free hand to cup my face and I think we're both holding our breath, I hear no breathing only the sound of my heart. I kiss him lightly, then pull away, pardoning myself: "Excuse me." I rush out of the shelter stealing one glance back to see him watching me leave a smile on his lips.

Zabdrea jumps at my aburtness. "You okay?"
"Yeah, fine." I smile.
I can't help but look to Yasmine and keep an eye on her, Camion notices because he leans over and whispers 'she's okay'. I smile weakly, "I really hope so." He smiles and places his forehead on mine. "Relax Ta'le she's laughing and have a good ole time, Kush is with her and so is Chris." I close my eyes and nod, "Okay, okay you're right. I just I worry about all of you you know?" I lean back and he smiles. "ALL of us huh?" I laugh. "Mhmm, ALL." I say putting the same amount of emphasis on the word. He leans closer even me, I smile and turn away "even you." "Now was that so hard." "Very!" He smiles and kisses my forehead. "Ready to go back to the tent?" "Uhh I guess, haven't seen my soldier Jamie in a while, I suppose a visit would be nice." Camion carrys me to the tent and leave to talk with Eolina and Zani about something, he wouldn't tell me what it was. "How's the side?" I say breaking Jamie out of his daze. "Huh?" I laugh. "I said do you like the view." Referring to the fact he hasn't taken his eyes off Lina since I've been in here. He blushes. "Oh umm, it's beautiful." I chuckle, "She sure is!!! And she's also my sister, no funny business understood? You treat her right!" He cuts me off before I can continue. "I wouldn't dream of hurting her, she's just sooo...ughh. You know? With her woo and I mean wow! Ahh I don't know what to say." I smile. "Well I must say I never thought you'd get so red." He looked at me and nudges me with a slight expression of discomfort from shifting so quickly. I laugh. "Easy there killer!" He laughs lightly. "Enough about me, what about you and Cam Cam!?!" I look down and try to play cool. "I don't know what your talking about." "Oh you don't know what I'm talking about." "Nope can't say that I do." I rub the back of my neck. "Mm okay so I'm just imagining the way you guys look at each other?" "Whaaattt ! Pfftt you don't know what you're talking about." "Oh is someone blushing??? Oh I don't know Ta'le I think you might like him..." "Kuhhh, you are so lame right now." "Is that your way of agreeing with me?" "Oh hush up you silly ole bear." We both laugh. Which is followed by Camion and Lina joining us. "What goes on ?" Cam says. "Oh we were just talking about how my buddy Ta'le hereee...." I cover his mouth. "We were talking about how ole Jamie here is in lovv... Ouuuuuu!!!" Jamie smacks my bum leg and both Lina and Cam look confused. I squint at Jamie, "Well played! Well played!" I mutter my words through a sharp pain. "Do we need to separate you two trouble makers?" Lina jokes. And Jamie and I laugh. "You kidding love this guy, entertainment for days." "As are you Ta'le you little schemer!" "Mmhmm I'm watching you two, play nice." She teases. "I'm starving!" I shout realizing I really havent eaten anything since I've been back or much rather since I landed on this island.
It's been 3 days since Ta'leanna and Jamie returned.

Jamie's breathing is steady, though it hurts for him to perform laborious tasks. He's been helping craft buckets and mend the shelter.
Ta'leanna's leg thankfully shows no sign of infection and the blisters have begun to drain. She's been helping Chris and Yasmin scavenge and she's also been a wonderful chef.
Camion and Kush spent a lot of their time crafting spears, preparing for the next hunt.
After showing Jamie how to weave buckets, Zandrea has moved on to finding ways to preserve the food we catch.
I've taken Rachael and Marcus as partners scouting the perimeters of the camp.
We've been undisturbed the past few days but I'm extremely on edge about this time of peace coming to an end.

This morning Ta'leanna and I are the first awake. "Ta'le. You told me that you and Jamie spent the night in that treehouse. Nobody found you guys up there? It wasn't their site?"
Ta'leanna shrugs. "Now that I think about it, we were pretty lucky. Nobody showed up there at all."
"Ta'le, I think we need to make a move. We get everybody up there we have better protection. Right now we are sitting ducks. Right out in the open."
Ta'leanna nods slowly, thinking over my words. "Right out in the open is good for a rescue though." She lifts her hands, reaching up to me.
I sigh and help her stand. She flinches a little, only slightly. Tough cookie. "We'll think it over. Plus, you need some more time to heal before we go tromping through the woods again. So does Jamie. I'm worried about him getting pneumonia to be honest."
Ta'leanna pats my back. "We're troopers. We'll be alright!"
Camion sits up and runs a hand over his face. "You just can't let a dude sleep in, huh?"

Ta'leanna playfully sticks out her tongue and I laugh as I head outside. The air is heavy and humid and there is overcast. I see Zandrea crawl out if her tent and Yasmin and Chris bolting out behind her. I will never understand how children have so much energy in the morning. They head down to the shore, per usual, but this time I shout for them to watch fro the waves.
"Looks like today calls for rain," Zandrea says glancing my way.
"Hopefully, just that and not a storm."

When Lina leaves I tend to ole grumpy butt. "Someone's got a bug in there crack this morning." I say jokingly and leaning towards him so I could stick my finger in his nose. He fights me as expected but I get the job done. I wipe it on his shirt and try to excape. "Oh no you don't not this time princess!" He grabs my wrist and pulls me back. I stumble careful to only show joy, and not wince. He gentle grabs me and places me on the ground successfully. Still smiling and laughing with him, I also suceeded, facial expressions contained, yup all a days work! "Now that I've got you right where I want you..." I shift my eyes to his arms and trace my fingers tip toeing up them towards his neck. "Iye, and where might that be ladd?.... Ye make very bold statements." I too toe my fingers up his neck slowly. Right before he can say another word, I place my finger over his lips and shush him. "Shhh, I say ole boy it seems I'm exactly were I wanna be." We smile and our eyes meet. He leans in close and I close my eyes only to feel a finger up my nose, and a quick swipe on my shirt. I laugh and shake my head. "Lol well captain Cam, I must say you are the best pirate I'd ever seen, yee've robbed me blind of me boogers. If that's not digging for gold on uncharted territory I don't know what is." He laughs and we share a kiss, and then another one. I feel him shift his position and his body cover more of me. His hands find mine and then the pairs find themselves above my head. We share more kissing and can move towards my neck, I grip his hands more and close my eyes. A little neverous but not willing to admit that. He kisses softly and I acceditly sigh. I feel him smirk and instantly blush. He leans back to she his masterpiece me a red hot mess. He smiles and turn away. "Oh you are adorable, you've never done this before?" I keep looking away. "No, no I have not." He smiles letting my hands go and placing a hand on my face, he turns my face and kisses my forehead. "When you're ready princess." I smile weakly still kinda embarrassed. He roles off of me and lays there I turn into him and burry my face. "Thank you." I say into his chest. He smiles and holds me. "Anything for you.


.......
Its late afternoon and I realized what Lina was talking about. I've had some time to think. Every ones busy preparing for a storm, and working on ways to connect the huts so we'll be able to travel back in forth with supplies and things like that. I'm sitting on the tree line and watching them hustle. Zani had the boys fishing and taught them ways to preserve the stuff we weren't cooking right away. Now she is consintrating on making doorways and passages. She even taught Rachel and Marcus how to make, makeshift blankets. Much oblige to her. Lina and the kids are digging a huge trinch to catch the tide well before it hits the tents. Or well that's the intention. Jamie is laughing at Kush and Camion falling over and competing for the biggest fish. It is pretty funny. They both suck. I hear Eolina send them to catch some more birds. They abide and start making a sort of it. Jamie still sitting on the rocks next to the ocean pulls Lin into him. All of a sudden I feel my lips being covered and get yanked back into the edge of the woods. "Now, calm down the voice says. I'm going to let you go but you can't panic okay?" I nod. "Okay now when I let go we can ask each other questions. I'm sure you want to know who I am and I want to know who you all are." I nod again and I'm surprisingly calm. He let's me go and makes himself visable to me. "My name in Zou! Please to meet you." He reaches his hand out and I shake it. "I'm Ta'leanna but everyone calls my Ta'le friend or foe. Lazy bastard if you ask me. Still love em though." His face is painted not like the people things chasing and hunting us. He smiles. "I've been watching you. You and you friend, Lina I think she goes by, oddly amazing, I noticed you two since you got here." I look at him. "You came to my house, I wanted to know more of you." I looked down. Questioning everything. " that's your house? " he nods. "My old one, that why I'm here. You and your people aren't save. I've come to invite you to my new home now that I know your not of any harm to me." He looks over to Lina. "Bring me to your people so then I can speak with them, we have to be quick."
I don't argue, though its another thing I have yet to think through I grab his hand and do as he says. I still feel a bit odd. But I'm hoping he can help.
Ta'leanna breaks through the treeline with a stranger in tow.
"Ta'le, who is this?" Zandrea is the first to spot them. Everybody begins to gather around Ta'leanna and her guest. Chris hugs Eolina's legs tightly, Jamie at her back with a hand on her shoulder. Zeandrea and Kush throwing each other glances, Jasmine holding Zandrea's hand. Rachael looking indignant and Marcus hovering nearby. Camion steps to the front of the semi-circle, arms crossed. The man looks ragged and his eyes wild. Everyone is on edge and hesitant but Ta'leanna's demeanor manages to keep everyone calm.

"His name is Zou. He says the shelter in the trees was his, He thinks we are in danger here." Ta'leanna steps away from Zou and stands with the group, beside Camion. All eyes are on the newcomer.
"I've been on this island for quite some time; longer than I care to mention. I saw you guys in the woods but I was afraid to approach... Unsure if you were friendly people. But I saw them attack and you hid out in my home. I knew if I were to reach out then, it would bring undue attention to myself.. So I decided to wait." The man rings his hands nervously. "You guys are not safe here. Those people will come back."
"What do they want?" Eolina's eyes narrow to a squint and her body begins to tense up. Jamie rubs his hand over her back in attempt to soothe her. The group waits to Zou's reply, which never comes. He looks back into the trees.
"You need to move. I can take you back with me. You'll be safer there. I swear it."
"All of us are to go with you where? To the treehouse?"
"Well.. not all at once. That would be very loud. But I will take you all back to my home. We can travel in groups. Quickly. Quietly."

Thunder booms overhead.
Chris tugs on Eolina's shirt a bit roughly. He's a tough kid but she can tell he is frightened. She lifts him up onto her hip. Jamie coughs roughly.
"It's going to rain soon." Zandrea notes. "It's going to be a heavy rain."
"We shouldn't be in the trees during a storm. Trees get truck by lightening. Next thing you know a whopping tree come crashing down on us. Or your treehouse catches fire," Rachael snorts.
Ta'leanna cuts in. "Guys, I think I trust him. Do we really want to be out here like sitting ducks for those savages to come back? He's alone and unarmed. We should definitely hear him out."
"Well, I don't know how I feel about everyone splitting up... Can we have the night to think things through?"

Zou nods and glances around nervously. "I'll be back this time tomorrow. Please be ready." He turns to Ta'leanna and shakes her hand, leaving a small paper in her palm. Ta'leanna looks around but it doesn't seem like any one else noticed. He nods towards Eolina and slinks back into the trees, not making a sound.

There is a flash of lightening followed by a loud boom. Jasmine yelps and Chris jumps in Eolina's arms. Heavy drops of warm rain begin to fall as everyone runs into the shelter. Everyone is whispering among themselves about their best plan of action for the days to follow.
I look to everyone in the shelter and slide of to a corner by myself. Once I'm sure no one is playing me any attention I turn away and open my hand. I unfold the paper like thing Zou gave me.

'Just in case you change your mind....'

I flip the paper over. There's a map on the back, the directions start once past the tree houses..

______________________________
X
.
.
._____/ /_______
._______/ /____
.
^ ∆
_______________________________

I call Eolina over to me. Not making a big motion as to not tip anyone else off. She makes sure no ones paying attention before she joins me. "What's up Ta'le?" I hand her the map.

"I think we should check it out Lina."
"I don't know Ta'le last time you went in there you got all banged up. Plus I don't know if we can trust him." She gives me her worried look because she knows I'm not going to let it go.
"I understand but Lina think about it, we've been here for weeks, no ones looking for us, Zou has been here for years and no ones found him. We are sitting in the open and no matter how much work we put in we are constantly in danger." Lina looks down and shakes her head. "Ta'le I just don't know. Splitting up doesn't sound like a good idea either. With the kids and you and Jamie being wounded, I just, I don't know." I look at her, knowing she's right. "Well then I'll go alone and scope the scene if I don't make it back you take care of them like you have been and find a way to make them safe. I know you will." She hands the map to me. "Ta'le let's not be dramatic. Its still storming. Sleep on it okay?" I take the map and fold it in my hand. "You know I can't do that. I'll be fine. Just cover for me okay?" She sighs and nod patting me on the back. "Wait for my signal." I nod once. She heads back over to the group and faces me. "Let's tell stories til the storm passes." Everyone quiets down and faces her. Camion is holding Yasmine and Jamie has Chris, Zandrea lays her head on Kush's shoulder and Marcus wraps his arms around Rachel. Camion looks back at me and I'm leaning back as if I'm comfortable, he smile at me and I ile back. "All eyes on me!" Lina says teasing Camion who laughs and turns his attention to her. Lina begin the story of one of our greatest adventures. When she has everyone attention she quickly swipes her nose. I then head for the door ducky really because it was getting to the good part. Lucky for me the rain has eased up some. I make my way towards the woods and disappear.
I can't believe I just let her go like that. Alone. Eolina plasters on a smile as she heads back towards the group. She couldn't wait one night... Or at least until the ran let up... Her thoughts are interrupted:

"Everything you say is so fucking dark. Yes we are stranded but you're alive, aren't you?! You're with your boyfriend, aren't you? You had dinner tonight and a shelter over your head! Stop whining. There are children here in our care and savages out there. We don't have time to complain. We need to start doing something!"
Zandrea stands beside him and nods in agreement. Marcus looks down at his feet and kicks the sand, further enraging Rachael at his lack of defense.
"Ugh, so you're just going to let him talk to me like this?" Rachael throws her hands up into the air before turning back to Camion. "I have every right to be upset and voice my opinion. I didn't ask to watch those kids and I was never attacked. I want to get the hell off this island! Not make believe that this is a paradise! That old coot in the woods is just about as crazy as you are and if you think I'm going to make a life here, you're fucking insane! I'm not leaving this beach until rescue comes! You-"
Jamie interjects: "Cool it!" He grabs Yasmine and Chris and brings them out of the main shelter and into the smaller one. Eolina places an arm on his as he leads them out, they make eye contact and Eolina mouths, "I got this."

"Zandrea and Kush pack the food and grab a jug of water. Camion grab the spears and tools. We'll leave them the rest of the supplies. They want to stay here, fine. They can stay. Rachael, Marcus you guys can go to your lean-to and set yourselves up because Camion has a good point. None of us asked to be in this position and we cannot afford to to bicker amongst ourselves like this. You have not contributed at all and that ends here. Who knows when rescue will come? We have to be sure we are alive and well when and if it does." Eolina takes a deep breath. "Now, I will go make sure 'those kids' are alright and prepare them for the long journey ahead of us."

Rachael glares daggers towards the rest of the group. "Let's go, Marcus."

Eolina follows them out and ignores Camion as he asks to no one in particular. "Where is Ta'le?"
After checking out the scene and talking with Zou about the plans for my group to come, We head back. Eolina's good at distracting people but It's been some hours and I'm pretty sure someones noticed I'm gone. Zou comes back with me, he figured sense we both know the way and what to look out for we can lead the groups back here and the divide wont be so bad. We weren't far out from the camp when I heard Rachel fussing, She's always complaining about something. I get to the camp in enough time to see Rachel and Marcus leave the tent and Lina a short second after, I hear Camion in the back ground asking about me. He comes out the tint and grabs Lina's arm just to get her attention "hey, have you seen Ta'le?" I clear my throat. All eyes are on me and Zou now. "Listen up, no one is being left behind, Lina allowed me to check out the place we will be traveling to. It is much more secure, more promise of safety. Zou will lead one group back, and I will lead the other. We must move quick and quiet.-" Rachel cuts me off. "Me and Marcus are staying here." I look at Marcus who looks helpless. "Like I said NO ONE is getting left behind. Rachel you don't have a choice if I have to knock your ass out and have someone carry you, you're coming." Rachel looks to Marcus to say something but he Marcus steps to the side. "As I was saying there is plenty of food and water where we are going, so pack light.-" Again Rachel cuts in. "I said I'm not going with you, even if we left with you Ta'le explain to me how anything could be quiet with those bastard ass kids making noise a--" Before I can even question it I smack the living shit out of Rachel. Everyone's eyes open wide. "Cut the shit Rachel I've had enough of your fucking mouth, you call anyone else here out of there name and you'll feel the pain of your own words." I scowl at her letting her know to keep her mouth shut. "I'm not going to argue with any of you, we landed here together and we didn't choose this, but we are here. That means we look out for each other and we take care of each other, because like it or not we are in this together." I look at Rachel, " I love each and everyone of you and I will not leave you to die. pack your things and get ready to be divided into groups." Rachel's eyes soften for once, I reach my hand out to help her off the ground and she takes it. She then returns to Marcus's side and he kisses her cheek in hopes to make it feel better. "Please do hurry." I look to Lina and flag her over. once she's at my side me and Zou go over the plan with her. I tell her she will be Traveling in Zou's group along with Kush and Zandrea and Jamie and Chris. She nod's to the plan and interjects with a question. "Will there be enough space for everyone one there?" I nod. "The area is huge Lina and beautiful you'll see, your going to love it. Zou here also studies medicine and since being stranded can help us with things we don't understand of have proper care for." We smile and she hugs me, "you did good Ta'le really good today." I hugged her back, "no Lina we did good today."



We turn to find everyone packed and ready, the men took it upon themselves to carry the bigger things, the women including Rachel carried he weapons and the small things we found to cook food and carry water. I motion Yasmine to me and have her climb on my back, Lina does the same with chris. I wait for Lina to divides the groups as planned and we head out.
"I'm tired and my feet hurt." Chris stomps beside Jamie, swinging his arms exaggeratedly.
"Yeah me too," Yasmine chimes in despite the fact that she's on Camion's back.
"No worries little ones. We're almost there." Zou is about a foot ahead of the group crouched low, checking over his shoulder.
The 11 of them have been trekking through the bush for about an hour. Beads of sweat drips down their foreheads and gasps of exhaustion escapes their lips. The sun is close to setting and it still feels as if it was midday, no chance of rain to cool them off like there was yesterday.

Eolina moves close behind Ta'leanna. "You sure this place is secure enough, right? Did you happen to meet anyone while you were out there?"
She shakes her head firmly. "No. I wasn't trying to stay too long. Just scope it out and come back to the group, you know?" Eolina nods. "It's a large campground. You wouldn't even notice it unless you knew what you were looking for. It blends in so perfectly. I don't know how they did it."
Camion sees the secret conversation between the two girls. He lowers Yasmine down and suggests she keeps Chris some company. Chris laughs playfully and breaks into a sprint chasing after her.
"So what's the hush hush all about? Where exactly are we going?"
Ta'leanna slips her arm into his. "It's a cross between Neverland and Jumangi. You know, without the monkeys and lions."
"And the ticking crocodile?"
"Um... pretty sure there wasn't a crocodile. But... I could be wrong." Ta'leanna laughs and nudges him with her elbow.
"Ta'le says it's huge and discreet. I think we will be safe. I still wish I knew why those people were after us in the first place!"
Ta'leanna shakes her head. "Zou said it was a long story, better told all at once than 10 seperate times."
Both Eolina and Camion nod their heads in agreement. Eolina glances back and sees that Jamie has gotten behind. He lets out a rattled cough.
"How much longer? I think Jamie needs a break." Eolina doesn't wait for an answer and jogs over to Jamie.

Zandrea lowers the baskets from her head. "Here, give him some water." She passes the bucket containing water to Kush then rushes ahead to Zou. "Can we slow down a bit?"
Zou shakes his head. "They're right behind us. We need to keep moving."
"They know where we are? How do you know? How long have they been following us???"
Zou's eyes were unfocused. "They always know. But they cannot enter."
Zandrea stops in her tracks shaking her head. "Hey, guys..."
Rachael puts a hand on her hip, "What?"
"Up ahead. It can't be that far, can it?"
Zou nods. "The safe zone is only 100 yards ahead. We have to keep moving. Fast. They cannot enter the space but the barrier serves no protection against their weapons or any projectiles. We must MOVE."
Kush lowered the water jug from Jamie's lips and handed it back to Zandrea. Kush propped Jamie up on one side and Camion ran to his other. "We need to move. Zou says they're close."
Eolina turns to Ta'leanna, eyes wide. "He looks like he's in so much pain."
"He'll be alright. We have to get him to safety."
They scoop up Chris and Yasmine in their arms and everyone runs behind Zou.

They arrive at a clearing when Zou slows down and ushers everyone ahead of him. He's mumbling under his breath looking out into the wilderness. The clearing is only 10 feet wide and there's a large boulder to one side. The 11 of them crowded together in the small space.
"Behind this boulder, guys." Ta'leanna slid between the rock and a tree and disappeared from view.
"Quickly," Zou urged.
"Kids first and then Jamie!" Ta'leanna's hand reappeared. Yasmine tentitavely took her hand and lead Chris behind her. Jamie, wheezing, slowly followed behind them. Worrying, Eolina steps behind him and braces him. Getting between the tree and boulder, Eolina can now see the boulder is an entry way to an underground tunnel. The boulder is hollowed out and sitting atop a sharp sloping path underground.
Ta'leanna is heard whispering and coaxing Yasmine and Chris, "Just a little further. Can you see the fire up ahead? Just a little further. It won't be dark for long."
Taking that comfort for herself, Eolina ushers Jamie the rest of the way.

Eventually the corrider opens up into a low ceiling room. Low enough that Jamie's hair brushes along it. There are torches in each corner of the room and openings in each wall leading to other rooms. To the west the opening is very dark. But to the north and east bright lights come from the openings. To the east, its so bright it could be confused with daylight. Marcus, Rachael, Camion, Kush, and Zandrea make their ways down followed by Zou.
"They know we are here but they'll disperse soon. That one needs medical attention. He'll come with me. The rest of you, go straight ahead and ask for Bella. She knows we were coming. She'll help you get acclimated in the mean time." Zou motions for Jamie to lean on him. He sntaches a torch off the wall and they head towards to dark corridor to the west.
"Jamie-" Eolina starts to follow after them but Chris tugs on her arm and motions to be carried.
"I trust him, Lina. Let's find Bella." Ta'leanna takes Yasmine's hand and they all follow her north.
As soon as Bella has placed us all and helped us to settle in, she leads us to the place where everyone is eating, we sit down and thank Bella for all her help almost everyone digs in except for Lina and I, I spot her a few seats down and make eyes contact, she nods enough for me to notice, then she motions to Bella and ask's her where we could go to use the bathroom, Bella graciously shows her the way. I wait ten minutes and then I go to find Lina, I could tell be her face she's been worried about Jamie. Knowing Lina she wasn't going to stop worrying until she see him again. I find my way back to the entrance of the north opening, she pacing back and forth nervously, Jamie wasn't looking to hot when we finally got here. I pull Eolina into my arms and speak quietly to her "he's going to be okay Lina, Jamie's strong." I feel her shake a little and she hugs me back, the shoulder of my shirt is dampened from her tears, but I didn't realize she was crying. "I wish I could believe that was true Ta'le but I just don't know this time, he been getting worse since he got back to camp and getting here wasn't in anyway easy to him. I have to see him Ta'le." I swallow hard, it's hard to see Lina like this, but I knew this was something she wouldn't let go of, with good reason. I take her hand, "if you need to see him, then that's what we'll do." I look at her and smile then I look around us to see if we are alone, I didn't want any of the others to follow, too many people make a scene. "let's go" I tug Lina a little and she follows smoothly, we leave the north corridor and head to the west, which seems slightly more darker with a very faint light at the end. I lead and Lina tracks behind me closely. Jamie yelps out and grunts and I feel Lina jump and grip tightly onto my arm, we pick up speed, we pass the final bend and see Jamie on a table and a makeshift pillow under his head, his eyes are shut tight and a tear has cut through the dirt on his cheek, Lina is pushing forward with a worried expression on her face.

"I figured you to would be here sooner or later." we turn to see Zou with a torch in his hand.
"Yeah, I'm pretty worried. He fell hard a few days ago and for some reason he just.. Hasn't gotten any better." Eolina wrung her hands in from of her and Ta'leanna gently rubbed her back.

Zou nodded. "Bad news is, he has a fractured rib and probably fluid in his lungs. Good news is, we can help him. He just needs some rest. We have some antibotics that might help, but we're extremely low. We have to ration it properly so recovery time will be slow. He'll have to stay in the sick bay for a couple weeks."
Eolina nodded and glanced over at Jamie who gave a meek smile. Zou continued, "This is the medical ward and since we are low on medications we can't risk any one becoming sick. You'll have visits, however they will be restricted. It's important you all respect our rules here. It's for everyone's safety."

"No problem, Doc. We understand," Ta'leanna replied. She walked over to the cot Jamie laid on. "Don't worry about a thing. You just focus on getting better, ok?"

"Aye, aye captain!" Jamies chuckled. "I'll be better in no time; back out there before you know it."

"That's the spirit!" Ta'leanna gave him a thumbs up.

"Ta'le. What about your leg? Do you want to be checked out?" Eolina's eyes were wide with worry as she glanced around the ward. Besides Jamie's cot there were 4 others. Empty except for one at the far end of the room. The figure had his or her back to them and didn't move except for the rise and fall of their breathing.

"I'm a-ok! Nothing can hold me back!" Ta'leanna beamed. however she lifted the fabric from her leg and showed Zou the scarring on her thigh.

"Wow.. That's a serious scar. But it looks healed over. No pain?" Ta'leanna shook her head. "Okay, then. You're go to go. But please let us know if you feel any pain at all."

Eolina walked over to Jamie's bedside and held his hand. "You scared me, you know. I'm glad we decided to come. We'll come back to see you as soon as we can. We gotta get back to the group and I'm sure Chris is worried." Jamie nodded.

Zou led the girls back down the hall and towards the common areas giving a brief run down of the haven and everyone'e duties in the clan. Once they got to the dining hall Zou gathered everyone around to listen to he and Bella explain how they came to be here, on the island and underground hunted by those above.

"It was a plane wreck. Our families found ourselves lost and stranded as you all were. Waiting on the beach to be rescued. Help never came. Eventually a small jet crash landed, a sail boat, a cruise ship. It seemed like it was never ending. Our families began to settle down. We built lean-to's and shacks on the beach. Collected first aid kits, medication, clothes, containers, everything that survived the many crashes. We began to built. One adventurous group built a treehouse and many followed suit, connected all the houses with bridges. Families began, families grew and expanded. We were one huge village in the sky. Then one day, some of the families still on the beach got violently ill. Fever, shaking, vomitting, the works... and.. well..." Bella's voice trailed off and she looked to Zou to help, his eyes darting around the room.

"Well, they died, a cluster of the ill died all at once. It was strange but the sickness was so severe. They were buried away from the camp but close enough for the grieving families to visit. On one of those visits it was found that the graves were disturbed. As if the graves were unsealed recently. It drove one of the mothers crazy, she sat there all day crying and distraught that someone would disrespect their resting ground. She was there by nightfall, long after everyone had gone to bed. Everyone was woken by her screams. When the families went to investigate they saw the dead there surrounding her. I'm sure you can see where this is going..."

Rachael threw her hands up in the air. "Is this some kind of joke? I'm supposed to believe that you all have been here for generations and are amidst a zombie apocalypse??"
Zandrea shook her head. "I'm sorry, but she's right. This story is outlandish."
"Exactly. Finally we can agree on something," Rachael crossed her arms, lips pursed. "Since when do zombies use weapons?"
"And so many people have gone missing for generations without being found? It's ridiculous,"Kush added.

"Well, believe what you want. Zou is my grandfather. I was born here and so were my parents." Voice hard and jaw set, Bella walked out of the room looking back only to add, "I guess I wouldn't believe me either if I were you."

Ta'leanna and Eolina exchanged side glances. "Let's hear him out. They've given us refuge, they're healing Jamie. Finish your story, Zou."

He nodded and took a deep breath, "Well. Few escaped that. Those who did made it to the treehouses and recounted the tale. Those that didn't escape turned. Started off with a fever followed by death and death followed by resurrection. The treetop families witnessed it all. They're not zombies. not like you see in the movies. They aren't brain hungry cannibals. They are hollow shells of the person. Shells that slowly filled with hate and anger. The anger of the island. They are smart and can use tools. But their bodies are frail and weak. They can't heal of they get hurt. We saw a few try to climb to the treehouses. They were stiff and inflexible and if they made it up, they lost their grip and fell. Laying beneath the ladders crumpled and broken."

"And what about this? This underground safehaven? And the circle of protection that kept them at bay?" Rachael rolled her eyes.

"The blessed vine repels them. Like magic the way they avoid it. They've never tried to cross over. When we discovered the vine we had groups go down, covered in the stuff. They were to find a clearing and start construction on a more permanent home, durable and safe from the weathers. They started digging. A few stayed above ground but They started getting smarter and ambushed those that tried the leave the trees. It was safer to be underground: easier to repair homes, stay warm and safe during storms. We had lightning damage a few homes when we lived in trees. We had kids fall..." Zou looked away.

Chris tugged at Eolina's arm. "I don't like this story..."
"Me neither," Yasmine shook her head.

"I think it's time we end story time. Thanks for your hospitality; where can we rest? Think we need to put the kids to bed," Camion lifted Yasmine up in one arm and held Ta'leanna with the other. It was obvious everyone was uncomfortable.

"This way." Zou led everyone down a narrow corridor.
As soon as Yasmine is asleep I turn to Cam, "do you believe it?" he looks up from Yasmine and to me pacing back and forth. "Do I believe what?", "what Zou had said, Zombies?" he stands and blocks my path to stop me from pacing and get me to focus on his face he grips my shoulders, "Ta'le we both know you don't care if I believe it or not. You've already made up your mind on what you believe and what you will do next." I drop my head then lift it and drop it back. "This is all so crazy" I feel frustration creeping up in my chest. "If I choose to believe it means I choose to believe no one will ever come to rescue us, and if I choose not to believe it leaves hope but also leaves us ignorant to a treat that maybe we shouldn't take lightly." He cradles my face between his hands, "Ta'le, calm down, why don't we get some sleep and we can talk about it in the morning?" I grip his hands and smile faintly, "I need to talk to Lina" I'm far from focused my mind is just about anywhere and everywhere all at the same time. I know he's just worried about me and only trying to help but I knew more than that my mind wouldn't be at ease. I walk down a few bunks and find Lina walking towards me I guess she figured she needed a word with me as well, I nod slightly towards the door way of the resting area and she taps her nose, we both head towards the door. I pace a little faster than walking speed but not to arise suspicion.

I stand next to Lina who looks as if she's been pondering on thoughts, "what are you thinking?" she shakes her head, "Ta'le I'm worried to be honest with you. What if there telling the truth..." I cut in "That would me no hope of someone coming to rescue us" she looks at me, "What do we tell the others? They look to us to have answers or a plan, and Ta'le I've got nothing right about now, We've been on this damn islands for weeks or hell I don't even know how long because the sky rising and falling day by day has become so insignificant over these days, weeks, months, compared to everything else going on, and." I cut her off again because her talk is turning into a hushed panic and into the same frustration I'm baring. "Listen Lina their safe here, at least for now, we need answers and solutions that we won't find down here." she looks at me knowing where I'm going with this. "It's time for another adventure Lina, we have to go back above ground. People might not come to find us and we might not know what we're up against but we owe it to our selves and everyone here depending on us to find out." I grip one of her shoulders. "We need to find Zou."

After checking almost ever room we pass we finally find Zou and Bella in the dinning area, "Bella dear they are new here, they are just as scared as any of us if not more, we've been here for some time now, they've only arrived", "You're right but still" Zou places his hands around her head and kisses her forehead, "That's enough Bella, It's not uncommon for people to be skeptical, you wouldn't understand why they would challenge my knowledge just as they don't understand why you don't." Bella huffs, "I'm not a child anymore granddad." he give her a scolding look, "Then please stop acting like one" she look at him and leave from the looks of it upset. Me and Lina then enter from the other side. "Zou.." he turns a little shocked, not realizing we were up. "Forgive me" he laughs lightly to relieve some tension. "Is everything alright?" I look to Lina "well yes and no." I look back a Zou who's wear a questioning look. "What you were telling us earlier, about the rising dead and the crashes, it made us think. I have a huge favor to ask." He looks at us and pause a moment before responding. "What can I do for you" I swallow and continue "I know you've already taken us all in, offered us food and shelter, medical attention to those of us who need it and for that we are grateful." Zou nods knowingly "But me and Lina can't stay, we have to go back above ground, we will return every so often to check on everyone and make sure there okay, but we have to find a better way, those people we came with they look to us I'm more than sure you know the feeling, and well if we didn't even try to find a way to get everyone off this island.." i pause noticing Zou's smile. "I.. I need you to watch over them in our absents, they've become something like family to us." he smiles and nods. " I understand very well but before you go allow me to supply you two with provisions" we nod. "Thank you" Lina say affirmative. He turns to us once more before leaving "All I ask is that if you find a better way, that you save my people to, I don't want to bring about panic, but we are running low on supplies. In honestly I saw something in the group of people you have, I honestly believe that if anyone can find a way out it'd be you all, so I will take care of your friends, and with that knowledge please hurry."

He leave to fetch some things for us and I turn to Lina who's already looking at me

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