Calmer Waters

by Ewan Owen

Epilogue

A conversation between two members of the Gulf-Atlantic Cruise Liner.

Second Mate: "a fisherman casting on the side of the island found this. Captain you might want to read this."

Day 1

It's a beautiful day to fly: I thought to myself, while packing my luggage into the storage compartments. I'm so excited, my friend and I are starting our invasion of Europe as he likes to call it. What better way to celebrate graduating and a new life than to travel the world? We have the entire summer to explore Europe: first, it's England, then, France, followed by Germany.

"We're going to Europe bro!" chanted Emory.

Yeah, it was the stereotypical start of every movie consisting of college students-charting there way into unknown territories. Except, I'm recording everyday in my personal journal-that way I have to something to remember this trip; because, I have an inkling, it will be unforgettable.

The plane was carrying 150 people-crew included-there were people of all races and nationalities; no discrimination between age and gender either. There is even a pregnant woman aboard, I always thought flying was unsafe for the baby.

Emory picked up his final bag, reeking of carrion. "Did something die?" I asked inquisitively staring at his luggage.

Laughing, "No, that's just how men smell." He retorted.

"I'll have to note that in my journal." I said jeeringly., pretending to scribble something down.

"This is the captain speaking, I'm going to ask that you place any electronics on airplane mode as we prepare to take off."

Ignoring the order, Emory casually scrolled through his phone.

"Just think of all those chicks!"he said while flipping through pictures on his cell: the photos consisted of slender, pale, college girls, with Eurasian features. With each turn of the photo their poses became more and more provocative, and, their clothes more scantily; until they were basically naked, dawning puckered lips. Smirking, I shook my head in a light-hearted manner.

My friend and I have grown up together-we've known each other since we were little kids-our parents were friends growing up: it was only destined that we would become friends. Besides, he's the only the friend that I have.

"Whatcha writing in that diary anyway?" my friend jabbed at me.

Wide eyed, I looked at him derisively:"It's a journal, and for your information, I'm writing down anything that seems important."

The speaker chimed, in a tour guide manner, the pilot took the helm, and spoke: "We are half way to our final destination. If you look out your window you'll see water, " he said pausing for dramatic effect, "and if you look in the other direction you will also find water. Ha-ha" he laughed to himself.

"Ha, you should write that down. Water. Water everywhere."

Emory shook me "Look at this one Thomas," I peeked over, "she's practically asking for it." "She looks kind of young." I said objectively.

Rolling his eyes and casting a matter of fact tone:"Dude it's fine, the age of consent is like 17."

"I can't stand to hear about another model. If he keeps this up," I jot down, "I swear he'll be the death of me yet."

In order to get some much needed rest I reclined my seat, tilted my head back, and closed my eyes. Perhaps, he'll have the courtesy to leave me alone. I quickly drifted off to sleep with visions of our destination in my minds-eye..

I was jolted from my slumber. "What Emory?" I lashed out.

He was asleep. I looked around, everyone was dead asleep. Emory stirred, entranced, going directly to his source of stimulation.

The captain broke in,"my good people, there appears to be an electrical storm in the distance, you might feel slight turbulence; there is nothing to fear, this normal." he reassured in a calming tone.

Looking out the window, I saw a bolt of lightning streaming in the abysmal fog. Balls of electricity buzzing in the air enveloping the plane, though encased in a portable steel tube, I didn't feel safe; I could still feel the thunder, it coursed through my body, encapsulating me. A dark ominous cloud lingered above.

"There's a storm a coming!" Emory said menacingly, he quickly burst into laughter. His statement lingered in the air.

I went back to sleep. I woke up to screams and shouts. Looks of terror filled faces were on all of the passengers. Baggage was thrown from the receptacles. "What's happening?" I asked my friend Emory.

"Didn't you hear the Captain? Crash is imminent." The emergency lights ignited. I grabbed the oxygen mask in desperation.

I don't remember exactly what was running through my mind as we spiraled downward, but it wasn't pleasant. I had been in car accidents before and this was far more enduring. Before impact the pilot managed to straighten the plane. I doubt anyone would have survived a head on collision.

Following the crash, we discovered none of the three stewardesses survived, the co-pilot had been viciously thrown from his seat and the captain was in his dying moments. The steering wheel had been thrusted into his stomach, at such velocity that there was no separation."There is food and supplies in the back of the plane. God help us." he said whilst coughing up blood.

All around us was dense undergrowth, and above us lay the canopy of tall, rain forest-esque trees where the co-pilot now dangled like a marionette. Women and children were crying even a few of the men were in tears. Damage control was impossible. "The fuel-cell lodge," an intuitive passenger screamed, "is on fire!!" It was a ticking time bomb: any second it could have blown up-in a race against time: we gathered all the supplies and memorabilia we could. I located one of my suit cases, I only prayed that it was the one that held my journal. There was a stubborn man who tried to gather more than he could.

"Get out of there!" someone screamed.

"I just need to grab one more thing!!" The plane burst into flames, off all its contents were destroyed. The man payed for his greed meeting his ultimate demise.

Gathered together, next to the plane,"Once things return to normal..." an optimistic man went on. I chuckled on the inside. The word normal had lost it's meaning. It had been stripped out of our vocabulary along with the other wreckage in the remnants of the crash. Dead... Destroyed... Like the many vacant bodies scattered across the luscious green earth. There was no returning to normal, not after this carnage-loved ones burnt to a crisp: while the "lucky" ones were found dead on impact.

A headcount was made of the remaining passengers-99 dead out of 145. We rallied together and introduced ourselves. We each took turns saying what our jobs were back at home. There are people of every profession, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, teachers, you name it... Fresh out of school I had no time to find a job, so I just said student.

We devised specific roles to the population of survivors. The more able men would gather wood for fires. The more nimble of the bunch were scouts, seeking any type of food and water source, and the women were to stay behind and tend to the children. I was a scout.

"I'm glad you're ok," I embraced Emory

"Me too dude." he replied

Day 2

I saw a kid lose his life in front of me today, combing the beach, a young boy was drowning at out at sea. He couldn't have been much older than 5."Somebody do something he's drowning!!" a woman, his mother screamed.

"That's impossible, the water is much too shallow." my friend urged.

A few tense moments passed by as we looked on helplessly.

"Shark!!" a girl shrieked.

One brave man, his father I assumed, jumped in the water trying to save him. He wrestled with the shark in a vicious tug-of-war. The man came out of the water distraught, clutching something close. It was a tiny arm, the only thing recovered from his son's miniature body. The mother collapsed to her knees clutching the sand. I felt deep sympathy for her loss. It was a cruel reminder that life is vicious: the cycle never stops... it won't stop... it can't stop...

Seeing that young kid drown brought me back to when I was younger and almost died at the wave pool. I was playing in kiddie section and I wandered into the wave pool. My parents were out of earshot. I kept trekking deeper and deeper until I had to tread water just to stay afloat. The waves started rolling in and before I knew it was in over my head-struggling just as the kid had, in a life or death battle. Miraculously, before losing consciousness, I was pulled out by a woman I didn't know. It didn't dawn on me at the time that she had just saved my life until I was older. Unfortunately, for the boy he wasn't as lucky.

Day 3

The island is beautiful, filled with luscious green tropical trees that kiss the sky and white sand that blankets the beach. Given different circumstances, this would be and ideal vacation spot. There is a quaint, quiet spot along a cliff-side where I do most of my writing. It's away from my peers, I find comfort in solitude ironically. There is shouting going on I'm going to see what the whole fuss is about.

My horrific prediction came true: two men fought over dinner mints. The loser had his head crushed by a large rock. His blood washed away into the sea, like it never even happened. How did it ever get to that point

The children don't even realize the situation, this is just another vacation to them. They are off playing in the forest. I wish I had that mentality. There I was: alone, On my knees, with my head down and my face buried in my hands. I had just about given up all hope: when...out at sea... I notice a vessel skirting off the coast of the island. From the looks it was a vacation cruise liner -it looked more like a floating sanctuary- I quickly notified the others. We couldn't believe our eyes. Our one savior from this decrepit island, this desolate wasteland, is drifting merrily off into the sea. We begin to wave our hands and call out for help-one girl even wrote in large letters HELP in the sand. Useless...The ship didn't even hesitate to change it's course. We could have kept trying but they would just ignore us. .Following this treacherous denial of salvation; some people tried swimming off the island and escaping, but they only tired themselves as they resisted the tide and ended up right where they started. Pointless...

Day 4

A grown man broke down in tears before me, I tried consoling him but it was no use. He was crying. Like a flip of a switch: he went from full blown hysteria, to overtly calm. He started, "It's funny this feeling that's inside of me. I've accepted my fate, I'm tired of dreaming of being rescued, it's no use." He paused, looking at some unseen object in the distance, "I don't even know if I want to return to my real life; a life filled spending my days monotonously at a dead-end job." I could see his point. The same man later killed himself by jumping off the cliffs where I'm writing this.

Day 6

I need to find a new spot to jot down my thoughts, I'm haunted by that man's deaths, I hear his screams in the crashing of the waves. Through scouting, I have found a location nestled beneath the canopy of the trees-isolated from my fellow survivors-devoid of sunlight, devoid of hope.

The final words that the erratic man spoke keep ringing inside my head. I am determined to see that I make it home.

Last night I had a dream I was back home. I can't get the image of that child out of my head. I folded all of the previous papers into a glass bottle I've been hoarding since the crash. I told my friend that if anything were to happen to me to cast this out to sea. The world needs to hear our story, they need to know everything that happened on this damned island.

There's a young girl on the island, I find her very attractive, I will try to pursue her romantically. I'll keep you posted.

Day 7

"My name is Sarah," the young girl, about my age, said while doodling in the sand. What are you drawing I asked. "It's a phoenix, it's my favorite animal. It's not really an animal, it's more like a mythical creature. The phoenix lives it's life in isolation; free from the confines of the world. When it's time to die it bursts into a ball of flame and starts anew. Begins again." She spoke with such passion that for a brief moment it was my favorite creature as well. She looked at me with a vibrant smile, forcing a smile out of me. Picking up a stick, she offered it to me,"you should try." Doodling, I thought: how childish, that is,until I tried it. A bitter man looked in disgust.

She was the happiest person here. I was perplexed, I was almost certain that she had lost her entire family in the crash. I asked her "How do you remain so positive given the circumstances?

"Life is about perspective: here we are-trapped on an island-dying, starving even, and yet; there is still somebody more miserable in the world."

The man who had been watching interrupted. Looking around in an exaggerated manner. "Show me that person, because they sure the hell aren't here."

Sarah just smiled. I think I like Sarah, I'll give it some time and see where things go.

Day 9

"We have combed the island for the past week and a half. There are no animals on the island that we are aware of, I'm just really..."Mid-sentence he stopped talking, and, started for the beach.

"Models!" Emory looked at the vacant coastline. Diving head first into the sand, Emory began caressing the air.

Fixated, "can't you see them Thomas?"

"What are you talking about?" I casted glance of doubt, "There's nothing here."

His fit of confusion concluded: "but, she was... I saw..." Slowly his body sank, in a slow, deliberate, defeated, motion. I patted him on the shoulder consoling him. "It's fine, think of all the models that will be chasing us after they discover we've survived this." I mustered some fake confidence.

Emory smiled, "yeah you're right." patting me on the back in return, "I don't know what I would do if you weren't here man."

"What are best-friends for?" A few moments passed.

"Besides, I'm kind of stuck with you." He joked. I was glad to see his was back to himself.

Day 10

Last night an old man died in his sleep. Lucky bastard. The people are deciding what to do with his body-he has no surviving family members. The doctor of all people suggested that they shouldn't let his body go to waste and that they should instead feast upon it. I immediately rejected the idea, as did a vast majority of the group of castaways. We voted on the idea, and the consensus was against eating our own- it was determined that it was unethical-however, a select few disobeyed this command, and, vowed to start their own tribe.

Day 11

I can't wait to see Sarah again, I'm off on another damn scouting mission that will surely be futile.

I caught her alone looking at the sky tonight. "Sometimes, at night, I like to gaze at the stars. I'm reminded of how insignificant this life we live is. You should try it sometime."

"I would like that, we should do that sometime."

"How tomorrow tonight?"

"Let me check my schedule..." I looked at an imaginary watch. "..Looks like I'm free." I rejoiced.

Day 12

I have a date with Sarah tonight, it should be fun. Something to get my mind off of things.

Emory came upon me, he snatched the journal from my hand. "Ooh, someone has a hot date, and I do mean hot-not just because it's humid as hell- but boy, that chick is hot. Find out if she has any tattoo; if she does, she's probably a freak. Good for you Thomas." He continued, he gathered an air of intelligence and spoke in a scholarly tone "I would elude from intercourse, that is to say, without the proper ramifications atoned for," his tone shifted to a blunt discourse "at least grab a leaf or something, we don't need anymore mouths to feed." He laughed.

I remained stoic. Standing there, an epiphany dawned upon him, he reached into his cargo pocket, revealing his cell-phone. "It has a couples of hours of charge but I doubt you'll last that long," he lost himself in thought, "with that voluptuous body, and those succulent lips and."

"Emory."

"And those, those huge."

"Emory! I'm going to film anything dammit." I said, glowering at him. Emory looked on, startled.

"Wake up, life isn't just about romancing women." Gazing downward, he stood there, estranged; piecing together an imaginary puzzle with his hands-for a brief second, it appeared, that I had struck a chord with him

"Romance?" he laugh obnoxiously "We don't love these..." I tuned the rest of the conversation out.

Day 14

I can't stop thinking about Sarah. Everyone is saying that a young woman with auburn hair has gone missing. The only girl I could think that matched that description is Sarah. My group is suggesting that she was kidnapped by the others. I hope she's alright.

Sarah was seen leaving with another member of our group. There appears to be a snake in our mist. I don't know who to trust anymore... It appears that on this island we hold hands with our enemies and fight with friends, all while we bask in our sins, under the unrelenting sun that only intensifies as the days go by.

A frog hobbled along, it appeared that it's leg had been smashed, he was still surviving, still hoping along. I picked up the moist creature and stroked it gently. I set it down and smiled.

Footsteps came from behind, the huge eyes bulged-but it was too late. A large boot smashed against the rock face-innards spilled everywhere. "Better to put the beast out of his misery, know what I mean?" Emory said manically.

Day 15

The weather has granted us mercy today, there is a slight overcast cooling us off. I don't know what it is, but, when the night time comes, everyone loses whatever sanity they have. The moon casts some type of spell and they shift into survival mode.(We are slowly becoming creatures of the night-we come more alive and dance our eternal dance in front of a fleeting flame-this is the life we live).

The woman who led Sarah to the cannibals finally spoke up, I guess out of guilt. "I only did it for my survival." the woman pleaded. She was executed promptly.

Lost in thought, I was chanting a silent prayer for Sarah's safe return.. Emory noticing something was bothering me said, "I'm sure she's alright."

"I sure hope so." I lifelessly croaked.

One of the cannibals made contact with us later that day. Apparently he's the one who dismembers the bodies so that's there's no connection while you're eating them.

"I saw that I was about to dismember my wife" he went on, through sobs of tears "and, I completely lost it, and just snapped." he struggled to recite.

"But you had no trouble chopping up the other half a dozen people." Emory retorted

"Listen, I know what we do ain't right, but it's the only way that we know."

Before he could utter another syllable; the leader of our group stabbed in right in the gut.

Looking up, "I'm sorry," he said to no one in particular.

Day 16

We were wrong... There are animals on the island. We are them. Caged in on this God forsaken piece of hell. We are them.

Day 17

Our numbers are dwindling- there is only a handful of us remaining: including myself and Emory-and tensions are boiling. I feel like utter chaos is about to unleash. My group is talking about retaliating against the cannibals. This is no longer a democracy, this feels like a dictatorship. Emory and I have decided to sneak off during the night, we're finding another place to hold out, before we die.

We had all but scoured the island, with no luck of finding a place to settle. I jwas ust about to concede, when, Emory surprised me- appearing from seemingly thin air."Hey Thomas, come see, I have nothing to show you,"

cloaked behind leaves, he pulled back and revealed a cave-like orifice. "It's not much, but it's something." he said bitter-sweetly. "All it takes is imagination, look," taking a seashell he drew an cartoonish television on the wall."Now we have T.V." He turned the chalk colored dial. His voice changed to that of an anchor, "this just in Two survivors of the flight 97 crash are found,"

"How was it?" an imaginary reporter asked.. He took on the role of survivor: "yeah, it was whatever so what we killed a bear," he spoke cool, calm, and casual. (no bear was ever killed) "It was really nothing, damn thing had it coming to him, know what I mean?"

He snapped from his delirium, "That's when all the Euro-chicks throw their panties at me." He's gone absolutely mental, I laughed.

Unimpressed by my reaction, "What, I'll be sure to save you a few."

Day 18

Time keeps rolling by. I remember like it was yesterday leaving the wreckage of the airplane. I'm glad I have Emory here to keep me company. It sheds a dim light on my desolate world. There isn't much to do for enjoyment so me and Emory play tic-tac-toe in the sand. I always lose.

Alone by The sea, the moon my sole companion, I was enclosed in my thoughts. I had seen shows like Lost but these shows only trivialized the truth. It's funny how humanity's true guise is revealed once the frivolity of safety is revealed. Emory was right, for once; we were on TV-it's just the veil had pulled over our eyes. "Naked and afraid"- just like the United States-a country fueled by lust, and, suppressed by fear. And, to make matters worse the media is just like the salt water that surrounds us only making us want more. Maybe they're the one's who need saving. Following this epiphany: I was overcome by a sleepy feeling, I haven't had a good night's sleep in awhile, maybe that will change tonight. Under the cover of darkness, something sinister was brewing.

Day 19

I rose to the smell of rotting flesh piercing my nose; the source of the smell was an underdone stew that Emory had prepared. I looked at him hesitantly, "It's this or we starve to death." he said in which would you rather tone.

We decided to trek to the surface today. Dead bodies everywhere. The others destroyed themselves in angry fit of rage. The trees were lost in the process-our sins are now visible for the world to see. We hesitantly pushed forward. Standing in the once vibrant forest turned loathsome death pit. I saw something I can never unsee. The woman had given birth and the baby was found crucified to a makeshift cross. What kind of monster does such a thing? Whoever did this has a special place reserved for them wherever the hell we go after dying.

Emory stood pondering the same scene, "damn that was one hot milf. Get it? Because she... the fire..." I loathed Emory for this statement, but I was far too famished to argue morals.

Amidst the ashes and destruction, the undergrowth gave birth to a flower bud. Beside the flower I saw the charred remains of a corpse. The body had been burnt to a smolder, incinerated beyond recognition. The extremities were the only discernible characteristics. I saw feminine qualities: a frail, slender wrist, with long fiery, red nails. One detail stood out to me. I closed my eyes from trepidation. Her sweet soul is finally at peace.

Emory turned to face me, "I don't want to talk about it right now" I said brusquely.

I thought I had all of my emotions under control. Seeing her lifeless body resonated deeply within me. It unraveled pieces of me, like yarn falling off into a bottomless pit. My heart can't handle any more.

Later that night, I was feeling more alone than usual. The circuits in my brain had been disconnected. I was no longer myself. In a zombie like trance the night carried me away. Standing on the cliff, I thought about ending it all. Subconsciously, I looked up at the beautiful sky one last time. A shooting star pierced the veil of darkness. It was her, she was calling out to me. As Sarah's supernova burnt on, into the boundless darkness of infinity: I found myself bawling like a baby, cradling myself until I fell asleep.

Day 20

We were finishing gathering wood from above; Emory shoved me viciously "last one back has to eat sand!"

Looking back, this was quite juvenile but, I was never one to turn down a challenge, especially one with such dire consequences.

Fleet footed, I scurried away from him, I could see the light from the cave entrance. Upon descending, a rock dislodged it itself, sending my body plummeting, ankle first into the stolid earth. A burning sensation shortly ensued. I propped my ankle and further inspected.

A trailing voice echoed,"I like my sand well-done!" Breaking character, "dude I think you're ankle is broken." Emory stated.

"I know."

He gripped the ax that we used to forge. Examining the instrument thoroughly, he ran his finger across the blunt blade; he gently patted the dull side against the palm of his hand. His tone took on a grave nature "You aren't going to be a burden, are you?" He crept slowly forward.

I was in too much pain to reply.

"I'm joking," Emory laughed, "I'm your friend I would never hurt you," gently placing the weapon back to it's resting place.

Day 21

My ankle is beginning to swell up with bruises. I try to conceal how much pain I'm in, but I think Emory can sense it. When I'm not in pain, I reminisce of all the good times in my life, All of my hopes and aspirations. I'm beginning to lose the image of my family and loved ones. Do they miss me? Fond memories, those of which are not foggy recollections, keep my motivation up and spirits high. I sought a not-so distant memory for comfort. Remembering back to our date beneath the stars, Sarah and I-which I thought about balling up because I found too personal-I now read:

Day 13cont:

The tide gently pushed, caressing the ocean, as a mother would an infant, gently, it rocked, lulling me into a relaxed state. Since being on the island I had never seen calmer waters. "What do you think happens when we die?" a feminine voice said nonchalantly, as if the thought had flitted through her mind habitually.

I recited my catholic school teachings, not truly believing them: "If you're good you go to heaven and if you're bad...well...then..." I paused.

"You go here?" she joked.

I couldn't help but laugh. she just started, "We are spiritual entities in a physical body experiencing a human life. This illusion called life never ends. You could die today and wake up like nothing happened. That waking up is just another dimension of reality."

I was speechless, I wasn't anticipating such a response. I didn't add anything, not that I could if I wanted to.

"With my luck, I'd probably end right back here." I smirked. she flashed a tattoo that was on her wrist. "Then you're not so different than the phoenix." she said through pearly white teeth.

Awe stricken, in that instant I fell in love with her. It was bitter sweet because I knew it would end there. Maybe a different place or another time; where this world ends and the next begins we would love each other. But, not here... not now... not like this...

Basking beneath the magical full moon; everything felt right with the world. In my mind I was on a tropical oasis-no longer did it feel like I was trapped-instead, floating on a cloud of pure ecstasy-I forgot about my trivialities-time and space lost their meaning-the hunger pangs in my stomach transformed in fluttering butterflies. She rekindled something inside of me, a feeling I had when I was younger and my life was teeming with excitement and wonder. We smiled, relishing the moment. I should have kissed her... I like Sarah that was an inevitable truth, she might just the one that saves me.

Day 22

I'm in so much pain. I woke up crying today. It wasn't from my leg either. I remembered what Sarah had said. Life is about perspective, although I'm in pain, at least I'm alive right? I sometimes wish that pain would take me away and I'd slip away into the dead of the night. The words God I don't want to be here anymore are scratched out. The ink is smeared and the page is soggy.

Day 23

Time keeps rolling by. I remember like it was yesterday leaving the wreckage of the airplane. I'm glad I have Emory here to keep me company. It sheds a dim light on my desolate world. There isn't much to do for enjoyment so me and Emory play tic-tac-toe in the sand. I always lose.

Emory has been behaving strange lately; he's lost his lovable personality. I guess the enormity of the situation is getting to him. I often find him staring at me vacantly, and he won't even look me in the eyes. The other day I caught him snooping in my journal, and when I asked him what he was doing he only shook his head remorsefully.

I've seen the darker side of humanity and what happens when we're up against the wall.

I've grown numb to all emotions-a hollow coconut, that's been battered, smashed, broken, yielding no nutrients on the inside. I keep reminding myself that this is just a test and I will preserve but with every breaking wave it's eroded away. My leg is starting to heal, I guess that's a good sign. I'm running on fumes, I'm going to go to sleep. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be a great day.

Day 24

It's a beautiful day today. I awoke to the sunlight peering through our little piece of paradise. I hear birds chirping in the distance. I love... the last page is soaked in blood.

Prologue

Captain, "Oh my god." placing a hand over his mouth, "Were there any survivors?" he asked inquisitively.

"Yes, One male, a college kid."

Second Mate,"I guess they weren't pirates after all."

"No just people... with families... and lives... just like you and me." the Captain swallowed in regret.

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