FairBanks Island – Day 5

I used to get comments on my post and I was a bit dismayed that it’s not happening anymore. Then I checked my settings that made commenting on my stuff pretty restrictive. Have you tried to comment but couldn’t? Either way, it should be easier now. This is Chapter 3, unedited. You can keep track of my progress HERE.

Banks was leaning against the railing, felt saltwater splash his hand as the boat tore through the waves. The bustling of people had been too much for him and he enjoyed the relative quiet of the waves and the ships engine humming. The weather was still clear when he got out, but then, everything got murky. It began slowly, like thin flakes of clouds that had somehow ended up on the surface, but soon they collected into a greater milky mist that made anything that was further than a couple a meters seem like a blur. People around him started talking, nervously and Banks soon found himself alone with specters that dashed here and there. He ran into Harry, who he had had a brief conversation with and though they didn’t know each other very well, they were happy to see each other. Even Banks who was used to being alone didn’t like to be left in such a mist. Soon, more and more people gathered on deck and as the commotion heightened. The sailors noticed the commotion, and through the speakers, the captain reassured them that the mist meant that they were soon near the island, whatever that meant. People became calmer and Banks, Harry, and a couple of others who had joined their group, ended up at the front of the boat to be the first to discover the island. Others seemed to have had the same idea as there where several had gathered already. Hjalmar was one of them. He smiled as they approached. “Never seen anything like it,” he said.

Banks murmured hoarsely in agreement, as if his voice decided to hide inside of him. “How could anyone navigate in such a mist?” Harry cleared his throat.

“They align themselves before they enter the mist. They know where it is, generally, and then they just plow straight through.”

Banks gawked at him. “You knew about this?”

Hjalmar smile broadened. “The sailor told me, it’s apparently like this all year long.”

Banks shook his head. Hjalmar ever the persuasive. It was almost frightening to think how easy he could get what he wanted and wondered if even he had been manipulated at one point? Banks could think of several…

“If that’s true they couldn’t ask for better cover for a secret base.” A stranger in the group said.

They all agreed and went quiet. The mist was thick and even made the suns light hard to penetrate. It made him feel unease. The weather had been so nice before. He shivered at the thought of having to be living in such a thick mist all day long. Among the group, Banks noticed the stern looking man he met a few hours earlier, looking just as stern, or even more so, as he narrowed his eyes and stared intently ahead. Suddenly, his gaze softened and he spun around and disappeared the other way. Banks looked quizzically at him as he disappeared into the mist when a cry made him turn back to the front of the ship. The mist was clearing and and the island revealed itself. Even from a distance, it looked like a bare landscape without a single tree in sight. Banks was glad that the island itself was mist free, then he noticed structures as they rounded the island. It was some kind of harbour; the buildings were half crumbled and the ones that stood had holes on the roof and the windows were all shattered. Hjalmar burst into a laugh, making Banks wince. “Told you the place was haunted,” he said and left to the back of the ship, where they would get off and begin their mission. 

In orderly fashion, they gathered on the docks. The wind was chilly, even though it was late summer and the smell of rotting seaweed engulfed his nose. His lips tasted like salt and he was just overall uncomfortable. The scruffy officer barked orders until they stood in a perfect line, three lines thick. There was nobody there to greet them and the harbour seemed to have been abandoned long ago. Feeling generally in a bad mood, Hjalmar elbowed him in the side and pointed at a tower where the upper half had crumbled into a pile of rubble beside it, almost as if it had been cut in half. Banks hissed at him, not feeling up for being frightened on top of everything else. The scruffy officer looked over them, silently, and though he didn’t seem to look at nobody in particular, Banks felt his gaze and the officer remained silent until everyone else was. “My name is Jackson Ford, Captain Jackson Ford,” he said. “I’ll be your commanding officer. Let me start by welcoming you to Lillie Island sense nobody else will,” he said with a snarl in his voice, clearly irritated. “It is the most secret base you’ll ever set your foot on, I can guarantee you that. But though an attack is unlikely, we will not slack off. The enemy will want to find this place, but even if they do, we won’t let them have it, will we?”

They responded with a Oorah! and Jackson nodded in delight. “Move out!” he bellowed and they marched inland.

Banks chest swelled with pride. It seemed they’d do important work after all, he thought and glanced at Hjalmar next to him to gloat, but Hjalmar stared ahead, ignoring him. Banks considered elbowing him but he didn’t want to ruin the marching rhythm and decided to be the bigger person and let it slide. They walked in good order, and though it began in silence, people started talking again as the the march dragged on. The island was bigger than it seemed. Banks thought and gazed over the landscape as they marched. The land was bare and rocky. A few sheep graced the grass and gulls laughed in the distance. Not a single tree in sight. The island was elevated at the center and hid whatever was on the other side of the island. As they went up the hill, banks noticed a house in the distance. It was a big house because he saw it clearly, and it was far away. What he could tell, it wasn’t abandoned, at least the walls nor the roof had fallen in. As he kept his gaze on the house, he came out of rhythm and stumbled, walking into the man behind him. The man swore and Banks made a double step to get back into the marching rhythm. Hjalmar grinned and a few chuckled as Banks struggled. Banks kept his gaze to his feet and focused his attention on the marching. It seemed like there were people on the island, after all.

After 40 minutes they reached the other end of the island. A tall cliff side with pointy black rocks greeted them that looked like it was from another world. The sun was half way set and cast a black shadow onto them. As they got closer, they saw, among the rocks, an antenna with a disk that moved back and forth very slowly. He had never seen such a curious thing before and could not help staring at it. As they got closer, he saw structures amongst the rocks, melting in with the environment. They stopped at a dead end. They waited. When nothing happened, Banks glanced at Hjalmar who shrugged; then wall parted and a base within was revealed to them. It was almost like a castle, and Banks half expected there’d be an armoured guard with a crossbow at the ready above them, watching from the wall. But there was nobody there. There should be a watchtower somewhere, he thought, but he couldn’t find it, for the life of him. A big open courtyard sprawled before them; there were buildings at the far end, barracks, by the looks of it, and some other structures he couldn’t discern. There was a tall pole in the center of the open courtyard with a megaphone strapped on top. They gathered around it and waited, and waited. They held their silence as a group of people emerged from somewhere amongst the rocks. Some of them wore military uniforms, others were dressed in some white garbs; the one in the front was limping. They all had bleary distant expressions as they stood in front of them, as if they looked passed them rather than on them. Banks found it creepy, as if they didn’t exist. An older man, with a uniform and some medals, indicating he was a veteran, limped forward and cleared his throat. His voice came out hoarsely, as if he hadn’t used it in a long while.

“Welcome, men of the Federation. My name is lieutenant Baxter. I’ll be the commanding officer of this base. I’m sure you all have questions, but all you need to know is that you’ll be protecting, this,” he said and pointed to the large antenna in the background. “It is the latest in military technology, this allows us to communicate with the boys across the pond, as the enemy likes to call it. Nobody knows it is here, and even if they did, they wouldn’t find it, at least, it is unlikely. If they do, that’s where you come in. I’m confident in your abilities and I’m sure you’ll do anything to protect this base, even lay down your lives, and others,” he paused, scrutinised them to see their reaction. There was a few murmurs but overall, they stayed quiet. Pleased, he continued. “This is the staff that will take care of you, cooks and cleaners, along with the technicians and other essential personnel. You’ll not be seeing much of them… Captain,” he said and Captain Jackson took a step forward. “The Barracks are over there. I trust you’ll manage by yourself?”

Jackson went in attention and saluted. Lt. Baxter made a half-hearted motion with his hand to his forehead, turned, and limped away. Jackson spun around and order them to move out. As they did, Banks glanced at the personnel as they disappeared into the cliff wall. There must be more of the base within the mountain, Banks thought. They were shown into the barracks that had bunk beds lined up on both sides. People rushed inside to get the top bunks, but Banks didn’t mind being close to the ground and ended up with a bottom almost at the far end of the room, furthest from the entrance. He stowed his bag in the trunk next to the bed that just about fit and then laid down on the bed and stared into nothing, taking in everything he’d seen so far. There were many strange things about the island and its people, though, he couldn’t put a finger on it other than it was creepy, or perhaps eerie? He remembered his father telling him to leave if anything felt strange. If that was the case, he should’ve never gotten off the boat, he thought, chuckling to himself. He stared up at the other bunk bed, thinking of nothing in particular, when a hand emerged at his periphery vision. “Mailen, Mailen Garfield,” somebody said next to him.

Banks smiled and sat on the bed side and took his hand. “Banks, Fair Banks.”

Mailen raised an eyebrow. “Curious name, where are you from?”

“You wouldn’t know it from the name alone. I assure you.”

Mailen looked over his shoulder, distracted by another who introduced himself. Banks shrugged and decided to make friends with his new comrades. They might be here for a long while, after all.


© Christopher Stamfors

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