Fairbanks Island – Day 9

The quality is dropping significantly now because I’m trying to figure out who does what and when. That’s why I’m hastily skipping parts so that I don’t have to rewrite them in case I change my mind later. My rule of thumb in these situations is that if I have doubt, something is wrong. Then it’s best to simply rewrite the chapter, and more often than not, the characters take strange turns which I could not have imagined. Sometimes even new characters pop up out of nowhere, which is always exciting ❤ You can keep track of my progress HERE

Chapter 8, very rough draft.

Banks met up with Hjalmar as he was exiting the dining hall and Banks told him what had been said. It didn’t tell much, but at least they knew she was real, and that she was indeed alone, with her family. They didn’t know what to do with this information and decided to keep it to themselves, there was no use in stoking the fire. But it seemed they didn’t have to as Lt. Baxter talked to them after the megaphone announcements of the war that was going brilliantly. Banks was surprised about how much information he divulged, perhaps he thought that knowing the facts would destroy the mystery, but in fact, it raised even more questions and gave it more attention. What were they doing here, all alone? Who was this woman, really. If they owned the island, did that mean they were rich?

When Baxter left them with the captain, they could hardly contain themselves and they erupted in chatter. Banks and Hjalmar looked at each other, confirming with each other that their suspicions were right. Jackson had a hard time quieting everyone down but eventually, new teams were chosen and they were sent on their way to another part of the island. This part was flatter than the other, and Banks could see large stretches of the land before they were interrupted but a hill. They were several people he hadn’t met before, and one person he rather not talk to at all. It was his bunkmate. His name was Jessy and he had been forced to go with them after Banks had told about him to the captain. Banks was surprised he didn’t get angry glances from him, though he felt a tension emanating from him, or perhaps it was all himself? Either way, Jessy didn’t seem like the kind of person to forget a slight and Banks was cautious around him. It seemed that the news of the girl had made it all too exciting to meet her and they all but forgot about their task. Though they found a few flags by pure luck, even their new team leader was excited to see her. Banks didn’t understand what made it so exciting for everyone else. He had been the only one who had seen her, after all. Banks supposed that the stories that some made, the made up ones, made her seem more exciting than she really was. Banks had a hard time understand why even he was excited and the realisation of this made him feel like a fool. In the end, he was the only one who wasn’t looking, and perhaps Jessy also, but he wasn’t looking in anywhere in particular, it seemed, and certainly he wasn’t looking for the flags.

Then it happened, they saw her. The had climbed a ridge and not too far away, closer than Banks had seen her before, she stood bent over, picking flowers. They threw themselves on their stomach and hushed each other, gazing at her as if she was some kind of a rare deer that was easily frightened by sound. Banks felt a bit ridiculous at first, but even he couldn’t help but gawk at her. Her hair billowed in the wind, blond yellow hair that either hid her face or revealed it, depending on the direction of the wind. She stood up and collected the flowers in her hands and it was then they saw her face. She had a kind soft expression, a soft smile and pillowy red lips. Every breath went quiet around him as they saw, only one of them breathed and heavily at that. Banks glanced at Jessy suspiciously. He had an intense unblinking gaze and he was almost shaking, for whatever reason. Banks couldn’t help but cast a nervous glance his way between stealing a glance at the young woman in front.

After a while, though they had not found all the flags, they didn’t want to be late and punished, so they reluctantly crept down the ridge and brushed their clothes and made ready to go. But Jessy, he remained. They beckoned him to come but he wouldn’t listen. Then, he stood and walked up over the ridge and disappeared from their view. Banks and the others looked at each other and then hurried over the ridge and towards Jessy. He had dropped his gun now, and was walking briskly towards the woman. They didn’t waste any time and and they stopped him just a few metres away from the woman who only now looked up, neither scared or surprised. Banks was stunned by her expressionless face. Her eyes were big and eyed them curiously as Jessy struggled with the others. “Let me go!” He cried. “Let me at her,” he said.

It took four men to force him on the ground, but no words seemed to reach him and he continued to struggle. The team leader then stood and hit him with the side of his gun which calmed Jessy down. They looked down at him, unconscious, and then at the woman who stood their, clutching her flowers, looking curiously at them. They were surprised that she hadn’t run away and all they could say was that they were sorry and they grabbed Jessy but the arms and legs and carried him away. Banks remained for a moment longer and their eyes locked. Banks blinked and said. “Sorry,” hurrying after his comrades towards the base.

There was some commotion as they reach the base. Jessy had regain consciousness and cursed them, promised he would hurt them. He was struggling and more people came to help. They dragged him to a fridge and locked him inside. They called for Lt. Baxter and he, along with two soldiers they had never seen, carrying hand guns and cuffs, emerged. They cuffed Jessy, now cold and calm and dragged him inside the base. Everyone wanted to know what happened and Banks and the others told what they had seen, though their stories differed slightly, they were generally the same. As Banks told his story, he noticed that Hjalmar seemed to be the most upset about it. He seemed to have some sort of apprehension towards mistreating women. Banks was surprised, he hadn’t even seen or met the woman, yet he reacted so strongly about it. It made Banks feel a bit ashamed of himself as he is the one that should be furious.

It took several days before Jessy emerged again, seemingly free. He had been suspended from leaving the base. To Hjalmar, this wasn’t good enough and he called together a group of like minded people and beat the shit out of him. Nobody came to Jessy’s defence, indeed, nobody ratted them out and Jessy knew then how alone he really was. Banks didn’t see much of him after that. His bed would always be empty at night and he would rarely show himself at meals, which wasn’t knew. He refused to go on missions with them and he was given chores to do at the base, effectively downgrading him from solider to cleaning or whatever else needed to be done. Banks found it unnerving not knowing where he was at night, but he was glad he didn’t join them at the missions anymore.

They didn’t know what had prompted this reaction from Jessy, but they decided they needed to do something about it. Hjalmar, Banks and a few others came up with the idea to create an honor system where they would draw lotto to decide who got to talk to her. When their name had been drawn they couldn’t go again until everyone’s had a turn. To prevent cheating, they put up a billboard with their names on it. Crossed over, their turn had passed, Jessy’s name was already crossed. Banks thought it was a good idea, the best solution, really, and so did everyone else. Though this meant that even if somebody before didn’t have any interest in meeting her, he was conditioned to by the group.

© Christopher Stamfors

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