FairBanks Island – Day 13

The story seem to be more like a highschool drama rather than a horror story, right now. I think it’s time I turn up the dial a notch. There’s a lot of good set up here that I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with. The drama involves a girl, the only girl on an island full of military men. The main character is serving there on a base there and they take a shine to each other. But as the story progress, there’s something wrong about her, which is where the horror element creeps in. Everything before have just been to pile on the mystery and the eeriness. I don’t want the reader to lose the sense of dread, not completely, though I must have them at ease, otherwise what comes next is not a surprise.

Chapter 11

Banks was walking on airs on the way back and almost forgot the others and their questions before the base loomed in the distance, like a dark castle. Banks felt apprehensive to go inside, but he had a duty, and he headed inside. To his surprise, there weren’t many people waiting. Except for James and a couple of others, all the questions were bombarded once he got into the cantina. He wasn’t left alone, everybody asking what the house looked like and how her parents were like. Banks held it within his mind to mention that she was more or less alone and tried to come up with something good and to remembered the lie afterwards. He was forced to model her imaginary parents after his own, and only those that knew him would know. Unsurprisingly, Banks could see skepticism in Hjalmars eyes. Thankfully he didn’t say anything at the time, and only after they had left the cantina did he ask if it was true. Banks couldn’t lie to him and told him everything. It made him more concerned and it made Banks thankful to him, that he had somebody else that could worry for her. Though, he still wasn’t sure why he cared. Perhaps he was just a good person? A good friend…

Hjalmar agreed that Banks should tell nobody and he congratulated Banks before he left for his own Barracks. The questions and comments rained down on him even there, but they died off during the later hours. Banks could not sleep. The next day was like usual. Training and listening to the news through the megaphone and it seemed that the war was going well. No chance the enemy would find their way here, then, they thought, and they slacked off in training. The captain didn’t like it but there wasn’t much he could do. Lt baxter hadn’t left his compound in a while, and Banks hadn’t seen him, or anyone of the staff for that matter. He had learned to live with the mystery now, besides, he had far more pressing concerns at the moment. After training, somebody called for Jessy, but he wasn’t around. In fact, Banks hadn’t seen much of him at all. He certainly hadn’t noticed him in bed, not that he had been looking. Jessy was a person that he would rather forget.

Nobody had seen him and the captain and a few others went looking while the rest made ready for another day to learn the terrain of the island. But as they put on their gear, the mist poured over the walls, like a slow moving waterfall and their ankles disappeared in the mist. It was unusual for the mist to carry this far into the base, and on top of it, it become very cold, unseasonably so. They had to call off the training as nothing could be seen a few metres ahead. Banks shrugged and they got an extra day off, not after doing some chores, of course. Rake the compound, maintain weapons, and clean out the barracks, the usual stuff to maintain discipline and order. Banks was laying in bed when the people in there started talking about Jessy and how he had been hanging around with the big guys group. It wasn’t really strange as he had been ostracised by everyone else. Why the big guy wanted with him, that was another question. They asked each other if they had seen Jessy in bed at all these couple of nights. Everybody said they hadn’t, a horrible thought came to Banks then, that Jessy might’ve escaped and might even be heading towards Lillie’s house. But that wasn’t possible, how could he leave such a high security facility? But where was he? Banks couldn’t get the thought out of his mind and headed out. The compound was completely hidden in mist, now, and it was dark, not night, but cloudy. A few dim lights could be seen in the distance as guidance, not that it was possible to get lost when the base was covered from wall to wall.

Banks wasn’t even sure why he was out there, what could he find in such a mist? Banks noticed figures of people walking passed him, he heard a couple of voices here and there, but only faintly. It was creepy and then there was the cold. He didn’t know it could get this chilly this time of year and he dreaded winter to come. He saw a group of figures in the distance that was talking to each other. He headed to them and saw, to his dismay that it was the big guys group. “Well, well, if it isn’t the lover boy. Fancy seeing you here,” the big guy said.

Banks wasn’t about to pick a fight and was heading in the other direction when he heard the big guy say. “She’s such a lonely little bitch, isn’t she? Lucky for her she has many suitors,” he said and laughed.

Banks forze. What did he mean by that? He started walking away again and headed in no particular direction. Hjalmar hadn’t told them, had he? Could they had overheard them? Perhaps he didn’t mean what Banks thought he meant but it sounded like they knew she was alone. Banks couldn’t shake his ill feeling and he followed the wall until he came to the door of the secret base. He must talk to somebody in charge. Banks pressed the button and a voice came to life. They asked who it was and after a pause, Baxter stood by the door. Banks told him his fears but Baxter didn’t seem concerned at all. Just his usual bleary expression. He tried to soothe Banks that it was impossible to leave the base and for that matter, Jessy would get lost in the mist if he was out there. It was true and it made Banks feel a bit better. As Baxter turned to leave, Banks suddenly remembered what his father had said and asked. “Had there ever happened anything unusual on this island before?”

Baxters eyes grew wide for a moment before they settled back to the weary look. No, he said sternly as the door was shut. Banks didn’t know what to make of it, but all he could do was go back to the barracks and hope that the mist would settle in the morning.

Banks didn’t sleep well that night. And when the morning came, he woke up before the bell and headed out. It was still rather chilly but the mist had settled and the sun was shining, warming him. They didn’t even have the usual morning training as Jessy had not been found. They went on a search out in the wilderness, everyone. Banks spearheaded his group and even though they were supposed to go one way, he instinctively was heading towards Lillie’s house, worried sick. They didn’t try to stop him, knowing how he felt. As the house came into view and Banks was ready to bolt to the house, the radio crackled alive. They had found him. They headed to the eastern shore, where the throng grew larger and larger. Banks made his way through until he saw the body floating face down in the water. The waves pushed the body towards the cliffs and Banks could see that he had head trauma, but there was no blood. It had drained during the night. There was an effort to lift the body out of the water and Banks and the others stood around it and saw Jessy’s distorted, pale, face. Banks felt fully warm for the first time sense yesterday, but it wasn’t a fuzzy warm feeling but blood rushing to his head. His fist clenched and trembled. He had never felt something like this towards a person, especially not somebody that was dead, but he knew, that if Jessy was alive, he would’ve murdered him.

It was clear why Jessy had gone outside, what other reason could there be? If the mist hadn’t been this thick, what would’ve happened? Banks resisted the urge to kick the body and as it was taken away, and Banks calmed down, he was surprised about himself. He, the one that had been unable to even fire a gun without closing his eyes, felt such strong hate he was willing to kill. His ability to see empathy towards the enemy must work in the reverse, strong feeling in either direction could always be reversed. Though, Banks didn’t know this, not yet, and he was left pondering what this all meant. Only Hjalmar understood and put his hand on his shoulder on the way back to base. Everyone was dealing with Jessy’s death, but the question remained, how had he escaped? Banks thought back to the big guy and and fear returned to him. They couldn’t…

*So, how did he escape? Does the big guy have some insider on base? Is it in fact, really easy to escape and only looks intimidating? Yes. With some help, one could climb the wall very easily.

Hjalmar hadn’t told them directly. He is an antagonist and false ally to Banks, why? He wants attention, to be liked. Perhaps he wants to be liked by the big guy? perhaps he’s jealous of Banks?

Banks shared his suspicions with Hjalmar, who agreed it was suspicious. Banks had suspected Hjalmar of telling that she was alone before, but the thought didn’t even struck him now. He refused to suspect his friend. Though, there wasn’t much else they could do than to keep an eye on the big guys group. The day was out of the ordinary again, and they didn’t do any training, not even cleaning, expect the weapons, they always needed cleaning, even when they hadn’t been used. They were surprisingly fragile for being hunks of metal. They were more intricate than he realised. Banks was wandering along the wall, trying to find a way that Jessy might’ve escaped, but the only exit was at the gates and there was a tower with tinted windows on top, guarded at all times, he supposed. In truth, he wasn’t sure if anyone was sitting behind those glass windows. But surely they must? The base was important, after all. Not getting any closer, Banks left and walked towards the cafeteria. The staff had arranged some snacks for them, considering the circumstances. Though, there wasn’t anyone that really missed Jessy, but he was the talk of the town, the man that had mysteriously escaped. Banks saw the big guy with his group at a table and kept his eyes on them, staring, not even caring if their eyes met. He wanted them to know they were watched.

The month went by slowly until he would get another free day. He didn’t see her at all out on the island, though other people reported seeing her. The initial excitement about her had died down, with Jessy’s death and all, and it was clear most didn’t have any interest in her except for the initial excitement, though, there were plenty of singles who still would want her, either for her body or for her money. Her family owned the island and had a big house, for sure, but the squalor she lived in, it didn’t seem they had a lot of wealth. Not that it bothered Banks, all he wanted to do was to take her away from this island and live happily with her. He always felt flushed thinking like this, it was so ridiculous, like a highschool drama. They didn’t even know each other but still he wanted to live the rest of his life with her. The big guys groups seemed to understand they were watched and didn’t do anything suspicious. Perhaps they didn’t have anything to do with Jessy’s escape after all? But Banks could forget the comment they had made and continued to watch them.

The day came when he was free. He couldn’t be sure that she was home so he went to her usual spot with the flowers on the plateau. The climb was easy and he had become stronger during training. His body had become toned and he was proud of the change, though there were some who was even buffer. He reached the top, barely out of breath and watched around him. The day was clear, at least in land. The island seemed to always be shrouded in a milky mist that hid the outside world. The wind was strong and he could see the mist bend by it, almost like waves or clouds. He found himself staring for a while before he started looking for Lillie. She was no where to be seen. He continued the climb, to the very top, instead of going around it he went over it. There was even more flowers there, with a pile of rubble hidden in the undergrowth. It seemed like a collapsed house but it was just rocks laid on top of each other. It must be ancient, he thought and then headed down. He saw some of his comrades in the distance, walking towards the harbour. Banks decided to follow them. They saw him and allowed him to catch up to them. They were some from his barrack, others not. They talk about this and that in a civil tone. People who had been envious and resentful before was friendly again. The death of Jessy reminded them that they were not high schoolers anymore and that they had a mission to perform. They asked if he was going to her and he nodded. One of them said that the fisherman brought a neckless with him last time, it should still be there unless somebody else bought it for his sweetheart.

A neckless would be a nice gift, Banks decided and hoped it would still be there.

The mist was light, yet it reached to their ankles so close to the shore. The buildings loomed threateningly above them, looking like they could fall apart at any moment, again… Most had already crumbled, at least partly. Banks saw nobody and asked where the fisherman was when they saw a fleeting light coming below the bridge. The fisherman was sitting on his boat, smoking, the boat filled with nicknacks, but mostly snacks. It turned out that the fisherman would not set his foot on the island, telling about a sea witch or some such. They largely ignored him, knowing if they gave him room, he would start telling stories that nobody liked to hear. Fishermen are superstitious people, he knew, having spend a lot of time with their kids at the docks near his house when he was little. Though, one of them took certain interest and stuck around while the others left.

He didn’t have the neckless and Banks bought some snacks instead. He thought it was a better gift, actually, it would show her the delicious things that was a ins tore for her if she left with him to the mainland. The house looked as empty as ever. Anybody that got close enough would realise that very few people lived there, if any at all. He felt sorry for her and knocked on the door. She opened. She smiled as she saw who it was and it made his heart warm. “I hope I’m not interrupting something,” he said.

“No, I was just reading.”
She invited him inside. “This is for you,” he said, and handed her the bag of snacks. She picked one of them up and looked curiously at it. She fumbled with it as if she didn’t know what to make of it. He took it and opened it for her and she tasted it. Her eyes shone with the taste and it made him happy. “I couldn’t get anything else, but these are my favourites from home. I used to buy them with my allowance every Friday after school. I even took up odd jobs just so that I could be on Thursdays too.”

She listens to his dumb story patiently and he felt a bit embarrassed about it. They sat in the parlour and talked about this and that when they heard an explosion in the distance. Banks grabbed instinctively his weapon and and peered his ears. There was silence again. “What was it?” She asked.

Banks sat down again. “I don’t know…”

Something felt off, but why was it so quiet? He considered going back to base when he saw her innocent smile and figured there must be construction somewhere. If there was an attack, which was unlikely, there would have been more noise by now.

© Christopher Stamfors

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