Fairbanks Island – Day 15

Now I think I understand what Hemingway meant when he said to never empty your well of writing. (“I had learned already to never empty my well of writing“) We all have our limits and stopping before hitting that limit is immensely gratifying because the longer you write the bigger is the chance that you’ll run into a problem. Basically you stop while staying ahead, stop while you are number one. Another way of putting it, is to stop writing while knowing what you should be writing the next day, you carry the momentum.

Chapter 13

There was another attack on the base, this time explosives are attempted at the base door and it was clear where they wanted to get inside and why Baxter refused to leave his base. The door held, however, and though there were few causalities this time, because of their difference in priority, the extra guards did nothing and those that had been guarding that night, was dead. It made people even more agitated and demanded to be kept inside the base, but they wouldn’t be let inside. They continued to blame the deaths on the witch, failing to explain why a witch would use explosives, it made sense to them and such details would not dissuade them. The big guy group was really stirring trouble now and wanted Banks to be captured and held hostage. They demanded that they’d storm Lillie’s house and kill her. Though, even in this situation, few was willing to go that far. The big guy left disgruntled and Banks worried what he might do. That night, Banks woke and he felt chilly. He worried if he had been woken by something the enemy was doing but everyone was fast asleep. Banks left the bed and felt compelled to go outside. Lightly dressed, he walked out on the courtyard. The mist was thick, (getting thicker because of the weather or because the witch’s husband is close to death?) just like the night Jessy had been gone and Banks moved towards the gate, it was closed and he was relieved, but he saw a slither of light and noticed the gate wasn’t completely sealed. Banks tried and he realised somebody could squeeze through.

A chill went through him and Banks contemplated whether to wake everyone up or head out because he was worried about Lillie. But if the enemy could come through here he would doom everyone, assuming the enemy wasn’t already inside… But he didn’t have to choose because he heard heavy steps rush towards him on the other side of the gate. Banks saw a shadow and he clutched his gun. His feet was frozen to the ground as the shadow became larger and larger and a man rushed through the gap, running Banks over. It was the big guy and he looked frightened as he’d never seen him before. Banks tried to calm him but when the big guy saw it was Banks he was apprehensive and hurried back through the courtyard. The base was roused, not by the big guy, but by Banks. The big guy was nowhere to be seen and had locked himself in the cantina. He refused to go out but he admitted everything, that they and a few others had gone out to take matters into their own hands. But the witch had taken them and he only survived because he was fast and by luck. Banks didn’t believe about the witch but if his comrades had been taken there was only one who could do it. The enemy was still hiding somewhere on the island and that meant Lillie could be in danger. He was angry at himself for not thinking it sooner. Of course the enemy would still be hiding somewhere close and he grabbed his gun and walked briskly to the gate. The captain put his hand on his shoulder but Banks would not be stopped. But the captain did not intend to stop him as he recognised they had a responsibility to the girl and her family. He insisted Banks did not go out alone, however, and asked for volunteers. Hjalmar volunteered, so did James. Banks was glad for their help and they headed out. It was still night time and the mist was thick. The moon cast a blue glow that made everything ominous, not lighting anything and only making everything seem all the more mirky in the mist. Yet they knew the terrain by heart, at least Banks knew the way to the house and they followed him.

Banks held a fast pace but they all kept up, being quiet as they listened for any sound. As they climbed a ridge, they thought they say a shadow looking down on them. When they noticed it, it disappeared the other way. They speculated if they should give chase but they would probably get lost and killed if they did. They continued on ahead when they froze as they heard a yell. It had come as fast as it had appeared and it was Banks who hurried them on, being even more concerned. Even though he knew the direction, not seeing if they got any closer made it seem like they were walking endlessly. Eventually, the contours of the large building appeared and Banks sprinted towards the door only to fall as there was something on the ground. It was a dead body, his head blown into pieces and had been dead for a while. Banks knocked on the door and called for Lillie. She opened the door and cried in his arms as she saw who it was. She explained that she had killed him, as he was a stranger. Banks said she had done the right thing and comforted her. Hjalmar pointed out that there was claw marks on the door and the victims fingernails was ruined. The guy had been trying to get in desperately, as if he had been chased by something. Banks asked them no to tell anyone of this as he didn’t want her to get in trouble. They agreed as they didn’t particularly like the guy, but it was still disturbing that he had been hunted by something. There aren’t any wild big animals on the island, is there? They asked. Lillie shook her head and didn’t know why he was so frightened. The mystery would not be solved today and they debated what to do next.

They could take her to the base but at this point, it wasn’t safer and might even be more dangerous. The enemy might not even concern themselves with her, but they couldn’t be sure. They decided somebody should stay behind. Lillie decided it was Banks, which came as no surprise. Hjalmar and James promised to tell the captain that he would remain. They stayed and helped boarding up the windows until the sun came out and they headed back to base. Banks was immensely grateful to the both of them and asked them to be careful. They left and Banks barred the rest of the windows and doors until the first floor became as dark as the night. He grabbed the guns from the locker, loaded them, and hid them in various places around the house, just in case. Then they went upstairs to finish barring the windows, they couldn’t be too careful. Then, he eventually came to the old man’s room. The room smelled of death and there were tubes going in and out of the old man. Every sort of equipment available was attached to him and he breathed slowly but wasn’t aware of anything else. Banks talked to him and introduced himself. He didn’t bring up his intentions but he felt like if he didn’t do it soon, he wouldn’t be able to. One of these days, he would, when things calmed down.

Banks barred the windows and the house became even darker. They lightened candles in the parlour which was the airiest part of the house. Light from slithers of the windows shone in. Banks saw the light land on her in a menacing way, but her eyes showed only kindness and the thoughts about the witch dissipated. The culprit was out there, somewhere. It could just as well be the enemy, lurking. Banks asked if there had been any break ins in the house or anything strange at all. She shook her head and it made him at ease. Even so, he was careful to check everything. Days went and he had trouble sleeping. He woke many times in the night, always something chasing him or somebody or something indistinguishable was trying to break into the house. He always carried his gun with him, not that they moved around a lot, but he felt safe with it. Banks had found he had depended n the gun many times by now, yet, he wasn’t sure he would use it, even to save his life. banks half wished there was a monster, or even a witch out there as it would make it easier for him to take its life. At noon, he often stood at the balcony and watched the landscape as it was the clearest time of the day. Though the cold had made the mist even thicker. He wondered how the captain took the news of their deaths and him staying behind, but nobody had come and he took it as his okay.

© Christopher Stamfors

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