Fairbanks Island – Day 16

The momentum is fading, I can feel it. Before I could write 2000 – 2500 words a day but now I’m barely hitting a 1000. The story is coming to a close and I have a pretty good idea how it will turn out. Let’s see if I am right!

Chapter 14

The people spooked about the witch and Baxter still in hiding with only the captain to reel things in,  the soldiers looked to the strongest to survive. The big guy had survived his encounter with the witch and they decided on him to become their leader. He was willing to do what was necessary. Some disagreed and they were promptly captured.

At first, the reinforcement had given hope to the soldiers and it seemed like order would return with more people filling the ranks, but they weren’t prime people and they were swayed by the stories of the witch as they heard about the caustialties. Even so, they obeyed the captain for a time and he used the extra man power to patrol the island and send word to Banks that she would be safe from now on.

The new soldiers patrolled the misty island, and they were spooked and attacked until they refused to leave the base. The captain was furious and tried to contact Baxter, but he would not leave the base. The whole island was thick with mist through all this and it deteriorated their sense. Then, the big guy and his faction took their opportunity to proclaim their revolt. The leadership was useless and they would surely die under it. It was no longer about guarding the base but survival.

They argued that Baxter might already be dead. The reason behind his silence is a mystery.

Banks and Lille were cooped up in the house for more than a week. Banks wasn’t sure if there was a monster outside because the stay had been a fever dream. There was a little difference between day and night and he was no longer sure which was dreams and which was real. The only time he would go outside was at noon when the mist eased by the warming sun. Lillie would keep with her father at that time, rolling down the shutters to let the sun caress his fathers skin and read to him. She was a such a good natured daughter… He had gone up to her old man, as he had promised and talked, or so he thinks… He wasn’t sure as it all was a blur in his mind. He didn’t stay for long either because the smell of death was around him but he declared his intentions but there was no reaction. Banks was sure he was unconscious and did not return. Banks morbidly hoped that he would die soon so he could take her away from here. The war could not last forever… As he was lost in thought, he heard commotion down at the docks. Banks could see a large shadow and hear many voices. Banks peered into the mist and heard orders being barked and he knew then that reinforcements had arrived. Banks became at ease of this and he watched them disappear as they marched to the other side of the island. He played with the idea of grabbing Lillie and sneak onto the boat before it departed but it was just wishful thinking and he heard the boat sail away. He sighed. Perhaps they could finally get out of this house, now?

It didn’t take long before soldiers came to the door. There were four strangers in military uniform standing by the door. They delivered a message to Banks that with the additional soldiers, they would patrol the island, day and night and be ever vigilant so that they would not be surprised again. Banks thought it was good news, but he didn’t like the idea of leaving Lillie alone. Banks thanked them for the information but said that he would reamin with Lillie for the time being, until he deemed it safe. The soldiers looked at each other. They hadn’t been ordered to drag him back but Banks saw they would have if they did, but they shrugged and left him at the door until they disappeared. Damn this mist…

Banks wasn’t sure how the captain would react for his dis-subordination but they did not ask again and Banks took it as an okay from the captain. He didn’t harbour any illusions that he wouldn’t be punished later, but he didn’t mind, so long as she was safe. True to his words, Banks saw the soldiers patrol from the balcony and they even took roads around their house. Nobody had been attacked, as far as he knew and Banks thought it was time they left the house for a bit. Lillie was thrilled to do so and they went at noon and climbed the tallest hill where the mist did not reach them. It was at the pile of rocks and it was surrounded by wildflowers still blooming in the cold. Lillie was happy to see the autumn flowers before winter came and Banks was revitalised by the fresh air and exertion. He hadn’t been moving much at all during these past week and he was sure he had lost some stamina. They enjoyed the view and each others company when Banks pointed out the pile of rocks and wondered what it was. She smiled mischievously and took his arm and lead him on top of the pile. There, in plain sight, if you knew where to look, was an entrance to to passage that lead to the centre of the hideout. She said that she discovered it as a kid and as they reach the centre, she lightened a lantern that they always brought nowadays because the mist could otherwise overwhelm them and Banks saw scribblings on the wall. She didn’t know what they were, but they were old and told a story.

Banks thought maybe natives had written them down, but they seemed older than anyone had ever discovered before. They were all pictures and as he scrutinised them, he noticed that they told a tale if you read them in the right order. The first image was of a happy village; it was summer and people smiled ate and played. Then a man exited the village into the woods. The man wandered and was starving. The man ate his companion and he transformed. There was now winter and the villagers looked miserable. The winter was long and would never end. People starved and died. Those that resorted to cannibalism turned into the same beasts. Then a hero came and slew the beast. But winter still persisted and he went into the woods to find the monster. The monster was not killed and instead brought to an island and sealed under a pile of rocks and the story ends with summer again and happy villagers. Banks was astounded by these but did not fail to notice the similarities between their cave and theirs, but there was no sign of anything, except a pile of ash at the centre. A campfire? He thought.

After a while they left the cave and as they approached the house, Banks looked around. A patrol should be here by now, he thought, then shrugged and they went into the safety of the house.

© Christopher Stamfors

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