Fairbanks Island – Day 18

I’m not sure how long this story is going to be. There are so many characters that I haven’t fully explore that the story might take a completely different turn in the end, which is always exciting. There is much more scenery and details I could add as well.

30 000 words for a draft doesn’t make a long story, but I don’t mind, I have so many ideas that creating several shorter ones is a blessing. I never cared for Epic tales, it really has to be something special for me to put time into something like that.

Chapter 16

For two days they interrogated him. Banks didn’t even respond to the pain they inflicted, numb from previous attacks, which only made them more certain that the Witch was protecting him and they had to come up with more painful ways to torture him. Banks wondered how long he would last. Then, at night, the door opened and a flashlight shone in his face. Banks was too beaten up to say anything but if he could, he would have screamed and make it as uncomfortable for them as he could. A shadowed face hunkered beside him and suddenly the ropes around his ankels loosened and he was free. It took a moment before he could move properly again and the strangers urged him to follow. He didn’t feel right leaving the others but he couldn’t protest without risking waking the guards. But before he could leave, he heard a voice and saw that Hjalmar was awake. He saw the determination in his eyes and he released him too. His savours could do little to protest. As they existed the room, the guards were dead in a pool of blood and they rushed towards the gates, nobody was awake or guarding it.

Their saviour murmured something into a radio and the gates opened all the way. “Lt.?” Banks said.

“You better go find your girl, he said. They will come after you.”

Banks wanted to know what to do ones he caught up with her, but the Lt. simply shook his head, handed them each a handgun and said. “It’s up to you.”

The Lt. left and Banks and Hjalmar looked at each other. Hjalmar smiled wryly. “This is not how I imagined this assignment to end up.”

“No,” Banks said, smiling weakly and they headed out.

It was in the middle of the night but the stars were clear this night also. They hurried to the cave only to find that it was empty. She had barely touched the supplies and he worried that she might have gone after him or back to the house after he left. Banks wanted to search for her immediately but Hjalmar pointed to the food which they had eaten very little of for the last couple of days. Banks felt hunger surge and they ate. Hjalmar asked about the cave and Banks gave him the short version. Hjalmar was intrigued but they had no time to investigate. Thankfully, his rifle was still around. Along with the handguns they got from the Lt. they might be able to defend themselves. It was cracking morning when they headed out and Banks saw lights flickering by the base. They had discovered their escape.

“Do you think they will come after us?” Hjalmar asked.

Banks didn’t know and hurried back to the house. It was empty. Banks gave a rifle to Hjalmar too and they headed out. As they ascended a ridge, a large group of men walked together, chanting something as if keeping spirits away. They had really lost it, Banks thought or perhaps they felt more confident among their voices rather than eerie silence. Banks didn’t know where Lillie could be and it didn’t seem like the group was large enough to be the whole base. Banks considered whether they should split up to cover more ground but Hjalmar thought it safer to stick together. Banks realised then he was more concerned about Lillie’s safety than his own life and he was fine with that. They walked stealthily around, hiding behind rocks or laying flat on the ground as the group came chanting. An hour went when there was a scream, followed by gun fire. The guns shots came in rapid burst then they were gone and all was quiet. Another group came rushing to their aid and though they didn’t hear what they said, they were upset. Banks and Hjalmar looked at each other, unsure what to say. It was the enemy, Banks wanted to say, but at this point he wasn’t sure he believed it. Maybe they were right? Not about Lillie, but that there was some sort of monster on the island and Lillie had just been blamed. Banks recalled the scribblings on the cave wall and he shook his head, it couldn’t be real, could it? Hjalmar was the one to shake life into him and seeing his determined face made him brave and they continued the search. It was even quieter now and they didn’t hear the chanting, not even distantly anymore. Banks tripped as he took a step and he found that he barely had strength to rise to his feet and they decided to head back to the cave and rest. Despite it being noon, the mist refused to ease and it was indeed getting colder. It was cloudy and frost had began to collect on the ground and it made it harder for them to travel.

Eventually they reached the cave and they started a fire. Smoke snaked its way through the tunnel but they weren’t concerned to be seen as the mist hid it all. As they warmed themselves and had something to eat, they spoke frankly to each other, about their hopes and dreams and this whole experience. Banks was really glad to have him as a friend and he spoke about his phobia for killing. “It’s a good phobia to have,” Hjalmar said.

Banks told how he felt when he knew those guys had been after Lillie and how he for the first time wished somebody dead. He wondered what he would do in a crises. As they sat silently in their own minds, they suddenly noticed somebody standing in front of them. They hadn’t heard it come through the tunnel but it stood there, looking at them. Banks smiled broadly as he saw her dress and her hair being lit by the fire and rushed and embraced her. She hugged him back. Hjalmar stood by the fire, quivering, his face showing nothing by fear and he raised his gun at her. Banks noticed and without hesitation, he fired first and killed his best friend. Banks was so confused. He kneeled before her dead friend and cried and trembled. Lillies hands comforted him but they were ice cold and he rubbed her fingers to bring her warmth. They gathered their things and headed back to the house, ignoring the bodies that lay splayed on the way. All that mattered was that she was safe. He put on a fire and he himself felt the warmth from it, he collapsed in her lap and fell asleep.

The next day, Lt. Baxter came with a few soldiers. Banks was terrified but Baxter assured him they were not here to arrest him. He was rather here to congratulate him. Banks wasn’t sure what he meant but Baxter motioned with his hand and soldiers went upstairs and collected the dead body. Baxter looked at its face looking as coldly as it looked back and then the bag closed and carried out. Baxter sat down beside him and said. “You love her, don’t you?”

Taken aback by the question, Banks said, “I do.”

Lillie placed her hand on his shoulder.

“You know, I could marry you right here and now, if you had the mind for it.”

Banks glanced at Lillie whose eyes shone and there was no hesitation left and Banks nodded. Baxter stood and corrected his clothes and said the words, pronouncing them legally married. Before leaving, Baxter spun around and said. “I hope you’ll have a happy life together, on the island,” he said and left the house.

So this was it then, he was married. He couldn’t wait to visit his parents and show her the world.

© Christopher Stamfors

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