A gentle hand rocked him back to consciousness. The azure blue water whispering good morning like an old friend, washed over him with a wave. Before sight returned, his vision was darkness. Deprived of the one sense, the others picked up the weight, making all his others seem extra sensitive.
The salt in the ocean had made his mouth dried and parched. Overstaying his welcome, the water had left a salty taste on his tongue. Slowly, he worked his hand into a fist, and released. His fingers stretched out, imprinting his identity into the surface beneath him. A million tiny planets gave way for his hand. The course feeling of each individual granule dug into him. Graininess grated against him, the sand reflected how he felt. Scattered, beat up and broken. Small.
Blinking his eyes awake, light came back to him in a flood. A blast of whitelight hit his eyes hard as a diamond. Momentary panic faded, as did the brightness. Slowly the world returned to his eyes. The white receding into the darkness, and vibrant colours began to come back to his life.
Lifting himself to get up, his muscles gave out under him. Pain shot all over his body. From his brain down, everything burned, a lightning blast striking his nerve receptors. Collapsing back into the water was pure bliss. The cool wetness a soothing balm, waves massaging his sore joints. Pushing him towards shore again, and again the tide waved in. Continuous encouragement, freely given to the washed up survivor.
Gathering his strength, he directed all his will towards raising. Lifting himself up, again, the pain returned to strike a second time. Expecting the attack, he fought back with everything he had. The power of his determination caused to floor to give away beneath him. Sinking into the sand as though the beach felt a familiarity with the man, and would not let him go; a vicious demon, swallowing him whole.
Pushing past the jaws of death, he carried on his way forward. After what felt like an eternity, his pain became all he knew. Safely, he had made it out of the water. Dry land became a haven, escaping from the watery shallow grave. Propping himself up against a large stone on the beach, he looked back to where he had come from. The ocean swept out beyond the horizon. A sea of infinity that appeared to never end. Lifeless, no sign of any other ships were in sight. Rescue a far away dream, on the other side of everything. Nothing in sight, the ocean was a blue desert all around. How he came to find this earthy oasis, he could never begin to guess.
Closer to the shore lied broken pieces of ship, and cargo. The flotsam weaving gently with the waters. In no rush to be anywhere, it was silently making a slow march to the beach. Stained wood a dark mahogany crashing against rough oaken barrels, creating a nautical battle among the dead ship, and the lost cargo. The man observed it all passively, having no wish to enter the wet desert again to join the dead wood in a battle for life. Instead, he reflected on how he turned up adrift on these sandy shores.
Pushing through the groggy haze of a battered memory, he began to remember and piece everything together. A trade ship, carrying products from one side of the world to the other. Linens, and spices mainly; nothing worth the risk to attempt a salvage. One night, a terrible storm struck. Caught in the midst, the ship was thrashed around and beaten against the full force of nature. In each flash of lightning, a vision of a horrific monster was revealed. Huge, and tentacled, the ship was the size of a leg compared to the full scale of this creature. If it even had legs.
The storm was breaking and everything was in the clear when a massive tentacle slapped down on the ship. Wrapping itself tightly around, the vessel was snapped in half like a twig. To be carried to the bottom of the sea. That was the last the man remembered. Guessing the rest of his fate, he must have been jettisoned from the ship after the impact, knocking him unconscious, the tide carrying him safely ashore through the late hours of night.
Confident he had his story in order, the cold sweats of fear at the memory of the seademon faded under the hot island sun. Carefully contemplating his next move, he wondered if any other survivors had drifted to this island like he had. Wondering if he should walk the beach to look for anyone else. His parched mouth reminded him he would be useless without water. He wouldn’t be able to travel very far. Knowing how weak and dehydrated he was, his gaze wandered inland.
Where the beach ended, a jungle began. A thick, foliage covered garden. There would be fresh water within the green gates. Off in the near distance, a mountain rose up over the forests. As if the earth itself was the monster in the storm, breaking the surface of a sea of green leaves and towering over everything. The mountain would provide a better vantage point to survey this new home. Thinking about it, any other survivors would likely seek the summit as well. Deciding on his course of action, the man set out.
Traveling along at a slow, painful pace, the forest drifted ever closer. Eventually he found himself inside. Out of the sun, he might have been thankful for the shade, were it not for the noticeably sharp increase in humidity. Growing more thirsty by the minute, fresh water needed to be found. Soon. Climbing over fallen trees and through hanging vines, he kept a careful eye out for poisonous insects and snakes. In the thickness of the tree canopy, he soon lost sight of the mountain. Hoping the given direction was correct, he marched forward.
Time lost meaning in the forest. Walking with a dehydrated delirium, the only thing that mattered was to find water; make it to the mountain. Over the loud sounds in this jungle, something new prickled his hearing. A sound that grew louder as he walked. Unsure where the sound came from, he kept walking. Cautious and wary of what he was walking towards. The closer he approached the sound became more distinct. A buzzing; almost like that of an insect.
Unsure of what to expect, the man followed the sound to its source. Just past a grave of fallen trees. As he approached, the buzzing grew louder until it drowned out every other noise to be heard. As he approached he saw what it was. An upright stick, with a seething black mass on top. Unsure if his senses were deceiving him, the man stared in awe at the sight. Not knowing what to make of it, he thought it must surely be an illusion. Determining to get a better look, he edged closer.
Tentative to inspect the living blackness on top, the man started down below. The stick itself was wooden, unremarkable in any way. Peculiar in that the wood was smoothed down and polished up. Not knowing if the was a natural phenomenon, the man slowly lifted his vision. Flies. Hundreds of flies. Thousands of little black flies crawled in a ball. Slightly disgusted at the clumping of insects, but relieved to find it is nothing unnatural. Walking right up to the blacked ball of legs and wings, the man waves the flies away. Forming an obsidian mist, the cloud of flies disperse in every direction at his gesture.
Getting a look at what the flies were crowding, momentarily shocked to see it is a severed head. Bloated from the humidity, and chewed up from the insects, the head is barely recognizable. Looking closer at this deathly monument, a familiarity begins to form. Sudden disbelief dawns on the man. Through his dried throat, a hoarse voice cracks “Captain?”
Thinking about how the head of his former ship’s captain appeared on a stick in the ground, it came to him. The loneliness of the island deceived him. The thickness of his dehydrated, now delirious mind bubbled up a single thought. Upset in his weakened state, angry with himself for being so slow, his mind said -but who put the head here?- Thinking he really needed to find, and group up with, any other survivors immediately, he reorganized his priorities.
Looking around with all his senses, off in the distance he heard a faint buzzing sound.