Vacation in the Spice Islands

By Virginia Carraway Stark

The following has been taken from pieced together ship logs. There was a lot of damage to the manuscript and discrepancies and inconsistencies in the dialogue. This is pieced together as well as Dan Wilson’s heirs were able to manage to reconstruct their father’s final days and the final days of their father’s partner at Wilson and Wigolm Accounting, Tom Wigolm.

Sometime in July, 2015

It has been… many days at sea. I wish I could tell you how many but they run together after awhile. In theory my lifeboat was supposed to have a GPS in it but it obviously hadn’t worked because no one had come to pick me up after my mad venture to sail around the world with only myself and my business partner had failed miserably.

white-shark-face

Poor Tom, he didn’t stand a chance.

It was the scheme of a couple of fifteen year old boys, not the fully formed idea of two adults in their rational minds. Escape was all that we were thinking and I suppose, in our own ways, escape was what we both got.
There I go, thinking that I’m somehow different from Tom, somehow exempt. He was washed overboard and drowned. I saw his body floating not far from me the next morning, I had thought he had made it to the lifeboat with me. I’m sure he did. He must have, I was talking to him.

“Can you believe this storm?” I screamed over the howling wind and the salt spray in my mouth.

“No, you jackass, I can’t! What happened to you fancy satellite equipment? Isn’t supposed to let us know before this sort of shit hits? I thought you said we’d have a heads up if something like this was going to slam us?”

“It should have,” I called back. I was puzzled by the malfunction of the satellite just as much as he was, I would live to become more so. I watched the next morning as his body bobbed up and down in the water, easy to see, impossible to miss in his day-glow orange life vest. It hadn’t saved his life though, he was face first in the water, his arms splayed to either side and his legs vanishing into the water. I pulled an oar out of the the securely fastened clasp and rowed towards him.

“Why would you do that?” I was startled, who had asked that? I looked over and saw a fifteen year old version of myself watching me avidly, waiting for my reply.

I shook my head, an apparition, it couldn’t be real. It seemed rude not to answer myself, “What else was I supposed to do?”

“Start paddling for land?” The boy version of me suggested. I remembered what it was like to have a full head of hair like that. Those had been the days, before a heart attack, two divorces and an affair of the heart that was more painful than the heart attack that nearly killed me.

“I didn’t know where land was and Tom was my friend.”

“Yeah, I remember. He was my friend too, you know. I can’t believe you killed Tom.”

“I didn’t kill Tom!” I screamed at the empty seat across from me. He wasn’t there, he never had been there. I still had water, even if the magic of Global Positioning Satellites and Satellite Weather Forecast was to fail us at least water was water and the life raft was stuffed with it and rations in little sealed packets. They were designed to have a high water content to reduce a need for water. I was using both water and rations sparingly, mostly I just wanted to sleep anyway.

I was probably going to die and the idea was both depressing and soothing. No more worry about alimony or child support checks, no angry ex-wives calling me down, ‘You know what Norma said about you, Dan? She said that you did horrible things to her in bed, why would she say that if it weren’t true?’

I waved the air as though I was being attacked by gnats. Why would she have said that indeed? Sure, we had tried some different stuff. She was my second wife and she was pretty wild. She brought some things to the bedroom that I had thought belonged strictly in the kitchen, I found an adult catalog and we went to one of those parties where you order sex toys. I didn’t know anything I did was terrible, how can it seem that you’re on the same page and it turns out that after the fact everything gets twisted out of your hands, out of control.

It was then that I saw a long horn break the surface of the water. I assumed I was hallucinating again. I had come to accept the fact that I was going to have hallucinations. I think it’s part of the vast emptiness of being lost at sea, your mind gets frantic to fill in all that void with something. It seemed more and more of my waking hours were spent in fantasy as the days ticked by. Again, I wish I could tell you how many. I fell asleep, it was dark, sometimes I woke up and it was still dark, other times I woke up and it was light. Had a day passed? An hour? How could I tell? My satellite phone had been wrecked by the salt water, at least it had a reason to be wrecked. Not like the GPS in its tight waterproof casing, green light lit up but the little Doppler-esque map that should have come up and shown me my relation to land in a little circle that radiated from my beacon.

I had punched the alert button repeatedly, according to the damp instruction manual it would send out an emergency alert when it turned orange. It was not orange. It had never been orange. I amused myself by pushing the button repeatedly, occasionally I fell asleep holding the button and dreamed that it turned orange and a rescue ship showed up, a deep water fishing expedition that picked up the SOS, I woke up, my finger still hold the button down, the light still green. I had learned that my mind, functioning independently of my rational self was an optimistic and happy-go-lucky thing. I was surprised to find that. I had always classed myself as a ‘realist’ and worked hard to be cynical. Turned out that as soon as I went even a little nuts my mind handed me best case scenarios and hallucinations of having hair.

beacon.jpg

This is how I was assured the beacon would seamlessly work to rescue me. I was assured wrongly.

Back to the current hallucination. A horn broke the water, it was long and narrow like a unicorn horn and colored like gold, a face followed it, it was a face, that I would have sworn belonged to a deer. A doe to be specific. She looked at me with her large eyes, long lashes blinking out the saltwater from her black eyes. Doe eyes, like the girls used to do their make up, long-lashed big, dark eyes looking at me with a frantic need.

She reared into the air, pawing at the gentle waves and I saw that she had hooves like a deer.

“My dear,” I said and then started to giggle at the double entendre. I had to start over again, my giggling startled her and she veered a little away from me but her need drew her back again as I spoke, “My dear, you are patently an impossible hallucination.”

She continued to paw at the water, there was no way that a deer could be out this deep in the water, she’d drown. And then there was the matter of the horn…

Instead of a graceful tapered waist, I saw as she swam that her body became plump and a rump emerged from the water, it looked a little like a seal’s tail but closer to the rear end of a goose. It waggled in the air and two webbed legs propelled her through the water towards me. Her back legs looked nothing like a deer’s legs, they looked for all the world like a goose’s rear legs.

“You’re some sort of deer-unicorn-goose?” I asked, bemused. She glared at my mockery and if she could have I’m sure she would have swam away from my mockery. Instead she swam closer to me. I was intrigued, would she come right up to me? I had yet to touch one of my hallucinations, they were always sitting across from me or on a ship alongside of me. The closest I had come to touching one was when I thought a rope ladder brushed my face but it had only been my blanket against my cheek.

She was enormously fat, I could now see that she was struggling because of her bulk that hung below her, that and her cloven hooves. I paddled over towards her. The last time I had tried to paddle to something in the water it had been Tom, the sharks munching on his face and legs hadn’t appreciated my interference and I had paddled away from him quickly. They were little scavenger sharks but they’d have taken a bite out of me without another thought in their mindless frenzy. I scattered just as they scattered with the approach of a larger fin, a great white had been attracted by the activity. I gently paddled away from the scene of the crime. I was no help for Tom. If I ever lived I would tell his daughter he wasn’t wearing a life vest and had been washed overboard in the storm. I heard drowning was nearly painless.

He’d probably drown during the storm. I’m sure the damage to his face was post-humus, as in post-humor. No more humor for Tom. He was past all that. Not like me. I sang, ‘doe, a deer, a female deer,” as I rowed towards the strange horned beast. I expected her to be afraid of me, to dive down and away or turn in another direction. If she did that, I would let her go, I wouldn’t spend the last of my days chasing an illusion. It was too Moby Dick for words. Chasing the horned deer goose, me, Captain Dan Ahab, determined that an animal with cloven hooves existed and missing the short as I rowed in circles.

She didn’t swim away. In fact, once she saw that I intended to go towards her she swam with more determination towards me. I reached out an oar and she clung to it, her weight was too great for me.

“I can’t hold you up until-” I stopped, until what? Until I died? Until the unlikely event of finding a shore occurred? I looked t her and she looked at me. I could see her fur, so like a deer’s fur matted and wet against her face. Her eyes were so intelligent I half believed she understood my intent if not the words themselves. I half believed from the weight on my oar that I wasn’t hallucinating or that if I was I had broken entirely free of reality and was probably close to death.

“Come on,” I reached out and pulled the oar she was clinging to closer. The lifeboat was large, it could hold up to eight men, or women for that matter. I wasn’t sure how many men or women a deer goose counted for but I was pretty sure the lifeboat wouldn’t tip if I handled things right. If I handled things wrong there were always those fins to handle finishing up the last paperwork of my existence. They followed my trail of waste that I dumped overboard daily, occasionally prodding the lifeboat with their gray noses before continuing on. It was as if they dropped by to say, ‘so, still alive, are you? Any chance you want to drop overboard and give me a free meal?’

I looked around, where were those fins right now? Were there any around? I scanned the choppy water, there were none immediately around, but maybe there was more for my dear friend to worry about than trying to keep afloat with her goose rump. She thrashed when she got close to the boat.

I held up my hands and the oar pulled away a few inches from the boat, “I’m not helping you if you’re going to impale me? Capiche?”

She calmed, I could see the panic in her eyes and then I saw not far away the emergence of a silver-gray fin. She was close to the boat now, my strange chimera friend, I reached out to her, trying to keep most of my weight far from the edge of the boat. For all my beliefs that I was nearing the limits of life or at least sanity I knew I didn’t want to be shark food. I didn’t want to be like Tom, the nightmare of being eaten was too great for me. I’d rather be mummified by salt spray and sun and wash up on some shore, an impromptu mummy or even a rotted corpse than have a burial at sea. I still had bad dreams about that. That and the storm, but mostly about lifting up the back of Tom’s head to see his face eaten off and a little brown shark latched onto his throat, intent on ripping it out. Then the serrated nightmare mouth thrashing what was left of Tom’s body in the water and ripping off chunks to swallow.

I had become convinced that my new companion was real. It shows how much my sanity had crumbled that I could identify humans as hallucinations but a strange blend of animals that were impossible was something that I had started to believe in. I grabbed her hoof, it was wet, solid and real in my hand. She didn’t pull away and so I grabbed her other hoof as well and, moving further from the side of the boat with her weight on it, I pulled.

I was scared of her horn but she seemed conscious of its danger to me and kept her head turned away from me despite the difficulty this caused her in trying to get on board and away from the circling fins. She pushed and clawed with her hind legs (no pun intended, they were actually her rear goose legs, ironically only front legs were actual hind legs). I winced at the potential damage her claws could cause my the lifeboat was made of state of the art materials that, unlike my GPS, seemed to be all that I had been promised.

With some splashing and wobbling of the boat she managed to get her bulk into the boat, a task made even more difficult by the fact that her bottom was so very much heavier than her top.

“You’re not much in the upper body strength department, are you, sweetheart?” I asked once she was on board and I was panting for breathe.

Bottom heavy was an understatement. She was enormous and I could clearly see that it wasn’t that she was fat, she was heavily pregnant. She panted for air after her exertions as well. We sat there for awhile, the sharks circled and we both stayed very still. For all she was an animal, she was a clever animal and had been well aware of her jeopardy. If only I were so lucky as she had been to have a last minute rescuer.

“I wouldn’t count yourself so lucky,” I counseled her. “This is the boat to nowhere. You may have a reprieve from being shark food but I’m not sure what good that will do you, at least we’ll both have some company while we die.”

She watched me but she didn’t say anything. I was wet and covered in salt water from helping her on board. I was starting to believe she was real. She was certainly large enough. I thought she probably took up lifeboat space for about five men… or women. Either one. She was certainly a woman. In addition to her bloated belly she had large udders that hung between her goose legs. I could see a bit of milk ooze from them and I wondered how close she was to giving birth, I was pretty sure that however many babies she had in that enormous gut I was about to be outnumbered and wondered if they would commandeer my lifeboat and toss me over. More puns, comman’deer’. God, I needed to go home!

It would be the most remarkable mutiny in the history of ships if it happened out that way. Or maybe it wouldn’t be remarkable. Maybe such things had happened to sailors foolish enough to help this creature out all the time and she left no survivors. Her intelligent eyes were the last thing I saw as I stumbled my way back into sun drenched sleep.

I woke up some time later with the most intense craving for milk I’ve ever had when there have not been chocolate chip cookies involved. I had slept and dreamed that I had suckled at the udder of a strange beast, the likes of which I had never heard of on land or sea.

The sky was overcast now and in the distances roiling clouds were rolling slowly towards us, black and purple reflecting off of the sea.

I found that I had indeed laid my head on the dear-thing’s soft belly while I slept. How I got there I was unsure, but I was unsure of a lot of what I said or did sleeping or waking by that time. I had milk from her udder on the side of my face. She had laid a protective hoof over me while I slept.

I moved it and sat up to get a better look at the clouds, “I don’t think we’ll have time for a mutiny judging from those clouds. I think we’re both more likely to swim with the sharks for our endings after all,” I remarked to her.

She turned her head away from the storm towards something completely unexpected in the opposite direction of the darkest of the clouds, she was looking at smoke.

volcano-ocean

It moved upward, black and gray and filled with soot, it was unmistakeably smoke.

“Well, I’ll be jiggered,” I said, rubbing my sun burned scalp. “You must be a lucky deer at the very least.”

I watched the smoke for awhile longer and then jumped: I should start rowing! Whatever was over there burning was big enough to catch my eye, maybe it would be big enough to catch someone else’s eye as well. Someone with a big ship that wasn’t on fire, or even a helicopter to air lift out survivors. Despite having something to focus on, the smoke was a far way off. The sky was getting darker and raindrops pelted me and my new friend.

I wondered what they would do with the deer-goose, would they rescue her too? Surely they wouldn’t leave her out at sea to die? I couldn’t think about it, there were just too many variables. We didn’t know what we were headed towards. It could be… why, it could even be an island! Perhaps a forest fire was started with the lightning from one of the storms and it was still smoldering. I had assumed it was a ship on fire, but what if it was land.

I looked at the pregnant beast, “If it’s land that you’ve pointed to, I will kiss you and call you my wife! I won’t even mind the alimony and child support when you divorce me!” I laughed, aware that my words and my laugh were insane. There was no one here except the deer who may or may not be real to hear anyhow, so what did it matter?

I started to sing, Row, row, row your boat, gently out to stream,

The deer look anxious and I think if she could have talked she would have told me to hurry. She had good reason too as well. There were more sharks around us now than there had ever been before except when they had come to eat Tom and I had beat my hasty retreat. The open sea is like a desert, the closer to shore you get, the more life you consistently see. The predators go to spread their death wherever there is life.

I looked at the smoke again, I had to face backwards to row more efficiently and I kept turning to make sure my baring hadn’t been thrown askance. I didn’t want to overshoot my mark and go rowing merrily right past it. This time I could see a narrow cone rising in the distance, it was the source of all the smoke: an island volcano.

The deer hybrid made soft cooing noises as we approached the island, when we got close enough to shore to come in to land she strategically pushed off into the water with her feet. The water we were in was shallow and clear and we both kept a keen lookout for sharks after passing through so many of them to get here, but they seemed to be keeping their distance from the shoreline.

I pulled and she pushed and we got the boat off the shore and into the bushes at the edge of the jungle that covered the island where sand and volcano didn’t. The cone volcano was steep with black sides and only a bit of green dotted the edges of it.

The storm that had been threatening was barreling down on us. I used the small toolkit that came with the life boat to cut away undergrowth and then to top off four trees that would roughly fit into the width and depth of the boat. There were sheets of plastic and tarps as well. I used the tarps to nail to the trees I had butchered and the plastic to form a water trap so that we could re-fill our used water supplies and avoid using them for as long as the heavy weather stayed with us.

I found I had a few extra tarps left. Tarps, rope and all sorts off fasteners are the most amazing and vital of survival tools. I used one tarp to seal the floor to the walls and ran the rope through them to seal them tightly in a weave together. Only one area of the tarp was not nailed down, my door.

I ran outside to check on my water trap. It was working well to gather water. I had dug a hole in the sandy edge of the jungle and suspended my make-shift cone to funnel water into it. The sides were built up substantially from the surrounding sand to keep it as a large bowl for water. It was already half full so I filled the empty water bottles I had and waited it to fill some more.

I had no firewood but in my shelter, the wind tore at the canvas but couldn’t come in. I had a solar powered lamp that I turned on for solace and spent some time melting a block of wax to fix the rope to the canvas and stop the leaks of air I had made with my puncture marks when I had sewn it shut. I opened the compartment with blankets, things I had barely used since the beginning of my journey and made myself a nest in my little pocket of safety from the storm that buffeted me. I wondered where the deer had gotten off to, once I was settled I was lonely for company and she had been good, if quiet company. I started to wonder if she had been a hallucination after all.

I wound the radio up and tried to get any signal. I hit the GPS button some more, it stayed green. I fell asleep in a mound of blankets, homesick and wounded in my spirit. Land had at last come and it was so alien to me that it brought new fears than the comfort I had imagined.

I woke up in the morning to find my deer-goose friend had returned and found the door in the night. The shelter smelled like wet animal and fish. A mound of cooked fish sat on the ground in front of the pregnant chimera. It smelled like soot and spices as well as fish. She was sleeping and I crept forward to look at what she had brought back. I assumed she had stolen them from a local population because they had been gutted and stuffed with spices like nutmeg and other things that smelled delicious but I couldn’t identify, they had then been seared over a fire so the outer skin was burned and crispy and the inner flesh cooked and redolent with the spices it had been stuffed with.

Stolen or not, I wanted fresh food rather than rations and I took her fish and ate several of them. I looked up to see one of her eyes open and she was watching me eat, a content smile on her face.

After two days of raging, the storm left the sky clear once more and I woke to the sounds of the denizens of the jungle, hooting and squalling their pleasure to see the rains pass. The deer-goose was gone again and I went outside to get a good look at where we had landed. The water was still turgid from the storm but it was clearing to a beautiful blue. I was scared to go too deeply into the jungle so I skirted the edges, looking for fruit that looked familiar. I found a fig tree inhabited by monkeys and what I soon discovered were day-sleeping bats. After some awkwardness between myself and the two other ‘owners’ of the tree over the territory I found enough unblemished figs that hadn’t been snacked on to feel accomplished. I emptied my water trap into what containers I had left and used some of the remnants to have a bath.

I had a one-burner kerosene stove with me and a jug of kerosene but I wasn’t going to waste it on warming bathwater when the heat of the tropical sun was more than enough for me. Late in the evening the deer-goose came back again. This time I saw her prepare the fish. She made a funny sight, with her delicate front and her long horn with a row nearly as long as the horn covered in fish.

She deftly slit them open with her horn and spat macerated spices into the wound. I felt queasy knowing that I had eaten them the night before. She inhaled deeply after fiddling with this activity for some time, I realized I was dealing with a true gourmand. When she exhaled I screamed a startled scream, fire came out of her mouth and seared the fish right in front of me. She ignored me and repeated the process.
She then deftly flipped each fish with her horn or hoof and repeated the process. Afterward, she sat on the beach and looked pointedly at me. I realized with a start that she was waiting for me to help her carry them in. She must have either cooked them right in the tent with me the night before, how could she have done what she just did while in the middle of a storm?

I had thought of her as a harmless oddity for a companion up until then. Then I realized that she could have lit the shelter on fire while I slept or could breathe fire or impale me any time she wanted. She stamped a hoof impatiently and I found a broad leaf to put the fish into and carry them into the shelter. The important thing was that she could have hurt me anytime she wanted and hadn’t. Maybe she really did think of me as a potential help-mate, a sort of father figure for her children.

I took the fish into the tent and she left again. She returned with more fish and herbs and repeated the process. I took them into the tent without being asked this time and she left for a third time to return with a third set of them. She was gutting the fish with her tender precision when I asked her, “Why are you doing this? You know they’ll get rotten in this heat in a hurry, right?”

She paused in her activities and gave me a disdainful look. I remembered what my wives had been like when they were pregnant and decided that a harsh look was a lucky response and waited to carry them back into the tent when she was finished her painstaking chore. It was getting dark now and this time she followed me into the tent. She nudged some of the freshest fish towards me and I decided that it was too late to worry about her spit in my food, I had already eaten the fish the night before. They weren’t fresh like this bunch and they were delicious. I ate them so quickly I burnt my fingers and my mouth. She ate a few of them as well but I guessed that she must be eating them fresh while she was hunting as well because she didn’t eat very many, fewer than I had. I offered her some of my figs, she ate a few politely and then experimented with macerating them and adding them to the fish. She carefully re-heated the fish with her fire breathe and tried the results of her culinary experiment. She seemed pleased and implied heavily with a look that she’d like a few more. I obliged, tossing them to her. I was full on fish anyway but the figs were fresh and ripe, a perfect dessert.

“I’ll get more of those tomorrow since you like them,” I offered. She looked pleased with my offer and then settled down to sleep for the night. I woke in the night to hear her weeping and moaning. I turned on the lamp and saw that she had already given birth to a dozen children like her. She was still in the throes of labor, her muscular body was rippling with contractions as she gave birth. The babies were so small, how many did she have in there?

She grabbed the babies with her mouth, the young had only tiny nubbins where their horns would one day grow in. She ripped open the little placenta of the ones who hadn’t broken free and licked their mouths free of fluid. They made tiny mewling noises and found their way to her oozing udder. They didn’t suckle from the tips like a fawn or calf, but licked at the drops that had been oozing out of the glands all up them for days now. Soon more were ready for their turn and they nudged the already slightly larger siblings out of place who rolled away and onto the pile of fish that they were delighted by and started to eat ravenously. Her repeated trips for food made sense to me now.

By morning she was exhausted and her young was so numerous and mobile that I was unable to count how many of them there were, I could get to eighty for sure before they milled around too much and I gave up trying to count them. My deer friend was much slimmer by morning and she slept in. I left to collect water, there was a little more for the condensation gathering on my trap even though there had been no new rain. I brought the deer mother some of it, she lapped it up and then fell back asleep, her young suckling and feuding and playing on her.

She got up by afternoon and left the tent, I assumed to go tend herself. I had already returned with figs and eaten my fill of them and then seen if the baby deer-geese would eat figs. They didn’t know what to do with them and returned to the remains of the fish (which were mostly scraps and bits stuck to the leaves I had carried them with). I didn’t see how she was going to feed so many of them, or how we were all going to shelter together in here. They had already doubled in size from the night before and it was crowded and loud in my shelter. I played with the beacon out of habit and then heard the deer out on the beach. She had prepared more fish and called a strange cross between a goose’s honk and a coo. The babies went running out to her feast and I went too, wanting more of her fresh cooked fish.

When I reached out a hand to package them up and take them back to the shelter she gave a hiss that reeked of brimstone and a flame licked across the hairs on the back of my hand. I quickly pulled my hand back and stung but her sudden lack of hospitality I went back to the shelter for some rations.

I was disappointed in the ration situation as well. Not all the babies had gone out at her call and they had quickly found the rations and were tearing through the packets. I saw with alarm that they had tiny, razor sharp horns protruding from where there had only been a nubbins. I gathered the packets that were still together and pulled on one that was being munch on by a hungry deer-goose baby. He hadn’t gotten through the foil yet and I hoped to salvage it, “Get on out to your mother, she’s brought you food, this is for me,” I said irately.

The little beast responded with the tiniest of flames and a waft of smoke followed it. He feinted at me with his little horn and I foolishly didn’t realize how sharp the new horn would be and moved my hand back to slow. It was so sharp I barely felt it but had to quickly wrap my index finger in gauze to staunch what was a shallow but rather long cut.

I glared at them, little beasts, they had no manners and my little shelter smelled of their dung and urine already. They had messed on my blankets too. I grabbed an oar and pushed the little hell spawn out of the shelter. They hissed and little cloud of smoke came out of their mouths. But the oar did the trick and I put up a barricade to keep them out with their mother and started trying to clean up my only shelter.

I had done as good of a job as I could but my blankets were going to need a wash. I would have to wait until tomorrow, it was getting late and I would have to find where the deer goose had been hunting for fish if she wasn’t going to share anymore. I poked my nose outside, it smelled better outside than in my stinky shelter, it smelled like tropical salt winds and cooked, spiced fish. The doe glared at me and I put my head in the tent. I guess the honeymoon was over.

Cranky about the lack of hot food and the smell and how the little monsters had torn through my carefully hoarded rations I played with the SOS beacon some more. I had been pushing the button so much that there was less resistance behind it now. Useless or not, my hope would be gone when that button broke. I pushed it, trying staccato rhythms, pulses, holding it down for a long time, nothing new. It had become almost a nervous habit to try to make it work and the doe was making me very nervous today. The light was orange.

The light was orange. It blinked rapidly in quick succession: orange, orange, orange in long short, long bursts. SOS. My jaw dropped and I stared at it stupidly. A reassuring voice came out of the beacon: Your Acme Super Beacon 5000 has been activated. Emergency services have been notified and you will be rescued as soon as they can scramble air support to reach your location. Please note, if this is a false alarm, you will be billed for false use of your beacon. If this is a real emergency, know you are in good hands and rescue is on its way. Please remain with the beacon at all times to ensure rescue. Stay safe and keep using Acme!

I let my hands fall to my sides. It had worked! I wanted to hug the beacon. Keep using Acme! I had a few complaints about the delay in service but if they got me out of here now I’d sing their praises to the rooftops!

One of the fawns stumbled into the shelter, my barricade had done little to dissuade the awkward little things. I pointed at it, “Take that, mother fuckers! I’m going home! You can keep your stinking fish!”

It looked up at me, it had sooty fish scales on its nose. It curled up in the corner and fell asleep, I curled up in my smelly bed in much the same way. Tomorrow help could be here! If it wasn’t, I would find a place to wash my blankets and scrub out my shelter. It was time for the doe to take her bevy of fawns and leave anyway, they were wild animals and I had helped her when she needed it but now it was time for her to move on. I didn’t relish breaking the news to her but it was best to do anyhow, how would people react to these strange never before seen creatures?

I was just about asleep when it came to me: These were never before discovered creatures! They would be worth something, even if it was just in fame. Imagine the movie rights alone, and if I could prove it…

There were so many of them. I grabbed the sleeping fawn up and put it in the emptied out compartment that had held rope and tarps. That should hold it. Just in case the doe realized her welcome was over, I would keep one, she wouldn’t even miss it. Probably without my shelter she would have lost a lot more to predators already, I reassured myself.

When I woke up again it was still dark except for the reassuring orange glow of my beacon light. The doe and her brood had made their way back into the shelter and I cursed. Stinking bunch that they were, they were going to drive me out of my own shelter if they weren’t gotten rid of. My movement woke several of them and a mewling cry went up in a ripple from the disturbed babies. The mother honk cooed at them and I heard the sounds of their nursing and then a few licks of flame illuminated the hoard around me. I saw that they had grown much larger. They cried out, they were hungry, I could tell the sound of a hungry baby anywhere. I looked around for the doe’s mound of fish and saw none. Hadn’t she planned this out? She didn’t’ have enough milk to feed all these babies.

She looked at me, her eye reflecting off the jets of fire from her young. In the dark her eyes looked frightening, alien. I scrambled to find the solar light to turn it on and something sliced my hand open. One of the fawns had cut right through the meaty part of my hand below my thumb. She followed it up with a jet of fire that scorched me. I screamed and it seemed to be a signal to the others, they launched themselves at me. All horns and flame and tiny hooves, their mother sat and watched as her children scavenged their first ‘hunt’.

“Don’t! Stop! Don’t let them!” I screamed out. Their pointed teeth complimented their sharp horns in their attack. They were as large as puppies now and they truly were a hoard of large Lilliputians. I couldn’t get up, they were on my chest and then I breathed in a flame and my last thought as I faded to nothing was that maybe the sharks weren’t so bad after all.

Epilogue:

Coast Guard Rescue Ops: Location a small island in the region known as the Spice Islands near Molucca.

 

Field Report Excerpt:

August 6, 2015

Located activated beacon. Unfortunately only a few human remains were found at a hastily constructed shelter. We retrieved the log books that spoke of a malfunctioning beacon and what seemed to be a great many hallucinations. From the log it appears another man was lost at sea near the shipwreck. The family of the deceased will be notified.

Whatever hallucinations he was having he was plagued by some sort of animal and there were signs that an animal had nested in the ‘cabin’ Dan Wilson had made for himself after the wreck. No sign was found of the animals although there were a great number of different animal tracks around his shelter. Monkeys had taken up house in the shelter making recovering remains difficult to say the least. We will disassemble the shelter after documenting it and return it to Acme and Wilson’s insurance company for a full evaluation of the nature of the malfunctioning equipment.

 

spice-islands-map

Searches for Tom Wigolm continue although we are pessimistic of any success at this time.

Follow up Coast Guard Report:

September 2, 2015

The remains of the boat, a few bits of fiberglass and bits of the mast were discovered. There were no signs of human remains. We are officially calling off the search and declaring Tom Wigolm to be lost at sea and declared deceased based off of supporting evidence.

Internal Memo from All Home Insurance Brokers: Insurance for Homes and Life

November 11, 2015

After an examination of the Acme Super Beacon 5000 and the guidance equipment that was salvaged from case number 1872839, it is the determination that it was likely solar interference rather than a failure from the manufacturer that caused the malfunction.

A thorough examination of the rescue boat found that most of the rations had been consumed although water supplies had been refilled. If wild animals hadn’t attacked him it is likely that Dan Wilson would have survived his endeavor.

As a footnote I would like to add to the report unofficially that a strange creature was discovered inside one of the compartments. I’ve included some photos of the mostly decayed animal. I’m unfamiliar with the wildlife of Molucca and surrounding islands and am unable to identify it.

R. Renky

December 15, 2015,

(Internal memo at All Home Insurance)

Mr. R. Renky, in regards to your unofficial footnote, it has been determined that the animal was likely some stillborn ungulant that the victim of the animal attack fixated on in his delusional state. The remains have been incinerated and your note edited from the final report. The beneficiaries of his life insurance, two ex-wives and his children have received their payout and the matter is closed.

Sincerely,

A.T Woods.

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