Chapter 1 - Stranded
Half asleep, I coughed as I’d never coughed before. I ended up puking out some salty water which hurt like hell. When I was done, I was fully awake and feeling horrible.
Holy crap. My whole body felt sore.
I found myself laying on top of a hard and gritty surface. When my hand dug into wet scrunching grains, I knew it was sand I laid upon. What had happened to me? I tried to think of the last recollection I had and it all came back to me again.
The cruise ship.
Chaos. Panic. People who cried.
The cold seawater I found myself drowning in.
Oh, God. The ship sank.
My head throbbed, just like my heart did. After I finally succeeded in opening my eyes, I immediately regretted it. The blazing sun was too fucking bright. My mouth was dry and my throat was stinging.
“Ugh…” I muttered, trying to roll on my back. Where the fuck was I? A beach? Was I going to die? No wait, did I die already? Please, this couldn’t be heaven, could it be? If it was, then please, God, send me back.
Wait. Who was I?
Cassie, twenty-eight years old, owner of my own little webshop, daughter, sister, friend. Yes, I still remembered. And I had spoiled myself with a vacation, which, apparently, ended in a disaster.
Oh, God. My parents? What would they say if they found out the ship had sunk? They must go crazy with worries. They must be so sad.
Suddenly the sun was gone. Maybe it was hell I’d ended up in?
“It’s alright, you’re safe.” A voice spoke. It was a low voice, a man’s voice.
I looked up which was a little easier without the sun and saw him kneeling before he hovered over me. It was him who brought the shade.
“W-where are w-we?” I asked with a raspy voice and coughed again.
“I don’t know, but I think it’s just you and me here,” he replied, touching my forehead for a brief moment. “Can you stand up?” he then asked.
“I don’t know. I...I can h-hardly speak,” I answered.
“Ok, then I’ll try to carry you because I think we need to get out of this bright sun or we’ll face even greater problems.”
I don’t know how long I was out of it again, but I woke up when the stranger poured some water into my mouth. I felt I was leaning against something hard, I think it was a tree trunk.
“Just a little bit...there you go,” he said, drizzling some more in my mouth. “Little by little, or you’ll start coughing again.”
I looked up at his face and was a little surprised by his extremely good looks for someone who just washed ashore. I’m sure that I looked like a fucking wreck. It was certainly how I felt.
“I’m Max,” he said.
Max seemed younger than I was. He was athletically built, had light brown skin, and beautiful hazel-colored eyes. His black hair was shimmering with sweat. Just as his half-naked tattooed body was.
Just because I laid here half-dead didn’t mean I couldn’t still observe things. And I just observed that Max was pretty damn hot.
“Good that you still remember who you are,” he said. “Do you also remember what happened?”
“I do. The ship got into some accident and sank,” I answered. He nodded his head in acknowledgment. “Oh, God, all those people,” I whispered. “There probably are so many people that didn’t make it…”
I hadn’t even thought about that before, but the realization just hit me and I started to cry.
“Hey…” Max tapped my shoulder, trying to comfort me, not knowing if he was allowed to come closer or not. “It’s a horrible tragedy, but...we survived,” he said after a little while. All this time he kneeled before me, just silently comforting me. I didn’t know him, but I knew I was safe with him. Thank God, he was here with me.”
“I’m happy I’m n-not alone.”
“Me too. We’ll have to stick together in this. Will you help me with that?”
“I w-will.” I nodded as I wiped my tears.
“That’s good. You can cry though,” he said and sat down next to me now.
I didn’t hold back and balled my eyes out once more, my cries coming in hoarse sobs. When I was done, he gave me a couple of sips from his water bottle.
“How did you get the water?” I asked after I’d caught my breath back.
“I found a rescue bag on the beach that was washed ashore as well. I think every ship has a few of those. It was pure luck that one ended up here. I also found a few suitcases with some stuff in them we maybe could use. But the rescue bag is certainly the best catch. It’s watertight, so we at least have a few bottles of water, a flare gun, a knife, a firestarter, and more which we can use.”
“Jesus. We are fucking lucky,” I said.
We could have done much worse. I was no expert but I did watch a lot of those survival shows on tv, just because they’re interesting, and I knew that a lighter and knife were the most important items to survive.
“Oh, certainly.” He agreed and leaned back against the palm tree as I did. “I have no idea where we are, so I don’t know if and how the weather will change. Do you have any idea where we could be?”
I shook my head. “I’m the type of person that gets lost in her own city.”
He laughed. His smile was gorgeous.
“I woke up a few hundred meters from you, but I only stayed on the beach and haven’t been exploring further on land. I’m thinking about taking a look. See if there’s a cave somewhere we might be able to shelter in if it’s going to rain. Do you think you can walk already or shall I check it out now? I’ll come back as soon as possible.”
I nodded, not feeling ready to walk yet. “You will be back soon, right?” I asked, grabbing his hand in mine.
“Yeah. Don’t worry, I won’t leave you alone.”
And he had come back soon, telling me that he found a cave where we could hide and sleep.
The cave was near a lake and a waterfall. If we weren’t under these horrible circumstances, I would even find the location breathtaking. The lake was bluer than I’d ever seen before. And the stones were covered in a layer of green. There stood all these tropical trees and flowers in all colors. It was like a movie scene.
However, right now, I couldn’t seem to care much for colorful sunsets, blue lakes, and palm trees.
We thankfully hadn’t encountered any dangerous animals but we did agree that we should make a fire. Another thing I’d seen on tv. Fire keeps animals away, right?
So that’s where I found myself at this moment, sitting beside the warm flames which were very welcoming because it indeed had gotten a lot colder as it became darker.
In the bag that Max had found were also a few emergency food bars, so we decided to eat that first, and tomorrow we could search for food. We both are one but I could only finish half. It was gross. But at least it was something.
“I still can’t believe any of this,” I said.
“Yeah, it’s as if we are stranded in some nightmare,” Max agreed. “It’s so surreal”.
He sat a few meters away from me, drawing circles into the dry sandy brown ground with his finger.
“Our family must be so worried,” I said.
“Yeah...my poor parents,” he replied.
“How old are you?” I asked while trying to comb some knots out of my hair, using my fingers. Long hair was so not helpful right now. Tomorrow, I’ll search in one of those suitcases if there’s a comb in there.
“I’m nineteen. And you?” he asked.
“I’m twenty-eight. I already expected you to be younger. You’re very mature for your age, though.” I said.
“Yeah...I hear that more often. I guess I’m a bit more serious than most other guys my age.”
“Your girlfriend must be worried too...” I didn’t know why, but I kinda hoped he would say he was single.
He looked up. “Oh, I don’t have a girlfriend. And...your boyfriend, he must be worried…?”
“Oh, I don’t have a boyfriend.”
“A husband then?”
“Haha, no husband. No girlfriend either,” I replied, smiling.
“It’s the first time I see you smile,” he said, smiling too. He looked so handsome with the orange light that danced on his face.
“Well, sadly, there wasn’t much to smile about,” I sighed and shrugged.
“But I’m glad I have you,” I said for the second time that day. I didn’t wanna be too much, but I was just very happy.
“Me too,” he said.
We were silent after that and the only sound that filled the cave was the cracking wood that came from the campfire and the splashing sound of the waterfall outside.
Max started to yawn and rubbed his eyes. He must be so tired since he was the one that had to do everything today. He had even carried me half of our walk to the cave.
“You’re tired. You should sleep,” I said.
“You should too.”
He had cut off some large tree leaves and placed them on the ground before we ate our dinner. That was gonna be our bed. It was no five-star hotel bed, but it would do for tonight.
“Yeah. Let’s sleep and see what tomorrow’s gonna bring us. Maybe someone will come to rescue us tomorrow,” I said, even though I didn’t believe it myself.
“Ok. What do you think, is the fire ok like this?” he asked. “Can we leave it?”
“I think so, maybe it’ll go out but I think that’s the worst that can happen.”
“Yeah...I have no idea. I’ve never been stranded on an island before.”
I laughed as I crawled to the floor and laid down. “Me neither. I just hope I won’t be a victim of mosquitoes tonight.”
“I haven’t seen any yet,” he said as he also laid down, an arm’s length away from where I laid.
At night, I felt cold. So very cold. The fire didn’t provide enough heat to keep me warm and my teeth started chattering.
Max woke up from my twisting and turning. “Are you cold?” he asked.
“R-r-r-really c-cold,” I answered.
“Can I...Can I maybe lay beside you?” he asked. “To keep you warm. They always say that body-to-body contact keeps you warm.”
“I d-d-don’t care, p-please, you can do a-anything to me you w-want at this point.” My back and neck began to hurt from the shivering.
He stood up and laid himself beside me and he felt like a warm blanket. “Better?” he asked.
“T-thank you s-so much, yes better,” I replied. He felt so good.
Read up to chapter 4 on my patron.