Moments later, the sailor woke up to screams and secondary explosions from the gunboat. He had been thrown from the ship along with other sailors as the shell struck and was now treading water. The vessel was halfway sunk, with only it's fast sinking hull still above the surface. Debris lay scattered and aflame all over the seemingly boundless blue water. Burning supplies from the boat, boxes of medical equipment, and parcels of food and blown out furniture were strewn between dozens of floating dead seamen. The dazed young sailor swam listlessly through the floating debris, toward a flat wooden panel and clung to it to buoy himself, then he used the last of his energy to throw himself atop the wooden board. He looked around him, trying to make sense of the carnage that was fast unravelling before his eyes and lost consciousness again soon after.
When the sailor awoke, he found himself laying face down on a deserted beach. Grains of sand stuck to his cheek and pricked his skin like a thousand tiny needles. Waves from the ocean washed over him rudely and receded in irregular intervals, forcing him to crawl weakly on his knees and elbows further ashore until he reached the foot of a tree where he collapsed heavily on the base of the tree trunk and was immediately confronted by the bleak image that spread out around him.
The sandy beach stretched out a hundred yards before being swallowed up by lush green verdure, dotted with leafy trees and clumps of thick brush. The landscape spread out then rose into a shrub covered mountain which the sailor immediately knew he would have to scale in order to survey the sea for rescue ships and to get a better view of the small desolate island on which he had suddenly found himself. His skin smelled of salt and his mouth tasted of it. His tongue and throat were parched and itching and his eyes burned. He smouldered with thirst and wanted to get up to search for water but his entire body had gone weak and limp. The sun had begun to make its way halfway into the sea, throwing a shimmery image of itself in a formless streak across the ocean, when slumber engulfed the sailor. He slept all night where he had collapsed, without stirring.
The movements of hundreds of red ants that had crept into the sailor's damp shirt and trousers, woke him up the following morning. The tree he had passed out under provided no cover as the pre-noon sun shone harshly into his face, forcing him to sit up right. The ants continued to probe his body and a lot of them had begun to bite and sting the sailor after his sudden movements, prompting him to quickly rip his shirt and trousers off. He furiously brushed the little creatures off his salty body with his palms. The air had grown heavy with languor and his thirst returned with even more rigor. He could not drink the salty sea water which was in abundance beyond the beach, for it would only worsen his thirst and cause him to vomit so he had to scour the island in hopes of finding freshwater. The thirst became unbearable, compelling the sailor to begin a desperate search for water, leaving his clothes behind.
The sailor trekked naked through thick foliage for an hour before, by chance, he found a small geyser near the foot of the green mountain. He plunged his face straight into the clearwater and drank for a minute without taking a breath.
Soon after, he began to make his way to the top of the mountain. He pushed through thick elephant grass and stubborn palmettos, climbing up boulders and steep inclines. After covering a considerable distance, he looked up at the hill, gauging the distance left to climb when he spotted the figure of a man looking down at him from the summit.
"There are people on the island!" The sailor cried out loud to himself. A feeling of elation quickly followed and he waved both his arms in the air, yelling to get the man's attention. The man at the summit began to descend, swiftly weaving his way through the thickets and spinneys that covered the face of the mountain. The sailor felt a thumping sense of relief. An exhausted smile beamed across his face as he ran upward to meet the islander. When the islander got closer, the sailor saw that the he had covered his face with a piece of cloth, baring only his eyes. The man was shirtless and wore a pair of severely faded trousers. In his hand, he held a long stick sharpened to a spear, which he raised and deftly threw at the sailor.
The young sailor ducked and the spear missed his face by a millimeter, sending a jolt of surprise and alarm through him. His sense of relief quickly turned into fear. He lunged forward with his full might, charging at his rescuer turned assailant, and collided shoulder first into the man's torso. The pair fell over rocks, smashing their bodies against them and slashing their skins on the wild grass. They tussled furiously, rolling downward until they hit a small boulder. The cloth covering the islander's face had come off during the fight and the sailor could see that the man had long unkempt hair with a full long beard. A rock had been laying on the ground beside the boulder and the sailor picked it up and savagely smashed the head of his attacker. He hit him again with rock and continued, stopping only when he saw blood running over the man's forehead.
In panic, the sailor ran and hid among the short trees. There could be other islanders, he thought. He concealed himself and watched from his hiding place till it became dark, after which he crept out and made his way stealthily down toward the beach. The small island was shrouded in an ominous silence the entire time, save for the croaking of reptiles and the shrilling of insects.
The sailor traced his way back by the soft glow of moonlight until he found the tree he had taken refuge under when he first arrived on the island. He immediately felt for his clothes and found them where he had discarded them. Shaking them roughly for ants, he wore them and lay prone under the tree, watching and listening for movements in case the islanders began a manhunt. The sailor oscillated between slumber and paranoia throughout the night, awaking with a start each time one of the hundreds of reptiles or insects on the mountain wandered too close or made a sudden noise. He suspected the islander was alive and possibly hunting him down to finish off the job. He searched the face of the mountain, hoping to catch any lights or movements but saw nothing in the darkness. When the sun rose, he peered up the desolate hill once more and resolved to return to find his attacker.
The sailor clambered up the mountain, tracing the path from which he had ascended the day before. He hid himself using foliage as he went up until he reached the small geyser he had drank from the previous day, all the while, keeping his eye out for the islander. He looked up the mountain, searching the trees and shrubs with his eyes as they swayed haphazardly in the slow dank island breeze. He climbed further until he arrived at the site of the previous day's altercation and his eyes immediately fell on the islander's corpse. The body was contorted and face down in the dirt, lying in the same position he had left it when he had fled the scene the day before.
He felt an immense sense of guilt when he saw the corpse. The poor man was most likely an inhabitant of the island trying to defend his abode, the sailor thought, and I have murdered him. He was determined to correct this great wrong.
The sailor scouted around the crown of the mountain, searching for a place to bury his victim. He walked through the greenery until he found a small round clearing between some small trees. When the sailor approached the clearing, he found a row of mounds overgrown with weed and concluded that the islander had used the place as some sort of farm or garden. It was the ideal place for him to inter the corpse. The earth in the clearing was easy to dig and there weren't any rocks underneath the soil. The sailor walked back to the dead body and lugged it over his shoulder. He carried it over to the clearing and dropped it in a heap beside him then found a palmetto tree and cut a branch out to dig the loose sand. He dug the entire day and through the night until his fingers smarted. When he had dug a shallow hole, he dragged the dead body into it and covered it.
For three months, the sailor was stranded on the island. He had scoured the entire islet in the first few days, believing there were other islanders but found nobody else. There was nothing but time and guilt to keep him company. He had surveyed the length and breadth of the mountain, finding small caves in which he slept and fruit trees with which he sustained himself. He slowly became an inhabitant of the island himself. Using a flat piece of stone, he sharpened the tip of a long stick, which he had broken off a tree, until it turned into a spear just like the dead islander's, and used it to hunt frogs and iguanas which he found in abundance on the island. He made a fire with rocks and dried grass and nettle to roast his hunt, and fashioned cups out of palmetto leaves to drink and store water from the geyser. As the months passed he became hirsute and bewhiskered. Every day at noon, the sailor scaled the summit of the green mountain and surveyed the deep blue sea for ships. He had never given up hope of being found but he prayed he would not be found by the dead islander's tribe first.
One afternoon, the sailor picked up the spear and went on a routine hunt. He had caught nothing atop the mountain and began to make his way downward to hunt at the foot of the hill. As he began his descent, he noticed some movement in the frondescence below. He looked closely and saw a man at the foot of the hill, inspecting the geyser. The sailor knew he had been discovered. He had always suspected that a search for the islander he had killed three months ago would one day be initiated and he knew that he was now being hunted. "The man has tracked my footprints around the the geyser." He thought in horror.
The sailor remembered how the islander he had killed had wrapped a cloth around his face, and he took off his own shirt and swaddled his face with it in hopes that he would confuse the search party with his disguise. He began to rush down the mountain, spear in hand, hoping to reach the man at the geyser before the man sees him but it was too late. The man had spotted the sailor and had begun to climb up the mountain, screaming to alert other islanders who were likely searching other areas of the mountain for the sailor.
The sailor raced past trees and jumped over small rocks and boulders as the islander made his way up. When they finally got within yards of each other, the sailor drew his hand back and expertly threw his spear at the islander. The man ducked reflexively, dodging the crude wooden javelin which missed his face by mere millimeters. The sailor noticed at that moment that the man was naked. Enraged by the attack, the naked man barreled toward the sailor, knocking him on the ground. An intense scuffle ensued and both men grappled with each other over the jagged rocks and thorny bush.
The man's savage strength overwhelmed the sailor and they tossed about furiously on the ground until they hit a boulder. The sailor's shirt unraveled from his head as they wrestled, and the man, frightened by the sailor's long hair and beard, picked up a rock laying nearby and struck the sailor's head with it repeatedly, knocking him unconscious.
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