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Chapter Two: Settling In (Well, Sort Of)

The second chapter to an untitled story based off my dream... (or... nightmare)

When we landed it was about noon- though we didn't care much about time, we cared about the light in the sky- and at the point that I started realizing what was happening (the moment when I start remembering), I'd say it was about two o'clock.

Some guys (of about eighteen to twenty-one in age) start shouting about swimming out. I think it's a good idea- what's the worst that could happen?

Nobody stops the guys- nobody really wants to try, risking a fight and therefore pushing and shoving while we're still so close to the water- and they strip down to just their boxers (just that part is stupid, way out here in the Sound... more idiots). They stand in a line and run at the water, jumping and diving all at the same time.

An older guy- about 23 or 24 to my twenty- comes up and puts a comforting arm around me, trying to get me to turn away from the sight that unfolds in front of us. I don't know why I say no, I don't know why I absolutely have to see what's going to happen, but I do.

"Nah, I'm fine- and they should be fine, shouldn't they? It's just water." But in the back of my mind, something stirs. I ignore it of course. (I suspect the stirring was a small bit of what I had "forgotten")

What happens next is not for the faint hearted. The second they hit the water, we hear the screams. They try and fail to escape- to swim to shore and save their lives. The acid- because that's really what it is, not water. (I suspect sulfuric, because what other could it be?)- has already eaten up their skin, and through the bones of their chests. Within seconds, they're without hearts- dead and disintegrating into the liquid murderer.

Their screams will stay with me forever, but that's not the end of it all. No, that disgusting scene is just the beginning. 

I hear another scream break the silence and it takes a second for me to realize that it's me- and even then I can't seem to stop. At the point when I run out of breath, the scream turns to whimpering and my legs give out on me, but before I can drop to the ground, the man next to me catches me around the waist and turns me around- away from the water and the people still watching in horror.

On the side of my brain still thinking, I wonder why a stranger is so kind, but then I look up and realize I know him- he goes to the University of Washington during the year and works at Orange Julius in the summertime with me.

"Shh... Astrid..." his hand rubs my back and he pulls me with him away from the water, closer to the largest group. The remaining few from the ferry have split into two groups: the large group and the small group. The small group is whispering about something or other- probably thoughts on trying to escape again- and only has about four people in it. The large group- our group- is working out what to do and where to go and is about twelve people strong. The oldest in our group is about thirty and has heard the stories about the island. He's asking how many of us can climb trees- not surprisingly, about half raise their hands. I am not one of those, but my work buddy is and he keeps a strong arm around me.

"There are twelve of us, but a pair per tree, so we will use six trees. Between each tree pair will be an empty tree, to confuse predators."

There are murmurs around the group- either about not knowing him, so why should we listen? or about why we need to confused predators- there's nothing out there that'll kill us, we're the top predator.

"...if the stories are correct, there are creatures here specially created to kill us. In this case, and for your own safety, understand that once you're up in your tree for the night- before the sun starts setting- you do not leave your tree." He pauses as if for effect, but is actually waiting to see if anybody questions. Nobody does... verbally.

"Now, let's mark our trees- no, we'll not be sleeping here our whole time here, but we must mark them to know where we've been. Find your partners- Climbers, you must partner with a non-Climber and if you can't decide who to be with, I'll decide for you. Choose wisely, they will be your partner the whole time we're here and will almost never leave your side."

Gabriel tightens his grip around me as guys attempt to choose me as their partners. They soon get a clue and leave us alone, partnering together, and then we're off to find our trees, marking them by carving into them with a knife someone had on them. Each of them are marked with both partners' first initials and the number one for the first time sleeping there. It's getting close to sunset, so after this we're ordered to climb up our trees and find a safe-ish place to eat our snacks we had on us and sleep for the night.

I climb onto Gabriel's back and he finds his way up the tree to a W-shape in it about halfway up. The branch-offs are just close enough together for us to use the space as a bed, bending our legs at our knees and sitting up against the smallish cracks.

We eat, then, laying both our heads against one of the branch-offs and tying our hands together for safety purposes, we go to sleep.
This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2012-2019 by Aria Leitner aka Colors_of_the_Wind

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