By day 358 on the island I was shitting through the eye of a needle.
I didn’t know if the coconuts were rancid or I’d simply eaten so many that my body was finally starting to reject them. But what choice did I have? I could shit myself silly or I could starve to death. I was seriously considering the latter.
And then I saw the boat on the horizon. I thought it was coconut-induced delirium at first, but I blinked and I blinked and it wouldn’t go away. I stoked the fire and piled it high with every flammable thing I could find until thick plumes of grey smoke rose high up into the azure sky.
I was beside myself when it came to me. I was laughing like a loon. I thought I was destined to die here — I thought I’d never set eyes on another human again. But along came this enormous cruise ship like a gift from the gods.
It anchored up a little way off from shore and soon there was a wee orange lifeboat making its way towards me, crew members waving at me happily. I waved back and I wept with joy, thinking of the look on my wife’s face when she learned that I was still alive.
The captain greeted me first. “Well I never! What on Earth happened to bring you here?”
I filled him in; the holiday, the fishing trip, the storm, the wreckage, the death of my lifelong best friend, the way his skin crisped up on the fire, the coconuts, the shitting, the despair.
“We’ll get you home and safe,” the captain assured me. “And you’ll love it aboard our ship. It’s an under-30s cruise. Party boat, we call it. We have raves going on until the early hours of the morning, buy-one-get-one-free cocktails, buy-three-get-two-free Sambuca shots, all sorts of games like Strip Poker, Strip Twister, oh and Strip Chess is a particular favourite. Our guests never stop partying. They’re at it all over the place, too — I found a pair going like rabbits in the bridge. And the singing — you’ll love the singing. If you don’t join in with the singing and the chants, you risk being tossed overboard by some of our more enthusiastic guests. All in good fun, of course.”
The captain chuckled and clapped me on the back. I shuddered.
“Come along then,” he said. “Let’s get you settled in.”
“You know, I think I’m gonna take my chances here,” I said, forcing a smile. “Not my kind of thing, a party boat.”
“Really? But… you’ll starve to death, surely.”
“Yeah, well. Thanks anyway.”