The Man on The Island
This story was inspired by one of Reedsy’s writing prompts: “You’re on an island in the middle of the ocean. One day you find a bottle washed up on the shore with a piece of paper in it.”
June 14, 2017 — Day 11
Eleven days… Can it be? Did I count right? I am still struggling to accept it all, but denying it is no longer an option. Denying could, in fact, very well kill me. I have to face the music: I’m stranded.
These past days have been difficult. But as I reread my previous entries, I am happy to see sanity slowly returning to me. I stood on the brink of it for a while as I stared death in the face. But now, my resolution came back. I am determined to get off this island.
Memories of my life before the accident float to the surface of my mind every now and then. I carefully sink them again. I must. It wouldn’t help me one bit to remember the venues I’ve walked through, the songs I sang, the fans who cheered.
It wouldn’t help me to think on the jet’s crash, nor to recall the faces of the friends that fell with me, but never rose again.
Sometimes, when the sun set, I allow myself a prayer for their souls. And I offer my silence to the waves as I stand so close and yet so far from their watery graves. But beyond that, I have to keep my thoughts aligned with my goal, to keep my moods clean. I cannot give in. I will not give in.
June 15, 2017 — Day 12
The shelter is finally finished. I never thought that I — the born and raised city dweller, the one who bleeds Big Apple juice — would someday craft something so simple and yet feel like I’ve just conquered the world.
I don’t think climbing Everest would generate more pride.
Four rudimentary walls made of branches held together by palm fronds, and a roof made of palm leaves. There’s barely room to stand in it, but it’s enough to lie in peace at night. Of course, sleep still eludes me on a regular basis, but it won’t affect my joy of having made this shack all by myself.
No more sleeping on the beach! I can now enjoy some privacy.
Hmm… A restroom might be on my project list next.
June 18, 2017 — Day 15
Fishing was a bust for nearly two days now: a shark has decided to stalk my food. And if Cast Away has taught me one thing, it’s that too much coconut will do for a nice enema. And in such warm conditions, on an island where water is rare, dehydration is a very real risk. I won’t have it! Find something else, universe! I will not die here.
Date — Day Blue
I know why giraffes are purple, because they don’T have a gREen tongue…
? — Day ?
I haven’t written in days! Weeks?
How long have I been here? I’ve lost count. I try to save what little paper and pencil I have left for coherent thoughts. But there’s no more room for hope on these pages.
I write these words for whomever finds my body and wonders what happened to me. So here goes…
My name is Sean T. Platt (although the world knows me not under that name). I was on my way back from my European tour when my private jet crashed, killing six of the closest people to me, and effectively leaving me stranded on this godforsaken island.
The shark left. Food returned, and so have the storms. My shack was destroyed by yesterday’s winds. I watched it fly away, piece by piece, as it shattered my resolution with every new leaf that got torn away.
Rain makes the wood wet and it has become incredibly difficult to light a fire to cook the fish I pull out of the water. I now eat them sushi-style. And to think I always hated sushi before… It’s all I can do not to gag and throw it all up again.
I think that, when it comes to it, if I can choose my own death, starvation could be an option…
? — Day ?
It’s been three days, I think, since my last entry. And when I woke up this morning, something quite formidable had happened. Fog. The whole island had disappeared into the fog. I loved the eeriness of it, the silence. Gone was the endless ocean separating me from civilization (and a good bath). No more wind to tear apart my achievements. No more limit to the land I was walking on. I could imagine myself on a beach somewhere on the east coast. My feet exploring the sandy stretch while I’d be aware that, beyond the cloud, there was still a town. There was still life.
For a brief instant, I could escape this nightmare and lose myself in a dream.
It’s the afternoon now, and the fog has lifted. But the eeriness seems to have lingered behind. An event occurred that can only have one explanation: I am going insane.
As I was walking on the beach, I found — cliché of all clichés — a bottle with a rolled-up message inside. My thoughts briefly whispered, “buried pirate treasure,” but it didn’t last. And my heart sank at the mental image this bottle was forcing in my head. Some other unfortunate soul was trapped on an island, much like myself, reaching out to the world in a silent call, and awaiting a rescue.
A sudden urge to write back to the guy swept over me, and I picked up the bottle in haste. The impracticality of the attempt didn’t even strike me. I removed the cork, freeing the message inside. But as I unrolled the paper, my heart stopped at the sight of the words on it.
They were nothing more than a mere SOS.
A man calling for help after he found himself stranded on an island after a terrible accident. Nothing extraordinary in my circumstances. But what terrified me were the words themselves: they were written in my own hand! Only I had no recollection of ever sending a message in a bottle.
Hell, I didn’t even remember finding a bottle around here before now, let alone a cork!
I honestly had no idea what the fuck was going on (still don’t), but I knew it freaked me good. So, I re-bottled the message and tossed it as far away from me as I could.
And I can now pretend that I dreamed the whole thing.
? — Day ?
That was my first thought as I woke up this morning: I smell smoke. I stood up and scrutinized the horizon for a boat, an old-fashioned one that would have run on coal. Nothing. I spun around, scanning my surroundings, and I found the source of the smell. A column of white smoke was rising from the other side of the island.
There had been no lightning the night before, no reason for that smoke to be there, unless…
“Is someone on the island?!”
Before I had breakfast, before I even unloaded my morning pee, I ran.
I dodged the trees, the bushes, the rocks. I jumped over a fallen log. I ran faster than I remembered running in my entire life.
The thin jungle cleared and another strand of beach appeared. A fire encircled by stones was smoking away wildly…
… and a man was sitting by it!
His knees pressed against his chest, he rocked himself back and forth. He seemed demolished and about ready to cry, hoping against hope for a rescue. My heart went out to him right away. Oh, how I could relate!
And so, I ran to him.
He heard me and turned around. Not knowing if I was friend or foe, he hurried to his feet and took a step back, hiding in the thick smoke.
I never even slowed down … until a gust of wind blew the smoke away, revealing the man’s features.
I stopped dead in my tracks. Those features … they were mine.
That man was me.
To this hour, I cannot remember what happened next. I most likely fainted since my next memory is of waking up by the smoky fire. The man was gone by then. He has not returned yet, but I don’t mind, I’ll wait.
It’s not like I have anything else to do.
And it’s not like he’s got anywhere else to go.
Today — in a cold, white building…
Two men in long coats stood above a third one in a hospital bed. The third man appears to be awake, but his eyes will not meet the shapes of the men standing beside him.
“How much longer?” asked one of the standing men to the doctor who’d entered.
“It’s hard to say. You’ve put him through a great deal. I still can’t reach him.”
“Every man’s an island, they say.”
“Shh! Be careful what you say around him The hypnosis is strong but he can still hear you. There’s no telling how his brain might interpret it.”
“I suppose not.” The man smiled a toothy grin. “But wouldn’t it be fun to find out?”
Valerie L. Ravenscroft is an established writer in her home province of Québec where she writes novels for teenagers in French. As English has become more and more present in her life, she’s decided to take on a bilingual career. Check out her website to find out more!
For Reedsy’s curated feed of writing prompts and the chance to enter our prompts-inspired Short Story Contest, head to reedsy.com/writing.