I was torn between wanting to calm down and wanting to let myself be absolutely livid over this.
“Where the fuck do you fucking get off making those decisions for me?! I already have one fucking father! I don’t need this, this pseudo–parenting from some hypocrite like you!”
“Hypocrite?” he asked softly.
“You had no right!”I said, ignoring him. “You are taking me back to the boat and I am getting my damn phone back, you got it?” I leaned across the table and jabbed my finger at him, my eyes fixed with blackness, my heart pounding in my throat.
He swallowed carefully and nodded, quick and swift.
He got up and started up the path. Obviously, he meant now.
“Good,” I said, my voice wavering the tiniest bit. I noticed my hands were cramped up into heated little fists. I didn’t really know what had come over me. But at least it worked. Maybe Dex would get the point of all of this. I didn’t want to be babysat or policed by someone who didn’t know which way was up half the time. That was one of the most aggravating things about him, his assumption that because he was older or that I was a fuckup, he knew what was best. Sometimes he did. But that wasn’t the point.
I walked behind him for most of the way through the forest. I was too irate to feel creeped out by the feeling of nothingness at my heels, or the shadows that the creaking and swaying trees left on the forest floor.
Dex smoked the entire time, one cigarette after the other, flicking the butts into the bushes. I made a mental note to come back later and pick them up, but I knew that wouldn’t happen. At least the chance of a forest fire was nil in this weather.
It wasn’t until we reached the creepy glade, that I found myself moving a little bit faster until I was right at Dex’s back.
“Did you see the raccoons when you came through earlier?” I asked, my voice startling him a bit in the strange stillness around us. The wind didn’t seem to reach here. It was like being in another world of dripping moss, slimy bark and decaying leaves.
He shook his head. “No I didn’t but I got my ass through here pretty fast.”
I didn’t blame him. I was still scared and I had someone with me.
We went back to walking in silence as we left the glade behind us. The closer we got to the other side of the island, the more the wind and chill picked up again. My hair was still wet from the water, which only added to the cold. I started to wonder if maybe I would die of pneumonia at this rate. I shoved my hands deep in the jacket pockets and hunched up my shoulders to keep my neck warm.
We turned right when we came to the well–trampled trail that ran up the east coast. I looked through the waving branches, seeing glimpses of the roaring waves between them. I couldn’t see the boat at first. That made my heart lurch uncomfortably.
But as we got off the path and the beach opened up, I saw her. She was shuddering with each upward thrust of the colorless, foaming swells, her anchors at both ends straining.
“She looks like she’s going to break away,” I said to Dex as we carefully made our way down a tangled trail and onto the slick pebbles of the beach. The wind here was razor sharp and relentless. It blew our jacket hoods straight back and messed up my hair within seconds.
“I know. I double–checked the rope though, and the anchor. She should be OK.”
With the choppy surf and increment bursts of spray, I was started to second guess my desire to get my phone back. Getting on the Zodiac was going to be a bit of a challenge. Dex had stopped in front of me, staring at it. He was probably thinking the same thing.
I looked again at the Zodiac sitting high on the beach. And realized why he was staring. It was half the height it was before, the pontoons seriously deflated like a squished loaf of bread.
“Oh fuck no! No, no, no, no,” Dex cried out and started running towards it. I followed.
He reached the Zodiac and pushed his hands down on the wet pontoons. They sank even deeper under his weight, a puff and hissing noise coming out from somewhere.
“We can still use it, right?” I asked hopefully, trying to squelch the panic that was bubbling up inside.
He didn’t say anything. He stood in the boat and bent over, inspecting the bottom while pushing down with his other hand. He didn’t have to say anything. I could see we were fucked. The Zodiac would sink like a stone.
And now the panic was coming in, rising fast. I put my hand to my temples and tried to keep calm, keep focused. Everything started to sway and the world became as rough and tumble as the never–ending waves that crashed so close. I closed my eyes and breathed in through my nose as deep as I could, knowing a panic attack would not do us any good here.
Still if anyone needed a reason to panic, being stranded on a haunted island during a storm was as good of a reason as any.
I opened my eyes, staggering a bit off balance, and looked at Dex. He was looking up at me incredulously.
“We’ve been sabotaged,” he said darkly.
He pointed at the left and right pontoons near the back of the craft. I stepped in the boat with him and kneeled down. There were identical slash marks on each one, about half a foot long.
“Could…could this have happened some other way?”
“No. I was just using this boat. Those were not there.”
“Maybe the equipment…?”
“Perry, no,” he glared at me if I was asking the stupidest question in the world. “It was not the equipment. After I dropped the gear off on the boat and uploaded some footage, I came back on here. I drove it to shore. The boat was fine. If the boat was like this when I was on the water – I wouldn’t have made it back alive.”
I ran my fingers along the slit. The fabric was very tough and very thick. The edges of the tear were serrated like someone had used a knife. I told Dex that.
“I know. But who the fuck would do this? Who the fuck is here?”
I turned my head to his. Our faces were only a few inches apart. He looked closer to losing it than I was. I wanted to say something about how adamant he had been earlier that there was no one else on the island but knew I shouldn’t press my luck. I was snapping easily today and he was too.
I stood up and looked at the Mary Contrary, rocking and rolling in the waves. She might have been a short Zodiac jaunt away but there was no way she was in swimming distance.
“What do we do?” I asked myself out loud.
“We have to comb the island,” he said, standing up beside me in a determined stance.
“Comb the island? Are you crazy?”
“We have to find the people who did this.”
“Find the people who did this? Who are you, Charles Bronson?” I asked.
He gave me a dismissive look and stepped on to the beach, marching off towards the woods.
“Where the hell are you going?!” I screamed after him.
He didn’t answer or stop so I ran after him. I nearly bailed on the rocks when a gust of icy wind knocked me forward. I grabbed on to his arm just in time and pulled back with all my force.
“Dex, please. Stop. Just talk to me...”
He rolled his eyes and tried to get out of my grasp. I held on tight, two hands on his bicep now.
“There’s no point standing around here and thinking this through,” he said.
“No point? Dex, look, we can’t…I mean, say we do find the people who did this…then what? What’s your plan? Confront them? They slashed our Zodiac…they obviously have a knife.”
“We have a knife. And a flare gun.”
I let go of his arm and put my hands at the side of my head, trying to absorb what he was saying.
“OK, this is just getting retarded. This is madness. Look, we can’t get into some Lord of the Flies–type war here. Don’t you know how that book ends? We can’t go into this shooting flare guns at people!”
“So what do you suppose we do since you seem to have all the answers?” he sneered.
“I didn’t say I had answers! I just want you, us, to think about this. Just for a minute. Give me a minute.”
“We can walk and talk.”
“No. We’ll talk here where it’s open and we can see things clearly.”
He didn’t say anything to that. I turned away from him and walked vacantly in the direction of the shoreline.
Our only way of getting to the boat was gone. We had to focus on getting back there instead of focusing on what was on the island. Screw the show, we were in danger here. I don’t know what kind of people go around attempting to strand people on an island, but I gathered they probably didn’t mean us well.
I looked behind me at Dex, who was deep in thought too.
“Call Bill. Call the coast guard. We need help,” I ordered. “You do have at least your phone, right?”
He nodded and brought it out with a sigh. He shook his head and let out an exasperated breath of air.
“Are you fucking kidding me?!”
I walked over to him and brought the phone over to my face. It said No Service across the top. Well, thank you, AT&T.
“We’ll just keep trying it. There’s got to be reception somewhere. It worked fine near the campsite.”
He shook his head. “I never got a signal this whole time.”
“You haven’t tried to call Jenn or anything?”
You know, to check up on the baby, I thought rather viciously.
“I tried. I said never got a signal.”
“Oh, well I am so glad you put the only working phone on that fucking boat over there!” I said, throwing my arm in the sailboat’s direction.
“Hey, this is not my fault!” he yelled right back at me. “I wouldn’t have to put the phone over there if you could get your damn little head out of the clouds and start focusing on what’s really important.”
My jaw dropped. “Excuse me?! You think I don’t know what’s important? I thought having a phone, a connection to the outside world, was a pretty fucking important thing! Looks like I was right!”
He gave me a dismissive wave. “I can’t stand here arguing about this. I’m going to find the pontoon–slashing motherfuckers who did this to us and then we’ll figure out what to do.”
He walked off into the forest. I felt like picking up the nearest rock and chucking it at him, much like I chucked that container of Mr. Noodles.
I looked behind me at the boat and made a silent prayer that the ropes and anchor would hold out. The clanking of the chains could be heard amongst the weather’s roar and made me think some decrepit sea creature was deep below it, holding on with a lazy grasp. That boat was our only way out. If the weather calmed down and if we made it through till the next day without being ambushed or starting a knife party, maybe one of us could swim out. Though, knowing firsthand how cold that water was, it would be the last resort.
Dex was already way down the trail and nearing the turn off that went across the island when I caught up with him. The asswipe didn’t even bother slowing down or waiting for me. Good to know when there were potential crazies on the island with us.