The Island Chapter 4
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The Island

“I have found peace, it exists upon the rolling glass of a steady sea.”

Chapter 4

My walk back to the inn soon became surreal in ways that I was both typically and atypically accustomed to on my favorite intoxicant. The sidewalks bent and meandered, the grain of wood traveled up and down, the depth of field dilated, colors and sounds became more acute. Nothing to say that what I saw wasn’t there, just a sense that if something was there that wasn’t, it wouldn’t be out of sorts.

I opted to go an alternative route other than Front Street. Each concurrent side street was connected by an alleyway that ran parallel with that main artery. As I neared an alley that would have brought me back to the street on which my hotel resided, I went through a dense layer of fog, a small patch, but thick enough to disorient me. Once through and entering the alley, I noticed, as I walked, the numbers on the doors of the right wall. They twisted, vibrated, and melted. They were a simple count down, 409, 408, 407, 406, 405, 403. However, no door or marker on either side to say “here’s door 404”, which for me was odd. I found this oddity to be magnified when I went to exit the alley, another heavy fog rolled out on to the sidewalk. As I passed through, I couldn’t help but notice I was in the same alley again and that the numbers on the doors read… 409, 408, 407…

Only perturbed slightly, due to my altered state, I decided to stay calm and chop this all up to the high and continued down the alley again. Only, I came to the fog once more and back again into the alley. 408, 407, 406… My heart began to race. What was this? I had never been like this in all my experiences. This had never happened. Was I even that high? I was still very aware. After the fourth time going down the same alleyway, I started to lose it. 405, 403… Where was I? Had my mind broke? I felt as if something, someone was watching me. I could smell the taste of stale breath in the air. The fog was dripping. Something, someone was there with me. Something, someone trying to reach out to me. My heart skipped every other beat, my head spun, my lungs began to seize. I started to run. I started to weep. Again and again down the same corridor. As I entered the perpetual, repetitive hell for the seventh time a man appeared at the end of the alley, his eyes wide, full of fear, concern, and confusion. The fog behind me had disappeared and the alley opened up ahead.

“You ok, man?!” he shouted at me from the sidewalk outside the passage.

Bewildered I replied “I, I don’t know, something, something weird just happened.”

“I’ll say! You were just standing there, staring at that door for like a minute as I walked by. When I rounded the corner, you started crying, so I came back to check on ya and you were… just… sobbing.” He shrugged.

I looked back from him to where I was to find that I was directly facing a door in the alley with the numbers “404” hanging from the frame. The man started to walk towards me. I explained in a stammer “This wasn’t… I mean… I don’t know, sorry man, it’s been a weird night. I’m here from across the water to do a bit of relaxing, you know, drink a little too much and well… stir things up.”

“Well you’re definitely stirring things up. You think anybody slipped you anything?” He asked.

“Naw man, I took an edible though,” I lied. “Been up most the day, so I maybe had a little freak out.”

“A little?” He came back. “Whats your name?” He asked as he came up to me where I stood frozen.

“Jonathan, people call me… uhh, Jack.”

“Ah, Jack, I’m Mike. People call me, Mike.”

I chuckled, “Mike, you wanna get a drink? I think I owe you for snapping me out of whatever that was.”

“You sure you should be drinking more?” He asked with concern.

“Mike, my hotel is right there.” I pointed to the inn across the street, “After whatever that was, I need to have a drink.”

“Alright, where you want to go?”

“I’m not sure, I don’t know the nightlife of the town that much, do you live here?”

“Local for twelve years. Let’s hit The Swordfish.”

The Swordfish was a small dive bar on the street opposite my hotel, just up the inclined sidewalk from where we were. It contained within it a triangular shaped bar with about 12 seats, a pool table, and nothing else save for an out of order jukebox. With the addition of the bartender, Mike and myself, the space cultivated a population of nine. The other patrons were made of two gents playing pool, one lone gentlemen at the end of the bar, and a collection of three girls. The girls seemed to be celebrating one of their own’s birthday, but it was unclear who they were celebrating as everyone of them had a sash with “B-Day Gurl” printed on it draped over their shoulder.

Mike and I settled up to the bar and each ordered a beer. My mind started wandering to questions about the Island, its myths, its legends, anything to clue me in to the malicious experience I just had. To my surprise, Mike confided in me that the place had no discernible folklore. Nothing to mention of strange creatures that steal children in the night. No murmurs of the ghost of some “Old Man Jenkins”, scaring locals from leaving a light on. No myths or ancestor spirits confronting campers on the outskirts of the isolated town for invading their lands. Not a single legend of a heroic figurehead defeating some local menace. The small town seemed defunct of any demons to mention. This idea and construct was so foreign, so strange to my mind that it gripped me. It forced me to take heed in my own necessitated folktales. The lack of any local deviance shook me to the core. More horrifying than any story of elder gods, spirits or devious beings with which to terrify, was this distinct lack of anything. That nothing of the sort existed in the minds of these people, gave me so much pause that my mind ran wild with otherworldly reasonings for such a void.

“There must be something!” I exclaimed.

“Look man, I’ve been here for twelve years, and nine as the Cultural Resource Officer, and we’ve never encountered any strange things on the Island.”

“Cultural Resource Officer, what’s that do?”

“Well, say a company wants to lay lines or clear land, they call me and I halt the project if anything of cultural significance appears. Spearheads, dwellings, bones of native species and peoples.”

“And still no myths or anything?” I pressed.

“Nope, nothing that I’ve ever studied yet. This Island has a long history, I’ve only been doing it for a time. Why don’t you ask Katie, she’s lived here her whole life, born on the Island.”

He pointed to one of the partying women, taking only what could be assumed to be their “n”th shot out of the cleavage of another. They all exclaimed “Woo!” in a manner that shook the quiet bar. One girl then proceeded to lift the shirt of her cohorts and began to suck with vigor the exposed left breast. This went on for more than an uncomfortable amount of time. The next girl went to join the fun, attacking the right breast in the same manner. This carried on for about a full minute until one of the girls detached and exclaimed to the barkeep, “Dillon! One more!”

If it wasn’t for my already frail state of mind and questioning of reality, this would have amused, entertained, and possibly aroused me far more than it had failed to.

“Give it time Katie! I’ll get you another round soon, y’all need to calm the fuck down!” the bartender shouted.

“Fuck you Dillon!” she exclaimed, then peering across the bar and noticing my new friend. “Shit, Mike! Whats new stud?”.

“How do you know her?” I whispered to Mike.

“I work here on Mondays and Thursdays when I’m not on site.” He paused, then shouted “Hey Kat! Get the fuck over here!”

The girl in question slopped over to our side of the bar. Leering at me she asked “Who’s this townie?” with degradation sloshing from her speech.

“This is Jack, we met in the byway, he has questions about the Island, I figure the only other expert better than me would be you.”

“Fuck, I’ve been here for exactly… twenty-six years, I’d hope I’m an expert.” she slurred. “What ya wanna know, foreigner?”

“Well,” I replied, “I came out from the city for a few days…”

“Ahhh Over Towner! Called it! Explains a lot.” she interjected.

I came to find later that the locals called it “Over Town”, when describing the process of heading to the mainland. While on the “Rock” as some called it, you were “In Town”, then were you to ferry across the shallow ocean channel, you’d be “Over Town”. This notion came from the shortening of “going over to the town”, a phrase I imagined found its coinage amongst the population when the enormous hub of people huddled into an ever sprawling, unimaginable metropolis located across the way, was in-fact quite smaller.

I continued… “I came over for a few days, and in my short time here, I started to notice strange things about the Island, particularly at night. Any local ghost stories?”

Katie paused for a moment and replied, “Naw, there isn’t much, just people, no ghosts that I know of.”

“No demons, spirits or legends?” I pressed.

“Nope, none that come to mind.” she quickly said.

“What about strange occurrences, people going crazy? Things like…”

“NO!” she shouted, cutting me off.

The bar activity ceased momentarily, then picked back up quickly. Surprised and confused, I confided, “Listen, I just experienced some weird shit, I got stuck in some sort of a loop in an alleyway a while ago. I couldn’t get out, and I have to know what it was.”

Katie’s eyes widened, the inebriation left her body as she stared at me in earnest disposition.

“Stop. Just stop. Stop asking questions, enjoy your time on the Rock, and go home. Don’t talk to anyone else about this. Just stop.” She demanded.

She then turned to her group across the bar, “Hey birthday bitches, Locker Room, let’s go!” Almost immediately, without a single farewell, the three girls vacated the bar. Katie kept a constant gaze upon me until she was out of sight.

“Wow… well… man, I don’t know what that was, Katie is pretty cool, usually never like that, sorry.” Mike apologized.

“Its ok.“ I responded, unsure of what actually just transpired.

Mike and I sat in silence for a few moments, each finished our beers. After some time, he looked at me, “Thanks for the beer man, I’ll be bartending here tomorrow, come on by sometime.”

“Will do friend” I told him. “I’m gonna figure this out.”

“Figure what out?” he asked.

“What happened, when you first saw me, something happened. Listen, I know Im high, but I’m not ‘lose my mind’ high, I could feel something in the air, there is something here, on the Island, and I have to figure it out.”

Mike took the last sip from his glass, looked me in the eye, half concerned and half supportive, “Well, happy hunting my friend, let me know tomorrow, I’ll be here. If anything comes up, I’d be very interested.”

“Will do bud. I think I’ll head back to Hawaiian Harry’s for another Bison Milk.”

“Sounds like a plan, maybe avoid the alleys?” Mike jested.

“Front Street only baby!” I replied.

We shook each others hand as we parted ways on Front Street. He headed up the incline into the depths of the town. I continued, returning to Ornelas’s, through fog and air, that still lingered like the taste of stale breath.

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