Friday, February 24, 2012

Island Fever - Part Three

          Two days passed. Craig carried the pellet gun with him whenever he went out, looking for more gulls, he said. They seldom spoke but when they did, they sniped at each other in the bleak grayness of the day. Sometimes, she could see him staring at her. Once Craig said, “Wish Kris were here.” Well, she wasn’t, Adrienne thought, and how long before Craig started making passes at her? She read the journals long into the night, looking for clues.

          Another writer named Pat wrote about a big fight between Kris and Craig. Kris regrets ever coming to this island, Pat wrote. Craig insists they are going to get married but Kris is having doubts. Craig thinks it's all island fever. Those two were meant for each other.

          The “accident” was mentioned briefly. Kris fell on the rocks. Taken away by the Coast Guard helicopter. Someone had written that Kris was in a coma on the mainland, but that was the last mention she found. Had Kris recovered or was she buried somewhere in a Maine cemetery? Adrienne was afraid to ask. Anything could set Craig off.

          The wine bottles were emptied on the seventh day. Perhaps she had had too much to drink, but she slipped on a fog-silvered rock coming back from taking the murre decoys back to the boat house. Her hands were covered with blood from a gash in her hand. Craig was up on the lighthouse trying to count terns. She would handle this herself, she thought.

          The first aid kit was in disarray. Things were unmarked. Looking for disinfectant, she opened a bottle and sniffed. It was smelling salts. Bleeding and sneezing, she dropped the kit and everything went rolling. She began to cry.

          Craig came in, took one look, swabbed her head with a pad and placed a band-aid on her cut. “Wash up,” he said. “That'll do. And quit crying. Head wounds bleed a lot, but it looks worse than it is.”

          He gave her no sympathy. Adrienne sniffled around the cottage. She couldn't seem to help weeping any more. Her eyes were red, raw from the salt water and her emotions.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Island Fever – Part Two

          There was no need for the little alarm clock Adrienne had brought. There were no curtains on the windows and as the summer solstice approached, the light shone in as the birds shrieked their joy at the day’s beginning. She had slept snug in her heavy duty sleeping bag, and felt the same joy. The ear plugs had worked.

          Craig fairly flew out the door to chase up the steps to the lighthouse while Adrienne brewed their coffee and got the first reading from the weather radio. The automated male voice told her that though the sun was shining, the day would get progressively darker. Small craft were warned about setting out. She took down the temperature readings the voice reported, taken from various buoys in the area.

          She threw on her heavy jacket and went out to take visual readings. She stopped to use the outhouse. Through the open side she watched a row of puffins watching her. Her bodily functions were a peep show for birds.

She could barely see the nearest island, some twenty miles away. A fine mist seemed to be covering it. She shivered and went on to the boat house. A herring gull who had taken refuge there scuttled out of her way dragging a wing. She unhooked the bucket with the rope attached and picked up the long thermometer. She carried them down the boat ramp. The waves were higher today and splashed against her rubber boots as she leaned over to drop a bucket off the side for some ocean water. She stuck a thermometer in it. As she waited to do her reading, she used her binoculars to sweep the surface of the island. The birds seemed to be hunkering down, not as active as the day before.

          They decided to explore the island before the storm hit. They clambered over the rocks. There were no paths. Craig was a mountain goat, jumping easily from rock to rock, as Adrienne struggled on behind, trying to keep up. They climbed higher and higher from boulder to boulder as the wind howled around them, shouting to be heard. They visited nesting sites. Craig flattened himself on a rock and reached his hand into a burrow, but no puffins were using it yet. Later on, the researchers would go out daily and sit in blinds keeping track of the little guys, but the puffins were just arriving.

          He stopped for a moment and pointed out a piece of marble engraved with an angel.

          “Tombstone,” he said. “Keeper’s daughter.” She had died a century before. Adrienne thought they should put flowers on the grave, but there were none on the Rock. Neither were there bushes and trees, just endless boulders. Ocean storms scoured the rock of anything green except for the moss that clung to the stones.

          They climbed higher. Here the terns would nest, there the guillemots. Each were marked. They reached the farthest point. Far below the waves pounded on the shore, splashing over the rocks. Craig pointed down and shouted, “That’s where Kris fell.” His face contorted. He turned away and began loping across the rocks before Adrienne could ask how it happened.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Island Fever - Part One

             “There it is,” Jack called back from the pilot’s wheel, his words barely audible between the slaps of the little fishing boat bouncing from wave to wave.

Where?’ Adrienne asked. Craig loped up from the back where he had been keeping an eye on their gear and helped her direct her binoculars. The lighthouse was only a knob on the flat horizon of the calm ocean. Over the next fifteen minutes, Adrienne watched it rise like a phallus out of the sea. Her home for the next week.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Badlands Journal -- Part Three

I had assumed that when Helgo reported sensing a second deader in the area, Julius would send the necrological engineer and I out to capture it, as we had with Betty. To be sure, this was done. However, he also sent Marco along with us 'as an added precaution.' My expedition leader's new-found concern for my safety in made me feel even less so. Marco had sat behind us in the ornithopter, the scraping sounds of his knife against the whetstone audible over the howl of the airsteam. My carefully-constructed gambit for freedom crumbled in my mind's eye, for the truth of the matter was that there was no second deader and no way to reformulate a new plan with my co-conspirator.