Chapter 31:

In my head I'm still yours and it was just like before

Castaway Isle

Before Sophie can make any banana wine, she needs something to hold the brew in. Right now they have none, no useable bottles nor jugs of fired glazed clay. All they have is in their carryons luggage and in the cave, even that wasn't much.

So she was getting a little ahead of herself. That's fine, it was a short-term goal.

Perhaps she could carve a stone pot and lid. That shit took up a good deal of time though, at least she had some proper hammers and carving tools this time. Not just rocks and sticks.

She smashes the last of a protruding rock in their home cave, smoothing out the wall.

"I think I got it!" yelled June from above.

"Good, be careful up there."

"I got it! Or well I guess Mattie's here too."

She was covering the natural sky hole with some layered palm leaf thatchings. Mattie was supporting worriedly from the side. Their shoddy ladder tied from nothing but vines and rough thin bamboo. But it was quick and easy to assemble and more importantly it worked.

The palm thatching wasn't the most effective roofing but it would work to keep out any sporadic summer rains, they had seen clouds approaching that evening. The signs of an AM shower.

Sophie supposes she did a good enough job on Leon's sleeping spot for the night, unless he had some better options. There wasn't much she could do for him at the moment. Right now she was focused on what she had, her siblings.

They cleared out even more rock and made their living space more comfortable. A floor couldn't exactly be installed yet with all the work they were doing but some of the fatter yellow-green bamboos they gathered could be smashed flat and laid out into something of a sleeping quarter. Something to keep them directly off the dirt and stone floor.

With the remaining daylight, they gathered water, washed off upstream, and foraged what they could. When the sun set, they worked on cutting and smashing enough bamboo flooring to cover a decent corner of the cave. A basic vine tied base with the bamboo planks would do for their first time. Sophie wasn't wasting their metal nails just yet.

Their sleeping bags and blankets would be laid out over it when they were done. It was actually rather comfortable if you didn't rub yourself wood directly, they weren't smoothed out enough yet for that.

They didn't need a fire tonight, since they had already eaten. The warmth of summer was enough for now, though the cool cave material kept them comfortable. For light, Sophie hung up some of the solar-charged lights, illuminating the cave into a shoddy room.

But it was an indoor room nonetheless. Complete with a doorway of woven palm gates and mosquito netting covered in more palm thatchings. It would keep their whole area sufficiently dry from rain to come but they could still do better.

"Oh my god can I sleep now?!" cried June, her fingers sore from the handiwork.

Sophie nodded in satisfaction of a job well done, things were truly faster working together than all by herself.

June did have the best tying, so it was her job to knot things into place as her siblings held things down. They had made something that resembled low-off shape bed frames rather than simple flooring, but they were easily moveable. That way the siblings could move their current sleeping quarters wherever and whenever. Tonight Sophie moved them in semi-deep, against the cool rock.

"Brush your teeth first, and for god's sake change out of those clothes. We wore them all day." Mattie scolded before June could hop into bed.

She whimpered but complied, marching over to the water area they kept. Dirty water went into an old piece of bark they found that curled up into a bowl to be dumped out later.

To be honest Sophie has purchased larger items that would make their lives easier, more convenient. She had them shipped from the outdoor gears store to either her home or waiting at the airport. It cost a lot of extra fees but it would be worth it when they could access their luggage and things.

"Did you know banana peels can be used to whiten your teeth." sprouted out Sophie, phone out and on some downloaded encyclopedia article on various species of bananas.

Mattie almost facepalmed, just almost.

"That's great Sophie, go ahead and run those peels through your mouth. You're still brushing your teeth the normal way and washing up. Go, follow June."

After inspecting that everyone did their nightly hygiene routine like decent human beings, and changed into clean sleeping clothes, did Mattie allow anyone to get near the bedding again. Both girls listened, as tired as they were, because of course their brother was actually right. They were more comfortable this way.

It was actually nice to have someone looking out for your wellbeing when you weren't ready to do so yourself, even in the little ways.

"Go ahead and sleep in. I'm not setting any alarms, we're staying up here tomorrow. "

Sophie stretched and turned off all their lights, ready to sleep herself. Her insomnia wasn't cured exactly but it was far better since she had been reborn into her younger body. Proper sleep wasn't just a luxury, it was important to their health and keeping them in top shape to work through the day.

"That's cool with me." June yawned, snuggling into her personal pillow.

It was a huge pink thing that resembled a long stuffed animal, something she brought from home, and probably the softest cutest thing in this cave. Gave the place some character. Mattie cursed to himself that he didn't bring all of his own pillows, but made do with what they had packed.

They almost forget just how much better they had it than anyone on the island. But it was late, and they had a tiring enough day. Sleep came too easily to these three.


Sleep was the deepest and usually the sweetest in the hours before dawn.

She was still asleep, Sophie could tell. It slightly smelled of rain. She couldn't hear it but she could smell it, that change in the air. The AM showers must have come after all.

She's asleep, she's dreaming because how else is she standing in a coffee shop?

Not just any coffee shop, it was her local favorite. About two blocks away from their home, just a quick stop out. Besides the scent of the rain, she was overwhelmed with wafting baked goods and the coffee that seeped everywhere in the air.

It wasn't too busy in the shop today, maybe a little over half full. It must be a weekday afternoon if she was judging correctly.

Her teenaged self was studying in her corner, nose in her laptop and open textbooks.

Once again Sophie is a ghost revisiting an old memory. That must be it. It's like a walk-in live theatre, and none of the actors can see her or are supposed to interact with her.

These are not her usual dreams, her usual nightmares. They never play out so calmly, so accurately to the time. Her subconscious was either giving her a big break or it was getting boring.

She'll take boring over the nightmares any day.

A ponytailed barista hops around the counter, balancing whipped cream monstrosities in tall mismatched mugs.

"Okay so try this one, I call it- the great pumpkin Charlie Brown!!"

The other Sophie, the actor playing out the scene, looks up from her laptop and raises an eyebrow.

"So you made another pumpkin spice latte?"

"Gurl no I did not, I got my creation down this time. It's gonna be a hit, I know it!"

"Uh huh, sure you did. What weird flavor did you mix in this time, Jaime?"

The teen barista, still in uniform sets the mugs down and takes a seat on her impromptu break. She leans over as if it were a secret to be guarded and whispers far too loudly.

"Brownie cheesecake and caramel."

The young Sophie doesn't look too impressed.

"You put cheesecake and brownies into coffee? How the hell did you do that?"

"That's why I said it's going to be a hit!"

"I don't know about that?"

Sophie doesn't remember this diabetic concoction in the mess of all the others that her friend would make to taste test. But it was free coffee and so she drank every cup.

"Order 138 for a ...Leslie?" calls another barista behind the counter.

But Leslie doesn't come, they might be in the bathroom or have their earphones plugged in.

Sophie leaves the scene at the study corner to leave over the drink counter. The latte art was a tad sloppy but the whipped milk was fresh. Sophie could smell the near heavenly aroma, and it looked a whole lot better than whatever her younger self was drinking down, whipped cream and all.

Normally she wouldn't bother, normally she would just watch these dreams play out.

But she remembers a stray marble.

She picks up the latte.


Mattie wakes up to the slight scent of coffee, it's just instinct at this point. His nearby phone tells him it's far too early to be up if he's allowed to sleep in. The pitter patter of a dull rain was still going on outside. He looks around, expecting to see Sophie up and rummaging by a campfire, making herself a drink.

There's no sign of a fire in sight, but he does catch Sophie sitting up nursing a slightly steaming ceramic cup of something caffeinated and milky.

"....Where did you get that?" he mumbles out, confused first thing in the morning.

"....I don't know.....go back to sleep Mattie. Maybe this is still just a dream."

Okay now he was putting his glasses on, there's no sleeping if Sophie is being weird. June had no issue snoring to his other side, deeply asleep.

"Hand it over, I want a sip." he made grabby hand motions at her. He was a little more childish, a little more his actual age when he was sleepy.

She gives him a look a beat too long and passes over the still mostly full mug without any further fuss. Her fingers linger on his as she hands over the drink, feeling his warmth. Mattie was real, he wasn't a dream.

"Fuck this smells legit," he mutters, bringing the cup up to his slightly dry lips.

It's been a week since the accident by now, he hasn't had fresh coffee in a while. The airplane brew didn't count, not by a long shot, nor could they get the foam like this. Mattie almost groaned on the first sip, and quickly took another. Whatever was in this cup tasted good, too good, it tasted familiar.

"Sophie.....where did you get this? ...Did you just make it?"

She stayed still, stayed silent. There was nothing out, no fire or heat source lit, and definitely no way coffee beans out.

"...Jiejie?" Mattie pestered because that's all he can do when she gets like this when she unintentionally shuts them out in her own thoughts.

It works thankfully, she finally looks at him and not through him. Rather she was earlier hyper-focused on the mug in his hands.

Sophie quickly slips out of her sleeping bag, leaving the conversation to rummage through her luggage in a controlled hurry. Her brother knows she needs some time to gather her thoughts, something to keep her hands busy. But he watches in confusion as she opens a make up bag and grasps for a travel-sized bottle of some beauty product.

It must not actually be toner or perfume or whatever the bottle was because she carefully drips a few drops of it right out into her open mouth, right under her tongue.

He almosts asks her what it is, almost.

"You're not going to believe me Mattie." she finally breathes out, shaking just a bit after some deep breathes. It was chilly this early drizzling morning but that's not why she shakes.

"Just try me." he answers stubbornly.

"....What if I told you....I had a weird dream?"

"Another one of your future visions?"

"No. One of the past....what if I told you, I got that at our local coffee shop?" she points to the mug in his hands. The milk foam still fresh and not yet dissolved, they can't replicate this kind of foam by hand.

He wants to snort and brush off her bad attempt at a joke, he really does. But he takes another sip, slower and tentatively. The taste really was too familiar.

"The one down the block? Through the dream?" he grips the mug, it feels right in his hands.

Why does it feel so familiar? He doesn't remember Sophie packing this, he doesn't remember that at all.

"Through the dream," she whispers, not believing it herself.

"Well then....." Mattie starts, not sure how to feel, how to take this.

June's the one getting excited over the possibility of the impossible, not him. He just wants them all good and safe, and maybe he now wants the rest of this coffee. He thinks he's going to need it.

"Then can just go get yourself another dream coffee because that's unfair and this is mine now. "

"It's really fucking real?"

"There's really a fucking real latte in my hands yes. June couldn't have made it, I sure didn't make it, and here you are dreaming it up."

"....fucking shit."

Dozens of emotions, hundred of thoughts pass through Sophie's face in that one moment. She ponders and processes how this is possible and comes across nothing.

Nothing but the sound of the rain and Mattie's tentative sips as he stares across from her, watching her every action and reaction.

A similar scene pops up in her mind, one of a snake headed girl and her own scarred hands pouring a tasteless coppery brew.

It's impossible, but so is time travel.


"Yes, Sophie."

"How do you feel about getting a snake bite today?"

He doesn't choke, doesn't drop the cup like he thought he would. It honestly annoys him how used he's getting in the face of these crazy situations. He just sighs.

"Well, I'd feel horrible. Let's get this over with."

"I'm being serious here Mattie. I kept the heads from that night for this very reason."

She doesn't know what the latte, the marble, what it all means. But she thinks it's related, can feel it in the air. They needed their bites anyways, their vaccines. They had to be prepared for worse things.

Somehow Mattie got the hint of what was being pieced together in Sophie's head. Did he believe it? Honestly, no. But what did common sense matter anymore?

"And so am I, Sophie, because as fucking insane as this all is, I somehow believe you."

She stares into his eyes, too similar to her own, and see's no hesitation. She can't even bring herself to sigh in relief. Being overwhelmed only forces her to numb, to go on autopilot. The tincture she just ingested slowly taking the edge off her anxiety. If she can't think then she will act.

"Go start the fire." she instructs him.

The box, she needs to get the box of young snakeheads that she's hidden away.

"June." he simply replies.

They need to tell her somehow, they can't just leave her in the dark.

Sophie nods, they won't tell her about this part, won't tell her everything just yet. But she needs to be a part of it, she needs to catch up with them and their flow. There was no way to protect her completely, it would only hurt her in the long run. Sophie had learned that the hard way.

"....I'll wake her. Go make a fire, set some water to boil."

Mattie moves just as quickly, piling up the wood and tinder in the spot closest to the cave's entrance. He wasn't looking forward to this, to any of this. It was like walking straight into the dark, and his only guide was Sophie's hand in his. At least he had that.

Meanwhile, Sophie shakes the pink lump, rousing a head of brown hair out from her burrito covers.

"June...June wake up."

"Mmmmmm, noooooooo."

"June...I'm sorry. You're going to have to wake up."

"Mmbbbf, you *yawn* said we could sleeeeeeep."

Sophie did say that, and they did. It was just always harder to leave a warm bed on a rainy morning. She could leave June to sleep longer, she didn't need to do anything anyways.

But she needed to see this if she was to believe it. Sophie wasn't risking any of their chances, she wasn't going to risk Mattie for June's still sweet innocence and comfort.

"June. If you want to live, you will wake up. You have to."

"Welp, that was morbid, I'm up. Where's the fire?"

There was no wake up call quite like a threat on one's life. The teen girl quickly looked around for danger, despite not sensing any from Sophie's tone. If it really was bad Sophie would have warned her in a much different way.

"Mattie's making one now, go help him out."

Even though she had just woken up, June felt something was off. Sophie was stiff, stiffer and colder than usual and Mattie was actually being silent instead of his usual snark.

What a party it was this morning. June swallows down the joke she was just about to make and does as she's told.

When Sophie returns, the fire is growing and a small pot of water set. Mattie already threw in a tea bag of turmeric and Sophie feels a tad bit amused at the sight. Seems he remembered her own recent bite just that clearly. For good measure, she drops in a handful of dried mung beans.

Just because this was going to hurt didn't mean they had to prolong his suffering.

She's holding an unassuming bento box that sloshes with salty seawater and something more disturbing.

She hold out the open box and let's him grimace at the sight, let's him pick his poison. Like a morbid game of bobbing for apples. He swallows his disgust and grabs a random not too small head with some chopsticks.

"What the holy fuck!?!" shrieks June, fumbling backward on the side.

Mattie may have been grossed out at the contents of the box but he knew what was in there, had seen it before. This was a first for the youngest. Never did she expect to be faced with half pickled snake heads in a nasty red-tinged juice. The heads, though clearly dead, looked disturbing, fangs still sharp and protruding.

"When they said I was bitten by a snake, that wasn't the full truth." Sophie starts to explain but it's Mattie's time to shine.

Finally, he could rant to someone who would listen.

"She fucking did it to herself. 'Not psychic' Sophie says these bad boys are weak enough to act as an anit-venom vaccine to anything else on this island. Crazy right? I know. I watched her chop the heads up, fun times."

Couldn't deny that. Sophie nodded in confirmation, watching as June's eyes flickered between them and the decapitated reptile. Of course, Mattie wasn't done yet.

"So, if you let these ugly vaccines sit in their own blood for a bit, what a couple of days, then they get weaker over time. Maybe you will need to get another vaccine to up the potency but you don't go into damn seizure shock-like Sophie here did. Did I get the right, Sophie? Cool cool."

"The effects vary per person, the salt water will preserve the heads better but it's been days. Even children, if they were fit, could take these without much issue. You'll still be incapacitated though, possibly for a couple of days."

"Oh my god did I miss out. And what, you're serious? YOu're seriously serious?!" a part of June felt that it was just a bad joke her siblings her pulling on her.

Their tone and expressions said otherwise.

"Yeah...I'm serious." finalized Mattie.

This wasn't the wisest timing. They still had so much to do before the rains really start coming and pouring. Mattie was their literal manpower. Having him out of commission was wasted time and work.

But somehow it felt right. Nothing made sense any more ways. They don't tell June about the coffee, about that part of the dream. They hardly processed it themselves.

They don't boil the snakehead this time, instead, they hold it over the fire until the pruning skin starts to char.

Sophie is glad it's Mattie holding on to the head or else she might have dropped the thing into the fire. The charred snakehead has turned black and gray, its eyes have gone milky and pupilless.

Just like in her fever dream.

"Are you sure about this?" Sophie asks one last time, there's no room for regrets.

Something in her is unnerved, maybe terrified, if she could still feel that level of terror through the dullness. Maybe, just maybe this really is all just a dream. She's dreaming and still hooked up to some hospital lunatic treatment plan and none of this is real. Her siblings aren't real!

But Mattie is real, he's warm and solid and he responds.

"This shit made you stronger didn't it?"

"....What do you mean?"

"I mean...I mean that I know what your fitness level is like, I know what you're capable of since last week. You wouldn't have, couldn't have gone through this last week," he croaks.

Mattie doesn't want to believe it, it goes against common sense and the general order of things. But his eldest sister was right on too many predictions and he knows her. Knows and watches her, this Sophie was.....something more. Then there was his unexplainable latte cup from gods know where.

She was probably going to stab him with the snake vaccine, as she called it, sooner or later. Might as well get it done with and out of the way.

"I'm doing it now okay?" he shudders after downing their turmeric and mung bean brew. For fuck's sake, he hopes it actually does something.

Mattie positions the charred head up to his arm, above the elbow, just like he remembered Sophie doing. Somehow the eyes didn't burn and blacken over with the rest of it, neither did the still sharp fangs.

All three of them were fearful for entirely different reasons.

"I'll be here, we'll be here to watch'll be okay."

Sophie tries to assure, more for herself than Mattie. The heads have soaked long enough, the venom should have weakened. He'll survive this, he has to.

Her little brother hides his nerves with a sneer.

"So not worth a coffee, you owe me bad."

He lets the burnt thing bite deep down into his flesh, the head seemingly coming back to life.

They should have given him something to bite down on himself. Mattie screams.


This Novel Contains Mature Content

Show This Chapter?