Chapter 6:

If you can’t fill the cracks, build another wall.

Castaway Isle

At the largest professional outdoor store that her phone could direct her to, Sophie spent like money like a rich woman.

Just spilled it.

Some of the items, such as off-grid specialty items, were so large that she had to have associates hold the items in front for her. The good thing that there was same-day delivery so she didn't have to load them into her own overstuffed car. Pay upfront, write down the address then was free to continue shopping.

Currently, Sophie was in a section well-beloved by most women, shoes.

She carefully tried on hiking boots, not bothering to look at the price tags. When she found suitable ones for herself, she bought two pairs, one in her size and one in June's. After picking out that they each had multiple hiking boots, shoes, and some durable leather sandals she went to purchase the same kind for her brother.

Boots, she loaded them up on so many thick rubber boots. They would need it badly for every type of terrain on the island but it would be especially useful in the swamps, rivers, and paddies.

Of course, she did not forget to buy a lot of good quality socks for everyone. Socks were always in low stock and were often the most requested items in shelters. It was no different on that island.

Sure some things were rather unfashionable, ugly even, but they were made of strong material and had good soles and support. That was more important.

It was actually good if they did not appear very attractive or fashionable. If you couldn't protect yourself, it would draw the wrong kind of attention, especially for women. June, her sister was always at risk.

When they first washed up ashore, most everyone was ill-prepared. Most of their luggage consisted of vacation-ready clothes and pretty items that didn't last long.

It was a very hot and humid place where they landed.

The weather was almost unpredictable but there were always plenty of sudden rainstorms and desert strong sun. Most people had no choice but to dress skimpily to keep cool. Later on, they simply had no choice, their clothes had simply worn away.

Even if everyone was in about the same state of wear and tear, some people could not help but take advantage.

Especially those lechers, though they kept their hands to themselves in the early days. Tensions, stress, and hormones would rise and if they failed to woo whoever they were interested in consensually, sometimes it would get violent. Until it always got violent that is.

Sophie shivered. Later, she would deal with those shitstains later. Right now all she could do was try to keep her family safe, fed, and comfortable.

For clothing, she selected some trusted brands of waterproof and insulated jackets. Coats and rain jackets, weatherproof boarding pants. Things to protect them from rain and the chill at night as well as the sun's harsh rays.

It was a little cheesy but she even bought them all Savannah trail vests with plenty of protected pockets. Who cares what they looked like as long as it worked.

The shopping list went on. Variety of trail pants, convertible pants and shorts. Even pairs of waterproof overalls! Anything that was good quality and could protect them from the elements, yet not overheat the wearer.

Again she was looking for durability and usefulness, not fashion. Sophie didn't dare to be stingy. Multiples of everything and in a size up to spare, especially Mattie. He got two sizes up for his expected growth. From his time on the island, Mattie would bulk up and grow taller still.

In the underwear section, she bought even more. Just like socks, there were never enough of these little items. Get the good stuff and get a lot. Sports bras and tanks for June and her, rashguards, and everything else for Mattie.

They already owned swimwear but those were basic, wouldn't last. Sophie chose surf suits and sea leggings for them all. These would last longer and protect them far better in the water. It was an island, they were obviously going traverse water, a lot.

If not for her urgency she might even say she had fun spending money as freely as such water. Never in all her life had she gone on such a shopping spree! If she was truly a 21 year old girl, she would be delighted but also coughing up blood from the overwhelming prices.

The shop was so large that it has a wonderful travel section. She knew the kind of fashionable but flimsy clothing her sister had packed. Sophie knew she had to shop the difference for them both. Dresses, outfits, cute but functional accessories for June.

Despite being shorter than her younger sibling, as sisters, the two were about the same clothing size give or take. As long as they weren't talking pants or anything height-related. There were quite a few things they could share.

Done with clothing she moved on to accessories. She chose two appropriate-sized backpacking packs, one for her and one for her brother to carry onto the plane. They would use these to store supplies for the first couple of days, avoiding opening their luggage as much as possible.

 There was a risk of standing out being so well prepared, but damn it some things just needed to be prioritized. 

If it was convenient in anyways they went into the cart with multiple spares. Regardless of price. 

Waist packs, polarized sunglasses, durable sun and bucket hats, and all the coverings. Most of them weren't the prettiest things, but they were effective. 360 covers to keep out the bugs, skin protection from the intense sun, and so forth.

Gloves were easy to lose so she bought multiple strong pairs of work gloves and waterproof active ones in both her sibling's sizes.

For herself, she had to buy from the kid's section due to her hands being too small.

It was a joke in their little family, how the eldest was the smallest. 

A long time ago, it would have made her upset, an annoying thorn in her heart and mind. That was too long ago, such feelings amounted to nothing. Right now she could only afford to think and feel what would benefit her and her family. How she could better provide and ensure everyone's safety and comfort.

In the camp gear section, she struggled in the cookware but finally settles on a hard-anodized cooking set meant for backpacking. It was not very large but that was the point. Sophie did not intent to feed many people, only herself and her family, allies if needed.

Attempts at stone pots and pans were a pain and having this set, in addition to the previously purchased cooking gear, would certainly improve their lives. Dinnerwear. Metal sets. Clean, stable and useful. Clearly limited to her, and her family's little circle. 

As a treat for herself she threw in a couple of foldable pot kettles, they were really very convenient things. They could be flatted or expanded to hold 1.3 liters and were very lightweight.

Wire grills and some reliable solar cooking items were also a must-have, both in saving time and fuel.

In the food section, there were many things Sophie had never saw before and was unfamiliar with.

While Sophie thought she had bought quite a good amount of rations she did not hesitate long to buy more specialized backpacking food here. She happily purchased a bulk amount of meal bars, candies, and energy gels in a variety of flavors.

They weren't exactly cheap but to make up for it these items conserved a lot of space while providing a lot more nutrients.

There was some interesting-looking dried gourmet food too. A lot of novelty things. But anything that looked bulky, Sophie ignored and moved on. Instant noodles already took up more than enough space.

She passed by all sorts of novel little things. If the signs and information promised good things she would throw them in the cart. Things like nano dry towels were thin and light, so Sophie didn't mind.

Normally these things were splurges, not necessities. 

But on that untamed island, every little modern thing was precious and made a huge difference in a person's quality of life.

As she walked and shopped, Sophie was already mentally planning how to fold and pack everything to fit.

The electronic gear section was a surprise, it was so large and well-stocked she didn't need to go to another electronics store. It definitely made up for her disappointment from earlier.

Her first item of concern was a Satellite phone.

The plane and flight crew would attempt to contact the outside world to no avail so she did not have much hope either. Like the Bermuda triangle in the Atlantic, the signal was messed up in the area they had landed, unreadable almost. But another satellite with GPS, another shot at hope, was better than nothing.

Second, came a walkie talkie radio system with earpieces. She selected a simple to use but weather-resistant 4 set, that was one for each of them plus a spare.

Lights were also very important.

It was tough relying on firelight or what limited light sources they had. Some solar-powered lanterns, rechargeable tactical flashlights, and headlights would do them wonders. What was amazing was that the solar lanterns and lights system could double as mobile device chargers! She could save space by buying plain solar chargers this way.

She was still worried though and bought more, including some slim but spreadable solar power banks and small portable power generators. Top-of-the-line things a modern camper could buy if they could afford it. The power could always fail, go full-on blackout. They wouldn't necessarily die without electricity but they would be thrust into the dark.

Literally and figuratively.

Of course, the fire was still important, and she did not forget to throw in old fashioned firestarters, matches, and lighters that would be allowed on the plane.

Watches were a seemingly out of date thing but Sophie could see the use in them. There were many expensive models in the store but since they had their phones and chargers, she selected some more basic weatherproof analog watches with simple functions such as having a night light, date set, and GPS tracker.

That way Mattie, June, and her could keep track of one another at all times if their other devices failed or were lost.


The island has springs and water sources but during the first few days, the survivors would be unable to find enough of them. The aircrafts only had so much water and filters, it would be safe to buy their own portable water filter. Water cleaning tablets, life straws, hydration tablets, and valves. There was fresh water to be found but when they couldn't access it, these water filters would be lifesavers.

She found a military-grade water filter for 3x the price of the average filter in the shop and threw it in her cart immediately.

Onto larger things but softer things, Sophie wanted to improve their sleeping quarters.

They could get some thin blankets, cheap pillows, and seat cushions from the plane wreckage but other than that people would resign themselves to sleeping on the floor and in makeshift or natural shelters. Sophie was very used to sleeping on the hard ground at this point, in fact, if not for her injuries upon the return trip home she would have preferred sleeping on the floor than the hospital bed out of fear and anxiety.

On the island, there were plenty of palm leaves and straw-like plant material. She could wave a mat given enough time. But since she was already here why not invest in some sleeping bags? She had already bought so much camping gear, her excuse could be that she planned a camping trip for her family.

There were hammocks that came in some very compact drawstring bag so she took 5 of those and spare suspension hooks.

Then came the sleeping bags. They came in both 'mens' and 'womens' but Sophie didn't bother with such trivial things. It sure as hell didn't matter. 

She went straight in and selected some of the ones she felt was best. For summer nights too hot even for the reverse side of the sleeping bag, she purchased additional silk stretch travel liners. Those could be used on their own or with the sleeping bags to make them more comfortable.

In the past, Sophie was personally afraid of mosquitoes. She would scream bloody murder when she spotted one. Usually had her taller siblings kill it for her while she cowered somewhere far away.

By now she has long got used to what was once her most hated thing. She still feared their diseases and the horrible itching though and made sure to grab a lot of large and single mosquito nets, bug sprays, and citronella candles. 

Mosquitos were a problem anywhere.

Truly she was spending a small fortune in this shop. She must be their fattest paying customer in a while.

Yet she still was not finished.

There was still the knives and tools section.

Truly the most useful item in any wilderness situation was a good knife, a ready blade. 

Her brother had his handy swiss army knife and it helped them out a lot. Unfortunately, when he was lured away and murdered, the thief stole it along with his life.

Today she shopped not only for good multi-tools but good tactical knives and compact saws.

In the outdoor equipment store, there were more shapes and variety. While knives could not be allowed in their carry on she could put them in the carry-ons.

Again, working with a limit here. 

She selected from the display case an expensive multi-tool that she knew her brother would not only appreciate but actually know how to use most if not all of the functions. She chose a simpler tool for herself and an even easier swiss army knife for her sister. For each of them, she took copies of a highly popular tactical knife with a slightly curved tip.

In addition to those knives, she purchased small daggers, pocket chainsaws, machetes, lightweight 14' hatchets, and even foraging mushroom knives. Whatever she could get away with.

There was no pepper spray or tasers allowed on the plane in any way so she skipped that section with some reluctance. However, stun guns were thankfully allowed! She checked the TSA guidelines on her phone and happily threw 3 in her cart.

On the way to checkout though she threw in a few packs of extra strength duct tape, paracord, zip ties, small hoes and shovels, and even more specially curated survival garden heirlooms seeds.

What a shopaholic she has become, she drying laughed to herself. 

Of course, she was only joking. Depressingly so. Everything she was rushing to buy now was to be necessary in their lives on that floating hell.

Before heading home she raided a few more pharmacies using cash, as well as some various groceries that could pack. Then made not so last-minute trips to the dollar store, a boutique soap shop, gardening store, and even a dispensary. She had to google and check if some of these things were legal yet in 2017. 

Her memory wasn't perfect, even without all the cases of alcohol poisoning or overdoses. How nice was it to have a clean working body again. 

Even though she used cash in many purchases, such as at the pharmacies, her credit cards were near maxed out.

For her final purchase of the night before her cards completely failed her, it was take out dinner. She had promised Mattie his Korean fried chicken after all.

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