Chapter 13:

It's not okay but it will have to be.

Castaway Isle

The night before, had many of the passengers disgruntled.

For the most part, they believed they should be allowed back on the plane to take shelter for the night, especially those who were parents and the elderly.

Simple demand, right? The crew couldn't comply.

It was already enough of a mess evacuating everyone. Not only were there sensitive matters and procedures to keep the staff busy but the cabin was a mess. It was too risky to allow passengers back in, especially if they allowed some but not others. Too many peoples' carry ons and possessions were scattered about. The best they could do for the time being was to pass out provisions and comfort items such as blankets and pillows.

More resourceful people would take shelter elsewhere or at least bring back large leaves and such to the beach to provide some cover.

Being that is was summer, it was not too uncomfortable to spend the night outdoors. At least no one would catch a chill.

Rather it was the heat and thirst that people should be more concerned about. The plane did not provide enough to satisfy the overheated passengers while most people did not want to leave the premise, let along look for sources of water.

Sophie and her brother were perhaps in the 10% of the braver or more resourceful to head up to higher inland grounds.

In the morning when the sun was high in the sky, at a time that most people would guess to be about 9am, the staff of the plane began to pass out breakfast and make an announcement.

A part of the crew had been sent out to not only explore but that there was another downed plane nearby. The two groups would attempt to reach out to another before making any movements or attempts back off the island. Thus they would be stuck in this place for a while longer. People should expect to stay a couple more days.

There were not enough rations in the plane to last everyone that long. From this point on the aircraft would pass out food only twice a day, that way they could last about 4 or 5 days in this manner.

The crowd was rightfully concerned but not to the point of rioting. That was because they still had hope. The optimistic ones believed they would be trapped here for about a week, perhaps longer and that they needed to start taking initiative in improving their situation. There were the folks who started making S.O.S signals on the beach.

The very optimistic ones, perhaps to the point of stupidity, considered it like a long island vacation. A retreat if you will.

However, for the most part, those who had children or were a little older were far from pleased with the situation. Since there was nothing they could do they heckled the staff. It was the common reaction for many people used to seeing managers or writing scathing online reviews.

But useless here.

To appease the crowd, the crew would gather up baggage and personal items left in the cabin and return them to their owners.

They could afford to do that much it would keep the crowd preoccupied for the day.

Sure, it would save a lot more time and effort to let passengers up to gather their items themselves but out of safety concerns the staff could only gather and bring down the items themselves by where they were found. In a designated and organized manner, they would call out passengers names and seat numbers to come up and claim their belongings.

Sophie did not care too much, this would take a very long time to do correctly and their seats were near the back of the plane. According to her memory, it would not be hers and Mattie turn till late afternoon as there would be some arguments and confusion between passengers. Just as the airline staff feared, there would be some attempts at thievery. At least two times someone would purposely attempt to take items that were not theirs. A couple more times it would be cases of forgetfulness and mistaken luggage.

And this was just for carry ons and items in the cabin. Their check in luggage would not be returned for at least another full week.

That was fine with Sophie, she wanted to establish a safer more permanent campsite to keep their belongings hidden and safe before retrieving their luggage. They were large and heavy and did not necessarily roll well on sand and through the jungle.

By that time they should have June back. and Sophie could lead them to a safer hideout. Somewhere inexperienced folks would have difficulty in following and finding but close enough they wouldn't be too separated from the group on shore.

There were two planes, one far more damaged than the other. Sometime this week the aircraft that Sophie and Mattie were on would drive itself to be closer to the first plane and group all the survivors together.

That was why Sophie did not want to put in too much effort in making a camp yet, they would move soon. She planned on getting a slight head start, just because she wanted to get to June faster.

With Mattie by her side, their primary goal was to get to June. Everything else could come after.

Perhaps later they would isolate themselves when worst came to worst. Sophie already had it all planned out how the three of them could safely hide in the thick of the jungle and mountains. But until then, until it got bad enough they had to run away, it was better to get along with the others.

Their chances of cumulative survival were better like this in the early days. Besides, Sophie knew best what isolation could do to people in this environment. How it drives one mad.

Their population and working force were still large, morale was still high. They could at least establish some better shelters and food efforts before it all fell apart.

Since she did not want to waste over half a day waiting she took Mattie off with her back to their makeshift campsite, explaining her reasoning on the way.

For the next few hours until noon, she would force him through little hikes of the local area. Throughout she would point out some common plants, their uses, and dangers to watch out for. Using their simple spears as walking sticks and snake deterrents, they circled the area safely. There were also a lot of things to forage this summer season, even if they were still close to the seashore. The salty air did not promote the best environment for growing fruits and vegetables, and only a small variety grew around these parts. There would be more of nature's bounty to forage further inland, where the freshwater was.

It was primarily leaves and herbs but there were a couple of tubers and even some Thai ginger to be found.

At this point Mattie had no choice to either fully accept Sophie's prophetic dreams or that she was secretly a jungle survival expert all along.

As crazy as it sounded, he had to go the psychic option.

There was just so much information coming from his sister, he could not even remember half of what she tried teaching him.

That was expected, she did not expect him to learn everything. These things took time but with her help it would take a lot less. Anything she could impart to him would help not only his survival but make them both better equipped in this environment.

Knowledge was power.

While they explored and lightly foraged, Sophie would carefully select some seeds in her pocket to plant. They had to be suitable to plant in summer, prior to and in between the rainy season while being able to survive the soil of the area.

Only a few seeds though, she did not intend to use up many of them this early on, this far away from her main planned area. But the variety was important. It was foolish to place all of one's eggs, their seeds, in one place.

By noon the two started making their way back to their campsite. It was only getting hotter and hotter as the day went on.

Sophie had learned the hard way to avoid working and being out during the afternoon.

In modern society, people tend to work throughout the day but it was not reasonable out here. At the hottest time of day, it was much more ineffective to try to be productive. It was better to take a long rest and avoid the intense heat and sunlight at this time. Even the animals on the island avoided any activity during this hour.

It was also quite easy to get heatstroke and such. Previously many people would fall after a long time of trying to work or hunt. Perhaps they could do so in the winter months, but certainly not summer. The days were long and so the sunlight was not so precious to force one's body through such conditions.

Since she had gotten up early, it was not hard for Sophie to fall asleep for an afternoon nap after a light lunch of fresh coconut and leftover sandwiches. The filling would go bad after too long without refrigeration so she was not stingy with feeding her brother.

"So we just...chill out? Won't you get fat if you sleep after eating?"

"You will with all that you ate, but it's fine. At most you'll get some indigestion. It's too hot to do anything without any real shelter, we'll head back to the plane in a couple of hours so rest up however you want till then."

"Huh, this isn't as rough and toughen it as you led me to believe Sophie."

"That's because you have me, but no worries it will get worse. Now keep watch and let me sleep."

"Yes ma'am."

She knew he was simply joking, that's how her brother tried to lighten up situations and cope but it really will only continue to get worse. Once she was the same way as well. It was not bad to let him retain some of his innocent personality but she needed to toughen him up further. Not to the point she reached, she didn't wish that on anyone.

It was her habit for many years to sleep at noon, it was the best way to maximize rest and work in the hot climate after all.

In the distance on the shore, the same things that happened in her past memories occurred again. A scammer couple tried to take more than their own luggage while another middle-aged woman angrily mistook another's belongings as her own. These were all petty dramas she didn't need to witness nor be involved in again.

It was much better to take a peaceful nap in the shade, occasionally cooled by the passing sea breeze.

Like this, it was not too unlike the island vacation others had joked about having.

Out of trained habit, Sophie woke up at a good time before her brother could do so for her. While he did not sleep, he did rest and close his eyes for a bit while relaxing from their morning excursions. Mattie had to admit that though the day was hot he did not feel too tired.

It was around 3 pm when they set off to the plane and main group. Everyone was busy gathering and organizing their own items so Sophie did not concern herself with the fear of their gear being stolen. One on one thievery wasn't an issue to be had yet.

To avoid suspicion she did have them carry their now lighter backpacks along with them. She didn't want anyone to get the impression they leave their things behind for easy taking nor did she want to invite them to try their luck.

There were definitely those who noticed their backpacks the first day.

Just as Sophie predicted, when they arrived it was still a couple of rows before it was their turn to be called out to collect their carry ons.

Sophie was also not worried about anyone trying to steal those because not only were their bags a matching set but they had locks on them. From their distance in the waiting crowd, Mattie and Sophie could see their carry on luggage, heavily wrapped in plastic wrap, still untouched but for the cabin crew transferring it down.

They received a few looks from an observant few but for the most part, went mostly unnoticed. People were too busy with themselves and recovering part of their luggage to be bothered by the faces that only occasionally showed up.

Safe to say they received their little rolling luggage cases with no issue when it was their turn near the end.

"Thank you, and um I know it's not much but my brother and I made these. In case anyone could use them."

Sophie turned up the sweetness on her innocent appearance as she handed the airline attendants some rolled up palm mats. These were the earliest ones that they had made. The sloppiest and loosest of the mats, especially those weaved by Matthew as practice.

Sophie felt it was no loss to give them away, rather it could help gain a little trust and goodwill from others without being too valuable to draw the wrong sort of attention.

"Wow, you guys made these?! From the palm trees?"

"I mean, what else would they be made from- ouch Sophie!."

"Don't be rude. Sorry about my brother, he's just...dehydrated and snappy. Yeah, we thought it might help. Made one each for ourselves and well yeah- you know."

The attendants didn't mind, they had heard far worse today.

"These are pretty good, where did you learn how to do this?"

"Our parents and around I guess. We have some relatives and as you can see-" she gestured to her face and Mattie's, indicating their race without saying too much.

"We just picked up some things when we visited them before in their home countries. I spoke to an attendant yesterday offering if we could help in any way but I get how busy you guys must be. Sorry for taking up so much of your time."

"No this is great! I'm sure anyone would appreciate them, beats sleeping on the bare ground or with only a plastic cover and blanket. I mean sure some people gathered up leaves but this is actually really good!"

The mats were about as tall as the original palm fronds were long. Though they were a bit thin each could easily fit an average person laying down like a small twin bed. It was something like a natural woven yoga mat though a lot less cushioned. Still, it was sturdy and provided more comfort and protection than nothing. Best of all it was free and cost nothing but some labor, the materials were provided by the island.

"Any chance you could teach some of the others this? Not that we're not grateful for giving us these but it would be a lot faster if you had more hands I'm sure. Then more folks could have a mat." another young attendant asked.

She was annoyed by all the complaints, heat and sand herself. If they could pass out even simple things like these plain woven mats the nagging passengers would ease up a bit.

Sophie made a purposefully strained face.

"Maybe at another time, we're honestly a little tired today. Tried hiking deeper into the jungle, you know to explore a bit and look for fresh water. Didn't go so well."

"Oh dear!"

"In this weather?"

Sophie led with a puppy-like disappointed face while Mattie shrugged.

"Anyways about yesterday, I wanted to ask if you made contact with the other crew yet. We think our sister was on that flight."

"Oh, you're the girl Analyse was talking about, the one with the gps tracker."

"Yes that's me or well us. " led off Sophie.

"Please if there's any news on June, do let us know." begged Mattie.

Since the two young siblings had made a good impression on these staff members so far, and even gave them the mats though it must have cost them time and effort, the staff members felt it was a shame they couldn't tell them much more besides that they had made contact. Most of the passengers were reported alive but they didn't want these two good kids to get false hope in case their sister was one of the unfortunate few casualties.

"Well thanks for telling us anyway, no really every little bit helps. We're just..."

"Worried. We're worried for her, she's our only little sister. Please just, let us know if anything comes up. Thank you." finished off Mattie.

They made a convincing picture together but their concern for June really was sincere.

"Of course kids, and hey you said you were thirsty right? Here take these."

The attendants snuck the siblings two drinks each, still cold from whatever container they were keeping them in. Right now they could still afford to be so generous.

"Oh thank you."

Sophie whispered, careful not to let others hear as the attendants themselves were keeping hush. Sodas and water would always be precious things on the island. She understood the attendants pitied them but she couldn't leave without buttering them up a little further.

"I know we're all on rations and I'm not sure what your guys share is but I'm guessing it's pretty tough too. You probably have your own but here, these may melt completely if we leave them out any further."

With that Sophie pretended to fish out some chocolate candy bars from her pack. Though supplies were precious, she also knew the value of trade and investments. Besides she wasn't lying when she said the chocolates would melt in this continued hot weather.

"Ohhh chocolate, now we're talking"

The older attendant hushed the younger one and gratefully took the candy bars. Their days and rations weren't too great either, this little bit of food and sweetness was a great pick me up.

"We'll keep you posted, be back in line for dinner now."

They politely took their leave with their luggage and so soon as they were far away from any eyes watching, Sophie immediately dropped the sweet act. If anyone was watching they'd be shocked at how such a sweet and delicate-looking little girl suddenly became so cold and domineering. Mattie, being used to his sister's true personality since childhood did not even blink nor was he concerned about little things like that.

On both of their minds was only one thing or person.

This was all they could do for now. Plan and wait.

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