Chapter 14:

How do you sleep? I didn't

Castaway Isle

After retrieving the rest of their carry ons, Sophie led her younger brother not back to their camp but a certain distance away on the beach.

"Take a good look, we'll be back here tomorrow morning."

"Uh ok? What for? Don't yell at me if I'm wrong but I'm guessing we're not going for a morning surf and swim."

Sophie smiled lightly, it would take a lot for her to actually get mad and yell now. That or if someone dared to threaten her family. But her anger was no longer as loud and feisty as it once was. To show your true emotions was a show of weakness in a place like that.

Her poker face was near perfect from years of living with human threats and further honed in order to blend in with modern society after she was rescued and received treatment. Because she had gone insane, she had many sessions and group therapy that taught and practiced how to cope and behave. It was like therapy and acting class all in one.

But the truth was, deep inside she was always angry.

The rage from her life had cut deep and so the furnace inside her soul always burned deep down. Like simmering charcoal ready to reignite at any time with the right sparks.

No one needed to know about that just yet.

"Keep guessing Mattie."

"I'm guessing fishing then because why else would we be on the beach.....wait...oh God Sophie you're not telling me we're going fishing or digging before dawn are we? Oh god no oh god."

"What a good guess! It will be just like when we were kids Mattie."

"Oh god why, who are you and what have you done to my sister! You hated it the most when mom dragged of us up to dig or fish!"

Up till their late teenage years, when the weather was good and the season was right, their mother would get their family up bright and early to go picking seafood from the beach.

While it may seem strange to many people in modern countries, it was quite normal for their parents growing up to forage and eat from what nature provided. Some seasons were good for digging up clams and crustaceans, others were times that certain fish and shrimps naturally washed up onshore. They would have to go early. usually when the sky was still dark as that was the best time. The hour where the tides receded to reveal trapped and freshly washed up sea creatures. Sometimes before they left, their mother would even chat, trade and buy fresh catches from the local fishermen.

Sophie, being a natural late riser hated being woken up the most for these fishing adventures. But the air always felt amazing, though sometimes bitingly cold, and the fresh seafood was always delicious and best of all mostly free.

Even though Mattie was complaining, he himself was fond of those memories. Especially after their parents had passed away. It was an odd but wonderful memory of their mother and the time they spent together as a family.

"Mattie...we're going to make it ok. So trust me."

"Yeah, I got it already. Still so bossy."

They returned to their camp for a short break and then back to the plane for their daily meal allowance from the aircraft. At this time more people took notice of the siblings, especially those elderly and with children who had received a woven mat from the staff.

While their names were not announced there were many eyes out on the beach. They reported seeing that it was a pair of Asians, one young girl, and one teenaged boy, with hiking backpacks that handed over the mats. It was an international flight so the number of different races and cultures was not low. They were not the only Asians on the plane of course but neither were they in the majority.

But it wasn't that much attention, people preferred the extra cushions provided by the airline's staff. At most Sophie and Mattie got a few curious looks from those who recognized them from the earlier scene.

For the most part everyone was a modern person and used to a certain standard of living. Even in a dire situation like this, some woven grass and leaves meant little nothing to them. Many of those who received a mat complained even further that instead of giving them grass, the staff should allow them back into the plane to take shelter.

What all the passengers but Sophie didn't know was that there were plans to move the aircraft the following day!

There was not enough fuel nor were the engines in a safe condition to reassume flight but it could drive. The plan was the move further north up the shore where the other crashed aircraft has landed. Since they were in much better condition, it made sense for their aircraft to move closer to the others. That way they could connect the two groups of passengers and have an easier time with the organization and future rescue.

Clearing the cabin of people's personal belongings was part of that pre-organization.

That way there would be no complaints of lost or stolen items after they moved the aircraft. The main luggage in the lower compartment of the plane was fine but the cabin was a hazardous mess.

The distance was a couple of miles and the pilots did not want to risk having passengers back on the aircraft in case anything going wrong. It was also difficult to load them back up without all the equipment provided in the airports.

While it sounded a little cruel, their passengers were all uninjured and could walk or move themselves. It was the passengers and crew of the other plane that needed the aid more.

"Hey there kiddos, here's today's dinner." spoke the same attendant that had snuck them the sodas earlier.

"Thank you! I see the mats have already been distributed."

"Yeah they were a great help, no matter what some people say. You kids did good when you didn't have to, thank you."

Sophie did not mind if some of the passengers were grateful to them or not, it was the airline staff she was currently targeting and that plan was currently working. She was working to raise their trust in her, she would need their authority on many matters in her plan.

Besides, the majority of the passengers would not last for too long. They were too weak and could not put in the grit and effort to really survive in this unexpected place. If they weren't going to help contribute to the group, later on, it would be better for their diminishing supplies if those sorts of deadweight died or disappeared earlier on. If they died then at least the rest of the survivors could split and use the deceased remaining luggage and belongings.

In the early days, the airline staff would collect and keep the deceased's belongings. In fact, the 3 passengers who had passed away in the flight and landing had all their belonging still stored in the airplane. The plan was to return them to the family of the deceased after the were rescued and returned back to civilization. Of course, they did not know rescue would not come for another long 8 years.

When the weeks stretched into months they were forced to open the unclaimed baggage like gacha boxes. Each of the luggage bags was, of course, different, some were more useful than others. They became the treasure chests of this castaway island along with the few freight and shipment boxes being transported by the planes.

The items inside were organized and distributed by need and the flight and cabin crew were actually quite professional about it.

It was only that there was always too much need and greed for there to ever be enough supplies to go around. A year from now, thievery would not be uncommon. Three years from people would murder for something as simple as a pack of cigarettes and some food.

Really it was such a pity. In Sophie's opinion, there were plenty of kind hardworking people who could have made survival on the island much more bearable but it was the good ones who often died first. They were just too trusting and thus easy to kill.

Her Mattie was one of them, lured and murdered over something as petty as a girl.

She strangled the stupid little slut herself and the accomplices died off one by one later over the years but the true murder got away. Sophie knows he did and it still burns.

Not this time, never again.

Mattie, of course, was unaware of all of his sister's thoughts. He simply followed along and made small talk with the airline attendant as they gathered their food. While he wasn't as deceptively cute as his elder sister, he was a polite baby face boy himself and was spoiled by many adults in his life. He had caught onto his sister's plan of making a good impression with them and played up his charm as well.

Luckily for Sophie, middle aged women were not her 18-year-old brother's type and she allowed the light hearted banter to go on without worry. She would have to have this talk with him later though. His kindness may charm most older adults but it was a liability that pretty girls with bad intentions would definitely use against him!

Soon after the siblings headed back to camp for another round of Sophie enforced core and muscle exercises before digging into their meals.

"We stink!" cried Mattie.

Even though he's a boy and as messy as anyone else he was something of a clean freak, much more so than both his sisters. Sophie threw a pack of wet wipes at him.

"We only have so much so you can either use those or run into the ocean. Sun's not gone just yet."

"Wait I can go swimming? Like I just just waltz right into the sea without you getting a panic attack where I am or if I'm safe?"

"What do I look like Mattie? Mom?"

"Well actually genetically speaking- "

"Just go, serisouly it's fine if you wanna take a quick dive at the beach. Nothings going to eat you in the water."

"Sweet, nice to know because I saw those little kids playing in the waves earlier and was very much jealous."

"Just go, you really do stink."

"Hey same goes for you!"

Sophie waved him off as he went to change into his swim trunks and some sandals. She wasn't lying, the creatures in the water did not scare her, not in this sandy area at least. But even with poisonous fish and sharp things lurking in the sea it was nothing compared to what humans were capable of.

Until they got further inland where the streams and waterfalls were to be found, the best bathing option they had was literally the ocean that surrounded them. Sophie did not mind being a little filthy or not bathing, she had been through far worse than this. Far far worse.

Besides today was a hot day, there was no issue with letting Mattie take a swim while she tried to whip up a more satisfying dinner for them. The airline meal boxes were hardly enough calories for what they needed and it was lacking even more nutrients. By mixing up the premade meals with freshly foraged herbs and campfire roasted tubers she had a substantial salad, a main dish and another side dish almost ready by the time Mattie got back over an hour later.

The crackers and salted nuts, provisions that could last, were tucked away for another day.

"How did you do all this without a single knife? Those are still in the luggage on the plane!" exclaimed Mattie, already half dried from his walk back.

"Oh good, you're back. Had a nice swim? There are mostly cut coconuts over there if you wanted a drink." asked Sophie casually as she turned some baked potato looking plants over the fire with some long makeshift chopsticks.

"Uh yeah it was great but Soph you never answered my question." he gestured to the set mat, in place of a table.

While the salt and sand weren't exactly comfortable on his skin it was better than the sticky sweat from the hot day. The water was cool and refreshing and instantly made him feel better. He was going to offer to keep watch and maybe take over tending to the campfire as his sister took her turn swimming but was shocked to see a full meal served on palm mats, leaves and camping gear.

Everyone in his family could cook, that was no issue but how did his sister whip all this up from near nothing?

She held up a jagged broken rock as if she were putting it on display.

"If you see any rocks with this kind of shiny flint material peaking through, that means they're pretty easy to snap and break at the right angles. The edges are pretty sharp for a naturally occurring rock but you can grind that even further with a whetstone or against another rock."

After 8 years on this island, most of it without a knife, she had to figure out what to use in place. These rocks were a common item that when processed correctly, made a sharp enough edge to be practical. It was nowhere near as sharp or strong as a steel knife but it was durable and worked on many things given enough effort and patience. All in all it was a pretty decent natural knife blade when broken correctly and the material was abundant on the island. It could save some blunt work on their limited knives.

Mattie was done being shocked and just rolled with the mini-lessons that now seemed to follow every one of his sister's explanations.

"So it's like obsidian? Naturally sharp."

"Honestly I'd say these are probably flint or quartz, depends on the rock."

"Cool cool, I gotcha. Flint then, natural knives. Uh I'd ask if you wanted a turn to wash up but well."

"Yeah the food is basically done, get dressed already and have a seat. They gave us those cookie brownies Frankenstein things in the meal box today."

"Cool cool...I love brownies...."

"Yes I know you do, now stop gawking and put on a shirt already and get over here already. The mosquitos will come for you at this rate. " she nagged in the way she always does towards her siblings.

Even though Matthew said he would stop being shocked it was still a bit much to take in how his sister had turned into both a survivalist and an outdoor cooking expert all of the sudden. They've never been camping outside of school trips in their entire lives!

Each day that passes he comes closer to accepting what she said about living through the next couple of years as the truth. Until then he needs a little more time to take it all in and digest.

They had a filling and balanced meal, probably better than anyone else on the island currently. WIth the active day they had, exploring, foraging and lugging around stuff, Matthew did not mind when Sophie suggested they turn in early for the night.

Matthew got his sister to actually use their toothpaste and the cleaned up for bed as best they could. They fell asleep easily to a glowing fire.

The truth was Sophie was not an easy sleeper, not for years now, especially not without her medication. The night terrors haunted her, replaying her worst nightmares over and over again. Yet since she had come back to this younger body the insomnia and nightmares had not bothered her even once.

Though she had made progress towards recovery, those 8 years had made permanent damage to her health and psyche. It was more than a small miracle then, to now have this healthy body without the physical trauma of her past. More than that she had her brother back, her sister, she had hope.

She had prepared ahead for her insomnia and even snuck oil tinctures of certain federally illegal drugs into their luggage. They would be fully legal in 13 years time and thankfully were legal to purchase in her state as of 2017 so she stocked up and removed the packaging.

But this body of hers was so healthy there was to not need to touch the supplemental sleep aids at all! No matter they were still useful things and Sophie fell asleep easily once again.

The issue was that she still woke up easily, just as her 34 year old self did. The slightest noise, any sense of a threat and she would be up and ready.

That's what woke her in the middle of the night, a sound.

Her phone was flashing about 5 hours before their fishing alarm was supposed to go off. She quietly shook her sleeping brother awake as she laced up her boots over her sweat pants.

"Mattie, Mattie get up and be alert."

"Wha- jie no what?"

"Shhh, just get up and be ready for anything. I heard yelling and rustling, someone's out there."

Matthew complied with orders but not without complaining as he put on his glasses and tied his shoes. Sophie was already putting on her jacket and grabbing their flashlights and makeshift spears, now with a flint tip tied to the ends.

"Of course people are out there, there's a whole beach of them. The fire's not even fully out yet, it's like early for some people."

"They're in the jungle Mattie, it sounded like running."

"It's a free jungle, people can be there I guess." he yawned but looked much more awake, grabbing the spear his sister handed to him. Despite the words coming out of his mouth, he was ready. What for, he didn't know.

Then he heard it, a scream.

"Fucking shit get back here you little fucking thief!!!"

Well that explains things, kind of.

The siblings braced themselves, ears strained to hear what was going on in the not so far distance. Another scream rang out, and then another in the same angry voice but this time curled in pain rather than just pure rage.

"Come on Mattie, grab your jacket and walkie and follow me. "

"What? We're seriously going out there?"

"Yeah sure, why not."

Sophie shrugged as she slung her own prepared pack over her shoulder and added a bit more firewood to the slowly dying campfire.

She had on a strange sort of knowing smile that Mattie did not like one bit. Like when she spoiled a season finale to a show he wasn't done watching yet. It only made her sweet face look both lovelier and more sinister-looking by the dancing glow of the reigniting fire.

"Let's go watch a good show, Mattie."


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