Chapter 16:

It hurts? It still hurts? Why do ghosts still feel-

Castaway Isle

The moon on this particular night was only half full but it glowed bright and clear with a hint of yellow. In the middle of an isolated ocean with no signs of pollution, the stars shone as they had for thousands of years before man fogged up their skies.

Light shined down clearly and there was no place to hide.

Not unless you knew how to make the leaves and shades work in your favor.

The running man named Wilson did not, now was he in the clearest sense of mind, panting and low on oxygen for the physical strain.

Mattie and Sophie watched from their perch as the gangly man helplessly scrambled not to the safety of the jungle but towards the open ledge. The moon providing the spotlight on the theatre show about to play out.

Mattie was right, Sophie loved giving out spoilers to things.

They watched as the scene played out as Sophie foretold with a strange sense of fascination and even amusement. Though Mattie was rightfully a little terrified. Because if she truly dreams of the future, and she dreamed of him dying, well what does that mean for him?

That is a thought he puts on the backburner. As his sister said, there is a show to watch.

Foster rushes into the scene, red like an angry bull. The muscles on his thick neck jutting out with popping veins. He's exactly like Mattie imagines him to look like based on Sophie's story. Like a sleazy car dealership salesman mixed with the fathers of some of his poor football teammates, the ones with an over masculinity issue until they grew wise enough to overcome them.

Wilson in comparison looked like a stick and he can see where the similarity to a rat lies. He has the shifty crouched demeanor of someone Mattie wouldn't trust. Even in the dark, he would describe the guy as greasy.

"Oh he does look like a weeaboo type." he whispers to her, shushed and low like when they're conversing in a movie theatre.

Sophie chuckles but shushes her brother, it wouldn't do to interrupt the show. Not just yet

The lines sprouted between the two actors suck but the action and expressions are great. Foster goes for the kill as Wilson cries, and right at the last second goes jumps for his life.

In another life, it's an absolute success. He dodges and rolls away to safety while his attacker falls down the ledge.

In this one, Foster does go over the ledge but the fumbles over the rocks by the ledge. He falls but does not fly into the air as he does in another life. The big man crashes and skids down the rocky ledge with sickening cracks and thumps. There are blood marks against the rock as vulnerable skin and cloth drag but the gashes left are nothing lethal.

In this one, it is not just Foster that falls, but Wilson as well. The ducks and dodges but the rocks and loose branches have him falling over backward, over and down the ledge himself. It's not as sharp of a fall as Foster's physically charged one, not is the angle as painful. But he falls and rolls none the less, banging against dirt, rock, and the occasional thorny bush.

They fall with screams and groans.

"And that Mattie, is our cue."

"For what? Oh no no no I don't like this."

Sophie hushes him and grabs their flashlights, readying them. She gets them into position and waits for the sounds of further screaming.

"Help Oh fucking shit oh fuck help!!!"

There it is.

"Hello! Is someone over there?!"

"Oh god yes help! Down here!"

"No fuck don't come down here there's sn-"


Turning on the flashlights Sophie shines the light and makes her way down the ledge, ushering for Mattie to follow her in suit. He fumbles with hesitancy but is left with no choice as she runs off, spear gripped tight and ready in her hands.

Oh, Mattie so does not like this.

Sophies runs and jumps with the ease of a wild cat. It's not exactly parkour and the muscles in this body aren't well-conditioned enough but her memory fuels her movements. She rushes into the scene.

It's finally her turn in the spotlight.

Even though she does not need too she shines the light quickly to the cowering men, blinding them if there were looking and makes to strike. Her spear poised low and ready, she swipes and slashes. The glorified stick swings and sweeps as she abandons the flashlight in an aimed throw towards a squirming pile.

If anyone could see through the darkness of the night, they would see a short haired girl hop and swipe, slicing the ground with the sharp end of her long obviously handmade weapon. Sometimes she used her heavily laced boots to stomp on a specific spot and stab downwards before twisting and slicing. She only does this motion a few times, preferring to sweep the ground in long swings.

It happens so quickly that when Mattie finally catches up but a few breathes away, Sophie has killed a handful of the snakes and scared away a couple of the others. He shines his flashlight but can make no further sense of what has happened.

"Go! Run already!" Sophie yells, the only feminine voice in the night.

But she sounds strong, she sounds tired, it's a contradiction no one thinks about in the mess of it all. She stomps another approaching snake and slices its head off in an efficient manner.

Blood splays and drips, not dramatic like a horror movie but with a disgusting and gruesome squish. It's a rusty drain freshly unclogged, it's squirming scaled flesh and clumpy blood that drools out from the hole where a head and mouth once was.

Not even a split second passes before the girl sweeps and flings another nearby snake.

The two men, injured as they are, do their best to run towards the other source of light. To where Mattie stands, half frozen and horrified.


Mattie rushes, his boots stomping over rocky gravel. He rushes with the speed of an 18 year old athlete and while he doesn't know Kung Fu or even snake handling, he copies the sweeping motion he's witnessed by his sister just then. Sweeps and nicks focused on getting these things away.

It's Sophie who puts in the strength and effort to slice, but only where she needs to.

She's not trying to kill them all, that's why she flings and grunts to scare them away. She stands and holds her ground, keeping a safe space if you don't count the writhing diced snake remains around her. Her swings are wide to deter but she will slice and stab and continue to do so if need be.

"Don't move any further forward Mattie!"

"Fucking shit Sophie!"

"Just don't! They'll retreat if we don't advance anymore. Just let them go."

True to her word the remaining snakes slither off and away, like shadows flickering in the night. And then it was quiet but for the heavy panting breathes of all the actors on the scene.

And then, the sole actress took a bow.


Matthew ran over to his now crouched over sister trying to get a clear look, an idea of what was going on. He slid down, hardly noticing the disgusting carnage around them.

"Bro.....I'm going to be okay. It is going to be- huff- okay....the others, please,.... get help. Please, ask those guys to go to the plane first and send help. The snakes, they might ugh be venomous."

"Well no fucking shit!"

"Please, the others-"

She directed her plea, not to her brother who was now trying to support her, but to the shaking mess of men on the side. The main actors to this scene, now regulated to background characters in this play.

In their fear, in the half full moonlight, they saw a delicate little girl with youthfully messy hair and a weak but flushed face. Barely, not yet a woman in their eyes but her face was still lovely. She begged them to go back to get help, there was the shocking drip of blood on her pale skin that they could not tell where it was from. As injured and shocked as they were, they could not call themselves men if they left a weak little girl like this. Not when she and her brother had come to their rescue.

"But we can't just leave you here?" stated Wilson, already captivated by the dramatic situation and adrenaline coursing through his veins.

The pretty little thing was too tomboyish but still very much his type and he couldn't help but step closer. Who wouldn't want to play a knight in shining armor when obviously the little beauty was injured and in need of help.

Shame he couldn't get a good look at his own sorry state.


Mattie glared and made to shield his elder sister with his much larger frame, away from those disgusting predatory eyes.

"Come on you lousy son of a bitch, the faster we get back to the plane the better. The kid needs medical attention. "

Foster grumbled, already exhausted as he was coming down from his rage and sudden near death experience. His pride hurt at being rescued by some little kids but he'll take that over death by snakes any day. Unlike Wilson, the girl was actually too young for him. Maybe in a few years, but he guessed her to not be a day over 13 years old, maybe even younger. In fact, he sneered in disgust at Wilson's obvious interest. Was Wilson perhaps that type of pervert too?

He wouldn't put it past him. 'Nasty ass Pedo motherfucker', he thought as he dragged the scrawny man by the shoulder and hobbled their way back the way they came.

Mattie breathed a sigh of relief as they left but still held on to Sophie, hiding her from view. He waited for a pause and then another to make sure they were really gone and then let go.

"Okay seriously, what the fuck Sophie? You scared the crap out of me for a moment there."

Sophie stretched and stood back up, loosening to neck and shoulder muscles. Her face was still a little flushed from the high-intensity exercise and her palms were swelling from the force of soft flesh against wood but she stood uninjured. The splattered blood obviously not hers and a shade too brown, not that people could tell in the dark of the night.

"It's snakes, Mattie, perfectly normal to be scared. Most people are. "

"Hmmm, where do I start? The part where you go running into the pit of snakes or when you decided to dramatically swoon and crumple?"

"Which one did you like better?"

"None! You scared me shitless, the first one was a little cool though."

"Aha, I knew it."

Of course, it was all an act, it took Matthew a bit to get over the shock of seeing the spikey yellow snakes and the strangeness of the situation but again he knows his sister. If she was truly hurt that's not how she would react. She was a practical person who wouldn't waste time when things were serious, no this was just her being a drama queen.

"Don't you think you played it on a little thick?"

"Oh what that? Oh no, not at all. Bozos like Wilson eat that kind of shit up."

Mattie rolled his eyes at Sophie but more than anything he was relieved. There were surrounded by squirming decapitated snake corpses but they were safe and unharmed.

"A warning would have been nice" he complained as Sophie rolled and picked up her spear and fallen flashlight, careful to avoid the bits and pieces of snake.

"I did, I said get ready."

"You didn't say 'get ready to fight a pit of fucking venomous snakes'! Who even does that?"

"We didn't really fight them, more like shooed them away. Besides most of them were young, not too hard to kill. See."

She shines the light on a few of the more whole looking creatures and as gross as the sight was they were indeed not as large as they could be. Some were even the size of playground jump ropes. Sophie poked a few with her spear and lifted them up for good measure.

"Shame, not much meat on these things."

"Oh god you want to eat them?!"

"Calm down Mattie, it's not worth it. Besides what's the big deal, you've had snake meat before."

"Yeah, when mom didn't tell me it was snake and had it all nice and cooked like shredded chicken!"

"See, no big deal."

Sophie shrugged and took a long drink from her water canteen. As she packed it back away she took out an empty plastic container, not dissimilar to tubbleware. It was one of her smaller parts of a bento box set.

Mattie groaned, smacking his face into his, too warm too tired, hands. Of course the crazy wasn't over yet. This is just his life now.

He watched tiredly, picking up his dropped spear and Sophie plucked a leaf to first layer the box. Then start stabbing the decapitated heads of the snakes she just killed, slipping them smoothly into the box. Far too calmly and smoothly for someone not experienced in already doing so.

This is not his sister, but it was. Just his psychic future sister.

As she gathered heads like they were ugly Easter eggs, Sophie started rambling on another one of her lessons. She wanted to make sure her brother wouldn't get himself unnecessarily hurt if he ever came across snakes without her. Which on an island, the chances were pretty high.

"Snakeheads can still bite well after death, their reflexes are pretty strong. That's why the bodies are still squirming sometimes. A lot of cold blooded critters are the same. They're dead but the venom is still just as deadly so be careful to avoid the fangs, mouth or just touching them in general. The meat is perfectly fine to eat though, a little tough at this point but nothing some low boiling can't fix."

"Great, when are you going have us drink the blood out of the snakes like a marine?"

"Mattie, you do know where Marines are stationed right? And don't be silly, we have plenty of coconuts, no need for drinking any raw blood just yet. "

"Cool, no need to drink snake blood. Just...picking up their heads and saving them for later."

"I think I got enough now, come on let's head back to camp."

"That's the best idea you had all night."

Sealing the lid on the container, Sophie packed the box of young snakeheads away and easily led them back up the ledge and back to the camp.

Once there she gave them but a few minutes of rest with orders to start packing their things up. She grabbed one of their saved water bottles and put the kettle on, adding the last of their wood into the fire pit.

"Seriously Sophie? It's late and you want to fish and-"

"Fishing's canceled, we got a show to follow up on."

While he's glad they don't have to get up at dawn, what she's essentially saying is they're staying up now.

"We already sent those two back to the group, it will take them a while but they'll get back," Sophie explained as she organized and rolled up their stuff.

Luckily they didn't even bother to crack open their carryons yet. Those could stay as they are, locked and plastic wrapped.

"Yeah but are they actually going to get help or leave you there to die?" question Mattie grumpily. He really was scared for this sister and these sorts of adults did not give him good vibes.

"It's the early days Mattie, people will get worse but in time. Even Foster got medical attention in my 'dream' didn't he?"

Mattie nodded as Sophie laid out her hammock and tied it to the edges of a clean palm mat.

"The story is that you half carried me the best you could to our camp. I was bitten on the arm, where flesh is exposed." she gestured to her boots, still covered in flecks of snake blood compared to her bare arm.

"Is that why you didn't clean the bits of blood off of you? To make a pretty picture?"

"See you already know that much. Remember the plane is moving today, and the group starts walking to where June's wrecked plane is".


"And my dear baby didi, we will save ourselves a few days of walking and foraging and hitch a ride on the plane."

"Wait I thought you said they didn't let in anyone but those with small kids and the elderly."

Sophie fished out a packet of tea, turmeric, and dumped it into her cup. The water was about ready and she poured herself some tea before it boiled.

"Want some?" she offered the kettle.

"Seriously right now? Yeah sure, you got those G7 coffee packets? Nevermind I got one here."

They sipped their hot drinks in relative peace, the question still hanging in the air as they unwinded.

"So?" started Mattie as the last of his coffee was drained.

Sophie rolled her neck a few more times, fully relaxing as she stretched out on her hammock cushioned mat.

"Remember how I said they took Foster with them?"

"Sophie I don't like where this is going."

"You don't like a lot of things lets be honest."

"Yes, because I am sane and reasonable. June would agree with me."

Sophie laughed, ah yes sane. She tried so hard to go back to being 'sane'. But once you crumple something, it never really goes back to how it was before, no matter how many times you smoothed it out.

But that's okay, sane wasn't what was necessary to save them all.

"There are doctors in the group Mattie, you can't fool them with acting."


Sophie popped the box lid, with a pair of chopsticks she picked up a young snake's head. The biggest one in the box. It was the size of novelty keychain charm, a medium-sized lemon with spikes, eyes, and teeth.

She dropped it in the remaining boiling water.

"Fuck Sophie."

"It's a vaccine Mattie, think of it was an ugly vaccine with some pretty bad side effect."

"You can't just-you can't."

"I did it before you know, let myself be bitten by a bigger snake. An adult. I lived didn't I?"

"Yeah in the damn dream!"

"Mattie. Do you trust me?"

"Of course I do but this is insane. It's a poisonous s-"


"A fucking venomous snake!"

"The staff and some people will come looking toward the jungle, you will wave them down to our camp location. You know the story, it's not really a lie, not that that's an issue. We walked back the best we could, you helped carry me. We get to camp and you lay me down to rest. We use hot water and lemongrass to disinfect the wound."

"You're serious about this."

Sophie eyed the pot, picking up the slightly boiled snakehead and carefully holding it in between her fingers, it was still just as deadly looking.

"Throw the head in the fire afterward. Keep me hydrated, I'm going to have a really bad fever for a while and might not be conscious most of the day. Sorry for making you carry all the luggage bro."

She positioned the fanged head to her arm, the same spot as before right above her left elbow, and let dead reflexes clamp down into her flesh.

Fuck that still hurts.

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