Chapter 17:

Time heals all but it is not linear

Castaway Isle

Contrary to her brother's unrealistic fears, Sophie does not immediately crumple, scream or pass out. It's not Mattie's fault, he's never seen someone bitten by a deadly anything in real life before, most people don't.

She calmly forces herself to breathe and lays down, careful to elevate the injured arm with a pillow. The young snakehead was thrown into the fire and left to burn to ashes.

"Make sure you have everything packed up and ready to go. In twenty or something, minutes go take a look at the plane, wave them down if those goons got back. No one got bitten tonight so they shouldn't take that long. "

"Do they even carry antivenom on the plane?"

"No, but it doesn't matter. I'll live, done it before"

Even if they did carry anti-venom it wouldn't be to these exact creatures. There were many unknown and undiscovered species living on the island. An overly excited expert among the initial surviving passengers had actually claimed some of these species were indeed known but deemed long extinct.

Maybe they should have stayed extinct.

In the last life, she allowed herself to receive the full bite of an adult, rather than a juvenile. Without the aid of any modern medicine, she suffered in a delirious and painful fever for over 4 days and 4 nights. Even after waking up it would take her another week to fully recover.

Her siblings and a few others would take turns caring for her, making sure she was at least hydrated. During the days her body was processing the toxins, turning into an immunity, she could not eat nor take care of herself. Her body would immediately vomit if they tried to feed her anything, doing its best to rid the body of the venom.

She was among the first round, the testers of their rural anti-venom vaccine. Later they would find better ways to weaken the effects of the venom. By boiling the heads, letting them rest sometime after death, and with the use of medicinal herbs and remedies, they could offset the effects. Among the hundreds of surviving passengers, there were quite a few unexpected experts in various fields, together they would pass on invaluable knowledge to the group before dying in their own ways on this cursed island.

People would only be ill for a much short amount of time and without such intensity. However, they would have to receive multiple injections over time to build up the same level of immunity compared to others who received a full strength bite. Obviously, though that was far more preferable than suffering through the first option.

This was the method Sophie wanted to use on her siblings when the time was appropriate.

They needed all the advantages they could get on this island. If they did not receive this bite and build some anti-venom immunity, in the future if they came into contact with a more lethal creature, then it would be too late.

Sophie calmy and softly explained to her brother the results of the past and what to expect.

In a way, Mattie has already expected this much from what his sister told him before. He had already suspected that she would repeat her dream and allow herself to be bitten to receive this immunity, he just did not expect she would act that very same night.

"It was a good chance Mattie, I nearly forgot about it until I heard Foster yelling."

But now she robbed him of the early advantage to his venom immunity while acting as a savior. In the early days, she could count on them to have some sense of honor and now held an informal sense of debt over them.

Wilson would be annoying and she'd rather not use him if there was no need but Foster. She could directly ask for a favor in return, his pride was high.

If anything they could use him for heavy labor force since he was not to be bedridden for a month this time around. Sure he was bloodied, bruised and obviously injured but it was nothing to what he had gone through last time with the multiple snake bites. He could get treated without swelling and toxic venom to distract from his other injuries, perhaps Sophie's actions would even prevent him from receiving his limp.

She was not too concerned with getting rid of these two men, they would meet their end in due time. Before that why not use them as pawns for her disposal? Besides, she had bigger prey to hunt and trap.

Sophie relaxed the best she could. keeping her breathing steady and calm as she felt the venom coursing from her arm to the rest of her body, flowing through her bloodstream. It felt like acid, sometimes hot sometimes cold but it always burned.

"If they ask you for the snake's decriptions tell them. If they ask you to lead them to where the scene was last night, go ahead."

"And just leave you?"

"There will be a small crowd, just enough witnesses to avoid theft, ask the airline attendants to look after me and our luggage. Insist on coming with me onto the plane they won't stop you. Not when I'm like this."

"You sure are talking a lot for someone about to be delirious with snake fever."

"Oh it fucking hurts fine, but hasn't reached my heart or brain yet. Shit shit shit shit that burns, gimme some water."

"You said there were herbs to help nullify the poison right?"

"Yeah , ah but none around this area, shiiiiit I felt that, not that I could find at least. Tumeric tea was the best I could do. Oh fuuuucking shit, you're gonna love this when I get a venom vaccine for you Mattie."

"Well god damn me then."

She was panting now, even as she teased and pretended things weren't turning into a burning acid trip in her bloodstream. The pain only seemed to be intensifying as the venom spread. That was fine, she needed it to pump and spread, slowly, and to avoid damaging and rotting the tissue in her arm. It left a nasty scar the last time around, like a chunk of her flesh had been dissolved by acid. But she had lived.

It would only one of the many scars she would receive on this island.

"I see them, Sophie I see them. They're exiting the jungle now-"

That was good because Sophie didn't know how much longer she could maintain her sense and sanity. Even though the searing pain, which felt like the equivalent of a thousand stinging wasps and molten fire flowing through her, she tried to keep conscious. The longer the better, at least until she was transported safely to the main group.

The last time she had screamed herself bloody and hoarse, she was not alone in that reaction. Now she could only bear with it and keep silent, like a true actress until it was her cue.

"Fuck it, I'm going now. Stay there Soph, don't you dare move."

"Like I can!"

Technically she could but she wasn't a stupid masochist. She could hear Mattie's frustrated cries for attention, for help growing fainter as he towards to downed plane.

And then, she was alone.

Sophie tried practicing labored breathing, meditating, anything to make the pain less damaging to her system. She was used to pain but this body of hers wasn't, the nerves young and alive with fury. Her arm was definitely swelling now and she's glad to have taken off everything but a sports bra and tank as blood still dripped from the wound, darker than it should be.

Let it bleed out, she must let it bleed out initially with this breed of snake.

Sophie does not know how much time passed until the sounds of people arrive in a mess. It's Mattie first because of course, it's him. No one but her family would care so much, so frantically about her.


"I'm here! I'm here and help is here, so don't worry."

She doesn't have to fake the groan of pain as spasms ripple through her muscles involuntarily.

"Shit check her vitals."

"Do we have any water? Supplies?"

"Can she be moved, it would be better to move her to the plane!"

A soft of authoritative voice sounds out, forcing others to silence.

"Move out the way, I'm a doctor."

There were already trained staff members on the staff checking on her, she could feel their hands on her forehead, her pulse and looking into the pupil of her eyes. But it's this voice that rouses her through the pain shaking through her.

Oh fuck.

An eerily calm handsome face peers down and examines her swiftly.

Her vision is getting shakey and she feels like she's going to be sick if she's not already terribly ill from the venom. Silky black hair, peerless black eyes, ivory skin over strong reliable hands. Her ideal man once in another life.

Fuck it's her ex.

Of course, he's here, she didn't forget about him. There are other doctors on board, older more experienced ones, but he's the one rushing to the scene of a medical emergency. Great, just fucking great.

It was still a shock to see her ex-boyfriend in his youth when she spent so long mentally blocking everyone from the island out. She no longer held romantic feelings for him, not after their separation years ago. There was no issue but her own mental deja vu, as a medical professional she knew she could trust him. She was in good hands.

Ryota Kazehaya, or just Ryo, was only about 24 years old at the time of the plane crash. He looked young and he was. Far too young to be a certified doctor by normal standards. But he was, as a child he was one of those little geniuses who had skipped many years beyond his education level and graduated early in a prestigious medical program. He wasn't the youngest child genius to grace the program but that was still pretty damn impressive.

Smart, attractive and an accomplished doctor, he was everything her old mom would have wanted for Sophie.

Even without knowing who he was, a younger Sophie was attracted to the other Asian man at first sight. As a young maiden in a strange scary place, she couldn't help but admire the handsome and reliable older man.

Back in the modern world, he would certainly fit her ideal standards for a boyfriend. If they had met anywhere else, being the innocent girl that she was, she definitely would have developed a crush on him. If she were the same person that is.

She wasn't anymore.

They were compatible enough personality-wise and could relax around one another. After months of working closely together, the affection between the two grew and they became something of a couple even in this dire environment. Maybe it was the suspension effect, maybe it was hormones, maybe she just wanted a place to feel safe. Ryo just happened to be it.

So sue her, she had a tropical romance, or well tried to. Cross that off the bucket list.

Well, he wasn't a bad choice at least. Ryo was good to her while they lasted. He was her teammate, her confidant, friend, and lover. It would have been damn perfect if there were anywhere else but trapped on this damn island.

When her brother went missing and discovered dead, murdered, he was the one who held her up as she broke down. He was a good man, her rock in a terrible storm, and at the time she wanted to love and rely on him for the rest of her life.

But she was not a fool.

What they had was attraction, affection and plenty of shared closeness maybe even love at some point. She could see the process as he fell in love with someone else. A younger woman of course because they might as well make this a soap opera.

It could not even be considered cheating since he didn't make any moves while they were still together. To Sophie it was a betrayal none the less.

But that wasn't the worst part. There were other more practical ways to betray some, ways she could never forgive unlike the matter of simply straying.

For the growing flame that was in his heart, he would sneak food, supplies and other such goods that Sophie had so carefully worked and stocked for them and June. The crops she grew, the herbs she picked and processed, even the stuff left by Mattie, he stealthily gave them away to her. Given enough time, he would give everything and anything they had to please that woman. Yet he genuinely believed he was staying loyal to Sophie.

He was a good man in many ways but a very stupid man in regards to love.

Stupid in many other ways too, damn child prodigies and their social awkwardness.

It broke her heart but a younger Sophie had come to the realization that she must be the one to leave him. For all the loyalty and good he had shown for her since even before their romantic relationship started, she would not take revenge for the thievery as long as he returned her belongings. As an emotionally stupid but honorable sort of man, he was confused but agreed.

She was not bitter in the way a jilted woman would be, in fact, they stayed rather good allies and teammates. It's just she would never love or trust him again, not when it concerned that woman.

She broke it off with Ryo a little before 4th year on the island, almost two years after Mattie and 2 years before June would die.

It would take her a long time to come to terms that they were truly not compatible as lovers. It took even longer for her to truly see that it was in no way her fault. She had grown up, become too harsh of a woman for him. She was a forced survivor while he preferred the sweet delicate girl he had first met years ago. They were never meant to last in the first place.

Afterward, he followed and devoted himself entirely to that beautiful woman till his own pitiful death.

Sophie knew she did not care for him as much as Sophie did back then. Nowhere near as much. She just wanted a reliable back rely on. Why would she say no when Ryo was so willing to be her slave?

But how was Sophie that much different herself? Wasn't she just jealous she couldn't have what that woman did? Couldn't have someone to love and take care of her?

Anyone would want that, especially in a place that lacked any comfort and safety.

She could have been jealous, could have turned and focused her energy into winning him back or sabotaging the others like her mom's Chinese harem dramas. But she wouldn't, couldn't stoop that low, not when she had June.

She could not really blame the other woman in the end.

They all did what they had to do to survive. The other woman was smart, crafty and actually didn't maliciously plot or sabotage against anyone unless it was for her own safety. She could respect her, didn't mean she had to like the bitch though.

Shame, they almost made it too.

Who knows, maybe that other woman did develop some sort of good feeling for the foolishly devoted Ryo. She could have made it, could have lasted to the end but killed herself but a month after Ryo died protecting her. They didn't know it then but they were only a few weeks away before rescue would finally come.

Really what a waste.

Maybe she had just gotten tired of living in hell, Sophie understood that.

"Fucking shiiiit!"

A needle stabbed into her neck wakes her from her venom fueled trip down memory lane. It does not burn with an acid like her blood certainly felt like but the intrusion of metal into her spasming flesh was even all the more painful

"You're doing good, keep awake for me okay? Keep awake and breathing like this."

She concentrated on the doctor because that's who he is right now. Not Ryo her ex, nor Ryo her dead companion but the damn doctor she currently trusts most to make sure she doesn't fall into an asphyxial shock or drown on her own vomit.

She can begin to feel her airways clear and her heartbeat slows down from its racing course with whatever was in that needle.

"How many fingers am I holding?" he asks, holding long fingers in front of her. She's tempted to bite and break them.

"3! I'm coherent damn it!"

"Good. The creature that bit you?"

"Snake, unknown. Not a cobra! It could be a type of pit viper or adder! AHhh fuuuuck that one hurt! Something tropical, yellow and gray markings with horns."

"How many?"

"Just one, both fangs, where my arm's swelling like a damn balloon."

"Good good, that's great information. You're doing good, keep your breaths deep and steady. We're going to get you somewhere safer. Pain from 1-10?."

"7 going to an 8, the venom! It's not attacking the central nervous system. I can still control my movements but it hurts every-damn-where. It's attacking the red blood cells probably. Obvious muscle spasms!"

Sophie groans through the pain but spits out what information she can that may be useful. The more Ryo and the others know, the better they can stabilize her condition. She can no longer see or hear Mattie in the mess that is too many people and the passing scenery. She cannot tell time or her bearings.

"Real good observation- stay with me, good info. Med student?"

"Fuck no."

"You're doing great at staying coherent Miss Sophie."

"I'm just fucking peachy."

The young doctor gives off a helpless sort of smile that Sophie was once hopelessly weak towards. But not anymore, her heart heavily scarred from factors outside of Ryo himself.

He wasn't a bad man, they were actually quite compatible as teammates. They had similar values and could understand each other easier than most others on the island. She would not mind, even preferred to have Ryo as an ally, maybe even a friend, again in this life.

The more useful people she had on her side the better. They would just skip the whole attempt at being together part from the last rodeo. She didn't need a significant other, let alone someone who fell in love with another woman.

Everything was fine just as long as she could get June and Mattie alive at the end.

"Mattie?! Where's my brother?"

Sophie groaned, she could see the shade of the plane approaching. When did it get to be light out? When did the sun rise? Maybe she's already delirious, the acid eating her up from the inside with no less intensity than before.

"Where is he or I swear I'll fucking-"

A woman in a uniform top and pants, definitely not Ryo, responds to her, stroking her face gently while she checks Sophie's pulse and eyes.

"Sweetie, I know you're scared and it hurts. It's fine, it's fine we're just getting you on the plane and your brother will be with you soon."

"The plane."

"Yes, you're going to be okay-just rest."

"Do- don't I need to stay conscious?"

"You've been out of it for awhile honey, you're going to be ok."

The woman readjusts her and that's when Sophie notices an IV stuck to her arm and how her mat seems to move through the air. She's being rolled, maybe on a stretcher. When did they move her so far? Everything hurts and she wants to shut down.

"Please, we stay together."

"He's coming honey, your big brother is coming. Don't be scared. You're such a brave girl, you're going to be okay."

Another person thinks she's a child, tiring but she can live with that. Damn maybe she should have just pretended to be a kid to get on the plane.

Not a real option, she needs every advantage she can get. After this, she should have a good immunity going for her and proceed with her plan through that part of the jungle and ocean. The pain will be worth it.

But she can't think anymore, the pain hits her again in waves and knocks the air from her lungs.

Before she fades again she can hear running footsteps and the thumping as she's rolled up a ramp. Mattie better be there when she wakes up or she really might take her pain-filled rage out on the closest innocent bystander.

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