Chapter 22:

Do not seek for that which does not exist

Castaway Isle

Against the advisement of the old doctor, Sophie was ready to leave.

"We can't all stay together on here, that's what matters. That we stay together." Sophie spoke softly, sounding much weaker than she actually felt. Her voice trembled, paired with her tired expression and pale dried lips, she gave people no reason to suspect otherwise.

No one except her siblings watching from the sidelines with various degrees of shock.

Dr. Parihar shook his head. While he understood and could not stop her, his medical experience would advise the patient to stay in bed rest and observation. Especially if it meant going back out to the elements. This was like a patient who would rather go home in much worse conditions than staying in the hospital.

But this wasn't a hospital and it was already good that the young lady didn't seem to be permanently affected by the snake bite. He could only advise her to take it easy and not strain herself these next few days just in case.

"For such severe initial reactions, that your body has already recovered to this state is more than beyond expectation."

"Yes thank you. There's no way to pay you back for saving me out here but if given the chance.-"

"Oh no, none of that. It is our duty to work to save lives regardless of the circumstances. Besides, it's unfortunate but these things happen, it's not like you wanted to be attacked and bitten by a snake."


Sophie wisely kept silent but she could hear Mattie slam his head into his hands, muffling his exasperated groan. The poor boy would argue that yes, yes his sister did want to get bitten in fact she put the dead snake's head up to her arm herself. But this wasn't the time for his complaints.

"Do you suppose I can convince you to put off leaving for another day? There seemed to have been a mugging incident outside and it may be dangerous, especially while you're still weak." started the old professional.

"Yes! Great idea! Let's listen to the nice doctor Sophie!" exclaimed Mattie, though he wasn't expecting much.

Sophie shook her head and again turned down the offer while thanking everyone.

"I've imposed enough, getting special treatment while everyone else has to deal. I'm sure I won't be the last to get injured. I'm luckier than most people already."

The old doctor gave up with his attempts, it looked like the patient was just that determined. She was no longer in a critical condition, who was he to stop her?

He looked between the three children in the room, because that's what he saw. But he also remembered tiny children much younger than them surviving day to day is far worse circumstances in his youth and in the many countries he's travelled in his work. He could only wish these ones luck and made his leave.

"Ohhh my god Sophie what was that?" June looked awfully gleeful even a bit mischevious.

She remembered fondly how her elder sister and she would play all sorts of tricks when they were younger. They made a devastating duo together and sometimes they even got their brother into their playful plots. However, as Sophie grew up preparing for college June lost her playmate. She had stopped that behavior entirely by the time their parents passed as grateful as June was to her older sister it hurt to see her mature so quickly.

Seeing this was like seeing a piece of her old Sophie back.

"Ohhhh myyyyyyy god can you please stop with that!" groaned Mattie.

"That's enough out of you two, we have to get ready. June, they'll be passing out your luggage and stuff from your plane today. Mattie, go with her."

"But I can handle myself fine." complained June, as if her shoulder wasn't cast up.

Her elder siblings brushed her off as they discussed among themselves.

"Mattie go with her. It's not much but I want people to know June isn't alone if you get my drift."

"Yeah, of course, I got it, what about you?"

"I'll stay here and organize our stuff, later come back and we'll carry down our things together. More and more people from our plane are arriving at this site and with everyone getting their luggage, we won't stand out. "

"And our check -ins? Are those being returned at a later date?"

"Yeah, we got plenty of time, a few days worth. They still think we're getting off this place soon. Besides I made sure to wrap and label them thoroughly, our names are on there. Locked too, someone would have to manually break them open if they wanted to steal them."

"Good, I'm guessing we're heading to camp further inland. You got a place in mind?"

"An area yes, but we're going to have to scout the specifics."

"Ummmm are you two just going to keep talking like I'm not here? Seriously what's going on?" June interrupted.

She may be the youngest out of all of them but that doesn't mean she liked being left out. Her two older siblings always did this sort of thing when the going got tough but suddenly they seem so much older than her, especially her sister.

"How much have you told her?" question Sophie.

"Not much, only that you've gone psychic dream crazy."

"Well then...June, we promise to catch you up on everything on our side but after we get somewhere safer. Go on and get your belongings, then we meet back here."

"Safer? What's safer than here?"

June didn't understand and Sophie didn't expect her to. While she wasn't stupid she was young and impulsive, the baby of their family. But luckily she was much simpler sort of person to convince than Mattie.

"Hey June, how much longer would you like to stay in the shelter?"

"Uh none, I'd like to get out any time now. Like no offense to anyone and Mary Beth is a sweetie but it's soooooo hot and crowded in there but if you move your spot is gone and-"

"Great, then just follow your big brother and I. Just because we're stuck in this place doesn't mean we have to suffer the whole time with everyone."

"Um...okay, but what about rescue? We're supposed to stay visible and-"

Sophie understands this was how they spent their first few weeks the last time around. Following orders and wasting time. The smart people took risks and ventured inland. They were the ones who could bring but food, water, and resources. Eventually, though, it was much more attractive to stop sharing their finds back to the main group. Why waste their hard work on those who seemed to sit around and do nothing?

Besides they couldn't stay on the beach forever, the rainy season was coming.

Sophie couldn't afford to waste time sitting around waiting for diminishing handouts. She had to stake her claims while it was early.

"It won't last us. The food, the filtered water, everything it can't sustain all of us for much longer. Not with this much people. " Mattie spoke up, ever the voice of reason.

June agreed but was still hesitant.

"But rescue-"

"Then we'll get rescued when the time comes, it's not an elevator you'll miss. Listen, do you trust us June? Do you trust me?" Sophie looked at her sister in the eye.

"Well yeah of course."

"Then listen to us when we say we'll explain, I'll explain, everything later. Everything I do or say is for the benefit or you and Mattie ok? Even if I sound crazy, I promise there's a good reason and it will pay off so please, trust me and do as I say."

Even though she was a while head shorter and still in bed Sophie had an imposing and unsparing manner to her. The kind that reminded June of their parents' when they had truly gotten into trouble as children. But this didn't just sound mad or worse disappointed, there was an edge to Sophie's pleading that was both desperate and frightening.

June couldn't argue against that and nodded her head obediently. Her siblings would never harm her, she knew that. It was just frustrating, this whole situation was scarily out of anyone's control and it was frustrating to the point she wanted to cry.

"Just roll with it June. Being bossed around by Sophie it's nothing we're not already used to." comforted Mattie, lightening to mood.

"Well tell me if you ever want to take over Mattie." Sophie smiled, already knowing the answer.

"No no I'm good, I'd like to be the smart one keeping us alive. Come on June, let's go get your stuff."

While she was still confused by many things, June left obediently with Mattie and for a moment Sophie was jealous, or well envious. Just a moment. June had her and Mattie but who did she have to lean on? For a time she thought it was Ryo but she knew better now.

Humans didn't have to lean on any one to survive, they could do it each all on their own. She had learned that the hard way, the sole survivor to her family. One of less than 10% of total survivors. She didn't want to though, because it was lonely there at the top. The crazed queen of the mountain, the only queen of nothing among lords and kings in this lawless jungle.

'Process the feeling, be aware of it'- she could hear the calming voice of her therapist.

'What are you feeling? Do not force the ugly feelings away. Observe and identify it, then admit it is valid because it came from you. Afterwards you can process what you want to do with it. '

The slightest feeling of envy withered because it did not come from a malicious place but rather one of longing. Sophie longed for safety and that was ok because she would make her own safety this time. She's done it before and this time she actually had those she wanted to keep safe with her.

Sophie busied herself with gathering all of her and Mattie's belongings, packing things neatly. Then she made her shakey thanks and goodbyes to the airline attendants who had seen to her the whole time she was down and injured.

They were busy and she didn't have anything to gift them but she made her proper salutations and left a generally good impression on their minds. A few of them even snuck her some packages of dessert and a gingerale, something Mattie keeps saying is her favorite airline drink.

That was so long ago.

Sophie didn't actually feel much anything for these people, even though they were kind to her and she identified them as good people. It wasn't them but her.

She was still grateful and hoped the best for them, it would be good if they survived a little longer this time. The presence of the airline staff and flight crew gave everyone a feeling of some safety, some social accountability.

Since she's been rescued and brought back to the mainland it was if her emotions had dulled. It was either too much or nothing at all. Her insanity only went two ways where it felt as if the pain was tearing her alive from the inside or it would be that hollow echo where time stretches into days of nothingness. It was only after years of intesive therapy and the patience of her friends and family that she regained her sense and ability to feel.

Still, she had troubles, her emotions did not swing as wildly as they once did but they had dulled. The feelings and reactions that others would normally have, she only felt to about a 30% capacity. It was only to her close friends and family that she felt closer to normal. The only exception were her therapists, to whom she felt a closer 70%, but hey it was their jobs and they were good at it.

It seems that time-traveling had healed her body but not her mind. That was fine, it was actually more advantageous this way. She didn't need to feel much affection for anyone outside her precious people. She also did not need to feel anything at all if she needed to hurt, even kill others.

It was a morbid thought that civilized people didn't think much about, she knew that. She also knew that she no longer applied to those rules, not for a long time now. It was fine Sophie reasoned, she did not plan to kill frivolously nor for pleasure.

Not a single attendant would think such lethal thoughts were passing through her head as she gave her sweet thanks and goodbyes. Nor should they fear anyways, they weren't her targets.

It was over and hour and a half later when Mattie would return. After giving his own quick but polite thanks to the staff, he took his fully loaded backpack and the heaviest of the carry-ons, leaving Sophie to only have to carry her own backpack and any loose shopping bags.

Despite how fine she claimed to be he wouldn't let his injured sisters strain themselves any more than necessary.

At the bottom of the ramp waited June, carrying only her pink carry on and a school duffel bag that was once Mattie's. Her bags looked full but not with much. She was packed for vacation and pretty pictures, not survival. They all were the last time around.

All around them were new stragglers from the other plane and people organizing their just returned belongings. There was a lot of the same scene that Sophie has seen last time, a lot of arguments and accusations between whose luggage was whose. It was every airline employee's worst nightmare.

No one noticed as the siblings slipped through the crowd, looking no different than the rest of the busy passengers lugging around their things. They made their way through, past the beach where sand and rock melted into browns and greens.

"Um now do I get an update orrr what?" June lugged her things, not yet tired but uncomfortable in the humid weather. The path they were taking was far from smooth concrete but the luggage could still roll.

"Later, save your breath June, we're all going to need it. And Mattie, thank you but hand that over to me already, you're going to tire yourself out first at this rate."

"I am the only one that is not injured here."

"Yes and you're going to injure yourself soon enough if you push it. "

Sophie left no room for arguments and led the way against the thickening terrain with surprising agility. It was clear that she knew where she was going, leading them through the occasional sharp turn.

Finally, almost an hour into their hike the scenery cleared and changed.

"Okay, what!? Why did you take us to a beach when we were just at one?"

June was feeling a bit miffed. Her siblings said to trust them and she did but why were they forced to travel al that way just to get further up the shore?

"Actually, I don't see the plane and the others though. We're on the other side of those rocks right? We must have gone around them."

Mattie recalled the rocky walls and cliffways to the side of the beach. While it looked like it was possible to climb over them who knows how far it went? Just how far were they from the main group?

"Don't worry, we're not that far yet," assured Sophie, they had to easily come back and forth for the time being.

"Yet? I don't like what that implies." groaned Mattie.

"Take a water break, we start moving again in 15."

Sophie was already down with her bag open, digging for the right equipment they would need. While the younger siblings wanted to ask further they complied, rather taking time to rest. June, in particular, fell over as they all chugged down their waters and opened up a prepackaged snack.

Oreos, courtesy of Mattie's airport haul.

"Whoa slow down there tiger, you're going to choke. Damn what happened to your diet?" he scolded to his younger sister.

June stuck her tongue out and munched down, her mood lightening further as Sophie handed her an unmelted candy bar. She was a growing teen girl and her meals the last couple days were only the limited airplane rations and some foraged shellfish that tasted like rubber. Last night the most she managed to eat before the thieves stole Mattie's backpack were a few candies and a granola bar. In her book, this was a pretty bad week, especially for her stomach.

"Don't make fun of June too much."


"I said too much, we still get to poke at you. Seriously chew properly and don't spill, we can't waste food or water out here."

Sophie signed at the sight, it almost looked like a picnic, a snack during a hike, between the three of them. But it wasn't anything near as simple as that. Safety, she had to get them all somewhere safe.

Not the cave, she couldn't get them up there yet. It was far too dangerous and they hadn't received their immunity building bites. She could get them up partway though, to much higher ground than they would have reached by normally walking even without being weighed down. They could make it that far by sundown.

"Alright, we're all good? Then breaks over, let's get moving," ordered Sophie as she passed them all a flashlight, securing the one attached to her own head.

"Um where to?" asked June, looking back and forth between the jungle and the sea.

She was entirely lost and she didn't like the uncertainty. Mattie however only took the flashlights and secured it over June's head before his own while sighing. He was too used to this with both his sisters.

"Seeing that it's still bright out, I have a feeling we're not going back into the trees. Let's just get whatever this is over with, I want to nap already."

"That's the spirit."

They were a bit reluctant but ever so ready to follow her, Sophie couldn't have asked for more. They would all make it together, Sophie would make sure of it.

She led them wading into the sea

This Novel Contains Mature Content

Show This Chapter?