Welcome to Calamity Island
Mystery | Read Time: 5 min 45 sec | 1,438 words
The ferryman stared at the newest arrival from the moment he stepped onto the old boat, till the moment he waved a pleasant farewell on the dock of Calamity Island. For you see, the ferryman had never taken a child to Calamity Island before and he hoped it would never happen again.
“Welcome to Calamity Island, I trust— Oh, my word…”
The boy turned slowly where he stood to face Sir Rodrick and cocked his head to one side, confused. “Have I startled you?” asked the boy.
Sir Rodrick blinked once, twice, three times before realizing he hadn’t said anything in reply. “I’m afraid there’s been some sort of mistake. This Calamity Island doesn’t take children.” He looked to the sky when he uttered that statement, hoping someone up there had heard him and would correct the problem at once.
“There is no mistake, Sir Rodrick, I assure you. This is exactly where I am meant to be and I’m fine. Truly,” said the boy. He walked over and placed a cold hand on Sir Rodrick’s to try and ease the worried look on his face. “I’d love to see my room. If that’s alright?”
“Your...room?” More of a question than a statement but after all, it was Sir Rodrick’s job whenever a newcomer should arrive at Calamity Island that they be welcomed and taken to their room to rest. Though the guests may not know it, their journey to the island is the most difficult and can tire even the strongest person. “Of course,” Sir Rodrick said with a smile and with a wave of his hand, “right this way. He stepped aside so the boy could walk onward through the heavy wooden gates, but he stopped and glanced upward to find a woman staring down at him from the balcony of a lookout post, her mouth agape in shock.
“Sally, stop staring at our newest arrival and go tell the others we’ll have one more joining us at dinner time.” With only a squeak in response she ran out of sight.
“How long has Sally been living on Calamity Island?” the boy asked.
Sir Rodrick rolled his eyes and waved the boy forward. “We don’t bother with such information like that here. Now, come along, it’s nearing supper time and the cook will be cross with me if I don’t tell her about your arrival.
Once through the gates it was like stepping into an entirely different world. From the inside it no longer felt like an island surrounded by crashing waves and a choppy shoreline. Instead, it was a jungle oasis and the only thing in plain sight besides the trees was a three-story castle.
Sir Rodrick cleared his throat as he spread his arms towards the vast estate and tried his best to stick to his duties. He cleared his throat and said, “as I was saying earlier. Welcome to Calamity Island. I am Sir Rodrick, the caretaker. While you enjoy your visit here with us there will be three meals served each day that mustn’t be missed. We eat together in the dining hall. We have group activities every Tuesday and Thursday but you aren’t obligated to participate. I’m… afraid we don’t have another person here your age so you may find it all a bit dull here.”
As they approached the front door of the castle, more than twice as tall as the boy, he said, “on the contrary, Sir Rodrick, I’m sure I’ll be really happy here.” And with a wink and a smile he walked inside. Sir Rodrick lingered a while in the doorway. How would the other guests handle this, he wondered?
“We dine at 6 ‘o clock. The dining hall is through those doors,” Sir Rodrick pointed towards a pair of doors but the boy wasn’t paying much attention. He had his head craned way back, looking up at the very tall ceiling.
“Do you know, I’ve always wanted to live in a castle? My mother read all sorts of books to me about knights who rescued fair maidens trapped in a tower. Do you know why I’m here?”
The boy spoke quickly, barely taking a breath between sentences. Sir Rodrick didn’t know how to handle him and for the first time desperately wanted to be anywhere else. Instead of answering his question, Sir Rodrick carried on, “you’ll find your room at the top of the stairs, third door on the right. Mind you, don’t go wandering into a room that isn’t your own. We don’t tolerate that sort of behavior here. Understood?”
Sir Rodrick had very little understanding of children and their behavior, having never had any or been around any his entire life. But he’d heard stories about them from the other guests and he found them loathsome creatures that were best kept at arm's length.
“I may look like a child, Sir Rodrick, but you and I both know what I really am.” With a smile on his face he ran up the grand staircase, taking them two at a time.
“Just one moment,” Sir Rodrick said, “what shall we call you?”
The boy plopped down on a step and with an elbow on one knee he rested his chin to think. “Well, my mum called me Jackie but my father named me Jack. Either one will suffice.” He stood and proceeded running up the stairs and straight to his room.
At dinner there was absolute silence while everyone ate a bowl of soup. Every now and then Jack would slurp from his spoon, producing death stares. One guest dropped her spoon into her bowl the first time he did it, spilling soup everywhere.
It was a long, rectangular table. Large enough to seat twenty, though there were only eight at the table. Jack managed to remark how he hoped the table would’ve been round, like in the knight book his mum read to him once before. No one uttered a word.
Sir Rodrick sat at the head of the table and made sure Jack was seated to his left, to keep a close eye on him just in case.
“So, how did you die?” Jack said to the man sitting opposite him at the table.
“Excuse me?” the man replied. “Die?” he chuckled. “I’m not dead.”
Sir Rodrick pushed his chair back abruptly, a loud screech filled the room. “Please excuse us. Carry on with your meals,” he said, then looked over to Jack, “follow me, young man.”
He walked across the main floor with purpose, his steps echoed, filling the space. And as fast as Jack had been running up the stairs earlier, he was in no rush to get to their destination.
They both stopped at a door with a large ‘R’ carved on it. Sir Rodrick pulled a key from his pocket, unlocked the door and stood to one side for Jack to enter. There was a chill in the room from an open window located behind a desk that had a candle burning, nearly finished. Sir Rodrick took a seat behind the desk and waved Jack to sit in the chair opposite.
“Now, what did you mean by asking dear Sir Callahan when he died?”
“Well, I wanted to know. I was going to tell everyone else how I di—”
Sir Rodrick raised his hand to stop Jack from finishing his sentence. “What makes you think the people here, including yourself, are dead?”
“Because I remember how it happened for me. Father had gone away again for work. Mother was crying quietly in the kitchen and I was packing a bag to run away.” Jack stopped when he caught the look of fascination on Sir Rodrick’s face. “Are you alright? Shall I continue?”
“Please, go on…”
“Well, as I said, I was planning to run away. Mother and father fighting all the time. I just knew it had to be because of me. I’ll admit I wasn’t the most well behaved son for them. So, I packed my bag and chucked it out the window. Only two floors up, you see, but when you land on your head, distance doesn’t really matter all that much. Does it?”
Sir Rodrick leaned back in his chair, his eyes closed, deep in thought. “And you remember all that?”
“Of course, doesn’t everyone here?”
“No,” said Sir Rodrick, “and that’s the problem. No one who comes here has ever remembered how they came to be here. Nor does anyone question when someone is suddenly gone some time later. But you, why do you remember?”
Jack leaned back in his seat. “Don’t you know?”
To be continued… by you!*
*NOTE: With so many options to an ending I am stumped on which one I should go with… Also, I am a bit under the weather and don’t want to rely on my foggy brain to be the decision-maker, therefore, I turn to you, my avid readers!
Hit me with your best ending by answering the big question: Why is Jack there?
Leave your answer in the comments below. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!
FULL DISCLOSURE: 1. I’m not perfect. 2. I’m not rich. Keeping those two things in mind, you may come across typos in grammar, punctuation, and tense (my known biggest writing issue). My feelings won’t be hurt if you point them out to me in the comments.
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