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MANA SHORT STORY SERIES: "THE ISLAND" by JOSHUA BRASSEUR

     For the first time in what felt like years, John no longer felt alone. John no longer kept track of time because it only reinforced the hopeless mindset that could kill someone out here. To lose hope was to die. It was that simple. John was used to isolation, but today was different. There wasn’t that typical hopeless sense in the air. Today felt like a breath of fresh air had swept through the trees that John called his home. 
     There was nothing that one would typically look for in terms of other human occupancy. There were no foot prints, no misplaced items, no wisps of smoke peaking above the treetops. Everything looked just the same as it always did. Yet, somehow, the feeling of isolation had left John. This meant one of two things, either a new person had, indeed, joined John, or that madness had, finally, made its way into John’s brain. 
     John searched the island for the rest of the day, looking in all of the nooks and crannies that he had discovered in his various expeditions of the island. Yet no matter how loud he yelled or how far he searched, no one was there. After days of searching, nothing came up. However, that feeling of another presence only grew stronger. John was either losing his mind, or he was on the island with someone who was trying very hard not to be found. Both of these scenarios were equally terrifying. 


     John had spent most of the prior week looking for signs of his visitor with no luck. No trace of anyone else. Dismayed after a long week of searching the island, hope dwindling more and more each day, John had given up. The feeling did not leave him, but if he continued to obsess over this presence then he would surely go crazy. John had woken up from his restless slumber to somewhat of a surprise.

     Today something did look different. John noticed it immediately. To someone who had just landed on this island nothing might not look out of place. But John had grown accustomed to seeing things a specific way when he woke up. He would first look over the water to see if any ships were on the horizon so he could light his signal if necessary. He would then look up at the sky to see if bad weather was on its way. Once John had completed those tasks he would get on with his day, completing any tasks that the day required. Sometimes it would be gathering wood for the fire, other times he would get fresh water or check his wild animal traps. 

    But today something was different. He first noticed it when he looked up to the sky to check the weather. There was not a cloud in the sky, yet it was darker than normal. It was almost as if the sun had begun to dim. Not much, but enough. In fact it was so little that John thought his mind might be playing tricks on him, that maybe he was just remembering the sky wrong. As the day went by he could not stop looking up at the sky. There was no explanation that John could think of for why the sun was dimming. It was high in the sky, no clouds were blocking it, and if John remembered right it should be around the time of year when the sun is closest to the island. So why would it be more dim than yesterday, or the day before?
    He eventually decided that his mind must be playing tricks on him. First a mystery visitor was on his island, and now the sun is dimming? Of course something had to be going on mentally. It was the only explanation ... and then the wind came.

     These winds would not be atypical for a stormy day. In fact, they were rather mild compared to some of the storms that John had experienced out here. That is not to say that they were not powerful; they were, just not the worse that John has ever experienced. But the thing that was troubling John was that there was no storm. There were no black clouds in the sky, looming over the trees. There were no waves rolling up onto the beaches or crashing on the rocks just off shore. 

     Everything looked calm when looking outward from the island how one would expect on a warm summer day. There was no familiar pressure change that one could notice right before a storm hit. There was nothing that would indicate that there should be winds like this today. Yet, on the island the winds were howling. 

     John’s hair was blowing about, leaves and other debris were sent tumbling across the ground; the trees were beginning to bend under the force of the wind. And there was still no sign of a storm. It was almost as if the winds started right on the island, and something was containing them on this island. But what was more interesting to John was the fact that the winds were not coming from the shore like one would expect, but rather they seemed to be coming from the center of the island.  Had it not been for the curious darkening skies earlier in the day, John might not have thought anything of these winds, but something wasn’t adding up. 

     John had spent too much time on this island to just ignore this eerie feeling. He wanted to seek shelter in a cave, somewhere that he could get away from this “not storm” that was happening around him. In fact, he might not have begun to move to the center of the island towards the winds had it not been for the soft whispers that he heard in the wind.


To be continued

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