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  1. Stannie

    Chapter 15: Orders

    I got back to writing this week. Working on the next chapter :D Thanks for the message!
  2. Thank you so much man. I appreciate it
  3. Stannie

    Chapter 7: Warrior

    Thank you so much for the feedback on these chapters. I'm glad you're liking the story. And yes, getting close to the character is one of the best compliments you could give me Thanks again
  4. Stannie

    Chapter 15: Orders

    Milan is just a random person who lives on the other side of the country, who’s being raised in a completely different social class and who I never would have met if not for crashing on this island. And yet it hurts that he rejected me as a person. Why do I feel this immense pain when I look at him? Is this what people mean when they say teenagers blow everything up? I’m sure most adults would laugh at my stupid sadness. Feeling heartbroken while struggling to survive on an unknown island, hah, pathetic. Even I know I would laugh at this irrational feeling of sadness, if not for having all my rationality taken away by the pain. Even worse, I know Oliver is about to announce something really bad, just by looking at him, and still the sadness I feel for Milan is overpowering my fear. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel fear, don’t get me wrong, a pearl of sweat escapes my pores every time our eyes meet. When everyone is gathered around the fire and received their food from Casey, mister Grumpy gets up, like he did yesterday. “Listen up everyone. We all had some time to think about the water problem. Matthew and I talked about it… and we’re not changing the plan. Chris, Jason and Henry will have to go.” With crossed arms, Jason just shakes his head. “If you don’t want to go, you get half your portion of water. Right now we have four bottles per person, so you’d get two bottles.” “Why half?” Chris asks. Oliver smiles. “I thought you’d ask that. You’re getting half because the other half is the reward for being a part of this team. If you decide not to help us, you’re not a part of the team.” “That makes no sense,” Jason’s girlfriend says. “We’re being generous, I bet other people in this situation wouldn’t give anything.” I realise Henry never protested. He said nothing when he was being volunteered to go. Of course, he and his wife had already survived for over a week in the forest, but still that doesn’t have to mean you want to go back. “How far is this water source?” Jason asks. It looked like Oliver smiled for a second, probably celebrating his victory, but then his face immediately turns into stone again. “It’s reachable within a day, according to Henry. So you’d have to spend one night in the forest, and then you can come back. Or you have to walk throughout the night, your choice.” The girlfriend of Jason grabs his hand. “You’re not going, are you?” “Two bottles of water will last us two days,” he says defeated. “It’s not fair, but I have to.” Across Chris’ face, there is fear. He knows he has to go as well now. “You’ll be leaving tomorrow when the sun rises. And now, onto other pressing matters. Food.” Oliver says, and locks his eyes with mine. “You made a fishing rod, didn’t you?” I feel Kai grabbing my hand tightly as I nod slowly. “So I want you to fish.” I frown and for a split second, I look over at Milan. This is the first time when I look over, he doesn’t immediately look away. Instead, he keeps looking at me, his face showing not even recognition. It’s like he doesn’t want to know who I am. “As far as I know, I’ve already been fishing? We ate my fish a few times.” “But you’re also distracted. I saw you playing with a stick.” “Oliver,” mom says. “He’s a child. Let him do whatever he wants.” The man sighs. “Do you not get it, lady? We’re trying to survive! He can be as childish as he wants when we’re back, but now I need all hands on deck.” “I was carving a cross for grandpa John’s grave.” My voice is suddenly small and squeaky. “How many rods do you have?” Oliver asks, completely ignoring what I said. I swallow. “Two.” “Good. Then Matthew’s kid will fish with you.” Milan looks up as surprised as do I. “Start fishing early in the morning, so you can catch as much as possible. If you, for whatever reason, want to continue your stupid cross, make sure someone else takes over your duty. I want that rod in the water all day long, all right?” Kai’s hand was already squeezing mine, but with the comment about the cross being stupid, he squeezes even harder. I nod again and wait for Oliver to direct his attention to someone else. Then I put my arm around the little boy and pull him towards me. Milan is looking at me, his face still as emotionless as before. For fuck’s sake, show me something! Show me sadness, anger, disgust, or whatever. Please, anything but this empty face. That dude is too arrogant to even waste emotions on me. I can feel tears well up in my eyes, so I avert my gaze. Mister Grumpy continues commanding people while we’re trying to swallow the tough food, everyone hoping his attention won’t turn to them. When dinner is over and we all head to our huts, I think we're all happy it’s over with. I liked these get-togethers before, but that was before the creepy man decided he could be our leader. And no one is doing anything about it! Why? I know most people disagree with him. Then why can’t we stand up to him together? When the three of us are in our hut, mom and I make our bed for the night. “Yo, little bro, let’s go wash our hands,” I say as I straighten the pile of clothes I use as a pillow. I don’t get a response, so I look up, only to see Kai with trembling lips and watery eyes. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Mom immediately turns around. “Hey, Kai,” I say and crouch in front of him, my hands on his shoulders. “Why are you crying.” I think I shouldn’t have said that, because immediately the boy really starts crying. Mom sits down next to me, but she doesn’t say anything, she just takes hold of his hand and rubs it. It’s exactly like she used to do when I or my sister were crying; not talking, but showing us that she’s there for us. “I… I’m scared,” Kai sobs. “I want mama.” I can feel myself tearing up as well. “Oliver is scary, he said mean stuff. I want to go home.” Tears are streaming down his face. “Hey little brother, listen to me,” I say, my voice cracking. “It’s completely normal to be scared now. I think we all are. But being scared won’t help us, you know?” I feel my mother walking away, which is honestly one of the kindest things she’s ever done to me. And that means a lot, with my mom being the best person in the world. By walking away, she practically tells me she trusts me to help Kai. She trusts me to handle the emotions of another human being. Isn’t that the deepest kind of trust possible? “It probably sounds silly, but staying strong really is the best thing we can do. We’ve got each other, right?” The boy nods. “One day we’ll leave this island, and your parents will be waiting for you.” He lights up a little. “Really? I’ll see mom again? And dad?” “Of course!” “Promise?” I smile. “I promise. And after we’re back home again, we’re going to see each other a lot! Our families will become friends and we can have sleepovers whenever we want!” “Really?!” He’s smiling again, although his eyes are still sad. “Promise.” He hugs me. “I love you, Ryan.” Can hearts melt? “I love you too, Kai.” The next morning everyone gathers around the meeting place to say our goodbyes to the three heroes who will search for water. It’s a loaded moment, especially because Chris’ wife and Jason’s girlfriend are crying. I realise Karen doesn’t look sad, maybe even relieved, despite her husband being one of the people on the verge of heading into the scary darkness. We’ve been here before. We waved the first expedition goodbye, but that was different. Back then we expected everything to work out, we thought they’d come back, but now we’re fearing for their lives. And our own. If these three guys don’t make it back, we’ll have serious problems. It’s weird, but I can’t even properly wrap my mind around the gravity of the situation. My thoughts keep wandering off to seemingly stupid things, like the stuff with Milan, or Kai’s well-being; but I’m not stressing out about the possibility of dying here. I think maybe the human brain isn’t capable of grasping it; the not-being. When they’re gone, I catch Oliver’s stern look shot my way and I immediately know what he’s thinking. I’ve got to start fishing. The sun has just risen to its highest point in the sky, when I hear footsteps behind me. It’s Milan. “Do you have my rod?” he asks. I nod. “It’s over there.” “Good, Oliver wanted me to fish as well. We need the food.” I shrug, but I feel a wave of sadness reverberate through my entire body. How can he be so indifferent? “This one?” He points at the rod. “Sure.” It’s exhausting to act as non-caring as he does. Milan nods, takes the rod and hesitates. “So, I’m going to sit here next to you. If you don’t mind?” Really? “I’m not the one minding anything. It’s you.” He just nods and sits down. He helps himself to one of the worms I had gathered earlier this morning, which annoys me. I want to point out, I did all the work here, the least he should do is ask before just taking. But I know I'd look like I was making something out of nothing. I bite my tongue and let it slide. It feels awkward having him here. He’s making me feel as if I’m supposed to hate him, even when I don’t want to. I feel powerless. After an hour of discomfort, once again there are footsteps. This time it’s Trenton. “I see you guys are back together again!” he exclaims. Milan looks up, the expression on his face apparently saying all. Trenton immediately apologizes. “My bad. I thought… never mind.” I smirk. “Yeah, anyway, you’re off babysitting duty?” He sits down between us, something he usually was never able to, with Milan and I always sitting so close to each other. “Yep, my sister was freaking out after the stuff that happened yesterday, so mom wanted to stay with her.” “That sucks. But cool that you have some freedom now. I already miss having a day off now I know I’m forced to fish.” Trenton laughs. “It’s not like you’d do anything differently, anyway.” “It’s not that. It’s the feeling of being ordered around. As if I wouldn’t be helping the camp otherwise.” “You were carving a cross,” Milan mumbles. Confused as to whether this really is happening, I look up. “Excuse me?” “You weren’t fishing all day, also working on that cross.” I’m about to reply, but Trenton stops me. “I think it’s also really important that Kai finds some closure. So working on his grandfather’s grave is a good thing.” My breathing became a little heavier and the sadness I felt just a second ago gave way to anger. Disgust, even. How dare he suddenly go all Bachmeier on me? “I never said it wasn’t good,” is Milan’s defence. “I just said it’s not the same as fishing all day. And we need fish for survival.” “You’re absolutely right,” I say, trying my best to hide the pain in my voice. I want to go away, I don’t ever want to be close to this guy again. What error in my head got me to like him in the first place? “Guys, let’s keep it nice.” “We need fish for survival,” I repeat. “But we don't need a bigot to survive.” “What?” “You heard me.” Trenton puts his hand in the air. “Come on, guys. Ryan, Milan didn’t deserve that.” I snort. “Sure he didn’t.” “I’m not… a bigot.” Milan says, this time his voice not so defensive. Instead, for the first time in two days, it sounds vulnerable. I expected this reply and I honestly wanted to use it to get into a fight, but I never expected that vulnerability. “Then what are you?” “Confused.” I frown. “You’re still confused? About what? I told you I’m gay, it’s really straightforward.” “Straightforward,” Trenton echoes, exaggerating ‘straight’; a painful attempt to lift the mood. “Do you want me to explain what homosexuality is?” Okay, maybe there is some anger interfering with this conversation. But can you blame me? “Stop it, please, Ryan.” He reels in the line to put another worm on it. “Stop what? Being gay?” “Please…” “Ryan,” Trenton says. I let a sigh exit my lips. “You hurt me.” Milan nods. “I know.” “That’s the worst part. You know it. You knew it.” I forcefully put the rod in Trenton’s hand, get up and walk away, whilst tasting the saltiness of tears running past my mouth. “I hate you!” I say when I know he can still hear me, and run away, not wanting to hear his reply. “This is only teenage stuff,” I whisper when I finally sit down next to the big stone on the beach, near where Milan and I first entered the forest while looking for wood. “It’s stupid.” I watch my tears fall down on the sand, leaving a small muddy pool between my legs. I know what you’re thinking, Tom. Why would I ever want to go back to someone who hurt my feelings this badly? You can look at it that way, and I think I did at first, but in the end I think the connection you make with someone by having to survive together, is stronger than any grudge can destroy. And honestly, in a way, Milan’s reaction was completely natural, seeing where he’s coming from. This drama isn’t the only reason I remember this day like it happened yesterday, because after crying another ten minutes with my tear reserve dried up completely, I noticed a movement in the far left corner of my eye. It’s people, walking across the beach in the direction of our camp. I immediately dry my eyes and crouch behind the big stone, so I can observe them quietly. Yes, it’s really people. Should I go back to tell the others? They’re pushing something in front of them. Wait… is that? It’s our people! Jan, William, Paul, Elisah and the bachelors. They’re back… with water!
  5. Hey Johnnyd, I'm back at college again; everything was new, the city, the housemates, the university etc, so I needed some time to get used to it. But I'm back to writing the next chapter of Missing now. I'm not sure how long it'll take me, but it should be done within 2 weeks. Thanks for checking in, I appreciate it ":D
  6. Stannie

    Chapter 14: Two camps

    Missing - Chapter 14: Two Camps “Are you okay, Ryan?" mom asks. I nod. "Are you sure? I have to go now, the other kids are probably waiting already. But if you want me to stay, I can do that. I can tell the parents something came up?" "It's fine. Really, I just had a bad dream. I'm gonna get up soon as well." She smiles at me, but I know her mother's sense tells her I'm not fine. It's weird, on the one hand, she always knows exactly what I'm going through, but yesterday she didn't even realise I needed her after Matthew said all those things about me. "Okay then. Let me know if anything is wrong." Kai is impatiently waiting just outside. "I can stay with Ryan?" "No, you have to go to school." She leaves the hut. "Aww, why? It's supposed to be summer holiday!" Mom ruffles through his hair. "I already explained it. I look after the kids so all the parents can help around in the camp. Besides, it isn't really like school, is it?" I sit upright and rub my eyes, attempting to wake up fully. I'd rather stay in bed all day long, it's not like I can do anything else. I'm not going fishing today, that's boring when you're alone. The only thing that even sounds remotely fun is to explore the island. To head into the forest and wait for the natives to find me. "If school is to make sure parents can help in the camp, then why can't I stay with Ryan? You're busy anyway." I grin. Seriously, that dude is a notch too smart for my mother. I would have loved to see her reaction, but she is just around the corner. "I wouldn't mind," I say from inside the hut. Honestly, I think it's good to have the boy here, or I might actually walk out into the woods on my own. "Fine." She sighs out loud. "But he's your responsibility now, Ryan." "I know. Kids are waiting, remember." When she is gone, Kai sits down next to me. "What's wrong?" "Huh?" "You're sad." I smile. "Nah, I'm just tired. But it's okay, let's play a game." He bites his lip. "Is it because of the things Milan's dad said yesterday?" "What do you mean?" I frown. "When he was screaming at Ronny, you squeezed my hand really hard. Were you scared?" I grab one of the bags of peanuts we got for breakfast, just like every morning. "No, I wasn't." "Then were you sad?" Something inside of me wants to tell everything to Kai. Tell him I'm gay, that I told Milan about it and how he just ran off afterwards. But I can't. He wouldn't understand it. "The things he said, they were about you, weren't they?" I nod. "I think so." "And they weren't nice, were they?" Slowly, I shake my head, wondering how much he already understands. I'm not even sure how much ten-year-olds are supposed to pick up. Does he know what being gay means? Does he understand words like queer? "Why doesn't he like you?" I smile. "I'm not sure, Kai. But let's talk about fun things now! You got a day off, what do you wanna do?" He grins. "I was thinking we could play a game." "Any ideas?" Suddenly he looks down. "I would love to play some soccer, but we don't have a ball." "Hmm, isn't there a way to make our own ball?" "I dunno, is there?" "We could also work on the cross for grandpa Jon?" The boy beams. "Yeah, of course! Let's do that!" The whole day we work on the cross. First, we search for nice pieces of wood, then I explain the techniques to Kai, after which we start cutting. He keeps telling me things about his grandfather, which I then try to add in a way to the cross to make it personal. He had enjoyed playing cards for example, so I added a king of spades to the carving. I really enjoy the time with my little brother and for the first few hours and I completely forget about the stuff that happened yesterday. Then, I notice Milan helping Margareth, carrying firewood to the fireplace. I watch as he puts it down, laughs at a joke the woman makes and walks away to get another load. In a way, it stings that he's having fun. "What's wrong with you and Milan?" Kai asks. I shrug. "You don't wanna talk about it with me?" He sounded sad, so I squeeze his shoulder. "I would love to, but I don't really understand what's wrong myself. Nothing to worry about though, friendships always have ups and downs." "Our friendship only has ups!" the boy exclaims. "But we don't have a friendship," I reply and watch as his happy face disappears like snow in the sun. "We're family!" He giggles. "That's cool!" That evening, when we're all gathered around the campfire eating our improvised dinner of grated carrots, olives and raisins, with beef jerky and bread, Oliver suddenly stands up. "Ladies and gentlemen, can I get your attention, please?" He waits until we stop talking and chewing. "The group that is looking for water hasn't returned yet. Since we're rationing the water and with the water we're gaining from the plastic bags, we managed to squeeze out another two days of water. But still, now we only have enough for another five or maybe six days." I glance at Ronny, who is sitting in between his mom and Milan. He looks pale and doesn't even seem to realise what's going on. Looking at Milan, I notice how he quickly averts his gaze. He was watching me. "Today we've been discussing what to do if we run out of water." He points towards the new couple. "Henry and Karen told us they know of a creek somewhere in the forest. But they're not sure exactly where. We're thinking maybe some people should try to find it." "And who do you think wants to venture out there, after the others haven't returned?" Margareth asks. "It's not a question of wanting to do it, we need this or we all die out here," Matthew Bachmeier says. "Exactly," mister Grumpy adds. "I'm gonna pick the people who will go. If you disobey, you won't get any water from now on." Some gasps rise from the camp. "Why do you get to choose?" Rick Rostley asks. "Let me guess, you're not going to pick yourself, are you?" Oliver grimaces. "I choose since I'm the only person capable of keeping you bunch together. I'm your leader. And that's also the reason I can't go out there, you'd kill yourselves before I return with water." "I cannot recall when we chose you as our leader." It's the first time the adolescent guy - from the couple that sneaked off into the forest a few times before, to do what anyone would expect from people in their twenties - speaks up. "And you believe you would be a better leader?" Oliver smirks. Slowly I realise I've been frowning all this time. I try to put on a straight face immediately, since I have a feeling I'd rather not have Oliver notice my concerns. I peek over at Milan, who once again immediately averts his gaze from me. Honestly, what's his problem. If he wants to apologise, I'm all ears. "Let's not fight over who's leader or not," Matthew says. "We need the water." "And Rick and Chris will be the ones who will gather it. Together with Henry, who will try to guide you." Oliver looks like he is contemplating something. "Now I come to think of it, I believe we need Rick here at the camp. How about you, Jason, go in his place?" The guy who just asked who chose Oliver as the leader looks up shocked. The girl, who I suppose is his girlfriend, suddenly looks scared and grabs his hand. "Seriously? You are trying to punish me for speaking up against you?" the guy asks. "Pathetic." "Are you saying no?" "Of course I am! It's a suicide mission." "Well, then you're not getting any water. Get your own." "What the hell? You're crazy, man." The guy stands up, and so does Matthew. I look at everyone in the circle around the fire; they all look apprehensive. "Maybe we can think of another solution?" Margaret offers, but no one seems to listen to her. Everyone's eyes are fixated on the three main characters of this gradually evolving fight. Casey also stands upright. "I know this sucks, but Oliver is right. We need someone to lead us. And we also need the water." Rick nods. "Someone has to go." I wonder if he really suddenly approves of Oliver being our leader, or if he just doesn't want to get the water himself. Mom looks like she is deciding whether she wants to add something to this discussion, but she chooses not to. "Isn't there someone who wants to volunteer? Or else pick anybody who doesn't really help in the camp? Who we don't need?" Chris suggests. "I have a wife and kids. I don't want to go." "Guys, we need the water," Casey says and Oliver nods. "As I said, there is no choice," he says. "We're doing it this way or we'd die!" "Why didn't we drink the water his son got us?" he nods at Ronny, who still doesn't look too involved in what's happening. "Now who's the crazy one?" Matthew cackles. "Look at him! He's fucking sick because he was stupid enough to drink that water! If you want to end up like him, go on." It looks like Jason wants to say something, but he doesn't and instead sits down. Defeated. "You are nuts," he mumbles. "If you don't want to go, you don't have to," Margareth says. "What the…" Matthew already sat down again, but now stands up once more. "He has to! Do you want to die here, you…" He stops talking. "Let's divide the water. Everyone gets his or her share, okay?" "And then?" Oliver asks. "Then we can decide how to proceed. If someone doesn't want to help the camp, he or she can figure out what to do on their own." "I'd rather die here because of a lack of water," Jason starts hesitantly, but then continues more secure of his case. "I'd rather die here, than out there while looking for water for you lot." "Henry and Karen survived for over a week. What are you whining about?" When I look around the camp once more, I realise the Russian woman was watching everything, without understanding it at all. She catches my gaze and shrugs. I smile to tell her everything is okay, although I don't completely believe it. "I think we should all think about this overnight and get some sleep," mom finally speaks up. "And tomorrow we can gather and talk more." Everyone nods. We eat our dinner silently, while continuously looking around suspiciously. I believed our group of survivors was tight and considerate, but now no one seems to trust each other anymore. We're scared. This happens to people when they're fearing for their life, I think to myself, with a sour taste in my mouth. It is this exact moment my most famous painting - wilderness - was all about, Tom. I remember on our fifteenth wedding anniversary you asked what it meant, to which I said it was about the animals on the island. I lied. The blue sea with the red mountains in the background are the two sides that were created on this day. The three green trees in the centre were my mother, Kai and me, right in between the blue and the red. Those two herds of running black deer were in no way a visualisation of the scary animals on the island, but it was the sickness that was slowly creeping through the camp. I think people knew there was more to this painting than I told them, that's why it became popular in the first place. Most of my paintings were about the island. I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone about what happened there, so painting was a way to cope with it, I think. Further on in the story, I'll explain what the hut with the empty bed means. And why I made the red sun or American bear, for example. Everything has a meaning and I'll try to explain it all. But first I have to tell you about my first interaction with Milan since the drama. This is the first time since the crash I actually think about the possibility of dying here. That's weird, isn't it? I just automatically believed we would get rescued fast, and as long as we were still stuck here, we would simply survive. Like in the films. And we did that; surviving. Except for Rick the bachelor who just vanished. Although chances are he is also still surviving somewhere on the island, right? The next day is crazy. It starts as any day did, but this time we knew we were to gather in the evening, and had to make a choice what to do next. I think everyone knows the camp will split in two. Two camps with their own water. Why is it so hard to stick together? Kai still doesn't have to go to school, so we work more on the cross. It's already getting really beautiful. I believe mom lets Kai stay with me because she feels I need it. As I said, she has this weird mother's sixth sense sometimes. Just like yesterday, I catch Milan staring in our direction a few times. "Hey guys, what are you doing?" Looking up, I see Trenton. "Please don't talk about water." "Huh?" "You said water you doing," I explain and add a sarcastic chuckle. He rolls his eyes. "Hilarious!" "We're making a cool cross for my grandpa Jon!" Kai jumps up from the sand. "Look." He holds out the stick he was cutting. "That looks beautiful!" Trenton sits down next to me and watches us cutting for a few minutes. "I see you and Milan aren't talking anymore." "Yep." Does this mean we're not going to talk about the drama in the camp? For a split second, he looks over at Kai, as if he wanted to ask me if I was okay with having him here. He's making it quite obvious he wants to talk to me about it, which is weird considering he's normally very quiet. I shrug. I don't care what Kai learns about me. We will stay close no matter what. That boy is still unspoiled by opinions and adult problems. I bet he doesn't care about sexuality, as long as he likes the person, he's okay with it. Sometimes I wonder what this world would look like if we were more like kids; unprejudiced. "I was there when Milan's dad said those things about you." I nod. "I know. Everyone was there." "It was an assholish thing to do. Is that a word; assholish?" I look over at my little brother, but he doesn't seem to notice us. He's focussed on his task. "If it isn't a word yet, they should invent it just for him," I say, grinning. "I guess that's the reason you guys aren't talking anymore, is it?" I nod again. "I knew homophobic parents raised him, but I never expected that learning the truth would change anything between you guys." The truth? I know I'm obvious about it sometimes, but why is he so certain about it, all of a sudden? Trenton shrugs apologetically. "Before the crash, I was on the bench behind you and your mom, when we were waiting to board the plane. I heard your conversation about them and also your mom's comment. So, yeah, I knew from the beginning. I should've told you, I'm sorry." "Don't be. I don't care, I'm normally really open about it. And everyone always seems to know it about me anyway, so I don't even try to hide it." He grins. "Yeah, I get that. Anyway, his reaction sucks, dude." "I know. But I don't really blame him, I guess. It's not his fault he's raised that way." I turn around and for a second I scan the camp until I find him. He's guiding his brother through the camp, who looks to be in an even worse state than yesterday. Milan doesn't notice me looking at him, and for a few seconds, I even forget Trenton and Kai are here with me. My body is mixing so many emotions. I feel sadness for his disapproval, happiness when I think back to our good times, anger for how he hurt me and still deep down there is some admiration. Even though he hurt me, he managed to get out of his parents' claws so well. He's already a better person than his parents ever will be. I admire that. And next to these sentiments, there is also this inexplicable feeling of love. The love that came so randomly and fucked everything up. It's nauseating to feel all this at the same time. "How do we know this is an island?" Trenton suddenly asks. I wonder how long I was lost in thoughts for, put the cross down and look at him questioningly. "What do you mean?" "Well, everyone keeps saying we're stranded on an island, but how do we know? We never saw the other side, we never traced the beaches and got back to where we started." "I actually never thought about it that way. I think we suspect this is an island since no one came to rescue us yet." It looks like the boy has to think about that for a minute. "I guess… But still, what if it's just some kind of peninsula we crashed on?" "What then?" "We could just walk to the closest city and contact the US embassy!" I laugh. "If there is an embassy within walking distance, I bet they would've noticed us by now." "Maybe you're right. I just wonder why everyone believes this is an island without questioning it. I think it's because of all the TV shows we watch about people crash-landing on islands. As if it's impossible to crash anywhere else!" I look at him and wonder, not for the first time today, why he suddenly is becoming more talkative. He used to be so quiet. I have little time to think about that, as Casey clashes two pieces of metal against each other: the sign that dinner is ready. I swallow: hell is going to break loose tonight. As the three of us stroll towards the campfire, I catch Oliver looking at me with a weird smirk on his face and I immediately know the leaders have another announcement to make.
  7. The exam went amazingly well (scored 100/100, yay!). Right now I'm trying to publish a chapter every month, but since I'm traveling a lot during the summer, I'm not sure I can keep it up. The story is as complete as it is here on GA, indeed. Nifty is unfortunately always lagging behind a bit, but I'm trying to have it catch up soon. I'm glad you like the story, JohnnyD. Please continue leaving comments or sending emails when you have feedback or want to let me know what you think; I noticed it always gives me a huge motivational boost when I read comments! Thanks for the response! Stannie
  8. Thanks. I do have a good editor though, otherwise you would've known I'm not a first language speaker. And yeah, I do have assignments and I work as well, but whatever time I have, I mostly spend it writing (admittedly, I write several stories at the same time, so sorry for that). I hope I'll do well on my exams as well, thanks. I'll try to publish a Missing chapter every month from now on, by the way. So it's not gonna be as bad as it once was.
  9. I know how you feel. It's also frustrating when you know exactly where the story is going, but writing it down (especially since it's in another language) is slowing you down. It would be so cool if you could just think up a story and have it written down immediately . I got the rough sketch of next few chapters ready, and I feel more motivated than ever to write (with the patrons and all supporting me, it's an enormous energy boost). I have one more week of exams to go and then I'll have a week or so to write nonstop. Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it
  10. "You're a snorer." Looking up, Milan has a confused expression on his face, as if he just woke up again. "I'm sorry." I shake my head. "Don't be sorry." It's cute, I add in my thoughts. Nervously, I take a seat next to him, contemplating whether I really want to tell him how I feel. I was okay all this time. Of course I thought Milan was cute even before we crashed on the island, but I never meant to fall in love with him. For some reason I managed to see him as a friend. All of a sudden this changed, but it could change back just as abruptly, right? "Something's wrong," Milan says. Now it's my turn to look confused. "With the island, you mean?" "With the island? How can an island be wrong?" Shrugging, I reply: "I dunno. Maybe you have a feeling something bad is going to happen. I have that sometimes." "Nah, I meant something is wrong with you." "Oh." He turns a little to face me better, even though we're still sitting next to each other. "Normally you're so talkative. You always wonder about things no one has the answers to. But now you're quiet." "You were the one who completely ignored me earlier this week," I smirk. "And now you complain about me being silent." For a split second, I notice a hint of guilt on his face, but it's gone as fast as it appeared. "I had a reason for that. A reason you were aware of." "Not at first." "We're not talking about that. I asked you a question: is something wrong?" This is the perfect time to tell him, I know it. But, I also know what he thinks about gay people. Being honest with him could destroy the friendship we have. Do I want that? On the other hand, do I want a friendship with someone who cannot accept me the way I am? Why is this happening? I don't want this. It's the kind of dilemma you can either try to ignore or give in to, but you can never really solve it. "I'm not sure. I think I've been wondering about the real world a lot, you know. About what life used to be." Alright… A lie. So much for being honest today. "I knew it. You're worrying again. You're good at that. Too good." He smiles and I feel an urge to kiss him right here and now. "We'll be alright, Ryan." "You really believe that?" "Yes. I do." Without really thinking about it, I hug him. At first Milan doesn't move, but then he slowly hugs me back. "Thanks." When we release the hug, Milan is still smiling. That's a good sign, isn't it? "I don't even know anything about your life before the crash," I say. Milan thinks about that for a second. "There isn't much to know. I was in school, in the honours program…" "That doesn't surprise me," I interrupt him. It causes him to grin. "And uhh, I'm not sure what else I could tell you about me." "Did you have a girlfriend? Or boyfriend?" He snickers. "No boyfriend of course, no. But that's really twenty-first century of you to add." He laughs again, and when his laugh has died out, he adds: "But yeah, I used to have… like, not really, but kinda… a girlfriend. Emily." My heart stopped beating for a few seconds. "What's the 'not really' about it?" Suddenly, his face takes on a bitter sweet expression, he looks nostalgic, as if remembering something. "I think it just didn't work out. We liked each other, but I didn't really love her. We're still friends, though." For some reason I feel relieved. As if suddenly I do have a chance with him. Of course I don't. "What about you?" he asks. "Uhh," I stammer, pictures of Luke flashing through my mind. He never was my boyfriend, but we did share a little kiss when I was on holiday last year. It was the most intimate I ever was with another boy and since then, the doubt about my sexuality was completely gone. He had to leave the day after, so we never had a chance to kiss again. He was very cute and I really wanted to look him up after we got back, but I never did. I wonder if he knows I'm one of the people on the plane that crashed. I'm sure we must be all over the news now, right? "No, never had a girlfriend. Never even kissed a girl." Milan grins. "You'd love it, dude!" "I guess." "So… What about your life before the crash?" I look out over the vast ocean as if I expected to see my old life floating towards me. "I wasn't in any honours classes," I say absentmindedly. "I liked art. Wood carving, painting and playing the keyboard." "Oh, you make music? Cool! What kind of music." "Mostly classical. I love Ludovico Einaudi, for example. I tried to learn it on the keyboard." "Cool! I never really listen to classical music, but I'm sure if I did, I'd like it. Isn't that Ludivico guy from Intouchable, the film?" I laugh at his horrible French pronunciation, but at the same time I know I wouldn't have done better. It's somewhat disappointing that he doesn't listen to my kind of music, but maybe it helps me getting over the feeling of liking him. "Yeah, it is. The song Fly appears in the film. It's one of the best songs." "I loved the film." "I did as well. But hey, I think I'm going to bed soon." It's now or never, I think to myself. I can tell him how I feel and even if he doesn't feel the same, we could still be friends, right? "I'll come soon. Goodnight, Ryan," he says and pulls me in for a hug. A little baffled, I hug him back. Breathing is becoming difficult. This isn't just a bro hug, is it? It's too long. We break the hug, and I say: "Thanks, Milan. For the hug, for the talk and for being a friend. I needed that." "No problem." He smiles. Walking away, I turn around to look at him again; he's staring into the blackness of the sea. The proverbial stone in my stomach was gone for a few minutes, but the hug brought him back again. My heart is beating from the adrenaline I felt when I was thinking about telling him, so imagine how my body would react if I ever told him. Never have I had this much trouble with coming out to someone. It feels like there is so much at stake, even though I know I probably won't see him again after we get rescued. Does it really matter? My spot between Kai and mom looks inviting, so without spending more time thinking about Milan, I snuggle in between them, put my arm around my favorite ten-year-old and fall asleep. I wake up to Kai shouting: "Mom, we got a pack of crackers and some extra olives from Casey!" "Sst, Kai. Some people in the camp are still asleep," mom whispers. "Oh, I'm sorry." After I open my eyes I need a few seconds looking at the ceiling of our hut, to get my brain warmed up. I turn around and see Milan rubbing his eyes. "Morning," I say with a rusty voice. I turn onto my stomach, my head resting on my arms. He smiles. "Good choice to leave the "good" in "good morning" behind." A chuckle leaves my lips. "There was a good, it was just more like a single "g". G'morning." "Well, at least it didn’t deserve to be pronounced fully." "Why? What's wrong?" "Being woken by an enthusiastic kid screaming practically in your ear isn't what I'd call 'good'." "Oh…" I hear from behind me. "I'm sorry, Milan." Turning around, I notice the boy standing in the doorway, his posture doing nothing to hide his sadness. "Oh, no, it was meant sarcastically," Milan says immediately. "I didn't mean it." "Okay..." He doesn't look too convinced. "Don't mind him, Kai. He is suffering from a well-known morning mood. I, for one, didn't mind waking up to your cool voice!" The boy beams. "Yeah. Milan has morning mood." Only now Kai says it, I hear how close 'morning mood' resembles 'morning wood'. Unwillingly an image of Milan's morning wood appears on my retina and a blush rises to my cheeks, but I shake it away immediately. No more crushing over the boy from now on! We have breakfast together, after which Kai and my mom go to the improvised classroom, and Milan and I head over to our fishing area. It isn’t long before Trenton joins as well. His mom decided to stay with his sister, so he doesn't have to babysit today. We have only caught one fish when Milan suddenly says: "I smell fire." "You smell fire?" Trenton asks. "Yeah, fire. Smoke." He looks around. "There!" I turn around and notice a small trail of smoke curling upwards from somewhere close to the camp. "You're right." "Let's check it out." Trenton reels in the line and puts the rod next to the rock we were sitting on. Together, like the three musketeers, we approach the danger. Once we're closer to the camp, we can see some people already gathered around the source of the smoke, just behind our camp a few meters into the woods. We walk over there, I carefully push someone aside and find Ronny in the middle of all the commotion. "I told you, there is nothing wrong! Just a stupid twig. I had it under control." "Why did you even make a fire? Why are you in the forest. We told you not to!" Matthew Bachmeier looks furious, almost spitting fire himself. "And what is this hideous construction. You trying to be like the gay kid?" I involuntarily flinch at the comment. Margareth gives a quick glance in my direction, probably to find out how much that hurt, but then looks at the misbehaving kid again. Just behind Ronny is some weird contraption. A pit with a small fire in it, some metal tubes above it, with a metal container on top. I wonder where he got it from. The edges of the metal container are sealed off with mud and clay and a tube leads from the container towards an empty bottle. I didn't see at first, but there is water dripping from the tube into the bottle. "You could have burned down the whole forest!" His right foot occasionally pounds on the earth, causing the construction to shake. Ronny's face is deadly pale. The once so talkative boy, the confident bully, is reduced to nothing but a fearful doll. "I had it under control, dad," he stammers and coughs. "No, you didn't. You risked our lives only to do… what exactly? Make this stupid thing? What does it even do?" He kicks the metal container, which tumbles over. All the water that had filled the container streams out. I feel my hand being grabbed and without looking I know the school has joined us as well now. Then someone else grabs the other hand, so I peek, my heart pounding as I imagine it's Milan. It's not him, but one of Kai's friends, Noah. Ronny is visibly sweating. "I… I was… distilling water." He swallows. "You were what?! You have got to be kidding me!" Oliver is watching, but he doesn't get involved. I may be wrong, but I feel like he is grinning. My mom quickly puts a hand on my shoulder, which by now is a gesture I know all too well. Then she walks right into the lion's den. "Matthew," she almost whispers. "It's okay. We all make mistakes." Within a second the man turns around and looks at my mom directly. If his eyes weren't spitting fire before, they surely are now. "This is MY son. We don't make mistakes." He looks at me holding the two boys hands, then at Milan and back at his son again. "Right now Ronny is a bigger disappointment than the son who's queering around with your son!" Milan's eyes lock with mine, his face showing an apologetic look. As he turns back to the spectacle, he takes a step away from me. I think he didn't want me to notice, but I did. And it hurt. It hurt more than what his dad was saying about me in front of everyone. Mom also looks at me, just like Margareth did earlier. As if she were trying to see how much the comment hurt and whether she had to defend me. She doesn't. "He was trying to help, Matthew." The man laughs. "Right. By doing exactly what Jan told us not to do." He turns his attention back to Ronny, which means he also turns his back to my mother. The whole camp has gathered here, but no one knows what to do. I think we're all scared. "Jan said that distilling water would cost too much time and wouldn't be safe. We don't know what shit is in the water!" Ronny coughs again. "Jan was wrong." Tears are gathering in his eyes, waiting for the cue to be released. "Distilling isn't dangerous." He coughs. "Have you been drinking the water?" With a tear running down his cheek, he nods. "So that's why you're sick. You're infected by whatever lives in the water. It's your own fault!" "I can't be. I can't be." Ronny is crying and I wonder if it's because he knows he's right and not being understood, or because he believes his dad and fears for his health. "Distilling is perfectly safe. Jan was wrong." The Bachmeier mom now stands behind her husband and puts her hand on his shoulder. "Your dad is right. You should listen to people who know better." "He doesn't... know…" Again a cough. "He doesn't know better." Seeing the boy cry, even after all the crap he has put me and Milan through, affects me. I feel a lump in my throat and I almost want to stand up for him. The resemblance between his dad and satan keeps me from getting involved, however. "Why don't we just head back to the camp and talk about it together," mom offers. "Shut up! I'm trying to teach my son to stop thinking he is better than the people around him. Keep out of it." There was a complete study done about keeping humankind safe in the future from our nuclear waste. They sought a universal way in which to communicate the danger to people thousands of years later, when people wouldn't understand today’s languages and couldn't read a written warning. Well, looking at the situation right now, all they needed is a picture of Mathew, his eyes and expression, is the universal warning they need. Mom seems to conclude the same thing, and a little resentfully takes a step back. Milan's dad lashes out and kicks the bottle away. The supposedly purified water trickles out onto the earth. "Clean this shit and go to bed. No dinner for you." "Matthew. Do you really think that's necessary?" Margareth asks. The man just nods and walks away, leaving us all dumbfounded. The mom glances at both her sons once more and follows her husband. Milan rushes towards Ronny and puts an arm around his shoulder and guides him away, Kai and Noah let go of my hands and run away, with my mom following them as close as she can. Slowly, everyone leaves the danger zone. I'm still here, staring at the distillation setup. Does this mean that Ronny was trying to help us all this time by getting fresh water? That's why he was so mysterious about entering the forest. The insults Matthew made today are echoing through my head and I feel tears in my eyes. Mom didn't defend me publicly and she didn't come to me to comfort me. It's as if she didn't even care. And Milan… he deliberately took a step away from me when his dad spoke about him queering around with me. He distanced himself from me, not caring what I thought or felt. He'd rather hurt me than have his name in the same sentence as the word queer. That's the answer to my doubts, isn't it? Does anyone care? I run a few meters into the forest, making sure I'm completely out of sight of anyone in the camp, and sit down against a tree. Trying to figure out what - from all the things that happened today - actually hurt the most, I feel a tear escaping from the pool in my eyes. I want to go home. So far, I have liked being on the island. I liked having to survive, getting to know all these people and starting to see them as a family. But people will always be people. They will only care about themselves. Except for Ronny, who apparently wanted to help, even though it was by thinking he's better than the rest. I wipe the tears off my cheek with my shirt and remain silent, engulfed by the darkness of the forest. After a few minutes I hear someone behind me. "Here you are," a whisper says. My eyes are still red as I turn around. It's Milan. "Yeah?" "Oh shit, you've been crying... Ryan, you shouldn't care about what my dad says. He can be an asshole sometimes. He says things that aren't true!" There is the sting again. Not as big as when he stepped away, but still a sting that's able to destroy me from the inside out. Milan walks over to me and crouches in front of me. "I'm sorry if my dad insulted you, really." Looking at that face of his, the boy who doesn't even realise he is the one that hurt me more than his father's words ever could, I can literally feel something snap inside me. "He was right!" I practically spit it out. "Huh?" He looks genuinely confused. Seriously, how stupid can one be? "I'm a fucking queer!" I screech. Even though I so carefully wiped my face clean before, tears are streaming down again. "You - the Milan Bachmeier, first of his name or whatever - you have been queering around. With a fag. A gay boy, a homo. Please, I'm sure you know more names!" He flinches and involuntarily takes a step back, all the while still crouching. I don't even care anymore whether he puts this distance between us because he's scared of my sudden outburst, or because he is disgusted by my sexuality. "Where are your excuses now, hah?" I swallow as I put my hands in front of my eyes, crying into them. "Your dad didn't insult me," I continue, "you did, when you shied away from me when your dad said those nasty things about me." "I'm sorry." "Oh, words. Finally." "I'm sorry, Ryan. I just… I'm not sure… I uhh." Slowly I allow a gap in between my fingers too look at his face. It's almost as pale as Ronny's was just half an hour ago. "I think I have to go back." A second of silence. "To… uhh… check in with my brother." "Go then. Leave me alone!" "I'm sorry, Ryan. I really am." The boy leaves me. He doesn't just walk, no, he runs.
  11. Heya guys, I made a post on the lounge forum before I notices there is a specific forum for this, so that's why I'm also posting it here. Recently, I started writing another story. As English isn't my native language, I often struggle with the sentences and stylistic choices. I don't want my story to be full of mistakes, that's why I'm looking for an editor. Even though I'd love to have someone who can get rid of all those mistakes ( believe me, there are a lot), I'm also looking for someone who could look at my style and give feedback on how to improve. Just looking at whether sentences feel/sound right and maybe offering alternatives on how to phrase it. Thing is, I feel like I am somewhat proficient in the language, but this is on a communicative level. When writing and especially when describing things in stories, just getting across the message in a plain and easy way doesn't suffice. You often want the sentences to sound right. You want to create an image for the reader. That's my struggle and I hope someone could help me with this. As for the story, I'm quite happy about it (story-wise), but I always appreciate feedback on that level as well. Things like how a character feels, what you miss in them or what you think is too prominent. Whether you like the things that are happening etc. Just general feedback. In the end I want to improve my writings, so any feedback is welcome. I love learning, so knock yourself out! So, if you want to consider helping, let me know. You can have a look at the first (two) chapter(s) and decide whether you feel the story or not. A short synopsis of the story Police Trouble (name under review): Jake (16) is the son of the local police captain. Lately he's been failing some classes, so his dad ordered him to come to the station after school every day so he can do his homework in peace and supervised. Jake didn't like this at all, as it meant he couldn't go out with his friends, but was grounded instead. His relationship with his dad isn't really good anyway. Dad is always trying to keep his son on the right track, everything has to go according to the rules, which only works counter-productive. Their relationship is one of constantly challenging each other on a verbal level through banter. (this means that on the one hand I'm trying to show the struggles within the family and with Jake being a teenager, ready to leave the nest, but also the way his parents care for him, even though he himself doesn't see this all the time). At the precinct, Jake sees a boy his age being brought in. Apparently, this guy is a regular. Jake is doing his homework when the guy is being transferred to a holding cell. The guys - Brian - sees Jake and smiles at him. It's a mysterious or maybe even a creepy smile, resulting in Jake wanting to find out what's behind that. He wants to know what the story of this boy is, why he is regularly arrested, what he'd been through. In short, he is on the verge of becoming obsessed. These are going to be the two main topics in the story. Thanks for reading, Stannie Ps, there is no rush. I don't need someone to be able to edit within a few days. I write irregularly, so I don't mind if editing takes a week or longer.
  12. Heya guys, I'm not sure if this is the right forum to post this in, so if it isn't, you can tell me or move this to somewhere it fits. Recently, I started writing another story. As English isn't my native language, I often struggle with the sentences and stylistic choices. I don't want my story to be full of mistakes, that's why I'm looking for an editor. Even though I'd love to have someone who can get rid of all those mistakes ( believe me, there are a lot), I'm also looking for someone who could look at my style and give feedback on how to improve. Just looking at whether sentences feel/sound right and maybe offering alternatives on how to phrase it. Thing is, I feel like I am somewhat proficient in the language, but this is on a communicative level. When writing and especially when describing things in stories, just getting across the message in a plain and easy way doesn't suffice. You often want the sentences to sound right. You want to create an image for the reader. That's my struggle and I hope someone could help me with this. As for the story, I'm quite happy about it (story-wise), but I always appreciate feedback on that level as well. Things like how a character feels, what you miss in them or what you think is too prominent. Whether you like the things that are happening etc. Just general feedback. In the end I want to improve my writings, so any feedback is welcome. I love learning, so knock yourself out! So, if you want to help me out, please send a pm. You can have a look at the first (two) chapter(s) and decide whether you feel the story or not. Thanks! Stannie
  13. After bringing the children back to my mother, I look around for Milan. Apparently he started fishing again. "Hey," I call out. He looks up. "Oh hey. Did you finally get rid of the kids?" I grin. "I thought one Kai was a lot to handle, but imagine three of those boys. Damn, I feel sorry for my mother." Milan laughs. "So did you catch anything while I was gone?" "Nope." "Maybe the new couple would like some fish? They must be hungry." Milan scrunches his forehead into a frown. "I think right now they must be getting frustrated with everyone buzzing around them, better give them some space." "Yeah… You're right. Anyway, wonder what they've been through." Milan reels in the line to see if there is still bait on it. Looking up he casts the line into the sea, before turning his head to look at me. "I can't imagine how it must have been all this time out there alone. Over a week or so." "Ten days," I confirm. He thinks about this for a moment. "Seriously? Ten days already? Holy shit!" "I know, right. It feels like we can't have been here for over a week, stranded on an island. Yet, it seems so long ago when I was getting on that plane." "Yeah. It's weird." "And all this time Henry and Karen were alone in the woods. With the natives around. Must have been so scary." Milan says nothing, simply nodding his agreement. We both stare at the wooden floater. Life is weird, you know. You feel like you can influence the outcome in some way, as if you can make conscious choices to change the path of life, but at the same you have no control over what happens. You have to go with what god - or whatever there is - hands you. But apart from the fact I'm scared - we're all scared - life on the island isn't that bad. I'm not really worried, I guess. Yet, I do already know that this day will scar me for life. Even if we were to get rescued tomorrow, this experience will shape me. "Ten days…" Milan says absentmindedly. "We will be world news when we are rescued." He looks at me. "We should enjoy our privacy on this island, probably will be our last. We'll be super stars!" I laugh. "I thought about that, yeah. I can imagine some talk shows wanting to interview us, but after a few months or so everything would calm down again." We lapse into silence as we contemplate what life back in the real world would look like. I would probably have to tell the same story over and over again. "I wonder if people will keep in touch after going home." "We could organise a yearly reunion." He smiles. "I'd love that." Milan looks like he's deep in thought: "Do you want to get rescued?" The question takes me off-guard. "What do you mean?" "Do you want to get rescued?" he repeats "I don't know. Of course I want to get rescued, like, I don't want to have to live on the island forever. But at the same time, life on the island right now is quite relaxing." Milan nods, lost in thoughts but with a weird grin on his face. "You know? No stress or whatever. No deadlines, no school. No need to find yourself a spot in a complex social system." Milan snickers. "I love how I can ask a yes-no question about getting rescued and you reply with something about social systems." I blush a little. "I'm sorry." "No no, don't be!" "Hey guys." Turning around, I see Trenton standing there. "Yo. How are you?" He smiles. "Good, actually. I tried to teach my sister some of the wood carving skills you taught me. Though maybe I shouldn't have taught her how to use a knife, now I think about it." I laugh. "Well, if she can handle it, it's cool! We can make a huge carving in a tree or something. Like a totem pole." "Teaching the natives on this island what a totem pole is, makes sense," Milan laughs. I try to figure out what time it is, looking at where the sun sits in the sky. It's something I'm getting quite good at lately. I can't tell exactly what time it is, but I can get an indication. "Any idea if my mom's school is done already?" Trenton nods. "That's how I'm here already. School's done, my brother is babysitting now." Several people are walking around the camp. I see my mom talking to Casey over by the fireplace and Matthew, Milan's dad, pacing around his hut impatiently. I can account for almost anyone, but I can't see Kai. "I wonder why Kai isn't here yet. Normally he he joins us immediately." Milan shrugs. "Maybe he's playing with this new friend of his? What’s his name?" I survey the camp. "No, Noah is running after a girl, don't know who she is though." "Must be Pauline," Trenton says. Frowning, I look at him. "Who's that?" "A girl in your mom's class. She came here together with her dad, Samuel." "You've been studying names," Milan remarks. "Well, Samuel has been paying way too much attention to my mom lately, so I’m keeping an eye on him." A snicker escapes my lips. "Anyway, I'm gonna look for Kai." "Want me to come with you?" Milan asks. "Nah, it's fine. You can try catching some fish on your own for once!" Milan mimics looking hurt and Trenton laughs. I leave them to it and head back to the camp. Noah is still there chasing this girl. Apparently they’re having fun, you can hear their laughter through the whole little settlement. I smile to myself. It's good to have the sound of laughing kids around, they make this whole situation more bearable. I join my mom, who's talking to Rick. They're both looking up at the sky. "You can feel the air is dry, can’t you?" My mom nods. "Well, those clouds up there are so-called nimbostratus clouds. They often forecast huge storms." "But the weather is still really nice, and they seem to be really far up in the sky." Rick nods. "That's why they are considered really treacherous. If the wind starts blowing down in coastal areas when there are nimbostratus clouds, a nice summer day can suddenly become a downpour. Within a few minutes." I stand and listen, I see mom has noticed I'm there. "But the wind isn't blowing down, right?" "You're right. But you never know. It's always good to be on your guard." Mom smiles. "I will be. Now, Ryan, what do you want?" "If there’s gonna be a storm, we should get some containers to catch the water." "And we should make sure our huts are waterproof," Rick says. "I bet they're not." I laugh. "Yeah. I don't think anyone has anticipated rain." He shrugs. "Yes, well, weather can be quite treacherous, especially in a hot climate." "Anyway. I'm looking for Kai. Have you seen him?" My mom quickly scans the camp. "No, I thought he would be with you, to be honest." "Yes, me too. But he isn't." "That's odd." I nod. "Are you going to look for him or should I?" I shake my head. "I will, he can't be far. Thanks." Smiling, I leave them behind. Where could he be? As I wander through the camp a little aimlessly, I find myself walking to the Bachmeier's residence. Maybe he wanted to find out what the new couple had to say? But Milan's dad sends me away. "You should leave, kiddo," he says. I hate it when adults act disparagingly towards children. We're all people, you know. You don't have to keep reminding me I'm young. I really feel bad for Milan, having to put up with this man all the time. I check our own hut thinking that maybe Kai got tired and went for a nap? Nope. I ask around, but no one has seen the little boy. Normally he's quite noticeable, to say the least. I'm starting to become a little stressed, when Margareth notices me. "Hey Ryan, what's wrong?" "I'm searching for Kai. Can't find him anywhere. I'm starting to worry, actually." She frowns, "I haven't seen him either. He wouldn't have just wandered off, would he?" "I don't think so…But I don't know for sure." " Strange. Where could he be?" "That's what I'm trying to find out. I have literally no idea." "What about his grandfather's grave?" Surprised, I look at her. "Of course! Haven't looked over there. He must be there." "Well, be nice to him then, Ryan. He's a young child, you know." I frown. "I know." I thank the woman again and walk to the spot where we buried Jonathan. As I'm coming closer, I can see him sitting on the sand cross-legged. I wonder why he'd come here. Can't be for a good reason. I notice I'm becoming a little nervous as I have no clue as to how to approach him. Maybe I should just leave him be? But then the boy turns around and sees me. And I see him. His eyes are red. He looks exhausted. I can feel myself tear up as well. His laugh may be really contagious, but so is his sad face. "Hey buddy," I say as I reach him. "Hi." His voice is soft. It sounds like it could break at any moment, just like his heart. Sitting down next to him in the sand and for a few minutes I stare at his grandpa's grave. The final resting place is quite sober. It's just a cross made of two sticks nailed together. I'm not even sure if Jonathan was buried on this or the other side of the cross. If it's this side, that'd mean we'd be sitting right on top of him. I have no idea what to say to Kai, but I feel like refraining from talking is the best thing to do. I, for one, always appreciate having someone around who's not saying anything when I'm sad. Just knowing you're together can be reassuring and it often brightens the mood, if only a little. I put an arm around the boy. I can feel he's trembling and there are still soft sobs every now and then. I wonder why he suddenly feels this sad. Together we stare at the simple cross as I'm patiently tracing circles in the sand. I hear a movement behind me, so I turn to look. It's Milan. He sees me and stops dead in his tracks. He nods at me and walks away again. I love that he came to look for me and I love it even more that he understood the situation immediately. For a posh kid he is really considerate. "I…" Kai says after a few more minutes. "Why am I always happy?" He turns to look at me. His eyes are red and his cheeks are irritated by his tears. "What do you mean?" "I'm supposed to be sad." He starts tearing up again. "I should be sad. This is my grandpa." I don't say anything. The little boy swallows. "I forgot about him. Grandpa Jon. I… How." He starts sobbing again. "I should have been here for him. Thinking about him. Crying for him." "Hey, Kai. It's alright to be sad now." "No! I should've been that before." "Well, there was a lot going on. There are lots of distractions." He moves closer to me. "He's gone," he stammers. "He… he is really… forever gone. Away. He left." I notice I'm starting to tear up as well as I'm staring at the sticks in front of me while having his boyish voice hitting me with reality. "I think I wanted to forget about him." I pull him closer. "I think sometimes we have to park our sadness when there is a lot going on. So you can reach out to it whenever you have time and strength to do so, you know? You can process it at your own pace." I can see Kai has to think about this; he doesn't reply. Five minutes later he speaks up: "what would my mom think if she knows I just ignored grandpa and went fishing with you instead? She would be so disappointed." "You know you're my best friend, right?" He nods and wipes a tear from his cheek. "Well, then believe me when I say: I'm sure your mom would be proud of you. There is so much going on. And you're coping amazingly well. Better than I would, really." His face lights up as he looks at me with those sad red eyes, "Really?" "Yes! You're so fun to have around and you're always laughing. You make everyone in the camp much happier. Everyone here loves you! I know I do." A smile breaks across his face, "Thanks, Ryan." "Anytime, little bro. Now, what about we stay here a few more minutes to think about grandpa Jon, is that alright? To think about what an amazing man he was." "Yes, he was amazing." Another tear rolls down his cheek, but he’s still smiling when he says, "I miss him, Ryan." "There is nothing wrong with that, Kai. Once we get rescued you can grieve together with your family." He looks up at me. "Grieve?" "Being sad about your loss," I explain. "Ah." And suddenly he hugs me. "Thanks for being my friend, Ryan." "Thank you for being mine," I smile. "What about we carve a really beautiful cross for your grandpa?" He beams. "Really?" "Yes, it will become magnificent. Something he would be proud of." "That'd be so cool. Thanks!" "No worries." The cross would become really beautiful, just like I promised the little boy. Moreover, it would become the most beautiful cross on the beach, its beauty amplified by the amount of plain crosses all around it. I think one of the reasons I wanted to go back to the island was to see whether the graves were still there. Maybe I'm afraid to feel the same as Kai did, maybe I don't want to feel like I forgot about them. Every single person who died on that island is part of me. Part of us. We should think about them, worship them like the natives worshipped their scientists. I know you don't understand this, Tom. I don't expect you to understand it. I merely ask you to accept it. Just like I don't want you to forgive me. I merely want you to remember me as if I never betrayed you. Can you do that? "Let's go back to the camp now, alright?" "Sure." Getting up I help Kai to his feet. We fall into another hug. "When we get rescued, do you still want to be my brother?" he asks. "Of course!" "Yay!" I wipe away the tears on his face with my shirt and together we walk back to camp. "Maybe you should go and find Milan, he was looking for you as well. He's probably fishing now. I'll be joining you shortly." "What are you gonna do?" "Just check on the new guys. Maybe I can help them." He hasn’t stopped smiling. "Cool." And he runs off. I'm glad he's not so sad anymore, it hurt to see him that way. I get it though, so much is happening. You need moments of reflection once in a while. That's why I often wander down to the beach at night, to think about everything that's happening. I believe it's this reflecting that has kept me sane and alive throughout the year on this island. I also think it's what helped me keep Milan alive. In some way, everyone who died on the island lost his or her sanity at some point. They made mistakes, they rushed making decisions and they forgot to take it slow. It was this encounter with Kai at his grandfather's grave that caused me to realise Kai was one of those people who didn't take time to reflect, but instead let the stress build up over time. It was this moment I learned I had to protect the boy, not only against the island and its piteous conditions, but against his own coping mechanism. If only I had suceeded, then maybe I wouldn't be writing this book right now. "What'ya need kid?" Matthew Bachmeier asks as I approach their hut. "I was wondering if maybe I can help you with something? I want to help the new couple out." I notice Ronnie watching us and grinning. "We don't need you. Go play or something." That dude is so annoying. "I can prepare some fish for them. Might be a nice change in diet after spending so much time in the forest." He smirks. "If I want them to eat fish, I would get some." What the… "Where?" I ask. "You're the guy that made the fishing poles, right? Well, I'd get some from you then." This makes me smile. "I wouldn't give them unless you asked nicely." "You think I have to ask for those fish? I can take them if I want." Imagine having him as dad. No wonder Ronny is the way he is. It leaves you to wonder why Milan is cool, considering all. "That's what I thought." Milan's dad doesn't even try to hide his feeling of superiority, but his voice reveals he's getting irritated. Good. I notice Ronnie is still watching me. He seems content, as if he thinks his father is going to get mad any moment. He could try. I already saw Margareth is right behind me, probably listening to every word being said and my mom is probably in that hut, actually trying to help the new couple. "I'd rather throw them back in sea than give them to someone who talks with so much disdain about and to younger people. We are kids still, you're right. But you're talking about the kids that are getting your food while you're playing guard." Admitted, my rudeness surprises me a bit, but I think the thought of Milan having to put up with this guy constantly triggered my storage of impolite things to say to overflow. "Watch your mouth, kid." I smile unconvincingly. "Exactly what I meant. Anyway, just tell Karen and Henry they can get a nicely prepared fish if they want. I'm sure they would appreciate that." Milan's dad makes no reply, Ronnie doesn't look too pleased either. I ignore them both and turn my attention to Milan and Kai. The two boys are sitting side by side, something which makes a nice picture. I'm so glad Milan isn't like the rest of his family. "You shouldn't talk to my dad…" Ronny coughs as I try to walk past him. "Not like that." He coughs again. "Why shouldn’t I? He's acting as if he's my dad. He isn't." "He's the boss around here for a reason, kiddo." Wow, this is insane. That guy is even younger than I am. It's so sad. "The boss?" I raise an eyebrow. "You're disconnected from reality, that's what you are." He laughs, but it fails as he coughs even more. "That doesn't sound too good. Maybe let Casey check it out." Grinning slyly he replies, "It's just a cough. Only a little fag would have it checked out." "Whatever." I shrug. "Have fun being lonely, kiddo." I turn and walk away. "Oh god, I hate your family," I sigh as I reach the fishing spot. "They're not that bad," Milan replies without looking up. "Why are they interfering with everything? And why does your dad constantly treat me as if I'm a kid!" Milan looks defenseless. "I don't know. I guess because we're still kids?" I groan. "Still no reason to treat us like that." "I guess. But as I said, they're not that bad. They're just having difficulties getting used to this island." Sitting down next to Kai I pull him towards me, to make sure he still feels alright after what happened this afternoon. I really want to be a brother to him, even more than I already am. I'm going to protect the little guy. "We're all having difficulties adjusting to life on the island. No need to project that onto each other." I understand Milan is trying to come up with another way to defend his parents and I realise I may be pushing things too far. "Anyway, you're right. It's difficult for all of us. I guess we're all trying to cope with it in our own way." "Yeah." "I'm just happy you are not laying it on us." Milan smiles. "I'm happy you're giving me no reason to." "I think there's a fish trying to get your bait," Kai whispers. Milan stands up and tries to catch it by suddenly pulling the rod in. The hook flies out of the water and we can see a fish dropping down in the water again. "Ouch, close one!" "That was a big one!" Milan exclaims. "His lips must have torn or something." "A shame you let it go," I remark and Kai giggles. The boy sits down again. "Stop bullying me, you're just like my brother." I laugh out loud. "That may be the worst insult one could give." Both Milan and Kai burst out laughing. "About my family," Milan says after a few minutes. "This new couple is gonna sleep in our hut. We don't have that much space, however, so I was wondering if you guys have some room? So I could move to your hut for a few days until we find a new hut for the two." "Yay, a sleepover!" Kai shouts. I smile. "I guess that's alright. If you bring your own bedding." "Of course. Thanks man." "I should check with my mom first though, but I bet it's okay with her as well." "Great." We don’t catch any fish, but we still have fun that evening. Trenton joins us again a few hours later and I teach him some more wood carving tricks. I notice Kai is watching us closely, probably looking forward to making his grandfather's cross. He's happy again, even though I sometimes see a flash of sadness on his face, apparently he realised that being sad wouldn't help him, he has to stay strong. I turn towards him and smile. He smiles back at me. His smile really is the best ever. I know I keep saying this, but his smile is so contagious. I wish I could write down the effect his smile has, not only on me, but on everyone, but I can't. There simply aren't the right words for that in our language. I tried painting it once, but it never had the same effect as the real life version did. I wish you could have seen it, Tom. "I wonder where the others who went looking for water are now," Trenton says suddenly. I nod. "Isn't it just weird we don't even know whether they're alive or not right now? Where they are, what they have been through these last days." A shiver runs down his spine. "Just weird." "Yeah, it does really make you wonder," is my response. I notice Milan is looking at me, as if he's expecting a really wise comment next, but I don't know what else to say. "But I think, in some way," Trenton continues, "we also don't know what the rest of the world is like. Maybe a nuclear war broke out or something, which is the reason we're not rescued yet. Then we'd come back to a completely destroyed world." I quickly glance at Kai to see what his reaction is. I normally wouldn't mind speculating about these things when younger kids are around, but you know, with him being a little down today, we should be careful. He doesn't seem to mind though. "If you're looking at the limit of possibility like that, anything can be weird," Milan says. "Ever read the article about a brain in a vat by Putnam?" We both shake our heads. Kai shakes his as well, which I think is cute, as probably no one expected him to have read it to begin with. "Putnam was a philosopher who tried to criticise this view of the world that says everything is a simulation. Pretty much like The Matrix, ever saw that movie?" "Yeah, I loved it," Trenton says. "Basically, did you ever think about the world being a simulation? What if evil aliens abducted you when you were one year old, extracted your brain and put it in a vat. Then they connected your brain to a really good computer and they simulated a world just like the real one. How would you know?" "You can't take out my brain and keep me alive," I say. "I need blood and food." Milan frowns. "The aliens are really advanced, they made a system that could provide blood and energy. Just look behind those practicalities, would you be able to say for sure you're not simulated?" I think about that. "Yes, because if the world was simulated, I wouldn't be able to talk to you guys, right?" He grins. "That's the question. What if they made a computer good and clever enough to simulate a whole human being?" "I don't think you would know," Trenton says. "But would it really matter?" Milan asks. I expect him to have an answer to his own question, but apparently he hasn't. "I guess it wouldn't?" I say hesitantly. "Whether you're simulated or not, it wouldn't matter, I'm used to you guys the way you are." "Exactly. I love that you said this! I also believe it wouldn't matter to me to find out everyone was simulated. Wouldn't make you less real." "Then this would be like a computer game?" Kai asks. I'm surprised he followed the conversation to this point, I even had difficulties understanding it. It's not the first time I suspect my little bro is quite the smart boy. "Right. But, if those aliens are able to make a computer in which the simulated people are as real as they appear to you right now, it raises another question." At this point we aren't fishing anymore. I bet there isn't any bait on our hook anymore, and if there is, the worm is probably drowned by now, so not many fish would consider eating it. "Namely, if they managed to computationally make a living being, how would you know you're not just a simulation?" Milan continues with an even bigger grin. I look at him in disbelief whilst I let these words slowly seep in. And all of a sudden, I fall in love with him. Is that even possible? Can you just suddenly fall in love with someone? Of course there must be this point of no return, this moment when you go from "liking someone" to "having a crush on someone", but can you really pinpoint that moment when it's happening? Still, it feels that way. I thought he was cute before, of course. And I liked his personality, or I wouldn't have befriended him, but still, I wasn't in love with him or anything. It's this moment, while looking at his enormous grin and trying to understand his weird brain twisting, I feel my stomach rumbling. I feel this gnawing at my heart. I wanted to kiss him before, but this is much deeper. I don't even want to kiss him now, that would supersede the feeling I'm having right now. Instead, I'd rather find a better moment to kiss him, only that would qualify for the emotions I'm feeling. I try to suppress this thought. Milan could never love me back. Why would I fall in love with him over this one conversation? what's wrong with me. I know he doesn't like me. And I already knew he was smart, I knew he was considerate and I knew he was handsome. What different does this conversation make? I want to know. I don't like it when I don't understand my own emotions. "What's wrong?" Trenton asks. "Uh… I think I was… Just flabbergasted by this conversation, you know?" I try to laugh it off. "I never thought about it this way." I quickly glance at Milan, his grin is still huge and if I'm not imagining it, a small blush on his cheeks. "It's a topic we could talk about for ages," Milan says. I'd love to. "But I guess we should head back to the camp, food will be almost done. I can already smell it." "Yeah," Trenton gets up slowly. "I wonder if the new couple will be there." We grab the fishing rods and my carvings and head back to the camp. "It's weird the couple only arrived today, you know? It feels so long ago already," I say. "I was thinking the exact same thing! Days on this island seem to take forever compared to back home." We arrive at Trenton's hut, so he says goodbye and goes inside. I sigh as I feel my legs hurt. "I'll be happy when I can finally go to bed." "Wait, aren't we going to the rock tonight?" Milan feigns sadness. I smile. "Maybe. I don't know. I can imagine I'll immediately fall asleep and won't wake up until tomorrow morning." He laughs. "No problem. Been a rough day, for sure." "What's the rock?" Kai asks. "Nothing. Just when we can't sleep, we head over to that rock next to the sea," I say as I point towards it. "Just to stare into the ocean and talk a bit, you know?" "I'd like to come too!" I snicker. "I don't think that's a good idea. If I'm tired after today, I'm sure you should be even more tired. You're always so active! I think you need your sleep." "I guess I never wake up anyway," he pouts. We all laugh. During dinner Oliver suddenly stands up. He has an announcement. From now on, all food is supposed to be shared. It's the property of everyone. While Oliver was lecturing the group about laws and rules, I notice Milan's dad looking at me with a huge grin. I know this is his doing, he didn't like my attitude about the fish. From now on, the fish will be for all of us. To be honest, it already was, I just didn't like him playing boss while Milan and I were doing the hard work. "All the food we gather is to be shared evenly." Oliver is still preaching. "No one owns the food he or she gathers or catches, okay? No matter what happens, we - the leaders - are to determine who gets what." That grin of Matthew’s is really sad, actually. He is obviously happy because he gets it his own way. He must feel like he won. Even though he tries to remind everyone constantly that I'm just a "kid" to him, he is happy about winning over a kid. How pathetic can one be. I smile back at him, making sure he knows I'm staying on the higher ground I've been on all this time. I don't care about him winning this. I never decided to fish for me, I wanted to help out the camp. I would love to share! After the announcement we all finish our dinner in silence. Then we clean up. It's late, so I decide to go to bed. The new couple already settled down in the Bachmeier's hut, so even though I didn't ask my mom yet if Milan is allowed to sleep over, she basically has no choice. So while Milan grabs his bedding, or at least whatever he used to sleep on, I ask my mother if he was allowed to sleep at our place. Of course she accepts, though she also winks at me, causing me to blush. She used to wink at me a lot, as she already knows I kind of like Milan, but after my sudden realisation I like him a lot today, it puts me off a little more than usual. I'm blushing more than I normally would, which I think mom also saw. Milan sets his stuff up a little away from us. Mom, Kai and I still sleep next to each other, but Milan is on the other side of out small hut, probably to get as much privacy as possible or maybe to give us some. After we went to bed, I wait a few seconds until I hear him breathing rhythmically, indicating he's asleep. Then I turn around to look at him, with both Kai's arms tightly around me. Milan smiles in his sleep. And he snores really lightly, which I think is cute. I look at him, wondering about what his life has been like before we got stranded. I'm also trying to figure out why I suddenly feel nauseous whenever I look at him. I know it's what a teenage crush feels like, I've had it several times, but I just can't figure out why it came this randomly. It must have been this conversation about simulations. Maybe I just like the fact he's smart? I don't know. I sigh and I pull Kai's arms a little upwards towards my chest, as they were a little too close to my waist. Especially now I'm watching Milan sleep, I don't want anything weird to happen down there. I sigh again as I drag my blanket over my head, trying to think about anything other than Milan. Obviously, I'm still awake an hour or so later when I hear Milan get up and walk out of the hut, probably heading towards our rock. I think about ignoring him and finally try to get some sleep, but I don't. I can't. I know I really want to talk to him again. I have this feeling of unrest settled deep down in my guts. This feeling of butterflies, the random crush I developed all of a sudden, I know I can't be around him if it stays. It would distract me, it would basically shut me down whenever he's close to me. And there is only one way to get rid of it. After a few minutes of contemplating I silently get up.
  14. Yes, I have. I will announce the page when I upload the next chapter! Thanks for asking.
  15. Hey guys,

    I'm writing another story right now, called Police Trouble (as for now). My editor indicated however that he won't have a lot of time to edit it, so that's why I'm asking whether you know of anyone (or yourself) who could maybe help me with my writings. I feel like I got better at it since I started, but still I make a lot of mistakes and I do need some help with keeping my style consistent. Please let me know!

    ps, right now I'm mainly looking for some early feedback on my first chapter, I'm going to write at least the first ten chapters before I start uploading, so there is no hurry.

    1. Emi GS

      Emi GS

      Post a topic at editor's forum and ask for help. You might get a good one there, if there are any free from the works of other authors... 

    2. Stannie


      You're right. I wanted to try here first, as people who will read this are mainly people who know my stories and thus know my style. Thanks for the reply.

    3. Emi GS

      Emi GS

      Don't worry. As far as I know, you are a good writer. Just post a topic in the forum. I sure you will find a good editor definitely... 

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