Sunday, January 03, 2016

Chapter 3 - More Than Survival

Not very long after Lydia died so did Lucifer.  Which was completely bogus - that meant that since Adrian doesn't like my cat, I'm the only one left for him to talk to - and we never really got along very well.  But we were on an island in the middle of nowhere, so like, what choice did we have?

At least Lydia had stuck around long enough to teach me the ropes.  I can grow food, fish - really the only reason I've got to stick with Adrian is because Puddy isn't exactly human company.  So I was all psyching myself up to put up with him bossing me around like he owned the place now that Lydia was gone.

But he didn't.  Instead the next morning he got up early and was working in the garden without waking me up or anything.

And when I did wake up he told me to sit down and eat some breakfast, and let him do the work.  See, he'd remembered it was my birthday and he wanted me to be able to relax.  Though just when I started to, I noticed the universe had handed me a better present.

This dude's name is Clyde.  And he is the man.  I mean, the dude was my bro the moment he showed up.  And he said that he'd just left his apartment to go for a walk, you know, to clear his head.  But he wasn't really paying attention to where he was going and suddenly found himself here.  Adrian insisted that he had to be on a boat or something but then Clyde insisted that you couldn't pay him enough to cross over an ocean by any means.  And I was just like:  I told you I just walked here!
(Clyde Strong: Couch Potato, Green Thumb, Hydrophobic, Party Animal, Rebellious)

Of course I wasn't gonna let Adrian inflict himself upon him, so I decided to teach him how to live here myself.  But the dude was a natural, so it was easy.  In fact, it didn't take him very long to learn everything I knew and then he just kept going - suddenly he was teaching me.  But I was cool with that - like I said, he's my bro.

Of course, the best part of my birthday was the simple fact that I got older.  Which means that I'm an adult now.  Which means that Adrian can't just boss me around.
(Gained the trait: Grumpy)

In fact later that evening Clyde and I got to talking about how we're all grown men here - if the two of us disagree with him - well, then it's two against one, isn't it?  That's pretty sweet!

Though there was really only one thing we wanted from him, and surprisingly Adrian agreed to it immediately.  See, Clyde's got this thing about water - he doesn't like it.  At least not pools of water, and so the bathtub for him is kinda - well, he doesn't like it.  He's strictly a shower dude.  Of course, none of us know very much about plumbing, but we put our heads together and came up with something for him.

See, there's this waterfall on the island, right?  So we figured out how to build a little hut next to the cliff and take advantage of the falling water to turn it into a shower.  It's kind of high up and it's kind of far from camp, but Clyde's not afraid of heights so it works out great.  And way more private than Lydia's bathtub.

We got it done just in time for autumn and the first frost to hit, which is good because I don't like working, and especially not in the cold.  Of course that really slowed things down in the garden, which is good because it's a lot of backbreaking work.

Fishing is a completely different story - it's a good time.  Since there wasn't much to do in the garden, I taught Clyde how to fish.  He wasn't as quick to learn it as he was to learn gardening, but he soon got the basics and was catching alley catfish.

Adrian even joined us later.  Well, sort of.  He was within shouting distance.

I guess he was kind of the odd man out after Clyde showed up.  The dude's quite a bit older than the two of us - in fact, he had a birthday that autumn and reached middle age.

And he started this weird hobby of collecting meteorites.  I don't know how he finds them all, but he goes all the way around the island everyday looking for things - Lydia taught him all the best places to look.  Whatever makes the man happy, I guess.

Winter came, though there wasn't any snow right off.  Didn't really matter much either way, though - the garden is huge and we've got plenty of food.  In fact, I think we could feed twice the people we had.

Which is good, because when the snow came so did Rachel.
(Rachel Payton: Disciplined, Dislikes Children, Good, Insane, Workaholic)

Rachel is a bit...  Well, she's a very nice old lady, but she's... kind of crazy, actually.

None of us were at camp when she showed up, but Clyde saw her first - because she found a rod and started fishing next to him.  We of course asked her how she got here, but no matter how many times we asked her she never gave us a coherent story.

Of course, the little tent that had belonged to Lydia wasn't enough for three people, let alone four, so Adrian insisted that we needed to make something bigger.  So we greatly expanded the outhouse - which was a real pain to do in winter - but when we were done we had a shelter big enough for everyone to sleep in.

The new bunk room is small, but it works okay.  The old people (Adrian and Rachel) get the bottom bunks so that they don't have to mess with the ladders, while Clyde and I are on top.

Speaking of the old people, Adrian started spending every spare moment with Rachel.  Which was great, because he stopped being an awkward third wheel every time I did something with Clyde and shielded both of us from Rachel's crazy.

Not that her crazy is always a bad thing.  I mean, going out in the snow in a swimsuit is crazy.  But she set up this post thing - some kind of a martial arts thing - and started fighting it.  Which I thought was completely nuts at first.

But then I saw Clyde using it and he told me that it's actually really fun, and builds up your strength too.  So I tried it, and also Adrian so everyone in the camp was doing it.  We all got in really good shape!

The days of winter passed, and before I knew it Clyde had reached middle age.  I was tempted to hassle him about it, but he actually took his birthday kind of hard - started talking about all the things he'd wanted to do with his life instead of being stuck on an island.  So I stopped myself, which was probably a good thing because I'm only a little younger than him so it would be my turn soon.  He may wish things had turned out different, but I'm glad that if I had to be stuck on this island that I've got him with me.

And I'm glad that Adrian has Rachel to spend all his time with.

In fact, I don't think this place is half bad.  I mean, the sunrises are amazing.

So I wasn't bothered at all when my birthday came.  This isn't the life I expected to have and not what I would have chose, but it's not a bad life.

Still, there's the downside of time passing - Puddy managed to hunt her way through the entire winter only to pass on right when spring came.  That's the sad reality of pets, man - you'll probably outlive them.  But she was a good cat, so even though it really bummed everyone out for awhile to see her go, it was worth it after how happy she made me, you know?

Besides, I had plenty of other things to distract me - like being weirded out by Rachel.  I mean, am I seeing what I think I'm seeing.  I couldn't be sure, because when I did a double take she wasn't there the second time I looked.

Don't get me wrong though - Rachel is a very sweet lady.  In fact, nobody even had to ask her to help out in the garden when it started to warm up - she just did it.  Even though there was still snow on the ground so it was a bit early for that...

I guess that looking back I shouldn't have been surprised by what happened on Adrian's birthday.  I'd already gone to bed, but the dude has no boundaries about conversation topics, so he told me all about it the next day.

See, I noticed that he'd been spending a lot of time with Rachel, but what I didn't know is that she reminds the dude a lot of Lydia.  But he likes her even more than Lydia.  In fact, he loves her.  Even though he's willing to admit that she's crazy he loves her.

Of course I had to give him a hard time about kissing old ladies, but he insisted that this time was different - he's an old man.  He's still quite a bit younger than she is, but he said it doesn't matter to him if she passes on long before he does - he wants to be happy with her for as long as it lasts.

Oh, I forgot to mention - Adrian's birthday was on Love Day, so it was all disgustingly romantic.  He and Rachel decided that they were officially boyfriend and girlfriend.  Which is kind of weird to me - it's not like he's got competition and needs to stake a claim.

Still, it all got me to thinking.  I've got all of fifteen days before I need to worry about actually being old myself, but even though it doesn't bother me to think about spending the rest of my life on this island, what do I want to do before I go?  I'm not really sure, actually.

One thing is for sure - getting a girlfriend doesn't seem to be an option for me.  I mean, people showing up suddenly seems to be a thing that just happens on this island, but whatever causes it isn't bringing me a girlfriend.  Instead, it brought us Kyle.
(Kyle Grubbs:  Angler, Diva, Hopeless Romantic, Savvy Sculptor, Technophobe)

We gave him the traditional welcome - we put him right to work in the garden.  He didn't protest, but he also didn't seem to be happy about it.  But that's just tough - nobody likes working in the garden, but we all do it.  Well, except for Clyde - he loves working in the garden.

But he cheered up a lot because Rachel, of all people, took him under her wing.  After a hard day in the garden where he didn't seem to learn a thing, she offered to let him share her bed.  The look on his face before she clarified that she meant he could sleep in her bed because she's usually up all night anyway (the woman is nocturnal, I swear) was absolutely priceless.

And since the weather hadn't warmed up very much yet so the garden was slow, she took him out to teach him to fish the next day, taking him clear across the island to a spot near Lydia's grave.  He was catching little anchovies in no time.

After that he sat down with Adrian.  Now, Adrian isn't exactly in charge - we don't really need anyone to be because we all don't need anyone to supervise us to keep us all pulling our own weight or anything like that.  But he's still kind of the first one to go to about bigger decisions because he's been here the longest and, even though I still don't get along with him very well, I do respect his opinion and so does everyone else.

Anyway, it seems that Kyle sees himself as an artist - a sculptor, to be specific - and after pointing out that we don't really have any shortage of food, he asked if it would be okay for him to spend some of his time sculpting some things to improve the campsite.  After a long talk, he was partly successful - I think his comment that he might be able to add further improvements to Lydia's gravesite is what really won him over.  Adrian agreed that he could sculpt, but that he had to help out in the garden first, and that he should prove his skills with clay first before he could use any of our better wood.  He also stressed to Kyle that practicality is important - he has already uncovered hundreds of priceless artifacts from this islands previous visitors and inhabitants during his search for things that might help us, but all of them are useless to us.  What use do we have for gold coins on this island?  So Kyle could outdo Michelangelo and it would still be a waste if none of his work is more than decorative.

After all of that was agreed to, the good news was that Kyle was then much happier to work in the garden - in fact, he'd try to speed through the work so that he could have as much of the evening as possible to work on his own project.

Though his first effort was...  Let's just say I was not a fan.  Kyle is not the only one here with an eye for art, and I'm telling you that this first attempt was bogus.  And totally not practical - though Kyle said it could go decorate Lydia's gravesite.  I quickly vetoed that idea, though - Lydia deserves better than this.

But I didn't want to, you know, discourage him too much if he really wants to try, so I sat down with him and got to know him.  Apparently he was on a red-eye flight from the US to Australia, fell asleep, and then woke up here.  I told him these things happen.  I also told him a lot about Lydia so he'd know why I'm so picky about her grave.

I think that it might have intimidated him though.  Because his next creation was a trash can.  Eh, he'll get better.

In fact, the only real problem around here is all the old people PDA.  That's gross, dude.


The right way to bathe a cat is to hold it high above you head, like Rafiki presenting Simba.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Chapter 2 - Survival

This island is a terrible place and I hate it here.  The moment I showed up some old bat started working me like a slave driver, but it's a small island and she has the only food, so what choice do I have?  Gardening is hard, back-breaking work and since it's raining half the time here it's a lot of work.

And fishing is just frustrating - it took forever for me to get the hang of the rod, and even when I did the fish didn't bite.

Not for me, anyway - Mrs. Schmidt was all too happy to repeatedly prove that there are a lot of fish in the ocean.  And they hate me.

The old lady seemed to be determined to teach me, though.  Probably because winter really started to settle in just a few days after I got there and she sure didn't seem to want to feed both of us.

Or at least that's what I thought until I noticed that her crow was gone.  When I asked her about it, she said he must have flown off after she went too long without feeding him, because she'd been too busy teaching me things and that it was okay because it was just a crow I was more important.  Which is weird because I know she really, really liked that crow.  So that must mean that she... cares about me if I'm more important?  Weird...

I guess it was that and how she'd get up early to go fish in the middle of a snowstorm before I even finished cooking my breakfast that made me want to try harder and learn all the stuff she was teaching me.  She said she wasn't sure how long she had left and wanted to make sure I'd be okay by myself.

I guess I don't like the idea of her dying and leaving me alone - I'd rather get out of here if I'm honest.  But I guess it kind of sunk in the day I decided to climb to the tallest point in the island that there really is nothing out there.  Nothing but ocean as far as you can see in all directions.  And no boats without gaping holes in them.

But though I was kind of getting sick of eating fish since that's most of what we had, life on the island wasn't so bad, and Lydia seemed to still be going strong even though she was getting really, really old.  She was 99 the day I mentioned that the next day would be Snowflake Day, and the day after would be my birthday, and I asked her if she thought she could stick around for that.  She just said, "Hmm, maybe..."

The next morning she surprised me with a present for Snowflake Day - this owl-looking bird that she found that's tame enough to stick around on its own and smart enough to talk.  I, of course, immediately named him Lucifer and taught it all the curse words I know.  Though I felt kind of sorry because my present for her was this branch that was the perfect shape for a cane - you know, to make fun of how freaking old she is - but surprisingly she actually liked it and started using it right away, so it was accidentally a good present.

The next day, like I said, was my birthday so I was officially an adult.  Lydia had a present for me that day too - some of the clothes she found on that old ship actually fit me now.  She teased me for getting rid of my hat but, like she said, there doesn't seem to be very many bugs on this island.  Then I noticed that she was staring at me a lot, but when I asked she said that I 'grew into a fine young man', though I'm not sure I know what she meant by that.  Though I pointed out that it wouldn't be long before spring arrived and asked if she thought that she'd live to see it.  And she said, "Hmm, it would be nice to be warm again."
(Gained the trait: Daredevil)

A couple days later I caught her teaching Lucifer how to say all these nice and polite things which COMPLETELY DESTROYS THE POINT OF THE BIRD, but I got over it.  I mean, she's the one who gave me Lucifer in the first place, so if she wants him saying those things, then whatever.

But like I said earlier, spring wasn't long after that, and before I knew it I was weeding the garden in the rain again... *sigh*  But the warmth was nice, and so was food that was both fresh and not a fish.

But as we were getting the garden ready for spring, this guy holding a cat suddenly showed up.  Yep, a cat.

He said his name was Collin.  And of course we asked him how he got here, but then he told us this story about how his cat named Puddy (he said that he named her when he was a just a kid) likes to wander off.  And he was following it and trying to catch it, but when he finally did he realized he was lost, so he was wandering around until he came across our campsite.  What was so unbelievable about that was that he insisted that he walked here - there was no boat or plane or anything involved.  When we told him we're on an island, and a small one at that, he said that he couldn't explain how it had worked out, but insisted that he wasn't lying.
(Collin: Animal Lover, Avante Garde, Rebellious, Star Quality)
(Puddy: Hunter, Independent, Playful)

Without missing a beat, Lydia said that she'd go teach him to fish since we were nearly done with the garden and I could finish up.  The unhappy look that he gave her when she dragged him off was priceless!  Guess she gets a new student to teach survival to now that I basically know everything that she does now.  He left the cat at the campsite, saying that she basically knew how to hunt and look after herself so we didn't need to worry about her even if she decided to wander.

Lydia took a shine to the cat, even though she insists that she's more of a Dog Person.  I, on the other hand, told it that I'd leave it alone if it leaves me alone.  It seems to have agreed to that, so we get along.

I have been enjoying being an adult, I have to say.  Lydia has gotten off my back a lot more, main exception being that she doesn't think that it's a good idea for me to mess around with the fire, and especially with Collin around to boss around it's gotten to be an acceptable way to live with acceptable people.  Even if Lydia keeps staring at me like that sometimes.

Collin has proven to be a hard, if reluctant, worker.  He's commented before that he wasn't back at home - more the school-skipping type - but that he finds it hard to not listen to Lydia.  When he starts talking about 'sticking it to the man', she agrees with him, so he likes her too much to not listen.  He quickly became really helpful in the garden especially.

He doesn't get along with me as well as Lydia, but still not badly so our little campsite is very peaceful.  And Lydia has commented more than once that she's glad to know that she won't be leaving anyone alone.  I've definitely noticed that she's starting to slow down more and more - ever since I gave her that cane, more or less.

Though in the end things went a bit... well, I don't really know how to explain it to be honest.  Early one evening Lydia and I were talking - she was reminiscing about her life, probably because it was Love Day, so she was missing Mr. Schmidt.  Who was almost certainly dead - even if he survived the shipwreck, the odds that he'd lived as long as Lydia are practically nothing.  Anyway, she got talking about how she didn't expect to die on this remote island in the middle of nowhere, and how happy she was that I'd showed up and made it a less lonely place.  And mentioned how proud she was to see me turn from a teenage boy to such a handsome young man.  I told her she wasn't half bad herself.  And then...

I don't know what came over me, but I suddenly realized I was kissing her.  Which caught her by surprise, but then she was kissing me back...  And then she said something about being tired and needing to go to bed early, and she was gone before I really could figure out what to make of what just happened.  I needed to talk to someone.

Of course, I didn't want to talk to her about it, so there was only one other choice.  Collin was not very enthusiastic about my choice of conversation topics, however.  But he basically said that, as disgusting as the very idea was to him, he didn't think that it was totally insane for someone to want to kiss a lonely old woman on Love Day, especially since she's the only 'chick' on the island.  But he also made it perfectly clear that he didn't want to know anything about it, though he seemed to be reassured when I stated that it was just a kiss and would only be a kiss.  She's really, really old, after all...  109 days old!

And even if I hadn't felt that way, fate would have gotten in the way anyway.  Because like I said, she went to bed early, but she didn't sleep for very long before she woke up and said she was feeling kind of funny.

Which is an odd thing to say - I didn't think that there was anything funny at all about seeing her turn into a ghost.

She took her death well, though, even taking the chance to shake the Grim Reaper's hand.  Collin opted to give him the stink eye, though.

He and I stayed up late finishing off a project we'd been quietly working on.  Because we didn't want to make a big fuss of it in front of Lydia, but we knew that she'd go soon and wanted to give her a place where her spirit would be at peace, so we found a peaceful spot on the shoreline near the base of some cliffs for a grave site.  We also decided that we'd call our island Schmidt Island in her honor, since she was the first one here and taught us how to live on it.

To add to the bizarreness of that day, later that night I couldn't sleep and I found this alien woman named Ghoel looking around the campsite.

And I... wasn't handling Lydia's death very well at that moment, but even though we'd just met she was very understanding.  She said that she was just passing through the galaxy though and there was a good chance that I'd not see her again - she came to the island since it looked like a peaceful place to explore and she was curious what it looked like from the ground.

Word must have got around, though, because the next evening while I was visiting the place we'd built for Lydia, another alien woman was there - her name was Lillibao.  And... I broke down again.  She was also very nice, and unlike Ghoel she made it sound like she might come by again.  I wasn't in much of a state to find out more about her before she left, though.

I'm just glad that Collin wasn't around to see any of that.  The kid seems to have taken Lydia's death pretty hard too, which is nice - you know what they say about misery loving company.  Especially since life moves on, someone needs to take care of the garden, and there's no way I'm going to pull all these weeds by myself, Collin, so get your butt to work!