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!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Chapter 1 - Welcome to the Island

My name is Lydia.  And you might say that my life took a sudden, abrupt turn.  You see, I was on a cruise ship with Mr. Schmidt, enjoying myself, when all of the sudden I got woken up in the middle of the night and found myself getting rushed into a lifeboat.  But it was dark - the ship's power had gone out - and everything was confusion and yelling and it was hard to tell what exactly was going on.  When the sun finally came up and I could see, I found myself in the middle of the ocean and couldn't see anyone else.  Or anything else, for that matter, except some debris from the ship and a piece of land off on the horizon.  Fortunately, the current soon took me to the island, but the boat must have hit a reef or something because something scraped the bottom and I barely made it to land since it started to sink.  Fortunately, I got myself and the emergency supplies out before it did, but it's no longer seaworthy.
(Lydia Schmidt:  Dog Person, Frugal, Loves the Heat, Rebellious, Workaholic)

Fortunately, the supplies included some basic survival gear, including some things like this tent that are helpful on land.  And there was a freshwater river near where I landed, so there was water, but precious little food.  I don't have any idea where I've landed or how close people might be, so I figured it would be prudent to make sure I have the bare essentials covered before I go looking for signs of civilization.

Fortunately, some fishing gear was on the boat and I've used it before.  Unfortunately, it seems like I only caught frogs at first.

Frogs and a toad...  Now, I know that they're edible, but I'd rather not, thank you kindly.  Fortunately, while I was going along the beach trying to find actual fish, I noticed signs that other had been here.  Unfortunately, that old dock certainly hasn't seen any upkeep recently, so I doubt anyone's just around the corner.  If I can get a fish to eat, though, I'll go exploring tomorrow - I should be just fine for tonight if I do.

Ah, this rainbow trout is certainly more like it!  It should roast up just fine.

Everywhere I've looked the ground is pretty steep, except near where I landed, so I went back there to cook my fish and set up my tent for the night.  Though when I got there I found some half-wild horse.  I say half wild since they seemed to actually like being nearish, though when I tried getting closer they quickly ran off.

The fire kit that was on the boat works wonderfully, though I'm not exactly used to roasting fish - I ended up burning it.  But it was still enough to fill me up even if it wasn't very tasty.

The tent worked nicely too, and I slept surprisingly well all things considered - the busy day must have exhausted me.

The next morning I found some wild onions on the ground - from the signs of it, one of the horses dug it up but didn't eat it.  Well, if they don't want it, then I do.

Next I started working my way down the beach, looking for anything interesting or useful along the way.  Well, a daisy may not be the most interesting or useful thing, but it's pretty and brought a smile to my face.

In fact it wasn't until I rounded the corner past the broken dock that I found something really interesting.  This ship has clearly been here for quite some time.  In fact, if anything I take this as a bad sign - someone had hauled a lot of crates and things from the shipwreck, but all of it was clearly very old and untouched for years.  Surely if there were others nearby, they'd have hauled most of this off?  It worried me, but I decided to move on and keep looking.

Just past the crates I found a surprise - a crow was there that didn't seem to be afraid of me.  In fact it seems to be rather tame, so I decided to bring it along since it seemed to want to stay with me.

After the next bend I came upon some ruins that look even more ancient than the shipwreck, oh and this mushroom might be edible...

And what was around the next bend made my heart sink - it's the river where I'd been getting my fresh water from.  But that means that this is definitely an island, and not a very big one at that.  I'd thought so, but you always hope...  I didn't see any other land in the distance either, except a few even smaller ones, so perhaps I'm stuck here if nobody finds me.  The current here isn't too bad, so I swam across the river to get back to my campsite.

And the first thing I did when I got there was give the crow I found a place to be.  I don't know if he'll stay, but perhaps he will since he seems to like me.  And it just doesn't seem right to cage him if he's used to being free.

And then I went to work giving my campsite a few... extra amenities that I'll want if I'm going to stay here for awhile.  The island has plenty of trees, there's the old wood from the shipwreck, and even some useful things from the cruise ship washed ashore - I was surprised by how easy it was to do in the end.  Of course, it was always my habit to fix things and make do back at home, so all of that came in handy while I was figuring out how to piece it all together.  Just because I'm stuck on this island doesn't mean I can't have basic plumbing.

I managed to catch a few catfish too - looks like I don't have to worry about keeping myself alive, at least.

And since the crow seems content to stay, I decided he needs a name.  I had a dog named Blackie once, and it seems to suit him too.  And he's a clever bird - I daresay he might be plenty to keep the loneliness away.

Still, I can't say my mood was at it's best when I retired for the night, and the rain didn't help any.  But after distracting myself by thinking up ways of making the place even more livable, I was able to sleep quite well - I'd tired myself out again.

I found myself settling into a routine - in the morning I'd spend some time looking among the old ruins and the crates by the shipwreck for useful things, in the afternoon I worked on a project, and in the evenings I'd fish.  And the next big project was to fence in my campsite - the horses are still around, a raccoon has turned up, and I think I even saw some deer hanging around.  And since I found a few seeds I want to try planting, I need to keep the plants away from the animals - I can't live only on fish, you know.

Though once I got more in the hang of it, I started getting rather good at it - I stopped catching frogs so much and now I'm able to get mostly catfish.

I'm not sure what to make of some of the things that I find by the wrecked ship, though.  Bowls, vases - some of this stuff probably belongs in a museum.  Jewels, coins - was this some kind of treasure ship?  Since I'm stuck here, none of those things are actually that helpful, though I found a seed or two along the way so I keep looking.  And some of the things I might be able to make something out of.

Because though I'm quite proud of my handiwork back at the campsite, I'm no expert and it seems like I'm always having to fix something.  Sanitation is important, though, so I keep trying.

The garden I started is going well, though.  I found a lot more seeds than this, but I thought it best to start with a few since I've never seriously grown a garden before and I don't want to risk too many seeds when I barely know what I'm doing.

Though I was in for a rude awakening when the day came that I woke up to the first frost.  This island had been so warm and welcoming when I arrived, but time has brought autumn to my door.  Suddenly I found myself worrying about getting enough to eat plantstuff to eat before the real snow comes.  Though I know that this first frost isn't likely to linger, so I'm not too worried just yet.

Though as I kept myself close to the fire that day, I found myself thinking over a lot of things - perhaps I should get these other seeds out of my pocket and into the ground.  They'll survive the winter alright.  Though my aching bones seem to be telling me that I might not.  It's easier for me to forget my age when it isn't cold, but I'm feeling it right now.

Fortunately, I was right about it warming up again and I was able to distract myself from such things by expanding my garden quite a bit.  Turns out I'd found more seeds while I was exploring than I remembered.  It's a lot of extra work, but I hope to get some actual produce out of it before winter sets in.  Though my age and what it means is still in the back of my mind.  I don't like the idea that sometime I just won't be around, and all that I've done will go to ruin like the shipwreck on the other side of the island.  And though I'm sure Blackie will manage without me, I don't like the idea of him being alone.

But then fate threw me another curveball, when a teenage boy showed up at my campsite.  Oddly dressed, perhaps, but real company at last!  He said that his name was Adrian and that he'd just washed ashore, but he seemed reluctant to say more than that.
(Adrian Babb: Evil, Great Kisser, Loves the Heat, No Sense of Humor)

He arrived while I was working on my garden so as soon as I confirmed that he was just as stranded as I am, I put him to work.  He said that he'd never worked in a garden before, but if my experience is any indication then he'll be here awhile and he'll need to know.  Besides, this is my place and if he wants to stay with me he has to earn his keep.  I told him we could talk more when the work was done.

And he wasn't around for more than two seconds before I realized that I had some other work of my own to do.  You see, while I was here by myself, it didn't matter much to me what I smell like.  But with someone else around - and him being a teenage boy who is bound to make an even fouler odor than me - my little sink is simply not enough.  So I got to work while I kept an eye on him as he worked in the garden.  Fortunately, he seems to be a very fast learner.

And I rewarded him for it by letting him be the first to try the new tub.  It was raining by them, but I don't think more water hurt things - he did manage to work up a sweat in the garden.

After I took my turn with the tub, we settled down to a nice dinner of roasted roots from the garden.  Not the most tasty things, but it seemed right to give him some of the fruit of his labor.  Tomorrow I'll teach him how to fish, then after that I'll show him around the island.  I managed to get him to confess that he was thrown off a ship, though he wouldn't say why.  And of course I asked him about the beekeeper hat, though he said that he wore it to 'keep the bugs away'.  I reassured him that I don't recall seeing many bugs on the island, but that didn't get him to take it off.  Ah, well - he seems like a nice enough young man and beggars can't be choosers if you want company here.