Safe No Longer
“Remember Hugo Fairweather? How he used to rant on and on about that island of his?”
“Heh, heh. Yeah. I remember him. He never came back from that expedition, did he?”
“Nope. How long has it been?”
“A long time. I lost track.”
“Maybe he never found it!”
Both of them, a Lupe and a Techo, chuckle to themselves. Silence falls as they gaze out across the ocean. Small waves lap at the beach, bringing pieces of driftwood, kelp, and—
“A book?” the Techo says suddenly. He strides purposefully to the water and picks up a small, blue book. Beneath it are a few sticks tied together with vines, as if someone wanted to make a raft.
“What’s that?” the Lupe asks.
“It’s a book!” exclaims the Techo incredulously.
“Maybe some of the pages are still legible! Let me see it...”
Hiya! Scrap here. Cappy wants me to write down everything that happens. He says it’s so he doesn’t have to keep a captain’s log. So, now I’m stuck with this book. Oh, well.
You know, I think I’m gonna be first mate someday, even if Cap says there ain’t a chance. Even if I don’t pay attention now and again, I still pick up a few things here and there. You’ll see. I’ll be first mate sooner or later.
I’m writing on the boat. The island is still in sight, and Miss Lilian keeps looking back at it. Does she want to go back and see those gigantic petpetpets again? From what I hear, she nearly got eaten! Mr. Fairweather seems to want to return too. I think they’re completely crackers.
I’ve been wondering something. If there are giant petpetpets, are there giant petpets? Cap doesn’t want to talk about it. I can understand, after he nearly got killed. Petpets would be worse.
Well, I have to stop for now. Cappy calls!
I think I should write again.
It was all nice and sunny, the water was calm, and all of a sudden, the boat got hit by something and nearly capsized! Water got all over the deck. I had to mop it up.
Mr. Fairweather wasn’t happy, because Werther fell off. Werther wasn’t too happy either. He can’t swim. Cap hauled him back up just before a giant set of teeth snapped where Werther was! Miss Lilian says they looked like the jaws of an Island Attack Fish. I heard of them. They’re supposed to be petpets!
Maybe there are giant petpets!
They are eager to read on. This “Scrap”, as he calls himself, has news of Hugo Fairweather! The pages are turned, but only a few words are legible, as the seawater has ruined it.
The few words they read are words like “gone” and “scared”. The author’s handwriting is the jagged writing of a terrified person, not the carefree, childlike handwriting that Scrap previously wrote in. There is no happiness on these pages.
With ever-widening eyes, the Lupe turns to the next page. Most of it is legible, but a few sections are blurred. They read on, nearly as terrified as the author.
With Werther gone, Mr. Fairweather has been really down... Captain makes... he helps. The fish... biting our boat and... taking on water. Captain... turned the boat around... back to the island. There, we... chance of survival. Here, if the fish... weak spot on the ship... fish food. Even Mr. Roxton is scared. He tries to... happy... from worrying... eyes show too much. I ... go home.
The rest of the page is illegible.
“If only he would give some hint of their location! Maybe this is the island Fairweather was looking for, maybe it’s somewhere else!” the Techo says in exasperation. The Lupe nods in agreement as he flips a few more pages.
His eyes dart to the corner, where someone has sketched something. It is a Marafin and next to it is a tiny stick figure, barely the size of the petpet’s pupil. A scribbled caption reads, “Saw that pop out of the water. See how small Miss Lilian is to it?”
They look at each other with open mouths.
“They’re huge!” whispers the Techo. The Lupe gulps and reads on in horrified fascination.
Land! We have landed. Our poor Primella has taken a beating against the rocks. Captain says she won’t float again. There’s nothing for it but to wait for someone to find us.
According to the stars, Captain and Mr. Fairweather both agree that we’re back on the island with the giant petpetpets. Mr. Fairweather seems slightly happy because it’s the island that no one believed about back home.
Mr. Fairweather said we should stay with a partner wherever we go so that we have help if we get caught by something. I think that it gets us both eaten if we get caught.
Miss Lilian, Mr. Roxton, and Mr. Fairweather have gone to look for food. Captain and I stay and look for shelter.
They haven’t come back. While we were waiting, a Moach came by and tore up the remains of the dear S.S. Primella. It nearly caught us, too! If we hadn’t found a cave too small for its leg, I wouldn’t be writing this right now.
Captain refuses to come out now, so I have to go out and gather what fruit I can alone. I have seen the stars here for the first time. They look so amazing. I guess it makes up for the rest of the island being horrible. The constellation Jerdana is visible until the sun rises and barely dips below the sea. I can’t see all of the ones I’m used to, though. It makes me feel so homesick.
“He’s told us!” they both exclaimed.
“The constellation Jerdana is visible for longer the further north one goes,” the Lupe mused.
“And Fairweather has left the coordinates for the island in his office! We need to find them!” the Techo cried, though he gave no sign of standing up. Instead, he reached over the Lupe’s shoulder and turned to the next legible entry.
They came back! Just like last time, they brought a couple hundred petpetpets and a petpet. The petpet is what Miss Lilian calls a “Lyins” and it is a whole lot bigger than the petpets out at sea. To give you a picture, the Lyins couldn’t make a meal out of that Marafin we saw at sea. I don’t see how they could have missed it when they first went exploring.
We can hear the screeches of the petpetpets outside and the crunch as the Lyins crushes them to pieces. The mixture of the noises and being chased has driven Mr. Fairweather mad. He huddles somewhere by Captain and mumbles things that none of us understand.
Miss Lilian is trying to get Captain to eat some fruit that she collected, but he won’t have a bite. He’s convinced it’s poison or something. I wish he would act normal again. He’s the only one who doesn’t treat me like a little kid. When he’s sane, at least.
The Lyins is gone. Mr. Roxton and Miss Lilian talk constantly. Mr. Fairweather and Captain are still the same. I’ve tried mashing the fruit, peeling it, mixing it with water or other fruits, but Captain won’t have it. He looks at me like he looked at Mr. Fairweather before they went to go exploring. I miss the real Captain.
The only sane people left are Miss Lilian, Mr. Roxton, and me. I can only hope that someone will come and find us before we go insane too.
Mr. Roxton says I should throw this journal into the sea. He says it might be our chance off of the island. He says if someone finds it, they may come and find us. I said no, I can’t do it, but Miss Lilian agreed with him and she seemed close to crying. I finally said yes.
I think I’m going to cry, too. I’ve had this journal so long, and it’s the only place I can say my feelings without getting the little kid treatment. If Captain were better, I’d be fine, but he isn’t. For all I know, once I let this journal go, I’ll go insane, too.
I made a little boat for it out of some sticks and thin vines I found. It probably won’t help a lot, but it might save a few pages.
If anyone finds this, please come for us. One by one, we are becoming like the person Miss Lilian and Mr. Fairweather used to talk about. Like Mad-Tongue Murphy.
Come before we all go mad. Please.
The Techo stood up.
“We won't!” he announced. “Come on. Let’s go get those coordinates and find them! We’ll get there and bring them back!”
The Lupe closed the book and set it down on the bench. He stood up and began to button his coat. Something stopped him. He bent over and picked up the journal. His finger ran down the worn spine. A few rough spots caught his attention. Looking closely, the Lupe could see the word “Scrap” cut deeply into the binding.
He tucked the book into his pocket.
“We’re coming, Scrap,” he promised.