The most fantastic thing in the universe! Circulation: 99,279,380 Issue: 195 | 17th day of Relaxing, Y7
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With Flowers in Her Hair


by extreme_fj0rd

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I wander restlessly now, in search of beautiful Sylvia. I am not even certain I would recognize her should I glimpse her through the trees. All I can remember is her voice, like a clear stream trickling over boulders, and her beauty. She wore flowers in her hair always, fresh flowers, plucked from their stems to grace her golden locks, and often I knew where she was simply from the scent that drifted from the blooms.

      Now I cannot smell, I cannot see. All is mist. All is hidden from me now. All is gone; all is lost. The Captain is long forgotten, as is my beloved Sylvia. As am I.

     ***

     "Bosun! Reef the sail!" the first mate cried, and his words were caught by the winds and thrown overboard into the storm that rippled the sails of the ship violently. Rain fell in sheets across the deck, sluicing off in the next moment, and waves reared high above the little ship.

      "Aye, aye, sir!" The small figure of a Quiggle, halfway up the mast, gave a sharp salute in case his call went unheard and turned back to his work.

      A golden Lupess stepped out of the hatchway and trod across the deck, wet with sea-water, to the first mate. The Lupe turned at her touch on his shoulder.

      "Sylvia," he said, his features melting into relief. Then a scream sounded, high and long, and the first mate stiffened. "You should not be up here. Stay below."

      "Relion!" she cried, but the Lupe stepped away from her.

      "You cannot help us now." He shook her paw off his shoulder brusquely and strode away, shouting commands to the sailors.

      Sylvia looked on helplessly, and finally she turned back to the hatchway. With a few swift strides she attained it and descended the ladder, pretending the water trickling down her face was rain from the storm.

      After a few minutes passed, Relion turned to where the Lupess had been standing. With relief he saw that she'd gone below as instructed, but guilt gripped him as well. He had been rough to her, as he had promised he would not be. He had not acted with devotion.

      He bowed his head for a moment in remorse, but yet another wave crashed over the deck, sending water swirling around his boots and bringing him back to reality. The storm would not watch itself, and the captain was busy planning routes.

           The sky brightened slowly to pink as the sun lifted above the horizon, sending the light sparkling across the now-calm ocean. Mystery Island, just a few miles away, awoke as well, the jungles resounding with Weewoo and Beekadoodle song.

      Relion woke at the first touch of sunbeams to his face. He sat up slowly, wondering why no one had bothered to wake him before this. He'd been assigned second watch last night--

      Second watch. The storm.

      That thought brought him bolt upright, acutely aware of the fact that he was not in his comfortable berth but rather--

      Sitting on a plank of wood in the middle of an ocean. Other pieces of wood and rope drifted sluggishly around him, pushed by the little wavelets that splashed against his bed.

      Relion pushed his hair out of his face, trying to remember. He'd turned his back to the mast to see if the waves were dangerous, and the boom swung around, knocking him on the back of the head. It was a miracle he hadn't fallen over the side of the ship.

      But where was everyone else? Where was Sylvia?

      The Lupe jolted at that fact and paddled with his paws, turning the board around and around in little circles. "Sylvia!" he called. "Lionel, Alexander, Carmean!" And, after a moment, "Sylvia!" again.

      He continued calling until his voice was raspy and dry from lack of water. The sun beat against the unprotected back of his neck, heating him uncomfortably.

      Relion slumped; out of the corner of his eye, he saw Mystery Island. The ship's destination. Surely if there were any other survivors, they'd have swum or paddled to its shores to escape the ocean. He caught his second wind and began to paddle his board toward the island, calling out occasionally for Sylvia.

     He attained the beaches as the sun began to sink towards the west, and dragged himself up onto the sand with a cry of relief. The jungles looked formidable in the afternoon sunlight, and would probably be even worse in the darkness of the night.

      Well, that could wait until tomorrow. With any luck, the survivors would've stayed on the shores to look for others. The Lupe abandoned his trusty board on the sand and began to walk slowly across the beach, leaving a trail of pawprints behind him. His clothes, fur, and hair dripped seawater, but he didn't stop to wring it out; droplets splattered the dry sand as he walked.

      Midafternoon found Relion still alone on the beaches of Mystery Island, sitting glumly by the shore. He didn't dare approach the jungle alone and his thirst had only grown in the hours he'd spent in fruitless search for survivors.

      A motion in the sea caught his eye, but he dismissed it as a Maraquan frolicking about. The movement came closer, though, and then it was someone paddling weakly towards the shore.

      Relion sprang up as the someone wearily crawled onto the beach and fell full-length upon the sand. It was his Sylvia, pale and coughing, but alive. He ran to her as she rose, and embraced her.

      She hugged back, managing a smile. Her flowers had fallen from her hair, and the scent was lost in the seawater, but she was there. Her clothes were as wet as Relion's had been, and now he dared to venture into the jungle to collect fallen branches to construct a fire of. Sylvia followed him, and plucked island blossoms, twining them into her hair with deep concentration.

      Relion watched her fondly, a soft smile on his face.

      As afternoon progressed on into evening, more survivors of the wreck reached the island, and by that point there were flames crackling between the stones Relion had piled together to make a fire ring. Grief ruled that evening, and occasionally the conversation drifted off into silence as the sailors remembered their ship and their compatriots aboard it.

      But eventually there was nothing to do but go to sleep, and hope that the morning sun would clear their thoughts.

     That very night, the natives struck, carrying away those closest to the forest. Sylvia and six others were taken, reducing the group to only seven when Relion awoke, yawning and rubbing his eyes. He sat bolt upright, his eyes wide with fear, as he saw the empty sand where Sylvia had been sleeping.

      "She's... she's gone," he whispered. His gaze turned to the formidable forest, but in the morning it wasn't quite so frightening.

      "Sir?" asked one of the survivors. "Sir, there's fruit--Lionel gathered it--"

      "No!" Relion barked, pushing the berries away. They fell onto the sand with a splat, bursting open and spraying juice across the group.

      "Sir!"

      Relion ran from them, across the burning hot sand and into the coolness of the jungle. He screamed his rage and his frustration, and they echoed among the trees, sending flocks of Weewoos scattering.

      "Sylvia!" he cried, and ran further, just running, with no direction or purpose. "Sylvia!"

      There was no reply, save the annoyed cries of the birds.

      "SYLVIA!" he shouted, and fell to his knees, sobbing. Eventually he got up and kept running, branches swiping him across the face and leaves scraping his knees. He ran, and ran, until he could run no more; and then he fell to the ground, sobbing for his Sylvia, grieving for her and the flowers she wore.

      The natives found him there; oblivious of their presence, Relion continued to wail his grief. Their swords were sharp. He fell into darkness.

     ***

     It has been an age and more since I became this shade, but still I remember my grief as keenly as if it were yesterday. I wander now, searching for my Sylvia. Any who cross my path are told of this, in a long, low howl; I have lost the power of speech with this transformation. If they understand, they tell me it has been long years, and she is most likely not here any more.

      I understand that. I know. But I must continue, for perhaps around the next bend in the path is my Sylvia, searching for me as I seek her, and in her hair will be flowers; beautiful flowers, with a scent sweeter than any other.

The End

 
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