Isle Of Dreams. Short Story.

It didn’t make sense. This place didn’t exist. It simply didn’t. He had checked, there was nothing here, not on any maps he had seen, not even on Google Maps, this place simply shouldn’t be here. He had come out here to get away from things, just for fun. He had chosen what seemed to be a difficult place to get to, after all, where else would he get peace and quiet.  The islands existence made him nervous. There were no signs, no warnings nothing. Yet, obviously someone didn’t want anyone going to this place. According to the maps he had, there was only empty space here and that made him worry. What if there was something dangerous here, something that needed to be kept from the general public.

The boat was rocking gently back and forth while he stood on the deck, studying the island. Despite his fears, his curiosity was piqued. Maybe it was a sanctuary for wildlife, like that tree, the one only a few people knew about, they had to keep the location a secret. Maybe there was something rare, like a flower or an animal. He was tempted to try and go to shore, but what if it was something dangerous, like a Komodo dragon sanctuary.  The more he thought about it the more he reasoned it wouldn’t be something dangerous, after all, if it was, there would be warnings, something telling people not to come closer. He used the pair of binoculars and scanned the shore, there didn’t seem to be anything unusual about the island, other than its existence. There seemed to be a few spots where metal glinted in the sunlight, though he wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Maybe scrap or some kind of scientific device that measured something. Everything appeared to be safe, at least as far as he could tell from the boat.

He stood on the small rocky beach. It had been a short swim to the island, obviously whatever was out here was interesting enough to keep it away from everyone. It wouldn’t be dangerous, he was sure of it, and it couldn’t be anything like the military, they’d have had warning signs up all over the place. Besides that people knew where he was, he’d be safe. It was warm and he expected his swim trunks and t-shirt to dry quickly. He had a pair of old runners lying on the boat luckily, he didn’t want to walk around the area barefoot. The island was heavily wooded, if there were any buildings he couldn’t see them from the boat. He had intended to swim towards one of the shiny things, but he hadn’t quite been able to get to it. He wasn’t sure where it was in relation to the boat, he expected it would give him some idea of what they were recording. The more he thought about it the more he convinced himself it had to be some kind of wildlife sanctuary. That was the only logical explanation. There was nothing special with the water or the area, at least not as far as he knew, besides, if there was anything special about the water people would know. He moved into the woods carefully, looking for anything interesting. He moved slowly, watching where he was going, the last thing he needed was to trip and break something. A bird called out, startling him, he hadn’t noticed how quiet it was, but the bird call seemed to signal the other animals. The noises were all around him, it was quite peaceful. Maybe it was a bird sanctuary, some rare species that was dying out. He didn’t know enough about birds to be able to name them by sight, bar a few. A few steps in, he saw it, a metal walkway. He climbed the ladder, must be some kind of viewing platform to observe the animals or birds. When he reached the top he looked around, he was about twenty feet up, the platform itself ran across the forest in a walkway, branching off at what seemed to be regular intervals, the platform curved slightly and disappeared from view.

He walked along it, looking over the sides, trying to see any animals, but there were none. He moved stealthily, trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb any animals that were below. He didn’t have far to go when he saw them. Four people, crowded around a box of some kind, they were reaching in and taking out what appeared to be food. One of them looked at him, then went back to what they were doing. He wasn’t sure if it was male or female, all of them had their heads shaved and seemed to be wearing bulky jumpsuits. A metal collar was around their necks, a chain snaked away, each chain was bolted to the ground, all separate. He looked at them for a few seconds, trying to figure out what was going on. Why were they chained up? They didn’t look sick or diseased. Maybe it was some kind of training exercise. He looked along the walkway, trying to figure out what he should do. After a few seconds, he continued on. There had to be some kind of explanation. He’d go a little further then turn back, he had a phone on the boat, he’d be able to call for help. He knew it would be better to go back to the boat, to run, but something pulled him forward. He needed to know what was happening. Once he returned to the boat he could ring the police and tell them what he saw. He continued on, looking at the turn it wasn’t too far away, maybe two hundred feet, he’d stop there and go back. As he walked he looked over the sides, trying to spot more people. There was one more, they too had a metal collar around their neck with a long chain attached. He reached the corner and stopped, then had a quick look around, there was another six, they were sitting around, not talking to each other, they didn’t appear to be looking at anything in particular. One looked up at him, their gaze moving steadily by. They either didn’t see him or care that he was there. They must be used to people observing them. He was getting unnerved now, not wanting to stay any longer he turned and walked a little faster, almost at a jog. He glanced over at the sides, looking for the people as he went by. When he reached the first group, he looked over, only to see they were gone. The chains were snaked across the ground, but the people and their collars were gone. He froze. Did they escape? Did someone release them? What if they were insane? One of them saw him, Jesus. He tried to keep himself calm, he didn’t have much further, then down the ladder and a short swim to the boat, once he reached it he’d be safe. He stopped at the ladder, trying to see if there was anyone waiting for him, they could easily hide behind the trees, he’d have to risk it. There was no other choice. Still, if anyone attacked he could always try to get back up here. Unless there were other ladders this would be a good standpoint, he’d have the higher ground. If someone came up the ladder he could kick them backwards, even if someone attacked on the walkway, he could try to get them over the side, the fall would do some damage. He went down the ladder quickly and ran through the forest. He reached the rocky beach, as he ran he had tried to keep watch at all times, looking around himself for any dangers. He started to wade into the water, then looked for the boat. There it was, further away than he thought. No. Oh no. It was drifting away from the island. The engine wasn’t on, someone must have pulled up the anchor. Shit. Shit shit shit. Someone knew he was here. The boat was gone, as was any chance of contacting someone. Fuck. Maybe he could still swim it? He looked at the distance, trying to judge it. It was steadily moving away, he wouldn’t be able to get to it. Not before tiring. Fuck. He spun around, expecting to see them on the shore, but it was still empty. He moved out of the water, towards the trees. At least he could hide there, though those people could be chained up anywhere, what if they were dangerous or diseased? If he was able to keep his wits about him and stay alive for a few days, someone was bound to find him. If they came into the general area they’d see the island, that was how he found it after all.

The walkway, that would be safest, at least for the moment, he could find a clear spot and go there, maybe climb a tree or something. The chains were attached to something that was buried under the ground, so if an area was clear of them, he would be safe from the other people, at least, he wouldn’t stumble into any of them. He went back to the ladder and as he climbed, tried to calm himself. Obviously the people were not dangerous, sure they were chained up, but if they were dangerous, they wouldn’t be able to escape. That means that there were other people on the island. Maybe scientists or the military. Someone was monitoring the people, and at the very least, feeding them. The clothes they were wearing didn’t seem too dirty neither did the people, they must be allowed to bathe and change. He reached the catwalk and moved further down it, checking the area where the people were chained, it was still empty. Ok. Maybe if he stayed here for a little while he’d see more being chained up. Maybe they moved them around, like bringing a dog for a walk.

He had been sitting on the walkway for almost an hour. He kept low down to make it harder to be seen from down below. He hoped that if anyone tried coming up he’d feel the vibrations in the metal. He assumed that there must be cameras somewhere, though he had studied the trees and failed to see any. If that was the case, they knew where he was.

After another hour he got up and started to walk along the walkway, moving gingerly. The other people were still where he had first seen them. He continued following the walkway and seeing where it led. He could go slow, make sure he didn’t run into anyone, after all, he had nothing else to lose. He needed to get away or find somewhere where he could call for help. If he had supplies he might be able to make a fire, but that wouldn’t really do much good. No use if the entire island burns and he’s still trapped on it.

It was hideous. Dear god. It hadn’t heard him, thankfully, it had been too distracted, trying to corral a group of people. He didn’t know if it was running everything or if it was just a guard, he didn’t want to find out, especially if there were more of the things. It was tall, almost seven foot, muscles rippling down its arms and legs, it skin seemed to be oozing some kind of clear fluid, he hadn’t seen its face yet, but he imagined it was terrible. It’s skin was a strange, mottled colour, it moved in slow, jerky movements but he wouldn’t be surprised if it could move deceptively fast. When it finally disappeared into the trees he breathed slowly, trying to slow his heart. He hadn’t been spotted. They must not have known where he was. Still, there had to be people around, people in charge, why else would there be a walkway. He didn’t want to know where the people were being taken. He wasn’t sure how far he had walked, he moved so slowly and the path twisted and turned. The island was bigger than he had originally thought, but it couldn’t be too far off from his estimate.

He didn’t feel well, his eyes were burning and he was dizzy. He stopped for a moment, just a moment to try and calm himself. He was just panicking, that was all, he just needed to have a breather. All this slow creeping was freaking him out, he kept expecting to turn a corner and walk into someone. He’d be fine. He started to breathe slowly and deeply, his head seemed to clear for a second before the dizziness returned, worse than before. Everything started to spin wildly, the trees shifting and distorting, his hands gripped the edge of the walkway, trying to steady him. His stomach was twisting and roiling, he turned his head to the side and started to heave, vomit burning his throat. His limbs started to shake, his hands opening and closing compulsively, he couldn’t control them, he couldn’t move, he couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t think or…or….

He woke slowly, groggily, not sure where he was. There was something. A boat? What? Was that a thing? It went on the water. That couldn’t be right. It couldn’t. There wasn’t enough water anywhere to float in. He had been damp, hadn’t he? He remembered being wet. Well, he was dry now. He looked down at his jumpsuit, clean and dry. He shifted slightly, the rattling of chain reached his ears, he felt a weight around his throat, it was cold. He was afraid of something. Something was wrong…had been wrong? It must have been a dream. Did he dream? He looked around at the trees, then spotted a small container. There was something in there. Something for him. He opened it and reached in. Food. His stomach growled. That’s all it was, he was just hungry. He started to eat.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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