See Previous Chapter: Stranded Part IV
Kellen awoke from his slumber to be greeted by the morning sun beaming directly in to his green retinas. He immediately stood up and checked his surroundings; wondering if the ghost of his father was just a dream or if it really happened. He was still in the same place he was when he last saw his father…hunched against the plane. Quickly, he grabbed his things and made his way back the way he had come.
The entire hike back to the beach camp was spent searching for answers as to how he saw his father so vividly on an island in the middle of nowhere. The visceral, gritty, and bloody details were so real and in his face that he could not come to terms with what he had experienced. The memory of his father had always haunted him, especially since the night he left his dad on death’s doorstep, but it had never created itself into a living nightmare. From his military training he could only come to the conclusion that the heat, dehydration, and the effects of the infection in his leg caused him to hallucinate. These solutions certainly provided some clarity and a little ease of mind but something still did not add up.
Kellen found his way back to his beach camp by following some small rocks that he had placed on the ground when he originally set out. Upon arriving back at the camp he immediately made a fire, gathered some water, and used the newly found bowls to boil the water. He had at least 3 full, fresh bottles but he did not want to exasperate his supplies so he kept those tucked away in his back pack. As he waited for the water to boil he turned his attention to the contents of the first aid kit.
He found the typical items: gauze, band-aids, antibiotic ointment packets, antiseptic wipe packets, and some tylenol. He was obviously no medic but he knew how to take care of a small cut. He reached down to the wound and pulled the wet, dirty shirt off of his leg only to reveal a wound that was in the middle stages of infection. The bleeding had stopped but dirt, sand, mud, and bugs (really anything that could get into the wound) had found a home. The cut was no more than 3 inches long but the swelling and drainage made it seem that it had enveloped his entire leg. He painfully applied the ointment, strapped on some of the bandages, and took the two pills of Tylenol hoping for some relief.
Day five was by far the least exciting of them all so far but Kellen was perfectly fine with that. He took some time to think through how he could signal help, gathered some more fruit, and rebuilt his shambled shelter. Amidst his busy work his mind drifted back to the days after he left his father…
After that “night”, Kellen left and intended never to return back to that hell he used to call “home”. Being sixteen years old he didn’t have many options in terms of places to stay but he went straight to his closest friends house. His father had a nasty reputation where they lived so Kellen didn’t have to admit to anyone about what really happened. He simply told his friend and his parents that his dad came home drunk, that Kellen took off, and never wanted to go back. No one really asked (or cared) where Kellen’s dad was as he would go missing from time to time but the wounds on his face made people assume that he had gotten into a nasty bar fight (only to lose by a large margin).
Kellen’s father disappeared shortly after the incident only to be found a few years’ later dead and surrounded by beer bottles and vomit. Kellen never mourned his father. His heart had grown so cold that he honestly was relieved that he didn’t have to worry about his father randomly showing up one day to conjure up more trouble. He spent the next few years of his life bouncing from one friend’s house to the other just waiting for the day he turned 18. On that very day his gift to himself was enlisting in the United States Marine Corpse. On that very same day he began dating a girl who then would become his current wife.
The Military provided a getaway for Kellen, something to alleviate the pain and to allow him to exert all of the years of anger and hatred. He had never planned on doing anything with his life so the Military quickly became a career and one that he excelled at. Year after year he continued to impress his officers and year after year he was promoted. Shortly after his third year in the Corpse he married Janae and they had their first child, Rebecca, a short year later.
Kellen’s ultimate and only fear as a father was that he would become a spitting image of his dad. He spent every waking hour making sure that very thing never happened. Rebecca was born with Autism, something that the coupled struggled heavily with at first but learned to cope with the special difference that their daughter had. Kellen had always felt guilty for being away so often…he would be gone for a year or two at a time and always struggled with leaving his wife to raise his daughter all by herself. Kellen was a lucky man though, as his wife stayed faithful to him through all of the nineteen years of marriage. Kellen had been stationed in Seoul, South Korea for a year when he was given leave to go back home for a few weeks to spend the Holidays with his family. The stress of work and maintaining his responsibilities was enough to drive a man crazy, but doing so without his wife and daughter standing next to him was almost impossible…This vacation was a well received benefit.
Kellen had completed rebuilding his shelter and had successfully consumed a coconut, or two (who’s counting?), and was busy trying to find a way to signal for help. It seemed that sea and air traffic was extremely limited, especially in a way that no one would notice one man stranded on a small island. Regardless of the insurmountable odds he had to find a way to get off this god forsaken rock. The only issue was that Kellen had absolutely no way of creating a large enough signal that would ever work to get him back home…Insistent upon not giving up, Kellen gathered some stray wood, built a fire bigger than any one he had ever seen, and watched it burn…hoping…praying for someone to find him.
Kellen had lost all sense of time since sitting there by his makeshift bonfire; had it been an hour? Two? The fire had slowly simmered down and there was still no sign of help. Kellen knew that something as small as this would never make it past the eyes of even the smallest fish sitting around the shoreline but something kept nagging him to build it bigger; and so he did.
He ventured off in to the woods once again in search of some fire wood when he began to hear things; and not just ordinary things…people’s voices. They were faint and barely recognizable but in the current state that Kellen’s mind was in, he could only recognize them as two intellectual people having a conversation…about him.
Instantly, Kellen’s heart began to pound for fear that it was his father’s ghost once again returning to haunt him but something told him it wasn’t the case. Typically Kellen was a pretty well put together kind of guy. He always thought out his situations, always knew where he was going and how he would get there, and he even planned the way he would cut his banana to the exact tee; yet here he was wandering mindlessly through a deserted forest hearing voices.
For some reason firewood was coming in scarce, forcing Kellen deeper into the woods. The rain from the other night had soaked through the wood rendering it useless. So, Kellen pushed further and further in. Looking up for a moment, he caught a glimpse of something in the distance. He couldn’t quite make out what it was but it was large, human like, and moved like a tiger stalking it’s prey. At that instant the voices restarted their torturing conversation, only this time much louder than before. Kellen was no longer worried about his firewood. He dropped his belongings and prepared himself for the unexpected visitors quickly making their way to him.
Stranded:Part VI will be available this Saturday!