19 November 2007
I couldn't understand what was wrong with me. Why was I stumbling like this? Why couldn't I just run, like any other boy? Why was I being slow, and taking my time to get to the others? I guess time wasn't on my side. By the time I'd reached them, they had already started their horrid blood dance. I could not help but look, transfixed, at the sight before me. Jack, their new leader, running around in circles, naked, while chanting his hunting song, was attempting to draw the "Beast" away with the dance. It was as if I was watching an African rain dance, but this was just the opposite. While the rain dance would bring prosperity to the land, this new type of primitive dance was sure to bring death.
As I stumbled out from beneath the brush, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed at the vision of Ralph, and even Piggy, standing there in the middle of the whole thing. I couldn't believe it. After all their hard work to prevent Jack from taking over and keeping order on the island, how could they be a part of this? Although they had completely abandoned their morals, they did have disgusted looks on their faces while watching the others dance. I continued to stumble towards them when a huge bolt of lightening struck and froze me momentarily. I regained my courage and continued walking. I didn't notice until I fell that I was using all of my strength just to remain conscious. After all the trouble I had gone through I couldn't give up now, so I urged myself on to warn the others of the real Beast.
"There's no beast! The beast on the hill is a man! A DEAD MAN! There is no beast!" I cried, while falling to my knees in the sand. It was the inner Beast, the evil inside everyone, that had doomed us.
The boys had made a semi-circle, a horseshoe, around me. I was trapped and they were bearing down on me, coming closer and closer. Seeing the thirst for blood and death in their eyes, I raised my arms over my head to protect myself from their stakes and to shield myself from their unwavering eyes. I heard myself scream, and it scared me, the shrillness of my voice ringing in my ears. I can still hear it now.
"There's a man on the hill. A body. He is dead," I continued. Unable to control my emotions, I surged through the crowd and found myself falling.
Falling off the rock was a natural high I had never experienced before and had never expected to feel, especially now. It gave me a rushing feeling. I couldn't explain why the fall felt better than life, but falling made me realize that I was probably going to die, either from the impact of my fall or the savagery of the others. But I had promised Ralph. I said that he would be the one to get back safe, that he was going to survive this horror. You'll get back alright. I think so, anyway. That's what I had said to Ralph a couple days back before all of Jack's madness, when the island was still peaceful.
Only seconds later, reality hit me, waking me from my reverie. It hit me hard when I dropped into the sand, with the water splashing on the beach near my ear. It was then that I heard the footsteps, the stomping of feet down the side of the mountain. They were coming nearer and I couldn't move, not even in protest. The last thing I felt before the slow fall into death was the tearing; ripping of my body, as the last seconds of my life were in the hands of the monsters that controlled my former companions. My first thoughts were, "How could they kill someone they knew? Someone who had been their friend?" But my feelings soon changed. "They had never been friends to me. They never cared for my well-being when I had my fainting moments." Then, I had to question myself, "Why didn't Ralph stop them? Why not even Piggy? After all their talk of morality, why didn't they save me?"
As the ripping and tearing continued, I could hear the slowing pace of my still-beating heart. Blood obscured my vision and I felt the rest of my blood drip all over my body and the sand, connecting us as one. The monsters, the true beasts, left me once there was nothing left to shred. Soon, as night was setting over the island, I could feel the tide rising, washing away some of the sand stained by my blood. As I slipped beneath the mask of death, reality blurred and I couldn't think, couldn't feel; I couldn't do anything to stop it. I had known that I wouldn't survive. Ever since the real beast, the Lord of the Flies, had said it, my fate had been sealed. I was dying, but I needed to make sure that Ralph lived. He had to live. He was the only one left to control Jack, to control the Beast, the inner beast.
I could see them now, the glowing creatures. They surrounded my head, giving what was left of me a terrible headache causing my skull to throb. It was painful, but they lifted me and pulled me, along with the tide, into the water, out into the ocean, and to the vast stretches of the sea. I could feel my soul, my spirit, rising out of my body. As the seconds passed by, I was less and less connected to my physical self. All that was left of me was my white, slightly glowing aura. After floating behind the filmy veil of death, I sensed a brightness enveloping me. I have never been religious, but to me, it seemed like heaven. From here, I watched like an angel.
Soon, I figured out the reality of Piggy and Ralph's hesitation. If they had tried to protect my poor defenseless body from this barbaric game, Jack would have killed them too. No more than a day later, Piggy joined me in death. At first he was confused and fumbled around. Seeing me there, with scar marks where my body had been torn apart, soon cleared his head. He now understood where he was.
Ralph was the only one left. I couldn't help but despair at the thought of him having to fend against the evils of human nature on his own. With Piggy, Ralph could think clearly, but without him, Ralph would be doomed and I couldn't help but feel guilty for telling him he'd make it through. It was necessary that I help him in any way I could. I found I could affect the others; the ones that had, in the beginning, killed the purple-faced boy, me, and then Piggy. I caused them nightmares, chills, thoughts of our deaths, and could affect their actions. To help Ralph, when trapped in the thicket by the fire, I slowed the watching boy's reactions. When he was found by the savage in the bushes, I caused them to doubt their need to kill Ralph. In the end, I was able to help Ralph. I followed him all the way to rescue. Once rescued, I waited and watched him until he was safe and sound at home in England. Then, I returned home to the island.
Coming back to the island was not my first choice. But while watching Ralph return home to his old life, I couldn't help but think, "Where's my home?" The time I lived and died on the island was the most significant of my life. The isle was more of a home to me than any other place in my life.
Along with the boys, the life and noise of the island left. Watching the lone isle from above, the dangers of the forest weren't visible. I could hardly believe that the land beneath me had been so forbidding. How could the life of this world, this separate peace, have such a negative effect on me? From up here, the gliding of the shimmering waves hypnotized me, the peaceful sounds of the day surrounded my soul, and the beauty of the island was breathtaking. My silent reverie was interrupted by the arrival of Piggy and the boy with the mulberry-colored birthmark that blotted out his face.
"Have you seen anything?" I questioned.
"Nope. Nothing new. Well, not since you left," Piggy replied. He came up next to me. Even after death, Piggy somehow continued to be the clumsy boy from before.
"Ah. And what's your name?" I asked the little boy.
"M'name is... is... is Jack." The response of the boy was so soft-spoken, I had to lean in to hear him. Jack. He had died in the beginning, during the first great fire on the mountain. Jack had been lost from the start; an innocent boy, still afraid of daily happenings. He was the Jack that had died when we first landed on the island. The Jack that wasn't alive anymore.
Meeting people in the Afterlife had been creepy in the beginning, but now, seeing other souls was normal for me. When another spirit floated towards Piggy and Jack, I wooshed away, not wanting to be disturbed. Jack and Piggy were alright, but I wasn't up to the challenge of speaking to others; who knows what dead people I might bump into here?
Drifting away from the two while tossing a casual "See ya!" over my translucent shoulder, I found myself nearing the mountain. When I got to the mountain, it reminded me of the excitement the first night on the island. After our first meeting where we chose Ralph as our "leader," we had started our fire. The evil flames that killed half the island and the little boy, Jack. The innocent, young, and fearing Jack. The boy that had been scared by the Beast from the very beginning. After this, the fire was to be kept on the mountain. It was on this mountain that I was hovering over, that "Merridew" had let the dancing embers go out and gone hunting instead. For us, hunting had been a game, something you play; for him, it was real. So real, that next to it, the option of rescue was nothing.
The mountain reminded me of the time when Piggy was killed; where Ralph saw the true Beast that was within the boys. After that, the savage boys spent their time by the grassy platform, roasting their pig. All the meetings held by Ralph were on the platform; the place by the lagoon, slightly shaded by the surrounding trees with the three rotting logs where we would sit during meetings. The platform was the place of the conch, and was the only place the conch could be used. The use of the conch led to orderly meetings and gave each boy a turn to speak. Yet, the thought of civilized behavior or control anywhere but our old home, England, didn't appeal to Jack Merridew. Civil living wasn't Jack's cup of tea, neither was getting rescued. Even if the fire on top of the mountain had burned the whole time we were there, the reef surrounding most of the island would have blocked it. While trying to hunt Ralph, Jack had burned the island to corner him, which ironically led to their rescue. Funny.
Once thinking it through, I knew the only reason the boys were on the island in the first place was because of that tragic plane crash. Down through part of the island was the scar, the huge ditch in the earth created by the plane's landing. The scar, the platform, the mountain, the lagoon, the sea, the forest of trees; it all was here, on our little island. It was all visible from top of the mountain that I was sitting on. The mountain that Ralph, Jack, and I had climbed together on that first day. When we were all best of friends.
Maybe eight or ten years after my death and the boys' rescue, I heard someone's arrival. Dread swept through me as I heard a noise, not from where I was floating, but from the other side of the island. I could hear the muffled sound of blades; chopping, chopping away at the leaves and branches of the dense forest. They had returned.
I could see their faces now. It was Roger, Samneric, Bill, Robert, Percival, etc. and in the rear, was Jack Merridew. I wanted to lash out at him, slap his face, rip him limb from limb, dissect him and feed his liver to the Beast; but instead I flew through him. I had no chance to avenge myself, or Piggy, or even the innocent Jack that was left behind that first day on the island. For some odd reason, I found I could not affect Jack with my newly acquired supernatural "powers," so I slipped myself slowly through Roger's body instead. This caused the reaction I was looking for. Like a puppy, Roger shivered and gave Jack a quick glance before looking at the ground in shame. He didn't want to be the coward that came back to the island just to be scared away. Roger was not strong like Jack, but he was human; more so than Jack had ever been.
Before Ralph had left, he had done the one thing there had never been time to do. Filled with guilt, Ralph made a grave; one part for Piggy, another for me, and the last for the unknown boy, recently known as Jack. While Ralph was digging the graves, the other boys were grabbing anything they needed to remind them of the island, then quickly scurrying on board the rescuer's ship. When finished with the graves, Ralph joined the others on the boat. Until now, the boys had never looked back in the direction of the island.
Now the hunters had returned. They were back for only one reason. When I slowly glanced over each boy, I could tell that they had changed. Years later, the guilt of our deaths was weighing heavily upon them. Seeing it, the guilt, written on their faces made my hatred towards them all slightly lift, but not completely. In the end, it was Jack's, and only Jack's, apology that freed me from this dreaded island.
"I'm sorry. Simon. Piggy. I wish I could say that I had suffered from temporary insanity, but I can't and we all know it. I'm sorry, Simon, for killing you while thinking that you were the beast. I knew you weren't, but I'm not sure that the others had recognized you. In order to keep the others' faith, I needed to kill the beast. You, the only one that truly understood the beast, were going to ruin our fun. But now I regret what I did," stated Jack. Towards the end, he had started to weep, but the last part had come out in a nasally whisper. "Piggy, you were the only one who knew what to do on this dreaded island. You kept us civilized. If only I could see the logic in your ideas, maybe, just maybe, you'd still be alive. Neither of you would be dead now. If only I hadn't been me. If only I hadn't been the Beast."
He walked away and never turned back. Although he showed no emotion after this "speech," his words and his tears banished all my hatred of the boys with painted faces. Since this was the hunters' first time seeing our grave, the emotion that was heard in their apologies and confessions eased me out of the pain of the past. The hunters, one by one, in turn, paid their respects and followed Jack back to the beach. After hearing each and every one of them, it was Jack's change of heart that moved me most of all; I could tell from the boys' body language that they'd all had restless nights for years and the dark cloud of remorse had shrouded their minds.
With apologies made and mistakes forgiven, everyone left the island, free of the past. Now, Piggy and I were able to rest here, in this strange alternate world, peacefully. And after hearing those monsters acknowledge their wrongs, their murders, it felt serene. There was no way to describe it. The island, no matter how dreadful it had been when I was living, had become my home.