Just a fun story about life off (and back on) the island. Enjoy!
"I want you to read to the end of the chapter before Monday," Professor Roy Hinkley said, dismissing his class. He smiled at the departing students. "And enjoy your weekend."
He continued smiling as his class dismissed. Once, not yet long ago, the thought of resuming his life as a teacher had been nothing more than a dream. Close to fifteen years had been spent on a small deserted island in the middle of the Pacific, but at last he was back on the mainland again.
The entire band of castaways had returned safe and sound over a decade after their estimated return time. It was now approaching the two year anniversary of their rescue, and each was still settling into the demands of life back in civilization.
The Professor found the smile still on his face as he thought about the little group of survivors that had become his family on that island. He had memories to cherish. Packing his briefcase, he stepped out of the classroom and into the bustling high school hallway.
His credentials, while out of date, could have still provided him with a teaching position at any number of universities, but the Professor had wanted to ease back into the world of academia. Besides that, high school students had always been his favorite age group to work with. Once upon a time he would have returned and thrown himself straight into work, expecting the open arms of scientific research to slow his fall. But he'd learned many things on that island, foremost being that even the science he loved was not the end all of life.
No, there was more to it than that, and so Roy Hinkley found himself more than content to help along moldable young minds eager for learning. He continued with his own research, of course, but he consciously placed the priority of his time on the people rather than the discoveries.
He navigated the halls carefully, even now delighted by the presence of so many bodies crushed into one space. Years ago he would have determinedly avoided the final school bell. Now he found comfort and amazement in the view of the masses charging towards the door. When the maximum number of persons encountered over a fifteen year time amounted to fewer than ten, it was only expected that his outlook on crowds shift drastically.
The Professor set his course for the library, across from which his office was located. He had a few hours work of grading papers scheduled for this evening, but he knew there was no risk of his spending the night in the lab. His current experiments were not pressing, and finally, he had something to go home to.
The fifteen years on the island had brought about vast changes in his life and his worldview, but the last two years back in the states had consisted of more than just acclimating to the flow and pace of the world around him. Life for the Professor had changed, and it had changed almost exclusively for the better.
As he passed by the library, he spotted proof of another change, another accomplishment. A sophomore student of his, a young Tracy McDonald, sat in the library. She was staring with wide eyes at the book in her hands. The Professor smiled again to himself. The pages before her bore the factual narration of the castaways' days on the island, a book he'd written himself.
In the exciting days following their rescue, the media and press had descended on the group in a frenzy. The seven of them had given interviews, some more gleefully than others, but each was glad for the attention, having been so without it for such a time. Even from their very earliest days on the island, the Professor had begun recording their adventures, desiring a complete record upon their return. It had always been his intention to write a book someday; he was only surprised to learn it wasn't about ferns.
He reached his office and settled inside for a peaceful period of uninterrupted work. Even two years later, he savored the sense of being a collective part of the human race and world, but he still cherished the solitary hours when he could bring his considerable mental powers to bear on problems of a scientific nature. And though his current assignment was the grading of his students' research papers, he would embrace and enjoy the time.
Tracy McDonald, a young sophomore student, sat in the library, hurriedly turning pages in her book. She was sometimes easily bored by books not firmly existing in the realm of fiction, but this particular writing had her complete attention. Some of the stories recounted here seemed so fantastical that she could scarcely believe they had happened to real people. And to her favorite teacher among them!
She'd found the book in the bookstore in town, had gone searching for it. Tracy knew her science teacher was famous for being one of the castaways rescued from a small island in the tropics. After a few weeks in class with him, she'd had to learn more.
Mr. Hinkley kept his lectures and classes almost exclusively to science, her favorite school subject, but on occasion he'd let fly a mention of life on the island that had been his prison for over a decade.
None of the other teachers at Pasadena High School even came close to competing with this level of mystery. When Tracy had learned that a book of the group's adventures had been published, she immediately sought after it. And she'd not been disappointed by its content.
It was professionally written, and the many asides about the island's botanical selection made it clear which of the Minnow's passengers had penned it. Even if Tracy had not been entertained by some of the science, the stories unfolding in this book would have alone captivated her.
She was delighted with the diverse personalities of the seven castaways. They represented so many histories and walks of life, each very different. Their opinions and choices were all quite varied, and Tracy found it remarkable that all seven had survived in apparent happiness for so long.
The Professor's book painted a lifelike image of the island as the castaways' home. A quarter of the way done with the book, Tracy had long ago rethought her romanticized idea of this tropic getaway.
Tracy was just reading the tail end of a failed rescue involving a transmitter, a fish, and a bout of what she was coming to recognize as the first mate's typical clumsiness when she heard two loud voices approaching the library.
"Follow me, Skipper, I know the Professor's around here somewhere." Tracy looked up from her book to see a thin man in a red shirt and with a sailor's cap tugged down around his ears. He marched through the library, peering behind each tall stack of books. Following him was a portly older man in blue and a captain's hat.
The girl could scarcely believe her eyes. She blinked a few times to be sure it wasn't her imagination playing tricks on her. When the duo didn't disappear, Tracy decided they were real. She was far enough into her book to be familiar with the appearances of two of the major characters.
The older man stopped at the front of one bookcase, glaring at his smaller companion. "Gilligan," he began with tired patience, "the Professor will be in his office. Behind a door not an encyclopedia!"
Tracy hiccuped in surprise as Gilligan shrugged. "Wow!" she exclaimed in excitement, startling the school's two visitors. "You're Gilligan and the Skipper!"
The two men exchanged puzzled looks. Tracy turned the cover of her book toward them, displaying the bright cover and its title. "This book is about you!" she told them, and the pair's confusion faded.
The younger man, Gilligan, rocked happily on his heels. "Oh boy, oh boy, Skipper, a book about us!"
"Of course, Gilligan, that's the book the Professor wrote about the island."
"I know," he said, to which the Skipper gave a long suffering sigh. "I just always get excited about it."
Tracy watched in wonder at the exchange between captain and first mate. It was almost exactly like something she'd read only minutes ago. "What are you doing here?" she asked.
The Skipper smiled cheerfully at her. "We're just looking for a friend of ours." He tapped the cover of her book. "The Professor in your story actually."
The teenager grinned back. "He's my science teacher," she told them. "His office is that door over there." The famous guests followed her pointing finger and nodded.
Gilligan turned to the captain. "Hey, Skipper. I found the Professor." His friend swatted him away. Tracy felt Gilligan reading over her shoulder. "This is my favorite book," he told her. "The Professor writes pretty good, and it's the only one about me. Ooh, I remember that!" he said in response to the story laid out before her.
"I was catching fish, and then I caught one, and then I heard a noise. Not a fish noise, but a people noise. A people noise from inside a fish! The fish had eaten the transmitter, and we had to talk to fish all afternoon trying to find the one that talked back."
As the first mate recounted the story, he coupled it with actions, miming his unique catch of the day and his subsequent conversation with it.
The Skipper rolled his eyes. "Come on, Gilligan, let's let this young lady finish the story for herself. We've still got to talk with the Professor."
"It was so great to meet you," Tracy said, still mystified by the appearance of the story's heroes. As they both smiled, she was struck by an idea. "Wait, do you think you could maybe sign my book for me?"
The Minnow's crew looked happily surprised. The captain smiled broadly, clearly flattered and pleased. "I don't see why not!"
Tracy opened the book to its title page and offered a pen to the sailors. The two men took turns signing, and they admired their handiwork. "That's a good idea," Gilligan said. "I'm going to go home and sign my copy."
"Well, I guess we should get out of here, Little Buddy," the Skipper said, turning to leave.
Gilligan shrugged. "Okay, but I thought you wanted to talk to the Professor."
The Skipper shook his head, flustered. "Of course, Gilligan. Come on."
"Bye-bye," Gilligan said, waving to Tracy as he stepped up to the Professor's office.
Tracy watched the two characters go, then turned her attention to the twin signatures preserved in her book.
The Skipper pushed the door slowly open. "Knock knock," he said by way of announcement. The Professor looked up to see Gilligan, still waving at someone behind him, trip over the Skipper's foot and free fall onto his desk.
Roy broke into a smile, surprised and pleased to see these two dear friends. "Skipper! Gilligan!" he greeted them as he helped the first mate to his feet. Luckily there had been nothing valuable or breakable to stop his fall. He slapped the younger man on the back. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"
Gilligan opened his mouth, but the Skipper beat him to it. "Well, Professor, the Minnow's headed out again! The Howells want a charter to the island and won't accept any other boat."
"Uh huh," Gilligan reaffirmed. "They want us. Guess they're not afraid of getting shipwrecked again."
The Skipper's open mouth transformed into an angry scowl. "That's not going to happen again, Gilligan. And the Howells know that."
"So you're headed back to the island," the Professor interrupted, centering the focus of the conversation.
The first mate's head bobbed up and down. "Yep. And we thought we could make a trip of it. You know, bring everybody and food and a life raft just in case, and go back to the island for a day." He spoke animatedly, and the Professor felt his own excitement grow at the prospect of a trip back to the island.
It had been their home for fifteen years, albeit unintentionally. Even so, he harbored a fondness for that speck of land in the Pacific. Going back (for a short trip, mind you), would be a welcome adventure.
"That sounds like a wonderful idea, Gilligan. Tell me, Skipper, what exactly do the Howells want to go back for?" The Professor suspected that it wasn't fond memories alone that drove the millionaire couple back to the site of their imprisonment.
The Skipper confirmed this with a knowing expression. "They didn't say anything exactly, but you and I both know what their plans will be."
Gilligan looked rapidly between the teacher and the sailor, eyes sliding like they were following a ping pong match. "Do I know, Skipper?"
"We suspect that Mr. Howell will want to see the island developed and utilized by his corporations." Roy wasn't sure why this idea sounded particularly distasteful to him. "But the island is owned by the seven of us. And if we all go on this trip, we might be able to find a use for the island that satisfies all seven."
The captain nodded firmly. "I agree, Professor. So you'll come with us? We've talked to the Howells, obviously, but we need to confirm with you and the girls yet."
The Professor nodded in agreement. "Yes, I'd love to come. I actually need to collect some more botanical samples, besides it might be an enjoyable trip. And I know my wife would love to see the island."
"Wonderful!" the Skipper exclaimed. "We shove off tomorrow morning; look for the Minnow II."
"We'll be there." The Professor smiled, already plotting what he'd have to get done in order to make this trip a reality and already eager to be back on the isle.
The Professor's wife? Stay tuned. :)