Chapter 1.5

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The author meets more locals who bring him back to their home.

I woke with a start as the light on my closed eyelids fluctuated several times. Three completely naked and unkempt souls circled, gawking and prodding at my person. They intermittently blocked the sun and consequently woke me. As the woman I had met in the cave, they were diminutive in stature. I would notice this later, as this was hardly evident looking up at them from the ground. They possessed a wiry musculature, which I supposed they owed to a primal existence. I found myself most concerned, apart from my own welfare of course, with the distinct and regular bruises and scars, particularly across their backs. Their bodies were covered in hair. Two males and one female cautiously scanned me as if I was the threatening party. All three possessed long, black, lank hair on their heads. The men had thick hair on their faces, arms, legs, backs, and chests, while the woman was covered in the stubble that would more naturally occur amongst the women of my home, if not for frequent interference. I shall avoid the salacious details.

Their bodies, by means of violence, not birth, possessed numerous deformities. Both men showed telltale signs of broken noses and cauliflowering of the ears such as would be seen typically on a professional boxer. One had a scar across his left eye as if he had been struck with a bat. None of the scars were particularly clean, as would suggest a blade or the puncture of a bullet. It was also clear none of the scars had been treated with stitching as the wounds were particularly wide. They didn’t speak but seemed to whinny and neigh in a manner reminiscent of Hue.

It is certain my evaluation of these people fell far short of what they had ascertained about their interloper as I have denoted the features that would be of remark to one such as me. I could only believe they were most interested in the same details—but in reverse—in me. I had short brown hair, blue eyes, stubble on my face that on takeoff had been freshly shaven but was nonetheless much closer shorn than theirs. My body was virtually untouched by scars. I believed they were mostly intent on focusing on my clothes and skin, which, being of a fair complexion, must have seemed quite the rarity in this land. I have tried many times since, but I can only imagine what I would think if somebody similar to me in core body, but possessing materials of which I could scarcely conceive, was covered in a skin of a tone unprecedented in human history or memory. It would cause quite a stir to see an unaltered person with glowing green skin. Perhaps this is not a fair comparison, but I digress.

The observant reader will remember that I fell asleep in the afternoon, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, on a bright, sunny day. I received some criticism about this action, failing to protect myself against the damage of the sun. I believe this criticism misplaced, even humorous, considering my physical condition and recent events. My skin, at least those parts visible, was saturated with a scorching scarlet sear. The evaluation of the natives of this island must have been one of curiosity and disgust. Every part of my body was in great pain from one or another injury.

I certainly felt myself at their mercy and physically intimidated, both by their relative health and statures. My defensive instincts at what would occur next clearly were misplaced. I tried to introduce myself, but the words escaped as barely more than a hoarse exhalation. These people were afraid, constantly turning their attentions to the bush and the beach at every sound, small or large. Like skittish deer, they reared their heads back and scanned their surroundings cautiously and with such a degree of care as to cause me to assume these were perhaps equal prisoners to the first woman I had encountered in the cave. A thought occurred that I might have washed ashore in some sort of penal colony, though I was unaware of such a place existing in the modern world. These people were in an awful hurry and terrified of something. Fear is as contagious as the flu, so I began to listen carefully for sounds from the bush.

It was only thus for a couple minutes before they, recognizing the wound to my leg and my obvious inability to stand, offered me a metaphorical olive branch. It is here that I made my error. I saw a group of possibly dangerous, certainly fearful people, and assumed the stick they thrust towards my prone and terrified body was an act of hostility. I batted the stick aside sharply yelling, “No!” and shielded myself lest they repeat the attack. To this they responded with an incredible diversity of emotional responses. They seemed angry, distressed, concerned, and confused and recoiled from me a couple feet.

The smaller male recomposed the quickest. He picked up the stick, which in honesty, was a thickly foliated branch from a nearby tree. He said, “Way-o” as he gestured to me to grab onto the branch. I remained suspicious of these people, but I knew I was very much at their mercy. I heeded his gesticulation and propped myself back on my feet. This revealed the back of my arms and legs, which had not been exposed to the sun and were lily white in comparison to the sunburnt bits. My hosts seemed resigned to my unusual colours and physique and must have interpreted this as within the acceptably preposterous normal of the present situation. The branch they extended was not usable as a cane or crutch. I was in no condition to make a long walk, or really any sort of perambulation, with these inhabitants. The larger man and the woman caught me on the first stagger. As with an athlete being helped off the playing field, the two of them took my weight on their strong, broad shoulders and helped me hobble off the beach into the brush.

Quickly, they all but carried me along the dense forest floor, just out of sight of the beach but always within earshot. They walked on stones, twigs, roots, and fallen trees, though their feet were completely barren of footwear. They moved with a rugged gracefulness. In spite of the burden presented by their arm candy, as I began to think of myself, they swiftly jogged between the trees. At times, they even used low branches to swing over particularly rough ground. We were moving far faster than I thought possible through such terrain. I would not say their motion was graceful; it seemed appropriate and natural: perfect for this environment. Suddenly, we were next to the sharp rock cliff. If not for the beach, I would have lost my bearings entirely during the run, but the vertical wall of rock in front of me was immediately recognizable in its geology.

In front of us was a thin crack in the rock, scarcely large enough to edge through sideways. The crack did not extend very high; it was perhaps as tall as my nose, two metres or so from ground to top. The smaller man disappeared quickly into the crack, like a mouse into a woodpile. My attendants wayo-ed that I was to follow, and quickly. Their panic was as obvious as their distress at my slothfulness. They prodded me into the crack as a cow into a pen. They watched their backs, covered our tracks, and jammed me through. I crouched and twisted with great pain, scrabbling, with the walls close on both sides for several metres, into a new, uncomfortable darkness.

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