Sunday, February 25, 2018

Recovering


Hello Lovelies,

So, as you're aware, I've been kind of missing in action for the last half a month. As it turns out, the reason for this is I've been sick as a dog. I won't go into the finer details, but I ended up catching the flu that was going around and said flu ended up developing into a really nasty case of bronchitis and eventually pneumonia that pretty much put me out completely.

With that said, I'm sick of doctors, I'm sick of medicine, I'm sick of beds and tests, but I'm finally recovering and returning to normalcy.

I intend to return to my normal posting schedule and continue Little Island Tales later this week. After being not only out of work, but out of life in general, I have been having to recover a few things and get life back in order. Thank you for being so patient and I promise more is to come very soon.

Sincerely,

RB

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Little Island Tales - Part 14


    "Diego. Wake up, nani."
    Diego grumbled and groaned, rolling over in his spot. He glanced over his shoulder and could see the sun shining through the cracks in the walls and the form of his mother moving at the far end of the house.
    "Diegooo~" she called again.
    "Mmph."
    "Your friend is here, nani."
    "Mmph!"
    "Have it your way." his mother said with a giggle.
    The pitter patter of feet on the floor was sudden and washed away by a high pitched squeal.
    "Diego!" Tamah yelled.
    She hit him from behind, practically tackling him into the wall, and began violently shaking him.
    "Wakeupwakeupwakeupwakeup!" the younger girl said in delight.
    "Mmmph!"
    Diego rolled over and glared up at Ka'lani's sister. Her face was bright and beaming and a smile was stretched from ear to ear.
    "Hi." she said shortly, her smile growing wide.
    "Why?" was all he could muster.
    "I got you something!" she declared proudly, jutting out her chest. "Come see come see!"
    Using his back as a springboard, Tamah jumped off of him and ran back to the other side of the house. He weakly pulled himself from the bed and followed after her.
    "Tamah brought you some-" his mother began.
    "I FOUND YOU SOME BREAKFAST!" Tamah squealed, nearly bouncing up and down as she turned back to Diego.
    Cradled in her arms was a small, woven basket. Tucked into the basket were a number of different fruits. There were some mangoes, papayas, raspberries, dragonfruit, and even a few bananas. They all looked ripe and incredibly delicious.
    Without hesitation he snatched one of the mangoes and began digging in.
    "Thank you," he offered after a few bites. "But...where did you get all this?"
    "I found it!"
    "Tamah has had a very busy morning from the looks of things." Diego's mother offered.
    Diego knew well enough that none of the fruit really grew that nearby and more than a few would even require venturing into the lower forests on the mountain.
    "Did your brother help you?"
    She shook her head.
    "Ka'lani?"
    Again, no.
    "Did you really go alone?"
    Tamah beamed once more, her smile threatening to split her face.
    "I wanted to make sure you had something tasty. I know how tired you've been. And I thought it would be nice to see you."
    Diego spared a brief look at his mom who simply smirked and shrugged before busying herself with something in the kitchen.
    It had been several days since the trek up the mountain with Johanas and he hadn't really done much other than help his mother around the house since then. He had felt strangely detached after the weird conversation with the older man but he hadn't been able to really place the why. His words had really bothered him, enough so that he hadn't given much thought to anyone really, even the recent discovery of the tracks.
    Not that much came of them. he thought to himself.
    He'd heard the warriors talking in the last few days. They hadn't really been able to find anything as the trail had been destroyed along with a chunk of the forest in the night. That, combined with the sounds they had heard the same evening, made many of them believe that if their had been an intruder on the island, they were likely already dead by the hands of the aka-akua. 
    It's too bad really. Diego wondered what someone from outside of the island would have been like.
    "Thank you." he repeated himself.
    Tamah nodded enthusiastically and set down the basket. As she did, there was a soft tinkle from inside.
    "OH!" she shouted. "I almost forgot!"
    Digging into the bottom of the basket, she retrieved several strange, shiny objects. There were four in total. They were cylindrical and made of a yellowish metal. One end of each cylinder was open to reveal a hollow interior. A hole had been punched through all of them with a simple leather cord so they could be worn as a necklace.
    Weirdly, they all smelt like burnt incense.
    "I wanted to give you one." Tamah continued and offered the shiny, little cylinder necklaces. "I thought maybe we could each have one. I found them while I was looking for breakfast."
    "You mean me, you, and your brother and sister?"
    "Mmmhmm."
    Diego shrugged and plucked the cleanest one from her palm. They all had little dents and dings, but the one he picked seemed to look the nicest.
    He promptly tied it around his neck.
    "I think they're kind of pretty." she offered.
    "They are, I guess." he confirmed with a nod. "Although, that reminds me, where is your sister?"
    In the last few days, Diego hadn't really seen Ka'lani. In all honesty, he hadn't seen anyone but his mother and whoever passed by the door. She had been the one person he'd considered trying to visit but hadn't quite brought himself to do so.
    Tamah, for the briefest of moments, appeared to be crestfallen. Her smile dimmed and her eyes fell to the floor for a moment. If he hadn't been staring right at her, Diego would have missed it entirely.
Because a moment later, she was beaming again, although it seemed strangely forced and artificial.
    "She's at Grammy Koula's. She's been over there for a couple days. I was going over there after you had breakfast to give her one of these." she said, holding up the cylinders again.
    "Can I come?" he asked her.
    "You should." Tula said from the kitchen. "As fun as it is to use you as my own personal slave, I think you need to get away from weaving and cooking for a little while."
    "Ok!" Tamah offered. "I'll make sure to take good care of him!"
    Before Diego could ask what that meant, the smaller girl had shoved a few raspberries into his hand, grabbed her basket, and was pushing him out the door into the warm sun beyond.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Little Island Tales - Part 13


    SCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAACCCCCCCCH!
    The roar, if that's what you could call it, was utterly inhuman. Defeaning at best, heart stopping at worst, it grew in fervent intensity as the beast came out of nowhere. It barreled through an entire grove of trees as easily as a scythe through a single stalk of wheat and didn't so much as slow down.
    And she couldn't even see the damned thing.
    It was like fighting the void of space itself.
    The gunshots roared in her ears and she bellowed her own roar of utter defiance. She heard something pop and blood openly ran from her pounding ears. Her entire body ached and her knuckles rattled with each shot, but that didn't stop her from unleashing a torrent of hell against the monster that dared challenge her.
    Unfortunately, the bullets didn't seem to do much.
    Only the tracers, flashing flares jutting out every few rounds, even seemed to make an impact. The burning red pyrotechnic charges seemed to burn the thing's flesh for a moment before vanishing inside the pitch-black beast.
    At least it was something.
    Not enough though.
    Not enough to stop it.
    Her hearing fading with each boom of the heavy rifle, she was forced to use drastic measures. Using the disappearing rounds as a judgement for distance, Jaelyn dove out of the way a half moment before the monstrous creature reached her. She felt her hip and leg bounce off its body as it roared by, sending her scrambling as her lower half was flung hard against a nearby tree with a disturbing crunch that seemed to echo in her failing eardrums.
    "Merde." she cursed weakly under her breath
    She clawed desperately at the forest floor for her gun, her mind doing all it could to focus on anything but the blooming pain.
    She had to fight.
    The beast was already coming about face, having cleaved out another chunk from the forest in a single sweep. Everything about it made her want to scream and hide in a hole somewhere. Aside from the monstrous roars, it was dead silent but for the forest it destroyed. It was just so big. So fast. And she couldn't see the putain de chienne! Once again, she brought her gun up and she didn't hear as much as feel her least favorite sound in the world.
    click
    "No. No! NO!" she heard herself scream, her words distant and echoing.
    She shook the useless firearm, quickly checking the clip and finding that it seemed to be jutting out at a strange angle. She tore at the jammed piece, but her panicked attempt to right the broken weapon was interrupted by a strange sound that made it through the haze. Weirdly, to her addled mind, it sounded like a dragon throwing up.
    Jaelyn, more on instinct than sight, flung herself away as something wet and acrid splashed across the forest floor where she had been only seconds before. She could feel some of it hit her boots and pants and felt a distinct sizzling sensation as whatever had been thrown her way started to melt through the hardened polycarbon.
    Well that's fun. She thought as something slick, hot, and wet started to pool in the bottom of her boot.
    Probably her melting foot if the smell was to be any indicator.
    Taking off at a run, fire running up her leg as her nerves burned with pain, Jaelyn slung the rifle and was about to go for her sidearm when she felt the thing coming at her again. Felt the ground shake as earth was displaced and trees were ripped asunder. She waited as long as she dared, til it was just on top of her, not inches away with its hot, stinking breath warming her neck, before snapping into a hard left and diving through a particularly thick grove of trees.
    And off a cliff.
    "MERDE!!!"
    Open ocean and fresh salt air lay before and under her with nothing else to catch her. In front of her, a massive pillar stuck out of the ocean and behind her the cliff she had come from. Underneath? Nothing.
    She clawed at the open air, reaching out for anything to grab hold of. To find purchase in anyway. If only she'd still had her pack.
    She had just enough time to look up, to see the beast's face poking out of the treeline, and scream up at it in fury.
    Jaelyn hit the ocean at the bottom of the cliff with a sickening crack from her back. Her body spasmed in shock and she didn't feel as much as see the air expel from her lungs into the cold, salt water. A moment later, darkness enveloped her and she blacked out.

    Some ways down the mountain, the village stirred; awoken by the sounds of battle from the forests unseen. They knew they roars of the aka-akua but not that strange popping, booming sound that hid risen to challenge them. When nothing further came of it, Diego, like many of the other children, rolled over and went back to sleep.

====

(A short entry today, but potentially critical. If you'll forgive the length, I felt that this entry was important to introduce a few things into the world of Little Island Tales. I hope you enjoyed and will join us for more soon.)
   

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Little Island Tales - Part 12


    "Johanas?" asked a familiar voice from beyond the foliage.
    The older man visibly relaxed as Joun, one of the warriors from the beach, pushed through the underbrush. He was bare chested, his shirt tied around his pants, and he was holding a spear tightly in his right hand. His face was flushed red and he was soaked with sweat from head to toe, no doubt from the growing, steamy warmth of the jungle.
    "And Diego." the warrior quickly added, glancing past Johanas. "The hell are you two doing out here?"
    Before Diego could respond, Johanas spoke for them.
    "Felt like going for a little walk." Johanas he said casually. "Little Diego here wanted to come with so it seemed like a good chance to show him a thing or two about tracking."
    Joun's eyes narrowed more in confusion than suspicion and he very plainly glanced down at the cripple's damaged leg and his cane. The older man, in turn, simply smiled wider.
    "Ain't that right, boy?" he said, glancing over his shoulder.
    "Eh...yea. That's right. My mother wanted to make sure someone was with him so I went with." Diego confirmed the half truth.
    Joun nodded.
    "That wasn't you we heard then, was it?" the warrior asked.
    "That popping sound? No. We were wondering ourselves." Johanas confirmed as he took a drag from the cigarette.
    "We think we have an intruder on the island." Joun stated flatly.
    "Explains the tracks." the older man said with a nod. "Was wondering why they looked so weird. Diego pointed em out to me."
    Joun glanced back at him again and looked a little impressed.
    "Really now? I would have figured it the other way around. Maybe you've got the workings of a hunter in ya, Diego."
    Diego shifted uncomfortably.
    "Maybe." he muttered.
    "Alright, you two head back to the village. We don't need anyone wandering around here while we're looking for someone, particularly not someone...eh..." Joun seemed to get stuck on his words for a minute before finishing. "...as venerable as yourself."
    Johanas burst out laughing which quickly broke down into a mild coughing fit.
    "Venerable! Ha! Yea, alright. Come on, Diego, let's get my old ass off this mountain."
   
    "Why did you lie to him?" Diego asked as they broke through the tree line and they stepped out into the blazing sun of the open beach.
    "What?" Johanas asked indigently. "Well I never! Ain't never lied in my life."
    "You lied to Joun, though."
    "Nope."
    Diego ran out in front of the cripple, stopping him from walking any farther.
    "You told him I showed you the tracks."
    "You did, didn't you? I didn't know about 'em til you told me."
    Diego faltered.
    "And that you were out for a walk."
    "And I was!" Johanas confirmed. "You even said it yourself: your mother didn't want me going alone. After all, he didn't ask why I wanted to go for a walk or what I was doing while walking."
    "But..." Diego stammered, not sure where to go with this. "You know there's an intruder!"
    "I figured there was based on the tracks and what you told me." the older man said, his grin threatening to split his head in half. "Joun only confirmed my suspicions further."
    Diego was speechless.
    In the moment, he had felt confused and even a little ashamed that Johanas had seemingly lied to the warrior. Now, with him plainly explaining how expertly he'd gotten around the man's questions, he couldn't decide if he actually felt better or not.
    "Listen, Diego, let me tell you something." Johanas said, his voice taking on an air of sincerity. "You're smart. You always have been. I blame your mother personally."
    The older man punctuated his statement with a short, barking laugh.
    "Problem is," he continued. "Most people think they are smart. Now this can mean that someone who doesn't know any better than you is going to make a decision that might effect whether you live or die. But, in return, it also means you can also use that same lack of smarts against em."
    Johanas tapped his head.
    "Make 'em think what they think is actually the case. People will always presume something. It's natural. Tell 'em what they want to hear and they'll believe it. Even if you tell em the truth to their face, if you tell em the right way, they'll do the lie for you."
    "I don't understand."
    "I know. But give it some time."
    Diego couldn't accept that.
    "But....why?"
    "Because..." Johanas began, his expression growing dark and distant. "Sometimes it's easier to let people believe one thing than face the pain of having to correct them. Sometimes people are scared to admit something to themselves as much as they are to others."
    Diego stared at the older man, stared at the normally vacant, smiling face, and how stern it had grown in a moment. The weary, sweat soaked lines and wrinkles and a horrible weight that seemed to lie across his entire being made him seem eternally older and more abused than he'd ever seen before.
    And, all at once, he wasn't sure they were still talking about the same thing.
    "So the tracks-?" he asked slowly.
    Johanas' face lit up again once more.
    "The tracks are fine. If we told em we were just following em, they'd get upset and worried. Easier to let em think we were just walking."
    The older man's smile returned in full force but Diego was still picturing the darkened facade from a moment prior.
    "Okay." he agreed softly.
    "Now come on." Johanas said with a pat on the boy's shoulder. "Let's get back to the village and see about stealing another bowl of stew from your mom."
    Johanas started off and Diego followed him down the beach. Occasionally, he found himself glancing back towards the woods where they'd come from, his mind chewing on the strangely cryptic and bizarre lesson that the older man had just imparted. He couldn't put his finger on it, but something about 'people too scared too admit something' continually rolled about in his head even after he'd gone to bed that night.