Chapter 7

Silence followed Heather’s message, then the walkie talkie started to make some white noise once again. She could faintly hear the voice of a man coming through, most likely Scott, but she couldn’t make out a word. The noise stopped and silence once again filled the room. “We’re too far down to get a good connection. Try it again in the morning. Maybe we can get him to sail over here while we’re down near the marina. He could be our eyes off shore.”

Ric made a good point. Heather turned the walkie talkie back off, reassured that Scott did hear her message, and at least he knew that they were still alive. Ric turned to his side and said, “You asked me a question, now I’ve got a question for you, and I’m afraid I already know the answer, but…” Ric thought for a moment, unsure of what he would say. “Why haven’t more people tried coming over here?”

Heather sighed. “When the event happened, it was all over the news. The government had tried their best to fix things. The police and fire department, even the military was deployed, but whatever took over this island apparently took over everyone that was stuck here that day. Nobody knew what to do. The state backed off for a few days, only observing and trying to put together a plan of action, but those few days were enough for things to get worse. They really thought everyone had gotten off the island. The crash had left enough destruction, and the smoke had become such an issue for help to get here that the state decided… and very quickly, by the way… to declare Mackinac Island a forbidden area, that all traffic to the island would cease, and only those who know the locals around the straits area are really privy to information on how to get here. Technically, I was supposed to go to the state and fill out forms for clearance in order to visit. But, doing that would only land me years of waiting, probably forever. So, I came back, talked to the right people, found a ride, and here I am.”

Ric looked off into the distance, a look of sadness on his face. “It’s like a regular Poveglia Island, this place,” he said, “this place abandoned, cursed… except without the ghost stories. Well, I guess there used to be ghost stories. I sure as heck don’t worry about that though.” He reached for his blanket, pulled it up over his shoulders, and turned on to his other side. “Time for some sleep, Heather. You’ll find more blankets under the table, and turn that lamp off whenever you’re ready.”

She reached a hand under the table and pulled out a small quilted blanket that seemed to feel cozy enough. She grabbed another blanket and rolled it up to make a makeshift pillow for herself. Before she could fall asleep, she wanted to take a closer look at the books on the table. There were two books on mechanics, and one about Mackinac Island. Then there was a book that seemed to have a title in a different language. Heather didn’t know any other languages, but tried to memorize the shapes of the letters she saw, as they weren’t english letters. She then turned out the light and tried to imagine the island as it used to be to help her get to sleep.

~

The next morning, Heather woke up to the sound of much louder rumbles above her head. She wasn’t sure if they would be traveling in rain today or not, but she figured Ric would tell her before they left. The predictable weather was another mystery she was hoping to solve while on the island, but saving the people was the main priority.

Heather stood up and rummaged through the pile of rain gear, finding a suit that seemed to be her size, rolled it up, and stuffed it into her bag. She remembered the pad of paper with her list of places to go for the day, and just as she grabbed the paper, Ric started to wake up. They didn’t say much as they slowly started to wake up and get ready for the day. Ric and Heather, once dressed and packed, walked back to the narrow end of the room and stood on the foam platform that was under the dirt ceiling where they had first entered. Ric shoved a hand in through the ceiling and pulled out another tree root. He grabbed Heather around the waist, this time Heather feeling more prepared for the exit, and as he sharply tugged down on the root, it quickly pulled back, thrusting the two of them upward and back up to the outside. They dusted themselves off and Ric motioned to walk down a short trail towards two bikes leaning against a nearby tree. They hopped on, and headed towards town.

Instead of riding on the main road, Heather and Ric turned towards Cupid’s Pathway, a path more hidden but brought them more quickly to their first destination. They found themselves making a few more turns until they were on the East Bluff of the island. Again, another destructive scene of downtown could be seen from the bluff, and Heather felt a pang of anxiety begin to rise inside of her as they sped down the bluff.

One more sharp turn to the right and a few blocks down, and they were now in front of the marina. Heather parked her bike and looked out into the bay. There were the clouds, hanging over the north as though waiting for the most opportune time to finally come down over their heads. In the meantime, she pulled out her walkie talkie and tried not to think about the weather.

“Scott, can you hear me?” Heather listened to more white noise as she waited for a response. Still nothing. Could the rain clouds just off to the north really be causing a problem with the signal? Or maybe there was a problem on the other end?

All of a sudden, a shot rang out and hit Ric’s front bike tire. Ric lifted his rifle and aimed towards the yacht house. “Come out!” he yelled.

Heather reached over and touched Ric’s arm. “Don’t,” she said, and called out on her own. “We don’t want to hurt you, or anyone.” She squinted her eyes to see a person’s head poking out from the porch. “We just want to help. We NEED your help!” Still, no answer or movement. “We just want to save the people here and get some answers.”

The few minutes of standstill seemed to go on for ages, but finally, a hand went up in the air. Ric pulled his goggles onto his forehead and looked with wide eyes. Another hand went up, and finally, a full person emerged from the porch, pulling off a leather cap to reveal long, red hair and a fair face unblemished from the sun. She spoke with a voice of relief. “Ric?”

Ric threw down his gear and ran up the steps of the yacht club, embracing the woman who was just a few minutes ago, shooting at him. Looks like they know each other, Heather thought, more excited about the fact that they had not only found another human being, but one that Ric knew. But before she could approach them to introduce herself, another shot rang out, this time hitting Heather’s bike pedal and nearly hitting her in the knee. She jumped out of the way and grabbed the rifle Ric had dropped, not sure of where to point it. Then the woman cried out…”To the north!”

Heather turned to look at the clouds once again. They were moving now, at a rate faster than any kind of clouds she’s seen before. Lightning began to hit the water and thunder filled the air. It was only a matter of seconds before the rain would start. Ric and the other woman grabbed Heather and ran towards the marina. The woman led them past four docks before running down the fifth one, jumping off, and disappearing into the water. Rick looked at Heather and said, “We need to trust her,” then ran down the dock himself and jumped after the woman. Heather ran to the end of the dock, and tried to see them through the water. She didn’t have to look very hard, as a swirling hole kept a tunnel through the water open for them to jump through. Heather could see Ric and this other woman looking up at her, holding their hands up towards Heather. Well, I guess I trust her! Heather thought, and crossing her arms over her chest, jumped into the water.

~

The three disappeared from sight as the swirling hole in the water disappeared into the waves. The thunderous clouds began to cover the entire island, lightning hitting the ground and breaking up trees, lampposts, and the street into pieces. As the storm continued, he lowered his rifle and laughed, looking down at the marina, knowing the destruction that he was about to cause. “This is only the beginning,” he said out loud to himself, and disappeared back into the forest.

Have an idea of where you’d like the story to go next? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section: To start at Chapter 1, click HERE and scroll to the bottom.

Chapter 3

Heather couldn’t believe what she saw in front of her.

On top of Anne’s Tablet was a man sprawled out on his back, as if soaking up the sun. He wore a thick layer of clothes, a winter hat with ear flaps and heavy hiking boots. And covering his eyes, a pair of very big goggles. Heather also noticed a strap along his waist holding some kind of weapon, but she couldn’t quite make it out over his leather jacket. He looked like a rugged man, one who may have a strong affinity for the wilderness and outdoors… or possibly, just a man trying to survive in post apocalyptic Mackinac. Heather couldn’t think of anything more interesting to ask, so she asked the obvious.

“Who are you?”

“Shh!” he pushed out the sound between his teeth. “I just new a few more seconds and…”

Just then, a green light started blinking on the man’s goggles. They were peculiar looking, although reminded her of something steampunk . Except that steampunk was just something out of fiction. Or was it? She had to find out more.

The man stood up and pressed a button on his goggles to stop the beeping, and towered over Heather. He pushed his hand out for a handshake. “I’m Ric. Scott usually tries to bring some hero over here, but they’ve never made it through town like you. Looks like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders not going into any of those buildings. Not all those cleared out entrances are what you think.”

“Well in that case, I’m glad that I got this far,”Heather replied, not sure whether to be complimented or concerned about his last sentence. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t the townspeople all live downtown now?”

“What are you, crazy!?” Ric shot her a glare seen right through his goggles. “Downtown is a death trap if you go into one of those buildings. What used to be quaint little shops and housing is now only occupied by…” Ric cut his last sentence off as he turned his head toward town at a faint sound. As he turned back toward Heather, the expression on his face grew more calm. “This town is cursed. The residents here have no choice but to seek refuge together on this island, the government won’t touch this place and the only person strong enough to make a difference here is me. Except, maybe my efforts alone aren’t enough.” Ric took a step closer to Heather and held out a hand. “If you’re tough enough, Heather, I could sure use the help.”

This call for help was a no-brainer for her as she readily shook Ric’s hand in return. “You can count on me, Ric. Now there’s just one thing. If you need my help, I’m going to need a little more briefing on how things got to be the way they are over here. And how are the residents “together?” And, why are you the only one I’ve even seen so far?” She began squeezing Ric’s hand even more mid-handshake as she asked each question, realizing that maybe she could be shaking hands with the wrong person.

“I can explain it all to you, friend, but sometimes, it’s easier to just show you.” Ric pulled his goggles off of his his face and over his hat. Heather noticed his blue eyes, and thought that there was nothing peculiar about it, which made her wonder all the more what his goggles were for. Maybe he’s just using them as sunglasses?  Heather thought. But the idea of having solar powered goggles had to give them more meaning.

Ric stepped back from Heather and turned towards the trail leading away from Anne’s Tablet. As Heather followed him she noticed the old fort standing on her left, and just ahead of her, a gazebo. One that she had seen many times in the past, but now weathered and old. A far cry from its original fairytale look. However, upon reaching the end of the trail and ending at the gazebo, she noticed the addition of a bright, brassy ring of metal at its base. Heather and Ric stepped into the gazebo, where, on the inside, it looked as though nothing had been touched in years.

“Let’s get a better look, shall we?” With the press of a button on Ric’s goggles, the gazebo started to tremble and turn in its place, then a crackling noise pierced the air as it separated from the ground. Soon they were spinning into the air, until after about 200 feet, the gazebo tower stopped.

I can’t believe this is happening. Heather forgot how much she hated the idea of falling, and gripped the railing. She could see all of the marina. She could see the main street near it, and the road leading into downtown, ripped and torn apart by what Heather had only assumed so far was an earthquake. She could see the buildings in town that were destroyed, and ones that were apparently occupied by non-residents… and as Heather circled the gazebo for her 360 view, that’s when she noticed the buttons. Along the railing, a control panel of buttons and switches had popped out, lining the inside of the gazebo. In the center of the gazebo, a periscope had dropped down, and Ric was looking through it.

“Just give me a few more seconds and I can show you everything…”

Heather stood straight on looking at Ric, shocked, alarmed, and most of all, confused. “Alright, buddy,” she said in a low and careful voice, “Who in the world are you!?”

“Well, friend, I guess you can say I’m a madman.”

Have an idea of where you’d like the story to go next? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section:

To start at Chapter 1, click HERE and scroll to the bottom.