My face burned. Either from heat or pain or something. It was an odd feeling to go with the chest pain and slight shiver in my legs.
It wasn't at all like waking up from sleep. More like waking up from death. Although I wasn't exactly sure how that last one would feel, it seemed more appropriate.
I woke up all at once coughing and for the first few seconds, I was coughing out water. I kept at it even after that threatening to cough out my organs. When I finally calmed down, I looked around. I was on land but I realised I was sitting in water so that explained my slight shiver.
I couldn't see anyone. The hunger hit me like a ton of bricks. It was day now so It had been about a day since I ate. The sun was scalding so I decided I couldn't just sit here. I had to find food and shelter which I admittedly knew nothing about.
I stood up and looked at the piece of land that had become my home. It was fairly large. If I had to guess, about the size of two football stadiums.
It looked rich in life and very green. Almost like a tropical rainforest or something.
I stumbled out of the water almost passing out a few times until I got to the sand which was scalding. I had to move. I thought for a second that if someone else was on this island, that they might be looking for me and I wouldn't want to be moving in the opposite direction.
I thought about yelling for anyone close by but even the thought of that physically hurt. I hadn't even spoken yet, I wasn't going to be yelling anytime soon. So I picked up a large enough branch I found lying about and wrote 'Jo wz here' as large as I could in the sand.
I chucked slightly remembering the last time I'd written that.
"Okay your turn" Mikey grinned as he handed me a marker.
"Oh no" I said with both hands up to my face as if to surrender "I'm not getting in trouble just to tell the next generation that I infact was here" I replied stressing the 'z' sound.
"Ugh you're not gonna get in trouble. Besides, everybody's doing it" He said pushing the marker closer to my chest
I took it. "Just because everyone's doing it, doesn't mean it's not wrong"
He didn't reply. He had that annoying pleading look on his face that I imagine he had when he asked me to tryout over the phone.
I sighed. "Fine" He smiled. "But I'm making it as small as possible" And I did.
'I need to make this as big as possible' I thought before I began writing in the sand.
So I began walking on the sand. Not exactly sure where I was going but I kept walking. I'd probably be better off finding food and shelter in the forest but I wasn't quite ready to venture in yet.
My feet had dragged for the past fifty yards but I suddenly gained energy when I heard a voice
"Coach!" I looked up searching for the origin of the voice "We got another"
I found a group of people sat on the beach by a ton of washed up crap. I slowly recognized all of them as members of our team and eventually spotted Mikey as he ran towards me. I was instantly relieved. I'm glad I'd walked in this direction.
"Jo!" He shouted. Hearing his voice almost made me cry. I thought I was stranded here alone.
I could sense his worry so i began repeating "I'm okay" until I could sense him calm down.
He hugged me which I hadn't expected. I stood there like a long.
"Mikey." He let go "I'm glad you're okay too"
He put his right arm around my shoulder and put his other knuckle to my disheveled hair and did the motions softly. Lately he had started treating me more like a little brother than a friend. Wasn't sure how to feel about that.
"Don't disappear like that again." he said finally as we made our way back to the group.
As we got to the boat, I counted about seven people including me. I remember there being nine people on the boat.
"Damn it Fahey, I told you to hold on to something" Coach half shouted
"I'm sorry, coach. I slipped up"
"I'm good, coach"
"That's good. Get some rest. We begin scouting soon." He turned to the rest of the group"Make no mistake boys, we're getting off this rock"
"Where are the others, coach? I count seven and not to mention the other boats"
He took a deep breath before speaking "Waves are powerful, kid. The other boats could be anywhere. We have no way of knowing. As for Ben and Tommy..." he paused. It was the first time I'd heard him use first names "They're not here yet. We have to hope that they're alive"
He must have noticed the worry on my face because he composed himself and said "They're well trained kids. If anyone can survive this, they can"
I only nodded.
Mikey went to sit down and I followed. I took a seat beside him staring at the ocean and the light waves.
Without turning to him,
"My mum is going to be so pissed"
"Yeah" he laughed "Mine too"
"Well as far as excuses go..."
He laughed louder.
"I'm sure our parents are giving someone somewhere a ton of grief"
I laughed as I pictured it. It's the first time I'd really done so since the ordeal.
"I just wish I could let her know I'm alright. That we're alright. They must be worried sick." I said
"Let's just focus on surviving. They'll find us"
Not long after, coach mustered us together.
"Okay" he began "You're going to split up into three groups. Two in one. You're all going to walk into the forest in three directions making note of anything you find. Four hundred meters and no more. Everyone meet back here in twenty minutes. I want a detailed report when we get back. That clear?"
"Yes, sir!" we chorused
"Good. I'm gonna start on something that could get us some food. Y'all can join in when you get back. Now move out."
Mikey put his hand on my shoulder "Let's go. Maybe that memory of yours will finally be useful"
A few minutes into our walk, we started seeing all sorts of animals. Nothing deadly so far which was good. I thought I saw a snake in a tree which freaked me out. I was terrified of snakes.
"Shh" Mikey said suddenly
"Do you hear that?" he said
"Here what?" I croaked, my throat dry in fear.
He turned sharply and roared. I screamed, a little too high pitched.
When he started laughing, I was pissed. I pushed him.
"That's not funny!" I screamed
He was still laughing "You should have seen your face" He kept laughing.
I pushed him again and punched him in the shoulder.
"It was a little funny." He said, his laugh dying out.
I glared at him.
"You don't have to be a dick, you know?" I started walking
Realising I was pissed, he said, "You're right, that was in poor taste"
Without turning back, "I'm very tense and you're not helping."
He caught up to me and put both hands on my shoulders "You're right. I'm sorry"
I sighed. "Come on, let's finish our meters and head back" I said as I freed myself and continued walking
Passed some large shrubbery, we came up to a large body of water surrounded by trees. I stopped in my tracks.
"Woah" I managed to say
Mikey was hysterical.
"You know what this means, Jo?!" he said excitedly
"Water is the biggest problem in a situation like ours. and we get a fucking spring?"
His enthusiasm was infectious. I started smiling.
"We actually stand a chance now, Jo! Come on," He was already turning to leave "we need to go tell the others"
This time we were running back which I wasn't sure why. We still had a lot of our twenty minutes left.
Despite that Ollie and Tate had already returned. Mikey was still hysterical
"Coach" he ran up to him "We found a spring, coach"
His eyes widened. I finally caught up to them breathing hard.
They were all in excellent shape from all the running they did everyday. My job was to stand in a zone and jump every few minutes. I wasn't quite used to running as they were.
"Where?" Coach Evans asked
"About ten minutes in" Mikey replied gesturing at the path we just came out of
"That's good. Reid and Eldon found a cave that seems promising. We'll start there as soon as Eldon and Ripley return."
Not long after, Gabriel Eldon and Douglas Ripley came running out the forest both yelling "Coach!" They were pointing at the ocean
We all turned and saw a few luggaeges floating about. They ran past us and ran into the water. Mikey and Tate followed. They grabbed the three luggages floating and led them to land.
"Check them for any information" Coach ordered.
There were two large boxes and one even larger one. In truth it was more like a trunk. Steel and very well made.
"This one is Ben's box, coach" Tate yelled over the waves
"Try to open it. And the others?"
"I don't recognize the name on this one, coach!" Doug yelled.
"Just open them all"
The two boxes had combination locks so we used stone to break it open. The trunk had a small padlock which Doug picked with a paper clip found in one of the boxes much to the dismay of coach.
"Where'd you learn how to do that?" Gabe asked him
"Picked it up places" Doug said brushing it off
"So we got," Tate began "jersey, button up shirts, trousers, two pairs of shoes, briefs"
"Good. we'll take that back to the cave. Distribute. At least we don't have to wear the same thing everyday" Coach said visibly pleased "And the other?"
"Just about the same coach, just more fancy." Doug said "Coach! we got a watch!"
"Give it here" Coach Evans walked up to him to take it "11:34 am, Friday"
"It'll be a full day since we got on that flight in about an hour and a half" I added
"Worst day ever, am I right?" Mikey added
The others grunted their agreement.
"We'll it's not over" Ollie yelled "This one's womens' clothes, coach. And a lot of them. Never seen so much in my life"
"Fuck" Coach sweared which never happened "That's a big box, you sure it's all womens' clothes?"
"Every last piece, coach" Ollie added
"Crap" Coach said wiping his brow "Can't be picky now, Reid. Will any of it fit?"
"Doubt it, coach" He replied holding up a rather tiny camisole "Must be a really small chick. Actually a lot of this stuff will probably fit Jo"
The others laughed. My heart seemed to reposition itself in my neck.
"That's not funny, Ollie" I yelled at him
"Nothing funny about it Fahey. If that stuff fits, that's your box."
My face must have turned white. Everyone except Mikey was laughing now.
"Coach! I can't wear that stuff!" I shouted
"Watch it, Fahey!" He shouted back "There will be order here!"
I kept quiet. I felt my knees get weak. They wouldn't really make me wear that stuff, would they?
I turned and started walking away. I heard Mikey tell coach that he'd talk to me. I steeled myself. Mikey could talk me into anything.
When he caught up to me, I said "I'm not wearing that stuff, Mikey"
"Come on, Jo. You have to. It's the only way"
"There's guy clothes in those other boxes. Why can't I wear that?"
"Not enough to go around. We're already going to have to repeat a lot of those clothes."
"Why can't you guys wear some of the girl clothes? It'll make this much easier"
"Jo, be real. Do you really think Coach or anyone of us would fit into those?"
"We only just got passed the girl jokes, Mikey"
Even if I still looked very much like a girl, joining the team had really helped. This seemed like it would delay all of that.
"The guys will promise never to tell anyone about this. No one would have to know. You'd really be helping us out. Giving us some more clothes to go around. Please, Jo"
I didn't reply.
"You know if I could wear those damn clothes I would" He added
"Yeah but you don't already look like a chick" I was pouting now
"Jo, don't make me beg. We'll all really owe you. Even coach"
I started walking back to the group. I stopped in front of them and crossed my arms. Mikey really could talk me into anything.
"Fine, I'll wear the damn clothes. But no one hears about this"
"You're a real champ, Jo" Ollie said
Coach just nodded his approval.
Tate walked up to me and held my shoulder "Thanks for doing this"
"Reid, Denholm, get the two boxes. Eldon, Ripley, get the trunk. Let's get it to the cave. We need to get set up and start looking for food. I'm sure you boys are hungry." Coach said finally.
Everyone took their places and we set off. Survival had just gotten a lot more complicated.
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