Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs.
by Angharad

Copyright © 2013 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.

Desert Island Discs.

When Jon Bessant was young his mother used to love to listen to Roy Plomley interviewing some celebrity or other and playing their favourite eight pieces of music. They had to pretend they were stuck on a desert island and thus choose the music which they like to have with them along with a favourite book and an item of luxury but which couldn’t be used to help them escape.

When he was young, Jon didn’t think many of the things which happen in life, could happen to him, but they did; not least being stuck on an island, though desert might be a misnomer in this case.

Jon was a very young looking eighteen when he got himself a job on a cruise liner. He hoped it would help him get into a drama school to study acting and singing. What he didn’t realise was it would get him into all sorts of turbulent water and much more quickly than he could have imagined.

About two weeks before the start of the drama, Hurricane Perry had rampaged the part of the Pacific ocean Jon’s cruise liner was about to traverse. Even with all the latest navigation aids, GPS, sonar, electronic compass and lodestone, the ship was ill prepared to cope with a very large explosion caused by an ancient Japanese mine which had been laid during the Second World War and had been lying on the sea bed for nearly seventy years. It struck amidships and the secondary explosions which occurred less than a minute later as the fuel oil went up blew the ship in two and she sank very quickly with tremendous loss of life of passengers and crew.

For some reason, Jon, who’d been near the stern of the vessel when the explosions occurred found himself sitting nearly naked on a piece of debris. He had no idea how he got there, nor what had happened to his clothes, but all he had on were his underpants and they were torn in several places, and one shoe.

He was without food and water and thought he’d be dead within a day or so, but a heavy shower of rain saved his life–at least for a day or two–when he managed to capture some of the water in his shoe.

A day later he saw landfall looming then realised whatever it was was small and surrounded by a reef. He finished his water put his shoe back on his foot and tried his best to clamp himself onto the pallet upon which he’d been floating. He wondered why he’d been saved just to be destroyed against a sharp set of rocks as he floated inexorably towards the roaring and frothing waves which broke upon the coral. It seemed like forever until suddenly he was thrown into the air and then smashed against the razor like rocks. The pallet took the first battering and Jon somehow managed to cling onto it, but the second wave flipped him over and he slipped off into the depths being washed through a gap with a surge of water that felt like he was being whooshed through a giant hosepipe.

He really thought he was dead for a moment, until he found himself in calmer waters and although there were strong currents, he struggled to force his way to the surface where a piece of the pallet nearly brained him as it flew off the rocks.

With aching limbs and only his innate sense of self preservation to keep him alive, he swam slowly towards what he hoped was land. He didn’t care if it was hostile land, or inhabited land, just as long as it was dry land and he could at last get away from the wet hell which had tried so hard to destroy him.

At one point he thought he saw the tell-tale triangular dorsal fin of a shark, but it was a piece of wood or something similar, which bobbed up before him and then smacked into him nearly knocking him out. He recognised it as a cabin trunk or portmanteau, which might have come from his ship and before it could hit him again, he scrambled on top of it lying along it and waiting for it to drift closer to the shore and relative safety. He was fighting to stay awake, his eyes wanted to close, his mouth was dry and salty, his lips were cracking and he was soooo tired.

He knew if he closed his eyes he’d go to sleep and possibly never wake up again, normally such a dilemma would produce enough adrenalin to wake him, but he was so tired and hungry he began not to care–until he did see the dorsal fin, and it was a dorsal fin. He hoped he wasn’t bleeding, he’d heard some sharks could sense blood in infinitely small quantities in salt water. A piece of the pallet came along side him and he grabbed it, any weapon was better than none at all. Then as the shark swam towards him he smashed it down upon its head. He didn’t know what happened to the predatory fish as the effort caused him to slip off the case and lose his weapon and he began to slip into unconsciousness as the angry shark attacked the portmanteau and left Jon floating on the surface of the water to be washed up onto a sandy beach where he lay for half an hour before realising he was still alive.

The portmanteau which had saved him lay dented but intact some feet from him though he wasn’t really aware of anything much as he dragged himself away from the sea and up the beach, where he slept for twelve hours in exhausted slumber.

When he awoke he was astonished to discover he was alive–he knew this because his whole body ached and he was covered in bruises and scratches. He was still tired and hungry and after swallowing half the Pacific, he felt quite sick as well. He was sick, and it made him feel worse and if possible, weaker. He still thought he was going to die. However, something inside him made him stand up and walk up the beach towards a group of trees which he was delighted to discover were coconut trees. He found a fallen one and with the help of a small rock, smashed open the end only to find it wasn’t edible.

He tried several others and they were all the same. Then he spotted some hanging from the tree and with difficulty he scrambled up the tree and dislodged three of the large nuts. This time his efforts paid off and he sipped the milk which he threw up some ten minutes later. He tried again and kept it down. As his body began to rehydrate, he felt himself getting stronger. He smashed the now empty nut and ate some of the flesh. He estimated if he ate one of them a day he could last for a month but what it would do to his body he had no idea–perhaps just prolong the agony, he didn’t know, but what he did know was that he was still alive and where there was life–lay hope.

He sat under the shade of the trees realising that he needed some sort of cover from the sun, as he was beginning to burn and with his fair skin, it would be ironic if he survived the privations of being shipwrecked only to succumb to heatstroke or some weird skin cancer.

In the afternoon of that day he walked along the strand line looking for anything that might help him when he saw the portmanteau and nearly broke into a run. He dragged it as best he could away from the strandline but he was too weak or it was too heavy and he then spent an hour trying to break into it. It didn’t work and he was hot, tired and sunburnt and still naked, his underpants having finally collapsed from the trauma they’d suffered.

He swore and trudged away from the case back up the beach to sit under the trees again. He slept, although his nakedness made him feel uncomfortable, possibly vulnerable. He woke feeling a little stronger and after a breakfast of coconut milk and flesh, he again walked the strandline and found bits of fishing net, wire and driftwood and the ubiquitous bits of plastic bottle which float on every ocean.

He went back to the portmanteau and with a piece of wire began to try and force the locks. His hands were quite sore when he managed to open one of the locks but all he felt was a sense of elation, and it spurred him on to open the second. It was nearly dark when he got the thing open only to discover it was full of women’s clothing, toiletries and makeup.

He stood it upright and looked through the drawers on the one side–jewellery, makeup, hairbrushes and combs, and shoes at the bottom. The owner had the same sized feet as him but somehow, he couldn’t see himself walking up the beach in a pair of silver court shoes with three inch heels. However, it was all like a treasure trove to him and he carried it all up to the top of the beach before dragging up the empty case and reloading it as it was before.

He’d lost some weight so was extra slim and to his delight and chagrin, he pulled on a dress and found it almost fitted him–almost, being a little slack in the hips and bust, but it was clothing and when he found some panties, he was really pleased. All he needed now was a pair of shoes and he’d be able to explore the place so much better the next day. In a plastic bag which he’d nearly overlooked, he found a pair of pink and white training shoes. They didn’t quite match the short blue dress he had on, but fashion sense is probably secondary to survival sense in all but young women and Jon really didn’t give a toss. He had some clothes and he could now walk about the place in modest comfort, hoping he didn’t bump into anyone he knew while attired in such an outfit–but then, a thousand miles from anywhere, perhaps further, he didn’t think it was likely, though the Smiths from across the road from his mother did tend to do exotic holidays, even they would be unlikely to turn up here, he hoped.

Having no idea of the size of the island, nor anything much else about it, he picked up a stout stick as a defence should he meet anything offensive–like–spiders, millipedes–snakes–he almost decided to end his reconnoitre there and then and commit to living as a beach bum for the rest of his short life. Then he asked himself if he was a man or a mouse–“In this get up, I’m not entirely sure,” he said to himself. It seemed weird that the only words he’d heard in the past couple of days, he’d voiced himself.

The sun beat down upon him and he explored the trunk again and found a wide brimmed hat and pulled it on his head. “Oh well, if I come across anyone having a wedding, I should be okay,” she said to himself and sniggering he set off with his stick to explore the island.

In climbing up through the undergrowth to the highest point he could find, he got very warm and began to wish he’d brought a coconut with him for a safe drink. He heard running water but as the terrain was too difficult he couldn’t explore the source of the noise, but there was water there, so that had to be a plus–all he needed now was a means of conveying it and making it safe to drink. He was thirsty, the heat was oppressive and he had nothing to drink.

Feeling sorry for himself, he turned around to head back to the beach when he suddenly saw it. Some sort of building. There were people here, or had been. He grasped his stick and with renewed vigour set off towards the building he thought he saw. It was hard work and he had to beat his way through the brush several times, frightening some rather noisy birds. He hadn’t seen any animals but there were birds so with fish, possibly some fruit and the odd bird he could survive. The eating wouldn’t be terrific but he could live–once he learned how to hunt or find fruit and berries that were edible. It looked like this was going to be like reverting to hunter gatherer behaviour as performed by all our ancestors.

Once he had a source of food he’d need some sort of shelter, was this house occupied, could they call by radio for help, would they be hostile or friendly to a weirdo boy in a dress? It was a risk he’d have to take. He finally saw the house growing closer. It was obviously abandoned and he almost felt like crying. Then chiding himself for acting more like a girl than a boy, he approached it.

It was quite an old building and it looked as if there’d been a fire which had gutted part of the main house, which was a single storey brick building with a corrugated iron roof. Termites had eaten much of the wood, the furniture was beyond repair except a metal table and the appliances were all rusting. He opened a refrigerator and the door fell off nearly gashing his leg and causing him to fall backwards down a few steps. He came to a stop when his groin met a metal bar projecting from a wall and the sharp edge of it went straight through his dress and panties and into his genitals. He screamed, pulled himself off the bar, saw blood and promptly fainted.

He came too feeling weak and sore and all sticky down below. When he looked there was a dark brownish red patch on his dress. He lifted it up and realised his scrotum was slashed and his testes exposed, one of which detached as he moved. He nearly fainted again, but he knew if he did, he’d probably die and his death would be even more bizarre than being washed up drowned in a pair of underpants with one shoe.

He managed to tear off the bottom of the skirt of the dress and folded it as pad and shoved it down inside his panties which he pulled up tightly. Standing was painful but he had to explore, he had to find help in one form or another or he’d die.

In what remained of a cupboard he found some antiseptic powder, it was only a couple of years out of date, so might be useful. He staggered round what had once been some sort of plantation or farm. Grapes growing on a vine in a derelict greenhouse provided food and fluid, and he finally found a well. Water, hopefully of the clean variety, and a metal bucket on a chain.

In ten minutes he had the bucket in the well and five more after that he managed to pull it out using the creaking, rusty handle. It looked clean and he unhitched the bucket and taking off his hat, he tipped the bucket over himself. It felt cool and refreshing. He filled it again and left it on top of the wall surrounding the well. He walked painfully back to the house and dusted his slightly bloody crotch with the iodine powder.

Sitting down against a wall he slipped into an exhausted sleep. For the next three days, he woke long enough to eat a few grapes, wash his wound, dust it with powder rinse out his makeshift pad and sleep. How it didn’t become infected, he didn’t know, but the powder must have retained some efficacy because his wound began to heal though his second testicle went the way of the first, atrophying and finally breaking off on his pad. He vomited after that and sat in a stupor for the rest of the day.

More exploration of the house, or its remains disclosed a couple of pots and pans, an old kettle and two glass bottles. In what was once a garden he found some yams and some sort of bean still growing. He also found two graves dated 2006.

As he healed, he was able to collect the items from the trunk and bring them back to the house. It was quickest along the beach, the house he discovered had its own jetty, though nature was trying to recapture it. It seemed ridiculous that he was carrying women’s clothes back to the house but that was all he had to wear, and as they say, desperate situations require desperate answers. Besides, he was getting used to wearing dresses or skirts.

A month later, he was fully healed and although his willie still worked as a wee transporter, it didn’t do anything else and his scrotum was a shrivelled and scarred piece of skin he was happy to hide in the panties he wore.

After clearing a large bush one morning he discovered an underground chamber and he struggled with the doorway, which was let into the rock, once it was open he was astonished to see bottles of wine and two sacks of something. When he looked, they were flax seeds and lentils. He shrieked with delight when he saw they were neither mouldy nor sprouting. He had something else to eat. In fact he took a handful of the seeds and began chewing on them, then decided they might be better boiled first.

The beans were cropping in the garden as well and he picked a pot full of those and left them to dry in the sun. He’d boil them with the seeds and some fish. The tools he’d managed to find included a spade and an axe, both of which had metal handles. He also found others where the termites had eaten the wood of the handles, though he’d repaired a hammer with a piece of stick he found.

Each day he set lines, he found fishing line washed up on the beach, complete with hooks. He’d bait them with worms he dug from the garden or other creepy crawlies like slugs and snails–the fish didn’t seem to mind and he usually had at least one to eat to provide some protein to go with the fruit he found.

Fire was getting easier, a stick on a bow fitted into a small hole on another piece of wood. It was how primitive peoples made fire a hundred years ago, and providing there was some dry tinder, it started within a few minutes.

In the second month, he was harvesting his garden produce and storing it in the store room which he called his wine cellar. Carrying the or rather dragging the trunk back to the house, he discovered a housewife. Not a human being but one of those mini sewing kits, so he could repair some of his damaged clothing. It gave him something to do in the heat of the day, though he’d have preferred a book or his broadband connection.

His hair was growing long and he combed it into a ponytail and tied it back. He even played with the makeup one afternoon, he was so bored, then discovered he had no means of taking it off, so went round with mascara and eyeliner for the next week, with his long hair and slight frame, not to mention the clothing, he looked more female than male. He’d also pulled on a bra until he realised his chest looked rather strange for a young man. That frightened him and he shut the bras away in the trunk.

After three months, and nearly succumbing to a diarrhoeal bug, he boiled all his drinking water from then on, he noticed his chest was continuing to develop moobs as he called them and if he ran, they bounced and felt uncomfortable. After that he tried a bra again and found it nearly fitted. He had to go and sit down after that.

He reasoned that because he’d castrated himself that first day at the house, he was producing more oestrogen than testosterone, and that relieved him. He didn’t realise that he was also consuming soya beans, yams and flax seed all of which contain phytoestrogens, so he was accidentally turning himself into a feminised creature, which occurred to him when the dresses didn’t seem so loose around the hips.

On the tiled floors of the house he could wear the court shoes, there were four pairs of those and it meant if he was indoors he could save the trainers for more rough walking.

He’d been there a whole year when a passing ship responded to his flashing mirror. By then, he had the bodyshape of a very fit young woman, with well developed breasts and hips and hair well down below his shoulders.

They refused to believe he was a man and called him Joan, perhaps because when they found him he had washed and changed into his best dress and shoes and applied some makeup and the pearls he’d got from the trunk.

The End

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