The morning sun awoke them both. To their surprise, they had both fallen asleep and they awoke to the gentle swaying of the boat.
“Waves,” Freddy’s voice quivered.
“Waves means fish, Freddy,” Sam said.
Sam reached down and pulled out a bag that had been tucked just inside the edge of the boat. He prepped a fishing rod. Then he grabbed some bait from a can that was in the bag. He tossed the hook with bait on it over the edge. It wasn’t long before they got a nibble. They were so excited they didn’t care that they couldn’t cook the fish. They took turns biting it, ripping it apart like they hadn’t eaten in months.
After their stomachs were full, they continued paddling. A few hours later, they could make out some land in the distance.
“What is that?” Freddy asked.
“It looks like an island,” Sam said.
The waves took them closer and closer until they washed ashore.
“Another island? No more islands. Let’s go back to sea, Sam,” Freddy cried.
“Where do we go Freddy? Maybe someone is on this island and they know how to get us back home.”
“Maybe they are as messed up– like my parents,” Freddy yelled.
“Either come with me or not,” Sam said.
Sam walked into the trees. He looked around for life, people, abandoned campsites, but saw nothing. Freddy followed closely, not wanting to be left alone.
After a few hours of walking, they kept finding themselves at the same spot on the island. The night sky soon made it impossible to see and with it, the sounds of nocturnal animals made their presence known.
“Let’s get back to the boat,” Freddy said impatiently.
“Ok,” Sam said, content that they had searched the entire island, not to find a soul.
They tried to retrace their steps toward the beach where they left the boat, and soon stumbled into it. They got in and slowly pushed themselves away from the shore. As they rowed, the sounds of the animals got louder.
“What’s that?” Freddy asked.
Sam looked up and stopped paddling. He saw about twenty masks staring back at them with different painted emotions. The masks lit up in torchlight that hadn’t been there moments prior. Rocks began to pommel the boat, but this was a different island.
Sam stared at the beach and lights and rowed out to sea as hard as he could. Freddy joined him, breathing heavily with each stride.
“That was not the same island Freddy!” Sam cried.
“No, it wasn’t,” Freddy said. “It had to be the ancient book. It appears to have made its way to this island as well.”
Sam felt relief as the lights disappeared in the distance. The darkness was back, but at least there were waves. He was certain that at least one full day had passed. He turned and sat down, looking at expression he could see of Freddy’s face.
“There is no escape,” Freddy said, discouraged. “Every effort destroyed by that book. And now we have waves again. Maybe the book really is holy. Maybe I was wrong to leave,” Freddy said.
Sam looked at Freddy’s white face as a sliver of moonlight continued to make its way through the clouds. He watched as Freddy reached into his unbuttoned shirt and pulled out something with a strap attached to it. Sam continued to watch as Freddy slipped on a mask, an angry mask.
“I’m sorry it has to be this way, Sam!” Freddy screamed in anger.
Sam grabbed the oar and struck Freddy in the head, knocking him overboard. Freddy’s hands were reaching up out of the water.
“Sam,” he gasped “Sam…”
Freddy’s hand reached up on the edge of the boat, and Sam froze. For a moment he thought he saw a glimmer of the real Freddy, so he reached down for his hand, just like Freddy had done for him back on the island. Freddy stabbed at Sam and connected. Blood was dripping from the middle of Sam’s left hand. The knife they had used to cut the fish was sticking out of it. As Freddy tried to grab onto the boat and pull himself aboard, Sam screamed. Blood gushed as he pulled the knife out, letting it fall handle side down into the water. Sam fell onto his back, on the boat’s floor and watched as Freddy pulled himself up over the side of the boat.
“You thought you could kill me?” Freddy screamed as he now stood above Sam.
Freddy’s hair was dripping wet and tears rolled down his face as he pulled another mask out of his pants this time. Slowly, he placed it over his face. It wasn’t the angry mask, but a sad one. With a cry of pain, he lifted the paddle high above his head.
“Why did you make me do this, Sam? I thought we were friends,” Freddy said.
Sam looked over at his fishing rod. The hook and fishing line was still attached. As Freddy swung the oar, Sam slapped Freddy across the face with the rod. The fishhook stuck in his face above his eye. Freddy dropped the oar, and a struggle for control ensued. There was a tussle back and forth and blood was dripping everywhere. Sam grabbed the oar firmly and shoved Freddy backwards. Then Sam reached for the oar as Freddy bounced off the boat, but Freddy’s grip took the oar overboard with him. Sam could only watch as both the oar and Freddy vanished into the water and into the darkness.
He looked down and saw the angry mask rising from the depths of the ocean. The sad mask lay there, staring up at him from the floor of the boat.
Exhausted, he curled up on the boat’s floor and fell asleep under the moonlight with the gentle rocking from the waves.
He awoke to the sound of voices. It was light outside and he could no longer feel the waves underneath him.
“He’s over there,” a voice yelled.
“Is he alive?” another asked.
Sam stood up and saw some people running toward him and the boat. He had washed up on a shore somewhere. The sound of the waves was strong and there was a cool breeze making him shiver.
“Sir, he looks like he is ok,” a man in uniform said.
Two police officers came over. One of them wrapped Sam in a blanket, the other reached down into the bottom of the boat. The officer with the blankets picked up the sad mask.
“What is this?” he asked.
Sam saw it and his face went white. The police officer gave him another blanket grabbed him.
“You are ok son,” the officer said.
“He’s just scared of clowns,” the other officer laughed.
They took him to the station, where he sat wrapped in blankets for what seemed like hours. They gave him a soda, and he waited to speak to a detective. The detective arrived a few hours later, grabbed a cup of black coffee from the coffee maker, and sat down next to Sam.
“I’m Detective Nichols. Where are you from?” he asked.
“Florida, sir,” Sam said.
“Florida?” Detective Nichols laughed. “Look, I’m trying to be informal here.”
“What’s funny about Florida?”
“You said you left home three days ago? And you called me sir. I’m too young for that,” he said.
“Yeah, sorry sir.”
“You said it again,” the detective laughed. “And you get from Florida to Maine? And you spend at least a day or half day on two different islands?”
“It’s not possible, kid. We contacted your parents. They don’t know how the hell it happened either. They got you a ticket home. You fly out in a few hours.”
“Ok. And my boat?”
“Don’t worry about your boat. Your parents just want you home and safe.”
Detective Nichols came back to take him to the airport a few hours later. He went through security, even had to take his shoes off. It was the first time he ever walked through a metal detector, but he had no metal on him, just a backpack that the police gave him with some clothes. He sat down in front of his departure gate, where the detective escorted him. They gave him a ticket and told him he would be in the first group of people to board because of his unique situation.
Sam told himself that flying on a plane would not be as bad as being out on the ocean with no waves, on scary islands, with scary people. Sam boarded and sat down in his seat. He continued to buckle his seat belt and watched all the pre-flight safety videos. There was a brief adrenaline rush from the takeoff, and then flight attendants came by and gave him another soda. Sam felt as if he was being treated like a king. But as the plane descended, he couldn’t wait to see his parents again.
He soon arrived at the airport, his mother and father were waiting for him. They were quiet and he figured he was in trouble, but he hugged them as hard as could anyway.
It was a quiet car trip home. His father didn’t say one word until he stepped into the house.
“You lost my boat,” his father said.
“I didn’t lose your boat, Dad. It’s in Maine.”
“That is the same thing as losing my boat, Sam. Do you know what that boat means to me?”
“I just wanted to find a wave, Dad.”
“What– are you a surfer now? Sam, the waves never went away. That’s the story you kept telling yourself. And the moon, it’s full. Not broken. How did you get to Maine in 3 days? That’s the question. Did you take a flight? Did you ride with someone? You gave us quite a scare.”
“I’m sorry, Dad. It won’t happen again. I’ll work hard to get that boat back for you.”
“You better. It’s going to cost a lot of money,” his father said.
“He just got home, honey,” his mother said as she shook her head from left to right.
“You are right, Liz. By the way, I found this in the bag of stuff they sent back with you,” his father said as he tossed something at his feet.
Sam looked down and saw the back of the mask. He remembered the sad face on the front. He slipped it over his head and stared into the mirror to remind himself of his impossible adventure. He saw an angry face staring back at him. Ripping the mask off quickly, he threw it across the room. It crashed against the door.
“What the hell was that, Sam?” his father yelled.
“That is not the mask I had in my stuff. I had a sad one,” Sam pointed at the mask on the floor.
His mother left the room and his father walked over to pick it up.
“I’m sorry, son, that’s mine,” his father said as he strapped it to his face and spoke in an angry but familiar tone. The voice sent a chill through Sam’s entire body. “We never got to perform that sacrifice, did we?”
Copyright © 2021 by Ryan Barnard-Stoker