The Skull

Flashes of the accident assaulted Ben’s dreams, quickly turning them dark. Piercing screams, the blaring alarm, and overwhelming terror as a wave struck and Ben was plucked from the deck like an ant against a river. The taste of the salty water felt so real Ben thrashed about, which drew him from his nightmare.

With a strangled cry he jolted awake. He blinked against the blindingly hot sun and lifted an arm to shield his eyes. I’m on land? How? He jumped when water lapped at his legs. The tide was slowly rising, easily soaking him to the waist as he lay on the beach. He pushed himself back out of its warm reach and peered around, trying to ignore the severe headache pounding against his skull.

There was water. So, so much empty water. He fought down the panic that constricted his chest as he turned and surveyed the land behind him. There were trees, thank God.I can work with trees.  Did anyone else survive? Did the ship even sink? He couldn’t recall anything after the pain of hitting the midnight water head first.

Ben pushed himself to his feet and wobbled for a moment before working his way inland more. Years of basic survival training as a kid came in handy right now. He shoved the anxiety over the accident to the back of his mind, surely to resurface once he fell asleep, and started formulating a plan.  As he strode along the beach something caught his eye. He altered his course and approached the rounded, white object. When he got close enough to see that it was a human skull he stopped.

“That is not a good sign.” He whispered to the hot, still air. Having been so focused on the skull itself he failed to notice the crab that had claimed the long-unused bone. Ben watched in a mixture of amusement and horror as the crab started to crawl away, dragging the skull with him.

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After he made it a good five feet, Ben shook himself from his daze and dashed after the crustacean. He scooped it up and cradled the skull in his arm as the crab tried to pull itself as far into its makeshift shell as it could.

“You’re either going to be my buddy or my dinner.” Ben announced as he started towards the trees. “I’ll make you a little pen so you don’t abandon me, and only time will tell.” He continued into the trees, glad to see some with vines.

Before Ben stepped out of sight of the ocean he looked back, hoping for a sign of the ship. Or any ship. He didn’t want to be here, but he was going to make the best of it if he were truly stuck. He looked down as the crab tentatively poked at his arm, seeking escape. His voice made it duck back under cover.

“We can scope out the island tomorrow. Maybe we’re just on the other side of an island resort, huh?” The crab hid in his skull and Ben sighed. “Fine be that way.” He looked around to find something to dig with, silently thankful for some form of company, even if he was getting the silent treatment.

 

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