Day ten on the island. I’m going through suitcases on the beach, sorting stuff into piles. Clothing. Toiletries. Books.
It occurs to me that I could start a small island lending library with all the paperbacks we’ve found. Mostly Harry Potter, Tom Clancy stuff, two copies of Memoirs of a Geisha, romance novels, one Life of Pi, Bridget Jone’s Diary. It seems that people tend not to read the classics when they fly. Who can blame them? I’m glad I wasn’t reading Russian literature when the plane started to break apart, or I would have been too paralyzed by depression to reach out for my oxygen mask.
There is a definite clique forming here and I don’t think I’m one of the “in” crowd. I’m not as pretty as Kate. I’m not pregnant. I’m not a former soldier or a doctor. I worked in marketing at MetLife Insurance. What is there to say about it? When I tell people, it tends to stop conversation. “Oh,” they say. “That’s sounds like a good job.” Good means boring.
Suddenly, the man named John Locke appears before me.
“Darcy,” he says. “I need your help with something.”
Oh oh. I don’t know what to think of this guy. He’s standing there with his pack of knives. I don’t want to go off with him. He’s in the main group and I’m an outsider. The outsiders all agree that we tend to die whenever we go into the woods with one of them. They think we’re stupid but we understand that we’re expendable and they are not.
“What?” I say. “What do you need?”
“I need help hunting boar,” he says.
“I don’t hunt,” I say. “I grew up in the city.”
“But you look strong,” he says. “Like you could help stalk a boar, gut it and haul it through the jungle.”
“Well…” I say. “Thank you. I guess.”
“Yeah, you’re stocky and thick,” he says. He pushes the tip of a knife against his open palm and looks to be enjoying the feeling of it piercing his skin. “Built like a gorilla.”
I sigh and get up from the piles I’ve been sorting. There doesn’t seem to be any point to telling him he’s rude. Something tells me this guy has never had a woman in his entire life. “Fine,” I say. “But I want to be back here before dark. I’ve heard all kinds of stuff about what’s out there.”
“We’ll be back in no time at all,” he says. He turns around and disappears into the undergrowth. I have to run to catch up to him.
We creep through the jungle.
OK, we don’t actually creep. We walk normally. John seems focused on finding boar and I’m focused on feeling weird about being alone with John. I try to think of things to talk about but my mind is blank. Suddenly I remember the books.
“I’m going to start a lending library,” I say. “To keep up literacy and alleviate boredom.”
“Oh,” he says. “That sounds like a good thing to do.” Good means boring.
“You think it’s a waste of time,” I say. “But I’ve always wanted to be a librarian.”
“Everyone gets a second chance on the island,” he says. “I used to work at a box factory. Now I’m an explorer and a hunter. I’m off the grid. If you want to be a librarian, be a librarian, if that’s your true heart’s desire.”
Suddenly there is a big noise, like an enormous horn being blown right over our heads. Then there is a rushing through the trees, snarling and a sound not unlike when the Bionic Man would turn all bionic. I hit the ground but John walks towards the noise. He’s totally off the grid. He stands there and smiles up at the monster and it passes by us. We are unharmed.
It’s getting dark. John stops to sit on a log and take out some supplies. I think he is cooking dinner. He has a coconut shell, a stick, some leaves and clay.
“If it’s all the same to you,” I say. “I’ll eat back at camp.”
“Not much to eat there,” he says. “But this isn’t food. It’s a mask for your face.”
“For your face.”
I don’t know what to say. Does he think I’m that hideous?
“To make you look more like a boar,” he says. “We’ll rub dirt and peat moss on you to make you smell less human. It’s important to get into the mind of your prey. Think like they do.”
“No, I don’t think so,” I say. “Pass.”
But he comes at me anyway, with the thick paste on his stick, and smears it all over my face. It smells of wintergreen, rotting leaves and feta cheese. He presses things he’s gathered into it, presumably to make me more boar-like, but I can’t see what I look like, of course. Then he pushes me to the ground.
“Oh,” I think, “Here we go. He’s going to hurt me now.”
But instead he’s following up on his pledge to roll me in dirt. As he does, I start to get drowsy. The smell coming from the mask makes me think of my grandfather, mostly because it smells like when he had a chest cold and my grandmother rubbed him down with Vicks.
“John,” I say. “What’s happening?”
But John has disappeared.
I’m running through the jungle.
OK, I’m not really running because I’m on all fours. Rather, I’m crawling through the jungle at top speed. I’m eating strange fruit I find along the way. Fruit the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Then I’m crawling through a swamp and stopping to lap some of the greenish water. It tastes like something dead. It’s delicious.
There’s a boar coming at me. An enormous boar with frightening teeth. He comes right up to me and puts his nose against mine. He tells me, “There’s good mud to roll in over the hill and down in the next valley.”
“Right on,” I say. “I’m heading over.”
“Ralph, Janey and Max are all over there,” he says.
“Right on,” I say again, which is lame, but I’m not used to talking to boar. I head uphill.
We’re all in the mud, enjoying an evening roll. Ralph, a very handsome boar, tells me I’m beautiful. Sandy, a female boar, asks me if I want to set up my lending library near her sleeping place. She’s almost done suckling her latest litter and fears empty-nest syndrome. Some Stephen King might distract her.
Suddenly, a man descends on us from the hill. We didn’t see him because we have bad eyesight and darkness is gathering. He throws a net over Ralph and Ralph is very angry. But before Ralph can attempt to get away, the man puts a knife into his throat up to the handle and pulls it across so that there is a rush of blood. Then Ralph is still. The other boars rampage through the mud and the man swipes at them, temporarily overcome by frantic boars. He misses them all but accidentally sinks a knife into my thigh.
What the hell, I think. I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I was just lying in the mud. Life is unfair.
The man picks me up and tosses me over his shoulder. I pass out.
“Darcy?” Jack says. “Darcy, can you hear me? Come on, Darcy! Pull out of it.”
I open my eyes and smile up at Jack, the handsome doctor. Finally, I’m the one who needs his medical attention. Everyone else has taken a turn but I never managed to get hurt badly enough until now. I smashed my hand in a suitcase on the fourth day but Jack wouldn’t even look at it. He was upset about something to do with Kate. Always Kate.
Now Jack has to give me special attention.
“Come on, Darcy, don’t die on me,” he says. He picks me up by the shoulders and stares into my eyes. “You’re not going to die today! Do you hear me! You’re not going to die!”
“OK,” I say. “I won’t die.”
He doesn’t hear me. “I’m not going to let you die,” he yells at me.
“What’s all that shit on her face?” Hurley, the fat guy, asks Jack.
“I don’t know,” Jack says.
“Where’s John?” I whisper. “And Ralph?”
“Who’s Ralph?” Hurley says. “There’s no Ralph on the manifest.”
“The boar,” I say.
“John brought you here and then he went back to get the boar,” Jack says. “Why? Did he do something to you? Did he put you up to this? Did he try to kill you?”
“I don’t think so,” I say.
“Right,” Jack says. “That guy is a problem. I knew it. Now, where’s my sewing kit so I can sew your leg shut?”
As he’s sewing me up, I feel like I’m going to pass out again. “Don’t be mad at John,” I whisper. “He saved me. I’m not a librarian after all, I’m a boar.”
“What does that mean?” Hurley says.
“Must be some kind of code,” Jack says. “We’ll debrief her when she’s feeling better.”
But I knew that in the morning I’d be gone, out into the jungle to be with my new boar friends, sans Ralph, who would be their dinner.