The Last Hunt

Chapter Five

 Some articles descended more slowly than others. For instance, cylindrical shapes such as barrels moved down very slowly, if at all. On the other hand, other objects went tumbling down at a very rapid pace. Could it be possible for us to attach ourselves to barrels, jump overboard, ride out the whirlwind and float once again on the open sea? I screamed into Bryan’s ears the details of my discovery. He nodded yes. We looked around for barrels. Much to our disappointment, we saw only one— a water cask lying under the cabin seat. Bryan did not hesitate. He found a piece of rope and, pushing me down across the barrel, he lashed me to it quite securely. He and the Captain picked up the cask and threw it overboard. My conclusions proved to be correct. I floated in one place while the Maiden went careening away from me. It passed me several times on its mad descent going lower and lower. Once Bryan waved at me and that was the last time I ever saw him.

The little ship went down and down until I last spied it several hundred feet below me where it made several wild gyrations and disappeared from view.

I gradually became aware that the shape of the vortex was changing. My descent slowed; the walls became less and less steep; the speed of the gyrations became slower. I noticed that the bottom of the whirlpool began to rise. The winds died down. Nature’s burst of wildness slowly disappeared. To my delight as well as my horror I found myself on top of a very quiet, very docile sea. I looked about me. I was alone. The moon was out in full splendor, lighting up the empty sea. The only object in sight was fog-shrouded Skull Island, towards which I slowly drifted.”

“The narrator stopped once again, sipped her coffee and thankfully accepted a full cup. We waited once again. Her eyes were a deep black. I could only wonder what further horrors they hid. She resumed talking in a soft, trembling voice.”

“The night air was warm, and the wind gently ruffled the waves so that my little vessel bobbed up and down. The motion made me very drowsy and I finally fell asleep. I have no idea how long it took to reach shore, but the raucous screeching of the gulls and the brilliant sun brought me back to reality, although I did not want to face up to it. It could have been worse, I thought, as I looked around me and observed the green palms and the beautiful beach. I had reached land.

 I unfastened the ropes and tried to stand up. I collapsed at first, but I persevered and managed to reach the shelter of the trees and looked around me. My first thought was to find some food as I was stark raving hungry. The fog that I had observed at sea was still in evidence. I thought that strange. I decided to lay out in the sun for a while to dry out my clothes. In spite of the mist’s clammy coolness, I was able to dry out relatively well. Then I went exploring.

 The jungle lay thick and menacing as I hit upon a trail. I heard no sound of animals or of humans. I did find some strange looking fruit that I devoured. It satisfied me for a while. I walked for about an hour, all the while surrounded by exotic foliage and extremely large trees, festooned with thick vines dangling down everywhere, sometimes blocking my way. Just when I thought I was the only human being on the island, I came upon the house!

It was a large one, the type that one sees when one travels through the American South. It was moss-covered, of course. It had a wide balcony covering three sides and six huge columns supported the second floor. How it was built here, when it was built, for whom it was built will always be a mystery. The grounds were well-kept, a beautiful garden lay to the west side; to the east was a large orchard of citrus fruits. I could not make out the type. I could hear the barking of dogs coming from the rear of the house. I muttered a prayer, went to the large front door, lifted the knocker and let it drop. That was mistake number one.

The door opened by itself. I say that because I observed no one there. I walked into a large living room that reminded me of a hunting lodge for the very rich and famous. It is hard to describe the furnishings, so I will not try. Suffice it to say that I was impressed. A huge staircase rose to the second floor. It caught my attention as well as the man who descended it, accompanied by a huge, well-trained Doberman.

He was a throwback to the old movie characters that I remember seeing with my parents, so well played by Erich Von Stroheim, Douglas Fairbanks and James Mason. He looked familiar but I could not recollect the name. The man was tall, muscular and handsome in a devilish way. His hair was still black, his body straight as a pole that suggested a military upbringing. I placed his age in the mid-fifties and his nationality Eastern European. I knew I had seen him before but, before I could speculate any further, he addressed me in a full sonorous voice.

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