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Little Cherine Book 03 - BPost048 by arthur.grafo4

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Little Cherine Book 03 - BPost048
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<sup><h6>My hands tied, they forced me to my feet and stumbling from the pain I was forced to walk with them back to their camp.</h6></sup>
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<p><center><a href="https://steemit.com/sfandf-fiction/@arthur.grafo4/little-cherine-book-03-bpost047">Previous Post 047</a></center></p>
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<p><h3><center>1871</center></h3></p>
<p><h3><center>Chapter One Hundred Seventeen</center></h3></p>

<p>Under directions from the third man, Brian, they untied my hands and gave me a coconut shell filled with water. As I tried to hold it they saw my hand.</p>

<p>“Hey, look at that, the nail on his little finger is on the inside.”</p>

<p>“You must have broken it. How about making them all the same? We can break one each day. That way we can use him as our calendar. I’ve always wanted a human skin calendar.” From their guffaws I knew they were all in agreement.</p>

<p>“That only takes care of ten days. How do we keep our calendar going after that?”</p>

<p>“Well, let’s see. First we break his fingers and then we could use this little knife of his. We cut off a finger for every day and then a toe. That gives us thirty days. One month of fun guys.”</p>

<p>One of the knife wielding assailants, older and more brawny leered. “I’ve got a better idea. I say we start with his teeth. Once they are all out we can then make him suck us. His gums should feel just like a cunt.” He opened his pants and pulled out his penis. It must have been the thickest and dirtiest one I had ever seen. He waved it at me. “You going to suck this baby or you want it up your ass?”</p>

<p>I don’t know if it was from the pain or the fear, but I fainted. I woke up to find my arms and feet tied tightly. From the snores around me I knew they were asleep.</p>

<p>It was difficult to think, but I did not have time. I remembered the island and knew I could not get away, as there were no other islands within swimming distance. Three of them against me meant I had no chance, so there was only one option. On the south side of the island the land rose steeply at one point and then broke into cliffs with a beach far below covered in boulders. I had to get away and throw myself off the cliff.</p>

<p>I tried to tear my bonds, but I could not. I saw, as I lay sidewise, that the fire had almost died out, just a few embers still smouldering. I had to hurry or else they would also be dead soon. Snake like I twisted and turned, forcing myself to hold back my grunts of pain. Slowly I inched my way over, the distance small but taking forever to get there.</p>

<p>There was little space between my arms as they’d tied my wrists against each other. I decided it made more sense to burn only my one wrist so I placed the cloth around my left arm over an ember. I thought I would have to pull back as the back of my fingers began to burn, but I held on a while and when I pulled away I saw the cloth burning. I brought my hands to my face and softly blew to keep the fire going. Flames appeared and though I was being burnt the cloth fell apart. I tried to bend over to free my legs, but I could not. My broken ribs made it impossible for me. I swivelled around on my backside, turning slowly until my feet were facing the fire.</p>

<p>I pushed myself forwards until feet first I arrived, and lifting my head I raised my feet and tried to judge where to put them down so that the cloth would be over the embers. First try my legs touched the embers and they sizzled. The stench of burnt pork filled the air as I bit into my arm to stop myself screaming. I tried to lift my legs to put them back over the embers again, but the pain in my ribs was more than I could bear. I took a few deep breaths and forced my legs up and stretched again. </p>

<p>I pushed myself up onto my elbow, tears blurring my vision. I shook my head to rid my eyes of the tears and looked. The cloth was stretched over an ember. Suddenly I saw flames as the cloth caught fire and I knew that before it parted it would burn me. I lay back and bit into my arm again.</p>

<p>The cloth was tightly wound around itself and took forever to burn through - thank goodness I hate synthetic fibres and only buy pure cotton shirts and underclothes, for the synthetic would have melted and hurt me much worse. The flames were licking at my skin and by the time my straining legs were able to tear the cloth they were badly burnt and my arm was bleeding from my teeth sinking and gnawing at it. I could feel I am already weakened by the pain, any more and I would not be able to get further than ten metres away. I decide first priority was to get up that hill.</p>

<p>I managed to raise myself to my knees. Panting from the pain in my chest and stomach I gave myself a minute and then forced myself onto one leg and then the other. The pain of my burns, added to my other pains, made me dizzy and I collapsed. I wept with frustration and that became an anger that I used to push myself up again.</p>

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<p><h3><center>1872</center></h3></p>
<p>I was finally on my feet, but swaying like a drunken man. The anger was still alive and I kept it stoked, using it to force myself to concentrate and take a step. Once I’d managed it I was able to keep myself going. Luckily the beach sand masked the sounds of my falling and my wobbly steps. I kept going, blind as to direction, but walking away from the sound of the surf, only able to force myself to think of the next step. </p>

<p>They had taken off my shirt and trousers and I only wore underpants. They had even taken my socks and shoes. As I stepped into the brush, buried dried palm fronds cut into me and they pierced and cut my feet. I refused to allow myself to stop though and finally I was through it, not walking in sand anymore. The firm ground was like heaven. </p>

<p>I felt I was very lucky. When I broke out into a clearing of grass I saw the darker shape of the hill I was looking for. Having something to aim for now gave me new courage and though my legs were trembling I forced myself to continue walking. The moon had moved across the sky by the time I arrived at the spot where the ground rose up. I could not climb, cramps in my leg brought me down to my knees. I cried out and then bit my lips as I forced my leg to straighten. I had believed that my stubbornness would keep me going, but I had to acknowledge that I am in no condition to climb.</p>

<p>Stubbornness - a waffle of bullshit if I ever heard one! It was pure terror that kept me going. At least in prison they had used pliers, here they would use their knives to dig out my teeth or perhaps a rock. I would not be able to bear the pain. All their gruesome promises beat like a flock of panicked bats crashing about in my mind and I had to kill myself before they found me.</p>

<p>In the state I was in, it suddenly made sense to me that I walk back to the sea and keep on going until it is deep enough to drown. Now I know I could not have, the body refuses to drown, without the strength to swim out to the end of my endurance I could not force myself to drown. At the time though, it made sense. Cunningly I decided I better walk around the hill so that I come out at a distance from the three men.</p>

<p>I had never imagined that nature is so full of thorns. I also seemed to stumble into every broken, spiked branch, till I was bleeding all over. I was hardly watching where I was going, just concentrating on moving, when suddenly my foot did not find solid earth below it and I fell forward, tumbling down. As I fell my head struck a rock and I saw stars and before I could pass out I felt my knee hit another rock. When I stopped moving I just lay there, knowing that now it was out of my hands, I was no longer capable of even getting to my feet again. For the next few hours I alternated between hallucinations of my loves crying for me to get up, and dazed. but lucid moments, when I thought I heard their voices calling to me from a distance, asking why I’d abandoned them, their weeping voices filled with pain hurting me.</p>

<p>Slowly dawn broke and my thoughts turned to my predicament. I tried to gird myself to accept my fate. Through all my pain I became aware that my left arm was hanging down, below my body. I forced myself to turn and saw empty space of about two metres and bush. I closed my eyes and forced myself to drop over the edge.</p>

<p>When I regained my senses it was already mid morning and the sun was burning me. More for the shade than anything else I pulled myself under the bushes and passed out again.</p>

<p>I woke up puzzled, something had set off alarm bells. I lay there quietly, stifling my groans. A voice carried to my ears. I realised they were only metres away from me.</p>

<p>“No, I don’t see him down there. He must have gone around.”</p>

<p>It was late afternoon and the whole dip was in shadow. If they had arrived at noon they would have seen the marks of my fall and the blood on the rocks. The sound of their voices faded away and I sank back into a delirium. I was pleading as I swam into darkness, “Cherine, give me strength, Cherine, please baby, give me strength.”</p>

<p>My memory tells me that I shouted out a number of times during that night as nightmares attacked me, every horror my mind could throw at me finding teeth to bite at my sanity. Being below ground must have muffled the sounds, or else they would have heard me.</p>

<p>I woke up and the sun was already high. I had urinated in my briefs and stank, I was itchy all over and had literally hundreds of points of pain. I was too stiff to move and my mouth was all gummed up, the palate a dry feathery desert, parched for water. If I did not find the strength to move immediately, I would die here. I lay in a daze from the pain, my finger now swollen into a balloon. The disfigurement was a horror by itself.</p>

<p>As the sun was setting I became aware of a scent. Less than an arms length above me a plant grew that was not a bush. It looked more like some kind of flowering plant, maybe some kind of liliaceous plant It had soft pulpy stems. They kept doubling up as my eyes unfocussed and focussed, but I decided there must actually be about five stems. I did not know or care whether it was poisonous, as long as it has some liquid, so that I can wet my mouth and throat. I reached for it and grabbing hold I pulled, trying to tear the stems. Instead the whole plant came out of the loose damp soil. With it came a bulb that looked like a fat spring onion, gleaming white.</p>

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<p><h3><center>1873</center></h3></p>
<p>I bit into it and it burnt like an onion, but it was also full of moisture. I ate the whole bulb and then the stems. It did not make sense to stop, so I ate the leaves and flowers. They were white and brought back the memory of Ashiir and my permission for her to eat all the starry flowers. I grinned like a maniac at the memory and held up the last flower, as if giving a toast to my darling Anadir girl and ate it.</p>

<p>This was to be a night of pure torture. The burns of my legs and left hand had swollen and were weeping, the skin cracked open. My knee was a balloon filled with water (in a sort of delirium I wondered if I could bite into it and drink some). My stomach ached from the kicks and my ribs were a sharp pain with every breath. There was no position that brought comfort and from a sharp, taut projection at my side, I knew a rib was broken.</p>

<p>Morning found me weak, but determined to search for another onion flower. As I painfully raised my head to look I saw three of them about a metre away. To me that was as if I had discovered a whole treasure trove. Before I could move though I heard voices again. They were laughing and shouting messages to me, telling me this is an island and they will find me. Desperately I clawed my way deeper into the bush. They did not however come to the small ravine I lay in.</p>

<p>Once I had built up my courage and dragged myself to the flowers I ate two of them, which gave me heartburn. I thought of my healer and for no reason that I know of, began to laugh. The pain of my ribs tried to stop me, but it made me laugh even more until I was sobbing. I fell asleep crying, missing my girls and homesick. Poor Gilli, I thought, who will take her home now.</p>
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<p>I woke up with my mind clearer than it had been since leaving my girls. I lay there without moving to keep the pain at a minimum. I saw the double irony of my escaping for the purpose of killing myself and then worrying that I would die in the ravine. I also realised that my briefs were thoroughly filthy and stinking and that I would be better off without them. I decided I should take them off, but put off moving for the time being. I lay there and thought of my poor Jade and Cassie. How terrified they must have been!</p>

<p>That made me think of all my girls, my beloved Cherinians too, and it was as if I were in the house with them and could see the consternation and tears I had caused. I desperately wished I could at least apologise to them. Suddenly I remembered that the cutting of the link meant that my girls had probably all died. Within the instant I forgot my physical pain as I curled up and sobbed. For the first time the thought of the cliff and of the void eating me, robbing me of my memories and self knowledge were welcomed. Anything to end this guilt. Then I came out the other side with the knowledge that I do not deserve to die and find release, I have to live so as to bear my guilt and pay for what I have done to them.</p>

<p>Pain no longer mattered, only that I keep myself alive. I sat up, carefully grasping my side with my left hand and started taking stock. My whole body was criss-crossed with scabs and still open wounds. I could see the point of my broken rib distending my skin, tenting it taut, darkened by pierced flesh and torn vessels. I looked at my knee and knew I would not be able to walk on it for some time - if it was not broken. The worst were the burns just above my ankles.</p>

<p>My feet were swollen below the burns and at the burns I could see infection was starting to set in. I felt my temple where I’d hit the rock and the skin was torn and painful, but the bone was not broken underneath. I looked at my broken finger and shuddered at the sight. The bones inside might be broken I reasoned, but it was still important I twist it back to its correct position. I did not know how to do this while it was so swollen.</p>
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<p>I pulled off my soiled underpants and covered them with damp earth and dead leaves. I no longer had my Cherinian memory, but I tried to recall as minutely as possible the island as I had seen it from the air. I knew it has a number of small streams and reasoned that there must be one close by, as I had not stumbled across any that first night. If I had to drag myself there I would do so. It would be better though if I could find a stick to hobble with.</p>

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<p><h3><center>1874</center></h3></p>
<p>I began to slowly drag myself along the ravine, in the upward direction of the hill, stopping often as tears came from the pain. I also had to keep stopping to search under the bushes, where it was cool and damp, for more onion flowers. The one I had eaten today was not enough, neither as nourishment nor for the fluids I needed. I had spent two days and nights with a fever and my mouth and throat were still parched.</p>

<p>I saw under a bush a dark green low-lying plant and peeping through the leaves was a half rotten strawberry. As a fruit I don’t really like it, but that rotten red mess was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Not knowing if it has worms, and not caring, I plucked and ate it. The plant was hiding another four ripe or almost ripe fruit and I ate them. That encouraged me to continue my search.</p>

<p>I found more onion flowers and strawberries and ate enough to make me feel a little better. Now water was the urgent thing to find. Another eight metres and the bottom of the ravine slowly rose in a hump. I dragged myself over it and saw a small pool of dirty, stagnant water.</p>

<p>There were trees extending above me and the pool must have been permanently in shadow for the water was lovely and cool. Gently I brushed the surface, pushing away rotten leaves and other things I did not want to examine and putting my hand under the surface I brought up enough for one tiny sip. I forced myself to stop. I would wait to see whether it makes me sick.</p>

<p>I lay by the side of the pool with my broken finger lying in the water and fell asleep. Every time I removed my hand I half woke up and put it back in. When the sounds of birds woke me, I saw dawn was not far off. I took a few more sips and then noticed my wrinkled hand. The swelling had gone down to less than half of what it had been.</p>

<p>It is now or never I told myself. I found a piece of bark and with it in my mouth to bite on I took hold of my finger and in one swift movement, yanking, I pulled it around. Even through the bark, which crumbled in my mouth, I screamed and fainted.</p>

<p>Soon as I came to I looked at my finger and saw the nail was facing in the correct direction. I also felt that a lot of the pain was now gone. I tried moving it and though it hurt I rejoiced when I saw I could wiggle it.</p>

<p>I was terrified of putting my legs in the water to relieve the tight swelling pain, certain I would make them worse just for a momentary relief. I might have given in, but I was consumed by a burning need for revenge on behalf of my loves. I had to make myself live so that I would pay in full for what I have done to my girls. Instead of my guilt sapping my strength it was driving me far beyond any will to live could have.</p>

<p>The slope of the depression I was in was now far more gentle, but slippery from the damp and moss. As a piece came off in my hands I seemed to recall reading about moss being used to heal. It would have been in a science fiction book and I prayed that the author had done his research. I did not have anything to tie the moss on with and used my hand to pile it on. That meant I could only cover my shins while I lay on my back. I lay there, drifting in and out of sleep for about four hours. Whether it was the moss or just the cool dampness I felt a little better and wondered how to hold some moss to the calves at the back of my legs. There was no way I could lie on my stomach, not with my broken rib. Anyway, I could not contort myself to reach back there. I settled for laying my feet up the embankment so that the burnt parts touched the moss. A side effect was that the raised position helped reduce the pressure in my legs and knee.</p>

<p>I spent most of the night lying like that, though I woke up to find I had moved, lying on straighter ground. I took a few sips of water and pulled myself back over the hump to eat the last few onion flowers. I looked for a place where I could drag myself out of this rift and decided at the hump itself was my best choice. Reluctant to abandon my sanctuary I began to drag myself upwards.</p>

<p>I slipped back a number of times, hurting my burns, knee and rib. The climb was made more difficult by the fact that I could not use my right hand, the use of my little finger being still far too painful. At least I was able to lay the hand with the thumb edge onto the soil as a balance.</p>

<p>Panting and drenched with sweat I pulled over the top, my legs still on the slope and lay there looking around. The area had quite a lot of vegetation and tall grass so if I stayed on the ground (as if I had an option!), I should be able to move without being seen. About three quarters of a kilometre uphill I saw a copse of trees with a lot of green under-bush. That looked promising and I made it my target.</p>

<p>As I dragged myself, my knee kept on getting hurt and my projecting rib scraped whenever I forgot to keep it off the ground. At one point I passed over some small rocks and the edge of the bone caught on a sharp stone and I gave a low scream, quickly burying my face into the ground.  I kept on feeling my senses fading away and only the picture I held in my mind of my loves made my determination fierce enough to hold on and continue moving. Dusk fell and I was only halfway. My throat was raw from thirst. I allowed myself to doze off, but when my thirst and pain woke me up again, I saw the moonlight was bright enough for me to see my target and I carried on dragging myself towards it.</p>

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<p><h3><center>1875</center></h3></p>
<p>I must have been about a hundred metres still from the trees when, as I heaved myself forward my face went straight into the splintered end of a stick. It tore through my cheek and as I fell back I felt the blood flowing. This new pain, what felt like the unfairness of all this happening to me, drained me of my last strength and I sobbed in self-pity.</p>

<p>The thought crossed my mind as I lay there in despair, that this was what I was keeping myself alive for, so that I can suffer and suffer for killing my loves. I reckoned there is a God after all and He was seeing to it that I paid. </p>

<p>I felt for the stick, but found that it was a branch of a tree trunk that lay across my path. Having girded myself to cross the last hundred metres, having now to make a detour sapped me of my determination to manage it. Foolishly I decided to pull myself over the trunk.</p>

<p>As I held myself above the trunk, trying to pull my body over, the rotten bark crumpled, my hands slipped and I land on the trunk, my stomach and lower ribs hitting it. My head also hit the ground, right on a stone about the size of my fist, almost exactly over the old wound. If I screamed with the pain I don’t know, for I passed out.</p>

<p>The pre-dawn glow was in the sky when I opened my eyes. Right in front of my face lay a branch of the tree. Without any thought in my mind I pulled at it and it moved. I lifted it and saw it is short and fairly thick, about a metre in length. I felt new hope surge through me. Barely able to bear the pain as I scraped my burns over the trunk, I lay on the ground, my breathe a sob. Holding one end of the stick pushed into the ground I used it to help me raise myself. At last I was standing on my one leg, the other lightly touching the ground, balancing myself on the stick.</p>

<p>I balanced myself on my one leg, moved the stick forward, thrusting the end into the ground I held onto it and hopped forward. I nearly fell, but saved myself by using my other leg. My knee gave in with a screech of pain, but I held myself up. I looked at the trees and gave a tight grin, swearing out aloud. “I’ll get to you, you fuckers. I’ll get to you.”</p>

<p>I was not able to take more than four or five hops before having to stop and rest. For this time, my world had narrowed, it was just the limits of the distance I had to cover and my refusing to surrender to the haze of pain that tried to sap me of the will to fight on. </p>

<p>I was also chanting in my mind, ‘Cherine, you were wrong, I can feel hate.’ over  and over again. Hate for myself was all I could hang on to, so that I would not give up and lie down. It was late afternoon when I finally felt a coolness and saw I was under one of the trees. I kept myself going through the brush until I was deep inside. I heard the sweet sound of running water and hopping wildly, sometimes even using my second leg I rushed to the stream. As I pushed my way through branches and leaves I hopped into the stream and, slipping, fell.</p>

<p>I wondered through the pain, why is it every time I fall it has to be on those parts of me that are already in pain? Why couldn’t I just once fall on my bum? The water was cool as it rushed by me and I just lay in it, dipping my mouth to the surface, at first swallowing and then just filling my mouth and spitting it out. Luckily I lay facing upstream for my bowels chose this moment to let loose. It all gushed out as a burning liquid and my anus hurt so much that I wondered for a moment whether that man had stuck his thick penis into me. It was however just the acids from my stomach; a result of what I had been eating. Feeling weak, I lay there letting the water wash me clean and wondered. If eating just fruit is going to cause my stomach to act up, how am I going to survive?</p>

<p>As night fell I pulled myself out of the water and lay shivering as I waited for sleep to claim me. Exhausted as I was, weakened and hungry, for a long time sleep refused to come and I lay there for hours until I sank into a tortured sleep.</p>

<p>The next day I scavenged. I would pull up at least one of every type of plant and try gnawing at the roots and leaves. Some of them were bitter and some tasted vile. I found one whose roots had the shape of a white carrot and it tasted like raw potato. I ate it and waited to see how it would affect me. I was pleased to see that the area held a substantial number of these plants.</p>

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<p><h3><center>1876</center></h3></p>
<p>I immersed myself in the water, shivering with the cold, hoping it would help reduce the swelling in my knee and cleanse my burns. I had found a plant I could not eat, but whose ugly rough leaves left an oily substance on my hands when I crushed them. I took one and crushing the oil out rubbed my hand over some of my cuts. It stung, but I forced myself not to wash it off. I repeated the process at the end of the day. When I woke up next morning I saw those wounds were no longer as inflamed. I spent that day squeezing oil onto all my wounds - except for the burns on my legs. There I could not even bear the idea of the pain I’d inflict on myself. Luckily the burns on my hand and wrist seemed to be healing fast.</p>
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<p>The next morning I saw most of my wounds looked cleaner and I sat looking at the burns on my ankles, trying to gather the courage I needed to inflict new pain. Though clean now, I saw they were inflamed and weeping a yellow pus. Plain water was not enough, I had to put the oil.</p>

<p>I found a leaf that had strange bumps in it and from becoming gnarled it had formed into a slight saucer shape. I washed it in the stream and then putting it on the ground I sat over it trying to squeeze enough oil to fill it. I only managed to collect about two teaspoons.</p>

<p>I gathered leaves of the plant I was eating, filled my mouth with them, found a small branch and breaking it put that in my mouth also, holding it between my teeth. Hoping my precautions would effectively muffle my cries I poured half the oil over my one leg. It was as if I had stuck it back in a fire. I screamed, beat my one fist on the ground, trying to bear it for as long as I could and then gave in and put the leg in the stream. I did not have the courage to try it again and just gave up on my legs.</p>

<p>The next morning the leg I had poured the oil on was still burning and looked inflamed, but I noticed that the parts I’d poured the oil on looked cleaner, less pus. I found my leaf, washed it again and collected enough oil, about a teaspoon and with my hand poured some water into it. About five parts water and one oil I decided may still be effective. I collected some moss and holding it with my sore left hand below the burns I poured the mixture from above the burns. It stung as it passed over the burn and I gathered it as it trickled down and lightly rubbed the moss over the open flesh. It stung, burning me, but it was more bearable. I pressed the moss to it and held it there.</p>

<p>I repeated the process on my other leg. I sat for an hour, my back against a tree trunk. Again I collected oil and pouring the mixture directly onto the moss I squeezed the moss against the back of my leg. The pain was worse, which I presume meant I was burnt worse there. I gritted my teeth and forced my hand to hold it for as long as I could against me. I repeated the process on the other leg.</p>

<p>I found that collecting the oil and using it twice a day was taking up all my time, but for the next four days I was devoted to healing myself. By now my little finger had returned to normal, the swelling gone and I saw that I could no longer straighten it. The bones were mending or fusing in the wrong position. The knee swelling was deflating, but it was still far too tender for me to walk or put weight on. When I tried bending my leg it felt as if something was rasping inside.</p>

<p>I was now able to become a little more adventurous and moved about, looking for new foods (I was thoroughly sick of the raw potato taste and my stomach was not happy either). </p>

<p>I had noticed creepers growing up the trees and I got the idea of cutting them and using the stripped creepers as string. I found a number of sticks, breaking them at about a foot long, I collected moss and packing it around my knee I put the sticks over it and bound them all as tightly as I could with the stripped creepers. I found I could put some weight on that leg and with the aid of my walking stick I could now hobble, no longer having to hop.</p>

<p>I did find some fruit, even some onion flowers, but I felt like singing the day I discovered a nest on the ground, hidden in grass. There were four eggs in it, about half the size of a chicken egg. I took one only and holding my mouth open cracked it open. The slimy feel of it as it poured into my mouth was wonderful.</p>

<p>Now that I knew what to look for I discovered more nests. I never left the eggshells near the nests and only took one egg a day, and once I had found more nests I moved on, leaving at least two eggs to hatch. Soon my diet was made up of two eggs a day, the potato plant and an onion flower every second day. Definitely not enough to fatten me, but enough to build my strength back.</p>

<p>Two weeks had passed and I was becoming worried that I was denuding the area, it was time to move on. Mostly I had stayed for the oil, but now even the burns were healing, leaving two rings of puckered scars around my legs. I decided to stay another two days and then leave. I renewed my knee binding and used the oil all over my body (a side effect was that insects now avoided me). I collected a few extra potato and onion flowers, ate my two eggs and took two extra wrapped in moss.</p>

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<p><h3><center>1877</center></h3></p>
<p>On the up slope side, I stood close to the edge of my little ‘oasis’ and watched and listened. As the sun moved, little outcroppings showed themselves, bushes I had not noticed threw a shadow. I saw that to my right, about three kilometres away  and closer to the sea, was another group of trees. Mapping the route in my mind I waited for dusk.</p>

<p>The three men were always in the back of my mind and I reasoned that they may happen to come across my stopping places. I had tried to make certain I left no traces. No stripped leaves or holes in the ground where I had uprooted plants. Still, it is impossible not to leave any traces. Even the grass I’d repeatedly trod upon would betray me if they found the spot within days.</p>

<p>My progress was slow and painful, thanks mostly to my knee and broken rib, but I made my destination before morning.</p>

<p>I had found to my surprise that though there was no need for modesty, not wearing clothes is uncomfortable. Having my penis swing and slap itself against me as I walked was not pleasant. I had to watch out for all thorns, and even the grass left red welts on my legs. I had been stupid not to cover the burns with moss. Luckily, most of the vegetation was similar here and I used the oil fairly liberally. The stream was not much more than a small trickle, but it sufficed - though I could not wash properly.</p>

<p>My mind began to turn to matters of self-defence. I broke off a number of saplings and laid them out in the sun for them to dry and harden. I could not think of how to sharpen them though. Using rocks only pulverised the ends. The only tools I could think of using would mean my returning to the beach. Broken shells would be sharp enough, I thought. This meant I had to face my nightmares, my fear of meeting up with the three again.</p>

<p>First I cut a large number of creepers, collecting the thinnest ones I could find. I chose two stones, a little bigger than my fists. I laid the creepers out in a star shape and put a stone over the intersecting point. I picked up the ends of the creepers and plaited them. I ended up with about half a metre length, but I was satisfied. I swung it around and I enjoyed the feel and the whooshing sound it made. I felt that if it hits an arm or a head it would do damage.</p>

<p>I dried some moss and finding a broad leaf I covered my groin and using two creepers I tied it to me. It was not very practical, it kept falling to pieces; bits of moss falling out and the leaf kept tearing. Having to pack it all over again every time I wanted to urinate was a bother. I decided to use it only when necessary.</p>
<br>

<p>As far as I was concerned, our Cherinian dream was dead. My sweet Gilli had either died with the others or is stuck in a world not suited to her. Probably only Eddie and Hettie still have their powers. For how long will they remain Cherinian in outlook? I had to believe that we have touched their lives strongly enough for them to be permanently changed, so that they remain closer to being Cherinians than to being as they had been. Oh yes, there was Lynda too. Her powers would not be much use, at least the one that had found us this world.</p>

<p>I asked myself, was I now bound by my dreams still? Was I allowed to use the best form of defence - to attack. Could or should I kill them, perhaps attacking when I find one by himself and thus bettering the odds of my survival?</p>

<p>I found to my dismay that the ideals of the Cherinians are my own, I also would not be able to face the ghosts of my loves that lived now only in my mind, if I do something like this. I forced myself to walk, keeping active or else I would stiffen up. If I was careful of my rib I found I can be quite agile. I had to avoid swivelling my body, turning my legs with my upper torso. During the day, all the free time I had, I sat dry-eyed remembering my loves, a smile, a moment of sweetness, and though I would hurt with my self-inflicted torment, I could not deny them the right to fill my days and nights. I often woke up to my own sobbing and I would then lie there wallowing in my misery until sunrise, allowing the pain to burn my heart and eyes.</p>

<p>When I had imagined my dying should the link with my Cherine be cut, I had not thought of how guilt and hatred for myself could force me to stay alive. If at moments I felt myself falling apart I would cry out and fight to stay alive. I had not fully paid yet, I told myself that I never can and have to keep myself alive till the last possible breath.</p>

<p>Just once I allowed myself to fantasise. A bird in the distance, its brilliant plumage sparkling in the sunlight reminded me of my Gilli when I had given her wings and she had danced for Eddie and I. Foolishly I let myself daydream that they are all still alive and searching for me. I imagined my girls arriving on this world and the link of Cherine finding me again. Their sweet cries and embraces filled my eyes with tears and I broke down and wept with a grief I had not allowed myself to succumb to before. It took me over a day to work myself back up into my determination to stay alive so as to hate myself and now I found it ran stronger, a vile poison that gave me life and purpose.</p>

<br>
<p><h3><center>1878</center></h3></p>
<p>I no longer saw the threats and intentions of the three men as being a danger to me. I saw them as being a danger to cutting off my own intentions of making myself pay. Every cut or hurt now was a pleasure, a sign that I was paying. If I had to stop them, force them to stay away from me, it was only for my purpose, not for avoiding the pain they promised, for it was too violent and would cut short the time I have for suffering. I even toyed with the idea of coming to an agreement with them that I allow myself to be subjected to their tortures as long as they promise not to cut short my life.</p>
<br>

<p>The day arrived when I could not find any further excuses for hiding here, I had to go to the beach. If I could turn my sticks into spears I might also be able to spear a few fish - the food I was eating was no longer strengthening me, there were no more eggs and I was thin to the point where my bones stuck out and my burns were starting to worsen again. I needed better nutrition if I was to survive.</p>

<p>I recalled my desert experience and wished there was some clay, but this rich thick soil would not harden into a vessel for me to collect and take with me any oil. What I did was to collect moss, drench it with the oil and wrap it up in a number of leaves.</p>

<p>I decided to sleep as much as I could that day and travel at night.</p>

<p>The obvious thing to do would be to travel to the sea at a point as far away from them as possible. I saw this as being dangerous, I cannot know where they are. I set out in the direction of where I had last seen them. During the day I would stay hidden, look for food and sleep. When I thought I recognised the point I had entered the interior of the island (I could not be certain), I walked an extra day so as to come back to them from an unexpected direction.</p>

<p>I walked through the bush and though I cut my feet or had them pierced with sharp fronds from the palms, I grimly carried on until I was standing on white sand. Crouching I looked around, but could not see any signs of them. Sitting, half hidden, I dozed and waited for morning.</p>

<p>Day came and I waited, looking to the left and to the right. The sun was well up in the sky by the time I decided I must be far from them. I went down to the waterline and looked for shells, collected what I could and returned to my hiding. I patiently sat scraping until I had at least one end of a stick honed to a rather blunt point. During this time I had watched the sea and saw that the tide moved back quite a distance. I waited for it to go out again and with only the moon to guide me I walked out, coral cutting at my feet.</p>

<p>I found a pool and stood silently waiting, hoping for something to eat. There were only a few small crabs so I walked on to another pool. I had been naïve enough to hope for a fish, but only saw crabs. They were far too small to be worth eating. What I did find is a multitude of mussels. I sat prying them off the coral and struggled to open them with broken shells. Once I got impatient and slammed a mussel on the coral. It broke but was not pleasant to eat, filled with sharp pieces of shattered shell as it was.</p>

<p>When I came across some oysters I could not stop eating them until the tide made it impossible for me to stay any longer. My belly was not full, but I was happy with my success.</p>

<p>Back at my hiding place I looked up at the coconut trees, wishing I could get myself a green one to drink. I was very thirsty and did not relish the thought of walking back through the dried fronds for water. At that moment my stomach turned nauseous and I threw up all I had eaten.</p>

<p>That was a miserable night, hungry, thirsty, aching and hurting with no end to it that I could foresee. Strangely, not once did I feel I was in danger of dying. I actually saw my suffering as a sign that destiny is seeing to it that I do pay for what I’ve done to my loves. I even accepted my crossing the sand-covered fronds as a daily penance. To compound the misery, in the early hours of the morning a strong wind rose and it rained as if the skies were trying to drown me. At least I was afforded a small measure of relief from my thirst, using a long wide leaf I made a funnel and standing under dripping fronds let the water pour down my throat.</p>

<p>I stood till morning looking out at the sea, my thoughts burying me deep within myself. I think at last I was beginning to get over the shock of how suddenly my life has changed and I found I could now accept what my future promised.</p>

<p>All thoughts of confronting my would-be tormentors disappeared. Common sense showed me that my weapons will only be effective once. It does not need a genius to create them and at our second meeting they will be properly armed. That meant I had to start thinking from now of new methods of defence.</p>

<br>
<p><h3><center>1879</center></h3></p>
<p>The storm had knocked down a few coconuts, some brown and others green. The brown ones I smashed on a rock and ate the thin layer of white flesh and I carried a green one with me, hoping I would work out a way to cut off the top. I learnt to dig a hole in two of the ‘eyes’ where the shell is softer - one for drinking from and the other for air to enter so that the liquid will pour out.</p>

<p>Moving in daylight I could stay in the brush without stepping on every single spike, just those that waited in ambush under the sand. Slowly I moved towards the area I thought the others were. I had decided I would position myself a few kilometres away from them so that as they move, I will always know where they are. That meant I would always be moving into the area they had lived in with greatly reduced opportunities of finding food. This fact was so in line with how I saw my future, an atonement, that I saw I had made the right decision.</p>

<p>I recognised my point of arrival from a fallen coconut tree and the shape of a rock. There were many marks of their presence, not the least being their indiscriminate use of the area as their toilet. I suppose they felt that by the time they have moved around the island back to this area, nature will have taken care of their mess. They were wrong of course, for there are large stretches of beach where they cannot camp, either rocky, or sheer cliffs plunging into the sea, or else on the other side of the island they will find the sea too rough - though the winds reduce the number of insect pests.</p>

<p>It was very strange at night to look up and see the constellations I know. The air is clear and they sparkle as they no longer do on our Earth. I did not look at them often, for they reminded me of the void and all that it meant to me. I thought about the void too, how a place of death had come to symbolise hope, life and love for me. Of course, now it had the old connotations as I did not think I could survive in it. I wondered where the Sparklers and Anadir are in this universe. I hoped they have or will find their own alien Robert.</p>

<p>We had chosen this world and island well; I had little trouble finding food. Mostly fruit of one kind or another. I learnt to wait at certain spots so that as the tide went out I had the opportunity to spear a fish now and then. The small crabs were plentiful and if I had a pot and fire I could have caught them and made a soup. Fire was out of the question, even if my boy scout talents had been up to it, it would have brought the others to me immediately. </p>

<p>As time went by I found myself holding conversations, mostly with Cherine, though the others all made sure they had their say too. They kept on upsetting me as they refused to blame me, pleading that I keep myself alive because I love them and want to get back to them. I was reminded of my first visit when I met Keith and how I had no powers or gifts there either and yet I found my way back. As if I had forgotten! There I had Keith, here, I did not even have myself anymore. Just the part that has to stay alive and pay.</p>
<br>

<p>Living in a tropical climate means you lose all sense of time. With no winter to plan ahead for, counting the days only when something happened to give me satisfaction that I had paid with pain again, the days all merged into each other.</p>

<p>I grew lax, not staying vigilant anymore, so I had no one to blame the day I came face to face with them. I did not even have my weapons with me, just one ‘spear’.</p>

<p>“Catch the bastard, don’t let him get away.”</p>

<p>The two rushed at me, confident of their strength. I waited until the last second, leapt sideways, placing the spear at an angle so that they tripped over it. Quickly I positioned myself over the one, with the point touching his throat.</p>

<p>“Walk away or I kill him.”</p>

<p>The third guy called out to the other man to return to him. We were now at a stand-off with all the advantage on their side. They knew it too.</p>

<p>“What you going to do, stand there forever?”</p>

<p>“I’m thinking about it.” I replied with a smile.</p>

<p>“He’s become cocky again.”</p>

<p>“Just be patient. Either he kills Tim or else he has to stand there until he collapses. We’ll get him either way.”</p>

<br>
<p><h3><center>1880</center></h3></p>
<p>“Tim eh? You don’t look like a Tim, I thought you were a foreigner. So Tim, you heard them, they don’t think much of your chances of staying alive. After all, if I stand here until I’m tired, I just might try leaning on my spear for a rest.”</p>

<p>His face was calm. “You’re not a killer.”</p>

<p>“If by that you mean I won’t kill you - just try me.”</p>

<p>“I meant you will not do it in cold blood. In a fight, maybe. Come back with us, we’ll feed you.”</p>

<p>I grinned at him and shook my head. “I only see one solution Tim. The three of you have each other. You are not going crazy talking to yourselves like I am. You get up carefully and I keep the point sticking to your belly. Tell the others not to follow. I see them following, even in the distance and I stick this in you. We take a walk, which will be uncomfortable for you as I expect you to walk backwards. That means you can’t sprint away from me. One false move and I thrust this nasty stick in you. Once I am satisfied that they are far enough from me, you lie down, close your eyes and count to one hundred and then you can come look for me. No peeping though. That would be cheating.” I was grinning and it scared him.</p>

<p>“Jesus, you’ve gone mad!”</p>

<p>“You want to know what happened to me Timmy? Look at my legs, I had to put them in the fire. Then I fell down a ravine, look at my face, I hit a rock on my way down. Look at this silly thing around my knee. I hit that on another rock. I heard you guys, you were standing right above me, but could not see me. If you had looked carefully you would have seen my blood.” My voice gentle I ended. “Yes Timmy, I went a little mad.”</p>

<p>The third man shouted, “What are you talking about.”</p>

<p>“Answer the man Timmy.”</p>

<p>“Shut up! We are negotiating a way out of this. You may not give a shit, but I’m not going to lie here and die for you. I am going to get up and walk away with him. I see either of you following and if I get out of this alive I’ll kill you. He has promised to let me go once he is far away from you two.”</p>

<p>“You fucking crazy? He’ll kill you.”</p>

<p>“What do you think Timmy?” I asked smiling. </p>

<p>His eyes were cool as he looked back. “You’ll let me go. If you had any brains you would kill me, but you will not.” He shouted. “It is my choice. You bastards wait here.”</p>

<p>“I suppose you better get up slowly. Stay facing me and close enough for the tip to touch your belly without my stretching.”</p>

<p>As we slowly walked away I asked him. “Was that Neanderthal really going to knock out my teeth and fuck me?”</p>

<p>“Yes. He would have cut your fingers off too.”</p>

<p>“I see you have your knife on you.”</p>

<p>“Are you going to take it?”</p>

<p>“I gave it to you Timmy, why should I take it back? No, I was just wondering.”</p>

<p>“You gave it to me?”</p>

<p>“Let it go Timmy. The kids did not send me here. I came here by accident and I am stuck here till I die. About the knife. When we get to where we are going, soon as you are out of reach of my spear you will try to kill me. I don’t want it that way so I offer you a choice.</p>

<p>You have the knife, I have this, which is more just a stick than a spear. I have a broken knee and a broken rib, I saw you noticed, that was from the kicking. To the point. Either you decide you want to fight me once we are alone or you keep your word and walk away. After all, as you guys said, this is an island, where can I go. Live to fight me another day when there are three of you.”</p><br>
<br>
<p><center><a href="https://steemit.com/sfandf-fiction/@arthur.grafo4/little-cherine-book-03-bpost049"> Next [Book 03] - Post 049</a></center></p>


<p><h5><i><b>I hope you enjoy reading this story of fantasy, adventure and love - and should some of it be true for our reality, I hope you will love our Cherine.</b></i></h5></p><br>
<br><br>

<h6>Αλέξανδρος Ζήνον Ευσταθίου<br></h6>(Alexander Zenon Eustace)<br>
<sup>5th September, 2019</sup>
<br><br>

* posted on Steemit: 5th September, 2019<br>

<br><br>
<br>
<center>For those who wish to be notified of sequels<br>

@nikosnitza 

<h6>If you wish to have your name added above, I would be honoured.</h6></center>
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@creativecrypto ·
Hello @arthur.grafo4, thank you for sharing this creative work! We just stopped by to say that you've been upvoted by the @creativecrypto magazine. [The Creative Crypto](https://thecreativecrypto.com/) is all about art on the blockchain and learning from creatives like you. Looking forward to crossing paths again soon. Steem on!
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