They’d been on that boat for what seemed like ages. Or at least, that was how Lex felt. It may have been only a short while since they set sail but to him, being stuck in one place all day, it felt like forever.
That, however, wasn’t on his shipmate’s mind. Darryl was too busy sitting at the edge of the boat, line out, showing off his fishing skills.
Lex glanced back at him, “If you count being bored out your mind in the hot, baking sun while standing in some glorified bathtub all day.”
“C’mon man, this is meant to be fun. Bein’ out here, fishing for tasty tropical treats, nobody bossing you around.”
“I guess. Who’s bossing you around?”
“Take a guess. Her name rhymes with ‘clamber’.”
Lex let out a quiet guffaw.
Darryl added a sigh, “That woman does my head in. Y’know, back at the camp, there were times when I could have strangled her.”
"Tell you what. Stuff the fishing. I’m getting tired of Amber pushing us around too. Let’s sail out to some other island and settle there. We could even find some girls and try them out over there. Let’s face it. I ain’t getting anywhere with the ones we’ve got.
“Yeah, right, Lex. We’ll take this tiny little wooden floater and wander off aimlessly in the middle of the ocean, just to pick up chicks. Aye-aye, captain.”
Lex grimaced at his shipmate’s sarcasm and was about answer back when Darryl let out a gasp.
“Hey, I think I got somethin’ here,” he exclaimed, standing up and yanking at his fishing line. He stepped back whilst pulling at the rod. Unfortunately, whatever it was that grabbed it, wasn’t there when the line came out of the water. Darryl stared in disbelief at the empty space at the of his piece of string where a fish should’ve been.
“Wow,” said Lex, “With all these tasty tropical treats we’re catching, we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
He buddy-slaps him in the back before Darryl secretly lets out an annoyed grunt in his head[!]
“I wanna go home. I don’t want to stay.”
That’s what May thought whilst dampening the blood oozing out of her bloodied finger. Leia had taught the others how to set up simple traps based on what you could find on the forest floor and the surroundings. Unfortunately she couldn’t teach May how to do it well. And now treating her wound with some nearby bush leaves was her punishment.
“Wait, have you done it again?” Leia asked her as she chucked another red-stained leaf on the ground and pulled out another one from its stalk.
“Well, so what if I have?” she replied sulkily, “Why did you even bring me here? Why couldn’t you’ve asked Jay or Jack or even good ol’ hero Bray, the man of the moment?”
Leia could clearly tell she was upset, “I know. I suppose the Mall Rats are perhaps starting to milk the whole Bray thing a little. Then again, he did manage to survive all these ordeals.”
May let out a cynical humph, “You sound just like the others. I made one comment earlier today - ONE comment - about Bray not being the great god-like hero everyone thinks he is, and everyone just turns on me.”
Leia decided not to point out what she thought would have been everyone’s perceived coldness in the tone of that sentence.
“And d’you know what Gel said?” May added before putting on a high-pitched prima donna voice, “‘But he’s so handsome and cute, May. And his hair still looks fabulous after all that torture and running’. Jeez, I coulda punched that dumbass bimbo in the face!”
Leia put a hand on her arm, “Okay, calm down. I do not think all this anger and hatred will do you any good.”
May sighed, “Leia, Why do I give valuable time to people? People who I’d much rather kick in the eye?”
“I hope this is not because you are jealous, May.”
She looked straight at Leia, as if she was speaking in a foreign language. She then looked down at her finger. It had stopped bleeding. She dropped the leaf she was soaking the blood up with, “I guess… I dunno. That’s always my problem. I never seem to know what I think.” May sighed again, “I suppose it was a little harsh of me to call Bray a god-like hero, after all, he did go through a lot. Bigmouth strikes again, huh?”
“Look, I do not totally disagree with you. I think Bray’s a great guy but he is not all that. Not to me, anyway. But at least we’ve all got each other. There are plenty of people all over the place who do not have anyone, who lost their friends and family because of this virus thing that spread around the world. I do not think they would spend their time being bitter and angry about things.”
May looked at Leia. She smiled faintly at her, “Boy, you really know how to say the right thing, don’t you?”
She smiled back, “Well, the pleasure and the privilege is mine.”
Slade had been slowly improving over time. The painkillers, bandages and other equipment garnered from the Jzhao Li certainly helped him survive the harrowing injuries from their escape from the runaway cargo ship. At least thus far. He wasn’t out of the woods yet, but he was determined to stay positive, especially since he felt he was getting a little bit stronger every day. Ruby sat by his side virtually the whole time, and that was something we was undoubtedly grateful for.
“Beautiful, huh?” Ruby asked as she stared up at the calm, cloudless dusk that would soon develop into night.
Slade paused a little, “I can’t say I’ve really noticed. The stars’ve kinda been the last thing on my mind recently.”
Ruby smirked slightly, “I guess.”
They sat in silence.
“One thing I have been thinking about lately, though,” she added.
“It’s when holidays come around.”
Slade looked across at her, confused.
“Like, you know how since the virus, no-one’s really kept track of the time of year or what date it is any more.”
“Well, I’ve never seen anyone carrying a diary around with them, if that’s what you mean.”
She nods, “Point taken.”
Another pause, “I’ve been thinking a lot about the holidays. Christmas especially. How what a magical time it is, having friends and family close to you, sharing in the excitement and wonder of it all.”
Slade frowned slightly, wondering if the sea air was beginning to get to her. But he kept listening out of civility. Ruby continued, “We should do something. Us and the others. Some kind of celebration, to give thanks for what we have and commemorate those who are no longer here.”
“What, like a feast or something? Round here?”
“It doesn’t have to be a feast, Slade.”
“Good. 'Cos I’m not a fan of turkey. And don’t get me started on the brussel sprouts!”
Ruby stared down at him, “That joke isn’t funny. It’s too close to home, anyhow. It’s too near the bone.”
Slade apologized while mulling over that somewhat cryptic comment. There were things about her he reckoned he’d probably never work out.
Ruby stared back at the sky. The sun had very nearly set over the horizon when she chanced upon a star. She noticed it seemed slightly brighter than the others, though there weren’t that many to be noticed due to the last remaining shaft of light from the setting sun. Still, it made her think.
“There is a light that never goes out,” she said, half to herself. She then turned to Slade, “Kinda like yours, huh?”
Slade smiled back at her.