Short Story Letter K – ‘Kid Island’

KID ISLAND

Written by: Katya Szewczuk


Motley children with buggy eyes, painted faces and raggedy clothing clambered up the sandy hills of Kid Island. They tumbled and crawled on their pudgy bellies as they headed for the beautiful, roaring ocean waves———a paradise.

While the children rushed into the tall waves, one girl with towy hair, a sunburnt face and freckles stayed behind. She hugged a receiver into her chest and twisted its antenna.

Over the receiver a hoarse, old voice said:

 ‘…Kid Island…can you read me? Over.’

“Here I am,” the girl mumbled.

There was static over the receiver that sounded like a gurgling belly. The girl put it to her ear, shook it hard and listened.

 ‘If you can hear me…are you safe?’

 “I can hear you, sir. I can!”

The receiver squeaked and was soon engulfed by the static. Twisting the antenna round and round, the girl fixed her cracked, thick specs and shouted.

Two boys ran over to her. One was short and slim with dark skin and a baldhead. The other was portly and pale with curly ginger hair that stuck out in all directions. They stared at the girl, smiling.

“What are you up to now, Fiona?” asked the fat boy.

“Don, go away,” Fiona whispered.

“You can’t tell Don what t’do. You’re a stankin’ girl.”

“You too, Arno.”

The boy called Arno balled up his fists and snarled.

Fiona grimaced and picked leaves and twigs out of her hair. A dry wind whipped against her cheeks and made her feel thirsty.

“That old man is tryin’ to find us again,” Fiona said.

“You still think that darn thing’s gon’na help us?” said Don.

Fiona nodded.

“They know where we are, but Commander won’t let us leave.”

“Why would you wan’na leave?” Don asked.

“Yeah,” said Arno, “No rules here. We can do whatever we wan’na do.”

“I wan’na know who this ol’ man is.”

Fiona raised the receiver and showed it off to the boys.

“C’mon,” Don said with a bored tone, “We’ve got to get Commander more of them fishes.”

He scratched his nappy hair and ran towards the beach where the other children dove into the water with spears in hand. They were hunting for fish.

“You comin’, Fi?” asked Arno.

Fiona nodded and left her receiver behind. It crackled and made strange sounds.

Boys and girls jumped off of slippery rocks and belly flopped into the violent waves. They tore off their rags, washed off their paint and with a spear in hand hunted for fish. Fiona watched them. She thought they were batty.

For a moment longer she hesitated and dipped her toe into the water. The sand sizzled beneath her feet and clumped in between her toes. Holding her breath, she joined the rag-tag kids and jumped in headfirst. Her cheeks were puffed up as she swam beneath the waves and her feet flapped like duck flippers. All around her the water was clear. She saw schools of fish darting passed her, sea urchins, swaying, tall underwater plants and an endless blue color that stretched for miles. Unlike the other kids, she could see clearly underwater because her glasses were strapped around her head like a pair of trusty diver’s goggles. The other kids hadn’t known her secret. If they had, they’d tear her to bits and bully her with their hunting spears.

Lolling nose deep in the water, she swam over to the slippery rocks and stood on her tippy toes. Fixing her specs she released her fishing net and lowered it into the water like a ship’s anchor. Her breath was short and her wet garments felt heavy. Time had passed by, and when the kids started leaving the ocean with empty spears and sad faces, Fiona lifted her net. To her surprise, hundreds of fish flapped inside of it. Cheering, she hoisted the net onto the shore and showed off her catch.

The kids ran over to her, flabbergasted.

“How’d you make that catch?” asked Arno.

“Yeah, yeah,” said a boy with a tick, “How’d you do it?”

“Shut up, Ox,” Arno said, “I’ll be askin’ all the questions.”

“Ain’t the boss,” said Ox.

“What’d yo’ say?”

Arno started wrestling Ox to the ground when Fiona raised her hand and said:

“I caught the fish with my net.”

“What’s a net?” asked Don.

“This,” Fiona explained, “It catches things.”

The kids surrounded the net as if it were a thing of wonder.

“Commander won’t be likin’ that,” said Don.

“It gets him food.”

“But it ain’t his way, Fi-Fi,” said another boy with curly, blonde hair, “Burk don’t like this.”

“What are you so afraid of, Burk?”

Burk said, “Burk knows Commander won’t be happy. Burk can feel some bad stuffs.”

“Shut up!” shouted Arno as he had Ox locked between his elbow, “Commander doesn’t have to know nothin’ ‘bout this.”

“You sure, Fi-Fi?” Burk asked, looking at Fiona.

Fiona nodded.

“I made a bunch of stuff that Commander doesn’t know ‘bout.”

“Like what?” asked Ox weakly.

The children crowded around Fiona and babbled nonsense.

 “If you promise not to tell Commander then I’ll show you.”

“Your stuffs ain’t nothin’ special,” said Don.

“Well I wan’na go an’ see it,” said Arno

“Me three!” shouted Ox.

The other children bumped heads and started following Fiona up the hills and into a thick, dark forest.

* * *

The forest was filled with creeping things, tall, broad trees that stuck up like teepees, wild, colorful flowers, chirping birds, creepers, ivy, tall rocks and boggy mud piles. Fiona grabbed Arno’s spear and cut through the tangled creepers. With her receiver strapped to her back like a knapsack, she clambered further into the forest.

“Where ‘re we headed?” asked Don.

“My secret place.”

“Commander’ll smash you up, he will!” shouted Ox.

“He’s not gon’na find out scaredy-cat.”

“Burk knows that Fi-Fi’s brave,” Burk said.

“Thanks Burk.”

“Burk says you’re welcome.”

When Fiona reached a tall, massive tree in the midst of the forest, she climbed over its thick roots and leapt off to the other side. The kids followed her.

On the other side of the tree, a deep, craggy cave hollowed out from its center making it look like an opened mouth.

With wide eyes the kids stared.

“What is this place?” asked Ox.

“The Hollow Tree,” Fiona said, “It’s where my stuffs are.”

She stopped and fixed her specs.

“How come Commander don’t know ‘bout this place?” asked Don.

“Burk and I were the ones who discovered it.”

“Burk?” questioned the kids.

“Yep, we were hiking one day and found it.”

“Burk got lost in the tree,” Burk said.

The kids nodded. Before they headed inside Fiona said:

“But be careful, there’s a monster inside The Hollow Tree.”

“No such thing as monsters,” Ox said.

“Yeah,” agreed a sun-kissed girl, “You’re makin’ this all up.”

“It’s true!” Fiona shouted, “I met him one day. He’s old, wrinkly and hairy.”

“Ain’t!” shouted the kids.

“He’s a nice monster.”

“Monsters ain’t nice,” Arno explained, “They eat kids like us.”

Some kids gasped.

“———How ‘bout you introduce this monster to us, Fi?”

“Yeah!” cried the kids.

“I can’t,” Fiona said.

“How come?”

“’Cause he only trusts me and Burk.”

“Freaks like you?” squeaked Don.

“He knows Commander would make him leave Kid Island. The Hollow Tree is his home, nobody else’s.”

“I still think this is bogus,” said Ox.

Fiona thought. She walked inside of the tree and smelt the cool, damp air. Her treasures were bundled together, leant against the tree’s inner bark. She signaled the kids to follow her, but they shook their heads and picked their crusty noses.

“We’re gon’na tell on you,” said Don.

“You can’t!” Fiona shouted.

“You’re crazy!”

“Am not. We have to protect this place for the monster.”

“We have to protect Commander.”

“Burk wants you to stop fightin’!” Burk cried.

“Talk proper!” demanded Arno.

Suddenly, uproar broke loose. The kids argued about the lawless freedom on Kid Island and scolded Fiona for rebelling against Commander. Ever since Fiona had run away to Kid Island everyone had judged her. She was the outcast of the bunch. She was teased because of her cleverness and scolded for her know-it-all nature. Despite her wittiness and flaws, her biggest disadvantage on the island was that she was one of the few girls who joined Commander’s Hunters Clan. Most of the boys pestered her like a couple of mosquitoes because they thought she wasn’t as strong or brave as they were. Though Commander respected Fiona’s devotion, he too looked down at her. He thought she was lowly as a worm.

Fiona grabbed a rusty whistle from her bundles of washed-up treasures, sucked in a big breath, licked her lips and blew it until her face turned purple. This silenced the arguing assembly.

“I’ll tell Commander,” Fiona said breathlessly.

“No Fi-Fi!” Burk shouted.

“It’ll be okay.”

“Burk don’t think it will.”

“Why’re you gon’na tell him?” asked Ox.

“’Cause you guys are right. If Commander finds out, I’ll walk th’ plank.”

There were amused chuckles.

“He’s gon’na be mad as a bull,” said Don.

“Maybe if I show him my treasures, he’ll like my ideas. We’ll be able to use them for Kid Island.”

“Commander don’t like change,” Arno said.

“I know, but I’m sure he’ll understand.”

“What about th’ monster?” Ox wondered.

“We can’t tell him.”

The kids groaned.

“Deal?”

Fiona stuck out her hand. The kids reached out for her, touched her hand and shouted:

“Deal!”

* * *

The kids returned to the shore where little huts built out of twigs, bamboo shoots, banana leaves, coconut shells, mud, stones housed the rest of the clans. There were four clans that made up Kid Island. Hunters Clan, Gatherers Clan, Builders Clan and Royal Clan. Commander chose those in Royal Clan as his most dedicated subjects. They had never left his side and acted like his bodyguards and messengers. Here on Kid Island it was every kid’s dream to become a part of Commander’s Royal Clan. They got the best clothes, the most food and cleanest water, and were never scolded by Commander. The only way to become part of Royal Clan was to prove to Commander that you were a hard worker and were not afraid of Kid Island’s wonders.

Fiona dragged her net of fish over to the huge fire pit where dirty-nosed kids danced round and tossed handfuls of sand in the air. A young girl named Betty, from the Gatherers Clan, welcomed Fiona and the others back from their trip, and smeared red-berry-gunk onto their faces.

“What is that?” Betty asked as she stared at Fiona’s net.

“Fishes,” Fiona said.

“It’s called a net,” Ox clarified.

“———It catches things,” added Don.

Fiona watched all of the dancing kids and skipped over to them. Her receiver jumped against her back and made ‘clanking’ sounds as she danced round the bonfire. For many minutes she danced until her stomach made an awful sound. She was hungry.

Wiping the sweat off of her brow, she sat down on a long log with Burk and Ox. They heard the rusty horns being blown in the distance and watched as Royal Clan backed out from behind the heat waves. Everyone stopped cheering and dancing, bit their tongues and stood in utter silence.

Fiona watched in awe.

When the horns stopped tooting, three burly boys and a fragile girl stood in line, dressed in long robes that were crafted from washed-up potato sacks. They raised their chins and saluted to Commander as he joined them, slowly marching down the shore. He too was dressed in a potato sack that was colored black and had shells sewn to the collar. He wore a crown mended from seaweed, flowers and bamboo and a golden skull necklace that he had found in an abandoned ship. In his right hand was a long, curved walking stick that Builders Clan had made for him out of bamboo and coconut shells. His face was suntanned and long, his eyes were cunning with a blue hue, his hair was peachy and his body was thin. He stood tall beside the other children and had been much older than most of them. While Fiona had been the second eldest of twelve years old, Commander was fourteen and one half.

Like dutiful soldiers, everyone stood and saluted to Commander when he reached the clan. Fiona felt excited about her ideas and kept looking back at her pile of smelly fish. She promised herself she would ask Commander about her ideas after the feast.

When Commander raised a hand, everyone sat down in the sand and stared at him with big, curious eyes. He cleared his throat and said in a gruff voice:

“Hunters, Gatherers, Builders, my Royalties, today we ran into intruders on the east of the shore.”

“What kind of intruders?” asked Ox with a raised hand.

Commander scowled.

“Big Ones,” he said.

Everyone gasped and mumbled.

“Big Ones have returned?” Betty asked.

“What are Big Ones?” Fiona wondered innocently.

Everyone turned and stared at her rudely.

“C’mon Fi, you know what Big Ones are,” said Arno.

“Yeah,” pressed Don, “everyone here knows what Big Ones are, even Burk.”

“Sadly, Burk knows,” Burk mumbled.

“Silence!” shouted Commander.

Everyone turned.

“———Big Ones are those men who are bigger than us, smoke those deadly sticks and drink that smelly water. We become Big Ones when we grow up, but as we know we won’t be brainwashed by their square finger toys or their picture boxes.”

“Televisions?” Fiona said.

“You know what they’re called, Fi?” Arno asked.

Fiona nodded.

Commander growled.

“How is it you know about picture boxes?”

“This device told me,” Fiona said.

She pulled off her receiver and held it out to the Commander.

“It talks to me sometimes.”

Commander waltzed over to her, snatched it and twisted its antenna. The kids gathered.

“You know how to work it?”

“Oh, yes,” Fiona said, “Sometimes voices talk to me and tell me stories about the world.”

When Commander pressed the receiver to his ear and listened, it made the static sounds and startled him.

‘…a cup of sugar…a pinch of salt…PRESTO!’

 “What is this?” Commander questioned.

“Big Ones?” questioned a burly boy.

Fiona nodded.

“But good Big Ones. This lady teaches you how to make all kinds of things.”

“Like us?” questioned a builder.

Fiona nodded.

“Not just like you, all of us. There are thousands of voices on here.”

Fiona turned the nob on the receiver and spiked Commander’s curiosity.

‘Discount sale, only today at Homeland Buys…’

 ‘…Radio City Weather…its a blistering 102 degrees…’

‘ O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, 
 o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
…’

 “Where did you find this?” Commander asked.

“Fiona’s a whole bunch of neat junk,” said Ox.

“She wants to show you, Commander,” pressed Arno.

Fiona nodded.

Contemplating, Commander said:

“You have treasures?”

“Yes.”

“Why haven’t you shown me?”

“It’s her secret place,” Arno said, “It’s called The Hollow Tree.”

Commander raised a brow.

“A secret place?”

Fiona felt panic strike her gut.

“It’s where I keep all my treasures.”

Fiona ran over to the bonfire and lifted her net.

“This here is called a net.”

Commander pushed through the nosy children and snatched the net from Fiona. He tugged and gnawed at it.

Spitting he said:

“I gave you a spear. Is that not good enough?”

“It was hard for me to use. So I made this. Look how many fishes we have.”

Commander shook his head.

“You’re in Hunters Clan. You hunt, you don’t make things.”

“But it’s a form of hunting. I found some ropes near a ship one day and thought I’d make———“

“A ship?”

Commander snarled.

“I told you never to wander off near the shipwreck. That’s my hideout.”

“I was curious.”

Commander laughed. He turned to his assembly and raised his walking stick.

“Men, what’s the punishment for snooping?”

“Death!” shouted Ox.

“A beatin’,” said Arno.

“Exile?” questioned Don.

Commander shook his head three times and said.

“Three days in the forest———alone, tied to a tree.”

Fiona grabbed her receiver and hugged at it.

“These things can help us, Commander.”

“Is it because you don’t like my ways?”

“No.”

“Then stop making these stupid things and start actin’ like a hunter.”

Commander stepped closer to Fiona and tugged at the receiver.

“———I own this now.”

“No!” Fiona cried.

Commander’s face turned bright red. Suddenly, they fought over the receiver until it made a sizzling sound and snapped in half.

Falling to her knees, Fiona grabbed the scrapped pieces of the receiver and started to cry. Everyone laughed.

“Men! Take her to the forest!” Commander demanded.

Two burly boys grabbed Fiona by her arms and dragged her into the depths of the forest. She struggled and fought them, but they were too strong for her to escape. When she looked back at Commander she saw the red-hot anger bubbling in his eyes. Though, she thought, was it anger or fear?

* * *

Come nightfall, bugs buzzed round Fiona’s ears and made a snack out of her sweaty skin. She was tied to an old tree and dumped there by Royal Clan. Exhausted, she gave up trying to wiggle out of the trap and hung her head low in pity.

She listened to the night animals making strange noises and squished her bare feet in thick, brown sludge. Throwing a tantrum, she kicked her feet hard. The sludge leapt into the air and splattered all over her face.

“Who does Commander think he is?” Fiona mumbled, “I just wan’na help.”

Fiona listened to the whistling wind and felt it swooshing through her long, matted hair. She closed her eyes for just a mere moment.

She dreamt of a sailor dressed in a white uniform and cap, sailing the seven seas. He was a kind man with gentle eyes and a scratchy, brown beard. He talked about his wildest adventures and asked Fiona if she would like to travel the world with him. 

In her dream, Fiona was a Big One; tall and beautiful like the ones on the television screen. She was happy and liked the feel of the salty wind blowing against her face.

Then her dream turned dark and pitch black and a storm raged. Purple thunderclouds rumbled and turned bright as a light bulb when strikes of light penetrated the skies. The sailor’s ship fought against the strong waves and was struck by violent gusts of wind. Fiona held onto the sides for dear life, until a wave swept her under the water and pulled her to the bottom of the ocean.

Quick as a wink, Fiona opened her eyes. She gasped for breath and shouted in fear. She watched the trees swaying and leaning over her as if to whisper secrets. Raindrops showered from the gray skies and soaked her weak body. She was able to slip free from the ropes and crawled on her knees. Confused, she stumbled through the sodden grounds and cried for help.

Shadows scurried over the scar and watched Fiona with glowing eyes. Frightened, she ran through the forest trying to find shelter when a low, growling sound was heard in the distance. With one stride forward, she tumbled down a craggy mount and scraped her knees on the erect rocks. She fell into a pile of dried leaves and twigs and coughed tremulously.

The wind whooshed and thrust against the swaying boughs. Fiona buried her body in dirt and leaves and stayed hidden beneath the rocks. Then she fell asleep on an empty stomach.

The next morning the shrieking sounds of a colorful bird woke Fiona from her slumber. The sun shined bright as a diamond and blinded her eyes as she roused. Dew dripped from the peaks of the rocks and tickled her delicate cheeks. She stretched her wounded legs and arms and crawled out from her hiding place.

Washing her face in a nearby riverbed, she sipped at the cool, fresh water and stared at her reflection. Her specs were cracked. She saw double. She doused her wounds with the water, cleaned off the dried blood and started hiking through the forest.

She examined a few berry bushes and swallowed the sweet fruit until her belly was full. Then she clambered up a tall scar and observed her surroundings. The clan’s home base hadn’t been far from her whereabouts. She knew darn well that Burk and the others were curious to know if she had survived the night, but figured if she had gone back, Commander would slaughter her like swine.

Nervousness hit the pit of her stomach and made her feel queasy. Shaking off the feeling she stumbled. She headed towards The Hollow Tree where she knew she’d be out of harms way.

The trip to the tree hadn’t been a long one. Fiona knew the ins and outs of the forest better than anyone in the clan. Burk always told her that Commander would promote her to Royal Clan if she had told him all about her talents. Humble as a hermit, she kept her mouth shut.

Reaching the tree, she banged on its bark and whistled several times.

“Monster,” she called, “You there, Monster?”

Fiona listened carefully. Only the wind whistled back at her.

Creeping inside of the tree, Fiona jumped into her piles of junk and opened a tin can that held her most prized possession: a golden compass. Watching the compass as it spun round and round, she thought about her dream and the handsome sailor. Then when she dozed off for just one moment, she heard a loud crash in the back of the tree and opened her eyes wide.

“Conflabbit!” shouted a husky voice.

“Monster?” Fiona whispered.

She ran to the back of the tree and hurried down the bend. There she saw a short, scruffy old man pacing back and forth. He kicked at a shabby, handmade boat and shouted to the heavens.

“————Proper tools, proper tools is all I need to finish this dang dinghy!”

“Monster?” Fiona said as she peeked from behind the bend.

“Ah, Fiona, come lend me a hand, why don’t ya?”

“What are you doing? Finishing Betsy?”

“This ain’t Betsy!” Monster shouted, “This here is Lady Naomi. A stubborn, stubborn girl.”

Fiona grabbed a few tools that she stored in her collections and handed them to Monster.

“Will these help?”

Monster chewed on his hairy lips and tugged on his long, gray beard.

“Let’s see.”

He grabbed a rusty hammer from Fiona’s pile and banged it against his wooden boat’s sides. The boat shook, but stayed put.

“Eureka!” Monster cried, “It works. Dogonnit where’d y’go and find this here hammer?”

“It washed up on the shore,” Fiona explained, “Like the rest of my stuffs.”

“Well keep them comin’. Once Lady Naomi is finished we’ll be able to sail the seven seas and leave this forsaken island.”

“But what about Burk and the others?”

“They can come too. Everyone but that maggot, Commander.”

“That’s not very nice.”

Monster laughed.

“So what brings you here?”

“I’ve been punished.”

“Again? Now Fiona, what’d you do this time?”

“I used my net to catch them fishes.”

“Did Commander approve?”

Fiona shook her head.

“He broke my voice-box.”

Monster’s face turned beet red.

“Our ticket out? Son of a gun!”

“Now those voices ’ll never talk to me again.”

“Luckily I have discovered another receiver near that shipwreck.”

Fiona’s eyes danced.

“You did?”

Monster nodded.

“Yep, couldn’t take it though ‘cause of those crazy baboons.”

“Royal Clan?”

Monster shook his head and hooted.

“Pack of no-good monkeys. They guard that place like a couple of CIA agents.”

“Monkeys?”

“Yep, they might be cute and fuzzy, but they’re territorial.”

Fiona fixed her posture and sucked in her gut. With a proud look on her face she said:

“I’ll go fetch the voice-box.”

Monster’s face turned pale as a ghost’s.

“Don’t you do anything reckless, Fiona.”

“It’s okay,” Fiona said, “I’ve got my trusty compass to help me out.”

She showed off her compass and laughed hard.

“———Plus I know this place better than anyone.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

Fiona nodded. She rummaged through her treasures and pulled out a small knapsack. Throwing it over her shoulder, she stuffed it with handfuls of berries, leaves and tools that she might have needed for her adventure. She tore her damp rags and wrapped them around her wounds.

“I’m ready to go,” she said, fixing her bag.

Monster laughed.

“Brave girl.”

“That’s why I’m in Hunters Clan.”

“Wish you kids stopped playing games ‘lready.”

Fiona left The Hollow Tree and pointed her compass to the north of the forest. She hopped clumsily over the tree’s roots and looked out for any nearby danger.

Hours passed. The noontime sun smothered Fiona and cooked her flesh. She lost count of how many times she’d drank from the riverbed and felt lightheaded from the heat. The moment she was about to rest her head, she heard a rustling in the undergrowth.

“Who goes there?” she snarled.

Pulling out a small spearhead, she approached the dark depths of the forest. With screwy eyes she peered beyond the disrupted shrubbery and bent her knees.

“Please don’t hurt me,” a voice called.

Fiona raised a brow. She watched as a small boy with a pale face, almond shaped eyes and the sweetest dimples crawled out from the forest. He hadn’t been anyone Fiona had known from the clan, and he certainly wasn’t someone Commander would send out to look for her. Lowering her weapon she approached the boy.

“What’s your name, stranger?”

“Rob,” the boy mumbled, “What’s yours?”

“Fiona of Hunters Clan.”

Rob shook his head.

“What’s Hunters Clan?”

“One of the clans here on Kid Island.”

“Is this Kid Island?”

Fiona nodded.

“———Never heard of it.”

“Then how come you’re here? Kids run away to Kid Island. Everyone knows where it is, even Big Ones.”

“Well I don’t. It’s not a fun place at all.”

Fiona approached Rob and noticed she had been much taller than him. She laughed.

“You wan’na help me with something, Rob?”

“Can it get me out of this forest?”

“Not exactly, but if you help me I’ll show you my secret hiding place.”

Rob thought.

“This a trick?”

“No. I don’t lie.”

Rob held out his hand.

“Shake.”

“What for?”

“To make a deal.”

Fiona smiled and shook Rob’s hand. Then the two ran deep into the pit of the forest where snakes, vicious beasts and monsters roamed.

* * *

The wrecked ship was found in a swamp where reeds stuck up in bunches and mosquitoes buzzed. Trees shrouded the sky keeping out all of the light. Toads leapt off of lily pads and dove into the water that was thick with burping sludge. Fiona and Rob made batty faces when they stared at the gurgling goop, but advanced.

“We have to cross that?”

Fiona said, “Yep, Monster said the voice-box is somewhere round here. But we got’ta be on the look out for them monkeys.”

“A monster? Monkeys? What’re you dragging me into?”

“An adventure!”

“Doesn’t seem like an adventure to me. A car ride even makes me feel nauseous.”

“How come you’re such a fraidy-cat?”

“I am not!” Rob shouted, “I just don’t like to go out much. Mom and Dad want me to make friends, but I don’t wan’na.”

“That why you ran away?”

“I told you, I didn’t run away. I wouldn’t even know where to run to.”

“Well,” Fiona whispered, “I’ll be your friend.”

Rob smiled.

“You’re silly.”

“I’m being nice.”

“I can’t be a friend with a girl!”

Fiona frowned.

“Why not?”

Rob blushed uprightly.

“’Cause people will think something.”

Fiona laughed.

“Boys have cooties.”

“So do girls! That’s why we can’t be friends.”

“I guess you’re right.”

Fiona jumped on a smashed log that floated in the swamp and used her compass to check her direction.

“You act like a boy,” Rob said, “Don’t you care about getting dirty?”

“Why do you think I’m part of Hunters Clan?”

Rob shrugged his shoulders.

“Beats me.”

“’Cause I’m the roughest, toughest girl here.”

“Didn’t you ever play with dolls?”

“One time,” Fiona told as she squatted on the log, “Before I ran away.”

Rob dipped his foot in the sludge and shivered. He grabbed onto a hanging vine, gripped it tightly and jumped onto the nearest log.

He asked, “How come you ran away?”

Fiona’s face turned pale and her lips quivered.

“I’m an orphan,” she said.

“That means you have no parents right?”

Fiona nodded.

“The place I stayed at got closed down. A bunch of us kids were sent to some scary place, and lots of us were put on the streets.”

“How’d you find Kid Island?”

“Commander came to town one day and gathered the rest of us. He put us on his boat and brought us here.”

“You thankful?”

Fiona shook her head.

“I wished I stayed behind and found help. It’d be better than living here.”

“You seem to be happy.”

“Would you be happy livin’ in a place that’s at war all of the time?”

“You’re at war?”

Fiona nodded.

“With the Big Ones. They want us to come home. I’d go with them, but Commander threatens me———all of us.”

Fiona allowed the log to float amongst the swamp until she reached the other side and jumped onto the plank of the rundown ship.

Rob watched her in awe. Then he said:

“Someone needs to teach that boy a lesson.”

Fiona laughed.

“We can’t do that.”

“Why not? Who made him in charge?”

Fiona watched as Rob reached the ship and slipped when he jumped onto the plank. She hoisted him up by his slim wrists and hauled him onto the ship. The two laughed until their bellies ached.

“He’s in charge because he was the first one to discover Kid Island.”

“I guess that’s fair,” Rob said, “But he doesn’t have to treat you so poorly.”

“Arno and the others always say that Kid Island has no laws, but I guess they were wrong.”

“Who’s Arno?” Rob asked.

“He’s in Hunters Clan too. Same with Don, Burk and Ox.”

“They nice?”

“Burk is, but the others pick on me ‘cause I’m a girl.”

“Oh.”

For a while the two hadn’t said anything and listened to the buzzing, croaking and splashing all around them. Fiona hadn’t spotted any rascally baboons and felt relieved. She climbed onto the ship’s quarterdeck, crawled on her belly and listened warily to the sounds that lifted in the air.

“This place looks nothing like the Japanese Gardens back home. Why, there aren’t even any teahouses or statues.”

“You live in Japan?” Fiona asked.

Rob shook his head.

“My grandparents and parents did. But I grew up in Norfolk, England. We were visiting my father’s business partners here in America when our ship got caught in a storm.”

“Gee willikers,” Fiona mumbled, “Do you know where your parents are?”

Rob shook his head.

“I wan’na find them. Hey, could you help me?”

Fiona thought.

“I dun’no.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t get along with Big Ones.”

Rob gasped.

“My parents aren’t Big Ones.”

“Every parent is.”

“You mean adult?”

Fiona nodded.

Taking Fiona by surprise, Rob touched her shoulder sympathetically. Suddenly, there was a screeching sound in the distance. Fiona looked up at the trees that hung over the crows-nest and saw dancing figures dangling on the boughs.

“Monkeys,” she mumbled.

“They’re gon’na kill us!” Rob shouted.

Fiona covered Rob’s mouth with her calloused palm and hushed him.

“Keep quiet.”

Rob nodded. His eyes welled with tears.

The baboons were hairy with long, maroon and white noses that were fit for fancy gentlemen. Their bellies were yellow and their rumps were swollen and red. They stared at Fiona and Rob with a whimsical pout and flared their moist nostrils.

“Maybe they don’t see us,” Rob mumbled.

Fiona stared at the moving trees. Like hungry vultures the hundreds of baboons watched her. Young monkeys stayed by their mothers’ sides and made whispering ‘ooo’ ‘ahh’ sounds, while the attentive females tilted their heads and grunted.

“Oh no,” Rob said, “I’m gon’na sneeze.”

“Hold it in, doofus,” Fiona whispered.

“Can’t. I have bad allergies.”

Curious, the baboons crawled down the limbs of the trees and plopped onto the ship. The leader of the pack looked strong and mighty like a grand king. Once the leader approached Fiona and Rob, the others followed.

Fiona backed up with Rob grasped in her arms when the baboons had them surrounded.

“This doesn’t look so good.”

“I’m gon’na sneeze Fi. I’m gon’na…a…a…”

“Don’t you dare.”

Rob’s sneeze was as loud as a blusterous tempest. He ‘ACHOO-ed’ three times and startled the baboons that stared blankly at him for five, soundless seconds.

The leader of the baboons shook its head and scratched its nose when suddenly it opened its mouth wide, showed its long, yellow, pointy teeth and howled to the heavens. The forest shook. Birds scattered. The other baboons mimicked their leader and sounded like an obedient choir.

“Run,” Fiona slurred.

“What?” Rob asked, in shock.

“RUN!”

Fiona grabbed Rob’s arm, tugged on it and leapt off the side of the ship into the swampy marsh. She watched as the sea of baboons swarmed and cast their shadows over the swaying trees.

Near a pile of sludge and reeds, Fiona spotted the receiver and shouted.

Rob cried and dangled behind her, watching the baboons as they hunted after them. One snapped at his boot and caught it in its teeth. It lost its balance and crashed into the following baboons.

“My shoe!” Rob sobbed.

Fiona looked back and stuck out her tongue. She was so close to victory when a young baboon jumped onto her head and pulled at her knotty hair. She tried shaking the young’un off, but couldn’t as it clung on for dear life.

“I got it! I got it!” Rob shouted.

He tugged at the young’un, pulled it off of Fiona’s head and held it in his hands. Screaming, he tried putting it down when it climbed onto his head and leapt into the trees.

“Gross! Gross!” Rob complained.

“It’s just a monkey,” Fiona said.

“I don’t like getting dirty. Germs!”

Fiona listened to the howls and snarls and watched as the baboons gained on her. She was inches away from the receiver when the leader of the pack shot in front of her, shrieked and threatened her. Fiona got a whiff of its rotten breath and squished up her face. She closed her eyes, reached for the spearhead in her knapsack and prayed that she would survive, when something caught the baboons by surprise.

There was a whistling sound…

Opening her eye slowly, she watched as all of the baboons fled and disappeared into the undergrowth. She was breathing heavily and looked down at Rob who was so scared he wet his pants.

“We’re dead. We’re dead. We are, we are,” Rob mumbled.

“Quiet doofus, we’re not dead.”

Shaking, Rob looked up at Fiona.

“Is this Heaven?”

Fiona shook her head.

“We’re alive.”

“We are?”

Fiona nodded.

“Something scared those fiends,” she said, as she grabbed the receiver from the pile of gunk.

“Not something, someone,” a low, heroic voice called.

Fiona looked passed the trees and creepers and gasped. She pulled out her spearhead, backed away, and with wide eyes observed the forest.

“Who goes there?”

“A friend,” the voice said, “Now put down your weapon.”

“Not until you show yourself.”

The trees rustled and a young man dressed in fancy clothes, a pointy cap and feathers jumped into the wreckage. Fiona studied him and lowered her weapon. He was tall and slender with big ears, black hair and a mischievous face. He was much older than her, probably fifteen or sixteen, but had the spirit of a playful child.

“There’s nothing to fear,” the young man said, “I’m here to help you.”

“Who are you?” Fiona asked excitedly.

“Marlowe Maryska.”

“You look tough.”

“I am.”

Fiona thought.

“Which clan are you in? Royal?”

Marlowe laughed and tipped his cap.

“I’m my own clan,” he said.

“But what about Commander?”

“I’m too old to follow his rules. He’s a shrimp with scurvy!”

Fiona laughed and fixed her specs.

“You’re funny.”

“Thank you, m’lady.”

“I’m Fiona.”

Marlowe smiled. He looked at Rob and raised a brow.

“And your mousy friend?”

“I…I’m Rob,” Rob stuttered.

“Nice to be of your acquaintance.”

Marlowe climbed the ship like a chimpanzee and hopped up on the plank.

“Fiona, Rob, might I ask why you came to this neck of the woods?”

Fiona held up the receiver and said:

“We needed this voice box.”

Marlowe scratched his chin.

“It’s busted,” he said.

Fiona shook her head.

“I can fix it.”

“You can?”

“Yep.”

Marlowe hooted and clapped his hands. Jumping on his feet he kicked the plank and did a little jig.

“If you fix that you squirts can finally leave Kid Island.”

“What about you, Marlowe?”

Laughing, Marlowe said:

“This is my home. It was filled with fun and peace before that nasty Commander took it over and declared it his own. Boy, he makes me angry.”

“Lady Naomi will get us across the ocean!” Fiona shouted.

“Who is Lady Naomi?” questioned Marlowe.

“A beautiful ship. My friend Monster is building her out of the bark of The Hollow Tree.”

Marlowe laughed.

“You know Monster?”

Fiona nodded.

“Oh yes, he’s a nice monster.”

“Would you take me to him?”

With a glimmer in her eyes, Fiona stared up at Marlowe. She was beginning to like this rascally mischief-maker.

* * *

Marlowe told the story about how Kid Island was before Commander and his army invaded it. Kids lived in harmony, shared their food and treated each other with mannerly respect.

“There was only one rule kids had to follow,” Marlowe had said, “And that was to respect one another and be kind.”

“Whatever happened to Kid Island?” asked Rob.

“Commander stole it from me. Though I’m older and know the place like the back of my hand, I’m weak,” Marlowe hesitated and drew his wooden sword, “I fought for Kid Island, I did, but the kids wanted a strong ruler, not a wise one.”

“They were fooled?” Fiona wondered.

Marlowe nodded.

“They see his strength, that’s why they believe he’s a great leader.”

Fiona led Rob and Marlowe through the forest for endless minutes and noticed that the sun started setting in the distance. The peachy, gray skies complimented the horizon and the yellow sun stretched its rays like golden arrows over the island. The first day of her punishment was almost over and she needed to return to the tree where Royal Clan had left her.

Climbing over the lofty roots of The Hollow Tree, Fiona hurried inside and called for Monster. She wandered around, tossed her knapsack in her pile of treasures and walked into the back of the tree. She peeked behind the bend and saw Monster sleeping in Lady Naomi. Right when she was about to disrupt his slumber, she watched as Marlowe took one step forward into the room.

“What are you doing, Marlowe?”

Rummaging through his pockets, Marlowe took out a wooden flute and smirked like a rotten tyke. He blew onto the flute and it made a sharp, ‘eeep’ sound.

“Conflabbit!” Monster shouted.

He shot up from his slumber, bashed his head against the helm and wounded his chin. When he saw Marlowe he snarled.

“What are you doing here, maggot?”

Marlowe slapped his knees and laughed until his belly ached.

“You were scared as a mouse in a yarn basket!”

“Shut your yap,” Monster demanded, “Answer my question.”

“Fiona brought me.”

Monster looked at Fiona. He scratched at his beard and grumbled.

“Why would you bring this maggot here?”

“He’s gon’na help us,” Fiona said.

“Him? The rascal of Kid Island? How is he going to help you?”

“If these pups can ride in your boat,” Marlowe told, “Then they’ll be able to go home sweet home and I’ll get my island back.”

Monster made an ugly face.

“You trust him?”

Fiona and Rob nodded.

“Who is that?” Monster asked, pointing to Rob.

Rob lowered his head shyly.

“That, my good man, is Robert,” Marlowe said, “He’s very brave.”

“I am?” Rob said in awe. He cleared his throat. “I mean, yes, I am!”

Fiona smiled and held out the broken receiver.

Stunned, Monster stammered:

“Y…you found it?”

“It’s here isn’t it?”

“I can’t believe you survived. The baboons?”

“Marlowe helped us.”

Monster looked at Marlowe and frowned.

“What did you do?”

Laughing, Marlowe blew on his wooden flute and tapped his feet.

“Nothing my trusty flute can’t handle.”

“Poppycock,” Monster grumbled.

“It’s true,” Rob said, “He helped save us.”

While Monster argued with Rob and Marlowe, Fiona looked up at the ceiling of the tree and saw the little sun peeking through. She sucked in a deep breath and said:

“I have to go.”

“Now?” asked Marlowe.

Fiona nodded.

“Yes, right away. Commander and Royal Clan will be looking for me. I’ve been punished.”

“That’s unacceptable,” Marlowe said, “You are an adventurer like me, we do not get treated like thieves.”

“What are you gon’na do, Marlowe?” Rob asked.

“Play a little game with Commander.”

Fiona and Marlowe returned to the forest near the camp when nightfall blanketed the skies. Fiona tied the sodden ropes around her waist and waited for Royal Clan to check up on her. She watched as Marlowe climbed a tree so he could keep an eye on the campsite where the painted kids danced round a bonfire and roasted the catch of the day.

“They’re coming,” Marlowe warned.

Fiona nodded and paid close attention to the kids that scampered into the darkness of the forest. Their faces were blue and green beneath the dusk, but their eyes flickered and burned from the glow of the bonfire’s flames.

One boy laughed.

“You look hungry.”

Fiona growled.

“Leave me alone.”

She looked behind Royal Clan and saw Burk and Ox staring at her with buggy eyes. She glowered at them.

“Burk misses Fi-Fi,” Burk said.

“Shut up!” said a burly boy, “Go back to camp.”

Burk shook his head.

“Why can’t Fi-Fi come back too?”

“’Cause she’s bein’ punished, dupe!”

“Leave him alone,” Ox told.

The burly boy snarled and pressed his chest against Ox’s.

“You want to be tied to a tree too, twit?”

Ox stayed quiet and looked at Fiona with glum eyes. He took Burk by the hand and ran back towards the camp.

The burly boy laughed at Fiona and used the butt-end of his spear to poke at her face.

“You look thin as a rail. Wish you could eat?”

Fiona shook her head. Though when she had, she noticed Marlowe hadn’t been in the trees any longer. Instead, she saw him creeping up behind the boys with his lips against his flute.

‘Do-ti-li-do’, played the flute. ‘Doot-li-do-do’.

Royal Clan gasped and turned round. The small girl in the clan saw Marlowe’s shadow slithering up the tree like a sneaky snake and screamed.

“What’s that?”

Royal Clan drew their weapons and swung them high and low.

“Show yourself, fiend.”

“Fiend you say?” said Marlowe, “I’m no fiend. I’m a friend.”

Royal Clan backed away when they saw Marlowe pushing through the creepers. They fell on their rumps and yammered in fear.

“What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue?”

“You’re…y…you’re———“

“M…Marlowe!” shouted the girl.

‘Do-ti-li-do’.

 “Want to play a game?”

Marlowe snatched Royal Clan’s spears and snapped them in half. He hovered over the boys and girl and gave them a cheeky smile.

“———Do you like baboons?”

Royal Clan ran away like a couple of nervous nellies and tumbled down the hills. Fiona saw them crying to Commander and interrupting the grand feast. Though, Commander hadn’t believed them and shoveled roasted fish and clams into his mouth.

Marlowe had a great laugh and picked up the spears.

“Next time we can use these to bash their heads in.”

Fiona laughed, but said:

“We shouldn’t go that far to hurt them.”

“Why not?” Marlowe questioned, “They’re bad.”

“That doesn’t mean we have to hurt them.”

Marlowe shrugged, blew on his flute and patted Fiona’s back.

“I’ll be back for you by morning. Just listen for my flute.”

‘Do-ti-li-do’. Then Marlowe was gone.

* * * 

Commander joined Royal Clan the next morning to make sure nothing was fishy. He shook the coconuts on his walking stick, shouted in a strident voice and kicked his feet. Fiona woke in an instant.

“Do you know Marlowe Maryska?” Commander asked.

Fiona yawned. Her vision was fuzzy.

Commander asked again:

“Have you left this spot since we put you here?”

Fiona shook her head.

“Oh, no, sir,” she lied, “I haven’t left this spot.”

Commander raised a brow.

“Good,” he said.

He snapped his fingers and startled a burly boy.

“Yes, sir?”

“Fetch Fiona some food and water, she deserves her fill.”

Clumsily, Royal Clan scaled down the forest’s hummocks and returned to the camp.

“They were frightened last night,” Commander said, “Rumors about Marlowe Maryska.”

Fiona licked her dry lips. She heard the ‘Do-ti-li-do’ of Marlowe’s flute in the distance and tried to act not too noticeably casual.

“Marlowe’s an enemy, Fiona. Remember that.”

Fiona nodded.

When Royal Clan served Fiona her breakfast she shoveled handfuls of fish into her mouth, slurped at some fresh coconut milk and filled her hungry belly.

‘Do-ti-li-do’.

Royal Clan was wary of the sounds that lingered amongst the air, but dutifully returned to the camp when Commander blew on a rusty horn and summoned his assembly.

“Don’t plan on doin’ anything,” a boy ordered.

Fiona nodded. Like a stray kitten, she lapped down the last of her milk and stared up at the trees that teetered and tottered. She saw a colorful bird pecking at its feathers and thought the sounds she heard were a foolery. Though, when the bird took flight and squawked in distress, Fiona watched as Marlowe leapt down from the tree and laughed cheekily.

“I told you I’d come back.”

Fiona wanted to scream and jump for joy.

“We have to hurry,” she whispered, “They’ll be back to check up on me once the meeting is done.”

Marlowe unfastened the ropes and set Fiona free.

“They look busy,” he said, “It’ll be a while before they come back here.”

Fiona stretched her arms over her head, nodded and followed Marlowe through the forest.

They returned to The Hollow Tree where Rob was outside. Shouting and crying, he called for Fiona.

“What’s wrong?” Fiona asked.

“Lady Naomi, she’s finished.”

Fiona gasped and ran inside of the tree. There, Monster was jumping for joy and wiping Lady Naomi with a wet rag.

“You’ve finished?” Fiona said as she approached the boat.

Monster laughed.

“Sure have. Marlowe and Rob stayed up all night helpin’ me finish the ol’lass. Ain’t she a beauty?”

Fiona ran her fingers over the wooden boat and smiled.

“She is,” she said, “Can we set sail?”

Marlowe walked beside Fiona and said:

“Not just yet. You need to fix the receiver first before we can sail the seven seas.”

“How come?”

“There are sailors out there who can help us. If they get our signal from the receiver then they can help us and take us to a new land.”

Fiona nodded, fixed her specs and started tinkering with the broken receiver.

“What about those other boys?” Rob asked.

“We’ll fight them,” Marlowe said, “To the death!”

“Not to the death,” Fiona scolded, “They can come too, if they wish.”

“No fun,” Marlowe said.

“And what about you, Marlowe?” Rob wondered, “You sure you wan’na stay on this island all by your lonesome?”

Marlowe nodded.

“I washed up on this shore years ago. My parents are far away in Ukraine, it’s impossible for me to ever see them again.”

“That’s not true, boy,” said Monster, “If you come with us officers will be able to find your family.”

“Maybe I don’t want to find them. I like living on my own, free of any rules. It’s what every boy dreams about.”

“I don’t,” said Rob, “I wan’na go home.”

Marlowe laughed and shook his head.

“And what about you Fiona? Might you stay here, with me on Kid Island?”

Fiona thought and looked up at Marlowe.

“I always wanted to explore the world. Can’t do that if I stay here.”

Marlowe snarled and squished up his face.

“None of you are fun.”

He left The Hollow Tree, blew on his flute and ran into the forest.

Fiona was confused. Had she said something to offend Marlowe?

“Don’t worry about that one,” said Monster, “He just doesn’t understand what having a family is all about. He’s lived by the rules of the jungle for an awful long time. Once you’ve reached that state there’s no turning back.”

“Oh, I don’t believe that,” said Fiona, “I think Marlowe can change.”

“He’s never going to leave the island. He’s too afraid of change.”

It took Fiona many hours to complete, but when she had finally finished working on the receiver she let out a cheer and felt comforted.

‘Hello…Over…can you hear me Kid Island? This is Lieutenant Michael Webster…over….’

 “Bless my soul,” mumbled Monster, “It works.”

Fiona shook the receiver and held it out to Monster.

“How do you work it?”

Monster grabbed the receiver, pressed a small, red button, cleared his throat and spoke fluently:

“Kid Island to Lieutenant Michael Webster: we hear you loud and clear.”

‘We’ve surrounded the border of the island; we come in peace.’

“There are many children here, is it possible for all of us to board your ship?”

‘Affirmative.’

 Fiona and Rob held hands and did a little dance.

“I’ve a boat, we’ll come to you.”

‘We’ll be stationed here. Over.’

 Monster let go of the button and wiped the sweat off of his brow.

“Time we set sail!” he shouted.

“But what about Commander? He’ll attack for sure.”

“Attack, you say?” Monster laughed, “We’ve our own army here.”

Rob nodded nervously.

“I’ll fight too.”

Fiona smiled.

* * *

It was tough to lift Lady Naomi out of The Hollow Tree but the gang pulled it off with a little bit of ‘oomph’. The forest prowled with all kinds of creatures and mysteries that Fiona would miss but was happy to leave behind.

She saw Marlowe leant up against the tree, playing his flute.

‘Do-ti-li-do’.

“So you’re really leaving?” Marlowe wondered sadly.

Fiona nodded.

“Please come with us.”

“I’ll help you win the battle against Commander, but I can’t leave this island. It’s my home.”

When they reached the edge of the forest, Fiona peeked from behind a tree and saw the kids swimming and playing in the ocean. Burk, Arno, Don, Betty and Ox were there, struggling and hoisting wooden boards out of the water. Fiona frowned. What was Commander planning?

She watched as Commander stood on a mound of sand and raised his arms. He spoke:

“It’s time we waged war on Marlowe Maryska! He is our enemy and must be destroyed.”

Rob too listened. He said:

“They’re talking about you, Marlowe.”

Marlowe scowled.

“Time I played a game with this dunce.”

He hurried to the shores and stayed hidden beneath the sand dunes.

Commander continued.

“We’ll rip off his head and tear him limb from limb!”

The children cheered.

Though in the celebration of all things there was one boy who screamed above all else.

“Burk sees the enemy!” Burk cried.

The clans gathered and grabbed their spears.

“Who goes there?”

“Is it Marlowe?”

“We’ll whack you Marlowe!”

‘Do-ti-li-do’.

Marlowe hopped out from his hiding place, snarled and bent his knees. He walked in a casual manner and pulled out a spearhead from his shorts’ back pocket. He snarled. Boys ran over the dunes and used their fists. Don and Arno knocked him to his knees but got sidetracked when his he slashed his spearhead at their cheeks.

Birds took flight when the boys wrestled on the ground. Fiona watched the fight from the trees and got a nervous feeling in her gut. She started climbing down the hills when Monster pulled her back.

“I have to help him!” she shouted.

Monster shook his head.

“This is Marlowe’s battle. Let him keep his honor as a man. Whether he lives or dies he fights for honor.”

Ox sunk his teeth into Marlowe’s skin and tore at the flesh. Marlowe screamed and stumbled. When he wrenched the boy from his body and tossed him into the dunes, he saw Commander laughing and clapping his hands.

The boys began to advance but stopped when they heard Commander’s claps.

“Nice to see you again, pussbucket,” Commander said.

“Leave my land!” Marlowe cried.

“It’s not your land anymore. These are my men; this is my island! All mine.”

“You make them live like animals.”

“And you did any better? Big Ones stomped all over you when you were leader.”

There were silent mumbles.

Marlowe looked around at the boys who were hungry for blood and violence.

“Big Ones never knew about this place until you stole kids from their homes and brought them here ‘cause you wan’ned an army.”

“Shut up!”

“Kids were happy with their mothers and fathers ‘til you stole them.”

Commander rushed forward with his spear and attacked Marlowe, but stopped when he saw Fiona, Rob and Monster backing out of the forest with Lady Naomi.

“Fiona?”

Don, Burk, Arno and Ox stared at Fiona with buggy eyes.

“What are you doin’ Fi?” asked Arno, “Help us kill Marlowe.”

“Yeah, yeah,” said Ox.

Fiona shook her head.

“We’re leaving Kid Island.”

“No!” hundreds shouted.

They were wary of Monster.

“The monster,” Don grumbled.

“He does exist,” said Ox.

Commander ordered everyone to attack, but the assembly stopped.

“Why do we got’ta leave, Fi?” asked Arno.

“Commander treats us like slaves. Don’t you want to be free?”

The kids contemplated.

Ox said:

“But he’s th’boss.”

Fiona shook her head.

“Marlowe is. It’s his island.”

Commander snarled and raised his spear.

“You traitor! Royal Clan attack th’traitor!”

Royal Clan dithered.

“Now! Royal Clan!”

Many shook their heads.

“How come you boss us around?”

“’Cause I’m Commander!”

“Who said?”

“I said!”

Arno and the other boys approached Fiona.

“Maybe Fiona’s right. You do act like some control-freak.”

Marlowe laughed.

“C’mon guys,” Arno said, “Let’s go ride this boat.”

“Wait!” Commander shouted.

“We ain’t listenin’,” said Ox.

“Yeah! Burk ain’t listenin’!” Burk shouted as he kicked sand in Commander’s face.

The kids laughed hard. They helped Fiona and Monster as they pushed Lady Naomi into the waters and ignored Commander’s shouts.

“You ain’t a monster,” Ox said to the old man.

Monster raised a brow.

“But you all are still brats.”

Fiona watched as many of the boys tied up Commander and carried him towards the slippery rocks. She shouted.

“He’s comin’ too!”

“You kiddin’?” said Don.

“He’s th’enemy.”

Fiona tried to find her words, but couldn’t think. She felt Marlowe’s hand go to her shoulder and jumped.

“Let him go,” Marlowe said, “He deserves a family too.”

Commander snarled at Marlowe, but was relieved he hadn’t drowned that day. He was taken to the boat where the boys and girls picked on him and tossed fish bones at his head. Fiona watched as Monster stopped the useless bullying and scolded the children. They were to act civil, he had said.

Fiona stayed behind when everyone boarded Lady Naomi. She caught up to Marlowe as he clambered back towards the forest.

“You sure you don’t want to come with us?”

Marlowe shook his head.

“Like I said, this is my home. The island needs someone to run it.”

Fiona wrapped her arms around Marlowe’s waist and started to cry.

“I’ll miss you,” she whimpered.

Marlowe smiled. He rummaged through his pockets, pulled out his flute and handed it to Fiona.

“Here,” he said, “take it.”

“But that’s your flute. What will stop the baboons.”

“I don’t need it anymore. I’m going to grow up next year. My flute needs to be with a kid with an adventurous spirit.”

“Me?”

Marlowe pinched Fiona’s dirty nose and laughed.

“Of course,” he said.

“Will I ever see you again?” Fiona asked.

Marlowe nodded.

“Just blow that flute and one day I’ll find you.”

Fiona blew at the flute.

‘Do-ti-li-do’.

“Not now, silly.”

Fiona hugged Marlowe one last time until she heard Rob and the others calling for her.

“You promise I’ll see you again?”

“I promise.”

Fiona watched as Marlowe hunkered back into the forest and waved goodbye. She listened to Marlowe’s strange monkey sounds and stared at the bending trees that housed all of her treasures and memories. With one last blow of Marlowe’s flute she joined the kids and Monster and never looked back at Kid Island.

‘Do-ti-li-do’.


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About Katya Szewczuk

Katya is the Freelance Writer, Editor and Journalist for New Jersey based publishers Renna Media. She is also a videographer who creates book trailers for authors and is the host of the Youtube series 'The Kat's Meow'. She is currently working on two middle grade novels both featuring a spunky, adventurous heroine who goes off on a journey.
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One Response to Short Story Letter K – ‘Kid Island’

  1. Pingback: Short Story G – ‘Gramps and the No Good Busybodies’ | The Musings of an Award-Winning Author's Apprentice | Katya Szewczuk (Shove . Chuck)

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