“Say, any idea of what’s that old shell over there Georges?
-Looks like a ship to me.
-Jeez, to think that such a mess was floating at a time”
Georges changed his direction and started to walk towards the old construction. Billy hesitated for a while, talking to himself and nervously rubbing his index against the jean of his jungarees before following Georges. Once they were close enough to be able to distinguish every plank of wood of the old ship, they had a debate on what type of wood had been used to construct the boat. Georges and Billy knew that none of the two had any experience of the matter but they still had the stamina to argue on wood for at least twenty minutes. The pride of the two always led them to such discussions. Finally, Billy remained quiet, accepting Georges’s undeniable argument that the boat was made of oak.
“Well, at least, we’re not the first ones to be there” Georges said, sitting down at the edge of the sea and putting his feet in the water.
-Do you think we will find a way out Georges?
-We are on an island Billy.”
Billy sat down close to Georges and started to cry. Georges raised his eyes from the water and looked at the boat on which a seagull had landed on the bow. Staring at the bird, Georges realized that there were some imperfections on what the seagull was standing on. Focusing on the object, he progressively realized that the round aspect given to the bow was only due to layers of dirt and mud. He tried to stand up in order to swim to the construction and felt a very mild pressure on his arm. Georges noticed that Billy had tried, for a split second, to prevent him from getting closer. The excitement of a prospective discovery however made him totally forget the act. When Georges was close enough to the construction, he distinguished several features which made him believe that the initial form of the row was a human face, a woman more precisely, he recognized it from the long hairs.
“I should go check on my wife, Georges said turning back to Billy.
Billy was still seated on the shore but was now seized by some sort of illness. He was shaking and rubbing his body everywhere. The gaze that he gave to Georges when the latter talked to him also predicted nothing good.
“She will be worried if she is alone for too long. Plus, we didn’t find any food”
At this precise moment, Billy raised to his feet and seemed strangely calmer. He came close to Georges and whispered:
“Maybe there is a treasure in this old carcass.”
Billy knew the repercussion that such a remark could have on an ex-robber still nostalgic about his old adventures. Georges’s eyes sparkled with excitement. He turned back to the ship and began to wonder about all the amount of gold and treasuries that he could possibly find inside it. Georges started to walk, completely forgetting his wife, in the direction of the ship until he heard Billy speaking again. The words, at this moment, even though the distance between Bille and Georges hadn’t really increased, seemed much more vague to him. As if what Georges was thinking was so important that he wasn’t able to hear anything else. The kind of external words which can be blocked by the inner ones. The “Excuse me, I was thinking about something else” ’s words.
Georges continued to walk toward the ship, struggling more and more against the waves which grew stronger and stronger. Georges wasn’t the kind of man that would accept a “no”, even from the sea. Whether it was with Billy or with anything else, Georges refused to be contradicted or discussed, he imposed his law. He was defying the sea, moving his body like a giant and eventually, the waves accepted the challenge. The sea appeared as if it was fighting the invador off its territory and the waves became so unbelievably fierce that Georges now had to turn around each time he perceived one if he didn’t want to be swallowed by it. His vision became more and more blurry as the waves were growing quicker and quicker. Georges wasn’t able to escape each of them anymore, he realized that if he continued to fight the sea from the front, he would loose the battle, he had to go round it. After having put his two hands on the hull, he swam around the boat until finally, he perceived a hole.
“Thank God, it’s high tide” Georges thought, pulling himself with all the strength that he had to insert himself inside the boat. When he was finally inside the construction, Georges started to walk with delicacy, knowing that the old and wet wood could crack with any pressure and that, if such a case would have to happen, he would be trapped.
In the old room, everything had been crushed and going mouldy by time. The smell of the old wood was unbearable and the light that was passing by the holes of the ship didn’t provide enough clarity to explore the room correctly. Quickly, Georges’s old reflexes started to work. First, he had to explore the four corners of the room, the hardest parts of wood, and then to delicately move towards the middle. The sound of the waves made the operation very difficult as Georges couldn’t properly hear the cracking volume for each of his steps and direct himself according to the sensibility of the floor.
As Georges had almost finished to check the room, in the sky, a cloud moved enough to let a ray of light cross to the old shell. This light, which lasted less than two seconds, fully floodlighted the empty room and Georges suddenly saw, at the opposite of where he was, a corridor that led to another room where something had sparkled. He quickly took a mental picture of the room, went along the wall on his right and delicately crossed the corridor to the other area. This time, the roof was so low that Georges could stand up so he got on one knee and started to touch the ground all around him, in search of the prospective treasure. His hand finally grabbed something harder than dust and mud, it was a gun. When he seized the weapon like a child seizing his Christmas gift, Georges was surprised to see that the gun didn’t look altered by time nor by water and it was loaded with seven bullets, as if someone had put it there just before he had arrived.
“With this, we will be able to hunt and eat for a long time” Georges thought. Aiming the ground and without thinking, he pressed the trigger to verify if the gun was still working. The bullet pierced the floor, the ground under him cracked, broke down and George fell in the hold which was completely immerged by water. Even though the water’s level was quickly lowering, Georges wasn’t able to breath and after a few seconds, he fell unconscious.
When he opened his eyes again, he saw Billy’s reddish face upside him, he was pressing his chest to get him to breath again. Georges vomited, cleaned his mouth with his sleeve and sat on the sand. When he leaned, Billy saw the gun that Georges had put in the back of his jeans and moved back.
“What is this? Billy said pointing the gun.
-I found it in the ship, where were you?
-I told you, I was taking care of Sandra and look what I found!” Billy pointed to a piece of wood on which were disposed several pieces of meat. “I have caught a seagull”
-How is my wife Billy? Georges said, realizing that he had completely forgotten her during the last hour.
-She’s ok, don’t worry, she just needs to rest a bit more, now come, let’s eat.
-Did you also give her some of it?
-Yes, I catched two seagulls, I gave her the first one. She didn’t seem to like it so much but she ate.
-Can’t blame her, it’s raw meat taken from a bird after all.
Georges, not entirely reassured about Sandra, still followed Billy to the piece of wood where the food was. When he saw the two pieces of meat, he smiled at Billy and clapped him on the back.
“Good job there Billy.
The two ate very quickly and without breathing. The meat’s texture was extremely hard and its taste was strangely a little salted.
“Did you wash the meat in the sea or something? Georges spluttered.
Georges didn’t answer, he swallowed his last bite, got up and said:
“Let’s go check on Sandra now.
Billie quickly got up and followed Georges who was already walking towards the other side of the island. On their way to the barque where Sandra was waiting, Georges felt Billie’s gaze on the gun.
After having walked for ten minutes, Georges and Billy started to perceive the barque.
Suddenly, Georges stopped for a second before storming in the direction of the barque. Approaching close enough to it, he stopped again and opened his eyes wide.
The boat was empty.
To be continued