Stranded – Austin L. Wiggins

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On the first night James was lost to the sea and the other inhabitants of the raft knew nothing of his disappearance. The remaining four of them had been sleeping huddled in the raft, and there was no sound indicating malice. They assumed James had lost his mind and surrendered himself to the sea willingly. Or perhaps sirens had called to him at night. Either way, James was gone.

 The day after James’ death the others talked more freely and enjoyed conversation more thoroughly. This too was not in malice, but James’ death meant the little rations they had would go even further. The quiet acceptance of this fact loosened the grip of misery over the raft. Jenna, a thickset woman, was the first to realize James’ death might be more than an accident.

“It doesn’t make sense,” she said, “we still had food to spare. We could have easily rationed supplies.” She disappeared next the following night. Near the edge of the raft where Jenna slept were streaks of blood and faint markings of her clawing nails.

Vanessa grew uneasy and untrusting of the other two people that were with her. Both Thomas and Bianca were suspicious of Vanessa, who’d taken to rocking in the fetal position. “She’s dying of guilt,” Bianca whispered to Thomas. Neither thought of killing the woman, but instead with a swift calculation they attacked her. Thomas forced his weight onto Vanessa while Bianca bound her with a rope and gagged her with spare cloth. For the rest of the day, the two felt at ease and more positive of their survival.

 Night descended and a thunderstorm rolled in. The light from the accompanying lightning was the only light source for the raft. No one slept because the storm gathered strength and lifted the waves high. Vanessa, who was left tied and defenseless, knew one of the two was a murderer.

 There was a flash of lightning and Bianca quickly closed in on Thomas. A quick succession of thumps sounded against his chest, and accompanying squirts of blood  fell to the raft before pooling by Vanessa. Bianca threw Thomas overboard and relaxed on the side of the raft across from the puddle of blood. There was a bloody shiv in her hand. And on went the storm, and on went the isolation.

 

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