Los Varados (3)
A day later, I picked my dirt bike from the shack and took Juliette for a ride. Climbed down the main street to reach the small fishing port in the calm of the ocean. Fishing nets, single-cabin boats and black faldas hanging on lines in the carroty rays of an unseen sun. A lazy wind touched my crown in the cool.
Few minutes later, we reached the airstrip lying invisible on Costa Este and head a long way towards the northern tip. It gave a terrific view of Saint Nadie bedded in the middle of the island with its unique, single-storey houses and outlay of gardens. Hospital ‘Pedazo del Cielo’ stood as an epic landmark with its red roof. Landscape beyond gave sight of the Muro faintly dissolving into the wooded hills of Enselvado.
“Not a ripple on the shore,” cried Juliette.
I observed. It was cool and calm, nothing stirred. I listened to dead silence, not a soul in sight. Sand turned red in the glow. I heard splashes and bubbles of tiny fish in crystal clear water.
She nodded with a broad smile.
We sported…we bathed.
We climbed from the beach in cold shivers. Cool air caught us while riding on Camino Costero heading to the dunes behind Enselvado. We passed the row of empty houses, rather guesthouses, lined on eastern shore.
A moment later, I climbed off Costero assuming the point of the wreck and bounced over hedge grass to the top of the Muro.
The ship lay in quarter mile distance right in the eye. I noticed a couple of four-wheels moving beneath its hull. Those experts arrived but to my knowledge nothing was done to tamper the ship in fear of radiation leak. So far islanders were in the clear with a certain Sievert level remaining normal. More exciting was the fact that those experts issued a defense readiness condition to DEFCON 4 and downgraded to DEFCON 5 to a normal readiness as this whole thing still remain a mystery.
To our knowledge, they were studying radiation levels, how it got there, damages to the environment and how to salvage the ship. Crew presumably dead.
A crack in the clouds opened the sky in magenta red over the western horizon. It was sunset and it would remain so into the night. Arena Roja appeared in a deep reddish-brown. We sat there, resting against each other, folding arms to keep from the cold with fingers dug into flesh.
“It’s going to be Full Moon,” she spoke, “Weather is fine. Hilly High girls will perform dip during la luna del encanto…”
“Noche de hechizo!” I uttered thoughtlessly. On the night of bewitchment, womenfolk dipped in water in bare skin and the girls from Hilly High get down on Costa Este in front of the empty houses. “When is it?”
“A day or two,” she replied.
“Oh mi falda!” I cried, “I have to pick flowers for Lady Marissa…”
“I know,” she said, “Isn’t it something only you among the old boys go help them occasionally.”
“I am the only one left,” I told her, “Old boys left long time ago for further studies and work abroad. I miss them.”
“You are quite frank with those girls. How about this new girl you’re dating?”
“Luna!” I shrank, “Well, if you put it that way…I can only give them fondness. I may be close like this with them but the relationship is quite different. They are still virgins and boys these days…I don’t know.”
“Watch your step!” she warned.
“Don’t you miss someone?” I asked.
“I do,” admitted Juliette, “our age guys are gone. We have a bunch of elderly folk, fishermen, teenagers and very few children. Mostly, I miss my parents.”
I asked, “Where do you come from?”
“I was born in California for Lebanese parents,” she folded up, “I feel cold…”
“Wait until it’s dark…”
“It won’t get any darker than this,” she quivered, “What’s on your mind?”
“I want to get closer to the wreck. They say you can feel the heat…”
“Well!” she glanced at me.
We hopped downhill on foot in some excitement tackling the beach grass and rosemary shrubs. I could see that falda of the tall woman blown in the wind.
Halfway through we came to a standstill. By now the ship appeared twice as big. Something just happened. A powerful beam lit the windscreen panels on the bridge. For a moment the whole interior of the ship appeared lit by a rotating beam inside. I thought first it was a reflected ray of light. Then the light went out shutting down panel by panel from left to right.
“Did you see that?” I asked Juliette.
“They powered the ship,” she cried.
We continued but at a moderate pace keeping close. It was dead out there besides the gush in our ears. The sky still in a luminous propensity gave light around; a natural phenomenon.
Abruptly, she grabbed my arm. I saw more lights but this time of vehicles. Quite a number of vehicles and headlights seemed to approach at fast speed.
“I think they detected us! We are in breach of the no-go zone. Let’s turn back!”
We retreated quickly dashing for the hill. Those vehicles were catching up fast with sirens going on.
“They can see us in the beam,” I cried out, “Hide! Hide! Hide!” And I dived behind a rosemary bush before the headlights hit me. Juliette beached in the grass.
Those vehicles came right at us. I was scared and felt like splitting…they’d stop and shove the nozzles of their weapons at me. They passed by only few yards from us keeping to a trail and climbed the coastal road. Two cars stopped at the top of the dune with rotating beacons of emergency lights going on. I thought this was it…they pick me like a rat on night vision binoculars and a sniper pulls his trigger.
I crossed to Juliette keeping my head below the grass. “We must get out of here fast,” I whispered.
“How?” she cried shakily.
We tracked back crawling slowly, negotiating the bushes for cover.
“A point-five calibre bullet makes no sound,” she muttered, “you can’t feel it. You’re dead before it hit…”
“Shut up!” I grunted.
Time passed as we climbed the top from a good distance. There was some kind of an alertness around the vehicles. More cars arrived on Costero with signals lights blinking and illuminating an area. Inspectors traced their binoculars on the wreck.
“Something went wrong down there,” I judged.
“Oh! That light from the ship!”
“Maybe its melting down…” she suggested.
“A leak…they must have experienced something severe…”
“Grab your bike, we can’t stay here…”
Soon I dropped Juliette home and stopped at the bistro to watch television and listen to some gossip. That light from the ship was caught on live telecast however, it wasn’t repeated and not even mentioned afterwards. It could be suspended under some surveillance instruction. I learnt from folks. “That ship came to life for a fleeting moment…” My eyes didn’t lie. I saw it clearly…ship lit up from the inside – the bridge room.
“Who was it?” I asked.
“An alien ship,” expounded the guy next to me, “Inspectors heard a deafening noise throbbing eardrums of a high frequency and heat temperature rising steadily. They withdrew the area in hurry.”
“Ship restarted its engines,” added another.
“How may I ask?” I demanded.
He explained another theory, “Even if the crew are dead, those nuclear batteries keep working and auto-pilot running…”
“It’s a short-circuit,” assumed yet another, “fuse blown…” Nobody knew exactly what happened.
“Is there any warning or an alert level issued by now?” I enquired.
“For what?” cried an elderly fisherman.
“To evacuate the island just in case…”
“Evacuate yourself!” he uttered, “They don’t tell us and we don’t want to know. Have you seen a corpse or a grave on this island?”
I shook my head, “Buried in the Atlantic…”
“Buried in the Atlantic. If we die…we die on Los Varados,” he concluded, “There’s no place to go.”