Within this UnBook I count my experiences on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean after a plane crash left me stranded for years. My name is Chuck and I formerly lived in Memphis, working as a systems analyst which required me to fly overseas every once in a while. One fateful day, I was called out to Australia where I thought I would be enjoying a summery Christmas with "Sentah" instead of a cold snowy one with Santa, but then the very unusual and unexpected happened to me. Before I knew it I had lost everything that I had taken for granted and found myself all alone in a world in which only I existed for a very long time. All it took was one phone call, a plane ticket and a pack of condoms to change my life forever...
Chapter 1: Ghost of Christmas past.
Christmas Eve was drawing near with the homely smell of burning wood and freshly baked cakes and puddings rising up from tall chimneys housing snug families who were hiding from the chills of the winter snow. Of course not everyone was hiding from it, especially if they were people with nothing better to do than sing carols you have heard over and over and over again in front of your door. Inconsiderate little bastards! Your typical American Christmas.
I simply closed the door on them, before sitting down in front of the television to watch yet another repeat of the sixth or seventh remake of the movie "A Christmas Carol". Just as I got to the part involving the ghost of Christmas past, the door opened to reveal my fiancée Kelly.
"Honey I'm home!" She said while carrying in an armful of parcels.
"No shit." I thought sarcastically before saying, "Hey honey. How was work? You're home earlier than usual."
"Oh, the usual. Working myself to death doing something I don't really enjoy without taking any lunch breaks as a result of being pressured into ensuring that I provide the boss with five stacks of paperwork daily or face being threatened with written warnings," Is what she should have said, but instead she said, "Oh the usual, paperwork and more paperwork, and how about your's honey?"
"Well, my boss told me today that I might have to fly to Australia tomorrow to analyze their systems, but nothing has been confirmed yet. He said I should know by tomorrow morning," I said before bracing myself for her response.
"Tomorrow? You do realize tomorrow is Christmas? Does he really expect you to fly over to Australia on Christmas day?"
"Well when I signed my contract it did state that as a systems analyst I might have to take trips overseas on demand. It is critical to the smooth functioning of whatever I have to analyze." I replied.
Kelly's lip quivered slightly and her forehead creased into a frown while she stood there deep in thought. She had obviously come to the conclusion that there was nothing that she could do about me leaving.
"I can't believe this. This is just so typical," She said, before shrugging and picking up one of the parcels which she had placed on the coffee table. "Here is your present honey. Merry Christmas," she continued to say as she handed me the smallest one with teary eyes.
"Oh. Honey, thank you," I said as I carelessly threw the little insignificant box onto the table without giving it much thought.
"You know, you could always spend Christmas with your parents while they tell you what to do with your life," I thought to myself as my insides grinned at the fact that I wouldn't have to look into her pudgy mother's face while she bitches about the fact that Kelly chose terrible yellow curtains to hang in the kitchen as though she might just end up going to Hell for doing so.
I looked up at Kelly's suddenly angry face and felt somewhat confused at first before I realized that she had just given me a Christmas present. I quickly picked it up and tried to look as apologetically appreciative as I could.
"Probably a chain with our names engraved on it," I thought negatively as I gave it a little shake. "Or perhaps it's the Rolex watch I’ve always wanted, but where would she get the money to afford this?" I thought hopefully as I eagerly eyed the present as though it would open itself.
"Well? Open it silly!" Kelly said before giving a little sniff.
I unwrapped the gift-wrap to reveal a small black box as expected. My selfish hunger kicked in as I thought "Rolex, Rolex, Rolex," and as I opened the box, a small golden glint greeted me from inside the box, surrounded by red velvet. My heart skipped a beat, but a rather disappointed feeling instantly replaced all of my excitement when I saw that the watch being displayed so elegantly was one which worked with a winder instead of batteries.
"Oh. Honey! You shouldn't have! An old pocket watch!" I said while trying my best to show complete gratitude and enthusiasm.
"Not just any watch, pumpkin. It was my grandfather's. Open it up, you will see it has a picture of me inside it," she said happily as she gave me a small peck on the lips and giggled softly.
"Thank you babe, I love it," I lied before kissing her tenderly and standing up to fetch her present from the kitchen. I picked up a much larger package and carried it through to where Kelly was sitting expectantly with her hands folded into her lap.
"Here you go my babes. Merry Christmas," I said as I handed her the pink, frilly box. She turned it around like I did, but did not hesitate as long to open it.
"Complete Illustrated Kamasutra? Uhhhhh, thanks honey," she said quizzically.
"I just thought we might as well spice things up a bit and try something different, ya know," I said with a mischievous grin.
Whether we learnt anything from the book that night or not, I will not disclose for now, but I was definitely dreading the phone call from my boss, confirming my long and tiring journey to Australia.
Chapter 2: Ghost of Christmas present
A thin beam of light hit me in my face as I woke up to the faint sound of some more singing, "we wish you a merry Christmas. We wish you a merry Christmas. We wish you a merry Christmas..."
"I fucking get it already!" I thought as I took my pillow and pressed it down around my head to block out all sound and light. It didn't last very long because soon after that my phone rang.
"Great. Your wishes aren't coming true today Christmas carolers," I thought to myself as I lifted the pillow and glared at the blaring phone.
"Please let it be an insurance salesman so that I can just quickly tell him to fuck off," I thought as I cautiously picked up the phone and answered it. A deep voice greeted me on the other side of the line and my stomach sank through the bed as it told me that I would be leaving on a plane at 5 PM.
Kelly had obviously heard the conversation because she was standing in the doorway with tears running down her face. "It was your boss, wasn't it," she said miserably before adding, "Breakfast is ready downstairs. Merry Christmas honey."
That morning I had a rather quiet breakfast with Kelly. We then both went upstairs and she helped me pack for the trip. She started throwing in thick jackets, gloves and scarves before I reminded her, "Honey. It is blazing hot summer in Australia. I doubt I'll need all that."
"Oh you never know just take it with in case. I don't want you to be cold," she said as she huffed and puffed while trying to close the zipper on my suitcase. As soon as she left the room I quickly threw out some of the unnecessary items and instead added a pack of condoms that I kept stashed deep in my cupboard and a book or two.
Now it's not that I didn't love Kelly and didn't want to marry her one day, but the long trips overseas often left me bored and lonely at times and I didn't see any harm in trying some foreign cuisine once in a while. I mean those accents. How are you supposed to resist a young Asian girl who says "Engrish," Instead of "English?"
I thought about taking my sun block with me to enjoy some summer tanning and sunshine. That's when it struck me that this trip wasn't going to be so bad after all. A summer Christmas was going to be a hell of a lot better than sitting indoors in front of a fireplace with a beautiful, but American, woman by my side.
Kelly took me to the airport and walked me to the counter where I collected my air ticket. I felt slightly bad for having to leave her behind with her dreadful parents, but I took comfort in the fact that I signed a contract forcing me to, which was the best excuse for a one night stand that any man could dream for.
"You have a safe flight now honey, and remember to call me as soon as you land," Kelly said before hugging me very tightly and kissing me deeply. I walked towards the terminal where my plane was waiting for me and turned around to look at her. She looked at me in her usual loving way while wiping her tears away with the corner of her sleeve, and excitement filled me as I thought that soon a woman with a much happier look on her face would be greeting me with "G'day mate."
Chapter 3: Ghost of many Christmas's to come
I climbed onto the plane where the delicious hostess greeted us with what I could have sworn was a Russian accent. Even if I had tried, there was no way I could have heard what she was saying, because my complete attention was on her firm breasts which kept bouncing up and down in front of me as she explained what is to be done in emergencies. I couldn't help but give in to the way they moved every time she pointed in a direction or made hand gestures.
The first few hours of the trip was like any other time spent on a plane, with foreign movies and nothing much else for entertainment. I watched some Australian sketch show by the name of "Ronnie Johns" which was generally very random, but had me laughing moderately every now and then, unlike the large woman who was sitting next to me and laughing hysterically in an unnaturally deep voice every thirty seconds between chunky mouthfuls of biscuits, peanuts and god knows what else. More movies such as "Muriel’s Wedding" followed and soon enough most of the people had fallen asleep in their seats with pillows behind their heads.
By this time I had figured out that whiskey on the rocks was a great cure for boredom and I had enjoyed four glasses of it by the end of "Crocodile Hunter." The woman next to me was snoring away into her pillow and tossing and turning uncomfortably in her seat every now and then while squeezing me against the side of the plane and giving some more involuntary grunts. I shifted aside as far as I could and then looked out the window at the dark, gray sky. I suddenly felt an odd hollow feeling as a lightning bolt pierced through the sky, which felt similar to the guilty feeling you get the morning after a one night stand with Pocahontas.
I was about to order my sixth glass of single malt and hopefully spank the hostess, but before I could, the plane gave a sudden tremble that awoke even the snoring log sitting next to me, who sat up with a startled look on her face. Everyone looked around cautiously for a while and then returned to their former positions after writing the turbulence off to an air pocket or something. The woman next to me looked at me strangely, gave a small, odd giggle and said, "Goodness me, I almost thought that my stomach was acting up again. Tee hee," before planting her head into her pillow once more.
Another intense tremble startled everyone and suddenly the hostess' trolley went flying down the isle and knocked a man who was on his way to the toilet over like a bowling pin. Before I knew it my face was plunged into the blubber of the woman sitting next to me and before I could make any sense of what was happening I was surrounded by complete darkness and the sound of frantic screams and grinding metal, and then painless silence ensued.
Chapter 4: The United States of Noland
I don't quite know how I ended up there, but I woke up with the feeling of coarse sea sand and sticky salt water all around me. I opened my eyes and saw a seagull flying over me, and then something else gooey and brown landed on me. It took my eyes a long while to adjust to the bright sunshine, but once I could distinguish between the color of the sky and the inside of my eyelids, I stood up and turned to face the island.
If I wasn't so flabbergasted with confusion, I might have said that it was the most awe-inspiring scene that greeted me. Mountains and mountains of lush green flora stretched out in front of me like a giant, furry snake. Beyond the plants were short mountain peaks which looked reasonably small, compared to genuine mountain ranges. When I eventually came to my senses I realized that I was not on vacation, I was on an island. I then remembered the plane and being buried in fat folds, but the rest was blank.
Around me were pieces of debris and objects which had drifted ashore. I then wondered if there were any other survivors. I searched for any signs of life in the distance, but the sea was an endless stretch of nothing but water. I then got the idea that there must be life on the island and ran towards the jungle where I hoped I wouldn't find little tribal killers and rivers filled with piranhas.
Sure enough on my journey I ran into some very exotic and scary creatures and the constant thought that I might end up as a pot roast for cannibals haunted me quite a bit, but there was no sign of human life anywhere. For hours I called out to anyone who would hear me, but with no reply.
Suddenly I finally got a reply, but then I realized that it was my own echo. Wishful thinking I suppose. I then started to lose hope and all that other stuff that usually happens after your plane crashes into the sea and you end up stranded on a desert island. I could go on about that all day, but you have already seen it all happen on "Lord Of The Flies."
My first instinct was to start a fire and try and make some kind of SOS signal.
"Easy enough, if the people on Survivor did it then I guess I can too," I thought to myself as I picked up two dry sticks and started rubbing frantically on them.
The result after eight hours or so of rubbing was blistered hands and shorter sticks. I started to cry and thought about my mother's loving, warm embrace. "Mommy," I thought as my situation reminded me of the first time I ever left home.
I angrily threw the sticks onto the beach and yelled into the blue yonder. As I fell hopelessly to the ground I felt something nudge me in my pocket and it turned out to be the pocketwatch that Kate had given me. I stared at her photo and turned the watch in my hands with new appreciation before noticing that the glass covering was removable.
I took it out gently and plucked up a handful of dry weeds, before allowing the sun's beam to pass directly through the glass and onto the weeds. After a few moments the weeds ignited and I had fire. However my childish excitement was extinguished when a sudden tide rise caused a wave of water to wash over my achievement like a nasty school bully.
Once I had moved up shore I eventually managed to make a fire and after making the biggest fire I possibly could, I finally spotted a plane. The plane flew towards me and I yelled and waved at it in desperation to get its attention, but it soared over me like a bridge over troubled waters.
I then decided to find some kind of food and eventually managed to retrieve some fruit and coconuts from the jungle. While I bashed away at the coconuts I was somehow reminded of breasts again and I thought about Kelly. I really missed her and her American accent welcoming me into my comfortable home.
The next few days dragged on with constant hope of rescue. I believed that someone would be searching for me by now, but I was delusional; to everyone else I was as dead as the other hundred or so passengers on the plane. The days dragged on into weeks and the weeks became months and every day I would build a fire in an attempt to signal an aircraft, but one by one they flew over me. I had found many, useful things which had ended up on the shore, such as a pack of diapers, some random items of clothing, a pack of condoms (which I was almost 100% sure were mine) and a "Pay it forward" DVD.
One peculiar day I spotted a packaged volley ball. I took it out and it was an ordinary white ball with smooth lines running over it. It was inflated already and its surface felt firm and sleek. For some reason I found it to be very intriguing and strangely attractive.
Chapter 5: Wilson the volley ball
"Hello there fella, how are you?" I said to the ball as I turned it around in my hands. "Good to know, good to know," I continued to say. "Oh me? I'm just dandy. Stranded on an island, but its home. What can I say," I said to the lifeless object. I had recently cut my hand on something sharp while I was fixing my shelter and it was bleeding quite badly. When I turned the ball around, I decided to make a big hand print on the front of it with my blood. I then drew a smiley face inside of the bloody handprint and after reading on the packaging that it was a Wilson volley ball, I decided that Wilson was a great name for a friend.
"... ... ... ..." Wilson said as he looked up at me through his friendly hand-drawn eyes.
"He he, I am also very pleased to meet you. It has been awful quiet around here and I could definitely use the company... So tell me, where are you originally from Wilson?"
"... ... ..." He said with a permanent expression on his face.
"The factory? Oh really? And what was it like growing up in a factory?" I asked Wilson curiously.
"... ... ..." He replied blankly.
The conversation carried on for hours.
I picked Wilson up into the golden sunlight and smiled as I looked at him. So round, so firm, so... attractive for lack of a better word. I couldn’t believe that I had finally met someone in my world which only I had existed in up until that point. A new and very unfamiliar happiness welled up inside of me as I hugged the volley ball tightly.
As time went by, I got so involved with Wilson that I had completely forgotten that I was supposed to get rescued. Many months went by in which Wilson and I spent our days playing games such as hide and seek where I would hide him from myself in the jungle and leopard crawl through the thick bushes and try to find him.
We also enjoyed playing balance on a stick where I would simply balance him on a stick and we would both roll on the ground laughing whenever he lost his balance and fell off the stick.
Occassionally we would have our arguments, such as the time when he made friends with a broken mp3 player, but it was only after Wilson and I had our first big fight that I had the time to sit and think clearly about where I was and what I was doing.
I won't say who was right or who was wrong, but Wilson obviously felt very offended when I suggested that he grows some hair. As it turned out he could not grow any hair (he didn't mention anything about having cancer). It was after we had agreed that we would give him some hair implants that the fight broke out; he was very unhappy with his new look and thought that I had punctured his image.
I felt quite offended so I kicked him into the far distance, where he sat with the same old expression on his face. I was too angry to care and decided to go and sit on a rock on the other side of the beach where I could be left alone with my thoughts and feelings for a change. Wilson was a small dark dot in the afternoon sun and as I turned to look over at the empty horizon, a brilliant idea struck me.
I remembered the condoms that had washed up on the beach. I had put them between my collections of random beach litter and decided to keep them, because for some reason I thought that I might need them, and I was right! I thought if I blew the condoms up and tied them all together in one long string, then maybe, just maybe a plane would fly by and spot them. I hoped I had enough to reach as far as possible into the sky and so I opened the packet and started blowing them up one by one.
After successfully inflating at least twenty-five condoms a sudden, dark realization struck me like an ice cold slap in the face. My breath was not made from helium. "How could I have been so stupid?" I thought to myself as my familiar hopelessness returned to me. I lay down on the beach, surrounded by the bobbing condoms. As the sun's orange glow on the luminous water sunk behind the ocean, one or two of the condoms popped and some simply blew away with the afternoon breeze. I sat up and watched one blow directly into the sea, before it dawned on me that condoms floated. I thought about the bamboo and reeds that I had built my shelter out of and how they floated too.
I peered over at Wilson and suddenly felt very bad for leaving him there in the dark, all by himself. Before I could pick him up, I reminded myself that I had to escape this island and decided that as soon as it was light again that I would build a raft and try and get off the island for once and for all, or at least die trying.
That night I could hardly sleep as I thought about the raft. As soon as the sun was up, I took Wilson with me and got to work on building it. The day started out well, but when Wilson refused to help me build the raft and showed no enthusiasm at my brilliant idea, the building of the raft was halted after I kicked him one side again and moped for the rest of the day.
The next day we had made up and I had successfully managed to tie a whole bunch of bamboo and reeds together, and tied some condoms to it for good measure. Of course by the time I had pushed the raft into the sea, all the condoms had burst. My physics had never really been that good I guess, but it didn’t matter much because the raft still floated. I grabbed hold of Wilson and held him tight. It was working! I was on the sea and the waves were passing me as I rowed for my life. The island slowly became a spec in the distance, until eventually I was surrounded by nothing but water.
As I drifted along in the lonely sea with nothing but my little raft, Wilson and a shirt full of coconuts, the clouds overhead turned a dark, purple color and very suddenly a crackling storm erupted all around me.
Chapter 6: Return of the ghost
High winds and waves pushed and pulled at the raft from all directions. The bamboo and reeds all started coming loose and floated away with the gushing waves. I tried with all my might to hold the raft together, but there was no way. It was like trying to remain stationary on a moving treadmill. In my desperation to save the raft from ultimate destruction, I had not realized that Wilson had drifted off along with the rest of the raft.
I abandoned whatever was left of the raft and swam around in a crazed state, while trying my utmost to see any sign of a volley ball.
"WILSON! WILSOOOOOOOOON!" I called to him hopefully. There was no reply. "WILSON! WILSOOOON! Where are you?" I yelled once again, while keeping my ears open for the slightest sound. All that I could hear was the thunder in the distance which was fading with the rest of the storm. Far ahead, I finally spotted the smallest hint of a ball-like object, floating casually with the waves. "Wilson! Come here!" I screamed at him, while paddling my heart out. The more I paddled, the further away he got and eventually I could not swim anymore.
I had lost everything. The raft, Wilson and my supply of coconuts. I floated on my back and looked up at the empty blue sky for what felt like eternity and thought about Wilson and all the great times we had together. I felt a sudden emptiness inside of me and a knot of sorrow developed in my throat at the thought that he was either dead, or all alone in the middle of the sea, with no one to talk to. I drifted off into the unknown, ready to go wherever the sea would take me; even if it was towards certain death. As the memories of many months spent on a deserted island flashed past me, I eventually drifted into unconciousness.
The next thing I knew, I woke up with a group of what appeared to be Mexican sailors hovering over me. "Oi man, joo okay?" The one olive man asked while chewing on a match and drooling slightly. I got the same confused feeling I had first received when I ended up on the island. I was so shocked to see real people that I replied in an apelike growl that must have sounded like "quilagghhhh" to them because the one guy said, "He probably need some tequila cabron. Andale!"
The last thing I did need was tequila, but I can't deny that it went down well. After four years of not having a drop of alcohol, I was ready to just about sing never mind talk again. I had told them the long story of what had happened to me, but they didn't seem very convinced because I was drunk while telling them. They probably considered me a drunk, small-time hippie sailor who fell of his boat, because all they did was laugh awkwardly and offer me more tequila.
Eventually I made it back to America after being deported from Mexico when the Mexican cargo ship had finally reached its destination. I was finally going to see Kelly again. I didn't know what to expect when I returned home, but I was sure as hell looking forward to some female company for a change. I walked along the street leading up to our apartment where trees full of blossoms welcomed me with a sweet scent. As I walked, I remembered what my mom had always said, "Life is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you gonna get."
I approached the front door and rang the bell. I waited a while, my heart pounding out of my chest. Kelly opened the door and looked at me as though I might have been a door-to-door salesman. The curious frown on her forehead disappeared as her expression filled with utter bewilderment and shock.
"Chuck? Can't be...you look just like someone I know," Kelly said as she shook her head dismissively.
"It is me Kelly. I said as I moved forward to hug her."
She remained completely frozen to the spot, unable to say or do anything. Before I could kiss her, a scruffy voice yelled from behind her, "Hey Kelz! Who's there, and what should I do with this meatloaf?"
At first I thought a man had appeared in the doorway behind her, but when I looked properly I noticed that it was an abnormally large woman.
"Uhm... Chuck...This is Ponderosa. Ponderosa this is Chuck," she said as Ponderosa stepped forward and gave me a meaty handshake.
"Pleased to meet you Chuck. Are you like one of Kelly's gay friends or something?" she said casually as she put her arm around Kelly.
I looked at her blankly, but did not manage to answer. "Oh... No. He is just an old work friend," Kelly interrupted as she dragged me to one side.
"Please can I have a word with Chuck honey? You go inside and start the meatloaf for me," Kelly asked Ponderosa.
"He giving you trouble babe? You know I aint scared of no man," Ponderosa said threateningly as she looked at me fiercely.
"No! No. Not at all," Kelly replied hastily.
"Alright then." Ponderosa said as she threw the dish cloth which she was holding over her hulk-like shoulder and went back into the house.
"I'm so sorry Chuck. I thought you were-"
"Dead... I know Kelly," I said, while still trying to grasp the situation.
I decided not to pass judgment or ask too many questions and stayed for some meatloaf. Kelly and I spoke about everything that had happened while Ponderosa cooked dinner. Finally being able to tell her that I was alive and had been stranded on an island all along lifted such a huge weight off of my chest that I felt good, despite finding out that she was romantically involved with a female shot-put Olympian.
I walked down the road as the warm afternoon mellowed down and wondered where I would go and how I would start over. A truck drove past me as I reached the first intersection and to my utter surprise I looked up and saw on the back of the truck were the words, "Wilson Volley Ball," accompanied by a picture of a perfectly round volley ball with smooth lines running over it.
"So smooth, so firm, so...attractive," I thought to myself as I stared at it momentarily, before grinning widely and walking straight ahead in the direction of the truck.