This novel is best viewed in my blog, completed with pictures and larger characters.
Chapter 8: Tales from the Others (Part One).
I was born on April 1st, 1947. I considered myself very lucky, for I never experienced any war or great depression. I never need any money, nor did I have to worry about which school to go, what grade I would make, or which girl to bring to the prom. There was simply none of those.
I had no father or mother, but I got a big big family. Basically everyone in the village was a relative to me. I always went out with 3 brothers: Tom, Ryan and Adam, and a sister: Amelia. We were playmates since we learned how to walk, or maybe even before that. I got so many uncle and aunts that I was never able to remember them all. However, there were two names every little kid in the village must know: Uncle Richard and Uncle Dogen.
Uncle Richard was a kind man. He would smile at you when he passed. He might lift you up for a hug or give you some candies, but Uncle Dogen was much more serious. He never hugged any one. He always looked at you like you are one of the bad guys. And anything you did wrong, he was always the first one there to punish you. So our group of little kids always loved Uncle Richard and feared Uncle Dogen.
Every morning we would wake up before the sunrise, we cleaned ourselves in the freezing spring water, and picked up branches to prepare breakfast. Our aunts would boil a large pot of stew with carrot, broccoli and some meat in it. It was so delicious that I still remembered how it tastes like. However, we had to get the meat quickly because by the time everyone in the village had his share of the stew, there would be nothing good left. It was the downside of having a big family: sometimes you had to be hungry because we never have enough to feed everyone.
The same thing applies to clothes too. The girls always get the new clean clothes first. We boys always got the used and worn out ones. It was unfair but it was one of the grownup’s rules. We had no saying in it. For the same reason, shoes were luxuries to us as well. I remembered I got my first pair of shoes when I was 15 year old. I was so happy that I walked everywhere with them on. Unfortunately they only last three weeks.
You must be thinking I must be unhappy while being hungry and lack of clothing. No, I am telling you, it was completely different than you think. I was mostly happy in my childhood. My adult life was much worse; being in the civilized world was the saddest years I had ever endured.
I remembered that, my brother Tom brought me everywhere around the village. There was a grey line circling the village and all the uncles and aunts warned us never to cross it. Well, we crossed it many times anyway. Outside of the village there were just so many fascinating things: we could climb up to the trees and pick any fruit we wanted; we could chase hogs until they were completely out of sight; and we could dive from a cliff and swam in the ocean. That island was like a paradise to me. I had so much fun catching butterflies and ladybugs, that sometimes I completely forgot myself in the jungle. At night the trees became horrifying. They could speak! I heard them talking all night long, mostly they repeated themselves over and over, like “give me back my children” or “Run, Richard, Run!”, things like that.
Those trees were scary, but they never talked back to you, so after a while I got used to it and it didn’t bother me anymore, but then there came the monster, the scariest one in the whole island, which would flew around and tried to eat you. When it couldn’t find you, it would turn into human shape and call your name. It was very very creepy.
So because of all those things above, as a child I was very good at hiding and running. You wouldn’t hear me running when I did it over the trees like a monkey, and you wouldn’t find me even I was hiding right in front of you. At that time it was all a cat-and-mouse game I was playing with the monster, I never realized my real danger. It was just so fun to me. Strange thing was, I was sure for a few times that the smokey had found me, but he just flew away. I guessed to him it was also a game.
As I grew bigger, I learned that the monster had claimed many lives from our village. There were once the uncles allowed me to see the mutilated bodies done by him. It was a very bad experience, much worse than any of the Halloween movies. The gruesome images haunted me and I stopped crossing the grey line. My brother Tom and Ryan were very disappointed with me and called me a “little chicken”. They still sneaked out of the village all the time. I was worried about them but luckily they were never get caught by the monster.
When I stayed in the village, there were nothing to do but to join the classes, we only have one teacher, Richard, and he taught only one course, Latin. It was boring but at least that was something to do. As a young child I caught up really quickly, unlike the other group who were way slower.
I think you know the members in that group, too. Charles Widmore, ring a bell? And Eloise Hawking, we called her Ellie, remembered her? And 10 other guys. They were so slow in Latin that all our kids laughed at them. They would have excuses like they only learned it for a few years. Well, we kids only existed in the world for a few years too, but we were way ahead of them. We could think it and talk it smoothly, while they had to stop many times in a conversation, just to find the right word.
Being slowing learning as they were, there was one thing everyone in the village all envied them about. They were given a gift of not getting old for 10 years, just because they agreed to stay in the island. So every time I asked Aunt Ellie how old she was. She said it in a very happy face, “I am 17. Little chicken.”
“But you said you were 17 last year.”
“Yes, isn’t that wonderful?” She would reply in a big smile.
Usually she was a mean girl. I think asking her age was the only way to make her smile. Or maybe she would smile when she was with Uncle Charles. ‘Cause I saw her with him many times in the jungle alone, or they thought they were alone. They were laughing and smiling and did all kind of silly things.
However sometimes I saw Uncle Chalres trying to take off Ellie’s clothes, but she would put up a really good fight, and she would yell, “I don’t want to have sex with you. I still want to be 17.” Well, that was the first time I heard of the “S” word. It was quite an illustrated education.
Usually after Uncle Charles did that to her, they would be strangers for a few weeks. They would argue for little things like two children. But everyone in the village knew that in the end they would be together again like peas and beans. And we were right all the time. Eventually Uncle Charles would beg her to forgive him in the public. She would require him to promise this and promise that. He would nod fervently like a puppy. It was really humiliating experience to us the boys. For me, it would be really hard to do the same thing for a girl, no matter how much I loved her.
After Uncle Charles and his group finally knew how to speak Latin in complete sentences, they started to teach us kids English. It was very easy to learn that Language because it was close to Latin, and we kids have nothing but time. Personally I didn’t like the way Ellie taught us. She always gave us a lot of homework and pushed us doing a lot of speaking practices. Uncle Charles’ method was better to us. He would give us some treats for doing well in English. He would bring us outside of the village and taught us the names of every plant or every animal. We would run around, catch some insects and bring them back to him. He would tell us the name of that insect in English, and we would all repeat after him. It was an easy and happy way to learn it. We kids all liked Uncle Charles lessons.
I still remember there was one time that we all heard the sound of the monster from far away, so we asked Uncle Charles what was its name. Uncle Charles seemed distracted. When we asked him again, he said, “Oh, that’s nothing.” So for a few years, we all call the monster “Nothing”. Little girls would scream when they heard Aunt Ellie saying “it’s nothing”. It puzzled them for a long time.
The year was 1954. I was 7 years old. I remember it was in that year Uncle Ken taught us Morse code. Uncle Charles was busy doing something with Aunt Ellie. We didn’t see them much. Some grown-up said they were setting up camps outside of the village. I had no idea why.
That same year 2 big things happened.
First thing was the group of the military men. They came from nowhere and surrounded our village. They looked really mean. I mean really really mean. One of my brothers, Michael, was shot to death. They were bad bad guys. I was so glad that finally a hero came out and stopped them. It was the first time I saw Jacob, before that I only learned about him in fairytale stories. People said he could move the island, and they said he could make you live forever. I didn’t believe any of those, but it was at that moment when he stopped the bullet in the mid-air, I instantly became a believer.
The second thing was that we found a big big nuclear bomb in the middle of nowhere. An uncle tried to have it opened, but it burned that poor man’s hand. His disfigured hand scared the shit out of me. After that without anyone told us kids to stay away from the bomb we all obeyed it voluntarily.
A few weeks later I caught Aunt Ellie walking into the village. She didn’t seem happy but, being so curious about the bomb, I asked her the question anyway, “Hi, Aunt Ellie. How’s the nuclear bomb now?”
She said, “Get away from me, you little chicken.”
“Please don’t call me that.”
“I don’t care. Now get lost.”
It seemed she was really sad about something. To cheer her up, I asked the question again, “Aunt Ellie, how old are you?”
She suddenly erupted, “I am 18 now. You happy?!” Then she ran to her tent.
“But you are always 17…” I was stunned at the moment, how come she became 18 all in a sudden?
Then I saw Uncle Charles walked in. He was in a good mood. So I asked him, “Uncle Charles, do you know why Aunt Ellie was so upset?”
Uncle Charles said, “Haha, I really don’t know how to answer this question, but I assure you that she is all fine.”
“How come she was 18 now? Isn’t she always 17?”
“No, we all need to grow up. We cannot always stay the same age. Look at you, you are much taller than last year. How old are you now?”
“I am 7.”
“Oh, that’s right. You were born 2 years after we were here. Wow, that means we had spent 9 years here already. It was a really long time.” He was thinking about something, “Now tell me little chicken, are you happy here?”
“Yes, but please don’t call me that.”
“That’s you nickname. Accept it.” He said, “I am happy here too, as long as Ellie is with me. Boy, I am telling you, she is really a tough lady to handle. I never spent so much time to get a girl before.”
“She’s really mean to you.” I said, “She made you beg so many times.”
“Yeah, I know.” He nodded, “But I am telling you, it’s all worth it in the end. She was so … uh… hot!” He shook his body, like he was going through a seizure.
I was too young to understand his meaning. So I laughed at his weirdness. He laughed with me too.
After laughing for a while, PANG, a metal pan flew to Uncle Charles head, knocking him down cold. I jumped back by the surprise, and saw Aunt Ellie stood about 20 feet away. She was breathing heavily like an angry tigress.
“We buried it.” She said.
“What?” I didn’t understand.
“We buried the freaking nuclear bomb.” She repeated, “You have your answer. Now get out of my sight before I do the same thing to you.”
I ran like a wind. Like I told you before, I was very good at running and hiding.
What else? There is a lot of “else”, let me take a leak first and I will tell you the rest after the break.
Okay, I am back. Are you still interested? Alright, let’s continue.
Where was I? Charles and Ellie? Oh, that’s right.
I stayed inside the village for another few years, until I was 13 years old. I couldn’t tolerate being called “little chicken” anymore. So I went out with Tom, Ryan and Adam again. That time we went to a pond with a waterfall first. They said there were dead bodies under the water, that’s why there were big fishes in it. To prove I was not afraid of anything, I dived right in, only to see 2 skeletons down there. No wonder those big fishes were going after me! I caught a big one and struggled to show it to them. They all cheered and said it was time for me to go there. I had no idea what “there” meant.
Tom led me to a cave then ran away. I carried the big fish and went down the cave. Inside it was filthy and stinky, but I was so proud to finally prove to those boys that I was not a “little chicken” that I didn’t realize there was grave danger around.
It happened really quickly. The fish on my shoulder was suddenly snatched away. I turned around and saw a huge polar bear. I mean a real grown-up 500-pound 10-feet-tall polar bear. He ate my fish in just one minute, then he got close to me. I was too scared to scream or move. Just when I thought he was going to eat me, he put me in his back and ran out of the cave.
I am telling you. Everything I am saying, it’s all true. Under all my boys staring, the polar bear carried me down the hill. There he jumped over a cliff and dived in the ocean with me in his back. Man, oh, man. I am telling you. It was a very thrilling ride, much better than the ones in Six Flags’.
The polar bear swam gracefully like an Olympic champion. I was on his back holding him tight. A little while later, I was not afraid any more, then I started to swim with him. Do you know what’s the funny part? When I turned, he turned with me. It was like we two were swimming partners. I felt so exhilarated that I didn’t know when to stop, so we just kept going and going. Before long we were so far from the shore that even the island disappeared. In that dangerous situation, I should be scared to death, but I felt very safe with the bear. For some reason, I felt like the big beast I just met was my guardian angel. No matter what happened, he would protect me. Of course it was all childish thinking.
Just as we were swimming, the sky got really dark, and the ocean started to boil up. I remembered wave after wave of water pounding us. I hugged the bear close. We fought the fierce storm together. The wave became bigger and bigger, like mountains after mountains coming at us. Eventually I couldn’t take the pounding anymore, and I lost my conscience. At that last moment, I thought I was going to die in the ocean, and I never got to grow old.
Of course you know that I didn’t die that day. Otherwise how the hell am I telling you this story now?
When I woke up, I was on the beach with the polar bear lying right next to me. He woke up almost at the same time. It seemed that he lost all the appetite to eat me. He just walked away slowly and left me there without saying goodbye. Well, of course he couldn’t say goodbye ‘cause he was a freaking polar bear, but my feeling was hurt by his unannounced leaving anyway.
I went back to my village. My uncles jumped on me and accused me of leaving the village for a whole week. None of my brothers said anything for me. My explanation of polar bear only caused me more trouble. They finally physically punished me and grounded me for a whole year. Yeah, it’s not America. Spanking bad boys is legal there.
The only good thing about the whole event was that they didn’t call me “little chicken” any more, but with a thundering new nickname “polar rider”. I was happy with that.
One day I finally got an explanation from Uncle Charles. He said that before I was born the island was very cold and everyone could enter. The polar bears swam to the island and they were very happy. After that some strange things happened, which he didn’t know much himself, that all the creatures were trapped inside. Since that day the bears were trying any way they could think of to leave the island without any success. Therefore that day the polar bear must have thought that I might have a way to lead him out of the island. Well, I was sad to hear that. More sadly, it was the first time I learned that I was also a prisoner of the island, just like that poor bear.
After the polar bear incident I didn’t went out much, until one day when I was 14 years old.
Uncle Richard gathered all of the villagers together and announced: “There is some serious crisis in the outside world. Jacob and I will get out of the island to solve it. We don’t know how long we will be gone. So here I officially assign Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking as the leaders of us. You will listen to them before we come back. Do you guys have any problem with that?”
“No.” I yelled with others. I love both of them, especially Uncle Charles.
“That’s good.” Richard said, “Don’t do any things stupid. You know from outside we cannot protect you from being killed by Ellie.”
We laughed together.
Aunt Ellie yelled back, “Yeah, I dare you to test my temper. Remember how Charles got 3 months in a comma?”
We all stopped laughing.
Uncle Richard said, “Okay, enough of jokes. There was one more thing. We will bring a young man with us this time. We all know him being the bravest one. Hell, his nickname was ‘Polar Rider’. That’s how brave he is.”
Everyone’s eyes suddenly focus on me. I was surprised. It was never in my wildest dream that I could get out of the island and help them to “solve a world crisis”. Was he serious?
Richard continued, “Let’s give him a round of applause.” He held my hand and said, “Congratulations! Son. You are the chosen one.”
The sound of applause rose up. I didn’t know how to react, except smiling like an idiot. People came by and congratulated me. I couldn’t tell which one was real, or maybe they were all faking it.
I went to Richard’s tent at the same night. I told him that he might find a better one other than me.
“No, you are the best. There is no doubt.” Richard confirmed.
“But, but Ryan was a lot braver than I.” I stuttered, “And Tom… he was the most … loyal to you guys. He did everything without a question.”
“Well, we are not really looking for those qualities.” Richard said.
“Then what quality are you looking for? Why me?” I asked, then I knew the answer, “No, you are not serious, right?”
“Yes, we are very serious. That’s why we will bring you.” Richard proved my theory, “You are the sneakiest kid we knew. You can escape almost anything. So just in case we failed this mission, we will have a messenger to deliver the bad news back to the island.”
“No way! You two are the most powerful men in the world. How is possible that you two can fail?”
“Kid. You don’t really know the world outside.” Richard said in a sad voice, “The human being is capable of destroying themselves with the whole world going down with it. We are not strong enough. Plus Jacob will always give anyone a choice no matter what. Sometimes people make stupid decisions.”
I was frightened, “Really? Then what can I do if you guys fail?”
“You can use whatever the way possible to get back here. We have some friends outside who can point you to the right direction. Once you are back, tell the bad news to Charles or Ellie. They will know what to do.”
Well, long story short, we took a submarine and went out to the normal world. I was in Cuba for a whole month, during which time I was never called upon to perform my duty. Thank God for that. So I got out of the hotel and walk around in the busy street of Havana. Lady, I am telling you. It was really an eye opener. They had so many different styles of clothes and shoes. They had so much food to eat, and so many kinds of entertainment. I was completely indulged in the modern world of Cuba during that month. Comparing the life back in the island, it was a difference of day and night. My life in the island was so dull and meaningless. And Cuban’s life was so rich and bustling.
That’s why I couldn’t help but felt lost when one day Uncle Richard returned and told me it was all over.
“How about the world crisis?” I asked.
“Jacob stopped it.” He said. “It was not an easy process though.”
“So now we got to go back to the island, right?”
“We will establish some secret bases all around the world to prevent this kind of crisis from happening again. So you will stay here as our eyes and ears. We will provide you everything to set up headquarters here.”
Tell you the truth, at that time I was so happy that I hugged Uncle Richard really hard, and I almost kissed him. It was the best arrangement for me. I didn’t really want to go back.
Now when I think about it, they must have known this would happen. They brought me out not only because I could run fast, bust also I was expendable. Maybe Jacob already crossed my name.
Since then I stayed in Cuba for 10 years, I did my share of collecting information for the island. Everything they asked about Cuba or Cuban government, I would find my way to get them. A lot of times I do it in not so legal ways. Being a white kid in Cuba had many disadvantages. Spying was extremely difficult. Eventually they put a bounty on my head and I barely escaped to America, where I started my new life.
In the U.S., I hide my real identity. Jacob and Richard never came to visit me. I guessed either they just forgot about me, or they thought I was executed by the Cuban secret police. I studied hard in the college and got the license. My new life turned out to be fine.
The only thing I couldn’t get out of my mind, was the way Charles begging Ellie. It was downright humiliating. I was always dreadful of having to do that. That’s why I was never in a relationship for such a long long time. I thought I would be lonely for the rest of my life, but you, daring, you came along and changed all that.
Yes, daring. Without you, my life will be always meaningless. That’s why when I learned that you have cancer, I had no choice but to bring you here…
“Stop, Stop right there.” Rose said, “What do you mean ‘bring me here’?”
“Oh, I know the psychic for a long time. She’s one of my sisters.” Bernard said, “She indirectly told me that I could come back here by taking the Oceanic 815.”
“Oh…” Rose mouth formed a round shape, “That’s why you persuade me to go to Australia in the first place! You set me up! You knew the plane was going to crash!”
“Sorry, daring. I was afraid you wouldn’t understand, so I didn’t tell you the truth before.” Bernard said very sincerely, “It was the only way I know to cure your cancer.”
“But don’t you think that’s too dangerous?” Rose remembered the events, “You were in the tail section, and you almost got killed by the others.”
“Well, not exactly.”
“What do you mean ‘not exactly’?”
“The island wanted me back too. So that’s why even the tail section broke off. It could still land us safely in the water. I was blessed by the island from the beginning. That’s why every adult in the tail section died except me, remember?”
“Oh, yeah. Now you tell me this. You really ARE the only one left from the tail section.” Rose said, “Well, Bernard, you really turned out to be hell of a sneaky guy!”
“I did all those things just for you, Rose.” Bernard’s eyes were glittering, “Now we are finally together. I won’t leave you, and I hope you won’t leave me either.”
“Of course I won’t leave you, silly man.” Rose laughed a little, then she got concerns, “Wait a minute. Aren’t we still in a war with the others, I mean you brothers and sisters?”
“Yes, that’s why I am telling you the story tonight.” Bernard said, “I hope we can find a way to not get involved.”
“Hm… You got a point. I don’t want any of those dramas myself.” Rose said, “And besides, what other option do I have? Turn you in as one of the others? They will torture you.” She smiled.
Bernard smiled too, “No, you can’t turn me in, because I was too important to you.”
Rose had a grin, “So I guess we got to live the ‘happy-ever-after’ life in this island after all, right?”
Bernard said playfully, “Yup. You can bet your ass in it.”