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Island

Michael Baeyens

2018

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© 2018 Michael Baeyens ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

www.michaelbaeyens.com

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and


events are either products of the author’s imagination or used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or per-
sons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmit-


ted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
without permission in writing from the author.

Michael Baeyens has asserted his right under the Copyright,


Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of
this work.
Introduction

Ever since the first publication of Island, speculation about


the text’s origin, meaning and veracity has been rampant. The
publication of various incomplete, erroneous and even ficti-
tious versions of the text has not helped matters.
The editors cannot vouch for the completeness and accu-
racy of any other version of Island than the one in front of
you. This includes publications such as Notes of an Unravel-
ling Mind, A Disappearance and The Dreamer, all issued by
publishing houses more concerned with financial gain, scan-
dal and sensationalism than with any allegiance to the truth.
The text on the following pages is complete and has not
in any way been altered by the editors.
The original author is unknown, and will in all likelihood
remain so.
The original manuscript remains in possession of the ed-
itors.
Explanatory notes, drawn up by the editors in collabo-
ration with various esteemed research journalists, have been

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added at the end of the text, providing unbiased insight into


the manuscript and hopefully obviating the need for baseless
assumptions and discussion.

The editors
Main Manuscript

Originally, my notes were far more jumbled and detailed.


The former made them nigh-on unreadable, even to some-
one who has lived, or believes he has lived, through every-
thing. The latter made them far more susceptible to the thing
which I can only call forgetfulness.
In these pages, I will try to present a chronological and
factual account of the events which have shaped my life these
last months. In spite of everything which has happened, I feel
I can still vouch for the truthfulness of my own mind. Hope-
fully, the text’s intentional vagueness will prevent it from be-
ing seen as a threat by outside forces.
The case, as far as I can ascertain, began with the discovery
of the Island, a little over half a year ago.
A fishing boat, the Martha, returning with its nightly
haul and following its usual course into the Bay, ran aground
on reefs which had not been there on its outbound trip.
The dazed crew made it to shore in lifeboats, and dawn
presented the survivors and the inhabitants of the harbour

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town with an unlikely sight: an Island, located no more than


five miles off the coast, roughly octagonal in shape, with a
diameter of about three miles and steep cliffs rising about a
hundred yards from the waters to a mostly flat and barren
rocky plateau.
The discovery threw a palpable sense of incomprehen-
sion across the country, the continent, even the world.
On a fundamental level, one knew with absolute cer-
tainty that the Island had not been there before its acciden-
tal discovery. Objective works of reference such as maps, old
satellite images, as well as postcards sold in towns and ham-
lets scattered along the coast, all clearly showed an unbroken
expanse of water.
At the same time, the mind’s eye seemed to accept the al-
tered view one had from the cliffs along the Bay with uncanny
readiness.
Personally, I felt as if I sought and found ways to incorpo-
rate the Island’s presence into a past which had never existed:
I have always lived close to the Bay in question, and the view
from the cliffs forms an integral part of my earliest memories.
At first, this sense of wrongness was assuaged somewhat
when, three weeks after the Island’s discovery, the United Na-
tions took control of the matter.
An international team of geologists, geographers,
oceanographers, geophysicists, volcanologists, biologists and
historians was put together and charged with resolving the
issue of the Island’s sudden appearance.
No one objected: neither the national and international
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press, who followed all proceedings with an attitude between


respectful and reluctant, nor the inhabitants of the harbour
town closest to the Island, who put up with the ever increas-
ing demands of journalists, tourists, conspiracy theorists and
— as the weeks progressed — a steadily growing military pres-
ence.
Information leaked to the press was sparse at best. The
world waited with baited breath, yet the items that were re-
ported by the scientists obfuscated rather than clarified the
situation.
As husband of one of the geologists, however, I did be-
come privy to the scientists’ most baffling — and only — dis-
covery about the Island’s history.
We lived close to the Bay, and my wife chose to come
home each night rather than join her colleagues in one of the
harbour town’s crowded hotels. One evening, egged on by
my incessant questions, she hinted that the Island’s geologi-
cal structure classified it as an integral part of the continent.
It was, in other words, no more than a rocky outcropping
of the mainland, and not the expected result of volcanic ac-
tivity under the seabed.
From a geological standpoint, then, the Island had always
been there, and somehow mankind had always been blind to
its presence. All logic railed at the grotesqueness of this con-
clusion, yet science found only one argument against the the-
ory: just like mankind, all other life, from bacteria to plants
and animals, appeared to have ignored the Island right up to
the moment when the fishing boat made its accidental and
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almost fatal discovery.


My wife’s colleagues in the field of biology went so far as
to declare that the Island remained devoid of all life even after
its discovery.
I have no reason to doubt this assertion. Furthermore, I
can state that no flock of birds ever approached, landed, let
alone nested on the Island: a peculiar fact first brought to my
attention by the telescope-equipped ornithologists for whom
the coast’s cliffs, reefs and rocky islets have been sacred ground
as far back as I can remember.
My wife, it seemed, soon regretted her moment of loqua-
ciousness, and to be sure the Island’s disconcerting character-
istic was never made public. To me, the atmosphere of secrecy
only heightened the latent sense of dread present in the case
from the very beginning.
My wife took a different point of view. She declared that
the attention engendered by publishing the discovery would
hamper the scientists in their efforts to unearth the Island’s
mysteries. I laughed at this, replying that her explanation
sounded like a well-rehearsed lie.
In retrospect, I feel I could or should have been kinder to
her. Still, I doubt whether that would have changed anything
about what happened later.
One evening, my wife called, asking me not to wait up:
a new development had taken place on the Island. I pressed
her for details but she would give none and stated only that all
team members were expected to stay on the Island and work
through the night.
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I initially believed she was punishing me for mocking the


team’s perceived need for secrecy. When I told her this, she
assured me in earnest that nothing could be further from the
truth.
The telephone call of that night was, and in all likelihood
will be, our last conversation. I remember being unable to
sleep until early the following morning, as if conscious of a
momentous event over which I had no control. When sleep
did come, it was filled with dreams of an indistinct yet dis-
turbing nature which wore me out rather than refreshed me.
A pale, lightless mist blanketed everything when I awoke
towards noon. I was not surprised at not finding my wife
home, though it unnerved me that she had sent no message
warning me of her continued absence.
The conviction settled that it would be impossible for
me to start the day pretending that nothing had happened.
Somehow, I resisted the temptation to call my wife’s mobile
phone or the hotel where the other team members stayed.
Subconsciously, I believe, I had already decided that settling
for a mere message was out of the question. News, any news,
would have to be taken in directly.
I remember having breakfast, mechanically, out of an un-
felt necessity. The first minutes of the drive to the harbour all
thoughts were blotted out by the concentration required be-
cause of the dense fog. Traffic was heavy, but my senses failed
to register its exact nature.
After the road slowly crested the last hill and began its
gradual descent among the cliffs, the fog lifted in one hor-
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rendous instant. I stopped the car alongside the road and sat
there, numbly clasping the steering wheel, the roar of traffic
a hollow, distant drone in my ears. It took some time before
I noticed how military, police and emergency vehicles com-
prised most of the traffic.
If not for that, the meadows sweeping down to the cliffs,
the toy-like harbour in the distance and the calm, seemingly
waveless stretch of azure leaping toward the horizon were of
postcard quality.
There was no hint of the barren rock plateau which had
captured the world’s attention for roughly one month and a
half.
I did not need to follow the train of well-meaning emer-
gency vehicles to know that nothing was known of the sci-
entists who had been trying to piece together the Island’s ori-
gins. I did not need proof to know that they had gone. I knew
it there and then, a truth as real as any I had ever known.
Something broke within me then, or rather, something
gave way — a barrier which had previously prevented me
from considering certain facts and possibilities.
I knew my wife would be among the missing, but even
that did not present itself to me as forcefully as the immensity
of what had occurred that night. Ambulance lights flashed
in my rear-view mirror and I laughed out loud at the sense
of urgency encapsulated in the image. Someone out there,
I realised, still believed. Someone, everyone perhaps, still as-
sumed that the tale of the Island, of its appearance and disap-
pearance, would know an ending, good or bad, befitting the
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history books of the future.


I started the car, managed a U-turn amidst the wailing
sirens, and drove home. There was no need to turn on the
television or radio. I avoided the tedious predictability of
journalists interviewing useless eyewitnesses, of officials try-
ing to allay fears while simultaneously denying to comment,
and of police and military personnel doing everything in their
power to determine the whereabouts of the missing.
I received numerous telephone calls and text messages.
All went unanswered, and eventually the ringing and bleep-
ing subsided.
I knew it would be foolish to fake any prolonged ab-
sence. That same day, a military jeep came crunching up the
gravel path to the house, and I awaited its occupants at the
front door. They were three, two men and one woman, offi-
cers, their questions trivial, their intentions noble and caring,
though not beyond the point of formality. For the sake of
this report, I will recount the particulars of their tale.
The last communication with the science unit on the Is-
land took place at 2.45 a.m that morning. At 2.54 a.m., a crew
member at the harbour base camp tried to get in touch with
the military vessel responsible for all transport between the
Island and the mainland. This failed, and another vessel was
dispatched to the Island immediately. At 3.15 a.m., the sec-
ond ship reported the disappearance of both the Island and
the first ship. A search-and-rescue operation had been set in
motion, and the officers assured me that no stone would be
left unturned. They left, and I locked the door behind them.
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I shut myself away in the weeks that followed. Still, fam-


ily, friends, colleagues and all manner of acquaintances could
not forever be avoided. Even then, however, I think there was
a sense of distance, a reluctance which characterised the ten-
tative conversations about the event. It was not the inherent
strangeness of the event which caused this: I began to detect
an almost tangible sense of relief in my visitors as they left,
not because they no longer wished to intrude upon my grief
or because their own emotions threatened to get the better of
them, but for reasons which, at the time, I failed to put into
words.
I think it was this unvoiced relief which — against my bet-
ter judgment — made me pay attention to the news reports
which I had studiously ignored up to then. Almost immedi-
ately, something in the reports resonated with the unformed
suspicions I harboured. I began to seek out every scrap of
information that was published on the event in the hope of
acquiring a better insight into the whole matter.
Nothing I read provided me with the answers I sought,
and I approached various authorities directly. They, too,
came up short. I received little more than offers of counselling
available to all family members of missing persons. The offers
I turned down, but the conversations I had with different of-
ficials proved that I could no longer ignore basic human con-
tact.
I returned to work after a one-month absence, but was
greeted with something which I could only describe as scep-
ticism. My colleagues’ tone of voice, the phrases they used
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and the facial expressions that went with them all conspired
to rankle me immensely. The randomness of my suspicions,
however, prevented me from doing anything. I resolved to
bide my time, theorising that sooner or later my thoughts
would gain a definiteness which would allow me to take ac-
tion — whatever that might mean.
My patience was not tried: about two weeks after I
returned to work, my suspicions were confirmed when I
bought a renowned national newspaper which voiced actual
doubts as to the factual nature of the Island’s appearance and
disappearance. I was revolted at the headline, yet a part of me
knew that this was nothing more than what I had anticipated.
I read the article with rapt attention. It contained no in-
terviews with anyone who might have been connected with
the events on or around the Island, yet the journalist claimed
having had contact with several key parties.
The gist of the article was that military personnel had
presumably been involved in experiments at the Island’s lo-
cation, that the experiments had been prematurely aborted
and that the military declined to comment on the matter.
The journalist had asked a leading professor of geography
about the possible nature of an experiment at such a location.
The professor (no name was provided) could only refer to the
treacherous nature of shoals and reefs along that particular
section of the coastline, and to certain warm water currents
which might point to volcanic activity in the region. The arti-
cle ended with the question what the military hoped to cover
up and with a tongue-in-cheek reference to their cover story
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of an Island which had recently been discovered but which


had vanished soon afterwards.
No reference was made to the fishing boat, Martha,
which had shipwrecked on the Island (a boat which I myself
had spotted several times when visiting the harbour town),
to the military vessel which had disappeared with all hands,
or to the international, UN-sanctioned team of scientists.
Given the blatant way in which the article ignored even
the most basic facts, I felt above contacting the newspaper in
question. Instead I waited, listened to the radio news, vis-
ited the library to consult international newspapers and reli-
giously checked renowned news websites.
At first, I was relieved at the utter lack of response the
article generated. I assumed that both the journalistic world
and the public deemed it unworthy of comment. My relief,
however, slowly turned to horror as I began to grasp the true
reason behind the silence: it was not the article which every-
one felt to be unworthy of comment, BUT THE ISLAND
CASE ITSELF.
For two weeks, I spoke to no one and I hardly left the
house. It was during this time that I came to realise, as if
for the first time, that no one I knew, not even family, had
endeavoured to contact me beyond that first series of visits,
shortly after my wife’s disappearance.
Work, however, proved less accommodating towards my
isolation. I received and ignored various telephone calls and
emails, each more insistent than the last. One day, I did an-
swer a call and surprised my irate supervisor with my utter in-
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difference. Two days later a messenger delivered a letter which


curtly informed me that my continued unwarranted absence
left the company no other option than to let me go.
The banality of the letter and the everyday reality in
which I had lived up to a few months earlier struck me as
ridiculous. A sense of urgency washed over me, and two days
after I received the company letter I drove to the harbour
town.
I made tentative enquiries about the Island, but the to-
tal lack of response baffled me. Some of the townsfolk knew
me on sight and had known my wife, yet none of them felt
prompted to ask or answer any questions. They seemed
neither suspicious nor reluctant to talk, but appeared com-
pletely oblivious about the case. Here and there, I told myself
I detected a glimmer of recognition, yet that, too, was snuffed
out before I was truly able to determine its presence.
I made my way to the seafront and the harbour, casually
asking sailors whether they knew of any fishing boat named
Martha. The responses were not as negative as I had expected,
though they did puzzle me: two people believed they had
seen the boat once or twice, but that it was moored in a town
about twenty miles north, while at least three others swore a
vessel with that name had been around in their grandparents’
time and had gone missing at sea.
No information about the boat was to be found in the
harbour’s history, however, and my drive to the other town
where Martha might be moored turned up nothing either.
Back at the harbour town, I consulted the newspaper archives
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in the library, hoping to at least uncover one or more names


of Martha’s crew in an article published immediately after the
Island’s discovery. The library, however, lacked recent news-
paper editions and here, too, I ended up empty-handed.
The perversity of the situation dawned upon me with
startling clarity as I was driving home. It seemed that my pur-
pose no longer lay in being re-united with my wife, but in
confirming — if only to myself — that the Island case had
actually happened.
I resolved to go about the matter in an organised and de-
tached fashion. I would compile a comprehensive history of
the case in its entirety, no matter how insignificant any detail
might appear to be. The decision has allowed me to put into
perspective certain elements which I would have overlooked
if I had remained in the midst of things, without the distance
necessary for reflection. Additionally, my hand-written notes
have shielded me from the forgetfulness which has swept the
globe.
My first point of call, so I felt once I had decided upon a
course of action, was my wife’s family (my own parents had
both passed away years earlier, and I have no siblings). My
in-laws and I had never been close and, as mentioned above,
we had only spoken once since the beginning of the case.
I tried calling my in-laws, then my brother-in-law, to no
avail. The logical next step would have been to wait and call
again some other time, but I impulsively decided to drive to
my in-laws: a journey which I had loathed at the best of times
but which now filled me with a truly dreadful sense of antic-
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ipation.
I do not recall what exactly I expected or hoped to learn,
but my feelings of apprehension grew as I neared first the
town and then the neighbourhood where they lived. I
parked the car about two hundred yards from their house and
walked the remaining distance, choosing to walk on the side
of the street opposite the house.
The neighbourhood was distinctly suburban, the house
a detached, well-kept bungalow built in the 1980s, yet as I
neared it and its features grew more distinct, I gleaned that no
one had lived in it for quite some time. The overgrown lawn,
the smeared window panes and the slightly sagging garage
doors clearly spoke of abandonment, not weeks, but months
or years earlier. I looked around, feeling alone yet not alone
in the quiet afternoon street. There was something menac-
ing about the house, and I could not bring myself to cross
the road.
None of the other houses appeared abandoned, and the
thought crossed my mind to ring at one of them and pretend
to be a mildly interested buyer enquiring after details. No
sooner had the idea presented itself than I drove it out of my
mind. It felt like cowardice, but I like to think that it was the
realisation of the futility of the undertaking. I would not find
answers in the neighbouring houses, just as I had known that
the whole drive to my in-laws would be fruitless. I had done
it because it had made sense to my mind — a mind which
worked along the rules and logic of a world which seemed to
be slipping away.
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After the defeat at the house I drove around aimlessly, at-


tempting to come up with a plausible explanation for what I
had witnessed. My in-laws, I well knew, had not moved the
past few years. In fact, they had only moved to the bungalow
after my wife’s younger brother had moved out of the much
larger home the family had lived in before.
The logical part of my mind told me there were references
aplenty I could check to find out more. Both the local police
office and the town hall were but a few streets away. Some of
my wife’s childhood friends still lived in the area, and so did
my brother-in-law. Every fibre of my being railed at those op-
tions, however. They were too obvious, too readily available,
and therefore no more than another avenue to certain defeat.
Still, another line of enquiry presented itself, one which
— I presumed — would not allow itself to be blotted out so
easily. My wife’s position at the geology department of the
local university had been of notable repute, and her disap-
pearance (along with the whole Island case) had sent a shock
through the institute.
Perhaps I ought never to have given in to the urge to ac-
cost my wife’s colleagues directly. I may have been too insis-
tent, too aggressive even, in my approach, and certainly my
rather dishevelled appearance cannot have helped matters.
I retain from my brief visit to the geology department the
idea of recognition: people knew who I was, and they remem-
bered the events I spoke of. It was fleeting, however: the effect
one gets when looking for someone in a crowd and recog-
nising that person’s face in someone else who, upon closer
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inspection, bears no resemblance at all to the person one is


looking for.
In the end, I think I ran from the place.
Back home, I checked the university website and did not
find my wife’s name or picture anywhere. I drank myself into
oblivion for the first time, then, yet awoke remarkably level-
headed the next day and wrote down that, in the eyes of the
world, the Island case HAD NOT TAKEN PLACE.
I am more than familiar with unexplained phenomena
which science has reasoned away, yet here was a case where an
event had captured the world’s attention, only to be wholly
erased from collective memory — from physical reality, even
— a mere five months after it had occurred. A strange sense of
exhilaration gripped me: I felt part of something so unprece-
dented that I must share it with someone — someone whose
mind would not refuse to at least consider that I might be
telling the truth.
First, however, I resolved to test the limits of my theory
and to establish beyond doubt the madness of the situation.
I know paranoia takes many forms, and therefore I will
not speak of my suspicions on what I discovered, or rather,
on what I did not discover, at home. In short, none of the ar-
ticles which I had so feverishly collected in the weeks after the
Island’s disappearance were anywhere to be found. I cursed
my own lack of organisation and drove to the nearest city’s
library, yet should have known better.
The library’s extensive newspaper collection brought to
light that none of the newspapers I had once bought myself,
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neither national nor international, had ever reported any-


thing on the Island.
Even the one article, slightly more recent in date, that re-
ferred to the Island case ironically, an article I remembered —
and still remember — vividly, was not present in the library’s
copy of that same newspaper.
The internet proved less forgetful, yet only in the sense
that a number of stories — I cannot bring myself to call them
articles — could be traced down which spoke of the Island
case as a particularly fanciful urban legend.
I drank again that night, heavily and with no other mo-
tive than to forget. The dawn brought no relief, and I spent
the day in bed, lying in a stupor. Late at night, driven by im-
pulse, I made my way into my wife’s study — a room I had al-
together avoided since her disappearance. A thorough search
of her desk revealed that she had indeed brought home a few
documents pertaining to the case.
It struck me that the officers who had come to the house
had never elected to ask me whether my wife kept any notes at
home. Perhaps this had not been an oversight: perhaps they
had indeed been requested not to burden the bereaved fami-
lies with practical matters so soon after the tragic event. Still,
given the importance of the mission, it appeared an oversight,
albeit a perversely fitting one.
I wasted no time and turned my attention to the notes.
They appeared trivial, and of the Island itself I learned noth-
ing new. The notes only reasserted the fact that the place had
baffled the science team and that my wife had entrusted me
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with what little they did discover.


The one item which captured my attention was of a more
practical nature: a list of names, addresses and telephone
numbers of the different team members. Scanning the list, I
recognised all of the names, a testimony to the attention with
which I had followed the news after the Island’s discovery. I
shuddered at seeing my wife’s name in print. After regaining
my composure, I read the list again and again, until one name
triggered something which my wife had told me about three
days after the team had started its research. It had seemed in-
significant at the time, yet now it opened up dread possibili-
ties.
One team member, a female oceanographer, had fallen ill
shortly after her arrival on the Island. She had subsequently
been flown to hospital and had never rejoined the team be-
fore its vanishing. Fear gripped me: not because of who the
woman might be or what she might have done, but because I
instinctively knew that she might present the only true phys-
ical link to a past which was dissolving all around me.
There had to be others who had visited the Island and
who had not disappeared: military personnel, no doubt, and
possibly crew members of boats which had docked at the Is-
land before the authorities quarantined the area. I sincerely
doubted whether the military would prove willing to talk,
however, and my futile investigations at the harbour town
had told me enough about the latter group.
Only one avenue lay before me: the list limited itself to
the woman’s name and address, and after failing to obtain ad-
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ditional details such as a telephone number or email address,


I immediately booked a flight from the nearest airport to the
area where she lived.
I need not add any practical details. Suffice to say that I
arrived at her address two days later: a fairly nondescript flat
which, it turned out, was available for rent and had been for
about two months. I was of a mind to question the landlady,
but she herself most unexpectedly provided me with what I
needed to know.
Initially, I suspected she mistook me for a potential
lodger, but she displayed a combination of honesty and
furtiveness which belied that theory. She spoke of ‘the young
lady’ with great affection and mentioned that she had prema-
turely ended her contract because she had unfinished busi-
ness to attend to which might take a long time.
I started at this, something which the landlady did not
fail to notice. She showed me the flat, and I expressed mild
surprise about the fact that it was wholly furnished. I was
told that all of the furniture belonged to the young lady, who,
upon leaving, had assured the landlady that she herself would
find no further use for it. If anything, those words appeared
to have frightened the landlady a great deal.
She left me alone in the flat for some minutes after that,
presumably, I thought, because she wanted me to formulate
my own opinion on the matter. At first reluctantly, but grad-
ually with more and more insistence, I went through cabi-
nets, cupboards and wardrobes, surprised at my lack of pro-
priety, until, in one of the drawers of the bedside table, I hit
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upon a note which, I think, the landlady knew I had to find.


It is gone now, of course, just like so much else. It must
have been the last in a long series: notes which were meant
not so much for others as for the young scientist herself —
reminders of who she was, of what had happened and of what
was to be done.
It simply read: ‘I should have been there when it hap-
pened. It happened. All around, denial grows. I will return
there. No one will seek me in the woods. No one will suspect.
Only I suspect. I will watch. I will learn.’
How I managed not to cry out when I first read the note
is beyond me. There could be no doubting its contents, nor
its intent, no matter how many times I read it, sitting on the
bed in the flat. I knew I might finally encounter another who
had not been affected by forgetfulness — a person who might
help me understand.
I practically quivered with anticipation, knowing that I
would defy the note’s express wish for solitude, that I would
seek her out in the forest and that I knew where to seek: the
note spoke of ‘returning there’ and ‘the woods’. They had
to be the forest bordering the northern cliffs of the Bay. Its
south-westernmost spur was no more than five miles from
my home, and I knew the area quite well.
I do not recall how long I sat there, a plan taking shape in
my mind, until realisation dawned that I was in a place where
I did not belong. I left the flat almost at a run, yet as I neared
the front door I noticed the key had been left in the lock. I
closed the door, somewhat taken aback at the landlady’s in-
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stinctive trust in me, and descended three floors to her own


flat on the ground floor. She had difficulty walking, I remem-
bered, so I was not surprised when she called me in after I rang
the bell. I entered and went into the living room, where she
was watching the afternoon news on an old television set.
Even now, I shudder when I think back to that moment.
I fear I cannot guarantee the exact order of all that happened.
I only know that it did happen. The landlady told me to hang
the keys in their appointed place, on a nail affixed to a wooden
board as can often be found at old-fashioned hotel reception
desks. I did so and she offered me something then, tea or cof-
fee, but only half-heartedly. Her attention was gripped by the
newsreader’s story, and I distinctly recall her saying ‘that poor
man’. I turned to the screen, seeing for the first time what en-
thralled the landlady, and felt all warmth flee my body.
To the newsreader’s right, with mercifully closed eyes,
bloodless lips and skin in the unmistakable pallor of death,
floated the image whose living twin I see daily when looking
into the mirror. The landlady turned towards me then, an
expression on her lips which cannot have been, but which I
still recall as a smile, an abysmal, knowing smile which caused
me to blindly rush from the building and seek solace in the
anonymity of the city.
My next memory is of the airport, having passed secu-
rity, clasping a newspaper which ran the story the landlady
had been watching on television. I fail to grasp how I actually
managed to read anything, but since I remember the details
with nerve-wrecking clarity I assume I must have.
25

The story spoke of the body of a man which had been


discovered on a deserted beach, about twenty-five miles north
of the Bay, two days earlier. No signs of violence were visible,
a cause of death had not yet been established, and apparently
the pathologist held out little hope in that regard. In spite of
the detailed photograph the police had released, no one had
come forward to identify the man.
I believe I laughed or shrieked when reading this, since
an elderly gentleman in the airport shuffled over and asked
whether I was all right. I do not remember what I said to
him, only that he stalked away angrily, muttering to himself.
On the plane I slept fitfully, starting awake time and again
and greatly aggravating the man beside me. During my sleep
he saw fit to appropriate the newspaper, which I had rather
carelessly tucked into the bag of the seat in front of me. How
my neighbour was able to ignore the perfect similarity be-
tween myself and the image of the corpse staring out at him
from the front page defies all comprehension.
After the landlady’s reaction, however, I suppose I should
not have been in the least surprised. Likewise, it now appears
entirely justifiable that my neighbour on the plane took the
newspaper with him when disembarking and that I was too
baffled to think ill of it, much less do anything about it.
Only when I arrived home late that night did I regain a
measure of awareness, enough in any case to draw up prelim-
inary notes of the day’s events.
I do not recall any other events of that night. My next
memory is of sitting at the kitchen table, my back to the liv-
26

ing room door, the microwave display in front of me showing


02.30 a.m. Sleep had been out of the question: much of the
kitchen was in disarray, and a large, overstuffed hiking back-
pack rested against the open door to the hallway. A collection
of loose notepad pages lay scattered on the kitchen table in
front of me. The writing on them, disjointed and rambling
as it was, offered a ruthless attempt at order.
It read, quite simply, that the dead man had to be none
other than myself, and that I, or at least that which the world
saw as me, had ceased to exist. Soon, the ERASING was
bound to extend, and I knew that if I left the house, I could
not expect to return and find it my own. To leave, however,
was all that remained to be done.
I saw no reason to delay my departure and set out im-
mediately. It was 03.15 a.m. on the twelfth of October, and
the night was clear and eerily still. Unsurprisingly, I met no
one during the hike on the lanes and farming tracks leading
to the woods. I reached the tree line long before the first hint
of dawn and felt glad to be under cover of darkness.
The hardest part of my walk still lay before me: the woods
held many tracks, some leading to rocky panoramas overlook-
ing the Bay, others twisting this way and that, seemingly with-
out meaning, often turning back on themselves or coming to
a dead end for no apparent reason. I remembered quite a few
of them, having spent considerable time walking and cycling
them in my youth, but could think of no particularly suitable
place to stay for an extended period of time.
My only guideline, then, were the cliffs. I reasoned that
27

anyone as enthralled by the Island as myself would seek out


a location relatively close the Bay. I struck out on a trail lead-
ing north-west, knowing that it eventually led to one of the
panoramas, and that it bisected a number of other tracks also
leading to the woods’ northern edge. The trek was about five
miles: a distance I hoped to cover in under two hours. The
map of the woods remained in my backpack for now, and
the clear night sky cast a blueish light underneath the bald-
ing boles of the trees, eliminating the need for artificial light.
The trail itself, however, was far rockier and rougher than I
recalled, which made for treacherous footing and enforced a
slow, controlled pace.
About forty-five minutes after setting out on the trail, I
became aware of a change in the air — a kind of absence that
made me shiver violently. I halted, looking round, childish
fears of the nighttime forest crowding my mind, though what
had caused the unpleasant sensation I did not — and do not
— know.
It was when I set out anew that I caught a glimpse of a
figure, about twenty feet away among the trees to the right of
the path. It was there one instant and gone the next. It had
been too vague, too indistinct to say anything about it with
any certainty. Still, I knew, with that particular conviction
reserved for those who lack all arguments, that it had been
someone other than the woman I was looking for.
I broke into a run, heedless of the rocks and roots on the
path. I repeatedly stumbled and fell, but stopped only when I
arrived at the panorama. My hands and shins stung, bleeding
28

from multiple cuts, yet none of it mattered. Dazed, I stum-


bled to the edge of the cliffs and looked out across the Bay.
I had seen the view countless times, in all seasons and
at all times of day, and nothing about it surprised me. A
thought came to me, however, and it is yet to leave: for all that
the Island had initiated the events of the last months, its ap-
pearance and disappearance mattered little in some grander
scheme of things. There was a wrongness to the still black-
ness of the waters and the harbour town’s scattered lights,
and it reached far deeper than anything the Island might have
wrought.
I turned from the vista and uttered a weak cry: a woman,
dressed in a much-faded, red outdoor outfit, stood not ten
feet away from me. Her lined face, accentuated by straggly
strands of long, black hair, held anger, but above all it was the
face of exhaustion. It took me a few moments to realise that
the black object which dangled half-forgotten in her right
hand was a pistol. She advanced two paces, her movements
swaying, unsteady, and I held out both hands, palms up.
‘Why have you come?’ she shrieked, her tone rising ma-
niacally. ‘You’re one of them. You do not look like them, but
you are.’
‘I don’t know what you mean’, I tried. ‘I know who you
are. I know you’ve been to the Island. You were part of the
team, just like my wife.’
A flicker of something showed in the woman’s face, but
then she shook her head and raised the gun. ‘Lies. That’s how
you all do it. Don’t come near me. I’ll shoot. I know the con-
29

sequences but I don’t care anymore.’ She turned and began


to walk away quickly.
I ignored her threat and began to follow her, imploring
her to stop and to give me a chance to explain. She did not re-
act but broke into a lurching run. The trail angled upwards
and I tried to keep up, but the backpack slowed me consid-
erably. As soon as the woman reached the slope’s crest, she
broke away from the path and into the undergrowth, crash-
ing through bushes and brambles in a mindless attempt to
get away.
Her scream cut through the dark but broke off so
abruptly that I wondered whether there had been any sound
at all. I halted, dug a flashlight from the backpack and fol-
lowed its trembling beam as it rolled back the shadows.
About twenty feet on, a crevice gaped, no more than five
feet wide but, as my flashlight revealed, at least fifteen feet
deep. The woman lay unmoving at the bottom, and the un-
natural angle of her head in relation to her body told me
all I needed to know. I sat down at the edge of the crevice,
strangely bereft of emotion and at a loss how to proceed.
Eventually I set out along the edge of the crevice in an
easterly direction, seeking a point where it might be possible
to safely climb down. About three hundred yards on, the bot-
tom of the crevice sloped steeply upwards, almost bringing it
level with the sides and granting me access.
I made my way back westwards along the bottom of the
slope, the overhanging rock walls sometimes forcing me to
squeeze through, until the crevice widened and the flashlight
30

beam struck the body. The stench of faecal matter was over-
powering, and it took some time before I could bring myself
to approach and study the body.
Its expression was one of utter surprise, the eyes unnatu-
rally large in a face that, I now saw, was completely emaciated,
the cheeks hollow, the skin sallow and parchment-thin.
I turned away from the grisly sight, a remote part of my
mind registering the fact that I had never before seen an ac-
tual corpse. The wet blackness of the rocks rearing up to the
bare-branched night sky offered no relief, and my mind con-
jured up the image of a human figure, its features dulled by
the dark, peering down over the edge of the crevice. I well re-
membered I had seen a figure on my way to the panorama and
now imagined him or her approaching the site of the grue-
some event.
Casting the flashlight beam along the crevice in both di-
rections, I caught the glimmer of a dark object close by. Shak-
ily, I got up, walked over and picked it up: it was the pistol
the woman had carried with her. I had no experience with
firearms whatsoever, yet I assumed it must be loaded and felt
that no one would know one way or another. After tucking
the weapon into the backpack’s hip belt, I forced myself to
go through the woman’s pockets, ignoring the sense of im-
propriety which stole over me. The inner jacket pocket held
a key of the type which matched a padlock. I put it away with
hands that shook so violently I had to clench my fists and beat
them against the rock walls for it to subside.
I can only speculate as to my motives for doing what I did
31

next. It may have been the fact that I caught sight of the first,
greyish streaks of dawn edging their way down the crevice
walls. The light stole all shadows from the scene and rendered
the corpse’s pallid face even more horrifying to look upon.
The dawn, however, also brought the realisation that the
corpse was visible to all who might wander into or along the
crevice. I think even back then I knew that there was no cause
for worry, that the world in which I lived no longer was one
where people went for a stroll in the woods. All the same, I
took off my backpack and dragged the body to a dark recess
in the cliff face, about ten feet west from the place where the
deadly fall had occurred. The body seemed to weigh noth-
ing at all, and I had no trouble hiding it below the natural
outcropping of the rock wall. Loose rocks lay scattered on
the broken ground, and with them I managed to build a low
wall which was irregular enough to appear natural to the un-
trained eye and which completely hid the body from sight.
The work had left me drenched in sweat. I shivered
uncontrollably in the morning air and, through chattering
teeth, whispered a prayer in front of the makeshift grave.
Guilt reared its head with unexpected sharpness, yet I could
not and would not allow it to consume me. The situation was
too unprecedented, the stakes too high — or so I managed to
tell myself.
I got up, gathered my belongings and left the crevice the
same way I had entered. By the time I returned to the path
it was fully light. It seemed as if I had managed to return
to a reality which made sense and in which the events of the
32

past night had no place, but the gun at my hip and the blood
on my hands told me otherwise. I walked down the path in
the direction the woman had been running when she broke
into the undergrowth, simply because it obviated the need
for thought.
Half a mile on, a narrow track branched away from the
main path. It seemed but little used, and I turned into it.
Soon, a wooden cabin appeared through the trees. Under
different circumstances, it might have presented an agreeable
sight. It could not have been more than a few years old. I cer-
tainly had never seen it, nor had I ever heard of its existence. I
approached warily, yet felt little apart from an almost incom-
prehensible sense of loneliness. The front door was flanked
by one shuttered window to each side and was padlocked, as
expected. I walked around to the back of the cabin, where an
open space among the trees showed futile and abandoned at-
tempts at growing vegetables. Gardening tools lay scattered
everywhere, as if thrown down in desperation.
I returned to the front door, dug up the key I had taken
from the corpse and fitted it to the padlock. A rank smell met
me when I opened the door. The flashlight beam revealed
cigarette butts littering the rough wooden floor as well as scat-
tered tins and jars crawling with flies and worse. Gagging, I
made my way inside, appalled at how something which had
doubtlessly started as a planned expedition had slowly yet ir-
revocably unravelled.
A desk sat against the window to the door’s right, piled
high with near-illegible notes, while the northern wall, next
33

to the unmade bunk bed, had dozens of drawings tacked to


it. At first glance they appeared childish, but later their black,
chaotic swirls greatly unnerved me, even though I could not
— and cannot — determine what they represent.
I knew I could not possibly stay at the cabin and made
my way out, gasping in the fresh morning air. Sooner rather
than later, I knew, I would hear footsteps on the narrow trail
leading to the cabin. I knew not who they would belong to,
but I dreaded the face I would get to see.
I dared not finish the thought — any thought. A corpse
lay less than a mile away, waiting, dead because of me. No one
would come looking for her, for she, like myself, was subject
to the same maddening erasing.
There was nothing between myself and the corpse, then:
no authorities asking me to deny or justify, no formalities
which served to objectify and categorise the reality of the
event.
It was then that I knew I would stay. I turned back to
the cabin, to its leering emptiness, and spent the rest of the
day trying to rid it of the decay and the rot which assailed it.
The menial task absorbed me completely and left no space
for thought. By day’s end, I was confident I would be able
to spend the night at the cabin. The contents of the pantry,
moreover, showed that I might be able to stay for several
months without needing extra supplies.
I dreaded what I would find in the woman’s notes, but
resolved to go through all of them in the hope of learning as
much of the case as possible. Still, I could not quite bring
34

myself to read them yet, and when darkness descended I was


reduced to restless fretting in a night which seemed not to end
and which gave rise to sounds I dared not place.
I do not remember sleeping, yet I awoke with a start
shortly after dawn, utterly worn out and cold to the bone.
The silence of the woods no longer felt like a thing born of
nature. It enveloped the cabin like a solid, suffocating pres-
ence that made me throw wide the front door and stumble
out, gasping for breath.
The same scenario repeated itself during the first week of
my stay. Sleep was infrequent at best, dreams non-existent,
a thing to be grateful for, yet the half-remembered moments
of black oblivion offered little in the way of respite.
Still, I began to feel part of the cabin and its surroundings,
or rather, it made me a part of IT. At the same time, the sensa-
tion grew of being watched. Anxious to determine whether
the cabin’s previous occupant had experienced similar senti-
ments, I finally overcame my almost visceral revulsion of the
notes she had left behind.
No matter how chaotic the writings initially appeared,
each entry had in fact been dated, allowing me to start with
the most recent ones in the assumption that those would be
most pertinent to my current situation.
Any satisfaction I might have derived from finding rele-
vant entries quickly evaporated, to be replaced by unadulter-
ated fear: on several occasions, the notes mentioned a visitor.
No description was ever provided, but I felt mostly thankful
for the lack of detail. It remains unclear to me whether or not
35

the visitor ever physically entered the cabin.


The woman appeared convinced that the visitor marked
the end of her time. I found myself at a loss as to whether she
referred to her time in the cabin or to her very life. The entry
in question was written a mere three days before my fateful
arrival: a fact which impressed itself upon me deeply.
For at least three weeks after this discovery, I left the rest
of the notes untouched, nervously occupying myself with the
more practical side of life at the cabin. I worked out how to
operate and maintain the pistol, and prepared for a winter
which was gradually making its approach felt.
Late one afternoon, I once again found myself at the
panorama overlooking the Bay and the harbour town. I no
longer remembered why I had elected to walk there, only that
I had been sitting on one of the benches for quite some time,
all but oblivious to my surroundings.
However small the town was from where I sat, I still man-
aged to detect individual people as specks, moving along the
waterfront and the docks. Occasionally, a car would leave the
town and wind its way upward into the hillsides or along the
coastal road running south.
In spite of all the movement, a certain irksome still-
ness permeated the scene. I had visited the panorama often
enough, yet could not recall a similar experience. No sounds
of traffic, no human sounds at all, reached my ears. The sky,
too, oppressed me with its emptiness. I found no signs of air-
craft, and failed to remember whether the Bay was crossed by
planes with any regularity.
36

More than the stillness, this lack of a definite memory


about the place where I had spent most of my life appalled
me and brought back into focus the chain of impossibilities
which had led to my current situation.
I got up and made my way back, dreading every step of
the way to see a figure emerging from the undergrowth. The
last of the flashlight batteries ran out while I was still half a
mile from my destination. When I reached the narrow trail
leading to the cabin, it was fully dusk. There was no sense
of relief as the structure’s squat bulk swam into view from
the shadows. As I attempted to open the padlocked door, I
fancied I heard a footstep on the trail and I dropped the key.
No one appeared, but in the gathering gloom I failed to find
the key. Nauseated at the thought of being out in the open
when the last of the light failed, I stumbled to the back of
the cabin and retrieved a pickaxe from among the tools stored
under an awning. It took several minutes before my hands
stopped shaking sufficiently to aim a blow at the lock, which
thankfully shattered after the third hit.
I stepped inside cautiously, feeling for the first time like
the intruder I truly was. Shadows drew shapes were no shapes
ought to be, and fumblingly I lit a candle. Once the inside of
the cabin had reacquired some of its familiarity, I closed the
front door and dragged the heavy desk in front of it. The dry,
sharp scraping of wood on wood, I felt certain, could be heard
for miles around, and I quickly snuffed the candle, hoping to
reduce the cabin to one shadow among many.
I did not sleep that night but sat a silent vigil, the pick-
37

axe clasped in both hands, the gun loaded by my side. Never


before had I been so convinced that something was closing
in, alerted by the noise I had made or by some other event
I could not begin to contemplate. When dawn came, I cau-
tiously opened one of the windows, crept outside and made
my way around the cabin. I discovered nothing of note.
I know I have missed something.

Editors’ Note: at this point, the manuscript


takes on the aspect of a diary. It shows few, if
any alterations and can therefore be considered a
more unredacted and honest account of the au-
thor’s latter days in the cabin.

24 November
Tried to construct a mechanism to ensure the cabin stays
locked during my absence yet failed miserably. Believe this
is somehow significant.
The boundary between the outside world and my own
must needs dissolve. Hiding will not lead me to the answers
I seek. I must venture out more often, both during the day
and at night.
I have neglected her writings too long.
38

25 November
Followed a mostly overgrown trail leading north-east from
the cabin, up to a rocky shelf which provides an excellent view
of the woods, interspersed with glimpses of the Bay (though
sadly not of the harbour town). Stayed there most of the day,
as it was dry and not too cold.
No planes anywhere all day. Keep trying to remember
when and where I might have seen or heard one, but am un-
able to.
All memories are clouded by a veil not of my own mak-
ing.
Read some of my predecessor’s notes while up on the
plateau. Her mind seems to have deteriorated greatly during
her stay. She never mentions the almost preternatural still-
ness.
I must return to the panorama soon, to once again watch
the harbour.

26 November
Did not leave the cabin today. Worked on my notes from
dawn until dusk. Feel strangely discomfited by the lessening
daylight hours. Slight, unsettling smell of decay wafts in from
the woods.
39

28 November
Scarcely know where to begin.
Left for the panorama at dawn yesterday. Must have lost
track of time because dusk was upon me before I began the
journey back to the cabin. Recall little to nothing of what
I saw at the panorama, so must assume and hope it was of
little importance. Have walked the route dozens of times, yet
somehow the gathering dark unbalanced me enough to make
me lose my way.
Cloudy night at first. Little light. Found shelter among
rocks. Did not sleep. Clouds eventually parted, revealing that
I had sought refuge in the very cleft where the woman fell to
her death. Did not know how far or close I was to THAT
PLACE, but feared the worst. Heard sounds of movement
which I cannot reason away, though I did not see anything.
Animals?
Did not move until dawn broke. Attempted to focus on
the gradually clearing night sky. Realised I have not the slight-
est knowledge of any of the constellations. Still, unable to
shake the feeling that I have never, even subconsciously, seen
any of them. Made it back to the cabin. Everything seems
undisturbed. Inside flap of backpack holds basic map of ma-
jor constellations (Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia). Will
climb the trail to the plateau tonight and compare.
Might run low on food in a few weeks’ time. Must plan.
40

28 November — night
Write under considerable mental strain. Have climbed to the
rocky plateau. Clear night sky, yet none of the constellations
marked on the backpack have made an appearance. Abun-
dance of stars, yet unnaturally distant. Wan light. Will await
the dawn here. Do not feel like entering the shadows under
the trees. Air seems less vile up here, too. Must elaborate on
that later.

29 November
Returned to the cabin as soon as the shadows had retreated
from the woods. Had severe difficulty following the trail:
badly overgrown at the best of times but now appeared to
intentionally elude my sight.
The woods have begun reclaiming what had originally
been theirs.
Nothing in the cabin has been disturbed, yet I know the
place has been violated. I sense an absence which can only
result from a recent departure.

30 November — night/early morning


Must not forget this night’s horrors. Fled the cabin, feeling as
if thousands of presences were converging around it. Blindly
ran through the woods. Arrived at panorama and collapsed.
Woke moments ago. The harbour town is dark. Not a sin-
41

gle light anywhere. Utter lack of movement on the streets/at


docks/in the harbour. Want to reason it away as an electrical
failure but cannot. Will return to the cabin as soon as I find
the mental strength to pass THAT PLACE. Will collect all I
need to survive.

1 December — afternoon
Accuracy is my only weapon against madness. I will relate ev-
erything which happened since my last entry chronologically,
in the hope that it will make sense upon later reflection.
My return to the cabin in the early hours of yesterday was
uncontested, a fact which steeled me in my resolve to visit the
harbour town. I loaded the backpack with what little sup-
plies I had left, my notes, those of my predecessor, the pair of
binoculars, and the gun. The pickaxe I carried in my hands.
Ever since the abysmal night of the 24th, I have derived an
almost childish reassurance from the feel of the crude imple-
ment.
A treacherously steep trail runs from the panorama to the
lower cliffside along the Bay. About halfway down the path,
about a mile out from the panorama, I halted to catch my
breath. I took out the pair of binoculars and trained them on
the harbour, fruitlessly attempting to detect any movement.
A sense of being watched made me turn back. I let go
of the binoculars, letting them dangle from the strap around
my neck, and gripped the pickaxe. Looking up along the trail
42

and to the top of the cliff, I caught sight of a figure at the very
edge of the panorama.
In spite of the distance, I clearly recognised the person’s
red jacket and long, dark hair. My hands went numb and the
pickaxe clattered uselessly to the ground. By the time I found
the strength to grip the binoculars and direct them at the fig-
ure’s location, it had gone.
I believe I shrieked before breaking into a crashing run
down the trail, slowing only when the harbour town’s outly-
ing buildings came into view, at least three miles on. I halted
a moment, drenched in cold sweat, before continuing to the
town’s centre.
Utter and complete desolation greeted me, yet this did
not in the least surprise me. The true horror lay elsewhere.
Everything I laid eyes on, from buildings and cars to traf-
fic lights and signs, gave the impression of having been in-
fused with something which, for want of a better word, I have
elected to call otherness. It went so far as to leave me with a
sense of having fouled the place with my very presence. An al-
most clinical coldness permeated everything, and it was with
an ever-increasing sense of alienation that I made my way to
the waterfront.
Implausible the preceding part of today’s account may
have been, yet I fear the following will challenge the will of
even the most credulous of readers.
I had lost sight of the Bay when entering the town cen-
tre. When I arrived at the docks, the waters of the Bay had re-
treated an indeterminable distance. A barren landscape had
43

been uncovered which had never before — and should never


have — seen the light of day. An undefinable smell assailed
my nostrils, not altogether disagreeable but unlike anything
I had ever smelled before. The smell, more than the sight
which stretched before me, told me that I was looking at
something other than just the seabed.
The scene both attracted and reviled me. Morbid curios-
ity won out in the end, and I cautiously made my way west
from what had once been the coastline. I passed several fish-
ing boats, looking forlorn and out of place in the lifeless envi-
ronment of greyish sand and crushed, black rock. No damp-
ness remained in the ground, nor did I spot any dead fish,
algae or debris.
Again, dusk surprised me with its swiftness. I have to
spend a night out in the open. I do not know what I seek,
yet my being here can be no coincidence.
I will sleep now.

3 December — early morning


Awoke from an insubstantial yet horrifying dream moments
ago.
My watch tells me it is the third of December. If correct,
then I have lost an entire day and night to sleep. I do not feel
refreshed at all.
Early morning light reaches into the distance, etching the
contours of what can only be the Island.
IT WAS NOT THERE WHEN I WENT TO SLEEP.
44

I must reach the place today. Distances are impossible to


judge in this wasteland.
I will make notes regularly.

Editors’ Note: the editors cannot vouch for


the exactness of the following notes. They were
clearly written in haste. Many of them were
quite illegible and some pages had suffered ex-
tensive damage.

3 December — noon
Just passed the wreck of a ship, about half a mile to the north.
I cannot spare the time to investigate. The wreck appears to
be buried halfway in the sandy soil. Something about its di-
mensions is profoundly wrong, yet I fail to grasp why.
The Island steadily draws nearer. The monotony of its
plateau appears to be broken up by vertical lines. A grey mist
envelops the place, rendering the binoculars useless.

3 December — later
I believe the vertical lines on the plateau may be people. They
have not moved in all this time.
45

Undated fragment 1
They are dead. They must be dead. Bound to something.
Crucified.

Undated fragment 2
They are not people. STANDING STONES. I do not know
I could ever have thought otherwise. Mist has fled, but the
cold!

Undated fragment 3
Have reached the base of the Island. Dusk not far off. There
is a path. Climb appears steep but not impossible. Will at-
tempt.

Undated fragment 4
Plateau empty except for standing stones, twenty-one in
number. About twelve feet high, too regularly spaced to be
natural, yet no seams visible between stones and plateau.
Growths?
All cylindrical, yet WRONG. Odd writing appears to
cover the surfaces, but is gone when studied up close.
I FEAR.
46

Undated fragment 5
I cannot stay here. Night falls, but I will descend to the (sea
bottom) nonetheless.

Editors’ Note: the words sea bottom have


been roughly struck through in the original
manuscript and replaced with something illeg-
ible.

Undated fragment 6
I am not alone here. A pallid phosphorescence rises from the
ground. Do not know whether it is day or night.

Undated fragment 7
Lights. The harbour town is alive once more.

Editors’ Note: the following (and final)


fragment of the manuscript contrasts sharply
with the preceding ones in terms of coherence
and legibility.

Date Unknown
This is my last entry into this journal. I have much to relate,
most of it too baffling to contemplate, yet writing it down
frees me from the burden of my own disbelief. I regret I will
47

not find the time or opportunity to refine my notes, yet can


do nothing about it.
After my trip to the Island, I reached the shoreline while
it was still fully dark. Instinct told me I had spent more time
walking to and from the Island than I could possibly con-
ceive. Of physical discomfort, however, there was none.
The harbour town was empty, yet not empty. Count-
less times, as I made my way through it, I saw people at the
edge of my vision. Whenever I turned to look at them, they
would be gone and the very impression they had left would
fade. The town’s silence, too, had been broken, but all the
same I was wholly unable to pinpoint any sound. Absurd
though it may seem, the sound seemed to share more with
light, with the seabed’s phosphorescence, than with some-
thing my ears could perceive. I somehow succeeded in not
panicking, though I cannot deny that my departure in many
ways resembled a flight.
A cold, grey dawn finally broke as I laboriously made my
way up the steep path towards the panorama. She was wait-
ing for me at the top, and I realised I had known all along
that it would come to this. Her eyes were empty as she stared
at me, her head still in the horrifying position of that night,
her clothes mangled and torn as if by countless tiny claws and
fangs. Dully, I registered that virtually no decomposition had
taken place, though all the blood had left her skin.
A person was standing next to her. He was male, very
tall, yet it is beyond me to describe him in any more detail.
A will not my own foiled my every attempt to focus on him.
48

He made clear his intention to accompany me to the cabin,


yet I do not recall him saying anything. The woman did not
follow us but remained, looking out over the Bay.
He is waiting outside now, while I finish these notes. I
will leave them here, carefully wrapped and hidden, yet not
impossible to find. I am to go with him and I feel both ap-
prehensive and glad, certain that I will be made part of great
revelations.
Night has fallen yet again. The trees around the cabin
seem shorter somehow, younger, offering an unobstructed
view of the night sky. It holds THREE MOONS.
I have no more time and must go.
Closing Notes

These closing notes result from several months’ worth of in-


dependent investigative journalism, hence rising above mere
speculation. They merely aim to address a number of much-
discussed items.
In the interest of ongoing research and in view of the pri-
vacy of many of the persons involved, all names of people and
places have been omitted.
Contrary to what one might expect after reading the au-
thor’s final paragraph, the manuscript was not discovered
hidden in a cabin in the woods, but in the locked drawer of
an antique desk put up for auction.
The buyer of the desk only succeeded in opening the
drawer by picking the lock, as no key had been provided at
the auction. The seller was unknown to the auction house,
and enquiry among the auction house staff revealed that no
employee had any recollection of it being delivered.
Extensive contacting of transport companies allowed one
journalist to trace the desk’s origin to a house which had been

49
50

put up for sale. No driver or clerk of the transport company


remembered being contacted by the house owners, nor were
any forms to be found providing any details for the transport.
The driver responsible for the transport of the desk re-
fused to comment, and was made redundant shortly after in-
vestigations at the firm were completed.
The house where the desk originated had stood empty for
quite some time. The sale was handled entirely by an agency
which refused to divulge any information about the house
owner(s). The agency’s motives for this taciturnity could not
be ascertained.
The house stood alone, and its location corresponds ex-
actly with that of the house inhabited by the manuscript au-
thor and his wife. Key reference points are the harbour town,
the bay and the local woods.
No definitive details could be obtained regarding the
house owner(s), rendering it impossible to trace any living rel-
atives or acquaintances.
Interviews with shopkeepers, restaurant owners etc. in
the harbour town did shed some light on the house’s inhabi-
tants.
According to several sources, the couple who had owned
the house had been childless. The wife had been an inter-
nationally renowned geographer who spent large portions of
her time abroad. Some people believed she had met an un-
timely end in a plane crash, others vehemently denied this.
Strangely enough, her name remained an enigma in the town.
Inquiries at local universities (including, one must presume,
51

the one visited by the author during his research) did not
bring to light any person matching the particulars mentioned
above.
The name and profession of the husband were unknown
to the town’s inhabitants. Several people recalled him as a
rather melancholy character. One or two deemed to know
that he had taken his own life, possibly as a consequence of an
unfortunate (though vague) accident which had taken place
in the local woods several years earlier. No one, not even the
local doctors, hospital, police office or newspaper, managed
to provide any insight into these suppositions. At one or two
instances, journalists were given a most unwelcome reception
after revealing the motivation behind their visit.
As mentioned earlier, an area of dense woodland can
be found approximately five miles north-west of the house.
Contrary to the author’s assertions, it hardly holds any paths,
nor is any cabin to be found within its confines. As it bor-
ders the cliffs around the bay, there are panoramas aplenty,
though none provide hikers with a trail to the lower cliffside
and the harbour town.
This discrepancy between the reality of the author’s sur-
roundings and the descriptions in his writing, however, is no
more than a detail when compared to the larger issues.
Firstly, the island, which in the manuscript suddenly ap-
pears, disappears and then reappears, has lain in the bay since
time immemorial. It forms an integral part of the harbour
town’s — and of much of the greater area’s — economic ac-
tivity, given that it is one of the world’s twenty-one sites of
52

holy Standing Stones.


Secondly, no fishing boat named Martha is known to ex-
ist in the bay area, nor do the harbour’s records mention any
boat which might have shipwrecked on the island in recent
times.
Thirdly, none of the (very few) actual names in the
manuscript correspond with anything found in any works of
reference: neither the names of certain constellations (Ursa
Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia) nor that of the organisa-
tion which coordinated the scientific research on the Island
(United Nations).
Fourthly and lastly, one is left to wonder at the author’s
shock, in the final lines, at the night sky holding three moons.

The editors