Chapter One – Death that Lives On
Ralph was the first of the boys to hop in the shower. He watched clean water pour through the shower head and light brown water fall through the drain.
The cold water stung his various wounds on his bruised body as he struggled to apply soap. In a short matter of time, he stepped out and looked at himself in the mirror.
He looked different; his hair was longer and brighter than before landing on the island, his skin was darker, and he had lost weight.
He flexed his arms, but still wasn’t impressed at his apparent lack of muscle.
Ralph stepped out of the cramped washroom and through the grey hallway to the medical ward.
There were rows of short beds made to military perfection, some occupied by injured soldiers, either sleeping or idly shuffling in their beds. He was guided by a nurse to a vacant bed.
The nurse tried to ask questions, but Ralph was in no mood to talk. He asked what type of ship they were on, and she mentioned it was a military relief vessel.
“We’re on our way home, so you’ll be back soon,” she said in a caring voice.
As his wounds were being dressed, Ralph dozed off and began to think. Images from the Island penetrated through his mind. He saw Simon lying on the beach; bruised, broken, and bleeding.
He saw Piggy; his split, empty head vomiting out his brain as he got devoured by the sea.
The fire, the painted faces, the destruction of the conch… He forcefully strayed his mind from those traumatizing images. He thought about when he would arrive home.
It wouldn’t be in the big airfield in Wiltshire. He decided it would be at Her Majesty’s Naval Base, and he’d be taken by train; no, car because the cottage would be nearby.
He imagined the shed you would lie upon to watch the snowflakes, the cornflakes with milk and cream,
the books on his shelf with the folded page corners… He’d gone over that fantasy about a million times on the Island, but it still lulled him to sleep.
Ralph drifted out of his deep sleep after what seemed to be a few minutes. He woke up, and looked around. No one was idly shuffling in their bed; they were all sound asleep.
He could see lumps on the beds that weren’t there before, which he assumed were the other children. Stepping out of his bed, he realized how sore he was.
His head throbbed, the cuts smarted, and his limbs and joints were stiff from running and hiding. He stretched every stretchable limb in his body and snuck past the children.
He walked out of the room, through the hallway, and out on deck. The sea was calm, but Ralph couldn’t see very far in the dark night.
He watched as waves rippled past, leaving his previously restless mind absolutely blank.
After a few thoughtless hours, the wind had drastically picked up. The boat was rocking violently, and the sun was fighting its way up the horizon through the clouds.
It was still dark apart from a tiny sliver of sun, boiling the far end of the ocean, letting the steam become the clouds that were falling apart into thick raindrops.
Ralph stayed on deck, enjoying the refreshing rain. He felt as though he could finally relax and be cleansed of the horrors he had experienced. In a wave, he saw a familiar face.
“I told you you’d make it out alright,” the creature said. Simon’s bruised, broken body was suddenly completely visible in a flash of lightning. “But the beast is still out their…”
Ralph’s eyes were locked on this strange occurrence. He was paralyzed with fear. A glimpse of something else caught his attention.
“Help me!” Piggy said in a detached voice. “My Auntie never let me swim, because of my asthma!”
“Sucks to your ass-mar”, Ralph muttered under his breath, forced by habit. More lightning struck, and Ralph saw Piggy in his monstrous entirety.
His brain was leaking out his empty skull, his neck crooked in an impossible angle, and his spine begging for an escape from his pathetic body.
“I don’t need my specs to see that Simon is right,” Piggy added. “Nobody can recover from such savagery and murder.”
Ralph was startled out of his hallucinations by a voice.
“Ralph, you must see this!”
It was Samneric.
“Jack and Roger-”
“-an’ Jack says it was Roger’s fault-“
“-for killin’ Piggy-“
“-an’ Roger says it was Jack’s fault-“
“-for being the leader-“
“-an’ they started fightin’-“
“-an they don’t want any grownups involved…”
Ralph ran off deck, through the door, and into the hallway. He saw a crowd of boys and knew what was going on. Pushing through the crowd, he heard the angry, hushed voices of the two boys.
“It was your idea to roll that rock on any intruders!” Roger argued.
“But you were the one who made it fall,” Jack replied.
“You were the one who started painting your face to hide from yourself!”
“And you sharpened the stick on both ends to…”
The two started pushing each other, so Ralph intervened. “Stop! It’s both of your faults! You were both painting your faces and ready to kill!” He addressed the crowd.
“In fact, it’s all of your faults! If you wouldn’t have become savage, Simon and Piggy would still be alive and on this boat!
You can’t go on blaming other people for something you all had a part in!”
Jack pushed Ralph. “And you think you’re any better?” he said.
“You couldn’t lead for nothing! You couldn’t control the littleuns, you couldn’t guarantee safety, you couldn’t hunt for meat, and you still can’t sing!”
“But you couldn’t even keep a fire going!”
“Hunting is more important!”
Ralph tried to gain control of the situation. This time, there was no curtain fluttering over his mind.
“Killing life was more important to you than saving it! We could’ve been safe at home already with nobody killed if you kept that fire going!
How can we be civilized if we can’t even work together? You were the one that ignored the conch rule, and…”
“Rules, rules, rules! There’s no point if you can’t even get people to follow them! Your stupid rules never helped nobody!
All the stupid conch ever did was make noise and distract us from the useful things like hunting!”
Ralph gasped. “The conch kept us civilized! You and your useless hunting…”
“Hunting was fun! Hunting gave us food!”
Roger joined in. “See? You’re more savage because all you ever wanted to do was hunt while I kept order in our tribe!”
“I hunted for pigs!” Jack said. “You were the one who started hunting people! First you beat up our own tribe members, then you murdered Piggy, and then you made that whole hunt for Ralph!”
“Don’t act like you weren’t fine with it!” Roger said. “You wanted it! You never tried to stop it!”
Ralph was tired of the conflict. “It’s over,” he said. “We shouldn’t worry about it anymore. Nothing we can do will change what has already happened.
We can’t bring Piggy back to life by arguing whose fault it was. They will be punished by ways beyond our control. Maybe Simon was right. Maybe the beast wasn’t a ghost.
Maybe it was us; the way we turned savage, rotten like fruit left in the sun for days.”
Jack looked Ralph directly into his eyes, the gaze burning through his skull. “It’s never over. We will always be haunted by what we did, by what happened. It is our identity.
It’s who we are now.”
“We’re already killers,” Roger added. “Who’s to say we’ll stop once we get back?”
Ralph was shocked by the hideous thought, and let it sink into his brain, troubled yet again by the ailments of the past year.