And Then They Made Me Their Chief

Chapter Six: In Which Matthew Falls Madly In Love

With The Girl Of His Dreams


Matthew was supposedly leading his group in an exploration of the low swampy area of the island. However he was soon left behind as he focused on a stealthy investigation.

Aaron continued on, crashing relentlessly into the damp undergrowth. They squelched through mud and slashed past creepers and exotic plants. Aaron was like a machine as he battered down anything in their path.

Joseph and Nathan marched behind him and focused on giving a good bashing to the really low undergrowth which Aaron seemed to overlook.

They continued on in a southwest direction.

Becky was lagging behind. She was finding it hard to see out of her puffy eye.

In fact, she thought to herself, I’m going to head out to the beach. My allergies might clear up a bit once I get out there.

She pushed through towards the coast. After about twenty minutes she figured she’d gone most of the way.

A man stepped out abruptly from behind a tree. He grabbed her. She kicked him in the knee, really hard. He winced. Becky’s head rocked back and she let off an uncontrollable sneeze. It caught the scoundrel full in the face. From there it was all one way. Becky hit out at him – as much as she could see between sneezing and wiping her eyes. Before he could recover she raced off.

A couple of minutes later, Christopher, Zaccai and the girls saw Becky come crashing out onto the beach.

***

A couple of hours later, Luke and his guys got back down to the camp. They’d spent a while talking to Lydia and she’d shown them around the mount. She had made paths which she showed them. Now Lydia had come back to the beach to meet the others.

Dave was lying on the beach, very still. His lips were parched and he was barely breathing.

Aaron, Joe and Nate came marching up. It looked like they’d been in an Asian land war.

Luke was not pleased to find people missing.

They were all talking about getting some lunch. It was about two o’clock. They had nothing much to report.

They all got into the food. There was the barbequed goat, coconuts, mangos and some green stuff that Dale had found.

Shortly after, the beach party came back.

Luke was pleased to see Becky, but wasn’t happy about Janelle missing. They discussed things for a while. Then they prayed about things and acknowledged God’s control over their lives.

“We’ve searched for nearly three hours,” said Zac.

“And we didn’t really know where to start,” said Christopher.

“Well with Becky’s news we know it’s foul play for sure,” said Aaron.

“We have to go and do another search for Janelle,” said Luke. “But I don’t want anyone else to go missing. The girls should definitely stay here.”

“What about Matthew?” asked Zac.

“He told us he would be creeping slowly through the undergrowth,” said Becky.

“Should we look for him too?” asked Adam.

“He was camouflaged,” said Joe. “No one’s going to see him to kidnap him.”

They marked out the boundaries to the camp, about 40 metres along the beach and going a short way into the undergrowth. No one was to leave the area unless they were in a group of three or more.

“Everybody should arm themselves,” said Nathan excitedly.

“Yes,” said Luke, “collect things to use as clubs or batons.”

“Someone’s going to pay,” Adam said tapping a stout stick against his hand.

“We should spread out and search through the jungle in a band,” said Zac

“Yeah we’ll march with about 10 yards between each of us.”

“Is Dale going to go?” asked Kirsty, “He’s not really the fighting type.”

“And I feel a bit tired,” said Dale.

“Well a few need to stay here and look after the girls,” said Luke. “Joe and Nathan would probably be more use here.” He turned to Zac, “It would be good if you stayed here.”

Zac agreed.

“Those who stay at the camp, don’t leave the camp boundaries,” Zac said.

“Oh well,” said Kirsty, “at least it will give me lots of time to think about how I’m going to pose for my next Skype avatar.”

“Oh Kirsty,” Sarah said, “I already have a whole notebook of poses for photos. Which category do you want to look through?”

Aaron was trying not to bring up his lunch.

“I’ve kind of run out of things to pose next to in Tauranga,” said Kirsty. “Sometimes I go on trips just to find new things to pose by. This place is perfect.”

There was some rolling of eyes.

“What are we going to do about Dave?” asked Jane.

“He’ll pull through,” said Luke.

“Yeah, after a couple of days of headaches people get over the addiction side effects,” said Christopher.

“It’s killing him,” said Sarah, “he’s got to have a can of coke.”

“Oh come on,” puffed Dale, “he’ll get over it.”

“This is serious,” said Nicole.

“I thought I saw some bottles of coke in Lydia’s cave,” said Luke.

“Why didn’t you get them?” asked Sarah.

“Because they’re Lydia’s and I didn’t want to take them to feed someone’s addiction.”

“It’s not a choice,” said Phil, “he’s in serious trouble. He needs coke to save him.”

“Give me strength,” muttered Dale.

“I’m sure coke has killed plenty of people, but I doubt it’s ever saved anyone,” Zac said.

Phil turned to Lydia “Where did you get it?”

“A few bottles of soft drink washed up when I wrecked here,” said Lydia. “I was saving them.”

Nicole looked at her pleadingly, “Our friend is dying, please, can we have a bottle of coke for him?”

“Okay,” said Lydia.

“Who’s going to go and get it?” asked Jane.

“No one today,” said Luke.

“What?!” exclaimed Nicole.

“Well you girls aren’t going, and we can’t spare any guys. It’s most important that we look for Janelle and for Josh and that dumb pilot. Janelle might still be around.”

“You just don’t get it, Luke!” Sarah shouted.

Dave glowered at Luke through his dim eyes.

“I can go and get it,” offered Lydia.

“Well you’re not in my charge,” said Luke, “but I really think you should stay here. It’s dangerous. I don’t want you getting captured too.”

“Okay. I’ll stay here then,” she said timidly.

“Let’s get going,” said Luke. “Zac and Dale are in charge.”

The guys picked up their clubs and sticks and marched off.

Dave fell into a dark dream. His throat burned.

***

It was dusk by the time the men came back. They were scratched and beat up, but had nothing to report for their troubles. Luke had gotten stuck in a muddy ditch after sliding on some loose rocks. It had taken about half an hour for the others to get him out.

Everyone was just settling down to dinner when Matthew wandered into the camp in a kind of daze.

“She’s so beautiful,” he said.

They looked up.

“I’ve found the love of my life. She’s ravishingly gorgeous. I can hardly even breathe thinking about her,” he said rapturously.

“What?” said Phil.

“I met my sweetheart. She’s absolutely adorable. Our hearts beat together.”

“Umm, what did she look like?” asked Jane.

“She’s at least 16 feet high. She has cute little arms. Her skin is amazing, it looks kind of scaly at first, but the feel is like velvet steel. Softest thing in the world, yet so. . .” he broke off.

Becky looked at Jane, rolling her eyes, “It’s a dinosaur.”

“He’s been like this since he was eight,” said Luke.

“Told you dinosaurs still lived,” replied Matt. “Only. . . I didn’t think a creature of such perfection and beauty could exist.”

“Yeah. . . I’m happy for ya,” Zac said in mock sincerity.

***

That night they did not sit around the fire, like they had the night before. Instead they sat a short distance away from the blaze. Zac had taken charge of the campfire responsibilities. Every piece of dry wood, leaf, coconut shell or in fact any dry organic material within reach of the camp limits had been piled on the beach. The flames were about three metres high. Most of the pile had been used up.

“I guess that settles whether we should send a signal out or not,” commented Dale.

“It’s not like nobody knows we’re here,” Zac replied.

Matthew sat staring dreamily into the fire.

“While we’re sitting around tonight,” said Sarah, “let’s do some quizzes for each other.”

“What a great idea!” said Kirsty “I’ll go first. How long is my hair. . . A, five feet, B, five feet, four inches, or C, six feet?”

Most of them knew the correct answer was B. “About five feet and four inches longer than Courtney’s,” said Christopher.

“Well,” said Nathan, “Would I most like. . . A, Aragon’s sword, Anduril, B Legolas’ bow, C, King Peter’s sword and shield, D, Jack Bauer’s SIG 226, E, Bilbo and Frodo’s sword, Sting, or F,” here he broke into a goofy voice, “a customised M 18 with grenade launcher?”

“A!” said Luke, Zac, Joe and Christopher.

“Right,” said Adam. “Which one am I the most. . . A, cool, B, handsome, C, laidback, D, quiet?”

They debated for a while, but there was no one consensus. Most people settled on D. Adam almost wondered to himself whether the others were taking it completely seriously.

Becky retorted, “Did I. . . A, invent the internet, B, discover the 13th planet, or C, both of the above?”

“There aren’t 13 planets,” said Zac, “there are eight, and some large rocks.”

Sarah went next. “Am I prettiest with my hair. . . A, in a pony tail, B, down, C, plaited, or D, up in a bun?”

“All these quizzes are absolutely stupid,” declared Luke.

“Self obsessed egomaniacs,” muttered Aaron.

Zac put some more wood on the fire. He’d just been having a conversation with a couple of the guys about the long term firewood situation. He wasn’t sure whether they should start cutting down trees in the morning, or just go further around the island looking for deadwood.

A stifled scream came down the beach.

Jane was looking around. “Where’s Nicole?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” bellowed Luke.

There was a distant roar in the jungle.

“Crud,” said Christopher.