“Here,” he said, as he handed the pole to Kevin. His voice was hoarse.
Kevin moved the pole around until he felt the object again. He worked with the hook until he got whatever it was on the hook.
“I’ve got it,” Kevin said. “Do you want to pull it up?”
Lance shook his head and turned away. He was crying and he didn’t want Kevin to know. Kevin pulled the pole up. Lance heard him start to laugh and turned around.
“It’s a pig!” Keving laughed. “It’s a wild boar.”
“Thank God,” Lance said, wiping tears from his face.
“Lance,” Kevin said seriously. “If Steve wasn’t in there, where is he?”
“I wish I knew,” Lance said. “If there was a wild boar in the pit, there’s probably other wild animals. And other quicksand traps. Anything could have happened to him.”
They walked back to camp in silence. Lance looked at Kevin and he could see tears on Kevin’s face. He wondered if Kevin knew that he was crying, too.
The light of the rising morning sun awakened Steve. His head was throbbing and his whole body ached. He tried to stand up but his leg wouldn’t support him. Steve rolled up his pants leg. The lower part of his leg was swollen and purple. He looked around. The sides of the valley were steep. There was no way for him to get out without climbing. And Steve couldn’t climb if he couldn’t walk. He crawled painfully over to some rocks that would provide shelter for him. He found a sturdy stick he could use to protect himself. He hopped he wouldn’t have to use it.
Back at the camp, Cari was in hysterics. She had been crying all morning. She couldn’t even cry anymore. She was just sitting there on the sand staring out at the ocean.
“How are you feeling?” Lance asked.
“Awful,” Cari told him. “Poor Steve. He’s probably hurt somewhere or worse. Like at the bottom of the quicksand.”
“He isn’t in the quicksand,” Lance said. “Kevin and I checked there last night. There was only a wild pig in it.”
“That’s good,” Cari said. But she didn’t sound too happy.
Lance walked up the beach and into the hut. Stephanie, Darrel, Cathy, Brent and Candy were all in there talking.
“Where’s Kevin and Kris,” Lanced asked.
“They went to get some sugarcane and coconuts for dinner,” Candy said.
“Kris is going to make a salad from coconuts, sugarcane and pineapples,” Brent said. “With coconut juice dressing.”
“That’s all we’re having for dinner,” Cathy said. “We’re out of dry fish.”
“Don’t we have even a little bit?” Lance asked.
“Not a bit,” Darrel told him.
“Why don’t you guys go fishing?” Stephanie suggested.
“Not at a time like this,” Candy said.
“We’ve got to,” Lance told her. “If we eat enough fish, we won’t have to eat Kris’s salad.
“We can’t go,” Darrel said. “As soon as Kevin comes back we’re going to look for Steve.
“All of us?” Lance asked.
“No,” Brent said. “The girls are staying here in case he comes back.
Just then Kevin walked into the hut. Kris was right behind him. “Are you guys ready to go?” he asked.
“Just as soon as I get the torches, Darrel said. “We might be out there after dark.”
The boys all walked out of the hut.
“Be careful,” Kris called after them.
Darrel and Kevin went to the left and Brent and Lance went to the right. Each party was to search their side of the island thoroughly.
After four hours Lance and Brent returned to the place where they were to meet. “I hope they found him,” Lance said.
“He must be on their side of the island,” Brent told him. “He wasn’t on ours.
But Darrel and Kevin were hoping the same thing as they walked back to the meeting place. When he stepped into the clearing and saw that Lance and Brent didn’t have Steve, Brent started crying. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ve got to get a hold of myself.”
“I know how we all feel,” Kevin said. “So if anyone is going to cry, you better do it now because we’ve got to stay strong for the girls sake.”
It was night when they got back to camp. Lance had been chosen to tell the girls because he and Steve had been best friends since grade school. The girls were all sitting around the fire, but no one was talking.
Lance cleared his throat. They all turned toward him. Cari slowly stood up. “Where is he?” Cari asked.
“I’m sorry,” Lance said. His voice cracked, he was trying not to cry. “We couldn’t find him.”
“Oh God,” Cari whispered. She ran into Lance’s arms and began to cry uncontrollably. Lance couldn’t take it anymore and he began to cry too. Soon everyone was holding each other and crying. They all wanted to get off this island.
Back in the valley, Steve was closed to tears also. Not from sadness, but from pain and hunger. Then he felt something next to his leg. In the light of the full moon, Steve could see that it was a snake. He could only see it’s head. By the size of that, he could tell that the snake was huge. He picked up his club and started hitting the snake with all the power he could muster. Soon the snakes blood began to spatter on his arms and he stopped pounding. Then he cried aloud and prayed to God to get him out of this hell on earth.
Steve woke up early the next morning. He decided to put a splint on his broken leg so he could get back to camp. He found four sturdy sticks and put them on his leg. Then he tore his shirt into strips and tied the sticks on tightly. Using his club as a cane, he started his slow, painful journey.
At camp they were all talking about Steve.
“I loved him like a brother,” Lance said.
“I’m really going to miss him,” Cathy said softly.
“I loved him,” Kris said. “He was so sweet.”
“I’m going to take a walk,” Darrel said.
“I’ll go with you, if you want,” Stephanie told Darrel.
“No thanks,” Darrel said. “I’d rather be alone.”