Author : Alex Meggitt
The sun forces itself past my eyelids and wakes me up every morning. I lean over and make another notch in the tree next to the bed Iâ€™ve created. There are four hundred eighty three of them. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth as I get up, and I wander halfway to the shore for my bucket of purified water. I drink it in one large gulp and place it back on the ground. From there I begin to circle the small island, picking up the fewest pieces of driftwood necessary to make a fire and prepare more seawater.
The gentle wind picks up a slight hum that grows louder as I walk. Itâ€™s when I bend down to pick up a few stray berries growing along the edge of the thin woods that the sound becomes loud enough to be identified. As I turn, I can perceive a large black shape through the ringing sun.
The helicopter comes closer and closer. It hovers a few meters off the shoreline, its side door opens and a man in a black army uniform leans out, yelling something through a megaphone. I stand with my hand cupped over my eyes, staring at him and letting the wind blow my ragged clothing. The vehicle descends a bit, and I can make out the pilot looking from side to side. Thereâ€™s no room for him to land comfortably anywhere on the island. The man in the back leans out again and says something else, but I still canâ€™t tell what it is. He recedes from view once more, and a bright orange raft appears in the doorway. The raft begins to lower from the helicopter, two uniformed men holding on inside it. The man with the megaphone appears again and waves. I stare.
A dozen turrets burst out from where the sand meets the water. They fire simultaneously, burst after burst, each directly on target. Everything in front of me turns to a gray blur. My face is still warm from the rush of projectiles as the ashes of the helicopter and its crew are scattered in the wind, no longer perceivable to the human eye.
Driftwood still clutched in one hand, I walk back to fire pit and carefully arrange them to make an easy flame. I fill the pot with seawater and place it properly before going through the motions of starting the fire. As the water boils, I lean back in the sand and let my thoughts drift into the clear blue sky. Thereâ€™s only one pristine beach left in the world, and it belongs to me.