She stares blankly at the screen imagining her ancestors — distant and rugged. They could bear the burn of an inhumane climate. Frozen marrow, numb digits. She sees a man trying to tie bait to a line, removing the necessary blanket of his mitten. Time ticking, stomach growling. The wind piercing and wailing while he tries to remain focused. Fishing is his livelihood. Not many land animals graze the arctic tundra.
Everything Emily learned about her ancestors came from the Internet. Her family doesn’t reveal much of their history, only a few fluffy stories and a few names on the lowest branches of their tree. Last year she sent in a swab of her saliva to a genetics testing facility but learned close to nothing; only that her likelihood of alcoholism is high, which, based on the drinking habit of her three uncles wasn’t exactly remarkable.
“Computer off.” Emily stood up from her desk to watch a flock of falcons catching a southward current. Her mind wandered, an activity she’d become quite good at lately.
She was pulled back to life at 2:30 when her alarm reminded her it was time to leave for work. She grabbed her things and walked to the university — a light salty breeze kept her stride slow and pensive.
“I know everything about everyone else’s past and nothing of my own,” she vented to Mark, her T.A., at the end of her first class. “What kind of historian can say that? I’m a hack.”
“Professor, take it easy. It’s not like you have a choice. The Native Alaskans experienced an abrupt transformation. There’s simply not a lot of information out there for you to dig up.”
“I can’t live with that. There must be some way to stitch their last bit of history together.”
Emily went home that evening and let her mind stray. She stood with a cup of mint tea, staring out her window through a frame of ivy that crawls up the side of her apartment complex. She looked down onto a shoreline that covers what used to be the Embarcadero of San Francisco. The transition between land and sea is just below her on purpose. She committed to herself long ago that she will never lose sight of the tragedies that took place only a few generations ago, and the rising tide below is her constant reminder.
That night, watching the sea swells lap the paved shore, she dictated a tale to her computer about one of the figures who keeps popping up in her scanty research. He’s been in her dreams as well, telling her about his family and his visions of the future. A few stories of cultural importance reveal his name, Yakone, all of which curse him as a luddite because he was uninterested in accepting government payouts to migrate when the shores became too dangerous for residence. He was known as the crazy village elder who told bizarre stories about the future and warned of a changing climate. He was amicable and warm. He would make Eskimo ice cream for the kids after a whale hunt while the other elders divvied up the rest of the catch amongst the villagers. The recipe simply called for a scoop of whale blubber and a pinch of salt. The kids would help him smash the mixture into a paste and then crush up some ice for the final addition. It was not the ice cream sugar bomb we all have come to know, but it was a rare specialty in the village that pleased everyone.
“His name was Yakone,” Emily dictated to her computer while still gazing out the window. “Which translates to red aurora. At night he stands alone in the middle of the tundra wrapped in caribou fur, his puffy cheeks exposed through the mane. HE holds his hands up to the sky in a gesture of welcoming. If he is greeted with a red aurora, the highest and rarest color of the spectrum, he will travel with it to the future and return with great stories to tell. Only no one will take his stories seriously, and when the warnings of impending danger strain from his lips, the villagers no longer sit to listen.”
The man she imagined slowly became more real, and soon it took all her might not to have Mark teach the class while she spent her days exploring the world’s knowledge to find him.
Two months later Emily was on a plane to Anchorage. From there, she boarded a boat which she chartered to get to the former Aleutian Islands, now submerged, where she would dive for artifacts.
The waters were slow and manageable for the first few days. Emily and the crew would enjoy warm meals of fresh salmon or halibut after a long day of diving. Her helmet camera documented everything she saw and her wetsuit analyzed everything it touched. As the crew began to observe the winds picking up, and as the weather reports came with news of an impending storm, the captain pointed north, towards the Arctic.
“Alright kids, it’s time to haul ass. There’s no waiting it out these days. Storms up here will have no problem picking us up and tossing us all the way to the Equator. It looks like we’re at the northern tip of the front so it would do us best to speed northward. Professor, any stops you were planning on making up here will have to be called off unless you want to make like a seal and find your own way.” Captain Bogie grabbed the visor of his cap and gave it a shake as if to make sure it was solidly put, then nodded at his crew to get moving.
That night, as the storm began to stew just beyond reach, Emily had a dream more vivid than ever. Yakone was standing on the bow of the boat, singing a hymn to the seas. The sky, at once bright red, suddenly turned to black. Then there was another burst of red, then a deep roar of thunder, and back to black. It was as though the sky was fighting with itself — undecided. Suddenly a giant swell knocked Yakone off the boat and he gracefully tumbled through the air, the caribou fur on his back fluttering like tiny feathers on a bird in flight. Just as his fingers brushed the ocean surface the sky flashed red once again. And if the sound of fury were to be bottled, the source would be tapped from that moment. The deep thunder sent a force so profound through Yakone’s body that he burst into particles. A glittering cloud of his remains floated up towards the epicenter of the red sky, dissipating into the atmosphere. The seas returned to a still calm and a weeping sound grew louder from the corner of the deck. It was a young girl, crying into her chubby hands, alone in the world. She looked up at the sky and a burst of red reflected into her eyes.
Staring at the ceiling only a foot above her head, rocking side to side in bed with the rhythm of the waves, Emily laid awake thinking about the dream. She no longer felt nervous about going home empty-handed. And she no longer felt like her quest was vacuous. She grabbed a pen and wrote on her hand by the light of the full moon: “Daughter?”
A restless night led to a glorious sunrise. Emily sat with the crew sipping black coffee waiting for the daily weather report. She told them about her dream, hoping that hearing the story told out loud would help her see some nuance in it she hadn’t previously noticed.
“So, the man you’re searching for had a little girl?” asked one of the seamen.
Captain Bogie entered the kitchen door with the energy of a man who had already downed the first pot of coffee and was on a mission to down another.
“Kids, we’re cranking northeast now, heading to the old shores of Barrow. We go much farther north and we’ll be headin’ back south!” He poured himself another cup of joe and smacked his lips before spouting some more good news. “Yep. The storm warnings are all in the green today. Should be a beaut.”
The three crewmen and Emily all clinked their mugs toasting to the news and smiles jubilantly circulated. A blue sky day in August meant the weather could be upwards of 45 degrees — not bad for a trip to the Arctic. Not bad, that is, unless your way of life depended on frozen waters. Emily was looking forward to the sun, but she knew deep down that only a few generations ago this amount of heat is what triggered Yakone and his village’s way of life to go extinct. For thousands of years they had learned to live with the sea ice and befriended it to the point of dependance. They would walk beyond land on the solid ice to hunt for sea mammals in the fissures where they would otherwise be difficult to find in the vast ocean. Just one catch could feed the whole village for days. They built roads atop permanently frozen land to travel for necessities. But as the ice receded and the land melted into itself, the people fled and assimilated into other cultures. Well, most people that is. There is talk that a few villagers stayed behind, unwilling to change their ways. If true, stories of their ultimate demise have yet to be uncovered.
“Who were they? What happened to them?” Emily wrote in her journal as the boat motored east. A long deflation of the engine ending with a soft swoosh made her put down the pen and pop her head out the door to the deck.
“What’s wrong?” she yelled to the first person she could see.
“Nothin’ ma’am. We’re stopped where you told us. Right above the old shore of Barrow.”
She ran to the railing and looked down into the salty sea. A soda bottle drifted through her field of vision, followed by a few more. On the other side the of the boat she could just make out the shoreline beneath the rippling blue – a darkness that floated not far below the surface. A few rocks poked out just over there. They were shaped in a circle; the sign of an old hunter’s campsite.
“Fascinating.” Emily gasped to herself. Eyes wide, almost tearing. Just then a small ripple caught her attention to the right. A hand reached up and splashed around. It was a frantic type of movement – desperate. Emily yelled for help; someone was drowning. One of the crew members ran to her side of the deck with a life float in-hand, about to throw it over.
“Where is it ma’am?” he asked her in a hurry, focused on scanning the water.
“Just there! Don’t you see? Give me that damn thing.” She grabbed the float from his grip and tossed it to the floundering hand. When it hit down she yelled “grab the float!” and held the rope tight, ready to reel it in.
The rest of the crew had joined them on the deck and all eyes were scanning the waters.
“Down there. He’s still splashing. Don’t you all see? Jesus!” Emily panicked. She kicked off her boots and threw down her jacket. Climbing down the short ladder on the side of the boat she kept one eye on the hand, still splashing, still not grabbing the float. At the end of the ladder she prepared herself for a dive and jumped in. But instead of swimming, her feet hit the ground and she stood up with her head just out of the water. She glanced up at the crew, dumbfounded, then looked back at the float. No more splashing. She dunked her head under and looked around, catching a faint shadow of something. She swam over to it and dunked her head under. Her heart was pounding - exploding. She reached her hand out and grabbed for it. A beaded necklace wrapped itself around her fingers like a playful snake coiling around a shaded tree branch. Emily stood there in the water admiring the treasure and suddenly it hit her: the little girl in her dream, she was wearing this necklace.
Finally back on the boat, the captain wrapped Emily in a towel and asked if she found what she was looking for.
“I swear I saw someone drowning. In fact, I know I did. It just wasn’t real. I found this instead.”
The crewmen raised a brow at one another in silence. “Ok men, back to work,” yelled the captain, attempting to break up the circus.
“This necklace…I believe it belonged to a young girl. I need to find someone who knows of her. How far is the closest town?”
“Well miss, there’s a seasonal town a few hundred miles south. They come out in the summer to fish. Toss o’ the dice if anyone’s shackin’ there right now.”
Emily scoured the area for the rest of the day, mostly finding various assortments of garbage and a few household goods. Nothing to write home about, but she felt she was making progress. Getting to know the real them. She Looked through her camera glasses at the alternate reality version of the shoreline, wading through the real environment while seeing through the glasses what it looked like before the flooding. She stood where a camp site was once erected and reached down through the water, running her fingers through the sand and creating a mini mud storm. As the sediment began to settle it slowly swirled into something. A word maybe. Yes, it was forming letters. Emily could make them out: N-A-N-U-K.
She ran to her backpack and grabbed the Eskimo dictionary.
“Polar bear!” she read out loud. What is Yakone trying to tell me? Did the polar bears end up on their land when all the ice melted and savagely destroy what was left of the town? But, wait, there were so few of them by then, surely not enough to ambush a people who have the weapons to fight back. Her eyes squinted with focus as she thought through the puzzle.
“Polar bear!” someone yelled in the distance. “Everyone to the boat!”
Emily looked up and saw bellowing yellowish figure standing a few hundred yards away. The crew ran to the dinghy and got ready to launch back to the boat while Emily stood still, staring at the creature.
“Yakone? Is that you?” she said gently in its direction.
“Emily, let’s go!”
She kept her focus on the creature.
“Do you want to tell me something?”
She took a step towards it, a slow curious step. Then the bear stood up revealing its size - easily eight feet tall — and showing its strength. She took another step, the mud grabbing her boot as she tried to lift her foot. The bear bellowed. Was it agitated? Hurt? Emily couldn’t tell. She took another slow step. The bear dropped back down off of its hind legs into walking position. No, it was running position. The bear took off, pushing with the force of its brawny back legs to move its thousand pound mass as fast as it could towards Emily. She froze, still hesitant, still wondering if Yakone was in there.
It’s not him, she finally thought to herself. Facing reality she turned toward the boat. Lifting her foot to run, her boot got sucked into the mud and stayed put while her naked foot pulled free, launching her forward. Face plant. She turned back toward the bear. Yep, full steam, fifteen maybe twenty miles an hour. She pushed herself up, slipping, panicking.
Once she was in the dinghy the polar bear slowed its gait. Emily watched as it considered making the swim, committing to dinner. But it stopped where the water met the mudflat and shook its head, letting out a short frustrated snarl towards them.
No one asked Emily why she waited so long to run. And she knew they weren’t allowed to kill a polar bear because of its endangered status. It was just so tempting to believe it was him.
“Glad you made it.” Captain Bogie said without sarcasm. He wiped a chunk of mud from her brow and gave her a smile while stroking his salt and pepper beard by habit. Emily’s shocked expression softened and she gave him a smile in return. Relief and disappointment surged through her.
“I think we should move onto that fishing town. I want to ask around about the girl.”
“No problem my lady. We’ll set off at dawn.”
That night Emily continued with the story she began dictating back home. Her story of Yakone.
“He did have one believer. Someone who admired him for journeying to the future and who trusted his wild tales. She was his daughter. She was in awe of her father and all of his might. He could hunt for many hours taking advantage of the never-ending light of summer. He would make her hot tea and teach her how to read. He did this all alone, her mom having died after giving birth. He protected her, and she loved him.
One day, while telling stories over a meal of caribou, their shelter started violently shaking. It sounded like a hundred men pounding on the walls, taunting them. Yakone ran outside to investigate, but a gust of wind blew him off his feet and into a rock a few yards away. He crawled back to the shelter in pain, holding back his tears so as not to scare his daughter.
The storm held strong for three full days, unrelenting. With only what they carried on their sled to the summer shelter, the two shared stories and sang together while being held captive by the storm. On the final and most powerful night, it was so loud that the two could barely hear each other speak. Howling winds and roaring seas overpowered their attempts to sing off the fear. So Yakone pulled out a bag of beads which he was going to trade at the village for oil, and instead threaded his daughter a necklace. It was patterned perfectly with white and blue beads and in the center shooting straight down from her collarbone to her chest was a red bolt of lightning. ‘This will protect you,’ he said. She believed him.”
It was late when she finished, but in the Arctic the sun doesn’t ever quite set this time of year. It just became a dim, dusky atmosphere that wanes just enough to temper one’s mood in the later hours of the night. Emily stepped out onto the deck to take in the damp blue sky and found the captain puffing a cigarette.
“Do you sleep?” Emily said as she snuck up to him.
“Not if I can help it,” he said, pulling a flask from his breast pocket and spinning it open with one skillful swipe. He held it out to her - a whiskey offering. Emily half-smiled and grabbed the flask. As she took a swig he noticed her high cheekbones creating a soft shadow down her freckled brown face.
“My people aren’t great with alcohol.” she smirked. Then a pause. “Hey listen. I’m sorry for acting so weird back there. You know, the polar bear thing. It’s just, I keep getting these visions. And I… I guess… I think I desperately wanted to believe Yakone was in control of the bear - using it to tell me something profound; leading me to all the answers packaged up all perfect for me to bring back to my colleagues.” She laughed self-consciously and took the flask back from his hand for another sip.
“It was unnerving to watch you, I have to admit. But honestly, I respected it. I could tell how deeply you want to know what happened here. You’re unsettled about the last Eskimo’s disappearance. Maybe even more so than the villagers who’ve migrated south. Most of them seem to have forgotten all about it.”
Emily stood next to him feeling a tinge of warmth rush through her as he spoke. Her muscles let go and suddenly she felt weightless there on the deck. She smiled softly and looked out at the sea, her eyes twinkling with the stars. Out the corner of her eye she noticed Captain Bogie looking at her - a silent stare that was meant to be noticed.
“So,” Emily began, breaking the tension. “tomorrow we talk to some villagers, ya? Someone around here has to have some intel I can use.” Bogie shook off his piercing stare and nodded.
“Yah. Around eleven hundred hours. Which, to translate for you, means eleven o’clock.” His attempt at levity worked and he scored a nice smile from Emily.
“Goodnight Captain,” she said as she began walking away.
Emily later awoke to the sound of fury. That same sound Yakone and his daughter probably heard which held them captive. She peaked out the porthole and saw that she was looking straight down at the water instead of the horizon. Not an ideal angle, in fact, a terrifying one. The water was shaped with infinitely deep valleys and sharp white peaks, vibrating the boat and sending Emily into a panic. She pulled a life vest from under the bed and tightened it with force.
“Emily! Come up!” one of the crewman said while banging on the door. She ran out and flew into the other side of the hall as the bedroom door slammed shut behind her.
“Jesus,” she said with her eyes wide and her brows high.
Running up the stairs was her intention, but huge swells angling the boat severely were making it difficult. The upper few steps were puddled with water and she got to them just as another swell knocked the boat. Her foot slipped, sending her tumbling down the tight steep stairway. The life vest protected her back but her head was exposed, and after two full summersaults she landed flat on her back, whiplashing her neck and forcing her skull into the hard floor with a loud thump. She went unconscious.
The seas were swirling in a vortex that captured their boat, letting it go nowhere fast. The crew was patient, doing what they could do keep it afloat, but Captain Bogie was nowhere to be found. The most senior crewman, Chester Manly, called out orders in his absence, one of which was to find the captain.
“If he’s not on the boat he’s in the waters, so use the flood lights to scan for him far as you can!”
“Why didn’t we get a storm warning on this one god dammit?” someone yelled. “No use in wondering. Just do what I tell you. Go get on the radio and try reaching the guard.”
“Where’s the lady?” another guy yelled as the group began to go their separate ways.
“She was in her room. I called her to the deck. She was just behind me when I…”
“Well go get her again,” Chester ordered in a trenchant and sarcastic tone suited only for a seaman.
All the instruments on the boat started going crazy - completely erratic. They became useless gadgets dancing in circles for the operator. The crewman who went back to get Emily found her laying in water a few inches deep. He picked her up and carried her, limp and with a large head wound, to the navigation room where it was dry, then ran to tell Chester her status.
“Grab the medkit. I’ll be up to assess her in a minute.” Chester said with confidence as he stared out at the sea down the line of sight illuminated by the flood light. He’s been through a lot of storms and had plenty of opportunities to develop his emergency response instincts. But, this one is truly testing him.
Emily laid on the bench couch in the navigation room partially coming to, still confused, dizzy and in pain - her head feeling like it was inside the drum of a rock band on stage at Madison Square Garden. Her head was propped up on a pillow allowing her to see out the back window just enough to catch sight of something interesting.
“Guys!” she yelled as loud as she could before a rush of blood throbbed in her head, forcing her to stop. Just then Chester and the crewman entered the room, dripping in sea water, the crewman looking at her with an overwhelming expression of unease.
“Guys, look out back. It’s an island. We should go ashore and wait out the storm.”
“No way.” gasped the crewman.
“What the…It can’t be.” said Chester.
“What do you mean? What can’t be?” asked Emily
“The island of Hope. It’s supposed to be a myth, at least that’s how it’s told. It’s an island that you can only see during a storm and is protected by an inexplicable magnetic field. Some say they’ve been there, and that there are signs of life.”
Emily couldn’t believe it.
“What? You’re telling me people have lived on that island right there? And that it’s protected from storms? What are we doing still talking let’s go!” Emily demanded, pushing herself up from horizontal to vertical and falling back down from the head rush it produced.
“Calm down. Let me check your head.”
Her wound was bad, but not critical. Chester grabbed some rubbing alcohol and a few butterfly bandages from the medical kit to patch her up. His work was clean and effective.
“You may have a scar. It’ll be a good story for your grandkids.”
“That would require me to have kids. But I get your point. Thanks Chester.” she said with a warm smile. “Now can we go?”
“It’s going to be a rough ride in the dinghy. With these gale-force winds we’ll be on edge the whole way, but it’s worth a try. We’re better off there if we can make it. Who knows how long this storm will be kicking.”
“I’ll drop the anchor and prep the lifeboat,” said the crewman.
“Grab what you need Emily. I’m going to round-up some food and a tarp for shelter. See you on deck in five.”
Emily made her way down the stairs to her room with extreme caution. There were a few inches of water sloshing around on the floor, but her computer was safe on the bed in its waterproof case. She grabbed it, along with her camera and shoved them in a pack with some dry clothes, then went back up the stairs to the deck, holding the handrail with the grip of a rock climber hanging on for dear life. She made it safely, albeit a little lightheaded, to the lifeboat where the rest of the crew had congregated.
“For now the winds are heading directly southeast, exactly the direction we need to go. As long as it doesn’t blow us over we should hit the island straight on.” said Chester with a flair of optimism.
The crew threw all the supplies in the dinghy and one of them reached for Emily’s hand.
“Your turn miss.” he said.
When they pushed off from the boat in their tiny vessel they immediately zipped forward, taken into the hand of the wind. It pushed them straight ahead toward the island. As they got closer a reddish light started dancing along the periphery about ten feet out.
“It’s the magnetic field.” said Chester.”
“Beautiful,” Emily said in a drawn out, hypnotized tone.
The ride was rough, with waves crashing over their heads. And the sea almost got away with stealing a few bags of supplies if it weren’t for one of the agile crewmen jumping after them. But when they got to the magnetic field they could see the silence beyond it — another world. As they passed through it, those in the front of the boat were suddenly warm and calm while those in the back were still holding on tight with strained faces as they made the final push.
“No way.” someone said.
“This isn’t real.” replied another.
“Guys, thanks for getting us here safe. That was the scariest hundred yards of my life.”
They slid onto shore and jumped off the dinghy onto a rocky arctic beach. The crew grabbed supplies and set up camp while Emily went behind a boulder and changed into her dry clothes. Feeling fresh and excited, she wrung her drenched pants and a flood of water fell to the ground making a sizzling sound when it hit — like bacon being dropped onto a hot frying pan.
She looked down and the dirt was steaming. Cocking her head and bending down closer she saw that a patch of dirt was blackened into the shape of a lightning bolt. She wanted to touch it but thought better, and instead grabbed the camera from her pack and took a picture. Her eyes and ears were wide open, ready to take in whatever was about to happen on this mythical island.
She made her way back to the crew, looking down as she maneuvered over boulders, holding her camera in one hand at the ready. There was nothing extremely out of the ordinary about the island as far as she could tell, aside from the faint red glow that surrounded it. Nothing overtly mythical. But Emily still felt something. A presence maybe.
Beyond the pebbled beach the rocks got larger and taller turning into a forest of granite. One could almost get lost in it, especially since the magnetic field rendered any sort of compass quite useless. The crew agreed to use the whistles from their life vests to call for help if someone needed backup.
Emily took off with the whistle and her camera to see what she could find. She slithered between the boulders, leaped over mudpits, and found a cave that looked worn — like something had been living there. Just as she went to poke her head in, a thunderous rumble came from behind. She dove into the damp dark cave for safety and looked out to see a herd of caribou passing through the area. None of them made note of her and she felt safe enough to sneak to the edge of her hiding spot and take a video. Those in the back of the pack strolled casually, taking their time with the smaller kids in the group. All in all there were probably twenty of them roaring through the field of boulders and it didn’t take long for them to pass. Emily got out of the cave to watch them ride away. She wanted to blow her whistle and call the crew to come follow them, but didn’t want to alarm the caribou. So she took off in their direction alone, following the parade of hoof prints left behind in the frozen mud.
She tracked them for a while, an hour or two maybe, and finally her ears perked up when she heard the sound of rushing water. She ran ahead and a chill in the air transpired as she got closer. Her breath froze, creating little white clouds in front of her face. But she barely noticed the temperature drop until she was forced to stop at the edge of a cliff. There was a heavy, shimmering waterfall to her right which dropped into a pool of crisp clear water fifty feet below. The pool seemed endless and her eyes followed the shoreline toward the horizon as far as she could. Huge blocks of ice, icebergs, were obstructing her view in the distance. A puffin flew past her head, brushing her long black ponytail before swooping straight down to the pool and over to a rock where two of its friends were settled.
It was another world. Or, an old world preserved; like a noah’s arc. Except this one was the work of Yakone.
She traversed left to where the cliff softened into a hill and made her way down to the bottom. Staring down at the glassy water she noticed another reflection swallowing her own. It was big, and getting bigger. She closed her eyes and took a breath, then jumped up and turned around into what she felt was a pronounced fighting position, and blew the whistle which was around her neck with all of the breath she had in her.
“I heard a whistle,” one of the crewman said in a whisper to Chester as the group wandered through the granite forest. They had left camp a while ago after realizing how long Emily was away.
“Me too,” he replied. “That way.”
They followed their senses and came upon the cliff.
“Look, there she is!”
Chester looked into his binoculars and saw another human with Emily. The person was wrapping a fur hyde around her, and the expression on her face was that of a curious shock - not a scared one. He blew his whistle to let her know they were with her. She and the other person looked up.
“It’s okay!” Emily yelled up to them. “She is not dangerous!”
Emily and her new acquaintance waited for the group to come down, simply staring at each other in observation. The person was an elderly woman, definitely a native Alaskan, no more than five feet tall. When everyone was together, the woman opened her mouth and held her hand to her chest. “Tunngasugit,” she said. “Welcome.”
They all looked at her in awe, frozen in the chill and in the moment. She began walking away and looked back to them. “Come.”
They looked at each other, then at Emily who tightened the fur wrap around her shoulders and followed the woman.
She led them down the waterline to a point where vast frozen mudflats took over. They took a turn around one last house-sized boulder and right there, settled like it had been there forever, was a village of people - working, playing, cooking. The elderly woman walked Emily and the group past a few kids playing with a snowy owl to a small hut, its chimney billowing with smoke. She opened the door and Emily was the first to enter. Inside, Captain Bogie was laying on a bed of fur with an old man on a crooked wooden stool next to him. The man gestured for her to come in and Bogie mustered a weak grin.
“One of the kids playing on the other side of the island found him. He was quite battered and hypothermic, but he is getting stronger by the minute,” said the woman.
Now that the whole crew had funneled into the hut, everyone crowded around the captain with a mixture of shock and delight.
“Dammit Captain. I thought we lost you.” Chester said to him.
“I thought I lost me too. I owe everything to these people.” He smiled to the old man at his side and they shook hands.
Emily looked at the lady who had wrapped her in fur and led them here to their friend. She had a very faint red glimmer in her eye, almost like the girl in her dream had after watching Yakone turn to dust.
She reached into the front pocket of her pack and pulled out the beaded necklace she found in the old shores of Barrow and held it out to the woman.
“Is this…yours?” she asked skeptically.
A smile as big as the island itself spread across the woman’s face.
“My grandmother.” she said. Her and the man looked at each other knowingly. “It had been passed down through our family. I gave it to my daughter, and she wore it on her journey to our old land. She was desperate to see it firsthand even knowing how dangerous it would be to get caught in a storm. She never returned, and our search for her was not successful. Thank you for bringing this to us. Thank you Emily.”
“It’s an honor.” she replied, overwhelmed by this culmination.
Then the man nodded at the woman, as though they had spoken without words, and she stood behind Emily.
“Ila,” she said while putting the necklace around Emily’s neck. “Family.”
That night there was a bonfire and the whole village crowded together telling Emily and the crew stories of their past. She didn’t take a single note or capture a single picture.
A few days later the storm passed and they said goodbye. Emily never told her colleagues about the experience. But her novel, “Yakone and the Island of Hope” was published and placed on fiction shelves a year later.