With the gale force winds and the waves still lashing about inside and out, their situation was extremely grave. He was stuck upstairs in a second floor bedroom with two injured people; one maybe 10 years old and the other, Mary, in the prime of her life. No tangible supplies, be it food or drink. Being above God only knows how much water. No communication by phone. His only means of transport being a boat that is either sunk or wrapped around a tree. John had encountered many situations in his life, but none like this.
John decided to check out how bad things actually were. Making sure his patients were okay, he walked toward the bedroom door. Not knowing what to expect he cautiously opened the door onto the landing. The water that had caused so much destruction seemed to be making a route back to where it came from. At least for now the danger had passed. Going to the bathroom he checked in the cupboard to see if there were any medical supplies; aspirin and such.
Back in the room with his two patients, he slumped into the chair in the corner of the room. Exhaustion took over. After maybe an hour, he opened his eyes and immediately looked towards his patients. Mary was staring out the window at the devastation. Walking over to her, he gently laid his arm across her shoulder. Speaking softly, she asked what they were going to do now. His reply could only be what he hoped, "Mary, we'll get through this."
Looking around, she squeezed his hand, then instinctively looked at the wounds on his hands and face. "Where did the boy come from? Could he have been living on the island?" Just then the boy stirred... gentle groans could be heard while he slowly raised his head.
"Where am I?"
Mary walked over and sat on the bed, telling the boy to lie back down, "You need to rest." The boy, not having a clear head, didn't seem to realise that he was now part of the living. Laying his head on the pillow he immediately went back to sleep. "He looks so fragile," she said as a tear fell onto the boy's face.
Sometime later, John checked the boy for injuries. Lifting his head slowly he saw a gash on the back of his head. Going to the chest of drawers he pulled out some sheets and started to tear them into strips. Going back to the boy, he held a strip to the wound wrapping it around his head as a bandage, tucking it in behind his ear. "Is he alright?"
"I don't know, but we're not going to find out till morning. Get some sleep, Mary, please. I'll keep an eye on him."
The winds kept up their pursuit for hours. The rains lashed constantly. The water would rise then fall, leaving a trail of destruction in and outside the house. The house was not the beauty it had once been.
His thoughts went back to the boy. Was what Mary said about his living on the island true? How could he possibly have looked after himself? He's just a boy. Then his thoughts went back to the times he felt like he was being watched. But surely there would have been some sign of someone living on the island. What about when the workers were here? Why wasn't he seen? Noticed even? With the final thought he heard a crash downstairs.
On the landing, he watched as what was left of the front door and surroundings disappeared. Being dragged away, lodging against what trees were still standing. The house was a long way from looking its best. It now had the resemblance of a property that had suffered years of neglect with the bonus of a typhoon striking it. What was left resembled an old wooden shack in the American Wild West, where you saw the windows gone and the front door swinging on its hinges. This particular abode wasn't that lucky. What was left of the hallway was strewn with grass, tree limbs, leaves, and ankle deep in mud.
As bad as things were, they were still alive. A blessing at that, but that blessing ended at the point of hoping the house would stand up to the battering it was still getting, being rescued, or any other way to get off the island to safety.
Contact was out altogether. No phone. The generator drowned in God knows how much water. They could use tinned foods and sodas but very little else. And that would have to be rationed for as long as possible.
The man looked down from his seat on high watching things unfold. He watched his handy work being destroyed by nature. The same nature he had given to the world. As with everything else of this world, it would have to run its course. A helping hand could be given, but not enough as to interfere. An object specifically placed created a light, a beacon to help in recovery. Not as it was moved or positioned, but given a little help to gain a near sunlight effect. Like a mirror to reflect the sun as a beacon.
John came back into the bedroom just as the boy started to stir. Walking over, he sat beside him.
David looked up, then around to see where he was. "Where am I?" Feeling the man stroking his hand stopped David in his tracks.
"Do you know where you are?"
"Home." David looked up to the heavens and cried. John looked at the boy with concern. He pulled the boy to him and hugged him gently.
After some time, David calmed down. Looking up at the man, not knowing the reaction he would get, he still thought telling the truth was the best thing to do. "My name's David. David Hartman.... My father Edward Hartman owned this island. He built this house and all you see." John stared at the boy, giving no reaction to what he was hearing. There was disbelief, but no effort to reply.
David just looked at the man, frightened and scared. To be cast away again would surely end any hopes he had of being loved and cared for. Was that not the wish of any child, or adult alike?
John felt the boy tremble. "Son, you've had a nasty bang on the head. So you won't be thinking straight for awhile." The boy was as white as any sheet. Scared. "I don't know what happened to you or how you came to be here, but I promise you will be safe here." Not knowing if he could actually keep the promise. "Rest now, okay?"
"Please, Sir, I really am David Hartman," he said, looking very disconsolate.
Still a little unsure, David laid his head on the pillow and promptly fell back into a deep sleep.
John looked on with concern at the boy who seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Tiredness was beginning to set in, so sitting in a vacant chair he again drifted off into a fitful sleep.
What seemed like no more than an hour, John awoke, startled by someone running their hand across his cheek. "Sorry to wake you, but you've been out for hours."
Getting up, he walked onto the landing to see that finally everything was calm again. "How long have I been asleep?"
"I'd say about twelve hours."
"I'm only guessing, mind you. The boy hasn't woken up either. I was getting worried."
We need to talk. Can we go check the damage downstairs?" Perplexed, Mary followed.
The front of the house was an open-house. From the left corner of the house to what was once the study was a gaping hole. In truth, it was hard to see what was holding the house up. Where the porch once graced the front was now a four foot drop. Being one for humour, he said that he would have to rethink hard about the open architecture.
As you looked outside from what was left of the floor looked a lot like a demolition site. Bricks, tiles, wood, and glass were strewn all about. What was once a footpath was now covered with branches, something that looked very close to seaweed with the odd tree thrown in.
Looking out to the left you saw more trees down. Trees lying across each other. Others just lay flat across the ground.
To the right was even more devastation. The cottages stood in ruin. If that's the right word... no, rubble. Two of the cottages looked like they had imploded. The first cottage had a single wall standing. Ironically it was the only one with its window frame still intact. It seemed like it was meant to hold-up. Whether it was pure luck or good judgement, it had saved the boy's life.
They heard a scream, both ran upstairs. Entering the bedroom, they saw the boy thrashing his arms about trying to breathe but getting no air. John tried to calm the boy down, slowly succeeding. After a few very forceful slaps and some gentle words he started to quieten down. Waking up with a scare, eyes bulging, then looking around again he finally calmed.
"I'm alive!" Then he held John so tight he could hardly get a breath.
"Calm down, son," he said with more difficulty than he had expected. The boy slackened his grip and started to breathe a little easier. "So let's start with your name." The boy looking at John intently, said, "David Hartman. My father was Edward Hartman."
"Son, you nearly got yourself killed. How did you get on the island? How did you get here? Son, you cannot be who you say you are, he's been dead for a century or more."
"A hundred years?" The boy went pale. The colour seemed to completely drain from his face. Death warmed up would not be an understatement. "Sir, my father was cruel, he always found fault in whatever I did." He went silent again. After he calmed himself again, he spoke. "Believe me, Sir. Please. If you do not want me I will surely kill myself again."
"Please don't talk like that, son, you are too young to have that burden."
"Sir, if what you say is true, I am over 100 years old, but lived only ten."
"Son, what you are saying is too incredible for words." Mary seemed to take it lightly. Walking over to the boy, she took him from John's grasp and held him. The boy was looking between them for a positive response. "Okay, David, I have heard of Edward Hartman, his cruelty and his ways. But what you are asking us to believe would be impossible." He pulled away from Mary, turned and looked John in the eyes as if trying to get inside his head.
"Sir, my clothes. The clothes I was put into the ground wearing." Taking notice, I saw what looked to be what the gentry wore during older times. I thought back to the films I had watched about Sherlock Holmes. Seeing my confusion, he continued, "Please, Sir, I have no one. I ended my life because of my father. My father above said that someday, someone would come who cares. I have prayed for this moment to come. Please don't disown me, Sir. Please."
"An angel came from above saying, when thoust time has come, thou shall be reborn from thy father above to begin again."
Mary stunned, looked at me then the boy... I in turn looked up to the heavens. Retrieving my voice, I looked at Mary then the boy. "Son, who was that?"
Turning to face the window, David laid his head on the pillow. Staring out into the night, a glow washed over him. Relaxing as if an inner peace had engulfed him, he closed his eyes to sleep. I sat and watched the entire episode like it was a dream. Watching him sleep took the edge off of all that troubled that day. I covered him with a blanket, then watched as Mary lay beside him and followed the little man to dream.
"What wrath thy give to a child who has no wrong." The thought drifted through my mind as I finally lay down to sleep.
David woke sometime during the night frightened and scared. Realising his fate was barely saved he drew breath. As he focused his attention to where he was he gave a sigh. Looking to his right, he saw the lady called Mary asleep. The man called John asleep in a chair at the foot of the bed. Looking back up towards the heavens, he thanked God for giving him a second chance.
As I woke the next morning, I seriously wondered what was going to be thrown in this direction. A storm from the realms of hell. A life was nearly lost, but ultimately saved. Can anything so dire strike again? With breath abating I went to check what fate had in store.
All looked calm, but no time for long words, untidy. The first floor bent out of shape where the front outside wall used to be. The inside was littered with leaves, branches, mud, and puddles of water where the carpet lay. The hallway ultimately took the brunt of the damage. The house itself as a whole was a disaster. The house I feared would have to be demolished and rebuilt which after the previous 24 hours I wasn't sure I wanted to do. They say we earn chances in life, two other people and myself residing here had just earned a few not to be thrown away.
Leaving the lady to sleep, David walked onto the landing. John stood halfway down the staircase looking at the damage that had been caused. David knew this house better than most people and was shocked at the extent of the devastation. Walking up behind the man, John turned, offering for David to join him. John put his arm around his shoulder with a look of despair.
They walked in and out of the rooms with little more than disbelief. Checking the outside of the house would be more of a challenge. John looked at the boat which was lying on top of one tree and leaning against another in as much or worst state than the house. Repairs on both being of no significant concern. Life had survived this one. What of the next time?
Getting back into the house was an envious task. Walking into the kitchen, John went to check supplies. The cupboards still held tinned food. As much again had been washed away. The freezer now held food that was now perished, as did the fridge. Soft drinks were their fluid, at least till help came. Food would last a week at most. Drinks are easier to ration.
Mary stood at the edge of the partition to the kitchen, surprising both of them. She walked into the kitchen and David stood back.
When the lady went to look around, the man called David over again. Sitting over where the porch used to be, John spoke to the boy. "David, I need you to explain what you were saying during the storm about being the son of the man that lived here. It's incredible, but it can't be true. I have an open mind, son, but what you were saying just isn't possible."
David, looking at the man, tried to explain about him, his father, and his mother. "My father was a strict man, he ruled with a heavy hand. There were many people working for him. Having money gave you power, power enough that you could pick and choose, even your friends. My father picked people to work for him that had little money and little chance of earning it. Paying them was a privilege my father said. I would take food and drink from the kitchen for them. I don't think anyone in the kitchen knew, but if they did I would have still taken it. All that worked here let me stay with them, treated me like their own family," stopping while tears ran down his face. John watched with sorrow as the boy spoke. After David got himself together he continued, "People that worked for my father often had to work into the evening, and when they finally were allowed to go home that left me alone with my father. My father constantly told me off for things. I could never do anything right." Again the boy's emotions got the better of him. When he had again calmed he continued.
"My mother died when I was eight. She was very ill. My father cared nothing for her after she got ill. I don't think he ever did. My father wanted an heir, someone to keep the business going. When she died, I wished it was me. I blamed her with every part of me for leaving me to suffer at the hands of my father. I tried to do as he asked, but it was never enough." Again his emotions took over. "Why couldn't he love me? Want me?" At that, David sobbed uncontrollably.
"What you say will take some time to sink in, okay." David gave a nod. "Son, I don't have an answer for what your father did, I can only say that he can't make you feel bad and he can't hurt you anymore. I lost my family sometime ago like you. My family now is the lady you see with me, Mary, my housekeeper. We're like two peas in a pod. David had automatically thought that they were as his parents had been, man and wife. He mentally kicked himself for the assumption. "So, what say we blow this joint?" John saw the confusion and said, "Go help Mary." David gave a nod. A smile crossed his face when the man put his hand over his shoulder, squeezing it gently.
Picking the table up and three chairs they cleaned them up enough to have a meal - tinned steak with tinned peas and carrots. Could have been a stew, except for no potatoes. Coca Cola wasn't the preferred drink, but they would have to get used to drinking it as things were.
"What in the hell happened here?" They all looked up.