Seas. Escapades. Journeys.
These are things one lives for. These are the things that Melissa Jennings’s mother wanted her to strive for. When she did, she found herself in the middle of a rowboat, abandoned by her crewmen for being a woman that wouldn’t “put out.” The sun beamed down at her clothed form, and she wondered how and why life decided to put her in a Shakespearean comedy.
According to the map that she supervised, there should have been an island close to where her ex-friends dropped her off. Instead, there was nothing but the sea, and Melissa had gotten to know Her intimately for two days. Her piss wasn’t going to save her for long. She had to do something.
Melissa slowly moved the hand resting on her forehead. She swallowed dry spit down her throat and nearly had another coughing fit. Dying at sea didn’t seem so bad, she supposed. At least the nearest shark could tip the boat over and then she’d be useful to nature. Or maybe a whale wanted to play and then they’d find her unmoving body and use it as a ball. There weren’t any piranhas in the ocean, though if there were, she wouldn’t be surprised.
She rose herself from her laid out position and cracked her neck. As temporary relief coursed through her neck and shoulders, her eyes spotted a dark spot in the distance. As her eyes cleared, the waves of heat dissipated. Relief filled her as she spotted her salvation. An island! Thankfully, her ex-friends didn’t deprive her of a paddle. Melissa grabbed it and ignored her aching hands as she rowed her way towards the island. She allowed the ocean to take her to her temporary home. She occasionally had to push her way towards the island when the ocean got a little too hasty to keep her at sea. Soon, her boat touched the beautiful, tan shores of this retreat and she threw herself onto the ground.
Melissa spit out the sand that clung to her lips then rose from her knees. She had to find some food and fast. Melissa grabbed her boat and dragged it out of the water and further up the shore. Afterwards, she carefully journeyed into the scattered trees around her.
A mental image of her map revealed that the closest island to her was Radovid. Melissa’s never visited the island, but according to her ex-friends, the island was popular for shipmen that wanted to disappear with their whores for a few days. The island sat in the middle of the great Pacific between two main islands, Nautilus, and Euphrates. There were several other islands in between, but those surely were not this big. Most islands had views where you could see the other side of the shore.
Radovid was nothing like she’d ever seen. This island was large and filled with lush trees. Melissa expected to see tall coconut, avocado, mango trees, papayas, or hibiscus shrubs. Instead, the only tree she could identify was tree lilies. Literally, trees with white lilies for leaves. Melissa looked around to make sure she was actually alive. She smelt the shore, felt the crunchy grass beneath her feet, and the knots in her upset stomach were very real. Maybe tree lilies were a new experiment that the earth hadn’t introduced to the populace yet.
Unfortunately, these lilies did not smell like the lilies that grew in her mother’s front yard. Oh no. These smelt musty. The scent only smacked her nose the further into the island she went. If things weren’t worse, she hadn’t seen a single fruit or vegetable within her sights. As a matter of fact, there weren’t any mammals, either. The sea of lilies surrounded her now, encasing her in a valley of brown, lime green, yellow and white. A frustrated breath huffed from her. “Hello?!” Her voice echoed up, up, up, and then past the canopy of lilies.
Thank the heavens that she wasn’t allergic to them.
The more she roamed, the more Melissa’s nerve began to peak. There wasn’t a single person, animal, or other form of plant life. Every single tree was a white lily tree. The sun was blocked by these dazzling trees, but the sour stench of them was making her lightheaded. Returning where she came proved to be useless, too. Somehow, her sense of direction was skewed. She couldn’t remember where she originated. The waves of the ocean were the only faint traces of reality that Melissa had left, and she intended to keep them. Her hearing brought her further north.
Up ahead, a bunch of trees blocked her path. There was just enough space to squeeze through. As she did so, she pushed on the tree to her right. It moved effortlessly. The tree trunk bent as if it were a wet noodle. Wide eyed, Melissa pushed herself through. Then, the tree returned to its proudly straight position.
Still wide eyed, the lost denizen of the island turned around and found what had to be the darkest place on the island. Melissa stood in a circular room of foliage. The walls were a thick wall of vines with teardrop leaves. Lilies were scattered throughout the wall. Their sour stench pushed onto Melissa’s skin. She fought the urge to hurl up air and anxiety. The only other thing different here was a chipped and cracked well of stone sitting in the center of the room and the very flat and dry dirt that occupied the ground and, oddly, the ceiling.
The dirt crunched under Melissa’s feet as she approached the well. It’s dark dwelling came closer into view and a heaviness crept into her heart when she looked down into the pit. There was nothing, not a single flicker or anything. No water. No plants. Not even lilies! Blackness met her head on.
God, this heaviness within her chest was awful. Melissa grabbed her shirt. Her breathing slowed. Suddenly, water swelled in her eyes. Her feet faced the entrance…that was now closed shut. Examination of the room revealed that there were no exits whatsoever. “Hello?” She called. Nothing. The trees that she passed through were no longer there. Melissa only met more green veined walls. Her voice heightened in pitch. “Hello? Hello!”
Snickering came from behind her. As she slowly turned, the snickers increased. They ranged in pitch and tone. Each one was terribly horrifying. Her eyes hyper focused on a lily directly in front of her across the wall.
The lily had black colored eyes a tiny nose and sharp shark teeth that shimmered as it suddenly started laughing.
Every single lily stared right at her and commenced a chorus of maniacal laughter. Melissa screamed and turned around, finding herself face to face with a wall of laughing lilies. She retreated to the stone well and leaned against it. The lilies started vibrating as they laughed. Their eyes rolled to the back of their heads – petals? – until their eyes disappeared, leaving their awful mouths.
Tears freely fell from Melissa’s eyes. She looked inside of the well and lifted her knee to enter. A large face that matched the lilies with wide eyes and an amused smirk stopped her like a new corpse. It opened its mouth. “Hello, victim.”
Melissa screamed again and fell to the floor. She screamed so hard that her voice cracked mid scream. The well started vibrating as it laughed with the lilies. The laughter started to merge together. The range of pitches and tones became one soul shattering, deep tone that plummeted any reprieve that Melissa might have had.
The lilies stopped laughing. They simply stopped. Their smiling mouths shut closed then dropped to the ground. Piles of mouths plopped to the floor. Melissa curled into a ball and stared at the wall of mouths with horror.
One twitched. Then another. Then another. In a burst, the laughter continued. The mouths bounced on the sides of the wall until they started heading closer and closer to her. Terror kept her frozen in her spot.
“Stop it,” she whimpered. “Please stop it.” No amount of sea and survival training could have prepared her for this. No amount of her mother’s protective training could have protected her from this. If there were stories about this damn island, then she certainly hadn’t seen any. If anyone ever survived this place, why hadn’t they made books or newspaper articles about this place? It might have saved her life!
The mouths bounced and bounced; their sharp teeth positioned right towards her.
“Stop it, now!”
The mouths stopped. Some of them froze in midair.
Melissa quickly wiped her eyes and face. Her mouth gaped open as she examined the wall of mouths. She quickly stood and started to catch her breath. She turned left and met the eyes of a woman with ashy hair, melted skin, exposed muscle, rotting flesh on her mouth, fingers and the corners of her eye. She leaned on the side of the well and gave Melissa a welcoming smile.
Then, she laughed. Her laugh roared through Melissa’s ears, immediately bursting her eardrums. The mouths started laughing and bouncing once more. One finally made contact with Melissa’s leg. Another one latched onto her arm. More and more, the mouths munched and munched until there was nothing else left of Melissa Jennings. With a satisfied smile and a full belly, the melting woman disappeared back into her well. Silence fell on the island and the lilies smiled once more.