Things got worse from there Scuttles. Phil came towards me and looked down at my body. His face was confused.
“What’s going on? Who is speaking to me?”
“I am.” I replied.
“The person on the floor.”
I should explain that I was a decomposing body at this point, nothing like the man I am today. My body was falling apart, as one tends to do once they have been stabbed and left, forgotten, for a few decades. I mean, I may be biased but I didn’t think I was in that bad of shape.
“Stop kidding around,” he said. “Whatever is going on here. It’s not funny. I’ve just crashed a helicopter and I need to get back home. What’s going on.”
“I’m not kidding I am the man on the floor.”
“That’s a dead body. Come on. Come out.”
“Excuse me. I’m not dead, merely trapped in this body. I was stabbed and left here by the guy who lives on this island. I can’t remember his name. You know the guy. Long hair, beard, walks around like he owns the place.”
“I’ve only just got here. I don’t even know what I am. Please come out and show yourself. I’m not in the mood for laughs. I don’t know who you think I am, but you’re wrong. I need help.”
“I know exactly who you are Phil. I know everything about you. I watched you as you drank can after can. I watched you as you got in the helicopter. I was the one who saved you when you started to fall. My people did that. My people, under my order. You would be dead if it wasn’t for me. Remember that.”
“I feel like I’m already dead. I crashed a helicopter. I survived without a scratch, I don’t even have a headache. Now I’m in a cave on some island talking to a dead body with a knife in its heart. I’m already dead aren’t I?”
“Not quite, although thinking about it, it is a reasonable conclusion. You’re alive because I allowed it. I am the true king of this island. It may look like my body is dead, but it is merely a cage for my soul. The person who runs this place now, he has taken my place on top of the hierarchy. I may have some powers left, but they are few and far between. I chose you because you have the spark within you. You come from the human world. Like me hundreds of years before. You came here without meaning it, but you are here now. I saw your promise, your potential and I chose you to live. My people brought you onto the beach, they healed and protected you until you woke and instinctively found me here. Now I must ask you a favour. You must travel beyond this cave and into the main part of the island. There you will find the new leader. Kill him and then I will be free and then I can help you on your way home.”
“What are you talking about? I’m not killing anyone. Your just messing around. Come out from behind whatever rock you’re hiding behind.”
“This is getting a little boring now. I’m beginning to think I should have just left you to die. I am trapped here. The knife in my chest is keeping me here. It’s an enchanted knife. You don’t get them in the human world, but you get them here. He enchanted it and stuck it in me. That way my soul can’t break free and stop his reign of tyranny. If you kill him, then the spell is broken and I can be free. I’m projecting my voice now. It’s echoing throughout the room. If you come close and look at my eyes you will see life in them, you will see them move. Yes closer. Can you see. Don’t go so white. It’s not like I’m a ghost. You’ll get used to it. Will you help me.”
“How can I trust you? I’ve just gone mad.”
You see Scuttles. I should have been able to tell that he couldn’t be trusted right then. He spent about an age not believing a word I told him. It got boring, very very quickly. You know how it is with people like that. These humans who come to islands like this. I was never like that. Even when I was still human I still knew of the other world. The magic beyond trees. He prattled on for quite a while, until finally he believed me. What do you mean I influenced him. Only a little. I showed him a couple of images of his wife crying at his funeral. They had no body to bury. Truth be told I made that one up. I looked at his funeral but she wasn’t that unhappy. Quite a life insurance he had. I don’t think she realised until he died that she had fallen out of love with him years ago. She only stayed with him because she remembered the good old days. Her life had become numb and without meaning. Or at least I think that’s what she was feeling. Doesn’t really matter now does it. She’s happy and he’s dead.
“You can take me back to my family. If I help you, you can do it?”
“Yes. Now please go. I’ve waited long enough for somebody to help.”
Phil walked out of the cave, through the exit opposite the way he came in. Outside he was facing an entirely different type of island. The walls of cliff continued above him, rising behind him, and circling around creating an almost bowl in the middle. That’s the inner island. The grass was a deep blue there, swaying gently in the wind. Completely carefree. In this middle of the bowl was a castle, a grand structure that rose up into the sky. I was there when they built that. A lot of hard work went into it, took quite a while. Around the castle were hedges, with butterflies flying around them. Bigger than any Phil had seen before. Their wings held intricate designs to delicate for me to describe, each held more colours than Phil knew existed. Pure beauty. There were a couple of baby dragons wondering around, none of them had anything particular to do that day, other than wade around. They were only the baby ones though.
Phil walked along the old path. The slabs had been taken away, years ago after I was dethroned, but the grass hadn’t quite grown back right and Phil could see where he had to walk. He walked between two dark purple trees, apple tress, inside of which were singing crows. About a handful in each, poking their little heads out and chirping at Phil, inviting him into that wondrous kingdom, my wondrous kingdom I might add.
The drawbridge to the castle was up, although there was no moat around it. As Phil approached the bridge came down, revealing the sharply pointed archway with the cold metal gate. It clanked upwards as somebody pulled and heaved at the metal chain behind it. He couldn’t make out who the person was, but it’s not like he would have recognised them anyway.
“What brings you here?” The gate master called.
“I crashed my helicopter. I’m not sure where here is.”
“No one really does.”
“Can you help me get back to England.”
“I can help you with many things, but others can help you with more.”
Phil walked onto the bridge and before walking under the raised gate he turned, taking one more look at the cave from where he came. The cliff rose above him, casting a shadow on most of the grounds before the castle.
“I’m the master of this island. I live here by myself. I can’t make any promises but I will try to help you get back, good fellow.
The gate master raised his hands to fix his black bow-tie, showing off to Phil that he owned post shiny cuff-links. They were so shiny and pretty. I wouldn’t have blamed Phil if went against me then, but he didn’t. That came later. At that moment I wouldn’t let him think of the gate man’s suit, with its perfectly white shirt. Or his perfect smile that shouted friendship. No I was making him think of his wife. Of things she might do to herself if he never came back. Of course they wouldn’t have happened like that Scuttles. No she would have been fine, happier than she would be now if she was still alive. Shush Scuttles. I didn’t do anything to her. I promise. I’m a man of my word don’t you know.
“Did you come in through that cave?” the gate scum asked.
“Yes. I crashed onto the beach on the other side.”
“Beach? Huh? You didn’t speak to the man in the cave did you?”
“No. What man?”
That was a close one. I put an image of some rope. You fill in the blanks. Or was it pills? Or a knife? I can’t remember, that’s annoying.
“Strange fellow. Came to the island about half a century after me. Started claiming the land was his. I had to lock him away back there to stop him from killing the wildlife. I found him eating one of the crows while it was still alive. Nasty stuff.”
That was a scandalous lie, Scuttles. That bird was dead. I found it dead. Just like the others. No that won’t happen again.
“Bloody right, I would have done the same or worse if I found somebody doing that. Can’t trust anyone.”
“No. You’re quite right. It was the right thing to do. Please join me. I have drinks in the kitchen. Would you join me?”
“Yes. I think I could be swayed.”
I know Scuttles I know. Drink. It’s his weakness. Pathetic really.
“Just a small one. I’m still a little light headed after the crash.”
That was my line. Pretty good one.
“No problem, good fellow. Whatever you like.”
“How do you plan on helping me get back home? I have a wife. I’m worried about her.”
“I suppose you are. I would be too, dreadfully so. I don’t quite know yet.”
“Do you have a plane or something?”
“I’m afraid not but something will come up. It always does.”
I started putting images of the gate rat in bed, sleeping under those thick covers all warm. Put a knife in his heart. Not an enchanted one, just a normal knife. Plenty in the kitchen. There were plenty in the kitchen. Plunge one into his chest, wiggle it about a bit until the blood starts flowing. Make him choke. Maybe just go straight for the neck. Maybe the stomach. He may be immortal against ageing and illness, but that would stop him. Too much? I’m sorry Scuttles. I didn’t want to tell you such horrible things, but I needed him to know. Know what to do. Sorry.
Night time came quickly and Phil knew what he had to do. He had been given a grand room to stay in. The gate guy couldn’t just send him back like I would later do. He thought it was risky sending the rest of the world proof that the island actually existed. That there was more to the world that what people can see. I wanted to give them a glimpse of something they couldn’t explain. Something to prove there insignificance. Phil was asleep when I sent him the message again. Put the image that he should get up and stab, maim and kill the gate thief. Image after image went into his head, until it was the only thing he could dream about. His mind became obsessed and soon enough he woke up with tears of anger in his eyes. He saw it my way. Slowly he got out of bed and fell to his knees. Screaming with rage he started shouting at the ceiling, telling him to leave him alone that he couldn’t do what it asked. I don’t know what the ceiling asked exactly, but it clearly ticked Phil off. Passion is what I’ll call it. More images came in. The instructor’s baby will be a constant reminder to him that he let one of his good friends die because he left him unattended. Phil’s parents would never be the same again. Every little bit of detail I could think of came out and carved its way into Phil’s mind.
And then, he simply couldn’t take it any more. Stormed out of the room and into the kitchen where he grabbed a knife and tested to see if it was sharp. A little spot of blood quickly formed on his wrist, and then ran down the side. Phil looked at his arm for quite a while, thinking of everything he was about to do. Every option available to him flashed in his mind, each one there for a moment before clicking away. He tightened his grip onto the knife and went into the man’s room.
I don’t really need to describe what happens next. You know it’s been coming Scuttles, you know. You would have guessed it from the start. Worse than that. Worse than that as well. You are a little sick if you think he did that. No, he killed him and that was the end of it.
Once Phil had enough blood on his hands he left the room and went back to the kitchen, washed himself and tried to hide his tears in the water. Afterwards he walked back out to the grounds, looked around noticing how everything looks different at night. He walked into the cave and found me.
“Take the knife out Phil and we will talk.”
He listened to me. Slowly my body began to reform, to pull itself back together. After a moment I was strong enough to sit up and then stand up.
“Take me home, now.”
“No demands. We have a couple of things to talk about first.”
“I’ve done what you asked, now just take me home.”
“Soon. Hear me out. I don’t want people finding this island. I don’t want people knowing about this island. You are here because I let you. Remember that. I want you to go home. I do, believe me. But you need to keep this between us.”
“No one would believe me anyway.”
“That’s not true. The way to get you home? Is to give you a dragon to fly on.”
“This is bloody stupid. Just take me home. I won’t tell anyone.”
“I want people to know there are things out there that can and will hurt them if they have to.”
“Fine. Just take me home.”
I’ll be honest, by this point I was a little bored with him, but he did what I asked and I am a man of my word. I led Phil back out into the grounds and whistled. It felt so good to be able to do that again. To call Dorine down. She’s a magnificent dragon. Biggest one I’ve ever seen. Even after all those years she recognised me and listened to what I had to say.
“Hi, Dorine. How you doing girl? It’s been a long time, yes it has, yes it has. Have you missed me? Yeah, I missed you too. Back now though. Never going away again either. Come on. Can you do me a favour? Oh you can? Thank you so much. Can you take this nice man back home. I don’t know where he lives. I forgot, lets say London, he will get back home from there alright. Hop aboard Phil, and God speed.”
I wasn’t there, I wish I was, but it wasn’t to be. How did London see the dragon flying in? A publicity stunt for a movie? Some crazy robot guy with too much time? The apocalypse? Something to the same extent? At any rate once I got there it was all people were talking about, especially after Phil turned up who at that point had been missing for three days. The entire country was buzzing. Phil was being interviewed by everyone, and being paid a lot for it as well. For about a year it all worked out well for him. The money and the fame took the edge off the murder, and he never broke our deal. Just said there were things he didn’t want to talk about just yet. That’s when the book deals started to come in. He took one, a big one. Just for the money.
He didn’t think he would actually have to write the book, stupid I know. For a short while the book took a back-seat. His marriage seemed to be going well again. They were getting on better than ever. Slowly people stopped approaching him on the street. The phone calls stopped coming. The random flowers at the door wilted. Time moved on and Phil felt like everything was fine, but I was watching. Waiting behind him, wherever he was, whatever he was doing. I knew he would mess up sooner or later. It was only a matter of time. He had everything he could ever want but his parents weren’t lying when they told him money doesn’t buy happiness. Being rich doesn’t mean not flawed. The novelty wore off. The old problems came up again. For a while I thought the drink would be enough, but he stopped. Promised his wife he would stop, and happiness followed.
Well until that deadline came close. Waving at them through the fog of time. He had already had his time and it gave him time to think. Think about all the things he had seen and done. That led him back to the drink. Understandable I suppose, but not a good enough excuse in my books. He messed up his life and everyone around him had to pay for it. I feel like I’ve said this before so I’ll skip it. Lets just say his life got bad.
Just before I killed him he wrote one sentence on the sheet of paper in front of him. I burnt it after I read it. No one can know about that. He wrote: Did I do it or did he make me?