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Chapter 12
Exploration

 
         "What time is it?" Logan asked Elizabeth.

        "Almost noon," the girl responded sullenly.  "Do you think these guys are ever coming back?  I mean, what would have happened if one of  us couldn't have gotten free?  We'd be in some pretty deep shit right about now.  Literally."

        "I don't know.  I thought that they'd be back for us as soon as the rain stopped.  But it's been cleared off for two days now.  I can't imagine what could have happened to them.  If it was up to me, they would never come back.  I'm sure we could find some way out of here if we didn't have to worry about them."

        "Well, we're going to have to do something pretty quickly because we're out of food.  Our wonderful breakfast this morning was the last of it.  And I'm already getting hungry again."

        "You're right.  We've got to do something, even if it means taking a chance on getting caught," the fireman admitted.  "Would you mind asking Amanda to come in here so we can make a new plan.  I'm tired of sitting here waiting."

        "You go get her," Liz answered hastily, turning back toward the window.  "I've got a watch to keep."

        Logan was caught by surprise.  Elizabeth had been a little belligerent with her sister on occasion, but she had always been very cooperative with him.  Without another word, he stood up and walked into the bedroom where Amanda was peering out of the window.  "Amanda, will you come into the living room for a few minutes.  We need to make a new plan.  I don't know what's going on, but those guys should have been back by now.  I think it's about time that we change strategies and start looking for our own way off of this God-forsaken island."

        "Funny, I was just thinking that same thing.  We must be psychically linked from eating all of that cold chili and fruit cocktail," she agreed with a warm smile.

        The two captives walked out of the bedroom and sat down facing Liz. "Anyone have any suggestions?"  Amanda asked, looking directly at her sister.  There's got to be an answer here somewhere."

        "You guys figure it out yourselves.  I'm on watch," Elizabeth answered her sister without turning from the window.  Amanda and Logan looked at each other quizzically for a few seconds until a small smile brightened Amanda's face.

        "That time of the month again, huh?" she asked in a compassionate voice.

        After a minute of silence, Elizabeth turned to her sister and answered with soggy eyes, "Yeah, and I don't know what to do about it.  There's nothing around here to take care of the situation. . . and I've looked everywhere."

        "Yeah, that can pose a problem.  One I'm going to have myself pretty soon," the older girl returned with understanding.  "That's something you and I will have to figure out.  Especially since I only have one pair of underwear to my name."  Amanda and Elizabeth smiled knowingly at each other.

        "The joys of womanhood," Elizabeth retorted.

        Logan felt pretty helpless in this conversation, and pretty out of place.  "You know, in ancient Celtic traditions a woman who was menstruating during a holy festival was considered very special and was looked upon to walk through the fields and bless the crops with her menstrual blood.  It was a sign of fertility and looked upon with honor."

        "Gee, thanks, that really makes me feel better knowing that.  I'll just walk around this island and maybe it'll produce a boat for us.  Or do we need to wait for a holy feast day," Elizabeth quipped, looking at him with steely eyes.

        Logan felt extremely embarrassed.  His face turned bright red.  The young man could feel it burning like he was on fire.  "I just wanted to. . . ."

        "Chill out, Logan, we know you were just trying to help, but it's just not a guy thing, you know.  This is one we'll handle by ourselves, okay?"  Amanda answered calmly.

        "Believe me, it's all yours," Logan answered, still feeling the embarrassment.  "Now, can we get back to the other business?"  he responded quickly to switch subject matter.  "If you guys will stay here and keep a lookout, I'll go back down stairs to see if there's a boat or something in the room under the house.  We might be sitting here for absolutely no reason."

        "Oh shit, that's true!  There's a possibility that another boat could be down there.  But damned if I'm going to stay up here.  I'm going with you, whether you like it or not," Amanda responded, getting excited.  "Hell, what are we waiting for?"

        Both she and Logan got up quickly, both heading excitedly toward the door.  "How about you Liz?" Amanda added.

        "No, I'll stay here and watch," Elizabeth answered grumpily.

        "Okay, let us know immediately if you spot something.  I don't want to get caught outside by surprise," Logan chimed in.

        "Go for it," Liz answered again rhetorically.

        Logan made his way to the front door, slowly pulling it open.  He slipped his head through the narrow opening, followed discretely by the rest of his body.  "What the hell are you waiting for?" Amanda snapped impatiently.  "There's no one out there, go on."

        Swinging the door open wide, the fireman bolted for the stairs and descended, two steps at a time.  Amanda followed closely at his heels.  Almost immediately, they were engulfed by a cloud of mosquitos.  "My God," Logan agonized, flailing his arms through the air around his head.  "I can't even see!"

        "I've never seen bugs this bad!" Amanda joined in with exasperation.  "How could anyone live in this?"

        It took several minutes before Logan could stop swatting at the insects long enough to look around him.  At first nothing really stood out.  He then turned his attention to the enclosure built between the pilings under the structure.  It was a fairly large room, almost half the size of the house itself.  The double doors that led into the storeroom were locked with a padlock and hasp.  Like the rest of the exterior of the house, the dingy green paint was cracking and peeling to the point of  being almost bare wood.

        Scanning between the floor joists of the raised house, he noted a stock of cane fishing poles tied to the floor joists.  There was also a stockpile of miscellaneous boards and timbers pulled up tightly, out of the weather.

        "Not much here so far," Amanda commented deflatedly.

        "If there's anything down here that we can really use it'll probably be in that storage room," Logan answered, swatting a mosquito on his forehead.  "Let's see if we can get in."

        The exploring captive looked around him, searching for something that might be used to pry the lock open.  He could find nothing, prompting him to quickly give up on the idea.  Instead, he made his way to the secured door to investigate the rickety looking hinges and hasp that were holding the door shut.  "If I could pull these screws out or break one of these hinges we could get through this door."

        He yanked as hard as possible on the rust covered door handles, pulling at the slabs with a whoosh and a creak.  The doors moved as far as the slack in the locking assembly would allow, but it wasn't nearly enough to allow their entrance or get leverage to break the hardware.  "Shit," Logan screamed, slapping at several more mosquitos on his arms and shoulders.   "Can't do anything for these cotton-pickin' mosquitos!"   He tugged at the door again.

        Amanda was in constant motion.  She whacked at one insect after another.  Logan stopped his attempts at opening the door to watch the beleaguered woman briefly.  He almost had to laugh.  Amanda looked like she was performing some comical dance, mixed with an accompanying melody of deep guttural sounds, made just under her breath.

        "That's enough," the agonizing girl screamed, "I've had it!  I can't stand any more of this!"     Immediately, the tormented lass bolted for the house with a single, long cry of frustration.  Logan could hear her footsteps running up the stairs followed by the slamming of the door.  "I sure hope no one is within a couple of miles of here with all of that noise," he said amusedly to himself, chuckling.  "Must be the new Guinness dance."  That thought brought up pleasant, sentimental remembrances of his last trip to Ireland, making his current predicament even more frustrating.

        The fireman begrudgingly put his attention back onto the task at hand.  There had to be a way to open that door.  Again he searched the area around the underside of the house for a tool that could be used as a pry bar.  Slowly and cautiously, Logan made his way around the rear corner of the structure to explore the area behind the house.  The first thing that he noticed was a propane tank setting a few feet from the wall of the house.  Curiously, he walked toward it to check for possible contents.  "Wonderful!" he exclaimed aloud, seeing that the large tank was completely full.  "At least we can have a working stove, now I just need to find something to cook."

        Logan scanned the tubing that ran from the top of the large cylinder for a valve that would turn the gas on to the house.  Wading through rough, knee high grass, he circled the vessel, carefully following the copper line.  A sudden movement close to his right foot caught his attention.  A chill flashed through him as the surprised lad spotted a dark colored, seven foot long snake weaving its way through the high growth toward the edge of the island.  The quick fright froze him in his tracks, leaving him unable to move a muscle.  The fireman unwittingly flashed back to the memory of his fire scene experience only a month before.  At least this time he had the training to overcome his fear.  One thing he really hadn't thought about previously was dangerous wild creatures lurking in the dense undergrowth.  Now he was aware of that possibility and more equipped to deal with any further contacts, maybe.

        The serpent quickly reached the water's edge, slithering smoothly into the placid muck.  Logan's attention remained transfixed, a coldness grasping at his spine, feeling to him like the hands of death playing at his vertebrae.  Normally, he wasn't afraid of snakes and such, but this one had caught him so totally by surprise that there had been no time to prepare for the initial shock.  A bright ray of sunshine exploded through the thick canopy above him, landing right at his feet.  Slowly, he took a deep breath, looked thoroughly around him, then very cautiously proceeded with his search.  Relief flooded his senses when he found the elusive valve and turned it to the on position.  The low hiss of channeled gas sent another involuntary chill up his spine.

        What would they do, Logan wondered, if one of them were bitten by a snake or something?  They had no medical supplies to tend to any such disaster.  The fireman shuddered at the thought.

        Hell, if something was going to happen to me it would have happened last month.  I'm not going to die on some little island out in the middle of nowhere.  I've come way too far for that to be the prescribed outcome of my life.  I'm going to find a way back home!  The explorative captive moved determinantly away from the gas valve.  Continuously on the lookout for a tool that he could use, Logan was ever mindful of any other creatures that might be in his path.  "There has to be something that I can use as a pry bar," he reasoned aloud to himself, attempting to refocus his thoughts.  "Anything strong enough to. . . ."

        Deep in the stringy grass a spot of darker, tube-shaped color caught Logan's eye.  At first it worried him, afraid that it might be another snake.  Then, focusing all of his attention on the object, the details became apparent.  The device was a thin, dark grey and rusty red colored, cylindrical object.  The thing didn't move at his approach, so it must either inanimate or asleep.  Hopefully the former.  Slowly, the cautious fireman inched up to the still motionless item until it was just in front of his feet.  From the closer perspective it looked metallic in composition.

        Logan knelt down, brushing the thick grass aside enough to make out the outline of a tire bar.  "Wow, how did this get here?" he wondered.  "Anyway, it's just what the doctor ordered."

        Grasping the lug wrench end of the tool, the young bodybuilder ripped it out of the tough grass, examining it from end to end.  "Yeah, this will work just fine," he informed himself, again out loud.

        Thoughts of snakes and other creatures quickly faded from his mind as he swiftly returned to the locked passageway.  Calmly standing in front of the portal, Logan resembled a mountain climber sizing up the peak that he was about to scale.  Then, slowly and deliberately, the strongman wedged the iron between the hasp and the wooden door.  His work was done with focused intent.  Every move was one trained to extricate something from a locked interior, no wasted motion, no rushed action.  In a matter of seconds the screws pulled clear of the old door slab and swung free, hanging only on the still locked padlock.

        Excitement then overtook him.  "Boat, there's got to be a boat in here," the fireman surmised aloud into the dimly lit room.  Logan stepped inside, letting his eyes adjust to the new dimness of the lighting.  Adjusting enough to make out the entire room, he spotted rows of musty, web-covered shelves lining every wall, filled with various contents.  Walking to the closest shelf, the searcher picked up a can of Spam luncheon meat.  He set the cool, rectangular container back onto the shelf, browsing through, what looked to be, more than a hundred various canned goods.  At least we'll be able to eat now, he thought, a modicum of relief coursing through him.  Following the shelves around the wall, he spied two cases of insect repellant.  The discovery brought a smile to his ruddy face, thinking about the episode with Amanda only a few minutes earlier.  "I wonder if they have any shaving supplies in here?" he questioned, stroking the stubby growth growing around his cheeks and chin.

        The rear corner of the room was deeply shadowed by a large cabinet built into the center.  The light was much too dim for him to see most of what was stored on those shelves.  All that he could make out was a large first aid kit sitting on the very front edge of one of the open ledges.

        "Logan," he heard a distant, hushed voice call.  "Hey, Logan!"

        The startled fireman's heart skipped a beat, then began to race.  His ears began to ring from the sudden tension.  Oh my God, this must be it, the kidnappers must be back, Logan thought, rushing toward the open door.  He stopped at the exit just long enough to make a quick survey of the swamp that was in his view.  There was nothing in sight.  The tentative young man made a mad lunge toward the stairway.  Halfway up, he caught his toe on the edge of a weather worn step, falling roughly against the wooden risers.  "Shit!" he mumbled, scampering up the rest of the steps on all fours.

        Logan broke through the doorway to the living room of the house, finding both girls sitting and staring at him.  Oh no, I'm too late! he thought, quickly looking around the room.

        "What's wrong with you?" Amanda asked curiously.  "Are they back?"  She suddenly sprang to her feet.  Elizabeth immediately followed her and bolted toward the bathroom.

        "What?" Logan answered in total surprise.  "Oh, Jeez.  I thought you guys were calling me up here to tell me the same thing.  You scared me to death!"  His wide eyes narrowed considerably.  Slowly, the calming lad's heart rate decreased and his breathing returned to a manageable level.  All that he could do at that point was laugh, at himself and at the reaction of the two women upon his arrival.  "A lot of good Elizabeth would have done," Logan teased as the youngest girl slowly walked past him, returning to her sitting place.  "She looked like a rabbit running from a hound dog!"  He couldn't help but laugh aloud.

        "Well, you should have seen yourself, busting through that door with an expression on your face like you had just been abducted by a UFO or something," Elizabeth responded rather belligerently.  "You don't have any room to talk."  She plopped down harshly into the large chair, giving him a large, fake, toothy grin.

        Amanda still stood in place, looking between the two.  "You were both a riot!" she finally announced with a slight chuckle.  "I just wanted to make sure you were all right and see if you had found anything."

        "Why yes, thank you, I'm just wonderful.  And yes, I got into the storage room and found a couple things of interest, like some food and stuff.  Not that either of you would be interested in that.  But, I didn't have time to finish searching," Logan responded sarcastically.  "Oh, and Miss Ballerina, I found you some bug spray.  I thought maybe that'd make you happy."

        "Great," Amanda answered sincerely with her face brightening up.  "If you'll go back downstairs and bring me up a can, I'll go help you finish looking around."

        "Right," Logan answered with a smirk.  "You can come down and get a can of your own and spray yourself outside."

        "But, I've already lost half of my blood.  If I go back out there those little vampires will suck me dry before I reach the bottom of the stairs," she replied in her best whiny voice.

        "Suffer," was all that Logan would reply, crossing the room toward the exit.  The young man left the little house and floated down the stairs without even thinking of kidnappers.  The only thing on his mind right then was the further exploration of the supply room.  Reaching the ajar doorway, a sudden thought occurred to him, It's exploration that really fascinates me.  Discovery only opens the door to more exploration.  Logan realized at that moment, exploring every facet of existence that he could think of; the physical universe, spiritual enlightenment, emotional peace and intellectual acuity, all hold their own specific excitements.  Wow, one thing I've always wanted to do is to have the time to explore all the different facets of body, mind and consciousness.  Well, I guess I've created my time!  He stood at the doorway of the little room, looking into the dark recesses that awaited him.  A smile slowly grew across his face as the  realization that perhaps some larger sense of himself had put all the wheels in motion for him to be at precisely the right place and time to get exactly what he wanted sank deeper into his psyche.  Funny though, at first it sure didn't seem to be something he wanted.

        "What a way to live life!" he chuckled to himself, swatting a buzzing mosquito and entering the gloom.  Logan shuffled quickly through the darkened room, heading directly for the shelf of insect repellant.
 
 
 

        Morgan awoke suddenly from a deep slumber to find herself completely disoriented.  Where was she?  Was this real or was she dreaming?  What time and what day was it?  She felt totally lost.  The room was still in darkness so it must be night, but that was all that she could fathom immediately.

        She had just been with Logan, holding his hand, kissing him passionately and laughing with him, finding everything amusing.  It was such a wonderful time.  But, where was he now?  She looked around the darkened room and felt the empty bed beside her.  The sensation was extremely strange because he was just there, she could even sense the faint odor of his cologne.  It was as if she was sharing two different worlds at once.   Problem was, one she wanted and one she didn't.

        Slowly, recognitions began washing through her mind, clearing the haze of the dream state that she had been experiencing.  She remembered spending the night at Logan's apartment, it was Wednesday and looking at the lighted red digital clock, it was about four-thirty in the morning.  Yep, she much preferred the other world.  She was much happier there.

        Leaning back comfortably against the soft pillow, Morgan again let her mind wander wherever it chose, to playgrounds where her body could not follow.  The slumbering redhead completely turned the control of her thoughts over to another part of herself, a deeper, more spiritual part.  The feeling of her physical being ebbed into blackness, leaving her languishing in bright sunshine, soaring only a few feet from the tops of the trees in a state of uneqivicable freedom.  At first a small fear of falling out of the sky skittered through her thoughts, but it soon vanished.

        The only thing that she could feel was rapture, total abandon into an unknown world.  The slumbering girl was invincible, unstoppable, as light and joyous as a spring mist on the first rays of a bright morning sun.  The world was her's to have as she would.

        In the beginning, all of Morgan's movements seemed dictated by an outside presence, somehow choreographed by an unseen hand, taking her into lands that were unfamiliar.  The more the struggling lass tried, the more her mind learned to control her direction.  However, a subtle turn here, a small course modification there was all that the dreamer could accomplish.  The head-strong woman soon began getting annoyed by her lack of total control.

        More and more the resistant woman struggled against the unseen hand that guided her flight. More and more Morgan resisted someone else having the control of her direction and destination.  All that she could think about was wanting to explore this wondrous new world, but not being allow to.  Her unlimited spirit wanted to just veer off to the right and dive into a grove of beautiful trees that she had seen.  Perhaps, then soar skyward, experiencing the dizzying heights that awaited above her head.  It would even be great to just pick a spot in one of the lush, fertile meadows and engulf herself in the glorious peace that seemed to pervade the whole landscape.   Morgan's struggle intensified, becoming more aware of the many possibilities showing up just narrowly out of her reach. The total frustration generated by her restriction compounded, making her reluctantly give in.  The exasperated woman then discovered that the more her spirit resisted the guidance, the less control she actually had.

        With that realization, Morgan lessened her struggles, concentrating instead on just one specific move at a time, taking the flying girl where she desired to go.  The more focused her attention on a single desired movement, the easier that act was to perform.  Any resistance only misdirected her focus, robbing her of the energy needed to maneuver freely. Concentration, her mind reiterated, is the key.  Deliberate attention and full action, Morgan concluded are the necessary components of navigating in the other world.  The lass soared to a dizzying height, only to return and alight softly, in a sitting position, amidst a beautiful field of snapdragons and clover.

        Morgan was all at once at peace.  Now, she really felt in control of every action.  However, for some reason, she now missed the guidance of the unseen hand.  Loneliness crept into her heart, diminishing her peacefulness.  There was only one way to have completion for herself.  The searching redhead gently rose into the air, deliberately inviting the guidance that had once controlled her every move.  This time, however, things were different.  The soaring woman knew that any deliberately chosen action was in her control.  If something pulled at her attention, she could explore it.  If Morgan wanted to thrill herself by zooming high into the clouds, that was possibly, too.  However, for the moment, the explorative lass was content to seek out where she was being led.

        Her enraptured spirit soared over lakes and rivers, mountains and valleys and across beautiful glens and down a sandy beach, feeling she was seeing a miracle.  Something softly touched her hand.  Startled, the girl turned to see Logan, flying beside her and reaching for her hand.  "Just let me hold his hand," Morgan begged.  "Logan, come to me Logan!"

        "I am with you, my love," her partner responded sweetly.  "Remember, no matter what happens, I'll be with you for eternity.  Just think of me, keep me in your heart and you can feel my presence right there with you!  After all, I'm only another part of you!  I love you Morgan.  Yet, I can only love you as much as you love yourself!"

        Suddenly, a loud ringing noise echoed through her head.  "Oh my God," she cried as the dream world began to quickly fade.  Distances blurred by until the awakened lass found herself sitting on her knees in the middle of Logan's bed, a tear coursing down her left cheek.

        "Concentrated attention," the distraught young woman reminded herself aloud in a voice that even she didn't recognize.  "Intent and focus."

        Morgan reached over and slammed the alarm clock button to quieten it.  "Oh my God, Logan, where are you?"  The spinning lass regained her senses, reflecting back to reaching for her lover.  Realizing his presence to be part of a dream, she let her mind play slowly through each individual scene, searching through the details as if picking for a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.  "Wow, is this symbolic or what?  I've got to write this sucker down right now!"  She wiped a tear from her face and reached hurriedly into the nightstand for a pad and pencil.

        Morgan slipped off the soft bed, shaking her head, pondering the mass of unconscious symbolism that had just been presented her.  "Come on, Morgan, time to get in the shower."
 


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