HEART OF PARADISE

I entered this into a competition calling for a flash-fiction piece (sub 1000 words) about a lone survivor stranded on a desert island. It didn't place, unfortunately. But now it's here! For you! To read! With your eyes.


For all the noise the island offered up, one sound won out over all others.

He crawled from the surf, the surging ocean depositing flotsam from the wreck on the pure and blinding beach with him. The sea roared at his back and the jungle before him offered up a cacophony of chirping, squealing and howling from the creatures within. Yet something deeper still sang out; a droning, pulsing thrum. A laboured groan that dominated the soundscape and demanded the lone survivor's attention.

His body finally allowed him to regain control of it as the worst of the pain left him. The rational part of his mind told him to stay where he was, to salvage what he could from the wreckage that brought him here and to wait for rescue. His heart, however, had passions of its own. So he rose, aching, soaked and plastered with sand and he lurched forward. Vanishing from the beach and into the stifling, dank jungle.

Sunlight had trouble piercing the thick canopy that stretched out overhead, so his journey took place in a half-night gloom. He trod where feet had never fallen before. Plants, undisturbed for a millennia broke under his invading steps and cautious creatures fled from his advances as he clambered from tree to tree, steadying himself as he cut a swath through this alien ground.

The further he pushed in the greater that sound became and the closer he got to it the quieter the jungle around him became. He didn't notice it, being so enamoured with that enticing droning, but the denizens of the island were giving the inner sanctum of that place a wide berth.

Beneath his feet the ground grew hard, as sod was replaced by rock. The immense leaves of the shrubs and plants that he'd been fighting against began to thin along with the trees. And he found himself thrust back into the blinding light of day, still soaked, though now due to perspiration rather than the pure waters of the Pacific. The change had gone unnoticed, so obsessed was the survivor on pursuing the call of his siren.

Before him the rocky ground opened up, revealing a gradual slope that led down into an abyss that even the high noon sun couldn't reach. He surmised an earthquake had shifted the ground here revealing a long forgotten tunnel system below, and this was the source of the sound to be sure. The booming resonance coming from the cave shook him as he peered into the darkness. He was nearly there, nearly in sight of whatever was causing that that music, that siren call.

Light quickly deserted the survivor as the earth swallowed him. He leant back for balance as he slipped down, winding himself further into the world and within minutes he'd lost all perspective of how deep he was. A funny notion tickled the back of his brain though, as just this morning he'd been seven thousand feet in the air doing a tourist run in his Cessna. Oh, how far the unworthy had fallen.

He was calm, despite his dark descent. He felt at one with the bone-shaking thrum of the sound that filled those tunnels he traversed, and his soul soared to be within its embrace. In his minds eye he saw that sound as a heart beat now, and he was passing through a vein, pushing forward against the blood-beating song that was being forced out into the world.

Fire raged ahead, so it appeared. After an unknown amount of time in the dark he saw the rocks ahead glowing with an intense ruby colouring. The image of fire faded swiftly, however, as the hue of the light was so much more intense than that flames would produce... and if anything, the closer he got the colder he became. The passage turned and opened into a cavern where he came face to face (so to speak) with the source of the sound and the source of his adoration.

Gargantuan crystal formations rose from the ground before him. Each shard was perfectly formed, their facets symmetrical and despite their monstrous size their true standing couldn't be determined. What he saw was just a fragment of these monoliths, who knew how deep they went, how far they reached or how many still remained unearthed. They were flawless and transparent, revealing a churning red liquid inside, the light from which took the survivor's breath away.

He basked in their splendour, the swirling maelstrom within the monoliths sending out waves of sound. He saw within them eyes staring back at him, faces, worlds.

More than that, he understood their music now, too. Understood their call. He knew now that he'd never had a choice in the matter and that the tourist family, who screamed and fought against him as he plunged his plane into the choppy waves of the Pacific wouldn't have argued their fates if only they'd have heard this music too.

He fell to his knees in worship. He was just the first to behold their glory. But he knew that now, with their tomb re-opened, everyone would come to love them as much as he did.

It would be a slow process, but the Earth would eventually be back in the hands of its true masters.