Pulling her body out of bed, Sara didn't recognize the nightgown she was wearing. She felt a little light headed and having never had a drink in her life thought, "was I drugged?" She stumbled over to the dresser at the foot of her bed, found her clothes and put them on. Once she was dressed, she walked out of the room and entered a bathroom that she spotted. The bathroom was not very fancy, it looked like it came from the early 1900's. The walls and plumbing looked to be made out of bamboo. Leaving the bathroom Sara saw a lady standing in a kitchen; Sara thought the lady would be a good place for answers.
"Oh, hi. We were worried about you. You've been in bed for days." Said the lady as Sara approached. Sara asked where she was. "Tap Island, found you ashore in Calutone Sea. We suspect shipwrecked, but no wrecked ship around here. " Sara's head, a little clearer, thinks about this.
Sara remembers sitting back in a chair watching the sunset on a cruise ship, she and her friends had planned for the summer. The surface of the ocean reflected the beautiful colors from the falling sun. A clattering startles her, it was her X-Boyfriend who just happened to end up on the same cruise. This bothered him more than it did her and she continued to watch the sunset before she went to bed.
A sudden chill filled her body as she woke in the cold ocean water. Without knowing how or why she was in the water, yelling for help was more important; soon she found that it was of no use.
"No, I'm not shipwrecked. While on my cruise someone had tossed me into the water while I was sleeping." An exchange of names and a hug was made to this news.
Dinner was set on the table and Molly rang a bell and yelled for dinner. A man walked in and sat down at the table. He introduced himself as Roger and explain he was Molly's husband. Sara expressed her gratitude for their help and requested to go home. She was told that Tap Island did not get visitors and the only way to leave was by a personal boat.
"Our neighbor, Larry, has a boat you could probably use. But he asks for something in return when he does favors, the other option is to buy a boat at Calutone Sea, boats here are expensive, they're probably pretty cheep where you as there are only a few here." Roger added as they finished up dinner.
Sara stated she would let them know how things go with Larry as she left their house. She looked around the island noticing the green and open landscape, the trees did not grow in groups, but instead were spread out and few. Sara walked next door, each step sank around an inch, but slowly came back to it's original form after the foot was removed. She knocked on the door, no response, she tried again.
"What? A Nocking Bug?" a large round face peered out of the newly opened door. "Who are you? What are you doing?"
"I'm Sara, I was knocking on the door so I could ask you a question." The expression on the man's face had changed to a mixture of surprise and fear when the word knocking was said.
"Your the Nocking?" Sara thought this an odd question and was not sure how to respond, luckily she didn't need to.
"Dad, whats going on... Oh, hello. I don't recognize you, you must be the girl Molly and Roger took in from Calutone Sea. My name's Brian. What's yours?" a boy in his late teens came out from behind his father. He was wearing coveralls and his face was blackened from grease. Sara replied with her name then asked about the word knocking, "Some very strange things happen around here and when we can't explain it we believe the Nocking Bug to be behind it." In return Sara explained what knocking was where she come from.
They explained to her that no one on the island "knocks" on a door, instead they open it and yell 'hello'. Sara asked if she could use the boat to go home and was told that she would have to purchase it. Her heart sank, as her hope left her body she could no longer contain a smile on her face. She apologized for the use of their time, turned, and walked out of the house. Sara went back to Molly and Roger to tell them she was going to be staying longer, and spent the night. The next day, Sara was asked to go into town and get some food, this way she could become familiar with the island.
The town looked like it was out of a western movie. She noticed that there didn't seem to be any form of transportation, she thought this was odd, for the size of the island seem very large. Armory, Fresh Cooking, Clair Cuts, Food, and sLeePers were the only buildings in the town, it looked like most everyone who worked there lived in their store. She enters the one labeled 'Food'.
"Hello." The man behind the counter turned away from Sara, "Joanna, who had a kid nineteen years ago we never met?"
"No one, why do you ask?" a reply came muffled through a wall lined with food.
"No reason, just that a stranger has just entered the store." Suddenly a piece of the wall swung back and a women emerged.
"Well, how about that, a visitor on this island. No one ever wants to vacation here. What's your name? I'm Joanna and this is my husband Paul." Sara clarified that she did not come here to vacation and hinted that she did not want to talk about it. She found the up beat family very welcoming. She was then introduced to their son, Douglas, who was about twelve.
On her way back, she talked to the other town folk. She first met Clair who worked at Clair cuts. Clair took a liking to Sara's hair, which was a long, soft, reflective gold. Julie walked in for her shift and set down a wooden shield and dagger; immediately Julie started asking what products Sara was using to keep her hair so soft. A nice chat about hair products took place. Sara left 'Clair Cuts'.
Across the path was 'Fresh Cooking' which had two stools out front one of which was occupied by a man. The man turned around as Sara approached. "See Gary, what'd I tell you. A new face in town." The man was talking to the couple running the store. He looked to have not bathed in weeks, poorly shaved, and wearing damp clothes. He finally directed his conversation to Sara, "Hello. And welcome to Tap Island. My name is Dale." Nervous now, Sara replies and introduces herself. Sara directed most of her conversation to the store's owners, Gary and Nancy, as she did not like looking at Dale. A conversation about the food she was use to was the subject.
Sara's last stop was at the Armory, "Hello and welcome to the Armory. I hear you're new in town and are in some need of protection. And I'm here to tell you that is exactly what I have for you. Its not a good idea to be roaming this dangerrroussss island without a trusty shield. I'll tell you what, your new and have no money; I'll give you this shield. But if you plan to go out too far, it'd be best for you to come back to buy a weapon." Sara stood outside the shop for awhile, surprised she got a shield and was already back outside of the shop. Still bewildered, she headed back to Molly and Roger.
The next day Sara was asked to get a job, "We don't have a large income and it looks like you'll be staying here for awhile." Sara headed back to town. She first asked at 'Clair Cuts' but since they didn't get many customers, two employees was already too much. 'Food' was a very manageable place, three people was all that was needed. Sara ended up taking a job at sLeePers, the town hotel.
It didn't take long for Sara to become use to the town after taking the job. Brian would stop by every couple of days to spend the night, Sara would give the room to him for free. Sara was making a good sum of money and decided to move out of Molly and Roger's home, and stayed at sLeePers.
Sara was feeling like she was ready to explore the island. She bought a large supply of weaponry, having found out that the elal, island creatures: bite, scratch, spit, sting, and even fight. "I have a tip for you, don't travel Jack's Desert. The elal are much hungrier there and it is very dry, you would use up all your water." Sara wanted to ask why it was called Jack's Desert but Walter, the armorer, continued to talk, "It would be best to avoid yourself there. It is not safe." The door closed and she was once again outside.
On this adventure she found homes of the people whom stayed at the hotel. They all gladly allowed her to spend the night. She asked the people she met if they knew anything about the desert.
Leslie, who live on the northwest, near Palcoon, was of great help, "Yeah, that is a very strange place, it being the only spot on the island without plants... Jack lives there, thats where it got the name... No we don't know why he lives there, but he is the only one to have traversed even half way across it... I have seen him, yes. I have even talked to him, it was on one of his trips to the ocean. Very nice, but a very private person. I wouldn't visit him, you might end up being stranded in the desert, I don't think he would let you into his house." As Sara continued her journey she found that Leslie was right, the island was full of luxuriant plants. Tim and Kirsten lived on the southwest corner and had some things to add, "When I first saw Jack in town I had to ask the locals about him. They told me that he came once a month to get supplies and food." Tim explained, as Kristen brought in tea, at least it was made of some kind of leaves.
The southern island was inhabited by Calutone Sea. Where Sara was found, and the island harbor reside. It was filled with recreational boats; the island did not have shipping boats. In an attempt to buy a boat Sara found that she had nowhere near the money to buy one. Sara traveled to the other side of Calutone, she found Dale fishing in Quanto's Bay.
"The fishing this year isn't that good. There use to be lots of fish this time of year, not this time. That's why I have been eating at 'Fresh Cooking'... Roger helps with the farming south of here. Victor runs it with some help of his two daughters, Ariene and Brenda..." Dale liked to talk, didn't seem to talk much about anything useful.
It was about two weeks after Sara left, that she returned. It didn't take long for her to notice that Brian hadn't been coming around. Sara felt she should pay him a visit, having been away for so long.
"Hello," Sara entered the house and found Larry drinking in the corner, "Whats the matter? Where's Brian?"
"It can't... no I mustn't," Larry mumbled. She asked what he mustn't but he was not listening, "no can, no one... don't, she can't. Don't ask, no." Sara yelled at Larry asking what he was talking about, but it did not help. Looking for an answer Sara ran to ask Molly and Roger.
"Please don't ask." Molly shuttered. Roger had been down at the farm.
"Why not? Brian is missing and Larry has gone senile. And you don't want to talk." Not knowing whether to worry or be scared, Sara settled on anger.
"People are taken."
"Taken where?" Sara use of anger helped relieve the fear.
"We don't know. They're taken once in every month." Molly's voice had been rising steadily but calmed for the last statement, "Please don't ask for anymore." Sara saw the pain it caused and decided to look elsewhere for answers. She walked to town, worry was filling her veins, and she came to the realization that she loved Brian. Asking around she was able to get answers from the most reluctant people. She scribbled notes on a piece of paper.
When Sara got back to her hotel room she found herself so overwhelmed with her discovery, that she laid in bed crying. After coming around, she concluded it had to have been Jack. No one really knows him and he comes to town once a month.
"Walter, I would like some more equipment, I'm going to see Jack."
"Oh no, no, no, you mustn't, no, not you..."
"STOP!" Sara had to stop him before he lead her out of the shop, "I am going to find Brian and put an end to this madness." Walter jumped back, a little startled. He could see her determination and gave her the equipment.
The elal in the desert stayed burrowed underground making it difficult to spot. Hot wind pulled the water out of Sara's pores. When she reached Jack's house, she found a cave next to it. She entered, it abruptly traveled downward. Compared to the desert the cave was damp and cool, the trip felt much quicker then it really had been. Her final discovery had not helped her cause. Brian was plastered, with a red ooze, to the cave wall. His face eaten away beyond recognition. One leg was only bone, picked clean. Almost to the point of throwing up, Sara turned back and ran out of the cave. The cave seemed much longer now.
"Hey, what were you doing down there? Its not safe. What'd you see? Hey, I'm talking to you, come back here!" Sara had literally ran into Jack on her way out. The fear that filled her body made the desert almost non-existent. She came back into town yelling and screaming that Brian was dead. This was not a surprise to the town; they suspected for years the Nocked were killed.
Sara cried in her room, again, for a few hours before Molly came to visit, "I heard about what you saw. What I have to tell you, won't help." Sara watched tears begin to fall rapidly off Molly's face, "Roger has gone missing. He was going to fish at Palcoon Lake. He didn't come back the next day I was going to see if he came here, they told me that you left to see Jack." It didn't make sense in Sara's head, 'It couldn't, be the Nocking was not reported to take anyone from twenty-six to eighty-four.'
Two days later Sara found a letter on here bedside. It asked her to, "goto Jack's house and tell no one of this. Love Brian." Sara bought a bow and arrow, she was determined to take Jack down for playing such a vicious joke. Everyone wanted to know why she was going back, asking, "Why do you want to go through that again." She kept quiet.
Sara walked up to the large wooden door. Opened it quickly and yelled 'hello'. She stood back ready to fight. She drew back the arrow as the door opened, a familiar voice spoke, "Hello." Brian stood looking out from the door jam.
She dropped the bow and ran up to him, giving him a hug. Brian picked her up, pulled her inside and quickly closed the door.
"You're alive? I saw your body lifeless on the cave wall. What happened? And Roger has gone missing." Sara was submerged with questions, hoping answers would come as quick as she could ask them.
"I know, I will tell you everything. We must hide somewhere first."
Brian let her down and lead the way. Sara rushed off in the other direction, "Yooouuu!" Brian, startled by this, turned in time to see Sara take a swing at Jack. Jack stood still as the fist came in contact with his jaw. Brian grabbed her before she could do anymore, "Its him, he takes them to the cave near here. I'll show you."
"No, no he doesn't." Brian's words had a calming effect on Sara's rage. Pain from the punch had been building up and it came to her all at once. Brian took her to a back room, it wasn't made out of the bamboo like wood the rest of the house was. Instead it was made from the elal. Sara was too sore to be grossed out. She dropped onto a bed as Brian let her go. Jack came in and closed the door.
"We're safe here, the Nocking Bug does not like the elal." Brian began to explain, "I've been hiding here since I was taken."
"You've been here this whole time and left me to worry about you?"
"The Nocking Bug never had people fight back, we weren't sure how it would react with you being involved."
"Why am I involved now then." Sara felt so lost all she could do was be mad at Brian for hiding from her.
"Because you were doing what I had been and we think thats why I was Nocked." Brian noticed there was something Sara didn't like about this.
"Me and Jack."
"What does he, have to do with this?" Her eyes fixed on Jack's face, which was bleeding from the punch.
"He saved me. I thought the same as you do. Jack being so unknown. He's been this way because he is dealing with what isn't talked about, the Nocking. I had been coming here to spy on Jack, staying at the hotel for the middle of my trips. We think the Nocking Bug took me because I was getting to close to it."
"What's he doing in a place like this?" her eyes still fixed on Jack.
"Jack has been..." Brian was interrupted.
"doing research." Jack took control of the conversation, "I was like Brian always wanting answers, wanting to do something to stop the Nocking. When I was twenty-five my fiancée was Nocked three months before her twenty-fifth birthday. I searched this desert to see if this is where it hid. I found the cave and my fiancée plastered to the cave wall, no life, no skin. I moved out here hoping to solve the problem. During my research, I found what it left behind after a Nocking. I also found that the Nocking Bug did not like elal, Brian has been the first person I could test this on. I did not see the clues it left before a Nocking, until the day Brian was taken. I was able to get to him in the cave before he fell unconscious."
"But the body, I saw your body."
"That wasn't me." Brian paused, "It was Roger."
"But he's only forty-three." Sara did not understand.
"We think that was a mistake, the Nocking bug was after me. I asked Roger to come and help me get off the island. But when he came Jack opened the door and Roger started to fight. I was trying to stop him but having trouble, I pulled them apart and we all fell backwards. When I got up to stop Roger from re-engaging, he was gone. Jack had me go to this room and he went down the cave." Brian didn't say more because it was obvious what was found, "The next day when you ran into Jack he told me that you had been down there. I decided that you needed to be brought to safety. Jack left the letter in your room."
"What do we do now?" Sara asked, understanding the situation more.
"We need to get my dad to bring the boat to the north shore. Jack will likely be killed if he goes."
Brian hinted that he was going to be going.
Sara saw an opportunity, "I'll do it!"
"No, the Nocking Bug may see you as a threat like it does me."
"We aren't sure of that." Sara reminded him, "I am the most likely to survive if I were to go." Sara was thinking about getting on the boat with Brian and getting married once they got back to the city.
Sara spent the night in the elal room with Brian. She headed out early in the morning. As she passed Molly's house Molly came running out. Molly asked where she had been and that she thought the Nocking took her. Sara just replied that she needed to talk to Larry. Molly followed her into Larry's house.
"Larry, I need your boat." Sara did not wish to take time explaining right now, Jack would have time to do that.
"No, my son loved that boat. Its all I have left." Larry became upset by the question.
"Brian is still alive." Molly had almost fainted. She asked if it was true for Roger too. Sara did not reply to this. Larry began to ask to see Brian. Sara said he would, but the boat needed to be on the north shore in three hours. Sara had Molly come back with her to Jack's Desert. Supplies were packed and they headed out to get on the boat. The good byes were short as to not provoke a Nocking and Jack was to explain everything to the inhabitants of the island.
Tap island is said to have all its houses made of elal now. Kids stay inside until they reach twenty-five. An underground elal tunnel is supposedly being created to connect the buildings. The desert is thought to have shrunk, but no one had its previous measurement. Relations with the outside world have also improved, with more vacationers. My wife and I may visit there next year on our sixth anniversary, we'll be twenty-five. It will also be good to see my father again, having left him when he only just found out I was alive. We chose our anniversary because we had gotten married that day we left.