During Season 1's "X Marks the Spot."
This story will eventually have 9 or 10 parts and the ending isn't complete, but I was having a questionable day and I need some feedback. :) This story will have some comedy and sweet moments within the framework of this serious story, much like the original episode. The prologue attempts to set up where everyone is mentally in this story (the real "story" starts in part 2). I wanted to explore how this vastly different group of people would feel, act, and respond in the face of this type of crisis.
Special thanks to Teobi who has to listen to my whining and for helping me not lose momentum on this story. (And don't be surprised if I edit this chapter at some point along the way, haha).
At The End of the World
I'm going to die.
It's a universal truth. Everyone can say this with certainty.
Death and taxes.
But it's another thing entirely to know its coming and to be expected to wait patiently and go about your business until it's ready to dive from the sky and claim you...
Gilligan was going about his business of tidying up his hut. He wanted everything to be nice and neat when it got blown up. At least that's what he told Mary Ann, tossing off the joke with his usual quick wit and guileless smile, but she didn't look impressed this time.
Actually, he was trying to distract himself. When he was in need of a distraction, sometimes he went fishing or went for a walk, but sometimes he cleaned. When he was a boy, he had a tough time in school. He would come home and refuse to tell his mother about it, so she'd hand him a broom or a rag and put him to work. Eventually he'd get out his frustrations on whatever he was polishing or the monotonous rhythm of sweeping would push the story from his lips and his mother would nod in understanding.
All he wanted was a nice, calm childhood with no bullies and no stupid girls, where he and his best buddy Skinny Mulligan could chase butterflies and climb trees. What he got was a stint in the Navy, a medal for saving the Skipper's life, and a shipwreck on a tropical island where he could chase butterflies and climb trees.
All the Skipper wanted was a nice, calm business where he could spend his days sailing and meet new people and show them the wonders of Hawaii. What he got was an incorrect weather report and an island full of the motliest group of people he'd ever seen in one place.
He paced restlessly, wearing a path in the sand by the table. He was still the captain and this motley group of people still looked up to him. It was his job, not only as a business owner, but as a Navy Officer and a man, to keep them safe and return them to port after three hours.
But he couldn't. And he was mad as hell about it.
He paced by the table again, where two coconut crème pies waited for him. Mary Ann brought them to him a few minutes ago and told him that she thought she hadn't been as nice to him as she could have. Naturally, he disagreed with her. Then she asked in her smallest voice and with the biggest brown eyes ever if he was absolutely sure there was nothing they could do about the test missile and he felt like the biggest failure on the planet.
But at the moment he wasn't wallowing in self-pity or sadness or even guilt. He was mad. The Skipper always had a plan. He got himself out of some tight spots in the war with some pretty inventive schemes. He wasn't going to get depressed. The radio was never going to leave his side. He was going to listen to the news and follow the course of events and think and plot and devise and he was going to save them or he was going to die trying.
Thurston Howell III wanted to take it with him. His wife knew it was impossible, but humored him as he stalked around the hut, desperately hiding cash in his jacket and then pulling it out again, ultimately knowing how pointless it was. He wrote will after will, trying to get the distribution of funds just right. As soon as they tossed a champagne bottle with the rolled up document into the lagoon, a new idea struck him and they'd have to start again. This went on all afternoon until they ran out of empty champagne bottles.
It would make things a whole lot easier if they had children to leave their fortune to. They could let them worry about it. But that was not the case and so they had to distribute their wealth elsewhere. Since the shipwreck, Mr. Howell had suspected that his brothers and older nephews were at home bickering over his assets and hoped that someone would find the most up-to-date will washed ashore somewhere and set things right.
Mrs. Howell suggested he leave a sizeable sum to help needy children and her husband readily agreed, knowing that this charitable endeavor was closest to her heart. Mrs. Howell spent many afternoons visiting the orphanages she helped fund. She didn't have to go, they were grateful for the monetary donations, but she loved seeing the children. The little girls always wanted to wear her hats and the little boys always stood up straighter when she arrived and took her hand and proudly showed her the pictures they had drawn that week.
Every time she visited, she contemplated adopting. The problem was that she couldn't choose just one or two or three. She wanted them all.
At the moment, however, Mrs. Howell was grateful that she had never chosen one or two or three. There's nothing worse for a former orphan than to become an orphan again.
At home she had many nieces and nephews, whom she loved dearly even if she did get them all mixed up. They found her incredibly entertaining and at every family function she'd inevitably find herself dispensing some important life lesson wrapped up in a confusing story while surrounded by a circle of giggling children.
On the island she had Gilligan and Mary Ann, whom she loved dearly even if she did get a great deal of enjoyment out of teasing them. They found her incredibly compassionate and sought comfort in her slightly batty, yet always wise, advice.
She even had a slight maternal instinct toward Ginger – when the gorgeous redhead wasn't sitting too close to her husband. Ginger came to her on days when she was feeling less like a famous movie star and more like a confused little girl who wasn't quite she how she ended up where she was. They'd play cards and talk about nothing in particular, but they'd both get up feeling better than when they sat down.
The young woman should have become a nurse. Her mother told her that. Her sister told her that. A director even once told her that. And now she was telling herself that.
But instead she became Ginger Grant and became a movie star. A gown-wearing, hunk-dating, red carpet-walking movie star who didn't have time or permission to stray from the studio's course and do anything for herself or anyone else.
She wanted to troll the boards on Broadway and sink her teeth into a monologue where she could pull the passion from the depths of her soul and sob and scream and reduce the audience to stunned silence before they leapt to their feet in a thunderous standing ovation eight times a week. She wanted to play Lady Macbeth and Blanche DuBois and Cleopatra.
She was supposed to play Cleopatra.
She wanted to be an artist, to move people, to make them laugh and cry and think and reevaluate their entire existence with the tone of her voice or a single gesture.
Instead she got top billing in The Hula Girl and the Fullback.
She wanted to be an artist, but she should have become a nurse. She should have done something important with her life. She should have helped people.
The Professor racked his brain, sheet after sheet of equations strewn across the table, the bench, and the ground. He was rusty after so many years of teaching the same curriculum over and over. He should have continued with his research. It would have kept him sharp and kept his brain moving in new and innovative directions. It would have helped people.
Currently, he was trying to pinpoint the exact location of their island in comparison to the approximate latitude and longitude of the target given on the radio. If he could calculate the trajectory of the missile from the base and take into account the thrust of the rockets and any passing storms, he might be able to figure out if the missile will hit the island or not.
But then what?
Even if the missile exploded in the water, it would create a wave that could travel for miles. Either way, they were in trouble. It was almost better that the missile hit the island dead on. It would be quick and painless. Hopefully.
The Professor was not outwardly emotional. While he knew exactly how each of the other castaways was feeling just by looking at their face, he was able to keep his stoic façade. After years of dealing with high school students, he had learned to perfect his poker face and he felt obligated to maintain the same control here for the sake of the others.
He gave the others the facts, flat out, with all the gory details. But when they asked him specific questions, he answered with overly scientific explanations that he knew they wouldn't understand, some of which didn't even pertain to the situation at hand because, really, he had no answers to those questions. There was nothing to say. They couldn't run. They couldn't hide. They just had to wait.
Mary Ann survived a lot of things in her short twenty years on earth. She was thrown from a horse when she was four years old. She watched a tornado surge down the road in front of her Aunt Martha's house, sucking up their mailbox as it passed. Another cyclone took out the post office in town, but left the store beside it untouched. It rained letters and catalogues for a three mile radius.
When she was nine, she alone walked away from a horrific car accident with a single superficial scratch. Caught at sea in a violent thunderstorm. Shipwrecked. Life on a deserted island. Cannibals.
Mary Ann had begun to think that the world was trying to get rid of her and that she kept obliviously slipping away at the last moment, stepping off the bull's-eye right before the anvil fell. Or that the world was trying to save her from a series of unfortunate coincidences or bad luck.
She secretly hoped that some freak event or miscalculation would spare her again and continue her track record of tempting the fates and then outsmarting their shears. But she was a sitting duck this time, they all were, waiting for the sky to ignite and swallow them up.
At least she'd get to see her parents again.
Mary Ann reached her destination and shook her head clear. She blinked a few times and took a deep calming breath. She shifted the pie plate to balance on one palm so she could push open the bamboo door and enter the hut...