A.N.: Something I wrote a few years ago... gotta start somewhere, don't I?
The man looked at his pocket watch. It was big, and obviously of some value, but that was not why he looked at it now, as there was no one here except the helmsman who could appreciate such a display. Only thirty minutes left until sunrise, soon the man could go to sleep and his co-captain would take over, now that they had escaped the dangers of the night. And they were still on time, he was thinking proudly, when he heard the always feared outcry: "Man over board!" The captain sighed, cursed under his breath, and turned to the helmsman "You´ll take over for a moment – let the lady slow down at a reasonable pace." He did not wait to hear the reply – "Yessir, aye sir!" as always – and went out, checking his watch again. "Fools," he murmured: "Fools they all are. Can say yessir and aye sir but don´t realize we have to be on time. Fools!"
The engine stopped and the captain arrived just as the crew pulled the 'man' on board. Just that it was no man – not yet – and most likely never going to become one. "Jesus …", the captain said, "Jesus Christ!"
"… and that is why we have to work together, all of us, every day. We all must thrive to make this world a better one, and I am the man to work towards that goal. Thank you." Having finished his speech, Ralph Eathon smiled and waved at the crowd, then stepped down from the podium and gladly accepted the glass of water one of the technicians handed to him. His manager approached him: "Mr. Eathon, there is someone who insists on talking to you – he said that he knows you and we cannot dissuade him, he is very persistent – apparently he is a doctor…" They walked quickly towards the exit of the hall, Ralph still waving at the crowd. "I can´t recall any doctor who might like to meet me … what are his reasons?" The manager said derogatorily, "Ah, he seems pretty confused, kept talking about an island and about not being dead – his name is Simon Pe-"Ralph stopped abruptly and turned his whole attention to his manager, who was shocked to see his boss´ face suddenly as pale as death.
"Simon?! What – no, wait – lead me to him."
"But Sir, the reception, you-"
The man was gesturing fast and obviously having trouble remaining calm, but the two security guards with expressionless faces slowly escorted him towards the exit. When Ralph appeared at the other end of the hallway, the man they held immediately stopped struggling. The guards stood with their backs towards Ralph and his manager. Not having noticed them, they saw an opportunity to finally get rid of the man and opened the door. Then, Ralph cleared his throat: "Thank you, that´ll be everything. I´ll take over now. Please return to your post." Turning to the manager Ralph said: "You too, Mr Smith". The guards flinched and protested, but, realizing who they were talking to, nodded curtly and left with the manager following behind.
They stood about ten meters apart, the one outside on the pavement, the other in the big and ornamented hallway, and just looked at each other. Then the man whispered: "Ralph…" Not remembering walking towards him, Ralph embraced the man. "Simon… it has been such a long time… why?" He struggled to find his words. Simon Peterson´s blue eyes were calm and reassuring, and when he answered, his voice was strong, but sad: "I know, I was sick a long time… the captain who picked me up brought me to his family in the US. It took years until I remembered what had happened, and, when I finally did, I was on a ranch in Montana, far away from civilization, and when time passed and I had become a man, no one remembered what had happened to those little boys who had once spent nearly a whole year alone on an island in the middle of nowhere. Last week, when I saw your speech on television, I recognized you at once… the way you talk, you stand, it hasn´t changed – except… that you don´t seem that … that yourself anymore. Like there is something inside you… I don´t know. I just knew I had to see you." Ralph, finding his voice again said: "I´m glad you did. You are right; there is something that was bothering me all these years." Simon smiled: "Was?" Ralph took his arm: "You saved me – again. Want to come?" And he and Simon went back into the palace. The beast inside Ralph remained quiet, for the first time in many years, and Ralph knew that it was dead. Not hunted, but killed, and that his speech the next morning would be a winning one.