"Look up the beach," said Pasho, pointing at the canoes silhouetted against the moonlight.
"Who is that!" exclaimed Algol, "it is not yet time for Greatfather to send out another group."
"I don't think they are going out," replied Pasho. The canoes continued to approach the shore. Driven by curiousity, Algol and Pasho began approaching. They watched as a group of six people beached their double canoe and pulled it ashore. The travelers frantically prayed while shedding tears of joy. Algol knew many of the words they used but did not recognize many others. Their excited cries suddenly stopped when they noticed the two confused kids staring at them.
In the attempt at communication that followed, Algol came to understand that these travelers had been through a great storm and that they were very thirsty. He tried to tell them to follow him back to the village but finally resorted to hand motions. Once they arrived, he led them to the hut where fresh water is stored in ceramic containers. Pasho left to tell the village of the news.
Algol had never seen anyone so thirsty. His marvel turned to concern as he wondered how the village would feel about giving away so much of their fresh water. As if on cue, he heard angry shouting approaching from outside. It was Greatfather with Pasho in tow. Greatfather's voice boomed,
"THEY MUST LEAVE."
The travelers were naturally startled by this and Greatfather soon became acquianted with the difficulty of speaking to them. Soon a group of villagers had congregated around Greatfather, watching him try to communicate with the travelers. Greatfather was insisting that the gods wanted them to have their own island and their presence here was a severe transgression. To Algol, it appeared that the travelers were too afraid to go back to sea. They pleaded to not be sent out but Greatfather couldn't or wouldn't hear it. Greatfather asked Pasho where their canoes were and commanded some of the villagers to bring them fresh water and meat to restock. Such resources were scarce but Greatfather said "it is a spiritual duty to aid this travel."
Greatfather had men with spears accompany the six travelers back to their canoes. Most of them sobbed as they were marched away from the village. Algol recalled painful memories of his parents' selection for such a journey one year prior. Though they were afraid, they had said to trust that the gods will safely guide them to their new life. However, Algol had never seen another island and had difficulty imagining them. Pasho suggested they go to the sea-side edge of the village to watch the travelers go by. They sat on the beach in silence. A few minutes later, Greatfather walked up next to Algol, leaning on his spear. He said "Child, you know why we must do this?" Algol was silent.
"I was once a traveler much like them. I was born on another island with another Greatfather. I was chosen to become Greatfather of this new island. The same was true of my Greatfather and his Greatfather too. This is the way of the universe. Since the beginning of time when the gods planted the seeds of humanity on the first island. The universe is an infinite collection of islands. When we send people out to sea, the gods move the water under their canoes, taking them to a new island of their own. This is a gift to these travelers but also a necessity to those of us who stay behind. If we do not send travellers out to new islands, the gods will release waste upon our island. No new trees will grow, and no more creatures of sustinence will be created. The island will waste away and with it shall the people. Now you see, we have no choice but to send these travellers on to their new home. It is the will of the gods."
The monologue was broken by Pasho, "Look!" For the second time that night, he had spotted the canoes. Algol questioned his vision because he only saw five travelers.
Algol was cleaning fish when he was approached by Pasho. "I'm so excited for you Algol!" Algol chuckled and said "Oh yea, why's that?" Pasho replied, "At tonight's feast, I heard you're being selected as a new Greatfather!" Algol's stomach dropped. "You're getting a new island of your own, are you not the least bit excited?," Pasho said. Noticing the genuine worry, Pasho consoled, "You're joining a line of hundreds of successful Greatfathers, I like your odds." Algol proceeded to be a nervous wreck for the remainder of the day.
At the feast that night, Greatfather asked for silence so that he may make an announcement. As he had said so many times before, "The gods have honored a new Greatfather among us!" Algol froze. He held up two ornately decorated spears, reciting "As son follows after father, so too shall my Greatson carry a spear made in the image of his Greatfather's." Finally the moment of dread, "Algol, son, come to me!" The village cheered enthusiastically as Algol walked over to accept the spear. After handing it off, Greatfather said almost mechanically, "you shall begin your journey tomorrow at sunrise." Algol was afraid and optomistic at the same time. The congratulations he received from the entire village helped calm his nerves and he even managed to sleep that night.
Early the next morning, Algol was awoken and escorted to the beach. He found a group of people loading ceramic jars of fresh water and salted meat into a double canoe. He walked up to Pasho who proudly said "Guess what?" Algol smiled, "You're coming with me?" "How could I not, you know?" Pasho laughed. Algol said "It's a relief to have you. Do you know who else is coming with us?" "Well" Pasho paused, "there's two girls about our age, Merak and Mizar, and then there is an older couple I don't know well but I think their names are Galoy and Auva."
Just a few minutes later, all six of them were loaded in the canoes listening to Greatfather ask the gods to give them swift passage. With the end of his speech, they pushed themselves out to sea. Algol sat in the back of one of the canoes waving to the people of the village as they drifted past. By midday, they could no longer see their home island. The rest of the day saw the canoes filled with lively conversation about the new life awaiting the travelers. By nightfall, conversation had finally died and Algol sat idley observing his ornate spear. He thought about how significantly his life had changed in so short a time. Observing the hefty sum of meat and fresh water in the canoes, he felt optimism for the future. His excitement made it difficult to sleep, so he enjoyed the clear night sky.
Pasho's diarrhea had gotten progressively worse for the second day in a row. In the midday sun he got into a bitter argument with the rest of the travelers over how much water he could drink. Each was alotted one jar of water a day and Pasho drank his before noon came. They eventually agreed to give him an extra jar but then they would run out of water in less than two days. Nothing else of note happens this day. Algol was so tired that the discomfort of the canoe no longer hindered his sleep.
The next midday comes and the same conflict ensues. The others refuse Pasho the extra water. Algol feels bad for Pasho but knows that any food or water they give him will go overboard in under an hour. Pasho grew delirious, pleading "We need to turn back- I will die!" The others try to explain to him that they are powerless to fight the will of the gods but Pasho does not relent. He begins to paddle against the current with his hands. Galoy, a large man, tenderly pulled a leaning Pasho back into their canoe. Pasho leapt at Galoy and began choking him. Algol tried to seperate them, but he wasn't strong enough. Galoy's wife, Auva, tried to help pull Pasho off but he elbowed her in the face. She fell into the stack of ceramic jars unconsciouis. Algol grabbed and pointed his spear, screaming "ENOUGH PASHO!" Pasho continued choking a weakening Galoy. Merak and Mizar urged Algol to do something. Algol screamed again "PASHO!" Receiving no acknowledgement, he plunged the spear into Pasho's side. It made a wet thud, stopping against the farside of his ribcage. Pasho shrieked and his eyes turned to Algol with fury. He tried to wrestle the spear away but Algol quickly pulled it away. Then Pasho was sent overboard by a kick from Galoy. Pasho made no attempt to reenter the boat so Galoy tended to Auva. Meanwhile Algol, Merak, and Mizar watched in horror as Pasho transitioned from sobbing to coughing up a mixture of blood and seawater to silently floating face down. Since the current was not acting on the canoes much differently than Pasho, he drifted away only 10 meters by nightfall. Algol was so tired, despite the tumultuous day, he slept easily.
Auva said she heard splashing in Pasho's direction during the night and he was nowhere to be seen that morning. There were only three jars of fresh water left and they were empty by early evening. Merak and Mizar discussed how this must mean they are almost to their destination. They reasoned that the gods would not send them on trips longer than their resources would allow. Algol didn't speak at all this day; instead he stared at the horizon pensively. That night, he had a nightmare about killing Pasho.
The next day felt incredibly hot and by nightfall, everyone was feeling their dehydration. Galoy had a theological debate with Merak and Mizar over how the gods were treating them. Algol's headache made it difficult to sleep.
Auva did not wake up the next morning. Galoy didn't look upset but he seemed so sedated that Algol couldn't really tell. It was sunny and hot all day. Around sunset, Merak claimed she saw an island. Algol saw nothing and gave a dismissive grunt. Galoy was unconscious and Mizar was unresponsive. Merak got out of the canoe and began swimming. A few minutes later, Algol heard gargled coughing. That night, while staring at his christened spear, Algol fell asleep permanently.
Greatfather's island was the last island of an archipelago that sat at the edge of a hemisphere of ocean. The wreckage of the canoes he sent out took about one year to reach land.
Last Updated: 12/01/2022