‘Course there aren’t.’
I struggled to express my thoughts, my reasoning; that science and magic are separate, that they can’t coexist. Grown-ups have explored and discovered and created and they don’t believe in ghosts so how could they be wrong? There can’t be both and we’ve already proved science is correct through light bulbs and TV’s.
‘ ’Cos things wouldn’t make sense. Houses an’ streets, an’ -TV- they wouldn’t work.’
But even as the words left my mouth, part of me didn’t believe it. The boys’ chanting was merging with the waves and I could no longer make out words, just a blur of noise. Through my broken specs I could see they were still dancing, recklessly, wildly and a part of me longed for that freedom, the sense of insane carelessness that they seemed to possess. The right lens of my specs clashed with the absence of the left, creating a blurred world of colour and rhythm that the boys seemed to be seized by. Ralph was thinking, recapping the night’s events, the boys’ stories. I could hear Ralph’s breaths, coming quick and uneven, I could identify with this, feelings of uncertainty, it’s something I know well, but not in Ralph. Ralph –the confident leader, I almost didn’t recognise it in him, I didn’t want to, because if I began to acknowledge his fear than I may be forced to acknowledge my own.
‘But s’pose they don’t make sense? Not here, on this island? Supposing things are watching us and waiting?’
Ralph shuddered violently and I jumped as he bumped into me. He was scaring me and I didn’t like it. Mine was the voice of reason, of science, but it suddenly occurred to me how far away that world was, how unaware of our location or existence it was. In the dark, with the raging, chanting, dancing boys breaking the silence and the shadows creeping forever towards us, I suddenly felt unsure and for a moment I even believed. Uncertainty, terror and invisible threats seemed to inhabit this island, possessing anyone who dared defy them, they engulfed me. What if we were never found? What if this monster’s real? What if we die here? What if grown-ups aren’t right about everything? The last one hung in my mind a few moments longer than the others, scaring me more than any of the others could. The boys chanting rose in pitch suddenly and I became aware of myself, I shook myself out of that state of mind; there was no monster, beast or ghost. There was only us, ‘maybe it’s only us’, Simon’s voice echoed in my head but before I had a chance to follow it, it had disappeared and a newfound strength empowered me, if only momentarily. Ralph was not allowed to back out now. A surge of anger washed over me, unfamiliar and hot in my throat.