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With freedom to roam, Bruce started exploring the ‘ship.’ It felt good not to be confined in his room and as he started walking more he realized that he had lost some of the muscle tone he’d garnered on the island. The first day we explored he headed for the fresh air. All the hallways looked exactly the same, so it took several attempts to actually find the correct door. He didn’t mind though as he went from hall to hall with matching décor and doors.
By the time he found the right door he was sorely disappointed to exit and be barraged with rain. The skies were a deep gray, bordering on black, and the rain fell in big droplets. He raised his head towards the sky and accepted the water, but only for about two minutes.
Although it was raining, it was not cold. That didn’t really phase him until later in the day when he remembered that is was November, or even December by now. When he had been on the island he noticed there was a slight changing of the seasons and in the winter when the rain came down there was a definite chill in the air. Were they not in the same region as the island he’d been stranded on? Had this whole thing been a rouse?
That evening at dinner Bruce asked Stuart if he could check out the maps the next day. He intimated that he’d always been interested in geography and looking at the way the world was put together was fascinating. Stuart agreed and after dinner showed Bruce where the map room was. They agreed to meet first thing in the morning.
As Steve put out another amazing dinner of beef stew, buttered noodles, fresh corn and strawberry shortcake for dessert, Bruce asked, “Do you ever catch and eat the local fish?”
The room immediately went bone chilling silent. Steve looked straight at Bruce and replied, “There are no edible fish within a thousand miles of here. I would strongly recommend not entering the water as that will be the last thing you do.”
Bruce stared back and just said, “Okay.” But his head was spinning. He had lived off of the fish he’d caught off the island and if what they had told him was true, it was not over one thousand miles away. So that meant either Steve was lying to him, or both Jack and Monica had.
He said his ‘good-nights’ immediately after dinner. After seeing where the map room was located he made his way back to his room. He paced the room and tried to piece together all of the information he had at his disposal. He had lied to Stuart about his love of geography. Truth be told, he couldn’t even tell you where the seven seas were, much less all of the known islands in their vicinity. But, he had never heard of dangerous fish in the Atlantic Ocean other than sharks. Bruce had this sinking feeling in his stomach that this floating island was nowhere near the Atlantic Ocean.
After a restless night of very little sleep, Bruce met Stuart in the map room. Lyle was sitting at a large drafting table with bright lights above it. Stuart explained that his dad was charting the new course for the next month based upon what they had already found. Bruce looked at the paper that was spread out and all he could see were grid lines and blue spots.
“How do you even know what you’re looking at?” Bruce asked.
Stuart smiled and answered, “The grid lines are longitude and latitude, and the dots are either known islands or discovered islands. Although you can’t see it, the dots actually have numbers and there are corresponding charts of those spots. Come on over here and I’ll show you.”
They went over to a smaller table and Stuart pulled out a chart that had an island shape configured. There were notations of water sources, jungles, vegetation and inhabitants.
“You do this for every island out here?”
“Yes, that’s our job,” Stuart said.
“So do you have a map that is somewhere in between the one your dad is working on and the detailed map? You know something that shows the islands in proximity to other islands and large land masses.”
“Sure,” Stuart said, “Let me get one for you.”
As Stuart laid out the map Bruce had requested, it was apparent that they were not in the Atlantic Ocean. He tried to determine the exact location, but when he saw the word ‘Brazil’ on both the left and right, he began to feel woozy. Stuart grabbed him just before he hit the floor.
Bruce opened his eyes and saw a bright light shining. “Ah, good, you’re back amongst the living.”
Steve was leaning over him with a miniature flashlight. “Can you follow my finger with your eyes?” Bruce did as he was asked. “Good, now can you sit up?” Bruce attempted to sit up.
“What happened?” Bruce asked.
“You passed out,” Steve said. “But none of us can figure out why.”
Bruce’s eyes swept the room and did not see anyone else there besides Steve. “Are you a doctor?”
“But you’re the cook.”
“That’s only because no one else on this contraption can cook worth crap. I got tired of eating barely passable food, so I volunteered. Best decision I’ve made.”
Bruce blinked a few times and then asked, “Steve, where are we?”
“The Amazon river.”
Bruce gasped. “Why would Monica and Jack tell me that we were in the Atlantic Ocean if we aren’t?”
“Can’t answer you on that one,” Steve replied. “But what I can tell you is that you can trust me and that if you need straight answers just ask.”
“Thanks,” Bruce said. “I thought I could trust everyone, but obviously I was wrong.” He stopped and thought before asking the next question. “What are we really doing here?”