Chapter 3

Heather couldn’t believe what she saw in front of her.

On top of Anne’s Tablet was a man sprawled out on his back, as if soaking up the sun. He wore a thick layer of clothes, a winter hat with ear flaps and heavy hiking boots. And covering his eyes, a pair of very big goggles. Heather also noticed a strap along his waist holding some kind of weapon, but she couldn’t quite make it out over his leather jacket. He looked like a rugged man, one who may have a strong affinity for the wilderness and outdoors… or possibly, just a man trying to survive in post apocalyptic Mackinac. Heather couldn’t think of anything more interesting to ask, so she asked the obvious.

“Who are you?”

“Shh!” he pushed out the sound between his teeth. “I just new a few more seconds and…”

Just then, a green light started blinking on the man’s goggles. They were peculiar looking, although reminded her of something steampunk . Except that steampunk was just something out of fiction. Or was it? She had to find out more.

The man stood up and pressed a button on his goggles to stop the beeping, and towered over Heather. He pushed his hand out for a handshake. “I’m Ric. Scott usually tries to bring some hero over here, but they’ve never made it through town like you. Looks like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders not going into any of those buildings. Not all those cleared out entrances are what you think.”

“Well in that case, I’m glad that I got this far,”Heather replied, not sure whether to be complimented or concerned about his last sentence. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t the townspeople all live downtown now?”

“What are you, crazy!?” Ric shot her a glare seen right through his goggles. “Downtown is a death trap if you go into one of those buildings. What used to be quaint little shops and housing is now only occupied by…” Ric cut his last sentence off as he turned his head toward town at a faint sound. As he turned back toward Heather, the expression on his face grew more calm. “This town is cursed. The residents here have no choice but to seek refuge together on this island, the government won’t touch this place and the only person strong enough to make a difference here is me. Except, maybe my efforts alone aren’t enough.” Ric took a step closer to Heather and held out a hand. “If you’re tough enough, Heather, I could sure use the help.”

This call for help was a no-brainer for her as she readily shook Ric’s hand in return. “You can count on me, Ric. Now there’s just one thing. If you need my help, I’m going to need a little more briefing on how things got to be the way they are over here. And how are the residents “together?” And, why are you the only one I’ve even seen so far?” She began squeezing Ric’s hand even more mid-handshake as she asked each question, realizing that maybe she could be shaking hands with the wrong person.

“I can explain it all to you, friend, but sometimes, it’s easier to just show you.” Ric pulled his goggles off of his his face and over his hat. Heather noticed his blue eyes, and thought that there was nothing peculiar about it, which made her wonder all the more what his goggles were for. Maybe he’s just using them as sunglasses?  Heather thought. But the idea of having solar powered goggles had to give them more meaning.

Ric stepped back from Heather and turned towards the trail leading away from Anne’s Tablet. As Heather followed him she noticed the old fort standing on her left, and just ahead of her, a gazebo. One that she had seen many times in the past, but now weathered and old. A far cry from its original fairytale look. However, upon reaching the end of the trail and ending at the gazebo, she noticed the addition of a bright, brassy ring of metal at its base. Heather and Ric stepped into the gazebo, where, on the inside, it looked as though nothing had been touched in years.

“Let’s get a better look, shall we?” With the press of a button on Ric’s goggles, the gazebo started to tremble and turn in its place, then a crackling noise pierced the air as it separated from the ground. Soon they were spinning into the air, until after about 200 feet, the gazebo tower stopped.

I can’t believe this is happening. Heather forgot how much she hated the idea of falling, and gripped the railing. She could see all of the marina. She could see the main street near it, and the road leading into downtown, ripped and torn apart by what Heather had only assumed so far was an earthquake. She could see the buildings in town that were destroyed, and ones that were apparently occupied by non-residents… and as Heather circled the gazebo for her 360 view, that’s when she noticed the buttons. Along the railing, a control panel of buttons and switches had popped out, lining the inside of the gazebo. In the center of the gazebo, a periscope had dropped down, and Ric was looking through it.

“Just give me a few more seconds and I can show you everything…”

Heather stood straight on looking at Ric, shocked, alarmed, and most of all, confused. “Alright, buddy,” she said in a low and careful voice, “Who in the world are you!?”

“Well, friend, I guess you can say I’m a madman.”

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