Jacob Lawrence, "They Live in Fire Traps" (1943)
Jacob Lawrence, They Live in Fire Traps (1943)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

Thirty Eight

"What do we do?," cried Mary Ann above the gale.

Gilligan looked in all directions. "The winds are westerly!," he shouted. "We can go to the east side of the island! Maybe the jungle will protect us! We can lash ourselves to strong palms and try to ride it out!"

Mary Ann nodded. "We'll have to go back to the village for rope!," she shouted.

Clutching each other they staggered back the way they'd come. Hot red lightning burst all around, setting fire to the treetops. Rocks and boulders and whole trees blew by, roots swinging crazily in the air. There was a great roar, and a sulfur smell like brimstone.

Mary Ann and Gilligan stood panting. They were about halfway to the village.

"Look!," cried Gilligan, eyes wide, pointing westward toward the sea.

About half the island could be seen. To the left was the lagoon, where the Minnow and the President's plane once lay beached, now blown to white-coated smithereens. To the right was the volcano, towering high above the tree line, its thin plume of sleeping smoke dazed and dazzled and blasted crazily in all directions by the savage storm. Straight ahead was the sea, and upon the face of the sea there walked a blood-red tornado of pure fire, merciless and implacable. Huge plumes of steaming seawater leapt skyward where it touched the ocean, falling down in glinting pink showers crowed with frothy white and silver spume. Red lightning burst forth from its clouds like avenging arrows. It was death, and it was headed directly toward the volcano.

"We have to warn them!," shouted Mary Ann. "They'll all be killed!"

Gilligan nodded. They would try.

But it had become even harder to fight the storm. Either they were exhausted, which was likely, or the winds had redoubled, as if determined to push them away. If one of them lost their footing, they both flew backwards, down the trail they'd crossed and re-crossed twice already that day.

The stone stopper was firmly in place. "Let's get a tree branch, maybe we can lever it!," cried Gilligan.

"You try to find something!," shouted Mary Ann. "I'll see if there are any openings around the edges!"

Gilligan struggled into the jungle. Mary Ann ran her sensitive hands around the stone, looking for gaps which might serve as leverage points. She tested the right side: nothing. She tested the top: nothing. The left side: nothing. Returning to the right side she was astonished to find an opening large enough for her to slip through, as if the stone had moved itself without her seeing.

She looked for Gilligan, but he was nowhere to be seen. Bravely, she decided not to wait. He'd figure it out, and follow her. There was no time to waste: the others were in grave danger. She plunged inside, into darkness.

With a "CLICK!" that echoed like laughter, the stone rolled shut behind her. She and Gilligan were separated. She was alone in the dark.