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He lives among the cliffs and caves at the center of our tiny island. It’s just him and me here. Him, me, and thousands of miles of ocean.

I see him nearly every day, usually around dusk — a fleeting shadow climbing over the cliff-faces. He always senses when I see him. He’ll stop and look over his shoulder at me, knife blade clenched in his teeth. He’ll bare his fangs around the blade, smile mockingly, and then scramble out of view.

Often when I try to sleep, he throws pebbles at my bamboo shelter. Once, I woke up in the middle of the night to find him squatting over me, holding the knife blade to my throat. I screamed, and he bounded off into the darkness. He could have killed me, but he didn’t. I don’t know why.

He was here first. For how long, I don’t know. Where he came from is a mystery. It’s been over a year now since I washed up on the shores of this place. I’ve been relegated to the shoreline all this time. When I first arrived, I tried to explore inland, but that’s when he and I first met.

That day, he howled and hooped, leaping from branch to branch in the trees high above, waving that knife blade menacingly in his feet. I ran from the heart of the island and back to the beach and never tried to go further again.

I wonder where he got the knife blade. I wonder why the blade has been removed from the hilt. I wonder a lot of things.

I’m the only human being sharing a deserted island with a sadistic blade-wielding monkey — there’s not a whole lot to do, other than wonder.

Something’s changed. Something inside of me. I had cultivated a Zen-like sense of calm for a long time, thinking about my wife and children back home but not letting that thinking overly affect me.

No more.

Something’s broke in the dam I built in my being. I have to get home, or else die and be done with it. I’ll not live like this — not anymore.

In the early morning I start off towards the heart of the island. There’s nothing on the beach that can save me. I know this. There’s also likely nothing to be in the island’s interior, but I need to overcome my fears of the monkey and find out. Or, else, let him kill me.

There’s no trail, and I clamor over rocks and fight through underbrush. Not even insects live here. I’ve survived off the food in the ocean just off the island’s shore, but on the island itself, there is only vegetation and the damn monkey.

After an hour I’m still only a few hundred feet into the dense vegetation. The monkey arrives.

He swings from the branches and screams that horrible scream, waving the blade back and forth menacingly.

I don’t care. I push on. It seems to go on forever. Small as this island is, the interior jungle is dense, and progress slow. The monkey stays with me the whole time. It goes on for so long that I forget he’s even up there. He just becomes part of the background silence.

What is more likely to kill me is the heat and the exertion, but I don’t care. I’ll die now and be happy for it.

But I think about my wife and my children, and an unnatural energy fires my muscles. It keeps me going. The suicidal thoughts fade away. No, I haven’t come here to die. I’ve come here to live and to get back home to them, and that’s what I will do.

I am focused entirely on the ground at my feet as my crawl and tear my way through the jungle. Thick forest has a way of narrowing your attention to a fine point. I’m so focused on the ground directly ahead of me that it takes me a few moments to realize I’m no longer breaking through brush. I’m in grassy clearing.

I look up. There’s a ship — a perfectly preserved, green sail boat, set on a wooden lift in the middle of the grassy clearing.

The monkey drops down out of the trees and lands on the boat. It climbs down the side of the boat onto the ground. It holds its blade at its side as it walks towards me.

I’m ready to fight it, if I must. I’ll fight and I’ll fight to win, not to die, though I know how it will likely end.

The monkey stops a few feet away from me. It bows down before me, forehead touching the ground, holding the knife blade in his outstretched hand, offering it to me.

I don’t know what to do. I just stand, with the prostrate monkey on the ground offering me his blade, and the sail boat in the grassy clearing, and the silent forest all around.

For the first time since I was stranded here, I think I know who the monkey is.

Copyright 2018 Jeff Suwak

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I’m not in the Matrix. I AM the Matrix.

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