An attempt to recover a lost story.
About thirty-six hours ago our ship, the underwater explorer Nautilous, malfunctioned while navigating a coral reef about 250 miles north west of Adelaide. Without explanation, without apparent cause, the computer systems crashed, the doors to the engine room locked, the ballast tanks flooded, and the submarine began diving down. Crewmen Diego da Silva and Emery Watson remained trapped in the engine room. We could not save them.
None of our electronic equipment works. Even our watches have stopped. It is now just the five of us. We have made our camp just past the white beach. The glare hurts my eyes.
I do not know this island. It was not on our charts. But we are here Crewmen Allison Feeley, Trevor Wycliff, Sarah Miller, Jonathan Strand and me. I am Captain John Dunbar, and I did not go down with the sub, the sub where the bodies of Diego da Silva and Emery Watson remain trapped. I can still see the buoy where we emerged from the cold waters, where the Nautilous still lies. A red and orange life buoy, horrible gravestone.
From here on, the script of the log becomes increasingly unclear, and it is no longer dated.
Undated Entry 1
There is just no explanation for what happened there, in the Nautilous, but there is something strange about this island, and we all feel it.
Undated Entry 2
I saw it. I think I saw it. It was something strange, something you see not with your eyes. Not with your eyes. You see it in your mind, because it has no substance. I think I saw it before, in the Nautilous, before it sank. I saw it, and it is not alone.
Undated Entry 3
I am no captain. I deserted the ship, like a cowardly rat. Why am I still alive? And there they are still, floating, bloated corpses in the tomb, S.S. Nautilous. Damn that life buoy, bobbing up and down in my sight. There are creatures here. They are watching us, and we all can feel them.
Undated Entry 4
Something has changed. I feel a clearness in my mind that I have not felt for days, not since the sinking of the Nautilous. I feel like a heavy weight has been lifted from me, or a thick curtain has been drawn, and I can try to write a bit more clearly about what has happened to us. There was a tremor, an earthquake last night. Maybe that’s why. We’ve all been more lucid since then.
But I look to the trees, now, at the setting of the sun, and I fear that I may see them; I mean those creatures which, so far, I have seen only as shadows in my mind. But we have spoken about it, and the others have the same feeling, that this island is home to a strange creature, unknown to mankind. At first, I thought I was going mad. Maybe I am. But I saw them. Creatures bizarre and grotesque. And somehow, I know. I know that they have broached the sunken submarine and removed the bodies of Diego and Emery.
They move with an organic fluidity. They are impervious to water. Air and water is the same to them. They rely on no crude technology, but they accomplish everything by their own organic powers. They have no mass, no substance, other than mind, if that can be called a substance. They move like shadows within the mind, but they exist outside as well. That’s where I saw them, or I thought I saw one, clinging to the top of a tall palm tree. That was a few days ago. I saw it, and, I know, it was looking at me too, and knew that I knew that he was watching me.
Since we landed on this island… no, before then, when we were still in the Nautilous, it was as if a pall had been pulled over our minds. We acted without thinking, talked without meaning anything, like puppets in a play written by a strange, twisted mind. Did the computer systems really fail? How could they? How could the ballast tanks fill all by themselves? And what really caused the leak which sunk the Nautilous?
The sun is now setting behind the hill, and we are all growing fearful. We can feel it again, the mind-numbing influence of this island.
Undated Entry 5
Something strange is happening. I only realise it now, dimly. Our minds are not processing things as they should. It happened just before the submarine sank, offshore. We all started behaving strangely, but we did not realise it. I was the captain. Captain John Dunbar, of the S.S. Nautilous, but I did not go down with the ship, and two crewmen did. Diego da Silva and Emery Watson, or was it Emery Tyler?
We are now in the thick of the jungle. We’ve been scrambling around for days, not sure of the direction, sometimes going up, sometimes down. We’ve lost Trevor and Sarah. It’s now only Allison, John and myself. I am John. John Dunbar. Captain John Dunbar.
Undated Entry 6
This island. This God-forsaken island. We’ve seen them. The masters of this island. I saw them.
Undated Entry 7
We have not found Trevor or Sarah, but I know they’ve been lost to those creatures. They are not cannibals., not in the gross sense, but in some subtle sense. They don’t devour bodies: they devour minds.
Allison and John are holding on. We’re now approaching the summit of the mountain range.
What did I see? I saw them climbing the trees. They are aware of our presence. Somehow or other, they are allowing us to proceed.
It would seem that there is now a fairly long time lapse between these entries and the ones that follow. The entries from here were written in blue ink, whereas the previous entries were written in pencil.
It came as a surprise, when we mounted the summit, the wedge-like mountain which dominates the island, to see a town on the other side. That’s when we came to the Institute. As you know, the Institute was built in the midst of the forest and shrubs upon the far slope of the mountain. It spreads its corridors and its passageways, its offices and buildings, like a tentacled octopus on the mountain side. I knew that it was an institute of some sort, the moment I saw it, but what exactly it did, I could not know.
When we came down the mountain, we could not help but come to the gardens of the Institute. After all, you did not build the fences to keep people out.
We were, of course, surprised to see Trevor and Sarah, through the glass doors leading to the garden. But they did not recognise me when I waved to them. They are changed, no longer the same. And there is still no sign of Pablo and the other one…they sank with the sub.
I feel guilty doctor, for rambling on in this way. How strange my previous entries look. How bizarre they seem. I wonder what I can have been thinking? That I was the captain of a submarine, it looks like, and that this island was controlled and owned by some mind-type being… something like a mind without a brain.
My fingers are beginning to feel numb now. I have been sitting up far too late, talking to my friends. I do love to talk with my friends, and to tell them interesting things. I want them to love me, you see, but not everyone does. And that bothers me.
The final entry was undated.
I have made it back to the sea, but on the other side of the island, the port side. It’s all nicely developed here. The pier is so clean, and there’s a lighthouse out by the rocks. The sea is cold and grey, like the skies, and it washes everything away. We were lost here, and there’s no returning. But I am sending this to you, my friends. Know that I am always thinking of you.