8. Predators

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"Where has the body gone?" Pamela prodded the ground with her foot, at the place where we had left the dead man yesterday.

"Maybe the tide has washed him away," Farid said.

"I don't think so," I said. "The waterline is too far away." The water was some yards out, and its level was at least a couple of feet below us. "And there are no signs that the tide comes up to this level." I pointed at the fat bushels of grass at our feet.

Farid shrugged.

"Do you think there are predators on the island?" Nita eyed the slope behind us with a frown on her face.

"We only saw birds yesterday," Pamela said. "And the island couldn't support anything much larger than a small dog."

"Or rats," Chris added.

Against my will, I searched the ground for gnawed bones. But there were just stones and plants. No sand that could hold a footprint.

"I'm getting back to the camp." Nita turned and left in the direction of our campsite. We followed.

"I know you all wonder what happened to the body," Chris said as we reached the campsite. "But first things first. We need to find water, and that's urgent. Let's have another look at the island. Today, I'll go. I also want to check out that weather station that Megan and Pamela found yesterday. Yves and Farid, will you join me?"

"Of course, monsieur." Yves grinned.

Farid just nodded.

"Excellent, and the rest of you..." He looked at Pamela. "You could collect some wood to prepare the fire, one that will make a lot of smoke. We can light it when we're back. We'll be gone a couple of hours."

Pamela shrugged.

"Okay," Chris said, "let's go."

With a wave of his hand, he turned and headed inland. Farid followed. Yves gave Nita a brief smile and joined them.

"There they go," Pamela said, "exploring the wilderness, leaving the women to do their laundry and to cook lunch."

The mere idea of cooking made my stomach growl. "I volunteer to do the cooking if they bring back a steak or pasta," I said, "but I doubt they'll be more successful than we were."

Pamela huffed. "I'd prefer some drink." She sat down at Bruna's side.

The latter was perched on a rock, unmoving. "You don't like Chris, do you?" She kept her eyes on the horizon as she said this, but there was a smile on her face.

Pamela nodded. "You're right. I don't. Do you like him?"

Bruna shrugged, without turning her head. "Feeling responsible and in control gives him a kick. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just manly behavior. And as long as his decisions are okay, and he doesn't order me around, I'm happy for him to do the work for me."

Even though I agreed with her assessment, I didn't feel like talking to her—for someone so short, she was very aloof. I walked some steps towards the slope that connected the campsite to the water and looked out over the sea. Bruna and Chris both seemed to be weirdos, and Chris was a macho, but the rest of our troupe was okay. And Farid had something warm and caring about him, even though he was remote, most of the time.

There were footsteps behind me.

It was Nita. She stopped at my side.

"I wonder where that body has gone," she said. "It's so weird." She rubbed her arms even though the day was too warm for comfort, and she looked up at me, dark eyes wide open.

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