11. Rise Above Our Lowly Selves

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I went down to the shore for a good wash. The mere act of cleaning myself calmed my stomach a bit.

Somewhat refreshed, I ascended the ravine back towards the campsite. Maybe, Pamela had gone off exploring the island. She might be back with the others now.

As I scaled a brownish slab of rock, a flock of pebbles rolled down the slope to my left.

I froze.

"Pamela?"

The slope was mostly bare rock with a few plants clinging to the crevices.

More pebbles, a few yards ahead of me. Something moved up there, furry gray, the size of a Guinea pig. It disappeared in a crack.

A mouse or a rat. Maybe.

My stomach cramped again.

When I returned to the others, our co-pilot was still gone. We searched the shrubs around the campsite once more, shouting her name and shooing up the birds.

But there was no reply.

Afterward, we sat around Chris Pond. Yves, Chris, and Nita were still pale and suffered from cramps.

"I'm worried for her," Nita said. "No one should be alone after..." She gestured at the sea. "After what we've been through."

"Right." Yves nodded.

"My..." She gulped. "I went back home to India because my nani died, my grandmother. We... were very close, but I wasn't there for her on the day she went. I was on the other side of the world."

"I'm sorry to—" Yves began.

Nita held up her hand. "It's okay. When I went to the United States, I knew this might happen, and she knew, too. She was over ninety years old. And we did have a proper goodbye when I left. And she died with family around her. Still..."

"But Pamela hasn't died," Chris said. "She's probably just exploring the island." He drew an irritated face as he gestured towards the hills.

"That wouldn't be like her," I said, irritated by the lack of empathy in his voice. "She wouldn't walk off just like that. She'd have told someone."

No one commented on this.

Maybe she really had walked off, sick of our petty quarreling. Then the stomach cramps had hit her hard, and she was now suffering somewhere, unable to return. We couldn't just let this rest. My stomach might give me trouble, but I didn't want to abandon Pamela out there.

"We need a search party," I said. "I'll go looking for her. Is anyone coming along?"

"I am sorry, Megan," Yves said, "I feel too bad in my stomach."

Nita, at his side, shook her head, her lips pressed into a thin line.

Chris snorted. "Let's wait for her some more. If she doesn't turn up before noon, there's still time to set up a search. It's not as if she can run far."

I looked at Farid and Bruna. They still seemed unaffected by whatever we had caught. I envied them.

"I'll come with you," Farid said.

Bruna frowned at him. "You're sure you're up to this?"

"Yes, why not?"

She shrugged, then she looked at me. "I can't, alas." She gestured at her legs.

The skin visible between her charred trousers and black shoes had a pinkish hue, much of the scab and blisters that I had seen there was gone. She seemed to be recovering well enough. 

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