We all lay on the beach for a moment, catching our breath. I closed my eyes and tried to sort out the chaos of what had just happened, but my mind could piece together no reasonable explanation for the disappearance of an entire island. It was just not natural. Completely and utterly inexplicable. I opened my eyes to try and clear my head.
"Okay," I said, "maybe this isn't Welton. The waters were choppy, I'm sure that when the boat capsized we just got turned around or something, and that's how we ended up here." I had to speak loudly over the sound of the crashing waves.
Gabe looked at me, shaking his head. "No way Arnold, I know this is where Welton should be. I just know it. I don't know what's going on here, but this is the place."
That was Gabe alright. Stubborn to a fault, but in this, and any matter of location or direction, it was best to trust his judgment. Gabe Anderson did not get lost, on land or at sea. Be that as it may, though, we were not on Welton.
I was trying to stay calm. "Look around, Gabe. Is this Welton? I don't think so. Hell, is this any island you've ever even seen? I think we would have noticed a desert island nearby at some point during our time at the A.D."
Lou, who had until this point remained silent, finally spoke up. "Guys, the island disappeared. That doesn't just happen! It's pretty clear that we're dealing with something out of the ordinary, so there's no use fighting about it. Come on," he said, getting to his feet, "we should look around a little bit, see if we can find some indication of where we are."
Just as we were all standing up and brushing ourselves off, an unfamiliar voice nearby caught our attention. We all froze.
"You won't. There's nothing here." The voice belonged to a small man sitting in the shade by the treeline. He looked older, like he could have been a teacher at our school, but none of us recognized him.
After trying multiple times, we gave up on trying to get a name or any more information out of him. He just shrugged and shook his head at every question.
"Let's go," Lou finally said, "this guy's not helping us out any, and I still want to see the rest of this island."
So we set off, through the thin treeline. On the other side lay more sand and dirt, and some sparse vegetation, little clusters of trees scattered through the desert. In the distance we could see the tops of mountains rising above the sand. As we were making our way towards one of the banks of trees, I turned around and saw that the hooded man was following us. He said nothing, merely walking silently behind our little group.