It wasn’t much of an island. Just a rock poking out of the Southern Ocean. The only part that was really mine was the shingle between the glacier and the sea. That glacier covered most of it and I was a castaway, not a mountaineer, so I didn’t risk my neck sliding around on it. I still claim the whole island for the time I was on it. It’s not as if anyone else wanted it.
You can tell me it wasn’t always mine, and you wouldn’t be the first to say so. Others were there before me and, if they’re unlucky enough, others will come after me.
They’re welcome to the place.
I don’t know who it was that came before me. I don’t even know if they were people in the way you and I understand them. I saw their tools and I saw what was left of their homes. If the glacier rolls back any more, someone can go and have a look at what else they left down there. Not me. I’ll leave it to the archaeologists.
Don’t look at me like that. I’m drunk, not crazy. I have to be drunk to talk about them after they told me not to.
Yes, I’m saying they spoke to me.
Get off our island, they said. Go back to your own world, they said. Don’t you dare tell anyone about us, they said.
I heard their voices in the pebbles rolling in the waves. They came to me in my dreams. They badgered me in the honking of the leopard seals.
Well, all right, maybe I’d gone a bit crazy by the time I heard the seals talking to me. It was hard to tell.
They never told me anything helpful. Did they think I wanted to trespass all over their grave? If they’d talked to someone who could come and get me, that would have got me out of their way a damn sight quicker than haunting me did. But no, they had to keep pestering me as if I was squatting there for the fun of it.
So here I am, telling you about it just because they told me not to. It’s the only way I can get my own back on them.
And the joke’s on me because you don’t believe a word I’m saying, do you?