Project Endlessness: Part 3 of 3
“Are you sure you know where you’re going?”
“Of course I know. Stop worrying about everything, I’m trying to work out where we are.”
“All I can see is sea.”
“I know. That’s all I can see too.”
“So how do you know which way this place is?”
“It’s called Ordano!”
“It sounds stupid.”
“Well, I lived there for years and I think it’s a beautiful place. So be quiet because you’ll love it when you get there.”
“I didn’t say that it was stupid.”
“Yes you did.”
“No, I meant that the name sounds stupid. That’s all I said.”
“Well, I don’t think it sounds stupid at all.”
“It sounds made up.”
“What are you saying!”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“Because all names are made up, which is why it probably sounds made up to you. But then, you wouldn’t know anything about doing clever things like making up names, would you?”
“And you would?”
“Yes! I mean… No! I mean… Just, shut up, do you want to go to Ordano or not?”
“Yes! Yes! I’m sorry. I do want to go to Ordano.”
“All right then.”
“It’s just, all I see is blue.”
“The ocean is blue, idiot.”
“I know that the ocean is blue. I’m just saying because I haven’t seen any islands yet.”
“Well, of course not.”
“How long is it going to take to get there?”
“As long as it takes.”
“Are you sure you own this boat?”
“Yes! Well, no, my daddy owns it. How else do you think we got to your stupid town in the first place? In this boat.”
“Ok. I believe you. I was only asking.”
“Ok, I promise, I won’t ask any more questions.”
“Yeah, I just said.”
“You promise, captain?”
“I promise captain.”
“You won’t ask any more questions until we get to Ordano.”
“No, I promise captain.”
“What’s Ordano like?”
Cameron skipped excitedly down the deck of the sail boat, making it rock from side to side. As he did so, he hummed a wordless song. Alex could tell that he could hardly contain his excitement. Every minute or so, Cameron would peer over the edge of the boat and look at his reflection in the rippling ocean. Alex, however, was much more calm and reserved, instead electing to watch Cameron as he flitted faster and faster from one side of the boat to the other.
“This is amazing!” Said Cameron.
“I know, I told you it would be,” Alex replied.
“The ocean looks so cool!”
“I know. It does, doesn’t it?”
Alex folded her arms across her chest and laughed to herself at Cameron’s wide-eyed expression. She couldn’t believe that anyone could get so excited over the waves, but she had to admit that they did look fascinating when the sunlight reflected off the ripples and bounced back into the sky, painting a bright, blue canvas above them.
“How long are we going to be gone for?”
“Oh…” Said Cameron, looking down at the wooden deck below his feet. “I didn’t tell Mummy that I’d be gone for that long.”
“How long did you tell her you’d be gone for?”
“Did you tell your Mummy you’d be going back home forever?”
“‘Course! She wouldn’t worry about me. Because I’ve been going to Ordano myself for years since I was born, so I’d know how to get there by myself.”
“Do you think that your mummy would tell my mummy that I was gone?”
“Sure she would.”
“Will I ever be able to come back, to visit?”
“No! Of course not. Once we’re at Ordano you won’t want to come back and visit…” Cameron continued to stare at the ground. “That’s not a problem with you, is it?”
Cameron thought about this for a minute, before concluding: “No. I think I’d prefer being in Ordano than at home anyway.”
Satisfied with his conclusions, Cameron continued to hop around the little boat. Alex joined in. They spent hours happily playing games together on the deck of the boat until the sun set below the coastline. And when it started to get too dark to see properly, Cameron switched on a little solar powered floodlight which was attached to the mast of the boat. Then they got out their sleeping bags from under the deck, and settled down to go to sleep under the stars.
“I’m so happy that we’re going to Ordano Alex,” said Cameron. “Thank you.”
“Thank you Cameron. I’m happy that you’re coming with me too.”
“When we get to Ordano, will there be a big parade for you?”
“So then, do they know that you’re coming home, so that they can get everything ready?”
“Yeah, I talked to the mayor on the radio under the deck before we left.”
“You spoke to them?”
“Wow.” Cameron began to wriggle around in his sleeping bag, trying to get comfortable. “Alex…”
“Do you think that they’d like me in Ordano.”
“Of course they would. Why wouldn’t they.”
Cameron thought about this for a second. “I don’t know.”
Alex laid on her back and stared at the white sail above her, flapping gently in the breeze. She could feel the salty wind whistling above her as she drifted to sleep.
“I don’t see anything yet,” said Cameron.
“Of course not, we’re not there yet.”
“How far away are we then.”
“Yeah! And if you keep asking, I’ll throw you overboard into the sea.”
“No! Please don’t do that. I’m just excited, that’s all.”
Alex smiled at Cameron and sat him down on the deck of the ship next to her. He wrapped her arms round her tightly and closed his eyes.
“What are you doing now?”
“Imagining what it’ll be like.”
“Do you have to hang on to me so tightly?”
“Yes!” He said. “Is it true that you can see all the stars and the moon from the tops of the houses.”
“Of course it is, I said that you could didn’t I?”
“Yeah, I know you did. And you can hear the ocean crash against the beach from anywhere?”
“And there are birds with all different colours flying through the sky and sitting on the ledges of windows.”
“And all the children and the people there. Would they like me?”
“Of course they’ll like you! Why wouldn’t they like you?”
“What if the people in Ordano don’t understand me. What if they think I’m a stranger so they think that I hate them. Or they think that I want to kill them all. Or they -.”
“I know that they’ll understand you, and like you. You know why?”
“Because you know me. And I like you. So if I say that I like you, then everyone else will love you too. I promise.”
Alex squeezed Cameron back, before gently prying his arms from her waist, and getting up to adjust the sails. Cameron sat himself up and leaned against the wooden deck of the boat.
“I like you too, by the way Alex,” he said.
“Thanks,” replied Alex, focusing all of her attention on the sails.
“I’m very happy that you’re my friend. I can’t even remember how awful my life was without you.”
“I know Cameron.”
“Promise me you’ll never leave me.”
Alex stopped and stared back at Cameron for a second, before replying: “Don’t worry. I don’t think you’ll ever be able to get rid of me.”
Cameron smiled and ran to help Alex adjust the sail to the wind.
The sun washed over Alex like a rug. She lay on the floor of the boat, covered in sweat. Cameron walked over.
“Alex. Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just hot.”
“Is it normally this hard to get to Ordano.”
“Are you kidding. I’ve been to Ordano in a storm.”
Alex pushed forward and sat herself upright. “Heck yeah! And it was raining too, so me and my mum and dad were getting soaked. And the waves were washing onto the boat. And lighting was crashing down everywhere. The boat nearly caught on fire.”
“What did you do?”
“I steered the boat to safety, of course.”
“You’re so amazing Alex. I can’t do cool things like steer a ship in lightning.”
“Well, hopefully, it won’t come to that. Now keep checking the radio, I have a feeling that Ordano is right nearby.”
Cameron ran to the hatch below the deck to check the radio again. As Alex laid herself back down on the deck, she could hear Cameron clattering about with the radio equipment beneath her.
The sun was behind a cloud when Alex saw the faint outlines of the buildings in the distance. And when she did, she immediately began to dance around the boat in celebration. She shouted and hummed a wordless tune, jumping up and down to wake Cameron, who was sleeping below the deck.
“Cameron!” She called. “Cameron! We’re here! We’ve made it to Ordano! I can see it in the distance!”
As soon as Cameron heard the name ‘Ordano,’ he kicked himself out of his sleeping bag and ran to the deck of the ship. Alex pointed off the side of the boat to the thin layer of buildings in the distance. Cameron had trouble making them out at first as he squinted into the distance; but he quickly saw what Alex was looking at. Lost in celebration, they held hands and span around the boat, laughing and chanting. Eventually, Alex calmed both Cameron and herself down.
“Ok, Cameron. It’s time for you to show what I’ve taught you. Are you ready.”
“I’m ready Alex.”
“Brilliant. Good luck.”
The pair split. Cameron immediately lowered the anchor and scrambled back below the deck so that he could talk into the radio, while Alex lowered the sails, grabbed a pair of headphones from her bag in the corner of the boat and climbed the mast. Once she was sitting securely, plugged in the headphones into the antenna on top of the sail and pointed it towards Ordano. For about 5 minutes, all they could hear was static. Alex adjusted and rotated the antenna in a bid to get a clear signal, but the wind made it difficult for Alex to keep her hand steady. But eventually, they heard a crackly and distorted voice through the radio apparatus:
“This is Ordano water traffic control. You are about to enter Ordano territory. Do not advance any further. Please state your entry permit number and security code.”
Cameron felt his heart start to beat slightly, but he remembered the exact words that Alex had told him to say many times. He pressed the button on the microphone, and spoke calmly.
“This is Cameron Michaels. I have travelled across the sea to live in your city. I have been brought here by Alex Gremontia. She is letting me live here with her.”
The line went silent for a few seconds, before the person on the other end of the radio finally said:
“We apologise, but Oradno is not currently accepting immigrants without prior arrangement at least 12 months in advance.”
Cameron panicked. He hadn’t prepared for this. He didn’t know what to say now. His finger felt like it was stuck on the radio button, but no words were leaving his mouth.
“Tell them who I am again! Maybe they didn’t hear properly!” Shouted Alex from above the deck.”
“Er… I said I’m sailing here with Alex Gremontia. She used to live here before she moved. But now she’s back; and she wants to let me live with her. You must know who she is. She said that you’d know who she was!” Cameron’s voice started to waver as he grew more and more scared that Ordano wasn’t going to let them in.
“We apologise, but Oradno is not currently accepting immigrants without prior arrangement at least 12 months in advance,” the voice repeated.
“Please! Please, I can’t go back home! I want to live in Ordano. Alex told me about how beautiful and wonderful Ordano is, and how much better it is to live there. And how everyone’s always nice to you. She told me about the beautiful trees and buildings. And how it’s always sunny and there’s never a cloud in the sky. And about how delicious the food always is. And how the children are all nice to each other. And how everyone’s always happy. I want to live here. You’ve got to let me live -!”
All of a sudden, Alex jumped down into the deck and pushed Cameron away from the radio. She grabbed the microphone and spoke nervously through gritted teeth.
“This is Alex Gremontia. I have been a citizen of Ordano for all of my life. I demand that you give us permission to enter.”
“We apologise, but Oradno is not currently accepting immigrants without -.”
Suddenly, the voice cut off, leaving only static playing through the radio.
“The antenna, it must have fallen off!” Shouted Alex before scrambling back to the mast.
“You were supposed to be holding it in place!” Cameron shouted after her.
Alex grabbed the fallen antenna from the deck and tried to climb the mast again to try and reattach it. But she was shaking so much that she slipped and fell on her back. She screamed in pain as she landed with a loud thud on the wooden floor.”
“Well, I would have been if you weren’t doing such a bad job on the radio!” she said through her tears.
“I said exactly what you told me to say. You said that they’d let us in if I said it.”
“Well, that massive speech you added obviously didn’t seem to help!”
“But it was all true. How could it have hurt. You told me about all of that stuff. You promised that they’d let us in.” Alex didn’t reply. “Why didn’t they recognise your name. You promised that you’d -.”
“I know! I know I promised! Ok! Just shut up and stop telling me that I promised.”
Silence. Cameron stared down at Alex whimpering on the floor as his own tears began to drip down his face in front of her. Alex slowly crawled to the side of the boat to give herself a ledge to get back on her feet. Cameron stared at the buildings in the distance. He walked to the edge of the boat and watched the pale silhouettes blur together as tears passed over his eyes.
“This isn’t over yet,” said Alex.
“What do you mean?” Asked Cameron, without taking his eyes off the coastline.
“We will get into Ordano.”
“Easily. I just need to get the antenna back on the mast and talk to them. They probably just didn’t have time to work out who I was.”
“So… We’re still going to Ordano?”
“Yeah. Of course. What made you think that we suddenly weren’t?”
“I don’t want to go home Alex.”
“We won’t. As soon as I can climb up the mast, I’ll speak to them again. It’ll work this time.”
“Do you promise.”
“Hey. I already did promise. Remember?”
Cameron turned to look at Alex, a smile creeping onto his face. “Oh yeah. Of course you did. I forgot.” Alex managed to smile weakly back at Cameron as she tried to sit herself down on the deck to support her back. “You’re the best Alex.”
“Yep. That’s me.” Alex said enthusiastically; almost completely managing to hide the growing anxiety in her voice.
From then on, Alex spent almost all of her time on top of the mast. She had picked up the radio and tied it to her side by it’s own extension cord. With the the microphone in her free hand, she would point the antenna at the vague landscape in the distance, desperately hoping to hear anything other than static down her headphones. Every now and then, Cameron would hear her shout angrily down the microphone.
“Hello! Can you hear me? It’s Alex Gremontia! Ordano? Is anyone there!”
Cameron assumed that she never heard any answer, as she normally fell silent after a few sentences. Cameron himself spent his time staring at the houses on the shore, wondering if he could simply swim to Ordano. He never built up enough courage to actually attempt this. Besides, he felt that leaving Alex alone would probably not be the best idea.
The longer that she spent on top of the mast, the louder and angrier she became, until she was screaming so loudly, that she wasn’t even bothering to direct it into the microphone anymore. Cameron feared for her sanity. One night, when she came down from the mast and silently crawled into bed, he sat on the deck next to her.
“You know Alex,” he started. Alex immediately turned her head towards him in her sleeping bag. “We’ve been here for a long time now.”
“Yeah. But don’t worry, I know that I’ll get us into Ordano soon.”
“Well, it’s just… I was thinking that… Maybe we should… Possibly… Try to find another island to live on.”
“You’re not seriously saying that you want to go home?” She snapped back.
“No! Of course not. But you must know other islands? Other places that we can live.”
“Well sorry, because I don’t.”
“But we’re getting nowhere here, I think we should -.”
“Oh, I see how it is. All of a sudden, you don’t want to go to Ordano? Is that what it is?”
“All of a sudden, Ordano’s not good enough for you?”
“Absolutely not! I -.”
“Well, don’t worry, because Ordano doesn’t want you to live there anyway.”
“They don’t want you to be there either apparently.”
“NO! Of course they want me to be there. They probably won’t let me in because you’re on the boat. I could throw you overboard right now and they would let me in right away.”
“You wouldn’t do that.”
“Why wouldn’t I? You don’t want to go to Ordano now anyway.”
“Stop saying that! You know I want to!”
“No-one would like you anyway. You’d never fit in. You’d have no friends. Not even me because I wouldn’t want anyone else to see me with you! You’d have come all this way for nothing, ‘cos you’d grow old and die alone anyway, just like you would have done on your stupid, boring home.”
“I hate you!”
“I don’t care! Now stop wasting my time.”
Alex threw her sleeping bag into the corner of the boat, grabbed the radio equipment and silently waved it in Ordano’s direction. Cameron silently watched her from his own sleeping bag until he fell asleep. He honestly did still want to live in Ordano, but he was starting to see that it would always be a fantasy to him. Unfortunately he didn’t have the courage to tell Alex that. When he briefly woke up in the middle of the night, he could see that Alex was still on top of the mast, silently crying into her arm.
When Alex realised that the boat was moving, Cameron was already awake. He stood at the edge of the boat, watching the ripples that the boat made as it slowly moved through the ocean.
“What happened!” Shouted Alex, snapping herself out of her slumber-like state. “Why are we moving?”
“The rope for the anchor broke,” Cameron said simply.
“How long have we been moving for?”
“I don’t know. We were moving when I got up.”
“But, where’s Ordano?” Alex frantically ran to each side of the boat, trying to find the outline of the coast in the distance. But all that stared back at her was an endless canvas of blue, stretching out towards all directions.
“I guess we sailed away from it.”
“But we’ve got to get back.”
“Why? What’s so special about Ordano anyway? Why can’t we find a different place to live?”
“Do you think that any other place would treat you like Ordano would’ve? Do you think any other island, you would be able to see the stars and the moon from the tops of the houses?”
“Maybe, we don’t know if -.”
“Do you think any other island would have birds of all different colours, flying through the skies and sitting on the window ledges.”
“We don’t -.”
“Do you think the people would like you.”
“You said that the people in Ordano wouldn’t like me.”
“Well, what do you expect when you want to go and run away from them before you’ve even got off the boat?” The two of them stared at each other in silence, until finally Alex said: “Fine! You want to find somewhere else to live, then go ahead and find it by yourself! I won’t stop you any more. Lucky for you, Ordano won’t miss you!”
Alex turned and started stomping her way to the hatch that lead underneath the deck; but before she got there, Cameron yelled: “Well, lucky for you, Ordano won’t miss you either.”
Alex stopped in her tracks. Silently, she turned around and stared at Cameron. Slowly and methodically, she stepped closer to him until she was standing square in front of him. Cameron stared back up at Alex. He suddenly felt too scared to move, so instead he held his ground and hoped that he could intimidate her enough to make her go away. It didn’t work. Instead, without making a sound, Alex raised her arm and punched Cameron square in the chin.
The force caused Cameron to immediately stumble backwards onto the deck. He clutched his bruised neck, trying not to show how much it had hurt him. Alex simply continued to stare at him angrily. It looked like she was going to say something else. To fire another insult at him about how much Ordano wouldn’t want him to even look in it’s direction. But instead, she turned around, climbed down the hatch and slammed it shut. Cameron staggered to his feet and looked at the vast stretches of water surrounding him, hoping to find some sort of reference point that he could point the boat towards. He found none. All that he could see, was the blurry line that joined the ocean to the clear, blue sky above him.
It took Cameron a long time to learn how to steer the boat on his own. It didn’t help that Alex refused to teach him anything about the boat; so Cameron had to work everything out by remembering how Alex had steered the boat before. Eventually, however, he was able to work out how to adjust the sails to the wind and get the boat to meander through the water.
In the meantime, Alex spent all day and night under the deck, looking out of the only window in the ship; as if she was hoping that Ordano would suddenly reappear on the horizon. Cameron visited her every night before he went to sleep. While he was there, he tried to reassure her that he would find an island for them both to live on soon. She never responded. She simply crossed her arms and continued to stare out the window in silence, trying to pretend that Cameron wasn’t even in the room with her. After a while, Cameron stopped trying to communicate with her. Instead, he sat under the deck with her every night until she feel asleep, slumped over the window, before laying down next to her and falling asleep himself.
Cameron had very little luck actually finding other islands, however. Every morning he would wake up and climb the mast with the radio equipment. Every so often, he thought that he could see a faint outline of a beach house in the distance. Or a glimmer of light reflected off a window pane. But when he tried to pick up a radio signal, he would hear nothing but static through the headphones.
But he refused to give up hope. It was impossible for him to go back home now. Even if he knew how to get back home, he wouldn’t want to go back. He figured, that at this point, any island would be better than admitting defeat and returning home.
Eventually, Cameron became so attached to his daily routine, that he began to stop caring about ever finding an island. He slowly became content with waking up, searching the ocean for any signs of civilisation for several hours, visiting Alex under the deck, and going to sleep. He had grown accustomed to admiring the clear blue skies and the glinting ocean below it. Whenever he looked out into it, he felt calm and serene knowing that he didn’t need anything else. Perhaps it wasn’t the most fulfilling lifestyle, but it helped to keep Cameron stable.
“Cameron! Cameron! Wake up! Wake up!” Cameron could feel Alex pulling his arm excitedly as he slowly drifted away from his sleep. This was the first time that Alex had spoken to or even smiled at him in a long time, and it made Cameron feel uneasy.
“Alex… What’s wrong?”
“It’s Ordano, Cameron! We’ve found it! They spoke to me on the radio last night while you were asleep. They said that they’re sorry for turning us away before. They say they don’t know how it could’ve happened. And this is the best bit: They said that we can live on Ordano now. Isn’t that brilliant Cameron.”
She immediately leaped down next to where he was sleeping and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing his body close to hers.
“Are you sure that they said that Alex?” Cameron said wearily.
“Of course they said that, I heard them myself.”
“But we’ve been sailing randomly through the ocean for so long. How could we have wound up back to where we started?”
“That’s what I thought, but then I realised why. It’s because it’s fate. Don’t you see, it is our destiny to live in Ordano. Why else would we have returned out of nowhere?”
Alex pulled Cameron’s arm until he was out of his sleeping bag and onto the deck. Morning had just started. So the sun was just starting to sprout and rise from beneath the ocean. Rubbing his eyes, Cameron looked around the blank horizon.
“So where’s Ordano then?”
“It’s in the distance. You have to squint to see it clearly. Out there!” Alex pointed into the distance, as if the shore of the city was right in front of them.
“I don’t see anything,” said Cameron bluntly.
“Squint!” said Alex.
Cameron squinted. “I still don’t see anything.”
“Whatever! The point is, is that if you let me run the boat again, I can take us to Ordano, easy.”
Alex couldn’t contain her excitement as she stared manically into Cameron’s eyes, who simply sighed in return.
“Alex, I don’t want to go to Ordano anymore.”
Silence immediately fell over the boat. This silence was broken a few seconds later, by Alex emitting a loud and piercing laugh into the air around them. “Don’t be silly,” she said between laughs. “Of course you want to go.”
“No Alex. I don’t.”
“Yes you do. You never stopped wanting to go. You just forgot that you wanted to go.”
“I’m fine here Alex. I don’t need Ordano or any other island to be happy.”
“What? So you’d be happy living on the sea for the rest of your life? You’d be happy living alone and looking at a boring, blank chunk of nothing for the rest of your life?”
“Yeah? What’s so bad about that?”
“Because I didn’t even tell you the best thing they told me on the radio.”
“What’s that?” Said Cameron neutrally.
“That Ordno, is even better than it was before!”
Cameron turned to return to the deck, but Alex ran in front of him. “Ok, so you know all the stuff that I told you about before? They’ve still got all that, but now they’ve also got massive beaches that stretch round the whole island. And beautiful gardens that you can sit in the sun all day. And everything else is perfect there too. Cameron, I know that you thought that no-one in Ordano wouldn’t like you, but now I know that they will. And the fact that we’ve been given a second chance proves that we will get there.”
Cameron looked out at the ocean. All of a sudden, just for a second, he could’ve sworn that he saw the outline of the houses in the distance, just where Alex had pointed.
“You say that they will let us in?”
“And everyone there will like me?”
“And all of those things you said about Ordano; they’re all true?”
“Of course they’re true. I said that they were true, didn’t I?”
“And you’ll get us there?”
“Yes! Totally! Certainly! One-hundred percent! I promise!”
Cameron turned away from the ocean to look at Alex, clutching her hands together, desperately trying convince him that she was right. “You promise.”
Alex took a big gulp of air and nodded her head frantically before answering. “I promise.”
Cameron sighed and smiled at her before running over to hug her. “Ok Alex. If you say that you can get us to Ordano, then that’s where we’ll go.”
“Don’t worry Cameron. We’ll get there. It’s fate.”
“It’s fate.” Cameron reaffirmed; every hint of doubt leaving his body. “There’s no time to waste then. Point us towards Ordano Alex!”
“Point us towards Ordano, captain.”
“Point us towards Ordano, captain!” Cameron repeated.
Alex ran to the sails and climbed them faster than she had ever done before.
Alex was sure that she had saw Ordano in front of her just a few seconds ago. At least, that was what she told Cameron every couple of hours or so. And between those hours, she swears to him that she had just received a message from Ordano through the radio. And every time she did, Cameron remembered the promise that she had given him and trusted her. Every day he grew more and more excited about going to Ordano. Just as he had done when they had first set sail. Although, now, that felt like it was ever so long ago. Alex was right when she said that Cameron didn’t really want to spend the rest of his life sitting in the middle of the ocean. And now, after being confronted by Alex, he knew exactly where he wanted to be; and he vowed that would no longer become distracted by any second rate alternatives.
But eventually, Alex herself began to doubt if they would ever actually arrive at Ordano.
“I don’t understand!” She said one day. “The radio said that Ordano is right in front of us.”
“And you definitely went in the direction they told you to go?” Said Cameron.
“Of course I did! I’m not stupid!”
“I’m just saying. You keep saying that Ordano is right in front of us. But -”
“The radio keeps saying that.”
“Fine, the radio, while I’m not under the deck to hear it by the way, keeps telling you that Ordano is right in front of us. But every time you change our course, we never actually arrive anywhere!”
“I know Cameron. I’m sorry. I think…” Alex trailed off, scared to admit her suspicions.
“I think that Ordano doesn’t want us to find it. I think they’re giving us false information and sending us in circles.”
“But you promised that Ordano wanted us to find them. They told you themselves in the radio. At least… That’s what you told me.”
“They did contact me! What are you saying!”
“I’m saying, that they never contacted you in the first place.”
“They did! And they do! But they’re sending us in circles, I’m sure of it.”
Cameron pushed past her towards the hatch. He emerged with all of the radio equipment in a pile in his hands. The wires still attached and trailing back into the hatch. He dropped everything he was carrying in a pile in front of Alex.
“Go on,” he said coldly. “Talk to them on the radio now.”
Alex slowly bent down and began to untangle the cables of each piece of equipment. Cameron snatched a pair of headphones from the pile and placed them over his ears, not taking his eyes off Alex. Her hands trembling, Alex picked up the microphone and antenna. Slowly, she began to climb the mast. Once she was in place, she held the antenna at arm’s length and pressed the button on the microphone.
“Attention Ordano water traffic control; this is Alex Gremontia. Are you there? Please respond.”
Alex and Cameron waited for a voice to emerge through the static, but after a few seconds with no results; Alex began to sweat. She pointed the antenna in a different direction, and tried again.
“Attention Ordano water traffic control; this is Alex Gremontia. Please respond.”
Still nothing. Cameron stood up and began to walk underneath the part of the mast where Alex was perched.
“Ordano Traffic Control: Are you there? I need you to respond!”
Tears started to stream from her eyes as Cameron leapt onto the mast and slowly climbed it until he was just below Alex.
“ORDANO TRAFFIC CONTROL! SOMEONE PLEASE HE-.”
Suddenly, Cameron grabbed Alex by the leg and pulled her downwards. Alex screamed as she fell on the deck with a loud thump; leaving the microphone and antenna dangling from the mast. Cameron jumped in front of her.
“You promised me!”
“I know Cameron.” Alex spoke quickly, afraid that Cameron would attack her at any second. They both looked at her bleeding leg. “I think it’s broken,” Alex said through the pain.
“Don’t worry,” said Cameron, turning to the front of the ship. “We’ll get it fixed once we get to Ordano.”
“You promised! You can’t go back now! I won’t accept anywhere else! Even if we have to sail for the rest of our lives, we will reach Ordano! I Promise.”
From then onwards, Cameron and Alex refused to talk to each other. Alex found a small wooden crutch in a medical cabinet under the deck. She spent most of her time on top of the boat, trying to find the spirit to believe in Ordano again. Sadly, she found that she could no longer find any desire to go there. Cameron, however, spent most of his time under the deck, staring out the window in silence, as if he believed that, if he stared into the distance long enough, The shadow of a vast cityscape would appear in front of him.
And then one day, it did.
The silhouettes of houses appeared in front of Cameron so suddenly, that at first, he thought that he was dreaming. But as soon as he realised that it was real, he ran to the top of the deck and turned the boat towards the shore. Alex watched him run back and forth around the boat looking for the microphone. Eventually he found it, still hanging from the mast where it had been left. He hoisted himself up onto the mast and shouted excitedly into the microphone.
“Hello! Ordano water traffic control, this is Cameron Michaels. I have travelled across the ocean to live in your city.”
Alex pushed herself out of her sleeping bag and grabbed her crutch before slowly limping over to see what was happening. The voice that responded on the radio sounded much clearer than before.
“Sorry, I’ve never heard of Ordano. This is the city of Frant, lifeguard station. Are you stranded? You can dock here if you need assistance.”
“So, this isn’t Ordano?”
“Er, no. Sorry, I’ve never heard of any place called Ordano before. Are you sure you said that right? Maybe this line is bad.”
“Cameron?” Alex called to him weakly. “Did they say they’d let us dock there? Did they?”
Cameron ignored her, and continued to talk into the microphone. “I’m not stranded; I’m waiting for Ordano. Sorry to have bothered you.”
He jumped down in front of Alex and began to move the boat away from the city of Frant.
“Cameron, what are you doing?” Cameron didn’t even look at her. “Didn’t you hear what they said, they’ll let us dock there. And if we explain our situation, maybe they’ll let us live there. Isn’t that what we wanted in the first place. Isn’t anywhere better than where we started?”
“Nothing is better than Ordano,” said Cameron to no-one in particular.
“How do you know that? Even if Ordano is perfect, that doesn’t mean it’s going to make your life perfect! That’s what you have to do for yourself. Going to Ordano isn’t going to magically solve all of your problems. Of course you think that it will, because you want to believe that it will magically make your life perfect and beautiful and happy and everything. But once you got there, you’d only be disappointed. And even if living in Ordano did magically solve all your problems. Sooner or later, new problems will appear, then it’s just like living in any other place.
“So instead, let’s just accept that no place in the world can make our lives perfect, but if we try, we can be happy.”
Cameron simply stared at Alex in silence until she had finished speaking. He looked at the city as it blended behind the clear blue sky. Then he looked back.
“I’m sorry, Alex. Ever since I first met you, you’ve told me that Ordano is the only place worth living. And when you told me that it was fate, I convinced myself that there was no other place worth living. In fact, you told me that it was better than a place worth living. You said that it was a magical place where everything was perfect. A place where all your problems magically vanish.”
“I never said that your problems would -!”
“Yes you did! And you promised that that was where we were going to live. In a perfect place. A place that couldn’t possibly exist! Perhaps I don’t want to go to Ordano. Maybe I never wanted to go to Ordano in the first place. I wanted to go to the perfect city that you invented in my head. The city that I convinced myself was real.
“But do you think, that after waiting for so long, that I could just turn around and settle for a place in reality? Of course not. You can’t just remove that conditioning. It’s permanent. And even if I never find Ordano again; I’d rather spend my whole life looking for my perfect illusion, than settle for reality.”
“But that’s stupid. You’re going to waste your whole life waiting for a place that you may never find. A place that you know doesn’t want you, even if you did manage find it again. When you have a chance to be happy here. You’re just going to throw all of that away just because you’re not going to get your little, perfect life?”
“I wish you’d never told me about Ordano in the first place. If I’d have never met you, I wouldn’t have wanted something so impossibly perfect.”
“So, you’re just going to lie to yourself about a perfect place that doesn’t really exist? For the rest of your life?”
“Yes Alex. I hope you’ll understand. After all, I’m much too scared to risk being happy.”
The stars shone brightly above Cameron and Alex as they gazed up at them from the deck of the boat, side by side on their backs, looking straight up.
“I just realised,” said Cameron suddenly. “I should say thank you to you.”
“What for?” Asked Alex, not looking away from the sky.
“Without you, I never would have learnt about Ordano and how brilliant it is, and how wonderful it’ll be when we finally get there and -.”
“That’s fine Cameron. Don’t mention it.”
“I mean, just imagine where I’d be right now if I had never heard of Ordano. I’d probably still be at home, completely miserable.”
“Yeah… It’s unthinkable.”
Cameron inched over and hugged Alex tightly like a giant teddy bear. “I’m so glad I met you Alex. Please don’t ever leave me.”
Alex stroked his hair gently. “I told you Cameron, you’ll never be rid of me.”
For a few minutes, only the sounds of the waves crashing against the boat could be heard as the pair stared at the universe.
“Alex…” Cameron said finally.
“Yes Cameron?” Alex replied.
“Tell me again: What’s Ordano like?”
Project Endlessness consists of three short stories: