The Island was long, but they were wise in how they settled it.
They put most of the cities and villages to the south along the long stretch of land they called the Lumbo. The grassy plains to the north they left alone, unhampered by the burdens of civilization. There the animals roamed free, just like they had when the people first came here.
They been careful, these wayfaring People, these new-world-creating People, to make sure that the animals they brought with them didn’t invade or take over the habitats of the aboriginal animals. They learned a lot from the mistakes others had made before them, in other lands and other times. This was their plan,
the natural world
in spite of it.
They’d tried to tell the others about the dangers. They’d tried to convince them of the avalanche of waste, of poisons, of the dangers of neglect or of over-use. They’d tried and failed. They continued, the others, in their thoughtless, mindless ways, living as if there was no tomorrow.
The People left, knowing if they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a tomorrow. Their water would be undrinkable, their food would be their poison, their air fouled with smokestacks and acid. They left the “experts”, the doctors, the academics, the politicians, the priests. They left them, seeing the train that was coming was going to run them over, all of them.
This Island was their last hope. Others had left for the stars, hoping to colonize other planets that were as Earth-like as possible. They’d never written back. The citizens of Earth never knew if they’d gotten lost or died along the way, or worse, gotten there and flourished. Perhaps in their zeal to keep what they had, their new secret Terra Firma, they never wrote back, for fear that others would follow and ruin the joy, the unspoiled wilderness.
Too many colonists spoil the planet, you know.
The People had come here to the Island, some too poor to make the first trip, some too scared to box themselves up coffin-like in the space ships. It was 23 years after the first and only ship left that they’d scraped up enough money and interest to make the voyage.
The Island was their home for good now. They’d taken apart the big ships, used the wood to build their first settlements.
It was best this way really, living to the south. The people on the west side of the island had a perfect view of the deep, dark, waters of the MaLungo Sea, while the people to the east not only enjoyed the morning sunrise but also the shallower waters of the Bay of BahrimBa. There was good snorkeling there, and dolphins.
The dolphins told them everything they knew about this Island’s waters and even further out into “the Great Deep,” as the dolphins called it. Few of them went there. That was the realm of the whales, the royalty of the ocean.
The People of the Island enjoyed visiting with each other but the waters weren’t amenable to sailing close into shore. They were choppy and many a ship was lost before the people learned to understand the language of the dolphins. Together they tracked out the sea lanes, the invisible highways that stretched over the ocean, areas of calm where ships may safely sail. This made it possible to establish farming villages in the north as well. No roads could be constructed to transport the produce, so small ships were essential lifelines to the southern towns.
They made a wide berth around the island to the west. It had sprung up some 200 years ago amidst much rumbling and plumes of steam. One day it wasn’t there and then one bright morning, heralded by cracks and booms, the island was born over the course of six weeks.
No one lived there. Not even animals.
They called it “Turtle Island” because it looked like the shell of a great turtle, not because any of those noble animals lived there. They remembered a story from many generations back of a turtle holding up the world on her shell. That turtle was bigger than dreams and stronger than fear. She held up the world, swimming through space like it was a sea of stars. She held the world up on her back, high enough for light and air for it, while underwater she navigated the waters of time, carrying them to their unknown destiny. Her life was a life underneath, a life of service.
The people then never really knew how much she did for them.
They told her story to their children to remind them that all they see isn’t all that is, and that there is a great force that is carrying them safely and with great sacrifice. That was all they knew, and it was all they needed to know.
The story served them well then.
Years of science disproved this story, turned it into a myth. The people shifted away from superstition and ritual, but lost some of their hope when they abandoned the turtle as their benefactor.
These people carried that story, like a small ember from a fire, to their new home. Turtle island’s birth served as proof to them that their faith was warranted – the great turtle was still carrying them.
People would visit but they were not allowed to spend the night. Birds would land here to rest, but would not make nests. Even they knew this was a holy place. The brave among the teenagers would make their rafts or borrow the community rowboats and scull out to this little land
on a dare
or to stake their claim
or to run away
from restrictive parents
The island was still settling and still growing. They didn’t ever need the authorities to tell them to leave. They left of their own accord quickly enough, frightened by the rumblings in the land.