"I think I'm good up here, thank you son." I replied, and looked around the cockpit. No weapons within reach, and the helicopter remained unresponsive. The handle of the door was out of my reach.
"Nonsense," He said, and grabbed my arm, his fingers too cold against my skin. "We made you a dinner, to thank you for all of your great kindness. For all the meals you provided for us. If you don't come out then we'll have to eat it in there."
*They're just kids, kids who think you're their god,* I thought, *Go eat their dinner, then sneak out when nightfall hits, fix the helicopter, and get the Hell away from this island.*
"Fine," I answered, and stepped from the helicopter to be surrounded by smiling faces. The girls skipped around me, their skirts fluttering in the wind, their edges seeming to melt into the beach. And the boys raced ahead, their voices seeming much farther away than the fifteen feet lead they had taken, and the colors of their shirts muted. I walked carefully, watching each step, and trying to keep a count of the ten.
They led me into the forest, among their huts, and to a long wooden table that I had ordered constructed in the center of a small clearing. The food delivery mechanisms were designed to provide around that table, and as I approached I saw it was set for eleven. There were cups and plates for each spot, and silverware laid upon napkins, and at the center were several large covered platters.
"Here's your seat, Mr. Don," Said the smallest, gesturing to a small stool at the end of the table. I sat, and the rest of the children filed past, each taking their own seats. These were raised, I noticed, and their eyes were level with mine as each settled into position.
I reached forward to uncover the first platter, and the smallest boy spoke again.
"But Mr. Don! Wait. We must say grace to you first. Marcus here always does it- he went to several years of Sunday school before becoming an orphan, so he knows the most about religion. Said he wanted to be a priest to, back when he thought he'd grow up."
At the other end of the table, another boy smiled, and produced a tattered notebook- one of the few originals I'd left behind on the island ten years before. He opened it up, and I saw the lettering on the front, scribbled in thick sharpie.
The Book Of Don
"What's that?" I asked, tensing. And around the table the children smiled.
"Marcus put this together for you, Mr. Don. We pulled together all the religious sayings we could remember, plus some extra that we could only partially remember, that we felt described you. And we read one before each meal as a blessing."
Marcus cleared his throat, then began.
"Blessed are those who *hunger and thirst* for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
"Amen." Chorused the other children, and removed the tops from the platters.
"Here Mr. Don," Said the smallest boy, "Serve yourself first. You deserve it. We'll provide for you just as you provided for us."
The children passed the platters around the table to me, held out serving spoons. I stared into each of the platters, hesitating. Each was empty, completely devoid of food.
"Go on, Mr. Don." They chorused.
And so with a shaking hand I served myself, like at a young girl's tea party, a helping of air. As soon as I finished, they each served themselves, each taking generous portions of nothing. And they began to eat.
They slurped on soup. They crunched on vegetables. And they ripped apart bread. I heard it all, I even smelled it all, but before my eyes there was nothing. But I pretended to eat, pretended to eat the empty air that they so voraciously attacked. And the smallest boy struck up conversation again.
"We owe you so much Mr. Don. It's with your help we were able to come back. Back from the other side."
"Because I'm a god? And what exactly is the other side?"
"If you say so, Mr. Don. And you know, the *other* side." He said, and knocked a fork off the table to punctuate the point, "Really we shouldn't be here. It's only with your help that we are."
"So I... So I could send you back then?"
"I suppose so, if you did the right thing, or willed the right way."
The children ahead continued eating as if they couldn't hear the conversation between me and the smallest boy. And meeting his eyes, I closed my own, and raised a hand.
Go, I thought, and the noise of eating around me stopped.
I smiled, and jolted my eyes open, but the ten were still there. They had stopped eating, stopped breathing, and every eye was upon me.
"Oh Mr. Don," Said the smallest, "You really shouldn't have done that. That wasn't the right thing."
"For there are some transgressions so evil that they cannot be righted by natural means. But the scale must be balanced, by other means if necessary." Read Marcus from his book, "We made that one up. But I think you get the point."