As I was kayaking down the inlet, traversing the various islands along the Crystal Coast, I felt a sudden shift around me. The salt air whipped around me, chilling my skin. The calm water of the inlet gave way to the choppy swells of the open ocean. Land seemed much farther off and the sky was darkened by storm clouds that moments before were nowhere to be seen. The very sun seemed to be in a different place in the sky.
I fought initial panic and tried to make sense of what was going on. Aiming for the distant shore, I began paddling, steady and paced, while my brain swirled around, trying any way to explain the unexplainable. I was not in North Carolina. The water was too cold, too rough. The shore was much too rocky and menacing, a small beach dwarfed by the sheer cliff towering over head. There are no cliffs by the ocean where I live. I looked to the top of the cliff and thought I could see movement. I tried shouting, but I have no idea if anyone heard. For all I know, the wind stole the sound and swirled it back out into the ocean.
As I continued pushing my way to the shore, I saw where a group of people were making there way along some unseen path down towards the beach. Their clothing looked thick and robed. A thick robe sounded like a great idea at this point. As much as I was trying to stay calm and focused, my paddle strokes were becoming sloppy and more freezing water was splashing on me.
I finally made my way to the shore, where one of the men helped pull the kayak onto the beach and assisted me as climbed out, very grateful to be on dry land again. I thanked him and sunk to my knees to catch my breath as he turned to examine my kayak.
“What is this?” His voice was deep and guttural, with a heavy accent that seemed both extremely foreign and extremely familiar at the same time. “What is this boat made from?”
I glanced up at him, confused by the question. “Um, polyethylene, maybe? I think.” He frowned at me. “Poly-? What is this? No wood is this light and can still float?”
“Well, it’s not wood…” I was really confused now. I started examining this group of people more closely. Their clothes look like something out of a Renaissance Festival, but no where near as high quality or polished as what you would find at a Renaissance Festival. In fact, if I was to know what home spun wool looked like, I would call it this. The three men all had scraggily beards and long hair, and the woman looked, well, she looked hard, that is only way to describe her. As I stared at them, I realized they were performing the same assessment of me, trying to make sense of me and my purpose. The fluttering I had had in my stomach since this whole thing started was turning into an outright tornado as my mind was starting to accept the unimaginable.
“You’ve never heard of plastic?” I asked hopefully, trying to hold on to my optimistic thought that the rest of my brain was insane and there was a perfectly logical reason all of this was happening. Unfortunately my optimism hit a brick wall as they looked back at me expressionless.
“Kayak? Molded plastic?” Nothing.
“Um, could you tell me where we are?”
“Cornwall” I repeated stupidly, my brain failing to connect the dots. “King Arthur? King Arthur!” My brain finally caught up kept racing forward.
King Arthur. Cornwall. Tintagel Castle. Dark Ages. No power. No lights. No communication. No internet. Oh dear god, what was I going to do? I have no money! What can I do to earn food? I design websites. I’m good with photography. I run an office using computer programs to accomplish most of what i need to do on a daily basis. I don’t know how to hunt. Even if I killed something, I wouldn’t know how to process it into something edible. I don’t know plants. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about making wool or how they build things, or even how i’m supposed to brush my teeth! What the hell am I going to do? I’m screwed.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Barter System.”