PART OF THE Quest ISSUE
‘As evening fell and the sun’s reflections on the waves turned into a bright rosy hue, I saw the island’s outlines blurred from the horizon.’
Extract taken from The Mysteries of the Island of Thara
By Lucio Schina
Published Black Wolf Editions
A distant island in the North hidden among the waves of the ocean. An ancient legend that hides a mystery to discover. The memory of an echo that hovers between reality and magic. An anthropologist who embarks his journey in search of the truth. A story that combines adventure and mysteries, where time redefines its cycles to create an alternative reality.
I turned two more pages and recognized my handwriting. It was uncertain and hiding a strong anxiety. The diary was interrupted from time to time, giving way to sketches and drawings. Underneath each one there was a little caption. During the three days I spent on the island I had written a diary of about ten pages structured as a fantastic story. I was reminded of the reason for that choice; I wanted to be sure that if it had been read by anyone, it would have been mistaken for something else. I had chosen not to divulge anything about that experience and still today I remain convinced of the goodness of the decision. Not so much because I would be laughed at, but because I felt that those emotions had to be kept inside me and remain a secret forever.
I read it in a few minutes, all in one breath. It was like a light came back on. A story that had marked the entire course of my life. The ending was unbelievable and, although I had written it in my own handwriting, it raised doubts about its authenticity. Too great had been the magic I had experienced, a magic that an age-hardened mind could hardly accept. A story born from curiosity or perhaps from a destiny that had in store for me the most incredible adventure I could imagine. An island hidden among the waves of the northern ocean, a legend handed down for centuries and a secret jealously guarded in the folds of time.
Stains of discoloured paint came out here and there along the sideboards, a sign that originally the boat must have been a very pronounced dark blue. A guy in his 50s showed up. The appearance was far from respecting the clichés of the brave captain. No cap with a sailor’s visor, no long white beard and no surly character. He dressed in a large yellow sweater and a pair of wool trousers, and had a large mass of messy curly hair on his head. He gave me permission to come aboard and greet me with a friendly smile.
‘If you want to visit the islands off the promontory you’ve found the right person. We can set sail in half an hour. In this season, then, they offer beautiful natural spectacles.’
I asked him if he could make his way to the island of Thara; the expression on his face became questioning, but he went back to relax a moment after hearing what I was offering him for the crossing.
‘We leave in 20 minutes, time to set course and refuel.’
‘Perfect!’ I simply responded, giving a slight nod of approval with my hand.
While the powerful motor propellers drew a white trail into the sea and the ferry headed north towards the mainland, our boat turned east, with a slight wind in the stern, towards the small and almost forgotten island of Thara. After passing the small islands nearby, the sea became frizzier and the captain shouted to push the engines at full power. All I did during the crossing was watch the sea. I shut myself off altogether. I had planned a study trip but now, lost among the waves and an endless horizon, I realized I had given up the role of researcher the moment I stepped on board. The reason that prompted me to visit the island of Thara was unknown to me, yet it seemed natural to me as if the mind had programmed it many years earlier, only to make it dormant in the years to come. I was taking a leap in the dark and I knew I had to. I had not carried out any kind of preliminary study, neither geographical nor historical anthropological. All I had with me was the little book that contained the story, a small drawing kit and a diary for personal notes. Whether in those few faded pages there was a fictionalized account of an event that had actually happened, or a fictionalized story that over time had turned into legend, I would have discovered it once I landed and set foot on the island. I remember, as if it were now, that the view of the pristine sea of the north had cleared my mind of all thoughts, making me tune in to the natural elements that surrounded me; it was as if an inner call was guiding me, a feeling that I felt clearly during the journey. I could hear something akin to a hiss, a slight melody mixing in the wind. Its origins were obscure to me and I didn’t understand if it came from outside or, on the contrary, if it came from inside. It was imposing, embracing, and it traced the path I was walking down. As evening fell and the sun’s reflections on the waves turned into a bright rosy hue, I saw the island’s outlines blurred from the horizon. A crewman warned me we’d be arriving at our destination within minutes. I used that little time to re-read the legend one last time. It was called ‘The Echo of Remorse’. The plot weaves with wise ambiguity reality and supernatural; I deliberately use these terms in a conventional way, not having the certainty of where the barrier that divides it from its opposite rests.
The Mysteries of the Island of Thara by Lucio Schina is published Black Wolf Editions, priced £5.99.
Donald S. Murray was a teacher of English for 30 years. Since leaving that profession, he has written full-time. His non-fiction work includes ‘The Guga Hunters’, ‘Italian Chapel, Orkney’, (Birlinn) and ‘Herring Tales’ (Bloomsbury). The latter was wide …
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