And here is the final installment of Signal Me. Actually it's quite sad. No not the book. Well, it is in places, but that's not what I meant. This whole journey started when I was 14 and now it's over. The books are finished and out in the big wide world. Here's the original handwritten copy with pictures! And my very first review from the headmaster! Yes, it was a school creative writing project!
Here are some pics from the original book.
It's changed a lot over the years. What was originally just a jaunt for the sake of it, turned into a rescue mission. There was no disaster. Then there was, but it was a totally different one. the volcano didn't erupt. They were cousins as well as best friends.
Then it turned into something different which is what you read today.
The only main characters to keep their names were Lou and Deefer. Paul remained Paul Kirk until almost the final edits when I thought it'd be a laugh to change his name to Jim. Fortunately my editor agreed and Paul became Jim.
Rescued by the U.S. Air Force, Jim, Staci, and Lou are thrust into another agonizing situation. No one finds it easy to be under adult supervision after being on their own for so long, but without the support of the family, can the teens come to terms with the tragedies that have befallen their families and themselves? How will they cope with what is to come? What will happen to the new addition to their group? Uncertainty is all around, but surely God didn’t bring them this far, together, just to separate them all now?
Staci leapt out as soon as the door opened, still screaming and crying. “Mummy! Daddy!” She hugged both her parents tightly.
Jim sat still for a moment longer and then jumped out of the chopper, straight into the arms of his parents. He hugged them tightly, tears filling his eyes and unashamedly running down his face. “I thought you were dead…”
“We thought the same of you two,” Dad said, pulling Staci into the group hug. “Running away was an incredibly stupid and thoughtless thing to do. Why did you do it? Why not let the authorities do their job?”
“I’m sorry.” Jim took a deep breath. “You were missing. No one was doing anything, so I thought I’d find you myself. Then the girls stowed away and…”
“Don’t get mad at Jim or Lou,” Staci interrupted. “I wasn’t going to be left behind.”
“We were worried sick,” Mum told them, her voice wobbling. “When we finally found a working telephone, Nicky told us you were missing—”
His mother took a deep breath. “We’ve been frantic, wondering where you were. Jack kept in contact, told us he’d found you, but…” She paused. “I am so mad at you.”
“Guess we’re grounded,” Jim said quietly.
“For the rest of your lives,” Dad said. “And then some. You of all people should know better, James.”
Jim shifted. “Sorry.”
Dad nodded. “We’ll discuss this later.”
Jim turned and looked for Ailsa. She was standing on the edge of the group, looking awkward. He grabbed her hand and pulled her close. “This is Ailsa. She’s a missionary kid, too,” he said. “She saved our lives several times.”
Mum smiled. “Nice to meet you, Ailsa.”
Staci grinned. “He forgot to mention she’s his girlfriend.”
Jim elbowed her. “Shh.”
Ailsa blushed as she shook their hands. “Jim has told me so much about you.”
Mum smiled. “I’m looking forward to learning about you.”
Jim looked at Nichola. “I’m sorry.”
Nichola hugged them. “I thought I’d never see you again,” she said. She looked past them. “Where’s Lou? Didn’t she come back with you?”
The blonde officer looked at her. “Jack stayed behind with her, Mrs. Benson. He said to tell you he’ll be back on the next chopper.”
Nichola looked at her and then back at Jim. “Why didn’t she come?”
“She’s sick and not thinking straight.” He sucked in a deep breath. “Deefer died a couple of days ago and what with her leg being infected again and all…”
“Her leg?” Nichola frowned. “How did her leg get infected?”
“She got attacked by a shark and…” He broke off as Nichola paled.
Dad wrapped an arm around her to keep her from falling. “Shark?” he asked.
Jim felt sick. How could his dad always make him feel so guilty with so few words? “We went fishing in September. This shark attacked the dingy and sunk it, and she didn’t swim fast enough. I did what I could, but I’m no doctor and we couldn’t call for help as we’d lost the radio and the phone and…”
He broke off. He could feel the anger and disappointment in all the adults and knew it was aimed solely at him. “I’m sorry…”
“September?” Nichola whispered. “But it’s January now. That’s four months…”
“It’s my fault,” Jim said. “The logbook will prove that. If she dies, I’ll never be able to forgive myself and I don’t expect you to forgive me either.”