The Cannibals

Chad Stembridge
4 min readOct 11, 2015

I woke up. Where am I? I thought — not surprising, since I definitely didn’t know where I was. The strangest things can happen on 3-hour tour cruises.

Anyway, here I was. I sat up (not too quickly, because my leg hurt) and looked in front of me. Sand was everywhere — hot, white sand — and about three feet from my two feet was the salt-water ocean, trying to touch my socks but never quite reaching them.

Socks. Huh. I must have lost my shoes somewhere along the way. I tried to remember what happened… But all I could pull out of my little brain (I shook my head, heard rattling up there, but finally determined that it was only water in my ears) was something about water in the boat, and hitting my head.

I touched the gash on my leg and winced. It appeared that I was now just another person in an island-survival story, alone without anything or anyone, with the typical thoughts of trying to find food and fresh water. Eventually, I would probably have to fight cannibals — but that adventure would come later. For now, food was the priority.

Unfortunately, priorities changed when I turned around. Thinking it was a joke, I began laughing, but stopped when I realized that the dozen-or-so savage-looking savages before me were quite serious. Judging from the skeleton hand necklaces around their necks, they were cannibals, and I was their next meal.

I’ll not try to keep you in suspense; you already know that I escaped because I’m telling the story. How I escaped, though, now THAT is interesting.

The savages said a few things amongst each other, and a couple of them ran off. The rest grabbed various parts of my body (arms, legs, hair, ears) and (not-so-gently) carried me into an adjacent forest.

To keep my mind off my ears almost being ripped off, I distracted myself by thinking. Somehow, I would need to escape. After all, that’s the goal of any person who finds himself stuck in an island-survival adventure story: escape from the cannibals, take a canoe, and blow up their village with barrels of gunpowder. Not knowing if they used canoes, and definitely knowing I didn’t have any gunpowder, I settled for simply escaping.

I expected grass huts in the middle of the island for their village. Wrong! They carried me into a cave, and I couldn’t see a thing until they brought me into a large cavernous room with a roaring fire (a hole was in the ceiling to let out smoke). After being set down, I saw that these people had dug their houses into the walls.

One of the cannibals looked at me and smiled. He pointed at the fire, then to me. Two large stakes stood on either side of it, and the long forked pole nearby was presumably what they cooked their meals on. I understood what he meant, nodded vigorously, and pointed to one of the few muscles on my left arm. He didn’t seem to understand that I wouldn’t make much of a meal, and instead motioned to a guy with a club. He said something and pointed at a stone pillar.

Suddenly, most of the savages disappeared, leaving two to prepare dinner. They helped me to my feet, and just to make sure I wasn’t strong enough to fight back, knocked me down. After helping me up again, they led me to the pillar.

Thinking quick, I stamped my feet. They looked at me strange, then at each other. The one said something to the other, and disappeared into one of the dark passages nearby.

Alone now with only one cannibal, I stopped stamping, looked up at the hole in the roof, and stared. Seeing that I was amazed at something, the savage looked up… And I took my leave.

I darted down a passage, completely blinded by the dark but too scared to care. Stumbling around a corner, I saw light… And silhouettes running toward me.

I played it cool. They bumped into me, I let out a few words of gibberish as savagely as I could, and kept going. In another moment, I was in sunlight again… Wow, I thought, that wasn’t so hard. Too easy, in fact; on the shore was some kind of rescue boat. I couldn’t just nonchalantly walk up to it and be rescued.

I found the entrance where the cannibals had first taken me, and yelled in. I should have paid more attention, though, because I had barely closed my mouth when I saw that the savages were almost out of the cave already. Man…. I had wanted it to be close, but not this close.

I took off running, twenty or so screaming cannibals close behind. My leg hurt like crazy, but when you’re intent on not becoming someone else’s dinner, you don’t think about those things.

I ran down the beach, waving my hands and yelling. The rescue guys must have heard me, because they also yelled, and pushed the boat into the water. Maybe all they saw was the mob behind me, I don’t know.

Most cannibals can’t swim, so I was in good shape. I caught up with the boat about a half mile from shore, when the rescuers finally pretended like they had just then seen me.

But as I was pulled into the boat, hands grabbed my wounded leg: one brave cannibal had followed me. The rescuers tugged as hard as they could, but the cannibal wouldn’t let go. He kept right on pulling my leg… Just like I’m pulling yours now.