The glaring phone screen almost blinded me. It was a stark contrast to the dark and empty parking lot. I can hear the sea, even smell it. I re-read the message I received three times over just to make sure that I did not miss any of the instructions.
If you want to see the green islanders, meet me at the parking lot tomorrow night at two. Don't be late and expect to get wet.
The words did not change or transform before my eyes. The timing still remained the same. I've been on a constant hunt for those illusive green islanders. Everyone had heard of them, everyone knew they existed but no one can say that they had seen them. Like big foot, only heard of but never seen. Until now.
"Glad to see you wore your swimming trunks.” A husky sound came from behind, frightening and enthralling me at once.
"You said I should expect to get wet, so this is the safest bet."
"Yes. We will be swimming to the island... That's why we need to do it under the cover of the night..." The man finally came into view, the street lamp illuminating him. He was about my age, maybe a year or two older. His hair was thinning just like mine, to the unsuspected eye we could look related. But this is the first time I lay eyes on my doppelgänger. We first started communicating about three months ago on an online forum related to urban exploration. The subject of the green islanders was a hot topic. A lot of the urban explorers believed they were fellow explorers as well. After days of sinking into the abyss that is online forums I found this man.
He claimed to have known how the islanders operate and said he was willing to show one other person. A sort of exclusive behind the scenes access to this... Cult for lack of better words. One thing led to another and here I am, standing in a swim suit at two am. Not a single soul in sight.
"I don't know how the islanders get in, but the gate is locked and obviously we can't go over it,” my doppelgänger continued, "so the only way to get in is by swimming around, we can then scale the rocks at the back of the island and get in.”
The island we're trying to get in to is not really an island. It's a man made park that extends into the water, known as the hot spot a decade or two ago but like many things in the city it slowly lost hype falling into disrepair. Not many people visit it anymore, I can't even remember the last time I visited it myself.
Rumour has it that a group of people started using the island after hours, gaining access to it and somehow getting away with it. Some say they even managed to activate the long broken water feature in the island. I never physically saw it function before, only in an online video that someone had posted years ago.
I did not anticipate that the swim would take such a toll on my body, but by the time we reached the rocks at the back I must have swallowed a gallon or two of water. We climbed the rocks after taking numerous breathers and finally entered the island. I could see the observation tower ahead, with our destination the spiral ziggurat behind it. No lights were on, only the brightly shining city beyond and the moon provided enough illumination for us to distinguish our surroundings. I could see people walking from the lake to the ziggurat, each person carrying a bucket. A scene eerily familiar to fantasia’s sorcerer’s apprentice, brooms walking in lines all eager to flood the basement.
“Um… so how are supposed to see the water feature? I did not expect so many people to be here.”
“Easy… just join them,” my doppelgänger started walking towards the lake, a woman stood next to a giant pile of plastic buckets.
“Here…” she thrust both handles onto me. “Fill them up and climb up… hurry we don’t have much time.” We did as told and carried the exceedingly heavy buckets. We climbed the spiraling ramp following the unbroken line of islanders. I saw as each person systematically dumped the contents of the buckets they carried onto a dried up pool in the centre of the ziggurat. The water flowed down the pool into a concrete conduit. I heard the sound of water rushing down the canal as it raced down to the water feature.
“AHA!! So this is how they make it work!” I regretted uttering the words the instant they escaped my open mouth. The man walking in front of me simply glanced back at me, unfazed by my proclamation.
“Must be you first time?”
“Um… yes… it is.” Thankfully he didn’t see me for who I was, an intruder. I felt like I was entering a sacred space, witnessing some sort of ritual that I did not understand.
“Well wait till you pass the bridge!” The man chuckled nudging me to empty my buckets into the pool. I followed him across the bridge, the water rushing beside us. The conduit ended in a half arch, the water running through it had nowhere to go but down. This looked exactly like the video I saw. But with one major difference.
Giant nets were tethered on the spout, where the water running down to the ground would hit the nets and bounce off it. The nets also had thousands of paper strands. The more water the islanders would pour into the dried up pool, the more water would come rushing down. The net was soaked and the water was dripping off the strands, the droplets shining like diamonds as they fell down. It looked like it was raining.
“Isn’t it beautiful!” The islander shouted over the sound of rushing and falling water. He started running down the stairs joining an ever growing group at the bottom. They all laughed and danced under the makeshift rain.
“Why do you do this?” I asked and danced.
“Why not?… People no longer care about their city… They forget what it has to offer, they lost ownership of their city… We’re taking back what is ours. Making use of spaces that you forgot”
“I know you’re not an islander. Green Islanders don’t ask so many questions, they simply live for the moment.”