Survivor: South Pacific

Stallings panted, vomited some more. He won’t last much longer, Meade thought. Stallings had been a skinny, bucktoothed boy when the Annabelle Starbuck rode the waves; he was now but a Halloween skeleton.

“Well, if you don’t want them…” said Peasbury, the fourth survivor, as he scooped up the vomited entrails, now crusted with sand, and popped them into his mouth. Meade found the action prudent rather than disgusting. Food was food, and they needed to make the most of what little they had.

Every whaleman knew the story of the Essex, the whaling ship rammed and sunk by an enraged sperm whale some fifteen years before. In the aftermath of that disaster, crewmen had resorted to cannibalism to survive as they drifted on the open ocean. Meade didn’t consider his situation quite so dire. He figured they could survive on the island’s fauna until they were rescued, and as the senior man among the survivors he had informed his men that cannibalism was not an option so long as potential food sources remained.

Stallings collapsed on his side in the sand. Ogle shook his head and let out a breath. “I can’t do anything for him, sir,” Ogle said to Meade. “He keeps choking on everything I put in him.”

“Then I should get the rest of the fish!” Peasbury said.

“Should you indeed?” Ogle asked. “Officers eat before the men, I seem to recall. This fish belongs to Mr. Meade.”

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