The Mysterious Shadows Of Skullshadow Island

Posted Feb. 19, 2015

YOU are Eric Coleman! You and your older brother, Brock Coleman, are visiting Hollowport, Maine with your father, who is there to deliver a lecture on criminology. While walking through the sleepy town, you hear frightened whispers of strange happenings at Skullshadow Island out in Twilight Bay. Secret tales of shadowy figures spied from shore at midnight. Of honest fishermen unreturned from their trips. Being stout, adventurous young mystery boys, you decided to rent a canoe and go investigate.

You are paddling your canoe as the sun sets over Twilight Bay. You feel that familiar tickle at the base of your spine, that cold stab in your gut that inevitably heralds the start of one of your grand boyhood adventures. You can tell that your brother feels it, too.

You moor your canoe upon the craggy shores of Skullshadow Island. The sun has fallen behind the horizon, leaving only the sullen moon to light your actions.

Brock stops climbing. “You remember what happened to famed baseball hotshot Denver Graham?”

“Well, I’ve been feeling a lot like ol’ Denver Graham lately, I guess. Like my time is up...I’m having my Boy’s Puberty, Eric. It’s all there: the bigger toes, the secret hairs, the mind-whispers of kisses and strokes...I think this might be my last Boyhood mystery.”

“Come on, you remember him. He knocked the ball outta the park 700 times in a season. He stepped up to the plate and knocked that ball over and over. He was a baseball legend. The crowd’s favorite. Until one day he got too old. His bones got dusty, and he could still knock the ball—probably one out of every three balls—just not outta the park. And he had to move on.”

Via Seattletimes.com

You come upon the wreck of a ship. Peering closer, you see it is labeled the HMS Hogarth. While ravaged on the outside, the inside is awash with activity. Hearty voices hollering about quotas and shipping times. The word “drugs” is loudly said many times.

Brock leans in and whispers, “Eric Coleman, my brother, do you think these are ghosts?”

Checkpoint reached!

You reach the top and climb into the grinning skull mouth of the island. You are in a cave now. A cave with a secret. An old Victorian house stands decaying in this secluded cave. And in the door of the house in the cave stands a guard. You must get past him to get in.

You follow the shore SOUTH. An abandoned lighthouse looms in the distance like a lonely sentinel standing watch over a country for which he feels nothing. Stony. Cold. No longer the welcoming beacon, the object of scores of sailors’ salty prayers. A hollow shell. “Look,” your brother interrupts your internal monologue. “A message in a bottle!”

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You enter the lighthouse and climb to the top. While examining the walls for inscriptions and large fingerprints, you hear footsteps and voices below.

“That is wot I’m saying, y’savvy? Henderson’s got us yobs out here patrollin’ for whoever left they’s canoe on the beach while the others got the cushy drug-loadin’ work. It’s unfair is wot it is!”

“Tell it to the bloody Wordsmith. He’s our boss. Let’s just hope he doesn’t kill you for opening your mouth ’fore you get the words out. Now, let’s have a look aroun’ an’ be done wif it!”

“Those are ghost voices if I’ve ever heard them,” you whisper, and Brock nods his head in agreement.

The scraping of footfalls begins echoing up the stairs.

Via Ellinikiomogeneia.com

It’s there in the surf. Just as your pubic older adventure brother said.

It’s the lyrics to “Night Moves.”

Brock’s big dumb ears perk up as you pretend to read:

Your brother rips off his shirt immediately, as though he was waiting for this. Like maybe he’s always been waiting for this. He says no words. He only approaches, looking grim. He smells musky and lean. It mingles poorly with the fear your glands are breathing every second. While you sharpened your mind, Brock was doing crunches and flexes. Building his body into a beautiful, terrible instrument.

“Let it be done, Brother,” you say with some saving grace. He descends upon you.

Your grave is the very water he swims that night. Back to shore. Never to answer to the name “Brock Coleman” again. Having tasted death, no mysteries remaining to him.

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Brock leans in closer, still whispering. “Should we sneak up and take a closer look, or should we sing ‘The Song To Kill Ghosts’ that priest taught us last year?” His breath smells like your father’s brandy.

They are talking, these ghouls. They are toiling in the night at their ghastly charge, doing things that you, with your mind full of green grass and school erasers and dog prints, cannot truly fathom. Loading powders into vials, vials into crates, crates onto boats, haunting the shore like Commies in a bread line.

Something has turned within Brock. Some combination of words and occurrences have curdled in his mind. He stares long and hard at the cold water. He repeats the words “Push-ups...straight A’s...push-ups...straight A’s” over and over while you can only watch, afraid.

He walks with slow purpose into the sea.

You continue on with your quest and eventually solve the mystery of the Mysterious Shadows of Skullshadow Island. Congratulations! The town throws a parade, which eases the pain of your father’s loss, and you glide through life with relative ease and contentment, dwelling not on your brother’s bones asleep in the murky bed of Twilight Bay.

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“No,” your brother interrupts. “Before we head into the interior of the island, we should reconnoiter both the NORTH and SOUTH shores.”

He’s right, damn him.

You descend the rope you find dangling out the window. At the bottom, leaning against the wall are two brand-new BMX bikes. You and your brother escape to safety doing incredible tricks along the way.

Whoa! Awesome! Keep going!

Oh my God! Amazing! Can you finish the combo?

The combo you attempted was impossible. You were a BMX Icarus, and your melting wings, two broken legs.

You writhe around painfully as the pipe dream of your walking is discarded by you and your brother.

As is that of your survival.

“I’m sorry,” whispers Brock as he wheelies into the future.

In the morning, you are found.

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You join in a terrifying harmonizing falsetto:

♫ Oh ghosts, heed our dreadful call,
’Neath our celestial fathers heed this truth,
Be forever dead,
Be forever nothing. ♫

Oh, woe!
Oh, despair!
The beings working that dreadful wreck have heard your song, yet resisted annihilation.
They emerge from the night and kill you both with hurried efficiency, then head to their bunks, where they rest in refreshing, unburdened slumber.

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Via Shopprice.co.nz

They hear you and advance on you and your brother. “Gee whiz!” he yells as they drag him off into the night. To what fate, you never ask nor wonder. As for you, great one, you worry what might befall you. But you needn’t have.

In three short years you eventually piece together that these men are not ghosts, and through their ranks you rise to become their boy king. Running the illegal drug empire how you see fit. You are renamed Killgar the Brutalist, and you lose your virginity super early and are rich and never go to jail. You have truly mastered the Mysterious Shadows of Skullshadow Island!

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You wait. Eventually, two of these villains stop briefly to talk and smoke, the brigands.

“Het werk is heel moeilijk.”

“Ja ik wou dat we waren op zoek naar de indringers.”

“Mijn vrouw zegt dat ik zou een zoeker zijn als ik had een goed stel hersens. Maar ik heb geen goed stel hersens.”

Een vrouw is een paar wurgende handen die niet kan worden weggegooid.”

“Yes ! Een waarheid! Ho ho ho!”

“Ik moet terug gaan naar onze basis in de schedel. Ik weet het liedje. Maar ik vergeet het wachtwoord. Wat is het wachtwoord?”

“U onwetend zeepaardje. Het is de Latijnse vertaling van de woorden ‘boze mannen.’”

“Dankjewel. Ik hou van jou.”

“Vaarwel.”

Jesus Christ, are you fucking kidding me?! You were basically handed the keys to this Boyhood Mystery and you can’t even keep it together long enough to figure it out! Fuck you. Fuck your fucking brother. They were drug smugglers working for your dad. Happy?! This is over!

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Checkpoint reached.

After the men finished speaking their ghost language, you and your fraternal detective pal Brock stole back to the part of the shore you are starting to think of as “Home Base Beach.”

Checkpoint reached.

You and your brother’s amazing tricks carry you back to where your adventure began. You still have not explored the NORTH.

You’ve now made your way back to Home Base Beach! You look your brother in the eye. And he nods.

“Time to head into the eponymous skull of Skullshadow Island and bust this thing wide open. Time to climb into hell.”

Via Seattletimes.com

You come upon the wreck of a ship. Peering closer, you see it is labeled the HMS Hogarth. While ravaged on the outside, the inside is awash with activity. Hearty voices hollering about quotas and shipping times. The word “drugs” is loudly said many times.

Brock leans in and whispers, “Eric Coleman, my brother, do you think these are ghosts?”

Via Seattletimes.com

Brock leans in closer, still whispering. “Should we sneak up and take a closer look, or should we sing ‘The Song To Kill Ghosts’ that priest taught us last year?” His breath smells like your father’s brandy.

They are talking, these ghouls. They are toiling in the night at their ghastly charge, doing things that you, with your mind full of green grass and school erasers and dog prints, cannot truly fathom. Loading powders into vials, vials into crates, crates onto boats, haunting the shore like Commies in a bread line.

You wait. Eventually, two of these villains stop briefly to talk and smoke, the brigands.

“Het werk is heel moeilijk.”

“Ja ik wou dat we waren op zoek naar de indringers.”

“Mijn vrouw zegt dat ik zou een zoeker zijn als ik had een goed stel hersens. Maar ik heb geen goed stel hersens.”

Een vrouw is een paar wurgende handen die niet kan worden weggegooid.”

“Yes! Een waarheid! Ho ho ho!”

“Ik moet terug gaan naar onze basis in de schedel. Ik weet het liedje. Maar ik vergeet het wachtwoord. Wat is het wachtwoord?”

“U onwetend zeepaardje. Het is de Latijnse vertaling van de woorden ‘boze mannen.’”

“Dankjewel. Ik hou van jou.”

“Vaarwel.”

You begin climbing the sheer cliffs up to Skullshadow Island Mountain. If this were a movie, here is where there would be a helicopter shot of the island while intense music plays. Then we’d come back to a two shot.

Your brother seems tense and distracted as he climbs. Staring straight up, occasionally grunting with effort.

You follow the shore SOUTH. An abandoned lighthouse looms in the distance like a lonely sentinel standing watch over a country for which he feels nothing. Stony. Cold. No longer the welcoming beacon, the object of scores of sailors’ salty prayers. A hollow shell. “Look,” your brother interrupts your internal monologue. “A message in a bottle!”

You rise to work terrible violence upon these ghouls but are stayed by a hand on your shoulder. It is Brock, looking Tremendous.

“Take a load off, Bro. Let the blood be on my hands.”

With that he is off, all loose joints and easy speed.

You close your eyes and hum your favorite song, “The Ballad Of The Cowboy.” Before you can even reach the third verse, where the cowboy has the woman in a canoe, you open your eyes to steal a glance.

Your brother has reduced the ghosts to blood and bone and paste. He stands shivering over his work.

“To stop me you must defeat me, Brother. There is no stopping this train.”

He starts to walk from the lighthouse.

You and Brock duck inside the crate. The patrolling villain is right outside.

“If they was anyone hidin’ here, oi wouldn’t want ’em knowin’ that the true secret a’ this island is that—”

Suddenly, the floor of the crate begins to sink beneath you and your brother. Down and down you go, until your world feels miles away. It’s getting darker and darker.

You and your brother awake to the happy titter of a babbling brook and the smell of sweet pipe smoke. A delightful little gnome is sitting under the greenest tree either of you has ever seen.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” he chuckles. “My name is Broadbartigan. And you must be Kings Ericus and Brocklington.”

“Ride with me through the Forest of Orthor, for there is much to discuss at the Castle of Lytewood.”

You ride with him and Brock into a Land of Adventure. Where you will live for a thousand seasons, and rule and fight and be merry. Where your deeds will be sang of and written down forever in these, The Annals Of Tyleria.

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You enter the lighthouse and climb to the top. While examining the walls for inscriptions and large fingerprints, you hear footsteps and voices below.

“That is wot I’m saying, y’savvy? Henderson’s got us yobs out here patrollin’ for whoever left they’s canoe on the beach while the others got the cushy drug-loadin’ work. It’s unfair is wot it is!”

“Tell it to the bloody Wordsmith. He’s our boss. Let’s just hope he doesn’t kill you for opening your mouth ’fore you get the words out. Now, let’s have a look aroun’ an’ be done wif it!”

“Those are ghost voices if I’ve ever heard them,” you whisper, and Brock nods his head in agreement.

The scraping of footfalls begins echoing up the stairs.

Via Ellinikiomogeneia.com

It’s there in the surf. Just as your pubic older adventure brother said.

It’s the lyrics to “Night Moves.”

Brock’s big dumb ears perk up as you pretend to read:

You descend the rope you find dangling out the window. At the bottom, leaning against the wall are two brand-new BMX bikes. You and your brother escape to safety doing incredible tricks along the way.

Oh my God! Amazing! Can you finish the combo?

Whoa! Awesome! Keep going!

“Good paddling, Brother,” says Brock over his shoulder. Rare praise from the elder Coleman. You relish it.

“You’ve been really carrying your weight on our recent adventures: The Curse Of The Corpse’s Crypt, The Stolen Eye Of Osiris, The Big Dog Conundrum. It really eases my mind.”

Flickr via jayRaz

Your brother removes his backpack to see what trap-making supplies you’ve brought.

You have:
-A length of rope
-A flashlight
-A bear trap
-A copy of Boy’s Concern Magazine
-A knife
-Matches
-A handle of Old Dependable, Father’s very strong whiskey
-Tentpoles

How do you build your trap?

Now, you have to lure him to your trap.

Now, you have to lure him to your trap.

Now, you have to lure him to your trap.

It reads:

“Need a quick, easy trap? Consider lashing a knife to a tentpole, lodging the non-knife side of the tentpole into a crack in a rock wall, pulling and securing the tentpole back to create immense tension, and using the remaining rope to fashion a tripwire for the whole thing. Super easy for boys AND young men!”

“Whoa, I don’t care if the Wordsmith will kill my family for abandoning my post. I gotta see this!” remarks the dumb man to no one. He walks right over to where your trap eagerly awaits blood to quench its thirsty little trap mouth.

“Whoa, I don’t care if the Wordsmith will kill my family for abandoning my post. I gotta see this!” remarks the dumb man to no one. He walks right over to where your trap eagerly awaits blood to quench its thirsty little trap mouth.

“Whoa, I don’t care if the Wordsmith will kill my family for abandoning my post. I gotta see this!” remarks the dumb man to no one. He walks right over to where your trap eagerly awaits blood to quench its thirsty little trap mouth.

As the last screams escape his burning body, you turn to your brother:

“You know, I’m beginning to think these aren’t ghosts.”

“They’re not. They’re drug smugglers,” he responds, lighting a cigarette off the corpse. “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

That didn’t work, like, at all. It fell apart immediately.

The guy came over and killed you, obviously.

Why did you think you could build a trap out of a tentpole and a knife?

You are just a couple of kids.

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As the man writhes around screaming, you turn to your brother:

“You know, I’m beginning to think these aren’t ghosts.”

“They’re not. They’re drug smugglers,” he responds, plunging the knife into the guard’s neck. “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

Inside is just a tiny room with some Napoleon-style piano. Your brother picks up a note he finds:

“Should anyone wish to enter my office, he must first play the chords of the intro of my favorite song. One that I love so much that I have memorialized it, the way a sailor’s wife might memorialize her husband lost at sea.
Signed,
The WS”

You sit down at the piano.

You are playing the piano. It sounds good.

You are playing the piano.

You are playing the piano.

You are playing the piano.

You are playing the piano.

You and your brother leap back, as the selection of notes you played has led the wall to recede, exposing a door with a security console.

“Workin’ on a mystery without any clues,” you say with a big smug grin.

“Please say passphrase now, please,” barks the security computer.

The notes you’re playing aren’t working. Work on the moves your hands are making this night!

“You have said correct passphrase. Way to go, dudes.”

The door begins to open. Brock runs ahead to peer inside.

“No! It can’t be!” he says.

“No thank you. Please say passphrase now, please.”

Well, you’re back here at Home Base Beach, so maybe pay attention this time.

You have secreted back to the shipwreck on the NORTH shore. Amazingly, those guys are having the exact same conversation as before. It must be really important.

“Het werk is heel moeilijk.”

“Ja ik wou dat we waren op zoek naar de indringers.”

“Mijn vrouw zegt dat ik zou een zoeker zijn als ik had een goed stel hersens. Maar ik heb geen goed stel hersens.”

“Een vrouw is een paar wurgende handen die niet kan worden weggegooid.”

“Yes! Een waarheid! Ho ho ho!”

“Ik moet terug gaan naar onze basis in de schedel. Ik weet het liedje. Maar ik vergeet het wachtwoord. Wat is het wachtwoord?”

“U onwetend zeepaardje. Het is de Latijnse vertaling van de woorden ‘boze mannen.’”

“Dankjewel. Ik hou van jou.”

“Vaarwel.”

“Hey, it’s that message in a bottle again,” brays your brother.

Via Ellinikiomogeneia.com

It’s there in the surf. Just as your pubic older adventure brother said.

It’s the lyrics to “Night Moves.”

Well, you’re back here at Home Base Beach, so maybe pay attention this time.

It’s the lyrics to “Night Moves.”

“Hey, it’s that message in a bottle again,” brays your brother.

You have secreted back to the shipwreck on the NORTH shore. Amazingly, those guys are having the exact same conversation as before. It must be really important.

“Het werk is heel moeilijk.”

“Ja ik wou dat we waren op zoek naar de indringers.”

“Mijn vrouw zegt dat ik zou een zoeker zijn als ik had een goed stel hersens. Maar ik heb geen goed stel hersens.”

Een vrouw is een paar wurgende handen die niet kan worden weggegooid.”

“Yes! Een waarheid! Ho ho ho!”

“Ik moet terug gaan naar onze basis in de schedel. Ik weet het liedje. Maar ik vergeet het wachtwoord. Wat is het wachtwoord?”

“U onwetend zeepaardje. Het is de Latijnse vertaling van de woorden ‘boze mannen.’”

“Dankjewel. Ik hou van jou.”

“Vaarwel.”

“Welcome to my office, boys.”

“Oh, those peons who work for me only call me that because my vocabulary so far exceeds theirs. But that’s not an important thing right now. What is an important thing is saying congratulations! You solved the mystery, boys.”

“You navigated my island. You eventually figured out that these were drug traffickers and not ghosts. You skulked and killed and BMX-ed your way to my office and unmasked the mysterious Wordsmith. Congratulations, boys, you solved the mystery of the Mysterious Shadows of Skullshadow Island...which means you’re ready to join my empire.

“The empire I built traveling the world giving ‘Criminology Lectures’ at the same locations as all my major Crime Outposts. What better cover for me, the King of Crime, than respected criminology professor David M. Coleman, father of the world-famous Brothers Coleman, crime-solving boys?

“And crime-solving boys you were, passing all my little tests: mysteries I set up for you in every town we visited until you were ready for today. Your final trial.

“So, the only mystery remaining, boys, is...will you join me and use these skills I’ve taught you for crime?”

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You father is pleased. Your brother throws himself from the peak of Skullshadow Island Mountain in grief. He dies. But you live on and eclipse your father’s crimes to usher in a brand-new period of woe and misery on earth.

Congratulations! YOU solved the mystery!

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Blood flies as you stab 1,000 holes into your shockingly evil father. He gurgles and spits the words “I love you,” and then he fucking dies on his desk.

“Come on, Brother,” says Brock, beaming with pride. “Let’s go home.”

You and your brother stare out directly into the sun rising over Twilight Bay.

“Next time,” he chuckles, “I’LL read the message in a bottle!”

SIMULATION OVER.

“Excellent work, Applicant 4530632. You showed resourcefulness, physical and mental prowess, and the cold-hearted ability to not let familial ties cloud your mission objective. We’ve decided to promote you to Full Field Agent status. Code name...007.”

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Checkpoint reached!

You reach the top and climb into the grinning skull mouth of the island. You are in a cave now. A cave with a secret. An old Victorian house stands decaying in this secluded cave. And in the door of the house in the cave stands a guard. You must get past him to get in.

Oh, woe!
Oh, despair!
The beings working that dreadful wreck have heard your song, yet resisted annihilation.
They emerge from the night and kill you both with hurried efficiency, then head to their bunks, where they rest in refreshing, unburdened slumber.

Share Your Results
Via Shopprice.co.nz

They hear you and advance on you and your brother. “Gee whiz!” he yells as they drag him off into the night. To what fate, you never ask nor wonder. As for you, great one, you worry what might befall you. But you needn’t have.

In three short years you eventually piece together that these men are not ghosts, and through their ranks you rise to become their boy king. Running the illegal drug empire how you see fit. You are renamed Killgar the Brutalist, and you lose your virginity super early and are rich and never go to jail. You have truly mastered the Mysterious Shadows of Skullshadow Island!

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Jesus Christ, are you fucking kidding me?! You were basically handed the keys to this Boyhood Mystery and you can’t even keep it together long enough to figure it out! Fuck you. Fuck your fucking brother. They were drug smugglers working for your dad. Happy?! This is over!

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Via Seattletimes.com

You join in a terrifying harmonizing falsetto:

♫ Oh ghosts, heed our dreadful call,
’Neath our celestial fathers heed this truth,
Be forever dead,
Be forever nothing. ♫

You ride with him and Brock into a Land of Adventure. Where you will live for a thousand seasons, and rule and fight and be merry. Where your deeds will be sang of and written down forever in these, The Annals of Tyleria.

Share Your Results

You and your brother awake to the happy titter of a babbling brook and the smell of sweet pipe smoke. A delightful little gnome is sitting under the greenest tree either of you has ever seen.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” he chuckles. “My name is Broadbartigan. And you must be Kings Ericus and Brocklington.”

“Ride with me through the Forest of Orthor, for there is much to discuss at the Castle of Lytewood.”

You and Brock duck inside the crate. The patrolling villain is right outside.

“If they was anyone hidin’ here, oi wouldn’t want ’em knowin’ that the true secret a’ this island is that

Suddenly, the floor of the crate begins to sink beneath you and your brother. Down and down you go, until your world feels miles away. It’s getting darker and darker.

You rise to work terrible violence upon these ghouls but are stayed by a hand on your shoulder. It is Brock, looking Tremendous.

“Take a load off, Bro. Let the blood be on my hands.”

With that he is off, all loose joints and easy speed.

You close your eyes and hum your favorite song, “The Ballad Of The Cowboy.” Before you can even reach the third verse, where the cowboy has the woman in a canoe, you open your eyes to steal a glance.

Your brother has reduced the ghosts to blood and bone and paste. He stands shivering over his work.

“To stop me you must defeat me, Brother. There is no stopping this train.”

He starts to walk from the lighthouse.

The combo you attempted was impossible. You were a BMX Icarus, and your melting wings, two broken legs.

You writhe around painfully as the pipe dream of your walking is discarded by you and your brother.

As is that of your survival.

“I’m sorry,” whispers Brock as he wheelies into the future.

In the morning, you are found.

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Something has turned within Brock. Some combination of words and occurrences have curdled in his mind. He stares long and hard at the cold water. He repeats the words “Push-ups...straight A’s...push-ups...straight A’s” over and over while you can only watch, afraid.

He walks with slow purpose into the sea.

You continue on with your quest and eventually solve the mystery of the Mysterious Shadows of Skullshadow Island. Congratulations! The town throws a parade, which eases the pain of your father’s loss, and you glide through life with relative ease and contentment, dwelling not on your brother’s bones asleep in the murky bed of Twilight Bay.

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Your brother rips off his shirt immediately, as though he was waiting for this. Like maybe he’s always been waiting for this. He says no words. He only approaches, looking grim. He smells musky and lean. It mingles poorly with the fear your glands are breathing every second. While you sharpened your mind, Brock was doing crunches and flexes. Building his body into a beautiful, terrible instrument.

“Let it be done, Brother,” you say with some saving grace. He descends upon you.

Your grave is the very water he swims that night. Back to shore. Never to answer to the name “Brock Coleman” again. Having tasted death, no mysteries remaining to him.

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Your brother rips off his shirt immediately, as though he was waiting for this. Like maybe he’s always been waiting for this. He says no words. He only approaches, looking grim. He smells musky and lean. It mingles poorly with the fear your glands are breathing every second. While you sharpened your mind, Brock was doing crunches and flexes. Building his body into a beautiful, terrible instrument.

“Let it be done, Brother,” you say with some saving grace. He descends upon you.

Your grave is the very water he swims that night. Back to shore. Never to answer to the name “Brock Coleman” again. Having tasted death, no mysteries remaining to him.

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