The mail boat had not come for weeks. The radio station had been destroyed by shelling, by the mysterious submarine that had warned the islanders in a heavy accent to steer clear of the blasts. And the Derby Allen, the only boat the islanders had capable of reaching the mainland in stormy seas, had not returned from its last fishing cruise and was now a week overdue.

All decisions on the island were taken collectively, by ‘parliament’ and consensus. But the Rev. Argyle had insisted that the blackout was a test of faith, and that a ‘parliament’ risked further helpings of the wrath that the sinful islanders had already brought upon themselves.

It was not until fuel began to run low and influenza broke out, taking Argyle and seven other able-bodied islanders with it, that the ‘parliament’ was finally gathered. And though they voted to ask for government aid and evacuation, the question remained: how would they make their request known?

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