The sky was purple-black and filled with diamond stars when Erin clumsily landed her boat and got out. She didn't stop running until she was sure she was far enough from the water that the sharks couldn't still get her. Still pretty shaken, her knees buckled and she collapsed onto the pure white sand, where she threw up what little water she had left inside her. She didn't know why, but she felt guilty for defiling such a perfect beach. It was the cleanest, whitest sand she'd ever seen, and the water around the island was the brightest crystal blue.
When she'd recovered, she pulled the armor out of the little boat and laid it on the shore. She wouldn't take it with her if and when she left this island; it wasn't hers to keep. Maybe a tradeship would pass by this island one day, realize what the armor was and return it to its rightful place.
She knew she needed to find food and shelter right away, but the sound of the waves and wind rustling through palm trees calmed her. She just wanted to lie there on the crystal sands and sleep for eternity. She stretched out on her back under the shade of one of the trees and closed her eyes.
It felt like she had only blinked when she woke up the next morning. She watched the clouds roll by for a moment before wobbily standing up and leaning against the palm tree. The sea looked even more sparkly and clear in daylight.
The only thing that threw off the perfect scene was a strong smell of fish that Erin hadn't noticed last night. And fire… She realized with a joint feeling of relief and dread that the island must be inhabited. She followed the plume of smoke she saw rising somewhere down the beach and hoped that whoever it was was friendly.
She came to the small campfire, where a large fish roasted on a spit. Her mouth began to water as she looked at it longingly, but she wasn't sure whether she should take the risk and steal it.
Suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder that caused her to jump. "I wouldn't steal that if I were you," said whoever it was that had touched her. "You've already used my armor as a weapon and drooled all over my beautiful pristine beach.
When she awoke, she was lying on a blanket in the shade. She could see someone standing over her, but her vision was blurry. A spoon was jammed into her mouth and she tasted warm soup. After a moment, her sight came back into focus and she saw that the person was a tall young man with shaggy brown hair, a scruffy beard and green eyes. As she sat up, he fed her another spoonful of soup that he dished out of a coconut shell, then said, "I'm sorry I frightened you earlier."
He flashed her a smile. "Yes, I am John Kidori." Erin's eyes began to roll back into her head, and John caught her in his arms. "But please don't pass out again!" he said with a genuine look of alarm. "I really don't know how to deal with fainting girls!"
"You're… you lived like… hundreds of years ago."
"I did," he admitted. "And died hundreds of years ago, as well. Right on this island."
"So you're a ghost."
"I suppose you could say that, yes."
Erin held her hand in her head. "Oh man, I must be hallucinating. All that time out on the sea in the sun couldn't have been good for me."
John didn't say anything, just picked up another coconut full of a strange, thick purple liquid and held it up to her lips. She started to protest but he shushed her and she sipped the sweet, fruity drink. "That'll make you feel better soon," he said. "It's a special kind of fruit with natural relaxants in it. I promise it won't have any weird side effects or anything like that."
She finished the drink and set the coconut aside. "Are you mad? About the armor?" She had heard many stories about vengeful ghosts before, and she was afraid of what he might do.
"No," he said, frowning. "It was just an old lunk of armor, anyway. It's your loss more than mine."
"What do you mean, it's my loss? It's not my armor."
"Then why did you have it, Erin? Didn't you accept your destiny when you picked it up?"
"What is that even supposed to mean?" She didn't bother asking how he already knew her name. He was a ghost; he could probably read minds or something.
John stood up and walked away, ignoring Erin shouting for him to come back and explain what her destiny was. A few minutes later, he came back with the entire suit of red armor, minus the shoulder piece that was now at the bottom of the ocean with a dead shark.
"Where did all that come from?" Erin asked. "I'm sure I didn't bring the whole thing with me in that boat."
"I just went and got the rest from Serenity Island," he explained. "Ghosts travel quickly. They cannot, however, find missing objects on the ocean floor."
"I'm sorry," she apologized again. "What did you mean when you said it was my loss?"
"You're the one who's going to be wearing the armor with an unprotected shoulder."
Erin was growing exasperated. She breathed deeply and said, "Please do not ignore the question again. What is my 'destiny' and why should I put on this armor? Give me one good reason."
"You, my dear, are wearing nothing but your underclothes. Now that you have realized this you will most likely be embarrassed and I have no other clothing to give you. That is your one good reason."
Erin hesitated, then said, "Fine."
With John's help she began to get dressed. Although each individual armor piece was heavy, once they were on her they seemed to magically lose all their weight and become light as a feather. It also fit her perfectly, although she was much smaller than John.
Finally, she put on the last piece, the helmet, and her fate was sealed. John's body became more ghost-like and transparent until just a blue-white orb that was suddenly sucked into the heart of the armor and vanished. Erin felt an intense pain in her heart and black dots swam before her eyes as she sank to her knees, clutching her chest.
He's tricked me! I'm being haunted because I defiled his memorial!
She tried to claw the armor off, but it seemed to have rusted together, impossible to take off. Terror clutched her with bony hands. I have a ghost inside of me.
I have a ghost inside of me.