|From Adventure Magazine, February 1911
Available for free download here
“In all the seas there are few more beautiful spots, none more lonely, than Trinity Island. It lies in the high longitudes and the low latitudes, and is a mere horseshoe of coral rising out of the fathomless black water, overgrown with plume-like coconut palms, and a hundred long Pacific leagues from other land and from the beaten roads of ocean traffic. Beyond the occasional smoke trail on the sky of a distant warship or a misguided tramp steamer, navigation never comes near Trinity Island; nevertheless, years ago, a great naval Power saw fit to seize upon the spot for a coaling station.”
So begins a brief tale of man driven mad by solitude. Coulson, a young man, volunteers to serve as light house keeper on the deserted island. After a few months, he begins a relationship with an unseen entity whom he calls simply, The Man. The author never states outright that The Man is nothing more than a figment of Coulson’s imagination or alter-ego, instead he leaves it up to the reader to make that connection. That’s a great trick – allowing the reader to understand what the perspective character cannot – and it works well.
Together, Coulson and The Man plot vengeance on the world, which good fortune enables by the chance drift of an unspent torpedo near the island. Weeks later a passing tramp steamer stalls out within sight of the island, and Coulson sends The Man out with the torpedo to sink the steamer for no other reason than their matching sociopathy. He/they arrive just in time to meet the re-starting propeller of the ship, which sends him/them to the bottom of the sea.
It’s not a long tale, nor is it overly complex, but the writing shines. As a ten minute quick read it delivers everything you would want in a story, suspense, mystery, and a grisly, well deserved death.
If this is the caliber of ‘trash writing’, sign me up as first garbage man.