We know that Lost have been in this area since the 1700s at least, but their courts were small, self-sufficient and generally kept out of sight. Beginning in 1840 or so, there are a few records kept by the Freehold of the New Eden, that show increasing incursions by privateers, slavers and Loyalists. This seems to run in cycles, every few years an incident, and then nothing for a while. Perhaps the court and the motleys became too unconcerned.
In 1998, Hurricane Grigori swept the island, and did heavy damage to cities and outlying areas. The cleanup took several years, as the island was hammered by repeated “bad hurricane seasons”. During that stormy time – and unknown to the mortals on the island – was played out the latest in an ongoing clash of Gentry. The battle and its aftermath swept up dozens of Lost, leaving the Aguadilla court decimated. Over time, people have been trickling in again. Salima Diaz, one of the few survivors of the battle with the combatants’ minions, pledged to keep the court system in place against the Gentry, and try to rebuild it. It is a slow process, as the island is remote even by modern standards, and those born on the Island, once taken, rarely are returned to it. She was one of the lucky ones.
In recent years, more signs have appeared that the Gentry are taking an interest in renewing their conflict. They will press Lost into service in the mortal world, use them as bait, or return them to durance if they can. In 2010, a huge corruption of the Police became known and investigated by the FBI. Dozens of police were involved in smuggling drugs, and other contraband. The ongoing investigation netted several previously unknown persons without arrest records, as well, but no “head” of the organization was ever found. No one seems to know exactly where their orders and information came from – all the interviews lead to dead ends.
On the beaches between Aguadilla and Arecibo strange sea creatures have washed up at long intervals. The most recent was just last year, when something that could have been a prehistoric-type fish ( like the Coelacanth of the Pacific) or perhaps a mutation of a current one (speculation about deep sea dumping of toxic waste is rife) washed up and was descended upon by scientists from around the world. The 15 foot long fish had teeth and lobed fins with hollow bones, but could not immediately be identified as belonging to the existing Coelacanth orders. Enough similarities existed that no one wanted to name it a new species without further study. After a few days, the carcass was removed and parceled out to various laboratories around the world for study. No results have been forthcoming as yet.
Prior to this latest occurrence, jellyfish, squid and other deep-sea type fish with odd shapes and appearances have appeared on the beaches, or been seen in the water offshore. Small ones are likely picked off by birds and other predators – only the largest ones make it to the beach. One jellyfish was in excess of 11 feet in diameter, and the web of stinging tentacles covered nearly 1/3 of an acre, rendering the beach (near Arecibo) closed for a few days while crews removed the contaminated sand and brought in fresh sand from another location to protect tourists and locals using the beaches.
Salima’s experience has taught her that there are two major gates in the general area which she monitors for activity. One, the ocean gate, sits in the Puerto Rico Trench where the plate boundaries collide, and just east of the Hispaniola Trench. This is deep water (4700m+) and seismic activity is prevalent, with part of the trench subducting under the North American plate. This trench is also the southern boundary of the historic “Bermuda Triangle”. The Inland gate is in the mountains southeast of Aquadilla. The city itself sits on a bit of coastal plain between forest and ocean. The forest leads into the foothills of the central mountain range. This area has rarely been explored by Lost, in or out of the hedge, because of legends of Chupacabras and wolves, and hauntings of various kinds.
Whatever comes out of the gates – and they seem to be both guarded and secured – comes from somewhere other than the local hedge. Local Lost who go exploring often do not return. Even in the local hedge, these gates are like fortifications which cannot be passed.
Lesser gates into the hedge exist around the area, with one of them being the Eye of Water itself – but only Salima knows much about it, since the decimation of the earlier courts.
Although she wears the crown of summer, it’s become obvious that other courts besides seasonal are making their way into Puerto Rico. The Ghost Rail (hedge train) from the mainland brings visitors more safely than individuals crossing the hedge can do, assuming Lost can find it and buy passage from the hobs who run it. The Puerto Rico spur station is at the Rotten Wall Goblin Market. Salima’s bar (locally known as the Pink Bar) is also near there.
The Market itself is a bit of an enigma. Some of the vendors have been there for years (and appear to still be selling the same things). Others come and go. The market is held near the end of every month, at a location that used to be the old marina and yacht club. After the storm season, the yacht club and marina (along with its money and high class patrons) moved up the coast toward the casino and town beaches, to make access more convenient. The old marina is falling into disrepair, but still sometimes used by fishermen. There is one watchman on patrol there – mostly just to be sure people aren’t using it for running drugs or camping, unless they have Salima’s permission to do so.
Inside the market there is a taverna in the old style: Tent canopies, rickety tables and chairs. The food is – well – interesting. There is drink for those willing to pay and take a risk. Many deals are cut at taverna table conferences, and the market Hobs seem to be more friendly, if that’s the correct word, with Lost than some they meet elsewhere.
And perhaps now is a good time to take stock, and see what can be done to protect the Lost who call Puerto Rico home, rather than wait for another assault between warring Gentry, with the Lost in the middle.
Salima calls a meeting for June 12, and asks those to be present who find Puerto Rico to be important to them as home or place to visit. Time is moving swiftly, and where there are questions, answers must be found.
Salima Diaz: iVST Dyane Kirkland