There were five of them that ended up going. The others would come later if it was found, they said. They'd follow soon. They had important things to do.
Only five people believed that they could start afresh.
The first, of course, was Michael Bradding. He was thirty-four, and since he was a small child he had loved the story of the Ice Island. It really existed, somewhere out there, that was a fact. But it was like Atlantis. It drifted, they said, around the far seas. When he was twelve years old he'd begged for a bedroom in the attic, and though his parents hadn't a clue why he'd want to sleep there, they gave in. After that, every night he'd open the attic window and gaze out into the far distance, hoping to see the Ice Island there. He loved London, where he was born, but the idea of a new land was enticing and wonderful. Later, when he'd become broke, the story had changed. He was treated like shit. He hated it. And the Ice Island came back into his mind. Maybe they could somehow change it, somehow make it a place to live in. Maybe.
The second was called Ben Stewart. He was eighteen, and desperate to make something of himself. He believed that they could make a new world. He'd also loved the fairy-tales, the fantasy stories he'd read as a child. He thought that if they could make the Ice Island, they could transform it. It would be a wonderful place. There'd be no hatred. Nothing bad. He couldn't find a job for himself, and he'd fallen out bitterly with his parents, so there was no hope of support there. He was tall and skinny from having no money to feed himself, his elbows and knees sticking out pointedly. He had long brown hair which looked like it hadn't been washed in a week. His eyes were light blue and darted quickly from side to side. He had a tendency to blink when he spoke. Despite his slightly fragile appearance, he was strong-minded, and quite brave. He tended to think badly of himself, which made other people think worse of him. He lived in a little flat with a tiny bedroom, tiny kitchen, tiny bathroom. He hated it.
The third was called Robert Orn. He was thirty-seven, the oldest of the travellers. He'd had a good education and the like; he'd been brought up posh. But when he was eleven they'd sent him away to a boarding school he'd loathed. He ran away when he was fourteen, living on the scraps of food he'd stolen, sleeping on blankets he'd grabbed when they weren't looking. In the new world, he wanted to be someone important. He thought himself a much better candidate for king than Michael. He thought that when they got there, he could overthrow him and rule himself. He was a large, portly man, and he carried himself with dignity. He was good at manipulating people and so he had plenty of food. He thought of himself as somewhat above the others, though he watched Michael with a kind of awe. Truth be told, he was slightly scared of the way Michael sometimes looked at him, like he could read his thoughts. Robert wasn't a bad man. He did care about things. He cared about his parents, his sister, other relatives. But his need for power overrode everything else, though he was careful not to show it. He lived in the basements of a large house, which he paid a lowered rent for each month. He had never worked and hadn't ever really thought about working.
The fourth was called Jason Miller. None of the others knew his real reason for coming, or come to that his past. Jason could see the dead. It sounded ridiculous, stupid, but it was true. For it to work he had to be in a cemetery or some such place where the dead were buried. Once as a small child, he was walking home on Halloween when a friend dared him to go into the cemetery. He did, only just, and recieved another dare to go right to the centre. Forever wanting to prove his bravery, he followed out the dare. When he had run through the graves for what seemed like hours, he heard - or thought he heard - his friend calling. He turned, to see something - a wispy cloud of smoke, it seemed - rising from the ground. As it rose features appeared - it was a child. Come and play with me, it whispered. Then they were all rising - all around him. He ran back to the friend but the friend didn't look concerned, even though the spirits were all around him. He looked back; they were still there. That was the first of many times he saw spirits. His friend, realising he wasn't joking, had sworn to secrecy with an oath sealed with blood. So Jason needed to leave this place. He thought that maybe in the new world, he could be accepted. If the truth came out here, he'd be taunted. Maybe he'd even go on TV, one of those mad psychic shows... no, he wouldn't be able to stand that. And so he was doing what humans have done since time began, and running.
The fifth was called Mary Anderson, and that in itself was a marvel. She was the only woman on the trip. She was so sick of people treating her crap just 'cause she was a woman, she'd told Bradding the first time she'd met him. I think you're different, she'd said, but I can't be sure. Will you let me come? He'd not so much as missed a heartbeat. Why would I say no? he asked. I need as many men - or women - for this as possible. And so here she was. She wasn't conventionally pretty. She was as quick to frown as to smile, and your first impression of her was just tired. But she had a strong personality, and as her mother'd always said, her heart was in the right place. Her mother was now dead, had died in childbirth. Mary, however, loved her little sister dearly. But she was now leaving her on the quest to find the Ice Island. She'd asked to take Mia, her sister, with her, but Bradding had put his foot down firmly. I'm not taking under-tens, he'd told her. And my mind's not about to change. Even when Mary'd threatened not to come he'd stayed fixed on it. So Mary was leaving Mia with her grandfather, who was kind but - though she hated to admit it - slightly soft in the head.
These five people were crowded together on the dock. When the boat arrived each of them stared at it as if trying to burn it into their minds. As one man, they all hesitated before stepping aboard. Goodbyes were called.
And the Silent Voyager set off.