The Island in the Mist is a book by Jim Gardner. Claimed to be an account of events which really occurred, the book follows Gardner across a small phantom island which he alleges he found himself stranded on for close to ten hours in 2002.
|“||It was twilight when I opened my eyes. Only hours ago I ventured into the mist on my way to the Arctic, but now I find myself half-body in the water next to what seems to be a lighthouse. Did I stray back to Newfoundland? Is this Ireland's West coast? Wouldn't I have been found by now? It seems I've been lying here for quite some time now.||”|
-Intro to The Island in the Mist
Jim Gardner, an experienced sailor, has decided to sail from his home in Houston to the Arctic Circle and back. After a week of sailing and a final stop in St. John, Newfoundland, Gardner sails for the Arctic, but after two days enters a dense mist. The mist limits his visibility to only about 20 meters around the boat, and this carries on for a further day. By this time, most of his electrical equipment has gone bogus haywire, and at several points claimed he was near the Falklands or even near Singapore. Gardner finds himself on what seems to be an uninhabited Hebridean island after he woke up from sleep.
It seems his boat collided with the rocky shoreline of this island and sent him into the water. In his immediate vicinity, Gardner sees a lighthouse, and it is this which leads him to believe that he is near civilization. However, upon investigation, the lighthouse and adjacent buildings seem to be abandoned.
|“||Hoping to find help, I entered the small lighthouse building. Was it by pure luck that I found a fully-charged flashlight on the seemingly two-decade old table? --- What was that? I heard what seemed to be a plate falling, only a door down the corridor.||”|
After Gardner finds a flashlight, he inspects weird sounds coming from another section of the building. He only finds the broken plate, but nobody there. He does however note that he thought he saw a shadowy figure moving out of the corner of his eye, up in the light-tower itself, but dismisses it as his imagination.
Upon leaving the lighthouse, Gardner has the opportunity to observe the rest of his surroundings. All the buildings appear to have been abandoned more than a decade prior, but how does that explain the flashlight? This starts internal conflict in Gardner, as his wife recently died of cancer. He asks himself on repeated occasions if there was nothing he could have done to slow the process, despite her not wanting any more treatment at a specific time.
After a while of investigating the surrounding area, Jim notices an operational radio or radar tower in the distance, about three kilometers away. As the sun sets further, Gardner continues in the direction of the tower, hoping to find help. He encounters several small abandoned homes. Their size and the isolation of the island leads Gardner to believe that the island may have been the location of a company, which has since left. This idea is further supported after he finds the remains of a Cold War-era cargo vessel on one of the rocky shores of the island.
|“||There it is again! This time I see it clearly! The sun has set all the way, but I clearly see a man with a lantern up there on the cliffs! "Hello?!" "Help me! I need help!" I shout, but he does not react. He seems to be watching me, but he is too far for me to really make out any detail. I must find a path up to him!||”|
After Gardner noticed the man on the cliffs above, he started following the shore until he came to an improvised staircase leading up the cliff. On the way up, he passed a bunker which, to him, indicated that the island had been used as a fortification during World War II. Once he reached the place where he thought the man to be, only the lantern remained. However, something else grabbed his attention. Very nearby he found an old ruined Holy Bible. After opening it, a photo of his late wife fell out. He immediately reopens the Bible in the beginning, and finds it is his childhood Bible which was destroyed upon the burning down of his childhood home, in which he lost his sister.
This immediately sends Gardner into a state of depression, when he notices the radar town only about half a kilometer away. Caught in nostalgia about his wife, Gardner abandons all hope of finding help, and climbs the radar tower to the top. After surveying the vista which stretches out before him, he jumps off the tower in an attempted suicide. Hours later, Gardner wakes up drifting on piece of what remains of his sailboat. As he comes to, he notices he is leaving the mist which covered the island, and only minutes later, is rescued by a Scandinavian fishing vessel. He returned home immediately after to write a book detailing what he had experienced.
Gardner, since returning to Houston, claimed these events were real. He payed several freelance expeditionary vessel captains to help him search for the island, however to no avail. This led to people not believing the trustfulness of the book. However, the book was received well and attained an average rating of 7.6 out of 10.