Ugh, salt water.
That was my first thought as I regained consciousness with a slap from the ocean spray. The sky was a complete grey gloom of clouds with patches of darkness looming ominously within. The first impression in the drowsiness of my fog was what a magnificent picture of horror this tapestry in the sky, of how I would love to paint this darkness and memorialize for all time. "See what truly lies deep in the ocean!" I'd proclaim.
Then I realized I wasn't safe. The choppiness of the waters had me rising and falling like a roller coaster and if I got too much water in I'd surely sink. This was my first moment of a growing, dreading panic. What was I doing here anyway? The ocean is not my friend when alone.
The storm. There had been a terrible storm on the ship. I hit my head running to safety as I heard the orders to prepare for gale winds. What was it I hit? Did I fall? I can't remember. But how did I end up on this lifeboat? Did the ship go down and I the only survivor? But why save me? And if they were trying to save me then why no provisions here?
Oh, my God. I'm going to die at sea.
I crumpled back down in despair, trying to retrace the timeline, to find the missing piece of information that might save me as the charcoal grey of darkness swallowed me whole, unseen to any eyes human or angelic, sharing the fate of so many ancient mariners. My spine went cold. Should I simply jump overboard and drown now? I must know what happened!
I was knocked out. The ship was in trouble. They must have placed me in the lifeboat for safekeeping. And then, the ship sank with only me surviving? But someone would have had to detach the craft. Maybe that was the last act of someone before being swept overboard. But if someone had time to release the mechanism they certainly had time to climb aboard. It just doesn't make sense!
Nothing. There's nothing here at all. Wait a minute. What's wrong with this picture? I can't quite grasp it...
I'll have to remember later. My stomach is churning, my mind is paralyzing in fear. Don't give up yet. The horizon! Search the horizon, you fool!
Bouncing on the waves I squint my eyes. I have no sense of direction or where I came from. I find a point and slowly scan, making sure beyond all doubt before moving on. Of course, if the ship has sunk there will be nothing to find. Actually, it had to of since with this would leave them with no lifeboat. It would be insane - and legally negligent - to jettison their one backup. It makes sense now. Something broke. That's how I managed to detach. No other possible explanation.
A strange calmness came over me. Suddenly, a surreal serenity took over, surrendering to the awesome power of nature upon the high sea. I just wanted to be swept away, to stop fighting the flow. How glorious would that be if I could do that and live? If I could just lay down and let Nature guide me to safety. I'd never felt such peace ever in my life as in this most hopeless of all hopeless moments in my life. Was I becoming insane, disconnecting from all reality?
The urge to lay back down and drift was overpowering, to pretend there really is a God who cares, that I really don't have to do everything on my own. Surrender! This is the here and now, no need to understand what can't be known. I have a good guess what happened, just let it go. In the morning light would come clarity. The horizon is blank.
I lay my head down and relaxed. This would be kind of fun if the danger were removed! I felt a strange guilt enjoying it, like some sort of amusement park ride. Still, I don't know how I'll manage to sleep with the hands of doom gripping my neck in a seemingly inescapable choke hold. All I can do is set my mind free; drifting, bouncing, guided by forces over which I have no say...
The transponder is missing! How can that be? I remember the crew explaining it's bolted in as a precaution. No way for it not to be here. I lunged forward to the spot I remembered. The bolt holes were still there. Someone must have...
What the hell is going on??????? What really happened? This can't have been done on purpose! Think! Think! They didn't leave me out here. I just can't fathom...
Wild gyrations fluctuated through my mind, flashing between terror and hell. No, no, no, no, no. They didn't set me adrift. What did I do? Yes, I was an outsider but... Think of a good reason for it being gone. I can't! You're doubting your fellow man. You and your bad attitude again! But nothing else makes sense. See? This is why people bristle with your negativity. Why can't you see the good? I'm only trying to be honest. Isn't that the goal? Hah! Like there's an honest bone in your body. No wonder they dumped you.
Confused, drowning in disbelief, I sat back up, furious to find to some clue - any clue! That's when I saw the speck of light. Those motherfuckers didn't sink after all!
Part of me desperately wanted to cry. What utter rejection. To set me adrift at my most vulnerable moment. Maybe...maybe there's something I haven't thought of...some comforting story to explain away the madness. I didn't have all the facts. Why assume the worst? How did I get into this situation? I must be the greatest fool alive! No one but I could have this happen. Un-fucking-believable. A nightmare to end all nightmares. That is my end.
The loneliness of this moment at the mercy of man and high seas. Abandoned by the universe. My whole life I'd struggled to find deliverance. I've been foolish in my choices. Now I see the sum total of my idiocy. Were they laughing as they unbolted the transponder and released me to my fate? Had I drawn out some urge in them to humiliate me - to death? I'd been what I thought expediently silent on the stupidity of their notions as I thought on such a small ship best not to make waves. I never wanted to suspect treachery like this, though.
To hell with it. I'll go back to my original desire for the morning light. Logically, I had no reason to find hope in that. The water was here. The water was there. The water was everywhere. Game over. Regardless, for once, I'll follow my instincts. And somehow I knew doing that would piss off my betrayers. I would have the last laugh!
Jesus! I must be losing it! How can you expect to have the last laugh, dead man?
Then I noticed something. Can't be! The light is getting brighter. They're heading straight for me! Oh, you fool! You idiot! Always thinking the worst. Remember, when you get back on board never for a moment betray your doubts. Act like you never suspected a thing. Oh, heck maybe they had given in to a sudden impulse of cruelty and were now steaming back in a storm of regret. Forgive them and make peace until you get back on land. Land! I'll never leave goddam land again!
A searchlight beamed out from the bow. I could hear voices. They sounded merry. That's a good sign, right? Happy to get me back. I'll lie my fucking head off. No more honesty for me! I'll have to fake like hell I'm one of them for the next few days - which seems like an eternity at the moment. But certainly not impossible in the course of history of human events.
So why was my stomach sinking at the very point of my salvation? Fuck you and your goddam integrity. It's going to get me killed. I'll be honest again when I'm safe back on land. What's the point of being honest and dead? Live to fight another day!
Still, my stomach sank and my mind revolted at the return of the ship. Keep under control! Here it is!
Everyone was on the edge facing me. They had drinks raised high, laughing at my position, hailing in mockery, "Bon voyage!" I wished I'd had the spirit to lash back at them but I was too dumbstruck to even twitch my open mouth. This pleased them, as if proving them to be in the right. I was so overwhelmed at this point I was swayed to believe them. Part of me too believed I deserved this.
As they swooshed on through the waves yelling out "Bye-bye!" I saw a crewman holding up the transponder in victory. "Good riddance, you ..." What he said after was garbled by the waves. Shattered, I fell back down, gripping my seat. So this is me. Should I give in to their judgement? Wasn't I just being self-serving to believe any different? Part of me was sure I was better than they thought - the rest of me was sure I was left to die at sea come what may.
How could I fight back? I've never been so frustrated and outraged in my life!! Should I just let it go like I was before? I couldn't. I felt too much like an idiot - plus I wanted to fight back in righteous anger! "I'm going to break your fucking necks if I get a hold of you!" And I wanted to point out they had no lifeboat now if they hit the reef. Take that! And another thing...
Oh, who am I kidding? I'm going to die and they will go on to live unpunished lives as the world is wont to do. Man, I just can't believe this planet. I'm certainly no angel. I just wish reason would be given a chance. Don't the bad guys ever pay a price? Doesn't the insanity have to end sometime? Certainly, if I had sold my soul to be a CEO I wouldn't be in the position I am now.
The night sky was shades of grey from a hidden moon. The water was calmer now. In one sense it was the perfect backdrop to do some thinking - and I certainly have a lot to think about. Wow. Just wow. Did all that really just happen? Is this a dream? I've had dreams like this before. Were those monsters simply carrying out Nature's orders to destroy me? The hatred in my heart pleaded for revenge.
That, of course, was impossible. They were pouring drinks and carrying on and fucking into the night. All I could think of was limiting their laughter. No way was I going to spend days at sea roasting under the sun with no water, my mind going mad oscillating between a hopeless hope and complete despair. "Cling to life, you moron!" I could hear them jeer. "Extend your misery!" I sat up and stared down at the silky, black waters so innocently at peace.
You'll be giving into anger. Remember how you said you didn't want to do that anymore? But this is different! Who wouldn't be angry? I mean, if anger were ever justified, this is it! Consider your heart. How does your heart feel? It feels bad but so what? I'm dead anyway. You really want me to believe this good feeling I have of just floating along here is really going to lead to something? That's all I've done my whole fucking wasted life is place faith in impossible dreams. Certainly it's high time I grew up and faced the facts!
My heart kept speaking but it was drowned out by the sound of the laughing ship in my mind. If I die now I can end the suffering. Nothing has ever worked out for me before. Helluva time to think it would start now! Even God must be shaking Her head at this fool. End your misery. God doesn't want you to suffer. You've never had faith before. Time to try before the end. Have the courage to quickly and decidedly drown in the cold waters.
A single tear dropped in the ocean from my overhung face. The longer I stared, the weaker I got, wanting to stay on. Time to face reality.
News reports told of a ship that had foolishly strayed right into the heart of a storm, sinking with all aboard. The route of her final hours made no sense and most likely the crew was not familiar with the path through the reef coming from the direction they did. Unexplained was why the lifeboat was not deployed.
Unreported was the story of a dingy washing up ashore that morning on an island inhabited by natives, a popular destination point for tourists. The boy who found it claimed he maybe saw footsteps leading away but the ensuing crowd trampled away any evidence. How could anyone make it there alive? It was not a lifeboat, it had no transponder. Most probably any occupants died at sea.