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    C James
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Circumnavigation - 48. The Hand of Fate

Chapter 48: The Hand of Fate

 

Atlantis glided south, barely making a wake at four knots, passing within a mile of Mahé’s southeast cape.

On the rocky headland, a local man stood, surveying the idyllic scene with binoculars. It was indeed beautiful; palms overhanging azure tropical waters, and a tranquil sea lapping against the granite rocks of shore.

Once past the cape, Trevor set a course of one hundred and seventy degrees – a little east of due south. He swept his eyes around the horizon, feeling both at home and safe on the sea he loved.

For Trevor, the perils of his coming voyage were secondary in his mind. He had committed himself to a perilous course by calling Jim, but in his heart, he felt no regret. Neither did he regret sailing for Australia; he felt that, had he stayed, he risked having Atlantis impounded, and he would have been forced to return home to aid a prosecution he was becoming increasingly doubtful of.

 

At the helm, the breeze blowing in his hair, Trevor stood resolute as he took Atlantis out to sea for the longest nonstop voyage he had ever contemplated: five thousand miles across debris-littered waters, much of it through one of the most remote stretches of ocean on the face of the Earth.

 

  

Alternating swaths of red and blue light lit the street and nearby houses, emanating from the two patrol cars parked out front. Four uniformed officers approached Jim’s house, one circling around back in case anyone tried to make a run for it. The three in front began pounding on the door. “Police, open up!”

They waited thirty seconds, and then, under orders, kicked in the door, guns drawn as they surged in and began sweeping the darkened house with flashlights. Finding the living room clear, two officers headed upstairs, while the third let his partner in via the back door. Their first sweep yielded nothing, so they turned on the lights and performed a more thorough room-to-room search, checking under beds, in closets, even in the attic. Finally, they radioed in the news that the residence was empty. It took a few minutes longer to figure out that one of the suspect’s vehicles was missing from the garage, which resulted in an all-points arrest bulletin going out, with Jim and Dirk wanted for attempted murder.

It was then that the police began looking for clues, and amongst the first thing they noticed was the strewn Las Vegas brochures, which resulted in a be-on-the-lookout notification being sent to local and regional airports, bus, and train stations.

With that done, the Cocoa Beach watch commander made the call to Officer Gonzalez, alerting him that his suspects had slipped the surveillance and were on the run.

The all-points bulletin for Jim’s work car, a black Ford sedan, included its plate number. This was both standard procedure and necessity: the police could not pull over every black Ford sedan. No alert was issued for Dirk’s gold Chrysler, because it was the sole occupant of Jim’s garage. With Dirk’s vehicle in their possession, no one thought to radio in its license plate number, a natural oversight that Jim had been hoping for when he’d switched its plate with his own.

Gonzalez was furious that they’d been able to run, and knew immediately that something must have clued in Jim and Dirk. Setting that thought aside for the moment, Gonzales took a squad car from the station and drove north at high speed, heading for Cocoa Beach with lights blazing and siren howling.

By the time Gonzalez had arrived, Jim’s house was swarming with plainclothes and uniformed police, leaving Gonzalez little to do but head for the Cocoa Beach police headquarters, which had become the command center for the manhunt, which was now well underway.

Gonzalez kept watch on the operation through the night, but no further trace of Jim and Dirk came in. By morning, Gonzalez knew they’d escaped the net, and acting on the one clue he had – though he already had suspicions as to its veracity – he contacted the Las Vegas police, asking them to be on the lookout for Jim and Dirk. His next step was to get a subpoena to grant him access to Jim and Dirk’s credit card and cell phone records, so that in the event of their use, he could learn their location.

When Gonzalez received Joel’s call, he was already exhausted and frustrated. Upon receiving Joel’s news of Trevor’s sailing, Gonzalez’s mood darkened further, and he began to suspect just how Jim and Dirk had known to run. Keeping that thought to himself, he told Joel, “If you hear from Trevor, tell him to call me at once. In addition, you and Lisa need to be careful; Dirk Carson and Jim Ainsworth are fugitives. We do not know their intentions, but due to their past actions, it is possible you two might be in danger. If you see them, or they contact you in any way whatsoever, call 911 immediately.”

Thinking to confirm his hunch about Trevor, or to rule him out, Gonzalez began checking the call logs to the tapped phones. The general line at Jim’s office had not been tapped, so he had no record of the call at hand. Gonzalez could subpoena billing records, but that would not show an incoming call unless it was collect. He could also get access to the billing records of the cell phone Trevor was using, which had once been Joel’s and was under Joel’s name. Those records would show what numbers had been called, but that would take time. So, at a temporary dead end, Gonzalez began looking into Jim and Dirk’s surveillance records, trying to find some change in behavior that might indicate the time they’d become aware of their impending arrest.

 

 

Riding before the winds, with her sails partially furled to reduce speed, Atlantis cruised south at four knots, leaving the Seychelles astern at just over a hundred miles a day.

Trevor kept himself busy, going over Atlantis with meticulous care, making sure that everything was in top shape for the long voyage ahead.

On the morning of his fourth day at sea, four hundred miles south of the Seychelles, Trevor saw his final landfall: the Agalega Islands, two small sparsely populated islands, a remote possession of Mauritius, which lay another six hundred miles to the south.

Passing six miles west of the closest part of the low islands, Trevor viewed them through binoculars, knowing that it would be his last sight of land for a long time.

As he watched the islands fading into the distance, Trevor made a journal entry,

 

October 1st, Agalega Islands, en route to Australia;

I’m looking at what is probably my last landfall until I reach Australia. I saw my first floating log yesterday, but not until I was nearly abeam of it. It was low in the water, and my course cleared it by about a hundred feet, but it proved that the danger is real. If I’d hit it at speed, I’d have done major damage. I’ll keep to four or five knots for the rest of the way to Australia.

I’ve had a lot of time to think. Too much, maybe. I feel better about what I did for my dad and Jim, I’d hate myself right now if I hadn’t. I hope they got away okay, and I hope they’re innocent. I just want to know the truth, whatever it is. I keep arguing with myself whether Dad killed Mom, and I change my mind like every five minutes. Trying to kill me, I’m more sure about. I’m pretty sure they didn’t, because so much of it just doesn’t fit. I tried to tell the cop that but he said it doesn’t prove anything. To me, it just doesn’t work that way.

I don’t know what more I can do. Gonzalez seems cool, but his job is to arrest and prosecute. I don’t know how much trouble I’ll be in for what I did. I don’t really care right now, I just had to do it.

I’ll fly home from Australia if I still need to, I’m sure I can find a place to keep Atlantis safe there, but only if I think it’s the right thing to do, not just what the cops want me to do.

It’s a long way to Australia. I never thought I’d try a non-stop this long. My Nav is telling me 4267 miles to go. At four knots, I’ll do about a hundred miles a day, max. So forty-three days. That puts me in Australia around November 13th at the earliest.Maybe I can raise some ships to chat with on VHF or single-sideband sometimes, otherwise I won’t have anybody to talk to for a month and a half.

I ate the last of my cashew apples. Those were good. Kinda like pineapple that’s not fully ripe, and they make your mouth pucker. I’ve got oranges too, and those are great, plus they’ll keep longer, especially in the refrigerator.

Atlantis sailed on, entering a southbound band of wind, and Trevor began angling south by southeast, in the direction of Rodrigues, which lay over seven hundred miles ahead, and was the last land his planned route would come close to before the vast empty stretch from there to Australia.

Shortly after sunset, Trevor sent out hails on VHF, receiving no reply. Then, he powered up the single-sideband set, shifting to higher frequencies. He soon received a reply, from a Suez-bound freighter a thousand miles to his north. Trevor and the freighter’s bored watchman struck up a conversation for a while. The watchman found it a useful way to pass the time and brush up on his English skills, as well as keep himself informed as to what the conditions were for the passage by Somalia.

For Trevor, the conversation helped pass the time, as he sailed the dark and lonely seas. It also gave him a feeling of connection, helping to stave off his sense of isolation.

After the conversation ended, Trevor considered trying to find another ship to chat to, but he was running short on sleep and becoming fatigued easily. He’d had very little sound sleep – mainly just frequent catnaps in the cockpit – since leaving Egypt. He’d hoped to rest up in the Seychelles, but his early departure had precluded that.

Atlantis had two radar systems; AIS, which required an active AIS transponder on the other vessel – not all ships had them– and his active radar. Trevor slept mainly at night, for thirty-minute stretches, in his cockpit beanbag. Shipping was becoming less frequent, and he hadn’t seen a ship in two days. This freed him from the beeping of the radar alarm, but he still used the twenty-minute timer. It was his one defense against colliding with a ship his active and AIS radar missed, because at four knots Atlantis would only cover two miles in half an hour, theoretically allowing Trevor to sight a ship visually in time to avoid a collision. It was a risk, but one solo sailors on long offshore passages had no choice but to take.

 

 

During that night, one hundred fifty miles south the Agalega Islands, the beep of his radar alarm woke Trevor, as it had many times since he’d left Suez.

Sleepily, Trevor glanced at his cockpit radar display. The AIS was blank, but his active radar was painting a target six miles off his aft starboard quarter.

The blip was making seven knots – three knots faster than Atlantis – on an estimated course that roughly paralleled his own. As it neared, Trevor could see from the plot that it would pass at least two miles off his starboard side. For over an hour, Trevor struggled to remain awake, and sighted the ship’s running lights. Once it had begun to pull ahead of him, its course well clear, he watched for a few more minutes. Compelled by his need for sleep, Trevor reset his radar perimeter alarm and closed his eyes, returning to his dreams.

 

 

The blip on Trevor’s radar was a large ocean-going fishing trawler, its old diesel engines pushing it noisily along. Its captain, Ali, watched Atlantis through his night-vision goggles, and then checked her ID on AIS, and his limited knowledge of the Latin alphabet was sufficient for him to confirm that it matched the one he’d been given.

The trawler had been Ali’s for twenty years, and when he had first obtained her, he had followed on old local tradition of naming ships for stars or constellations. The trawler’s name was Algol, named for a star in the constellation of Perseus. The name had appealed to Ali, because the name ‘Algol’ came from the Arabic ‘al Ghul’ meaning ‘The Demon’.

Ali studied Atlantis for a few moments more, and then turned Algol’s old oak wheel, changing course to come closer.

Ali had been a fisherman for over twenty years, and his ancient trawler had the range to allow him to seek out the richer fishing grounds far from his home waters in southernmost Somalia. His destination was the Saya de Malha Bank – the largest submerged bank in the world – seven hundred miles northeast of Madagascar and five hundred miles southeast of the Seychelles. Algol had been en route to the bank when she’d received word from a contact in the Seychelles, alerting them to Atlantis’s departure time and heading, and planned course.

The vast undersea bank, a submerged plateau averaging two hundred feet below the waves and over fifteen thousand square miles in area, was claimed by the island nation of Mauritius, over five hundred miles to the southeast, as an exclusive economic zone, by virtue of Mauritius’s ownership of the tiny Agalega Islands. The claim did not trouble Ali; Mauritius lacked the means to adequately patrol the distant fishing grounds, which was why Ali was willing to expend the fuel to reach them.

But fishing was not Ali’s only trade. Like some of his Somali countrymen, he had found several other avenues by which to extract wealth from the sea.

Ali continued studying Atlantis through his night-vision goggles, seeing a large luxury yacht. He was unfamiliar with catamarans, but to him, Atlantis’s sleek lines bespoke of wealth, and that alone would have been enough to be worth a continued detour on his journey to Saya de Malha Bank.

With his decision made, Ali gave a rapid string of orders, and then bided his time as the Algol pulled further ahead of Atlantis. When the distance had grown to four miles, he ordered one of his men to remain behind on the trawler, and with the other five men, Ali freed the inflatable boat and its outboard motor from their mountings.

The Algol did not alter course or speed, and was four miles ahead of Atlantis and twenty degrees off her starboard bow. Ali, along with his five men, launched the black inflatable boat from the trawler’s starboard side, opposite from Atlantis. They cast off, falling astern before firing up the outboard and motoring slowly across the dark seas.

When they reached a position ahead of Atlantis, they turned bow-on to the approaching yacht and waited for Atlantis to close the distance. Atlantis’s radar could not detect the small inflatable boat and the trawler held its distance, so the radar remained silent, allowing Trevor to sleep.

 

 

A sensation of prodding against his bare chest intruded on his dreams, and as Trevor slowly returned to consciousness, the memories of Joel putting an ice cube on his chest returned. Trevor smiled sleepily, cracking open an eye, and muttered, “Joel...”

As his mind cleared, Trevor remembered that Joel was gone, and the blurry, dark, round image in Trevor’s vision caught his attention, lit by the muted glow of the radar screen.

His eyes focused, and he shuddered, realizing that he was staring at the business end of a gun. His mind still fogged, and hoping that it was a nightmare, Trevor blinked, seeing two men in the semi-darkness, and then two more entering the salon of Atlantis. “Oh, fuck,” Trevor mumbled, as a surge of adrenalin brought him fully awake.

Trevor didn’t move, he just stared at the gun – an AK47 – pointing at him from inches away, trying to think what to do. Even if his gun had been in the cockpit, there was no way he could have drawn it in time, not with a gun at his head. His revolver was still in his secret compartment, where he’d placed it when arriving in the Seychelles.

 

 

Ali was not a cruel man, nor was he a kind one. He looked at his professions – fishing, smuggling, and piracy – as jobs, as well as a balance of risks.

Looking around Atlantis, Ali was puzzled by the strange double ship – he’d never been on a catamaran before. Taking the strange vessel back to Somalia, across a thousand miles of sea and through waters patrolled by Western navies, would be both difficult and dangerous. It would also preclude his fishing. That made the decision a simple one; he would, as he had done on a similar occasion a year before, strip the yacht of its expensive gear and fittings, offering him a surer profit and lesser risk. It would also allow him to proceed to the fishing grounds. He would, he thought with a cold smile, reap several bounties by this act.

Ali’s men returned to the cockpit and informed their captain that they had searched and found no further people aboard. That left Ali with a minor problem: Trevor. Due to Trevor’s age, Ali assumed him to be just crew, worth less than an owner would have been, but still a possible worthwhile prize under some circumstances.

There was also the issue that ransoming captives; while profitable, it held deadly risks. Ali had two concerns in that regard. The first was the Western navies, which had been known to rescue hostages by force. His only defense against them would be concealment, which meant returning to Somalia and stashing his hostage in an inland hideaway before attempting a ransom. The second, and far greater, concern for Ali was the unwanted attention of some of his own countrymen, for even pirates had good reason to fear other pirates. Ali knew that his own small band would be easy pickings for one of the many larger ones, who would be delighted to kill him and his men to take a hostage as their own.

Glancing at Atlantis’s navigation console, Ali knew that the electronics alone would pay handsomely. He looked forward, at the diving gear his men were already removing from lockers, and made up his mind. He would strip the strange boat and then sink her before continuing to the fishing grounds, where he would hide the loot beneath his catch. There was no need to increase his risk by being too greedy. Better, Ali had long believed and practiced, to take the lesser though far safer prize.

Ali barked an order to one of his men, who scurried forward to carry it out. Returning his attention to Trevor, Ali knew what needed to be done. He did not find it objectionable: it was simply a task to perform.

Ali was well aware of the danger of sharks; when attracted, he knew those lions of the sea could attack an inflatable boat, and Ali had no wish to summon them. The species that he feared the most was the Oceanic Whitetip Shark. He had good reason; the Oceanic Whitetip, normally a slow-moving shark, is prone to feeding frenzies when it scents blood, making it a danger to anyone in or near the water. It is responsible for more human deaths than all other shark species combined. The Oceanic Whitetip is also known as the bane of fishermen in the world’s tropical waters; harvesting a catch had the effect of chumming the waters, and the resulting frenzies had claimed the lives of many fishermen, including one of Ali’s own crew, three years before. Therefore, Ali was loath to spill blood at sea without need.

He would have liked to question Trevor, seeking valuables and cash, but none of Ali’s crew spoke any of the European languages, and a few words in Arabic had elicited only confusion from Trevor. Ali dismissed the thought, for it was only a minor concern; he had no doubt that they would find anything of value on their own.

 

 

Trevor heard another shout from the graying man who seemed to be in charge – Ali – and winced in pain as two large men seized him by the arms and hauled him to his feet. Held fast, Trevor felt his heart pounding as his watch was snatched away and a few coils of rope were tied around each of his wrists, and then a few more wraps of the ropes bound his wrists together behind his back. He struggled a little, not understanding the words and not yet perceiving the intent. ‘Maybe they’ll take what they want and go,’ he hoped, as they checked the pocket of his shorts, finding it empty.

Trevor saw one of the pirates hop down into the cockpit, bearing one of Atlantis’s anchors. As Trevor watched, a few feet of rope was attached the anchor’s eye, and then as Trevor’s surprise changed to fear, he watched the pirate tie the other end of the rope into a large slipknot.

Trevor struggled against the rough hands holding his arms in an iron grip, but his gaze was locked on the anchor, as the pirate carried it to Trevor and placed the slipknot over Trevor’s head, drawing it snuggly around Trevor’s neck.

Feeling the rope pressing against the back of his neck as the pirate released the anchor, Trevor felt the cool metal against his bare chest, and in that moment, he knew.

Beginning to tremble, Trevor looked at Ali in horror and dread, and with pleading in his eyes, mumbled, “No, please, no...”

To Ali, this was just a means to an end: a way to dispose of a body without the blood that would attract sharks.

Staring at the anchor that hung from Trevor’s neck, Ali took a step forward and reached out, touching the anchor, intrigued by its unusual design, one he had not seen before. Its two large hinged flukes, parallel to the shaft, looked to Ali to be, as indeed it was, an effective design for digging into a sandy bottom.

It did not do to leave bodies floating about, nor did Ali wish to leave blood in the water. He had faced such situations before and had developed a solution: a weighted body would sink to the bottom of the sea, thousands of feet below, never to be seen again.

The anchor would work well for that purpose, Ali knew, but he did not wish to lose such a useful item. A length of chain would do, as would a simple weight and a rope. Ali snapped out another order, and then removed the anchor from Trevor’s neck.

Trevor watched, his fear ebbing to relief, as Ali set the anchor aside.

Ali studied his captive, wondering what one so young was doing alone on such a boat, and what he had done to garner enmity. Ali dismissed the irrelevant thought and turned as he heard his man return from forward, bearing a Scuba weight belt. Hefting it in his hands, feeling its ten pounds, Ali judged that it would serve well for the task at hand.

With his men holding Trevor firmly, Ali held the belt up, and Trevor stared at it, suddenly understanding Ali’s intent. Driven by desperate panic, Trevor struggled in vain, twisting and thrashing, feeling the rough band of fabric being slipped around his bare stomach, and then the sensation of tightness as Ali buckled the belt firmly into place.

Breathing hard, drenched in sweat and trembling, Trevor glanced down at the belt, and then he looked at Ali and pleaded, “Please don’t do this, I don’t want to die!”

Ali could not understand Trevor’s words, nor would he have cared if he had. Ali glanced at the cockpit’s rear railing and nodded. His men understood unspoken order.

The weight belt suddenly felt impossibly heavy, and Trevor felt his knees buckle. A surge of panic filled him, and he again thrashed wildly against the strong arms that held his arms. “No, don’t do this, you fucking bastards!” he yelled, as they half-carried, half-dragged him to railing.

With his fear turning to both panic and rage, Trevor fought wildly as one of the pirates shoved him against the rail. Feeling two rough sets of hands seizing his shoulders and shoving him backwards, Trevor fought on, as his feet left the deck. Trevor lashed out furiously with his feet, landing a glancing kick on one of the pirate’s knees, but the pirate merely gasped in pain, pausing not at all.

With time seeming to slow to a crawl, Trevor felt every touch, every bump, as he was shoved up onto the railing, and then with a final, brutal shove, sent toppling over backwards.

Suddenly weightless, falling though the dark, Trevor took a deep breath as he fell the few feet into the dark and waiting sea.

Trevor felt the sharp sting against his back, and felt the splash, of the warm waters enclosing him, his heart pounding in his ears. He struggled, twisting his bound wrists, trying desperately to free them, but the rope was too tight.

Feeling himself drifting deeper, he kicked hard, driven by instinct to reach the surface he could not see, struggling against the dragging weight of the belt, his breath burning in his lungs.

Trevor’s head broke the surface, allowing him to take a huge gulp of air, and then another. He looked at Atlantis, forty feet away in the dark and moving further away by the second, and saw Ali looking back at him.

The weight belt strapped around Trevor’s torso had a quick-release, but it was on the front. With that in mind, and fearing a bullet, Trevor took a deep breath and stopped kicking, letting himself slide beneath the waves as he tried to reach the release, first with his foot, and then his teeth, finding that he couldn’t even come close. By the time he gave up the attempt, he could feel the sea’s pressure on his eardrums, and again kicked hard for the surface.

 

 

Ali watched as Trevor’s head receded into the darkness and then disappeared beneath the waves. He had been surprised that Trevor had managed to surface at all, but he knew it could not be for long. The sea would soon claim him, he was sure, if it had not already done so. With Trevor gone, Ali set to work and walked through the salon, shouting orders, and then returned to the cockpit.

Drawing a small but powerful flashlight from his pocket, Ali aimed it at his trawler and flashed it three times. Thirty seconds later, the Algol accelerated and changed course, heading for Atlantis.

Ali’s plan was simple; lash the two ships together to make transferring the spoils easier, and then get underway before dawn, after sending the stripped hulk of Atlantis to the bottom.

 

 

Even with his head back, facing the sky, Trevor had to keep kicking to hold his mouth above the water. The chop kept submerging his head, and he battled to stay on the surface, feeling his legs tire. He struggled, twisting and pulling, but the ropes holding his wrists behind his back showed no sign of easing their grip.

Alone in the darkness, Trevor fought his desperate losing battle, as the certainty of death tempted him to give up and just let it be over with.

‘Even if I get loose, I’m still going to be in the middle of the ocean. I’ll just die slower,’he thought, as his legs began to ache and he spat out another mouthful of seawater.

Trevor tried to ease the strain on his legs by alternating between a slow eggbeater kick and a standard back and forth stroke, using somewhat differing sets of muscles. The eggbeater kick, a basic of water polo, could for brief bursts allow a player to raise their entire torso from the water. A common training drill was to have a player hold a brick above their heads and eggbeater back and forth across a pool. However, it was strenuous, and soon caused Trevor’s muscles to burn.

Long minutes later, Trevor looked around the horizon, seeing Atlantis as just a few specks of light and still moving away. ‘Even if I get free, there’s no way in hell I could catch up, and even if I did they’d just shoot me,’ Trevor thought darkly, grimacing against the ache from his tiring legs.

Trevor’s furious exertions took their toll, and he began tiring, his efforts slowly slacking as the minutes passed.

Glancing to the south, Trevor saw Atlantis receding, visible only for brief moments when he crested a swell, and felt the temptation; to just let it be over with, to stop fighting and let it end, but an unexpected wave gave him a mouthful of water, causing him to cough, and the sensation of drowning reawakened his instincts. Trevor struggled on, fighting to keep on the surface, heaving with his shoulders, trying to free his wrists, battling the grip of the ropes and the remorseless sea.

Half a dozen times, exhaustion forced Trevor to take a deep breath and stop kicking, allowing him to rest his legs for a few precious moments before struggling to the surface, each time slower than the last.

 

 

Aboard Atlantis, the pirates were already hard at work. They had found Trevor’s tools, and began removing Atlantis’s electronics. They did not work with care, instead using crowbars as often as not.

Ali, at the helm, glanced up at the unfamiliar rigging. He did not know how to furl the mainsail, so he released the sheet and turned the wheel, altering course a few degrees to starboard in order to disengage the autopilot.

Atlantis began to slow as the trawler came alongside, and soon the two vessels were lashed together and the pirates began hauling the first of their loot to their ship. They returned with more tools, including power saws. Their intent was to tear out everything of possible value, starting with Atlantis’s furling boom and mainsail, which was the first to fall victim to the power saw.

 

 

Many times he’d gulped in seawater along with air, leading to a fit of desperate coughing. He’d been in the water for fifteen minutes, but to Trevor it felt like forever: an eternity of exhaustion and struggle, punctuated by the sensation of drowning by inches.

His bound wrists, rubbed almost raw by the near-constant chaffing, burned in the salt water as Trevor struggled on, his straining muscles reaching their limit. Crying out in agony as cramps lanced at his arm with a deep and searing pain, Trevor again slipped beneath the waves and then slowly forced his way to the surface again, barely able to fight the pull of the weight belt.

Agony wracked him as the cramps spread down his left arm, making it feel as if it was being torn apart as he battled against the unyielding ropes.

A gulp of seawater caused a panic reflex, and Trevor kicked harder, taking massive rapid breathes.

Another stab of searing pain, this time from his straining thigh, and Trevor knew he had just seconds left: the excruciating agony left him no doubt that his legs had reached their limit.

Teeth clenched in agony, feeling more alone that he ever had before, Trevor looked up at the stars, seeing the glittering myriad of the moonless sky, for what he knew was probably the final time. He took as many breaths as he could as his exhausted, failing leg muscles at last lost the fight, and then, able to resist no more, he sank into the dark sea.

For a few seconds, Trevor went limp, waiting for the end, his weight belt dragging him towards a watery grave.‘I should just let my breath out and get it over with’ he thought, knowing that he could last a few minutes at most, but it was not in him to give up so easily. He felt the pressure building against his eardrums and, a dozen feet down, in desperation, with nothing left to lose, he began struggling, yanking at his bound wrists, twisting them back and forth within their bonds, straining with his shoulders, teeth clenched against the pain, sinking ever deeper.

Agony, intense and growing worse, like lightning bolts exploding in his brain, wracked Trevor as he strained his cramped muscles, pulling at his tendons, every twitch like a knife in his flesh.

His struggles used oxygen, and Trevor felt his lungs beginning to burn, hungering for air, filling him with a deep and primal drive to do anything for just one more precious breath.

Drifting ever deeper in that dark and cloying hell, feeling the pressure of the sea against his eardrums become pure and excruciating pain, Trevor wished for it to end, but death would not come so easily. His burning hunger for one more taste of air could not be denied, and in agonies unlike any he had ever known, he struggled on, waging his losing battle against the deep.

A pressing, piercing pain in his ears, growing with every eternal second, wracked him as the sea’s inexorable and growing weight crushed in... Trevor thrashed in blind agony, suffocating, consumed with nauseating dizziness and excruciating pain.

Agony beyond limit drove all rational thought from his mind, as time slowed, extending his pain and fear, crushing him in the pervading darkness.

Ninety feet down and nearly two minutes since his last breath, Trevor writhed in abject desperation, feeling the dark and lonely sea’s entombing embrace as he sank into the eternal abyss, the weight of the sea crushing his chest, squeezing the life from his body.

Terrified and alone in the stygian darkness, feeling the crushing pressure, forsaken and in utter agony, his lungs burning like fire, Trevor struggled, fighting, snatching at his wrists in vain fury, raging to the last against his fate, sinking ever deeper into the sea he had so loved.

 

 

In Florida, it was late on a Saturday morning. Lisa, already running a little late for Joel’s swim meet, looked at the mariner’s clock Trevor had given her for her birthday as it began to chime. Lisa watched the clock’s spinning mechanism and smiled, for just a moment, before feeling a sudden bitter chill in spite of the sweltering day.
~

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© 2010 C James

feedback.gifPlease let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.

Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"

 

 

Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.

Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.

Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading.

A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.

Copyright © 2013 C James; All Rights Reserved.
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C James is a brilliant writer. This is one of the most terrifying chapters I have ever read. It captures the absolute horror of the situation. This is my second reading of the story, but this chapter has long stayed with me for the absolute and total despair that it creates. The story is brilliant as well, but this chapter is particularily memorable....

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This chapter was really hard because it was so expertly written and simply the worst thing I could have imagined.

Brilliant work and diabolical to leave us hanging.

 

Thanks.

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Congratulations this chapter is why we read. The fear and dread Trevor was going through is so powerfully written and l still feel sick from reading it. All l can say is brilliant writting, thanks for the chance to read.

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