|Stormcastle: And Other Fun Games With Cards And Dice|
|Against a Diamond|
|A Fisherman's Guide to Bottomdwellers|
We were en route to the break. Chip and the pilot were up front. I was crammed in the back with my board lying over my lap, partially sticking out the side window. My suit was bulky and uncomfortable in the tight quarters. My head was cramped too. Thoughts of what the hell I was doing here yammered in my head.
I was staring out at the silver horizon, trying to swallow my fear and apprehension.
“ETA two hours," the copter’s computer stated. Chip and the pilot had earphones inside of their helmets, but seeing as how my ears were covered in state of the art, LegionCorps’ nano-fiber, the computer voice was being transmitted directly to my suit.
Chip turned around, "Is little Len afraid? Don’t be a pussy, Lenny boy. You’re gonna be great." Then he gave me a Godfather smack on the cheek.
I wanted to punch him in the teeth. Fricken nicknames. Fricken grin. Fricken Chip.
We were headed to an open ocean break. The intention was for me to jump in this alien ocean, provide LegionCorps with readings, and give them one hell of a surf video to woo public interest back on Earth.
I never would have thought that there would be a point in my life where some corporation would force me to surf. But here I was, as far away from Earth as any human had ever been, looking down at a silvery ocean. I was staring down at the metallic, glossy surface, watching the ocean’s motion "Ocean's Motion?, when something caught my eye.
“You see that?" I asked the guys up front.
The ocean was alien enough, composed of liquid mercury, but I saw about ten shimmering shadows under the silver surface. Dancing oil slick rainbow snake things gliding along the ocean.
“What the hell is that?" I asked.
Both Chip and the pilot didn’t bother to answer my question. They were busy looking out of their own side windows an expression of fear, awe, and mystery glued on their faces.
Chip called in to base, "We have contact. Approximately ten subjects traveling towards our heading."
Chip turned and saw me gawking at him. Contact? Subjects?
“Private channel," he commanded into the radio.
I was cut off from the radio communication. I tried to adjust my suit’s auditory sensors, but they were useless with the roar of the jet engine and rotary blades slicing through the atmosphere.
When Chip was done talking on the radio, I punched his shoulder. "What the hell is going on? What aren’t you telling me?"
Just then, something shot through the copter like a sonic boom. My heart dropped, time slowed, then the copter free fell for a second. It reminded me of the ion cloud that fused my iso-suit to my skin. Except that storm felt random, generated out of the chaos of natural phenomenon. This was not random, what had just happened was purposeful.
“Stabilize!" the pilot screamed over the incessant beeping of multiple system alarms.
We lurched up, gaining power and thrust. The pilot shot the copter almost straight up. Then he leveled out and resumed course.
En route, he got on the radio.
“Mission control, this is Birdie One, prepare for possible landing complications. We experienced some..." the guy paused, looked back at me and continued, "atmospheric affects."
“Atmospheric affects my ass," I challenged him. Chip held out his arm, pushing me back into my seat.
“Easy, Len. No big deal. We’re okay."
“You think I’m nuts? I’m gonna surf 150 foot waves in an alien ocean with that...that..."
“Atmospheric affect?" Chip said. "Aw, c’mon, I know you’re not afraid. You’re a charger. Besides, you want a ride home? You do as we say, bro. It’s nothing to worry your pretty little pink panties about." His face took on the look of taht kid on the block up killed birds for fun.
I looked back down. The shimmers were still almost directly underneath us.
“Alright, alright," he said with his hands up, "You’ll have some company in the lineup. What, Len? You didn’t really think there would be no crowd at the most pumping break in the universe did you?" He laughed.
I felt like someone had pulled the carpet from underneath me. I felt dizzy. A million questions buzzed my mind.
He kept laughing and said, "Relax, bro. They’re harmless. From what we can tell they don’t even have any real physical properties anyways. Pure energy. You’ll be fine. Just trust Uncle Chip." He patted me on my knee, and I had the urge to grab his fingers and bend them off the back of his hairy hand.
Chip turned around, saying something to the pilot. The pilot gave out a nervous laugh and kept up his obsessive watch over the copter’s instruments. I went back to staring at the horizon, thinking about what a fool I was to allow myself to come out here, and get involved with Chip of all people. I didn’t see any waves below, just the inside of a gigantic thermometer for as far as the eye could see.
The shades were down at my $10,000 a month oceanfront dream house. I sat against a wall, slugging down a jug of sake. I felt that since I couldn’t feel anything anymore, I might as well be piss drunk.
At this point I was so drunk I would have pissed myself, but I hadn’t had the satisfaction of taking an honest to goodness pee in months.
In-system dialysis engaged. I heard in my head. Analysis detects potentially harmful levels of alcohol. Do you wish to clear bloodstream of added toxins? I said no for the third time this hour. There were some modifications I wish I could make to my Isolation Suit, such as letting me drink in peace.
I took a long gulp from my jug. My mood was as black as my second skin, and the alcohol wasn’t helping it at all.
I clawed at my "skin" with my black, rubbery, gloved hands. I wanted to tear it off. It was suffocating me. But I might as well have been trying to rip off my real skin. My suit wasn’t going anywhere.
Ever since The Search, I had no sensations, both literally and figuratively. No longer did the trade winds brush against my skin. The amped feeling of sweet, pure adrenaline was also missing from my life. Nothing did it for me anymore, women, booze, waves, nothing. I mean I surfed on one of Jupiter’s moons for God’s sake. How could I top that?
I finished my sake, and was about to get another jug from the kitchen, when I heard a sharp rapping on my lanai door.
“Hey, Len. You ugly buggah. Open up."
Oh no, I thought, Chip’s voice. I could recognize that voice anywhere. Psy-ops Chip, piss his pants in public just for a laugh Chip, got me arrested in Indonesia for "Inciting a Religious Riot" Chip. As soon as I heard that bastard’s voice I got a foreboding knot in my stomach. I felt my adrenal glands give a little twitch of anticipation. They knew Chip all too well. Life-threatening situations open those glands’ floodgates like nothing else. And danger accompanied Chip like flies on shit. I knew Chip was trouble, but it felt good to get that rush, if even for a fleeting second.
I flicked the lock down. He stepped in like he owned the place.
“What’s up bro?" Chip gave me a bear hug. Even with the extra padding and weight of my suit, he still seemed like a tank.
“Long time no see," I said. Chip had worked for LegionCorps since I’d known him. LegionCorps was the biggest company on and off planet.
“Nice digs, man," Chip said, looking at me like I was some sort of kook tourist wearing a neon green rash guard.
There was no escaping my attire. It was almost always the first thing people I hadn’t seen in awhile commented on, or at least what they wanted to comment on. It was as much a part of me now as my birthday suit.
“So what’s all this I hear about the great and almighty Len, Space Surfer, Methane Maniac, and the new “In” celebrity?" He held up a glossy magazine with a flourish. The cover had the same photo that was quickly turning into the most published picture in human history, or so they were saying. It was of me surfing a hundred foot wave of liquid methane on Titan. The methane was reflecting the orange atmosphere. I have to admit, it was one badass pic. But the insert had a close-up of my face scrunched up from a hundred flashbulbs exploding in my eyeballs. The headline read, "Space Surfer Not Happy with Fame and Fortune: Has the Adrenaline Astronaut Gone too Far?"
I hated those fricken nicknames. My name is Len god damn it.
I walked out to my lanai, swiping up my jug of sake on the way. Chip followed me and we sat down on my bench, a classic woody long board welded onto the wall. The sun was glaring in my eyes and the atmospheric haze was as thick as Fog. My iso-hood automatically stretched over my head. It felt like someone trying to suffocate me. I had to override the suit by interfacing my thoughts.
System override. Hood down.
I felt a tinge spark down my neck, through my mid-spine. It wasn’t painful, but the idea that I was communicating by thought with a quantum computer made me think I was an enemy cyborg from a movie. Creepy. The hood slithered back into the rest of the suit.
Chip watched in fascination. "So only the head part can come off?" he asked, staring me up and down.
“Yeah, supposedly they included different kinds of shields to protect my brain. Would’ve been nice if they were as concerned for the rest of my body."
Chip gave me another once over, pausing to stare at my nether regions. My ex, Leilani, always said he was in the closet.
“How you go to the bathroom then?"
I pointed to my gut. "Dialysis. Needs to be drained every day. But I doubt you came here to ask me about my bodily functions. What’s up Chip? Why you here? I thought you were off planet on some LegionCorps’ Lab ship. Besides, don’t you have warrants in Hawaii?"
Chip ignored my slam at his drunken escapades in Waikiki.
The fact that he showed up after three years at my door was not comforting. After all, I had just sued his employer for a vast sum of credits, not to mention my priceless sleek skin.
Chip looked at the Pacific, ignoring my question like he so often does. "So you live by Suicide Reef, huh? Man, isn’t this where we used to surf as groms? What’re you, reverting back to your childhood?"
Actually, Chip hit it close to home. I hadn’t thought about it in those terms before, but I was trying to get back to that point in my life when the world still held adventure.
“Y’know, I haven’t even surfed Sui’s since I moved in this place," I said, realizing how much of a drunk I had become.
His expression changed from camaraderie to antagonism. "Yeah, well my bosses want this back, y’know," Chip said trying to get a grip on my seal-like skin.
The heiress to the LegionCorps fortune, Maxine Montidillo, hooked me up with the suit, with its prototype nano-fiber. It had saved my life on Titan. It protects against pollutants, pressure, and temperature at levels that would poison, crush, or toast most humans. It was supposed to be a loan for my trip to Titan for The Search. After an ion cloud the size of Texas fused the suit to my skin, I was stuck with it.
Despite its life saving properties, I felt confined in the iso-suit. I had to break up with my ex, Leilani, because I couldn’t get with her anymore. She wanted to go virtual with me, but I knew she would end up cheating on me for the real thing.
Chip would never really tell me what he did for LegionCorps, but I knew it involved a lot of travel because I’d joined him many times around the world. I also knew that whenever we’d go on a trip, some kind of delicate information always managed to get leaked to that countries’ media. He said he was Psy-Ops, whatever that entailed.
“The Corps is pissed at you, Len. They want your balls on a platter. Not only did you get an exorbitant amount of creds from them, but you retained possession of that," he poked my chest. "They’re willing to wipe the slate clean though. They want you to go off world one more time. The Corps is in need of your suit and expertise."
The only expertise I held was a Ph.D. in going big.
That was when Chip proposed The Search II. "You’re going to have to partially fund your trip, fuel costs and whatnot, from your settlement."
He was really selling me on the idea. "Why should I?" I asked. But even though the last trip I took with his employers ended in me permanently retaining a souped up wet suit, I took the bait. Deep down, I was itching to feel again. Action, waves, heightened sense of awareness, blood pumping through my veins, all of it.
But still, I didn’t like being told what to do, let alone by a massive corporation and its crony, even if the crony was Chip.
Chip stopped grinning and puffed up his broad shoulders. "Len, LegionCorps never loses. If you don’t agree, they’ll wait till the limelight fades," he held up the magazine and tossed it into the ocean, I always hated how he littered, "And then they will get back that suit, even if it means taking all your skin with it."
I had once seen Chip turn on a South African friend of ours and beat him within an inch of his life, all over a wave. So I took his threats seriously.
However, Chip will walk all over you if you let him. So I knew I had to stand up to him.
“Fuck you. Get out," I said, knowing full well that it would take more than that to get Chip to leave before he got what he wanted.
“Wait, don’t shoot the messenger," he said with his hands up. "Please hear me out about The Search II. I think you’ll like it."
Chip would sell out his own mother if it would benefit him, so it was no surprise to me that he would come to threaten one of his old friends. We had been through a lot together, but I was never under the impression that Chip would truly risk his ass to save me, or anyone for that matter.
“And where, pray tell, is The Search II going to be filmed? You know Chip, it’s going to be pretty hard to top the last one."
“A classified Corps vid disc is worth a gazillion words bro," Chip said. He held up a small metallic brochure as if I was a cocker spaniel drooling for a doggie biscuit. The word Alrico was printed on it in a circular pattern, along with Code 547 LegionCorps Property. Chip touched the Alrico logo and a screen the shape of a CD unfolded.
From the tiny speaker emanated the same generic, computerized, monotone, voice that NOAA issues their weather conditions and swell reports.
“Alrico. Extra solar planet HG-56718. Atmospheric pressure standard. Gravity-1.09 standard Earth gravity. Three moons in synchronous orbit."
I looked over at Chip. "Since when have we visited an extra solar planet?" Chip leaned over and pressed the pause icon. The image froze on a biosphere built on a crystalline land formation. Something like this should have made headlines worldwide. I had never heard the word Alrico before. "How could this be?"
“Top secret, but you know, I’m Psy-ops for the LegionCorps. That means I’m privy to information not yet distributed to the masses. My friend, you’re looking at the first possibly habitable extra solar planet known to man. But that’s not why I showed you. Keep watching."
He leaned back over and hit play. The movie continued. Chip wiped the sweat that was beading on his forehead. I was comfy; the internal radiation monitors and cooling system of my Iso-suit took care of that. I squinted at the small screen.
Satellite images displayed a blue and silver planet. More views of the biospheres showed that Alrico had at the least a temporary human habitat. There were horizons of crystal formations, some as big as mountains, others barely rising off of the ground.
“It’s coming up," Chip said in anticipation like a kid waiting for his cartoon to start. I looked at him and he motioned with his eyebrows, "Watch." Then the camera showed the shoreline. A vast, silver ocean loomed over the horizon. Crystal outcroppings were sticking out of the silver ocean like reef formations. Then I saw waves. Good waves, but it was hard to tell how big they were. The ocean was totally glassy, but it had a heavy look to it, like an ocean of metallic lava.
“Swell size-40-50 foot faces. Frequency-15 seconds," the pronunciation challenged robot voice announced. Normally this would have had me drooling like a newborn with momma’s chest in sight, but I was too overwhelmed to think of riding it. I mean, how the hell would I get there?
Chip clicked stop. "The rest is boring: no more surf," he said.
I stared at the Alrico logo on the brochure. I had a blank look on my face.
Chip laughed. "So? The Search II, what do you think?"
“You want to shoot a surf video there?"
“No, we go soul surf, that’s all. No sponsors, no media, no more nothing."
That was bullshit.
“Soul surf? LegionCorps wants me to go soul surf. C’mon Chip, tell me. What’s really your motive."
“Don’t worry about it Lenny Boy." He clicked play on the vid again. "Look at this. Just look at this." He shoved the disc in my face. "Don’t you want some of that?"
I looked. I needed. I wanted. I smiled. But I was scared that I was starting to eat the crap that Chip was feeding me. We were starting to act like old friends again. And I knew he was not thinking of my best interests. He might as well have had the
LegionCorps logo stamped on his forehead. But my curiosity got the best of me.
“You realize I have a ton of questions. What is the ocean make-up? How far away? How big? How the hell? Why isn’t it plastered all over the networks? Is there any life there?"
“Len, bro. Listen, you have to understand something. This is classified stuff. I hope I can trust you to keep your yapper shut. If you don’t we could both be arrested."
“Third time’s a charm," I said.
“Realize this: I can’t tell you the specifics of how we’d get there even if I did understand it but it’s some kind of space fold. They bend space so we don’t have to travel light speed. Don’t ask me, but it works. You saw the vid."
Chip grabbed the brochure and cued the image of the wave. "The ocean’s some kind of mercury alloy, probably nothing your handy dandy fused Iso-suit can’t handle. How big? Weren’t you listening?" he pressed play.
“Swell size-40-50 foot faces. Frequency-15 seconds."
That’s big. I’ll have to bring my propeller board, I thought, planning in my head. The delayed realization of how big the wave was made my chin drop like a breaching humpback falling back to the blue. Those were some good waves, great waves, epic waves. Alien waves. Just like Titan.
“And the cherry on top is that the three moons are going to align." He grabbed me by the shoulders, his eyes ablaze, "Big tide bro. Three moon tide. The white coats think the waves’ll triple in size." 120-150 foot faces of glassy liquid metal.
I knew Chip was trouble. I knew he was withholding some kind of life or death information for me. I knew he was using me, most likely for his bosses at the LegionCorps. But we’d had some killer sessions. And I knew that look in his eyes. Waves. I grabbed his shoulders and saw surf in his gaze.
“We go surf, bro," I said.
So I went. The SpaceFold wasn’t too eventful. The captain did his job. We landed under a sixteenth of a light year away from Alrico, so it took another year to get there with our hydrogen sail. I chose to stay in suspended state until a week before arrival.
Metal ambrosia, sweet and sour, filled my dreams. I remembered the conscious emptiness from the last time I went suspended. But this time it was for almost a year. I forgot who I was in the blackness. I felt disconnected, like a T.V. that wasn’t plugged in - not even any static. Then, in a trickle, the metal dripped into my mind. It felt oily, yet sharp. Sloshing around, rhythms bounced between being and nothing.
“Wakey, wakey, little Lenny. We’re here." Chip said, looking down at the surf. I had zoned out. I looked at the ocean, there still didn’t seem to be much action.
But then a set came. We didn’t need binoculars. It was huge. Just as the behemoth started to peak, the moment before the wave of energy pushing through the medium of mercury collapsed on itself, one of those rainbow shimmers burst through the wave like a spinner dolphin jumping out of the water at Yokohama Bay.
I’ve had many life threatening events in my career as an adrenaline junky: a primary parachute failing to deploy, an 80 foot wave nearly drowning me after blowing my ear drums out, an ion cloud frying my skin, not to mention the time when Chip towed me onto dry reef. I’ve never been afraid to die. If it was my time, it was my time. A recurring day dream of mine is of my friends and family paddling out to Diamond Head on a windy day, forming a circle with their boards and scattering my ashes to the trades and sea.
I usually only feel alive when death’s shadow lurks just outside of my peripheral. I’m a big believer in energy. I don’t know about reincarnation, heaven, hell or any other spiritual beliefs. But I’ve always thought that when we pass away, our energy is absorbed back into the earth, the ocean, the wind, the animals, and the plants. This was usually reassuring to me. The thought of Alrico capturing my energy gave me the chills. Would I turn into a shimmery, snake, oil slick? Would I be too far from my ancestors to re-unite with them in death? Would I go nuts if I kept thinking about this new age crap?
No, I didn’t want to die here. My lip started to curl thinking about it.
For the first time before a session, I told myself that I wasn’t going to die. Never before had I feared the outcome of my choices. Never before had I wanted life and home as much as I did at that moment. This desire emboldened me. With every breath I felt my connection with home strengthen. My heart pounded. I was ready. Screw Chip. Screw the Corps. I’m gonna do this, and get back to sweet salt water. Thoughts of luau, Leilani’s lips, and coral reefs filled my head.
Outside, I could see the outline of the moons setting. It was quite a sight. Seeing the three moons line up like that reminded me of those Russian dolls, one fitting in another ad infinitum. The biggest had a thick purple haze as an atmosphere. The other two were just as bleak as earth’s moon, but with a brown tinge to them. Both were pockmarked with craters.
The copter dropped me off about 300 yards from the peak. When I jumped into the merc, I was surprised at my body’s buoyancy. It felt like the liquid was rejecting me. Even though I knew a titanium bowling ball could float in this stuff, I took it personally. It was nothing like the inviting womb of Mother H2O Ocean, or even the dangerously ignitable liquid methane on Titan.
Chip tossed my board about twenty feet away from me. Fucking dick. Swimming felt odd. Trying to stroke was hard because I couldn’t get my hands more than a foot into the merc. It felt like suspension sleep. I could taste the mercury. But that was in my head, wasn’t it?
I got to my board and tried to stand up. The fins and propeller pushed the tail out of the merc. I hadn’t thought of that. I had set up my board like I would a similar wave on earth. This was more alien than Titan’s ocean by a long shot. My board’s gyros were working overtime trying to keep me from tilting back into the metal. I jumped off to re-configure the board. I raised the propeller and fins so they were just three inches deep, and I adjusted the density, making the nose less weighty and the tail as heavy as it could get, not that that would do much good.
I got back on the board. The gyros didn’t feel like they were spinning over time anymore. I was somewhat steady. But how the hell was I going to keep control surfing down a 150-foot face without sliding down into the impact zone? How was I going to turn?
Just as I was about to start up my propeller, I saw it.
Balancing on my board, copter hovering over me, I saw one of the oil slicks about thirty feet from me. The thing was just wavering, looking at me. You know how eels just sit there with their mouths open, looking malicious? That’s what the slick looked like. Now I’ve been up close to sharks, whales, seals, and just about every other form of sea life. I had no idea if it was assessing me as a threat, meal, or oddity, but it was definitely scoping out something that did not belong in its territory.
Not knowing what to do, I started ahead towards the break. I had barely moved and the slick bluffed towards me. I stopped. Stalemate. I wasn’t about to challenge this thing after what it did to the copter earlier.
Then I heard Chip’s voice in my ear. "That things on your ass, bro." He was giggling. "We’re gonna drop a drone away from you. Maybe that’ll draw your buddy down there away. Just to let you know, so far you’ve lasted way longer than anyone else has yet." Chip always had such a comforting way about him.
Sure enough the slick turned, like a cat hearing the scampering of a mouse just around the corner. Before it took off, it turned towards me again, hesitated, and left.
“You’re clear. Go, go, go," said Chip.
“Holy shit. You see that?" I heard the pilot yell.
“What? What?" I asked, thinking more of those things were on their way.
“Len, that thing just took out the drone and is speeding back here."
I turned, waiting to catch a glimpse of the alien. The copter was still low from dropping me off, its blades still spinning around, slicing the air, making a hell of a racket, and creating tiny concentric ripples in the mercury.
Mr. Oil Slick shot at the copter like a surface to air rocket. It went right through the body of the craft, turned mid-air, and fell through the copter a second time. The blades slowed then stopped for a second.
I heard static from the radio. The base of the helicopter was about to hit the ocean when the propellers started spinning again. It barely lifted itself before drowning.
“Hoo-hah! Did you see that fucker? Sorry Len, but Headquarters is notifying us that we gotta high tail it outa here before the
copter is put out of commission. You’ll be fine out here. Just get the readings we need, pose for the camera," I noticed a hover camera shoot out from the copter, "and we’ll be back to pick you up in a jiffy. Later."
“Wait," was all I could say. It was helpless.
Home, friends, family, reggae, and saltwater, I thought. If this was what I needed to do to get home, so be it. My props were slowed by the resistance of the merc, but the board’s buoyancy and seeming lack of friction made up for that.
The closer I got to the break, I could hear a massive slurping, sloshing pounding. No, I couldn’t hear it–I could feel it. Then
I wasn’t sure if it was the waves I felt or my heart pounding.
The props spun. I moved. The moment was coming. The moment when there would be no moment, when I would go for a ride.
I neared the seamount. A wave rolled under me, causing me to spread out my arms, trying to keep balanced on my precariously buoyant board. The energy pulsed through the merc, and as it reached the seamount, it jacked up. But the size of the wave from behind was misleading. I knew that what looked like a little bump was in fact sloping down like an ephemeral mountain on the other side.
I stopped and waited. I wanted to play it safe. No going for the biggest ride. Normally, that would be an unforgivable transgression for me. But not now, not when I was so close to completing my mission and getting a ride back home. I let two sets go by. Each set was spaced five minutes apart and had about six waves each. I decided I would go on the last wave of the next set, allowing myself five minutes to vacate the area. I didn’t feel like being held under in this alien ocean.
Who knew what the hell else was down there.
My wave came. My props spun. The take-off was slow. I was going straight down the face of the wave, which was getting steeper and bigger by the ever-loving second. My props started reversing. I was going too fast on the slick surface. Not something I was prepared for on such an immense wave.
As I tried to turn, my tail started sliding out. Gyros and props compensated, which was great, but they set me straight again. I figured if I didn’t turn in about five seconds I’d be right in the impact zone.
This was not going well. I took some comfort in knowing that my suit was designed to withhold pressure. I just wasn’t sure what would happen to me when this behemoth came down on me.
And to top it all off, along came the shimmery, shiny, oil slick alien. Keeping speed right beside me. Like it was saying, "Hey fuck head. You’re about to eat it, and then I’m going to eat you. How you like them apples?"
Then, apparently destroying the decoy drone wasn’t enough to satiate its appetite, it sideswiped my board.
Without functional gyros and props, I fell off my board, skidding down the face of the wave. Great, now I’m body surfing with this thing. What if it shorts out my suit?
With all my strength, I dug my hand into the merc like a keel. I turned, but I was bouncing like a rubber ball. At least I was inching away from the impact zone. At least I thought I was; it was hard to see what was going on with my face bouncing in and out of the silvery liquid.
I thought I was screwed either way, and I at least wanted to see what was coming. So I rolled onto my back, still skidding down.
Funny, but at this moment, on my back, speeding out of control down a massive tsunami like wave made of mercury, with a seemingly hostile energy thing after me, was when I realized what I was feeling. I felt alive. Alive like never before. Under my suit, I was smiling. I could feel my cheeks pressing against the rubbery fabric. Without this suit, I’d be dead, I thought, for the first time appreciating my restrictive, yet life saving attire.
Luckily I didn’t let my new found happiness and elation keep me from thinking about my survival. I turned again to better assess my situation.
I saw my board go straight down. The wave had started to break, but it was so heavy, there was no barrel. What it did astonished me. Instead of white foam, the wave created little pellets of mercury, some the size of a lima bean, others the size of boulders. They shot up, and fell with a plop, reabsorbed into the whole. Because the liquid is so buoyant, I actually wasn’t scared about the impact anymore because I’d bounce back up top like a cork in a wine bottle.
But then the rainbow snake appeared again. I could see it turn to me, stop, and wiggle, like it was excited about saving me for last. It jumped out of the silver and headed right for me.
I could feel myself slowing down. I had reached the wave’s shoulder
I turned back on my stomach and tried to paddle away from the alien creature. Fight or flight, and I’d be damned if I knew how to fight this thing. I frantically floundered my arms, trying to dig them in far enough to stroke away from the incoming menace. But I had forgot about the mercury. I couldn’t get my arms in more that a foot before they’d shoot back out.
I was slowing even more. For a second I thought about the next set, how I could get sucked into the impact zone. Then the oil slick rounded me, turned and waited. I rolled over again and again and just missed the thing. I had imagined it had a big gaping jaw with long sharp teeth. But it was the same as before, a wavering, iridescent, creature.
It dove down to where I couldn’t see it.
Then I felt something pulling me. I don’t want to die. Not here, not like this, with no one but Chip as a witness, I thought. I started to move and closed my eyes, thinking that this was it.
That feeling was sustained for what felt like an eternity. I opened my eyes and saw that I was being pulled by some kind of wake. Ahead I saw the thing. I stuck both my arms in to stop my momentum. Its colors quivered, and it jumped out of the merc, circled me, dove down, and continued its wake. Like it was frustrated at me for trying to stop.
But it hadn’t hurt me. Was it trying to take me to its lair? Maybe feed me to its baby rainbow snakes?
It took me back to the seamount. A set came and it shivered and shone. It started to take off on a wave. I couldn’t catch the thing without my board. After a moment, it came back to me, circled, and headed off towards the surf again. It hesitated when it realized I couldn’t follow it. Then took off again.
I was floating there like a fishing bob. This was too much for me. I was a few miles from shore. Maybe with my board I could make it back to base, but I didn’t think I could swim there in this ocean.
The thing came back. Behind it, caught in its wake, was my board. It came within arm’s reach of me and I grabbed my board. I did a system check, and after rebooting the saved preferences, it came back on line. The hum of the gyros was like an angelic symphony.
Mr. Rainbow wiggled in delight. It wanted me to surf with it. I couldn’t believe it.
I looked around. No sign of Chip of the hover camera. I was feeling light headed
I turned to Mr. Rainbow. "Just wait until your line-up’s crowded with humans like me," I said.
A set came that was bigger than before. The tide was coming in and it was a doozy with three moons tugging in unison.
“Let’s go then," I said.
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Well done. Bravo
Wow! Excellent. Ya got me hooked. Where's the rest of the novel? I want more....
Great story dude...had me hooked two paragraphs in.
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