Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)
- TITLE: The Sea Master
By Debora Dyess
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He struggled to find the surface; unsure which way was up. His heart pounded, his lungs ached; he felt panic set in. Fear swallowed him, as surely as the sea. Any rational thought he'd had before he went into the water disappeared. In the sting and surge of the saltwater he lost direction, thrashing his arms, kicking his legs, in a blind attempt to find air.
...far from the peaceful shore...
"It's a mile to shore," Pat yelled as the swell engulfed the small fishing boat, whipping the crew into the sea.
"A mile," Landon thought. He still swam often, although not as habitually as during high school. But that was in a controlled, Olympic sized pool, with coaches yelling and blowing whistles, lanes clearly plotting his route... He struck out for land. A wave crashed over his head, shoving him down again just as he managed to suck in a quick lung full of air. He fought the current, kicking, scratching at the water. Maybe, if the next swell lifted him to its crest, he could see land, plot a course...
Very deeply stained within...
He swallowed a mouthful of the briny water, could feel its iciness burn inside his belly. The sting of it in his throat created more panic. Fear was the cohort of the sea—an enemy as surely as the churning froths around him. Another surge caught him, spraying water up his nose, into his eyes, trying to melt his body into its own. He tried to snort the water out his nostrils, but it was immediately replaced by more. The water raged inside him now, trying to pull him further away from life.
...sinking to rise no more.
Landon felt himself letting go. Part of him, dormant until now, still fought savagely, but the water was so massive, so controlling...he felt its victory cover him, just as the crashing water covered him. Limpness, and a strange cold, stole the strength from his extremities. Water gushed into his mouth, his stomach and lungs. He coughed, and wretched against it without hope of success. Drowning seemed inevitable. He was powerless against the water.
But the Master of the sea...
The ship took another massive surge to the port side, sending Ben Rossi onto his rear, sliding him toward the railing. He regained his footing, shook away water, turning to his commander.
"We're there!" Kevin yelled to be heard over the storm. "You ready for this?"
"Born ready," Rossi's voice thundered. He went to the side of the large craft and, with help, made his way onto the rope netting covering the vessels side. He climbed quickly, efficiently, downwards.
...heard my despairing cry...
Landon felt himself being lifted again, jerked by freakish pulls form the waves above. He caught the crest, balanced there like some bizarre surfer, and felt gravity yanking him back toward the sea. He saw lights through his burning eyes and called out. This would be the last sound he uttered on this earth, he thought.
...from the waters lifted me...
"I've got you!" a voice yelled in his ear.
Landon felt strong hands confidently grab him; pushing, lassoing straps, securing him to a rescue jacket. "I'm..." Landon's voice trailed off, certain only of exhaustion.
"You're okay," the man called. "I know the master of this sea. I figure since He can walk on the water, He can help me pull you out, don't you?"
"I figure He's got me...I've got you, so we're both good."
...now safe am I!
Landon sat shivering in the warmth of a cabin, heated blankets covering his form. He cradled a cup of hot cocoa in his hands like something of great value, sipping carefully as the Coast Guard vessel lurched beneath him.
"Careful. Don't want to burn yourself," a familiar voice warned from the door.
Landon looked, blinking, his eyes stinging from the time in the sea.
The man leaning against the jamb smiled. "Wanted to tell you—we got the other guys from your boat. Everyone's good."
"You rescued me," Landon said softly.
Rossi nodded. "Doing my job."
Thinking back, Landon shook his head. "Not just your job. You said, 'I know the master of this sea...' What did you mean by that?"
Rossi smiled, a proud, almost delighted smile, and stepped into the small room. "You got a few minutes? I'll tell you."
Love lifted me...
Love lifted me!
When nothing else would help,
Love lifted me!
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