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Grade
10

 

 The sound of the motor starting up broke the morning quiet. The scent of gasoline wafted through the air, pungent, unpleasant, but not outright disgusting either. The bay harbor was still like a mirror, reflecting the light blue sky above. Nothing broke the surface, other than the occasional ripple. There was no wind, but a freshness in the air was present. The man was going on an early morning fishing trip, alone, with only his fishing pole accompanying him - a Fenwick spin rod. The harbor let out into the open ocean after a five-minute trip by boat along the mangrove forests. The man was going to one of his favorite sites - an old shipwreck. From the surface, he estimated that the ship would have been from about the 16th century as it had the typical triple masts and double decks. He always thought that he could distinguish a cannon at the bottom. Maybe it was a rock, but from what he observed from the ship, he had a gut feeling that it was a cannon. He put some bait on the road and cast it where there were no snags and debris. Now it was time to wait. Even though the water was quite clear, he still couldn't make out much of what was down there. Dark shapes sometimes slowly moved below his boat, deep enough so he couldn't see what they were, but close enough so he knew they were there. He always loved the ocean, thought it was majestic, full of energy, and sometimes angry - it was a punishing place, one mistake could lead to death.

His father was killed in a boating accident when he was five. He was very young, but it was at an age where he remembered. Since then he lived with his mother, and he supported her in every way he could. He remembered her face, after the accident -- it was stricken and pale, white as a sheet. She didn't talk for days, just drove him to school and picked him up, made his meals every day, and put him to sleep. She didn't read stories to him like she used to, she just kissed goodnight and turned the light off. He knew that as the years progressed, he needed to start making money to support his mother and himself. She was a teacher in the local elementary school, and that paid the bills, barely. When he was seventeen, he joined a fishing vessel with thirty crewmembers. The rough waters of Alaska is what he had to endure - two months out in the vastness of the ocean, with no contact to the outside world and only your shipmates to put your trust in. The trip went well for the first three weeks and the catch was plenty. Crabs and lobster were the main quarry, but anything else edible was an option as well. On week four day three - October 7th, 1984 is when it happened.

Jim remembered he was sleeping in his cabin. It was a quiet night, one of a few times where the rain wasn’t pounding on the ship. The boat was silent, with the crew sleeping and one lookout awake on the bow. The watchman was young, about nineteen, not much older than Jim at the time. He was cheerful and full of energy, always enthusiastic - overenthusiastic, some might say. Though that night he was sick, with a cold, but he brushed it off and volunteered to be the lookout. This overconfidence proved to be the downfall. To put it simply, he fell asleep. Jim remembers waking up on the floor of his room, his lip bleeding. There was commotion outside his cabin, the whole ship was alive. Shouting, clamoring, and panic is what took over the crew. They had hit an iceberg, a big one at that. Someone reported that there was a huge cavity in the hull, water was gushing in, the panic increased and people were starting to jump off the boat. Captain Pollard; an inexperienced sailor at the time in his late thirties, was nowhere to be found. The men found as much food that they could in time and set out on the lifeboats. Out of 30, 15 people made it off the ship, but that number would be much different by the time the fiasco was over.

               After drifting out at sea for four days, only twelve men remained, the rest had died from hypothermia. Food supplies were running low between the two lifeboats and rationing was resorted to now. Water was one of the only things that wasn’t as hard to come by. Though as much as water can save you, it can also kill you, with the threat of hypothermia looming over every person’s head. After two more deaths, a system was starting to go through the minds of all the survivors. They had a knife on the lifeboats, their supplies were running short, so why not dispose of someone, just for the extra meat? Jim remembered the horror on the faces as though everyone thought of the exact same thing.

               On the 9th day of isolation the food ran out. People were dwindling as well, with four more perished from malnourishment and pure exhaustion. Finally, the remaining people came to grips with the fact that the idea brought up five days ago wasn’t going to be such a far-fetched reality. Someone had to die, and quick. To the surprise of the remnants, there was a volunteer, it was the lookout. He blamed all of this on himself and how it was his fault the rest of the crew had perished. He was instantly turned down as people wanted the oldest and weakest person to be an option. After what seemed like an age of silence, a decision was made. The cook, already near death with hypothermia, was going to be the one. Jim watched in shock as the rest killed him, quick and efficiently. They had a moment of silence after. Jim even noticed several tears streaking down the cheeks of some of the crew members while he sat in the corner, silent…

Jim came back to reality. He started his engine and just went around the area in his boat, observing the shallow, crystal clear blue waters of the Florida Keys. This was paradise compared to the rough Pacific that he worked in, the constant rolling of the boat, the deafening crash of waves on the hull, the feeling as your ship sank into the cold dark depths, never to be seen again, along with more than half your crew. As Jim was thinking about this, something caught the corner of his eye - at-least 3 grey fins were sticking out of the water. His first thought was sharks, but then he noticed a spurt of water came out of them as they came to the surface. Their dark grey snouts broke the water, gracefully. The pod of dolphins went off into the horizon, too far to be seen again. He sighed thoughtfully. he was glad to be back in Florida, he loved the people, the food, and especially the ocean, the melancholic feeling of the slow ebb and flow of the waves at the beach got to his heart. Nevertheless, he was itching for a taste of the cold salty waters of Alaska again, the sense of adventure with the howling winds. It's like those cold crushing depths were calling to him, while the peace and calm of Florida was shooing him away…

State
FL
Zip Code
33141