by R.W. Van Sant
Jerry’s muscles tensed in apprehension of the force of the current. Hand over hand, he pulled himself into the darkness below, with each foot expecting to feel the ripping strength of the current. Perhaps they had gotten lucky and chosen the right point in the tidal cycle, whatever the cause, there was no significant current. The consistent shocks from the POD reminded him that it was going to be far from a routine dive. The dimness of the light from the sun meant he had to rely on their torches to see.
The water was cold and more than a little murky. Jerry could barely make out the shadowy form of Ted below him. The strong torchlights shone through the water, illuminating his surroundings for several yards. Ted moved a little faster than Jerry would have liked. Forcing himself to concentrate, he picked up his pace. It was not wise to be in the water any longer than necessary. He felt a considerable tug on his line. Ted was being pulled away by the current. Jerry followed, bracing himself for the extra tug. When it came, it came hard, but he was prepared.
The sudden change in direction threatened to send him into the jagged reef a few short yards away. As he struggled to maintain his grip, he forgot about the POD. The next jolt sent a pain spasm down his arm, weakening his grip on the rope. It slipped out of his hand. The current drew him to the reef, as it had pushed the wreck below. Frantically, he grabbed at the line, electrically weakened muscles failed to respond quickly enough. He flew headlong toward the rocks.
There was a jolt as the safety rope stopped him only feet away. The rocks looked like they could do as much damage to a diver as any large marine predator. They would have cut him to shreds if Ted had not had the foresight to make tethers. Jerry turned and used the rope to pull himself back to his waiting brother’s worried arms.
Jerry signaled okay, and they continued down. It was not a deep dive, perhaps thirty or forty feet. Ted took the lead. They fought against the current as they descended, but Jerry was careful not to allow the jolts to trip him up again. As they reached the rotting deck of the ship, the current eased. The cloudiness of the water, however, prevented him from clearly seeing more than a few yards of his ancestor’s ship. Jerry glanced up to see the small patch of sunlight shining weakly through the water above.
Ted panned his light across the surface of the old ship. Sand and plant life almost entirely obscured the wood. If he had not followed the main mast down, Jerry might not have noticed the telltale shape of the ship. He ran his hand through the sand, digging lightly until his fingers touched hard, fibrous wood. A thrill of acceptance spread to his toes. He had reached the Morning Sunshine; she was real. The treasure could be real too.
Jerry followed Ted as he made his way down the length of the hull. They swam along slowly, using the lights to illuminate any unusual shape. Ted examined an outcropping. He removed his dive knife and started to break away pieces of sediment, uncovering a square patch of wood. They cleared the sand away, revealing a hatch.
Jerry felt the pits in the wood slats that made up the hatch. He tried to wave his hand over it, to get the water to move the silt away from the disintegrating wood. The old brass hinges and latched looked to be in good shape. Jerry could see that the hatch had been secured before the ship went down.
Carefully, they each took a position opposite each other, one on each side of the hatch and tried to pry it open. Ted took out a small pry bar and leveraged it with a rock. As he applied pressure, the hatch splintered and disintegrated in their hands. If the entire ship were as fragile, then everything could come down on their heads once they entered. Even if they survived such an event, it would make getting the box nearly impossible. Jerry tried to touch as little of the fragile, rotting vessel as possible.
Ted went first, swimming into the interior as Jerry held the light. Once clear of the opening, his hand emerged to take the torch. He swept the interior with his light and then motioned that it was safe to follow.
It was tight, and Jerry did not want to risk catching his tanks on the edge. Such a mistake could collapse part of the deck upon them. He positioned himself to enter the hatch, leaving as much room on either side as he could. The water around him dimmed, making it difficult to see the edges. He, looked upward, to a slight patch of brightness. The sun was all but gone. Above something moved between him and the light. Its dimly outlined shape was enormous and streamlined—shark! A Great White, nothing else was that big. It was between them and their boat. Jerry raised his arm straight out to one side and made a pounding fist, the sign Ellie had taught him to tell Ted they were in danger.
Caution was forgotten as he swam through the hole. The sound of his pounding heartbeat blocked out all other sounds. He was breathing too quickly, rapidly burning through his air. The concern of catching a hose or a tank on the ancient splintering wood gave way to primal fear, and the desire to hide from the monster above. He struggled to free himself from the wooden trap, vaguely aware that such frantic motions attracted sharks. Ted pushed back, forcing him out into the open. Was he insane? Ted would not feed him to a shark just to double his share. Jerry struggled against him as he jerked his brother around, and then he pulled him into the ship.
Jerry floated in the dark, ashamed of himself. If he did not get control of his breathing, he would run out of air before they could escape. He focused on Ellie, sitting with him in the junk clearing, teaching him to breathe. His chest hurt from his hearts exertion to break free of his rib cage. “One… two… three,”He counted to himself, forcing his breathing to slow down. He was inside the ship. For the time being, he was safe.
Ted, calm as always, scanned the chamber with his light. The water inside was remarkably clear. The water coming through the hatch looked almost like a patch of smoke, an evil cloud intruding on their sanctuary. Even from the inside, the “Sunshine” looked as though it was mostly rotted. Even touching a wall, he feared, might bring the upper deck down upon them. Ted’s lights also spent an inordinate amount of time on the walls. He shared his younger brother’s fear. The entire ship was on the verge of disintegration.
The hull to his left creaked; silt and dirt trickled in through cracks in the deck above. The creaking moved from the aft of the ship and then forward. Jerry could hear a swishing sound. Something was moving through the water, large enough and close enough that its motion created a disturbance around it. The shark? Its power must be incredible. It was swimming the length of the ship, staying just out range of the PODs. The sticks were working; the monster was keeping its distance.
The power in the units was limited, and Jerry’s POD was wasting power, sending electricity into his already strained muscles. Ted motioned to move toward the far end of the room; if the plans they had studied were accurate, toward the Captain’s private quarters. It was possible, however, that the Morning Sunshine was altered during its long years of service. If it had, the logbooks made no mention of it.
They swam slowly down the hallway. It ended with an opened door. Ted swam in first. Rotting fabric and books were strewn all around the small room. As carefully as he could, Jerry tried to move a book, but it disintegrated under his touch. Together, he and Ted tried to push the objects aside, only to have it all crumble and further cloud the waters. Each object was like an evaporating smoke bomb that made the murk even thicker, and harder to see. Who knew what historical artifacts they were destroying? They were not scientists; he reminded himself. They were treasure hunters, and it was the prize that was important.
They moved through the room as rapidly as they dared, looking for the elusive door to the captain’s locker. With each foot they advanced, the more impenetrable water became. Ted found a small closet near a collapsed bed frame. Jerry waved away the clouds with his hands, but they reformed as quickly as he could dissipate them. All too soon, they were compelled to search by feel. The light from the torches barely cut through the muck.
Jerry soon found himself setting down his stick and using both his hands. The shark was still out there; he could feel it moving just beyond the deck above. Side by side, they searched through the mess until Jerry felt something hard and square, something that did not collapse under the pressure of his grasp. He grabbed the object and held tight, motioning with his free hand to Ted, although he doubted his brother could see him. Jerry focused his light on the object then waved it around to get Ted’s attention. It was a box, dirt-encrusted, but his beam reflected a few metallic glints, yellowish and golden.
They had done it. Teller’s logs were correct. Ted had been right about all of it. Jerry fought to control his increased breathing rate. He could not see his gauges, but he was not confident there was much more oxygen remaining. For the first time in their lives, they were rich, and if he weren’t careful, he would drown before he could enjoy it.
The creaking of the ship reminded him that they had not pulled it off yet. They had found the treasure, but the old ship was falling apart around them, and they still had to contend with the shark.
Jerry tried to pull it out of the compartment. It was heavy, so heavy that its weight pulled him down into the deck as he tried to lift it out. The wooden floor squeaked and cracked under its weight. He lay motionless, as one on a frozen lake, suddenly snapping. He barely dared to breathe as the sediment settled around him. Ted knelt close to assist him. The wood holding the box cracked. It was cracking under the strain. If the box fell through to the cargo hull, his oxygen would not last long enough to search for it. They had to get it on the first try. He fumbled around for his shark stick and then used it to brace the box up.
Ted’s arms appeared in the narrow beam of light holding a collection bag. Carefully, his older brother positioned the thin net sack around the back of the heavy box. The deck underneath it gave way, falling into a dark chasm. Thankfully, the box slid neatly into the bag. Although Ted braced himself, the weight nudged him into the remaining deck. If they did not think of something quick, everything would collapse beneath them.
Jerry braced the bag as best he could. Ted took his emergency breather and started to inflate a balloon attached to the box. The weight of the box diminished considerably. The box was heavier than they had anticipated. It would not float on its own. They would not be able to swim out, not with the box.
Ted took the bag from Jerry, moving it to a less damaged section of the deck. Without the additional weight, Jerry was able to pull himself away from the debris. The water had not cleared much, but he could make out Ted, with the box, attempting to walk across the collapsing deck. Jerry grabbed one side of the bag. With the weight divided between them, they made their way to the door, walking with flipper feet dispersing the load against the wood.
The wood floor cracked with each step. They could not do it; the ship was breaking up all around them. They had thought about using multiple balloons to float it to the surface, but that plan was abandoned because the currents’ strength would dash it into the reef, maybe breaking the gem.
Jerry could feel the vibration through his skin. Something large and powerful struck the ship.
Above them, the deck cracked. Debris rained down. The ship was collapsing. It was the shark. It had to be. The beast was trying to get into the ship. Had the wood of the ship’s hull dampened the field produced by the PODs? The lumber might be thick enough to weaken it just sufficient to drive the massive predator into a frenzy. Jerry brought his shark stick into defense position, but there was nothing to attack aside from falling deck.
Jerry shined his light out the hole above. It was far too ragged to escape that way. Beyond the hole, the shark waited. Ted tethered to Jerry. Like mountain climbers, their fates, linked. Jerry moved the pieces of the deck away from the doorway with his shark stick.
They swam down the corridor. Jerry shone his lamp to illuminate the passage ahead. Large sections of the deck had fallen in, blocking their way out. Ted managed to get a large piece moved, and a small pathway opened up. Ted moved through it. Jerry braced himself and grabbed hold of the box.
The entire ship shook fiercely. Behind them, the captain’s quarter disappeared into a pile of rubble. The dirt and debris clouded the water so completely that for several seconds Jerry could not see so much as a glint from Ted’s light. The only evidence of Ted’s survival was the gently pulling on the other end of the tether line. Jerry’s heart pounded so heard it hurt, driving away the pulses of pain from his POD. Damn it, the useless piece of crap was supposed to chase away sharks. This shark was tormenting them, staying just out of the device’s range.
Jerry allowed the line to be his guide. With each step, he slowly tested the wood before giving it his full weight, fearful the deck would disintegrate. Slowly, the sediment started to settle, visibility clearing up slowly. Jerry focused on measured, steady breathing until he could again see Ted’s light.
The narrow beam glinted off a metallic silvery object that had broken through the corner of the corridor. Jerry stared unbelieving at the aluminum shell of the rented motorboat. Light from the fish finder dimly illuminated the large ragged oval shaped hole in the hull. The shark sank their boat!
That thing was smart, and it was hunting them. He had to get out of the ship. He had to get to the surface! Jerry swam for the narrow passage. Ted grabbed him and shone the light on his pressure gauge. His tank was nearly empty. He showed Jerry the shark stick and pointed at the hole the boat had made as it sank. Ted had a plan. The PODs must be working, or it would have attacked them and not their ship. They had two operating units; if they stayed close, their repelling field had twice the power. Ted shined his light out the opening made by the boat. Jerry could see the reef just beyond. Jerry motioned his understanding.
Ted climbed over the boat and carefully peeked out the hole. Using a torch, he panned the reef outside. The Morning Sunshine had sunk close to the rocks. Part of it was still above the cove floor. It would be a tight squeeze; still, he did not think the shark would be able to get to them. Ted went out first, braced himself on a sturdy rock while Jerry climbed onto the boat and handed the box over. He set the prize on an outcropping while Jerry handed over the shark sticks. Unencumbered, he was able to swim free of the collapsing wreck.
Each held a cord to the dive bag with one hand and a shark stick in the other. Although the weight still pulled them toward the reef, Jerry was grateful that he would not have to worry about the floor caving in under them. One step at a time they moved, careful not to get their flippers caught on rocks or vegetation, they skirted the edge of the collapsing wreck and climbed onto the jagged rocks of the reef.
Jerry could see the water shift directions periodically; he could hear the swishing of the massive tail. The shark, however, stayed hidden in the murk. Occasionally Jerry thought he saw the vague hint of a snout or a tail, and once a large black eye. It was staying between the shore and them. Jerry held the shark stick in a defensible position as best he could with his one free hand. Ted blazed a trail along the ship as he followed along, the shocks from the PODs constant electrical assault painfully tensing and un-tensing his muscles. If the shark came at them, he wondered if he still had the muscle strength to use the stick.
As they reached the bow of the Sunshine, the water cleared and Jerry saw the graveyard. As far as he could see, the bottom of the cove filled with the wreckage. The shape of old longboats, aluminum boats, and a new-looking jet ski is visible through the murk.
They trudged along the base of the reef until the path was obstructed by a large, sunken sailboat. Ted motioned caution as he moved away from the reef to get around it. For some time, the two would be exposed. Jerry strained his eyes and ears. He tried to feel the disturbance the creature made as it moved through the water. Ted climbed around the side. Jerry followed close behind.
Jerry rounded the stern to find Ted motionless, his light shining on the back end of the craft. Jerry tapped him; it was no place to take a break. At first, Ted did not react. When Jerry peered around him, he saw the ragged hole with a shark tooth still lodged in the fiberglass. Ted turned to face his brother, eyes wide, and the bubbles from his breather were erratic and cumbersome. Without warning, he pushed Jerry toward the reef. Tugging urgently on the bag, Ted started for the top more quickly than Jerry thought possible.
Jerry did his best to cover their retreat as he clambered up the rocks, heedless of the danger. His flippers kept catching on debris, but Ted kept tugging. They had not gotten more than ten feet from the little boat and back into the current when it came for them, almost invisible in the murky water. Jerry turned, bringing the shark stick to bear. With his back steadied against the reef, he dropped the bag and braced himself for the impact. The massive creature spun and turned, heading back into the darkness. The combined strength of both PODs must have given it a real headache. As it turned to leave, however, its powerful tail struck Ted and sent him crashing headfirst into the reef. Jerry jabbed, but the predator was already out of range.
A flurry of bubbles emanating from one of his hoses obscured Ted’s face. Jerry grabbed his arm. Ted managed to get himself together and shook it off. He headed for the surface, leaving a trail of bubbles in his wake.
Tugging on the bag, Ted climbed out of the water while Jerry continued to cover him with the shark stick. The swim fins made the climb even more challenging. Sharp rocks tore into the thick rubber with each step. Better the flippers than his feet, Jerry thought. The last thing they needed was blood in the water to frenzy the huge shark. He had gotten a good look at its size. He was not at all sure that a shotgun shell would do more than distract it.
Ted was lying on his back, coughing. Jerry strode over, looked him over, then stood there and watched the dark water for any sign of movement.
“What happened?” Jerry asked as Ted struggled to pull the box away from the edge of the water. He did not answer. “Ted. Are you okay?”
“The Desert Dream,” Ted whispered.
“What?” Jerry could barely hear him.
“The boat.” He stood unsteadily on the rocks. “It was the Desert Dream. It was their ship.”
“Mom and Dad?” Comprehension eluded him, and Jerry refused to believe it. “Ted, no.” No. No, no, no.
“Yeah.” He held the net close to his chest. Jerry didn’t have to guess how they died. He had seen the large, ragged hole in the bottom of the boat—and the large tooth. “It killed them.”
A massive wave broke against the reef, sending a cascade of water over them. Jerry stumbled as the mass of the water pushed him toward the cove and the shark. It was only with the utmost concentration that he managed to keep his footing on the uneven rocks. Ted, being lower on the reef, didn’t get hit by the rising tide directly, although he was still choking out sea water.
“We have to get out of here. Come on, Ted. Snap out of it.” They’d planned the dive for low tide, so they had some time before the reef submerged again. The incoming water sent waves that periodically crashed against the reef, dowsing them with cold salt water. “How long until the tide comes in? Ted, how long can we stay here?”
“Over an hour, I think.” He said. “We have some time.”
“So, now what?” Jerry looked at the dark water with apprehension. The rocky shoreline was only a hundred yards or so, but it looked endless. “We could swim for it.”
“I don’t think we would make it. Sharks can move much faster than we can. I don’t think either of us would make it.” Ted said. “The reef can be seen from the highway. Maybe if we wave something, we could be seen by a car on the road or a passing boat.”
“Are you alright?” He turned his brother around, looking for blood or cuts.
“Might have bruised a rib,” Ted said. “It got my tanks. Can you give me a hand?” Ted’s tanks were empty. Even if they could fix them, they were worthless. The POD unit was in pieces, as though the shark had aimed to hit it. Jerry had no idea how to fix it, and he was sure Ted didn’t either.
“Damn.” Ted braced himself as a giant wave broke against the reef. “These things were expensive.”
“The reef runs like a breakwater across the cove.” Jerry looked over its entire length as it undulated above and below the surface. He stared, trying to judge the distance between the dry sections. “Maybe we could jump from reef to reef until we get to the far end. Then we would only have to swim a few dozen yards, to shore. We could climb the bluff and be home free.”
“I don’t know. Sharks have attacked people in hip-deep water.” Ted said. “And the water is deep there, at the end.”
“Yeah, and we’re loaded down.” Jerry pointed to the box in the dive sack.
“Well we still have the POD’s, they should keep it back,” Ted said. Jerry just pointed at his tanks. “Okay, we have one POD and the shark sticks.” Another wave broke over them.
“Damn it; we have to do something. We can’t just wait here for the water to rise. A small chance is better than no chance.” There had to be a solution; there was always a solution. “We could hide the box on the reef and come back for it with another boat. Or the second anchor is still connected to the vessel. If we retrieved the rope, we could pull it along after us.”
“I thought of that; it would snag on the bottom. All them boats.” Ted gasped. “Every lure I’ve ever—well they all—they snagged.” Ted stood and started to pace the reef, looking into the water. “It ate our boat,” Ted said. “It killed Mom and Dad!”
“Ted,” Jerry looked directly into his brother’s eyes. “There are only two paths from here. We leave the cove rich or dead. I choose rich.”
“Yeah, okay. I’m sorry, Jer. If we have to, we can leave it. We can hide it in a nook between the rocks and return with a boat full of people with guns and harpoons.”
“What’s to stop it from sinking that boat and killing us then?” Jerry snapped. “I don’t think I could make myself come back out here.”
“Yeah. Down!” Ted called out as another wall of water struck them.
“Maybe we can float it. Take off your dive suit.” An idea occurred to Jerry. If one balloon made the box a lot lighter, two might float it entirely. “We can tie the ends of the sleeves and feet and use my tanks to fill it up and float the box.”
“It’ll leak.” Ted bent forward after the water from the last wave trickled back into the cove. He sat back, holding a small piece of debris. “That son of a bitch.”
“I think it’s Paul’s.” He held up a smashed blue dive watch. “There’s some wrecked scuba gear over here.”
“Do you think…?” Jerry looked into the water.
“It was up on the reef. I think Paul made it here before the tide came in.”
“Do you believe the shark got him?” Jerry stared at the watch, looking for teeth marks or blood. He felt ashamed — like someone driving by a car wreck and looking for the blood.
“No, I don’t know much, but he made it up onto the rocks. It couldn’t have gotten to him. Paul’s experienced. He probably made it to the shore. Maybe he’s still down there.”
“I don’t think so, Jer.” Ted pulled up half a tank, the bottom half-ragged from where it had been torn off. Or bitten through. The water looked quiet, but he knew it was still there. Damn it, sharks were supposed to announce themselves, with a large fin cutting through the water or something. This one was lying in wait. They had to get off the reef before the water rose. He tried to ignore the image of Paul waiting, watching the water rise around him as the shark remained.
“We’ll use a wetsuit to help float the box.”
“It’ll leak.” Ted tossed the harness back onto the rocks. “So, we leave the tank on slow to replace what leaks out. It should hold for a few minutes. We don’t know until we try.”
“Let’s do it. Your POD should keep the shark away, but we’ll have to stay close to each other and shark-stick anything that comes close.” Ted started to remove his suit. Jerry removed his harness, disconnecting the straps so that they could use them to tie the box and wetsuit into a little package. Ted was diligently tying knots into his sleeves and legs when the catcall came.
Jerry looked up to see the small motorboat coming toward them from the ocean. Ellie never looked more angelic than she did at that moment. “Ellie!” Jerry waved his arms frantically.
“Am I interrupting something? Please feel free to continue stripping.” She called.
“Don’t tell her, not yet,” Ted whispered as a massive wave almost pushed them both off the reef. Jerry had no idea what he would say to her anyway, especially not that her uncle had probably died trying to cheat them.
“Hold on, the surf is looking rough,” Ellie called out.
“Shark!” Jerry called out. “It sunk our boat.”
“I’m coming in.” Ellie looked apprehensive. Her eyes darted around furtively, scanning the water as she maneuvered her boat in tight against the reef. “The PODs?”
“It smashed. Ted’s mine is still working.” Pulling out his dive knife, Jerry started to cut the box free of the tank harness. The water before him began to boil as if someone diving was coming up. Was Paul still alive? He tossed the ruined straps on the reef as the water exploded before him. Half the shark’s bulk projected out of the water toward Jerry. Massive jaws gaped open as the beast lunged at him. Large black eyes stared at him. Jerry staggered backward, falling across an outcropping of sharp rocks. He grabbed for his knife as the shark fell just short of the reef, showering them in water. The blade slid away and tumbled into the cove. Jerry almost lunged for it, but fear stopped him, hands taking the full brunt of the fall. Like a nightmare, the giant slid silently back below the surface. “Damn!” Jerry grabbed the box and tanks. Blood dripped from his injured palms, covering the rocks and tainting the water at his feet.
“Did you see it?” Ted asked Ellie.
“Was it a Great White?” Ellie asked as Jerry tossed the bloody tank and box into the boat.
Ellie threw Jerry a rope. “Tie the tanks to the boat and put the POD in the water.” He lost more blood into the water, trying to comply with her orders. Great, he swore mentally. That was all they needed, his blood sending the shark into a feeding frenzy. Would it come for him after tasting his blood in the water? Ted jumped in the boat and then gave Jerry a hand into the craft.
“Oh shit!” Ted looked at his bleeding hands.
“I’ll be fine,” Jerry said.
“Sure, you couldn’t be easy.” Ellie noticed the blood. The next wave hit the boat and almost placed it on the reef. “Hurry, please. Not a great place to park. The things I do for a date. There are lots of guys who’d take me out, nice guys, safe guys.” She deftly maneuvered the boat away from the reef, then looked down at her fish detector and back over her shoulders. Jerry could see the fear in her eyes. Something on her fish detector had her worried. “Who do I fall for? The dangerous ones. Brace yourselves; it’s going to ram us.” She turned the wheel sharply, sending them both violently onto the deck. The blow forced the quick moving craft up into the air. When they hit the water again, it felt like landing on cement. Jerry ignored the jarring impact and inspected the bottom for any leaks or breaks. There was water in the boat, but he couldn’t tell if it was a leak or if water had splashed in when they hit.
“The PODs aren’t working.” Jerry grabbed a shark stick.
“Damn it’s fast. Hold on, we’re going into the cove.” She turned the wheel sharply, and the craft swung toward the reef. Ellie pushed the throttle fully open, and the small boat shot forward skipping across the waves. “The water is too shallow between the outcroppings for it to follow. Ted, is that dock at your place stable?”
“I don’t know. I never tried it.” He said.
“It looks like shit, but here we go.” She swung the boat in a tight right turn that sent them speeding back toward the cove. “Lots of people have dived that wreck, most gave up without finding a thing. I see you found your ‘bust.’” Ellie kept up the chatter as they sped toward one of the gaps between the reef outcroppings. Behind them, the dorsal fin broke the surface of the water. It was close, too close.
“It’s coming!” Jerry yelled.
“Hold on tight,” The boat passed between the reef outcroppings. The sound of metal scraping against rock grated on their ears and nerves. The fin submerged. “It’ll have to go around the ridge.”
A great spray of water splashed covered the boat as the creature launched itself out of the water behind them. Like the footage of great white sharks propelling themselves out of the water while attacking seals, the monstrous fish soared out and over the reef, landing hard in the water, its mass sending a wave that almost capsized the boat, but for a lucky turn of the wheel by Ellie.
“No fucking way.” Ted fell backward. Jerry stumbled to the back of the boat and positioned the shark stick as best he could with aching, slippery palms.
“I’m gonna beach her,” Ellie said. She gunned the engine, turning toward the small docks. The little metal craft sped forward like a torpedo. The shark was on their tail and gaining. Just short of the shore, Ellie cut the engine, and the boat settled into the water. The wake that followed lifted the boat, setting it gently upon the rocky shore near the dock.
The wake caught the shark, and its massive body was lifted by the water and deposited on the rocky shore a scant few yards away. It squirmed on the huge rocks, snapping the jaws that would have swallowed any of them whole. Like a vicious behemoth, it struggled valiantly to move its bulk back into the depths. It thrashed and squirmed, but the waves were too little to aid the beast. Jerry finally got a good look at their tormentor. The beast was frightening.
“I think it’s stuck.”
“Serves the bastard right,” Ted said. “Jer! Keep clear of it.”
“Damn right!” When Jerry looked back, the monstrous fish was sliding back into the murky waters. Its dark eyes glinted with menace as it sank back beneath the waves. “How the hell? It was beached.”
“What a rush! She was twenty-five feet if she was an inch.” Ellie yelled. “Ted, tie her to the dock.”
Ted jumped onto the rocky shoreline and took the line to one of the posts of the old broken pier.
“All tied.” He said. Jerry grabbed the prize as it sat in the seawater at the bottom of the boat. The salt stung his still bleeding hands, smearing the edge of the boat as he got out.
“Let me help,” she offered gently taking his wrist and pulling him out.
“He’s got some pretty nasty cuts, Ted. Do you have a first aid kit?” Ellie asked.
“Up at the house.” Ted took the large net from his brother.
“Okay, let’s get him up there.” She said.
“Thanks for coming for us. I think your boat is wrecked.” Ted said.
“Most likely,” she said. “I see you got your salvage, Ted. Can you help me get mine up to the house?” They stood at the base of the old wooden stairs. It was swaying with the wind; the wooden planks looked old splintered. Many steps were missing altogether.
“Can we go around?”
“Only if you want to swim,” Ted replied.
“It’s up the stairs then?” Jerry said with more confidence than he felt.
“I’ll go first.” Ted slung his brother’s tanks over his shoulder and grabbed the box and the shark sticks in one hand. Then he started to climb the swaying, creaking construct.
“I’ll be right behind you.” Ellie smiled and took Jerry arm guiding him to the stairs.
“Yeah, okay let’s go.” The creaking became louder Jerry’s weight added to the rickety construction. Jerry stepped off quickly.
“Ted,” Elli called. “We’ll come after you’re off.”
“Do you think it’s safe?” Jerry asked.
“Don’t know, but if he makes it up, it should be. I don’t imagine you and I weigh more than him and all that equipment, and your grandma’s statue.”
Once Ted reached the top, he waved the all clear. Ellie and Jerry took it one stair at a time. A few cracked under their weight, but they made the top, leaving a trail of broken planks and bloody railing.
“Sharks can smell blood for miles, and you’ve made a trail all the way up.”
“That’s hilarious.” Jerry was never so happy to see the old house.