It was a few days before christmas, we were on our way back, by boat, from the Bahamas to main land USA. We have been stranded with a busted engine for five days. "This is as far as I go," the husky voice of the captain shattered the stillness of the night; as it cracked over the megaphone, "you will all have to swim the rest of the way."
Petrified, we stood rooted to the spot. My thoughts racing, my heart hammering away at my chest. "But, I can't swim," I shouted hoarsely. Suddenly, the captain came rushing through the cabin door with his shot gun, and then we jumped. We bailed like rats off a sinking ship. We hit the water with a splash. Frightened, we threaded water for a few minutes to get our bearings.
We made a mental check to see if everyone was ok, all twelve of us. One China man, two Americans, one English man, one Jamaican, two Japanese, two French men, two Mexicans, and one Canadian.
We swam towards the lights, which seemed closer than we thought. The wind was blowing harder and the water was choppy. Before we knew what was happening; a giant wave crashed into the group and we got seperated. I looked back and saw what seemed like one of the Japanese been sucked under by the receding waves.
I knew how important it was to remain calm. Frightened as I was, I knew I had to be courageous. But, who knows what danger lurks beneath the inky blackness of the ocean. Of a sudden, My feet bumped against something hard. Panick sticken, at first I thought it was a shark, but in my moment of fear I stopped swimming, my feet sank to the bottom, and I was able to stand. Overjoyed, I dragged myself up to the white sandy shore and sat down. I was tired, and I sat there gasping for breath.
I had no Idea where I was. Somehow I figured it was before dawn. A dark figure rose up from the water. At first, I wanted to run, and then I remembered it might be one of the others. He stumbled then stood up. Aware of my presence, he headed straight towards me. "We made it," he whispered hoarsely. I studied him, surprised that he was alone, I looked pass him, but saw no one else. He must have been reading my mind, for he quickly explained how everyone got seperated when the big wave hit.
A dog barked out into the distance. The other American gave me a bewildered look, then he put a finger to his lips as a signal to be silent. "Smuglers," he hissed, "quick, run!". How he knew that? I had no idea. He led the way through the tall grass. We stumbled unto what seemed like a game trail. We followed it down into a dry creek bed, and came out on the other side where there was a sparse clump of trees.
We paused to listen. The dogs were barking louder as if they were on our trail and drawing closer. "Quick, lets climb one of those trees." The other American said; leading the way. We selected a large bushy tree; climbed into its branches, and then they appeared, three men and two vicious looking dogs. We crouched into the tree over head. My heart was beating so hard I thought the vibrations would rattle the tree leaves and give us away. Prespiration streamed down my face, and my throat dry for they were now under our tree with the dogs sniffing the ground as if they were about to discover us.
I held my breath as one of the men turned his head up at us, I kept my eyes averted from his, not wanting to look him straight in the eye that he might sense my presence. Luckily, it was still dark. Daggers of moon light stabbed through the trees; illuminating their wicked looking faces.
An owl called out, trying to guess the riddle posed by a shooting star. As if on cue; the dogs strained on their leashes and the men followed. When they were gone, and we thought we were safe; we shakily climbed down from the tree. The men and dogs went east, and we went west. When we thought we were far up wind of the dogs; we sat down to rest. The other American started to speak, but was interupted by the beauty of the morning unfolding in front of us.
I am Gary Gordon, author of The Values Pursued Life on www.amazon.com, www.authorsden.com