Boy, stay out of the water!
No, I’m not talking about no virus! There’s more to fear out there in the water than some virus! I’ve seen things that’d make you wish for just some virus!
I used to dive, you know. You didn’t know that, did you? Well, it’s true. And I was good at it, too. Real good. I was fast, and I knew how to hold my breath. I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the joy of my life at one time, and I’ll be damned if I don’t miss it.
I was a daredevil in those days. A risk-taker. I liked to see how deep I could go, how long I could stay there. Scare the girls back up on deck, and then… heh… “console” one or two of them when I came back up safe and sound.
But, of course, that kind of thing took practice. And for that, I would head out on my own.
Of course, I know now it was stupid. I know now why they tell you never to go it alone. But I was young. I was stupid.
God almighty, was I stupid….
It was a fine day for diving. You couldn’t ask for more perfect conditions. I was almost tingling as I took my boat out to this brand new spot I’d been wanting to explore. I’d been nearby, you know, in the sections that were shallower. But this spot was a bit further out. Deeper. I couldn’t begin to imagine what I might find there.
I found a good spot to stop the boat and finished suiting up. Soon enough, I was all ready to go. Weren’t nothing left but to just dive in. So that’s what I did.
Right away, it was like Alice, falling real slow down that rabbit hole. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was so close to other places I’d been before, and yet everything looked so different. None of the seaweed looked the same as it reached up for me and swayed from side to side. There were fish I’d never seen before, darting all around as I scared the bejesus out of them. If I weren’t underwater, the sight would have been breathtaking.
And yet, there was still more to come. Down and down I floated until the dark sand at the bottom came into sight. This caught my attention more than anything else. I expected smooth sand. Maybe a few rocks. Instead, what I found was a kind of stony-looking ridge, like the beginning of a little mountain range. It was about six feet long and perfectly straight.
In hindsight, I’m not sure why it puzzled me when I first saw it. I think I had some kind of feeling about it. Something about it just wasn’t right.
Well, from that moment, I struggled with myself. I was an explorer, remember? I liked to explore. Get in there and touch everything. Experience everything. So what was it about the ridge that bothered me?
It was about halfway through this fight I was having with myself that I realized another thing. There weren’t nothing alive that would even come near the ridge. No fish came by, no snails, no nothing. Even the seaweed seemed to stop growing a few feet around it.
That’s what really got me wondering. What the hell was this thing? Did I discover a volcano or something that no one knew about? The water wasn’t warm like you’d expect around a volcano.
So finally, I gave in. I was just too curious.
I told you I was stupid.
I hovered over the ridge. The plan was just to tap it lightly with my foot. Slowly, I inched closer and closer until, finally, I made contact.
It was soft. It wasn’t made of rock at all.
But I had barely any time to be shocked by that. Suddenly, it felt like the entire ocean floor began to shake. I panicked and headed toward the surface. Up and up I swam. The seaweed shivered all around me and the fish ran frantic. At last, my head broke the surface of the water and I gulped the biggest breath I’d ever taken.
And then… silence. Everything was still.
I looked all around me. Nothing seemed different on the surface. Nothing was out of place. Things seemed so normal, in fact, that I laughed. I relaxed then. Whatever had happened, it couldn’t have been that big a deal, right? Some weird trick of nature, right?
So, after a few more gulps of air, back in the water I went. Down and down again I floated. The seaweed swayed and the fish schooled about. Finally, the bottom came into view.
The ridge was not as I left it. And there it was. I can still see it. Gives me the shivers to remember.
A pupil big enough to sit in. A dark gray iris. A ring of stark white. And finally the ridge itself, split in half to the top and bottom of it all.
Quick as a missile I was back in that boat. I don’t think my heart slowed down until I was finally on the shore. For years, I’ve tried to forget what I saw, but I never have. Some nights, it still haunts my dreams.
That’s why you’ll never catch me near the water. No, sir! Never again!