Going on a Hawaiian vacation alone is a bad idea. However, David Byrd did not care as he strapped on the scuba gear. The native dive instruction went over the last-minute checks with the bored professionalism of someone who had done this a million times before.
“Remember your dive buddy…ascend and descend slowly…” the dive instructor droned in a monotone voice.
David tried to pay attention, but his mind began to wander across the surface of the ocean and all around the gorgeous scenery. A warm breeze tinged with the salt of the ocean gently tickled his cheek and he felt the weight of responsibility finally life from his weary soul.
David’s mother had recently been buried next to his father after a two-year bout with early onset dementia and breast cancer. Being an only child, he had agreed to take care of her until the very end. He put his entire life on hold for her, even refusing a once-in-a-lifetime promotion, because he did not want to move to a different part of the country. Caring for his mother may have cost him thousands of dollars in future earnings. Yet, at no point, would he have articulated that thought out loud, or even allowed it to manifest in his conscious thought. A Byrd always keeps his word. Now that she was gone, he took this vacation for the chance to truly relax for the first time in two years.
The sound of one of the other tourists entering the water with a splash roused him from his thoughts. It was his turn to go in next and he expertly went in, just as he had been taught to do. The peaceful surroundings were exactly what he needed. Fish of every conceivable color swam by him, darting to and for among the coral. He lazily moved his flippers up and down and allowed himself to embrace the beauty of the ocean. For what he thought was an eternity, he was one with ocean. All was well with the world, until the water-resistant watch on his wrist began to blink.
He looked at the watch and realized it was time for him to get back to the boat. He surfaced facing the volcano that dominated the island and reveled in its majesty. Hearing the cries of the boat captain in his tacky flowered shirt, David turned to toward the boat, but just as he began to swim, he felt the current tug at him.
There was no noticeable current before, yet a localized one was pulling on David. He swam against it, but it pulled him down, under the surface, and away from the boat. Fully in the grip of the current, David was pulled deeper and deeper underwater, picking up speed every second. He bit down on his regulator to keep it in his mouth. Looking down, he saw a small gap in the sea floor that was coming closer and closer.
As he came within reach of the hole, he reached out to grab the edge. His fingers found purchase on the rocky edge as his body was sucked into the hole. Straining against the current, he ignored the burning pain in his shoulders and attempt to lift himself out. Unfortunately, the ocean was too strong, and he lost his grip on the edge. David was sucked into a tunnel under the sea floor. His head slammed against the side of the tunnel and he lost consciousness.
David’s eyes flew open and frantically looked around. He was in a small wooden room, laying on a cot. Upon a small table near him, a scented candle burned with a smell like a hug from a loved one.
“Where am I?” he asked to no one in particular. He was utterly alone in the room. He tried to move his arms and legs, but they would not respond to his mental commands. Only his head would move, which he swiveled around, trying to figure out where he was.
Part I | Part II