Not even the winds could rid the air of the stench. It surrounded them, a constant reminder of the debris they found themselves in, which made it significantly more challenging to navigate. They were struggling to make it through.
The engine was already at total capacity and they prayed it wouldn’t break. That wasn’t a possibility he wanted to consider. If they ended up stranded, there would be no way for any of them to find their way back
Fred steered the Maiken over the deep blue crests and throughs of the South Pacific. The rest of his “crew”, his girlfriend and two friends, enjoyed the hot sun and cool ocean breeze.
The day had been a perfect one. But, as he looked over the horizon, he noticed something strange.
The normal hues of azure and navy had taken on a light, earthy tone. He had seen similar colorations many times – mostly in sand bars.
But they only formed close to shore. He steered the boat towards the mysterious formation, filled with curiosity. Little did he know, it was a bad decision.
“It’s an island?” he asked. “Can’t be. It’s not on any of the charts,” his girlfriend said. Fred sped up, eager to find out what was going on.
But as the wind brushed across his face, it brought something new – a horrible smell that made his nose scrunch. Everyone pulled their shirts over their mouths.
What happened next was even stranger. As they neared the edge and prepared to bump into land, the boat cut straight through instead.
He looked back to see a dark trail behind them – like a northern boat pushing through snow and ice. By the time he saw his girlfriend leaning over the railing, it was too late.
The loud screech of her body slipping against the boat joined her scream as she fell into the water. Fred ran for the edge, feeling his heart stop.
She thrashed against the strange material floating on the surface. It was like fighting to get out of a thick, grainy bog. Her hand was just out of reach.
When they pulled her out of the strange, smelly stew, Fred wrapped his arms around her. “It’s alright. I’m okay. My bad,” she said, brushing the bits from her clothes. “At least the water is warm.”
He was about to say they should head out when one friend pointed overboard and muttered, “Oh my god.”
Mixed with the growing patch of brown, dead fish popped out and floated on the surface. Was it a toxic waste dump? Had another ship gone done?
But then he reached out and took a piece of grit from his girlfriend. He had seen this before. It was the first clue to a very bad conclusion.
Stone, warm water, dead fish. The details fell into place like falling dominos, and the truth vibrated in Fred’s mind. He also saw that they were right in the middle of it all. “We need to get out of here now!”
He scrambled for the wheel, ignoring everyone’s questions. He wasn’t sure how much time they had, but it probably wasn’t much.
Fred shoved the throttle to high, and the engine revved hard. What was once a small patch of floating, fake land had now grown into something enormous.
It pushed against the boat and slowed escape. The air grew thick and acrid. “What’s that?!” his girlfriend yelled. It was black and growing.
A large plume of dark smoke erupted out of the water. The splashes hissed and sent steam billowing toward the heavens. “Underwater volcano,” Fred said.
It wasn’t until they were far away, did he dare to slow down. What happened next was equally awe-inspiring as it was terrifying.
The others were already taking photos and videos, but all he could do was slump into his seat and try to calm his lungs. He watched as the smoke and steam grew into the sky, and a dark outline took over the horizon.
He and his friends were firsthand witnesses to a unique birth of a new island. But what was the sandy layer that his girlfriend had tumbled into?
Fred tossed a small piece to a friend. “You have some in your bathroom.” They looked at him in confusion. “Pumice stone. The kind you scrub your feet with. That volcano spewed it up to the surface.
We were sitting right in the middle of it.” Another loud explosion shook the air, shocking them to their core.
The volcano cleared its throat again and shot a towering black column into the sky. Stone shot up and then crashed back into the waves like tiny meteors.
The group sat silent, watching every moment. When his own nerves had calmed, he dared to go back and get a little closer … but just a little.
It truly was amazing and dangerously beautiful. Fred couldn’t help but feel very small – not to mention curious about how it would affect the surrounding coasts.
He also had a brilliant idea. Maybe they could come back every year to see what would become of the baby island.
Fred would keep his promise and return to the island a year later. His friends were wrapped up in obligations, so he had to go it alone. But he’d soon learn how sailing alone can be full of danger.
He’d end up in a situation where he would have to fight for his life just to survive. Fred would wish he’d never even heard of the island.
Fred chartered a boat and set out in the early hours of the morning. He knew that the water would be calmer in the morning compared to later on in the day when the wind picked up.
Fred looked at the horizon and couldn’t even see the sun yet. Sunrise was still coming, and the dawn would be beautiful. But Fred had no idea what he would be sailing into until it was too late.
The sea was calm when he set out. He loved the feeling of the open ocean underneath him and the cool wind on his face.
But this feeling wouldn’t last for long. After a moment, the sea started to stir up and get rough. The waves grew in size with each crash against his vessel. Fred was in more trouble than he could hope for.
The unthinkable happened – Fred’s boat capsized. He was plunged into the rowdy waves as he furiously paddled to stay afloat. He had always been a great swimmer, but the waves were unbeatable.
Without any light on the horizon yet, Fred was plunged into the darkness with each wave smacking his head. He couldn’t find the safety of his vessel and started to feel hopeless.
The sun glided over the horizon as Fred frantically searched for his vessel. He knew better than to fight the current, he’d only get tired, and then he’d be in real trouble. But just as he thought of the worst, he saw something.
He saw golden sand in the distance glittering off of the horizon’s light. It was his salvation. He just had to try and get close to it.
Fred managed to swim to the shore and beach himself on the island. He rested on the smooth sand and stared up at the sky, and wondered what he had gotten himself into. He was grateful that he had found safety, but now what?
He knew that the island wouldn’t sustain him for long. And that was even if it could provide him with any kind of food.
After lying down and catching his breath, Fred got up and looked back at the blue waters that had nearly ended his life a few minutes ago. There was nothing, no ships nearby or even his capsized vessel. One question rang out in his mind, where was he?
He scouted the island for resources. He needed to find water as soon as possible. Otherwise, he’d never make it off the island alive.
Fred managed to find signs of civilization after searching the island. He became hopeful that he wasn’t alone. But after a closer examination of the place, he realized that it was completely abandoned.
It was a bittersweet moment. On one hand, he wished there were people to that he could look for help. But he was just grateful there was some kind of shelter available.
Fred’s unwanted vacation from civilization had started. He would scavenge the beach every morning to look for any debris on the shore. While he was out there, he’d also look out for any passing ships to call out to.
Fred managed to find wild lemons growing on the island and started roasting them over a fire. He would check off each day, praying that it wouldn’t last much longer.
Fred knew that the only thing he could do was last as long as he could until someone found him. He was malnourished and dehydrated by day number five. He just hoped someone would come to save him.
It seemed his prayer didn’t fall on deaf ears, and he would soon be looking at his new salvation. His days on the island were numbered.
Day number five had Fred questioning his sanity. He had to make sure what he was looking at wasn’t a figment of his imagination. He saw something unbelievable on the horizon. It couldn’t be true, could it?
The man collapsed on the sand and started weeping. He had never been so relieved to see something like that in his life.
What Fred’s eyes had seen was a small boat. But could he trust his senses? The shape became more defined as the vessel got closer and closer to the island. Was this really going to be the end of the island?
He continued to weep on the sand as the vessel approached the beach. He just hoped that whoever was manning the ship had good intentions.
Fred suddenly remembered horrible stories he’d heard about modern-day pirates. A lot of people may think they don’t exist anymore, but unfortunately, they do. They don’t abide by any laws and pillage ships they take a liking to.
Fred prayed that this wasn’t going to be a pirate vessel. And it seemed as though, once again, his prayers were answered when he saw the captain.
The boat stopped by the shore, and a fisherman called out to him. He was going to be saved! Fred weakly climbed aboard and explained that he was the only one on the island. After answering a few questions, the fishermen set off from the island.
Fred finally felt safe after he heard the man call the coast guard over his radio. He really was going to make it out of this.
After docking at the nearest city, Fred was put on an IV to rehydrate his weakened body. He contacted his friends and family to let them know that he was safe. They made arrangements to meet him at the hospital.
Fred had never felt so lucky to be alive. He promised himself that he’d never try sailing alone again and always make sure he had someone to watch his back. In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.