The air turned foul. Even the winds wouldn’t take the smell away.
Everywhere around them, the “ground” grew thicker and harder to navigate. He prayed it wouldn’t damage the already struggling engine. Because if they ended up stranded, none of them would make it back home. They would be lost forever.
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 sandbars. However, they only appeared close to shore. Filled with curiosity, he steered the boat towards the mysterious formation. 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 shore, 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 squeak of her body slipping against the boat joined her scream as she fell in 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 off of 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 getting big.
A large plume of dark smoke erupted out of the water. The splashes hissed and sent steam billowing towards 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 video, 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 the 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 your 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.
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.