The young woman watched as the tanker ship lights drifted further away. The ship was still anchored, and the star on the side of the ship wasn’t visible. No one saw her as she undid the lock on the raft, crawled down the metal ladder, and slipped overboard.
The raft drifted away from the tanker. Suddenly, the wind flipped the raft she was on and carried the rubber object out of her reach. She was floating in the cold water and letting the tide push her closer to shore. The time was around midnight.
She removed her gold bracelets and put them in the jacket pocket of her black knit pantsuit. The woman was glad she wore tennis shoes today rather than heels. Her scarf was tied around her long black hair.
“Stupid raft. Now I’ll have to swim to shore.”
Her small frame wouldn’t retain much body heat.
“Below ninety degrees is when you become confused, and your blood vessels constrict.”
She turned over and began stroking softly afraid any large splash would attract dangerous fish. There were no sounds from the ship. The woman was safe for the moment, but a night spotter might see the floating raft. She worried and stroked harder toward shore. While swimming her brain was trying to make sense out of her day.
The woman thought about the tour at five o’clock. The others were taken to a blue container on the ship’s topside by a worker. There were no letters on the outside but there were numbers on the door. She failed to remember the numbers. He showed the three people the inside of the blue container and played with the temperature control button. She remembered their laughter.
An orange container further away drew her interest. This one contained numbers and the word Dry, and she tried to peer inside the slit in the door. Her curiosity about the containers might have saved her. When she turned back, the first container was locked and the people on the tour were gone. There were no voices. The ship worker appeared. She raised her hand to draw his attention. Her mind didn’t grasp the situation until she saw a second man. Her hand dropped, and she clutched the container edge.
A masked man had turned the corner and talked to the ship’s worker. The worker pointed to the blue container. Her eyes bulged in alarm. That’s when she hid under a tarp and didn’t move when the tanker left port. Then the ship’s engine stopped. She threw away her plastic gloves and the fabric hairnet the worker gave everyone on the tour.
She was afraid for the other people on the tour and afraid of whoever was on the ship that locked them inside. She realized the gloves were to hide their fingerprints, and the netting was to hide hair follicles.
She stopped swimming. The shore looked to be a bit over two hundred yards away. The lights of the houses shown on the crest of the ridge. The woman scanned the shoreline for a dock or building. Her body was getting cold. There wasn’t much time.
Suddenly she heard a whirring sound and saw a tiny flash of light. There was a small boat coming from the direction of the tanker. She scanned the water and didn’t see anything except the large ship. Pinpoint lights finally appeared.
“The craft must be dark.”
She realized the worker might have remembered her. The masked man could have counted the bodies in the container later. Or they saw the raft was missing. He was looking for the mysterious person on the tour. No one asked her name. The woman wanted to scream for help but knew there was no one.
The small craft in the water was moving back and forth in a precise search pattern. The main light flashed her way when the small craft turned. She was glad the raft flipped her out. They motored in the direction the raft floated.
A huge wave shoved her further toward shore. Her scarf vanished. The black hair swirled free. The adrenalin activated. Primal survival and flight mode kicked into high gear. The woman was young and strong. She used her body to surf on the top part of the waves.
The roar of pounding surf reached her ears. She was close. Suddenly she saw a pier jetting out from a small cove. There were about twelve boats moored around the dock. The woman figured the pier was privately-owned. She didn’t care.
“Maslow, you were wrong. Safety should be number one and warmth number two on your tower of needs. Those boats represent both to me. You must never have gone swimming in the dark ocean.”
The small craft was getting closer. She dove under the water and swam as fast as she could. Finally, she came to the surface for air. The engine noise was louder. Immediately, she sunk under the water and swam toward the dock. She resurfaced and saw there was a ladder from the water to the top.
The woman remembered her gold chain on her right ankle with her initials, CB. She forgot about the chain. Something was in the water following her. The approaching watercraft was forgotten. She knew what was in the water was worse. The gold chain was to blame. The object sparkled in the water like a metal lure. The two initial charms added additional luster and intrigue for a fish.
She panicked and started swimming fast toward the ladder. Something slippery touched her leg, and she almost cried out in alarm. The watercraft light flashed her way. She went down underneath the water to hide.
The woman opened her eyes and saw the monster in the water. The dock lights illuminated the small area. She kicked with her feet, barely skimming the sides of the fish.
The ladder was close. Three feet was all she needed. She felt pain in her leg as her hand touched the ladder. The woman yanked with her arms and pulled herself up. The monster jumped after her. She used her strength for a final pull and flew over the ladder. Blood dripped into the water.
The woman looked below her. The small shark viewed through the dock slats was swimming crazily.
She needed to get off the dock. A dock box blocked her view of the approaching craft. The woman looked around. There were no sailboats.
“Motorboats have faster speed than a sailboat. People don’t fall off a motorboat. Smart owners live here. I better hurry.”