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DanielF
February 24th, 2014, 10:39 PM
“How far out are you going today then, Bob?”

“You see that buoy, over there?”

“You mean the one right off into the distance? I can hardly see it.”

“That’s the one.”

“It’s a bit far, don’t you think?”

“For some.”

Yesterday I told my wife I didn’t love her any more. I just flat out said it.

She complained that I hadn’t ironed out a crease in of one of my shirts and that was it. I just exploded.

I said mind your own goddam friggin’ business about my ironing, dammit.

God, she just gets under my skin.

I thought wives were supposed to be pleased when their husbands helped with the housework.

But not mine.

For weeks she’d pestered me about helping out round the house a bit more. But when I finally did, she didn’t like it one bit.

“Oh honeybob, you haven’t cleaned these dishes right at all,” and “you know I prefer my tea with two sugars now, don’t you dear?” When she picked me up on the ironing of one of my own shirts, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

Get the hell outta my life woman.

I know what you’re thinking.

Who is this poor lady married to a beast like this?

Well I can tell you I don’t give a damn what you think. You don’t know one bit about my life, and I’d thank you not to care.

Anyway, she ain’t no lady any more than I’m the king of friggin’ England.

I needed to escape from it all.

I may not be the best of swimmers, but I sure as hell can get to that buoy over there, no matter what anyone says.

My feet touched the shimmering water, and a shiver pulsed through me, making my teeth chatter gently.

I hesitated.

Maybe I should wait a little bit longer. The sea may be warmer in half an hour or so.

Get the hell in there. The sooner you’re in the easier it’ll be.

I stepped forward, my feet sinking into the dusty sand and the cold water began to splash against my bare knees.

I know some swimmers liked to kit themselves out with one of those state-of-the-art swimsuits.

But not me. I don’t care for any of that nonsense. Just give me a pair of old trunks and as long as they don’t fall around my ankles, I’ll swim no matter what the temperature might be.

I finally took the plunge.

Water exploded against my ear drums and saturated my thick hair.

Ah, that’s better.

I reached out my arms and glided myself past the huddle of surfers.

With each stroke into the fresh sea I felt better about myself.

There’s nothing like a bit of exercise and the expanse of the ocean to just get away from it all.

To get away from her.

Despite it being early morning, the sun beamed strongly onto the back of my head, and after swimming a good few hundred metres I began to relax my aching arms, and allowed myself to slow to a gentle paddle.

There’s nothing in the world like this.

Just peace.

And…

What the hell’s that?

Something just brushed against my leg, I’m sure of it.

The salt water stung my eyes as I dove my head under the waves and stared around me.

Darkness.

I could barely see anything.

I must be imagining things. It’s all the goddam stress.

I pushed myself back to the surface and laced my stare onto the red buoy about 200 metres ahead.

I had done this same swim only twice before, and both times were after a heated argument with my wife.

I had never been able to get from the beach to the buoy without stopping.

It’s those damn cigarettes. They’re no good for you.

The throbbing of my heart stopped.

What was that?

It can’t be.

Yes, it bloody is.

A shark.

Piercing the dark water 20 metres to my right was a gigantic fin.

I frantically craned my neck around me, scouring far and wide for anyone I could shout for help to.

There was no one.

I was too far out.

I began to panic.

My mind was suddenly tortured with images of being gripped by the shark’s bladed teeth, serrating me as I struggled to push myself from its jaws.

Come on now. Get it together.

I looked for the shark’s fin.

It’s not there.

Maybe it went away.

Maybe it’s swimming towards me.

Maybe it’s underneath me right at this moment.

Maybe it’s…

My breathing became rapid and I told myself to calm the hell down otherwise I’d drown with fear.

Would drowning be better than being mauled alive?

Shut up.

Get it together.

The buoy. Focus on the buoy.

I could barely stretch out my arms, but I willed myself to do it, and I felt momentarily better after gaining a few strokes towards my target.

And then I saw it again.

Bigger this time.

Impossibly bigger.

And now only 10 metres away.

It could suddenly speed up and drag me to my death at any moment.

I wouldn’t stand a chance.

My heart throbbed.

But I knew what I had to do.

I had to stare death in the face.

I held my breath and allowed by body to submerge itself fully into the cold depths.

There was no doubt about it now.

I was going to die.

I stupidly thought of my wife laughing at news of my death.

What use was he anyway if he couldn’t even make a bleedin’ cup of the good stuff right. One sugar. Pfffttt.

The black silhouette, which engulfed my vision, was a shark all right.

But it wasn’t just any old shark.

It was only a bloody Great White.

It’s like spiders. You might see a tiny little spider running around in your bath tub, but when you see an enormous hairy tarantula scuttling towards you, you know you’re deep in it.

I had the overwhelming urge to gasp, but I somehow restrained my reflex and kicked myself above the surface.

“Help! Help me!”

There was no one around.

Damn it.

Why did I have to come out all this way.

I didn’t know there were sharks out here though.

Shut up and think.

But how can I think when I know I’m going to be ripped apart and digested by the monster of the sea.

At any moment.

But I have to.

Think goddam it. Think.

My only chance of getting out of here alive is by swimming to that buoy. I can’t swim back to the shore now because it’s too far away.

I’d stand no chance.

I had to make it to the buoy.

But it was so far away.

Listen, you do this or you’re dead.

Dead?

Dead.

I didn’t know where the shark was, and I began to panic. My heart raced like never before, and I wondered whether it might be possible for your heart to actually explode through terror.

Don’t be stupid.

I pushed my arms forward, but was too afraid to kick my legs.

It was out there somewhere.

I don’t know what came over me then, and I had the urge to look back into the murky layers of the sea.

It was right underneath me.

Its jaws protruded and its black eyes were rolled backwards.

I saw it in slow motion.

I could see past its serrated mouth and straight down its throat.

I’m dead.

No.

Not yet.

Goddam it.

I hammered my arm against its head as the mouth reached my body. But those jaws clamped down.

But I couldn’t feel any pain. I could see only blood. Darkening the water even more.

I must fight.

I have to fight.

Although part of my right arm and most of my upper body was gripped like a vice in the shark’s mouth, I could still freely move my left arm.

I swung it hard at the shark’s rough body.

And I kept hitting it.

With everything I had.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Then nothing.

I didn’t know what had happened.

It was as though I was in a free fall.

The shark had let go of me.

I couldn’t believe it.

But I was sinking.

I couldn’t see anything around me and my eyesight was blurred with a cloudy thick mist I knew was blood.

My blood.

Got to get to the surface.

Now I used my legs.

I didn’t feel afraid any more.

I just wanted to get to that buoy.

Needed to get to that buoy.

I gasped for air.

The coldness of it was like a sharp piercing to my lungs.

But it felt strangely good as well.

I could breathe again.

But for how long?

Where was the shark?

The buoy was only 30 metres ahead.

I could do this.

I couldn’t use my right arm at all. It was totally unresponsive. But my left arm kicked like hell, and so did my legs.

I was nearly there.

My vision was getting darker around the sides and I was afraid I’d black out and be swallowed whole.

But if I could get to the…

The fin.

It was back.

Coming at me on my left.

I screamed but I don’t know if any sound came out.

Impact.

But it wasn’t like last time.

The shark had somehow deflected off me, and I was aware that my left arm was pushing against something solid.

I must have pushed the shark away.

I don’t believe it.

I swam harder.

I. Must. Get. To. The. Buoy.

It was in sight.

It was so close.

But the darkness in my eyes was becoming more distinguished.

This is it.

Right now.

It’s do or die.

There’s the fin again.

Hurry.

I’m not going to make it.

The blackness.

The fin, closer!

Something solid.

The buoy.

I’ve made it.

I collapsed myself forcefully against the huge buoy and panted painfully. I looked down at my body and was horrified as blood pumped from the circular wound in my upper torso. My right arm was sliced open, and I was amazed it was still attached.

I couldn’t see the shark any more.

But I was safe now.

As long as I didn’t fall in the water again.

As long as I stayed here just as I am.

But what if I bleed to death?

It’s better than being eaten alive.

Just wait. Help will come. Help will have to come.

Then I heard the sound that would stay with me for all time.

Sirens.

The lifeguards were coming.

And then I knew I would be saved.

LeeC
February 25th, 2014, 07:28 AM
I'm sorry, but it didn't work for me. It seemed shy on the human touch, and too drawn out on the man-shark interaction. It also seemed more than a bit contrived, in that I don't imagine one would be as lucid and coherent if they'd just been chomped by a great white, as severely as you indicate.


Neither did the presentation style help.


To me, one would need to setup the protagonist better, as if drawing the reader into his world and state of mind. The attack itself could be gruesome, like the tearing of flesh felt, but not drawn out like you have. There are all kinds of stories involving severe trauma, but I think the best of them have quick, hard hitting impact (to make the reader shudder), wrapped up in a bigger story.


Anyway, just my take :-)


Hang in there,
LeeC

KindaNice
March 4th, 2014, 06:06 AM
I like the fear, and my feet feel a little cold after reading. I'm not sure if you could wring more description out of this, but I'd say it's worth trying.

Also, the dialect of the narrator is sort of jerky, going back and forth between slang/profanity and "It was as though I was in a free fall." It's like there's two people jointly narrating the story, but in a way that confuses me and breaks the immersion.

Keep going. This is good, but it could be amazing.