In January 2009, I will release a new diving adventure short story, right here on the pages of DiveBuddy. It will come out in serial format, one chapter a week for nine weeks. The story is set on Withrow Key in the Florida Keys. Where is Withrow Key? Anywhere you want it to be.
To get prepared for the release event, you might want to read the three stories based on the tiny island so far. The first story was Going Down With the Ship in August 2005. It was released in four installment on the Scuba Radio website. Below is the first page of the story. If you’re interested, you can then follow the link to download the rest of the first installment. Next week, I’ll post the second section. What you are downloading is a PDF file of the story. Feel free to email it to your friends but make sure and let everyone know you found it here on DiveBuddy. Tell them to come back to my page on DiveBuddy to leave comments about the story.
Going Down with the Ship
By Eric Douglas
The conch made its way slowly across the sand – journeying from one reef outcropping to the next. The separation was no more than 20 feet, but it had probably taken the poor creature hours to make it the 15 feet it had traveled so far. Tiny marks – footprints, really – in the white sand showed his progress and the determination it had taken.
The reef itself was spectacular and the warm water was perfectly clear. The divers could see more than 80 feet in any direction as they hovered weightless five feet above the sand and reef bottom and 40 feet from the surface. The reef was alive with fish life and color. The coral itself looked healthy on this particular spot, something Jackson Pauley was glad to see. Not all of the dive sites on the United States’ only living coral reef were in as good of shape – storm water runoff with pollutants and fertilizer drainage from farms had seen to that.
The conch still had five feet to go. It would no doubt take it another several hours to make it to the relative safety of the reef structure. What had caused it to decide to move from one to the other was anybody’s guess. A predator itself, the conch was probably looking for fresh prey, but it was taking a risk crossing the open sand. Fortunately, for the conch, its large and ornately-decorated shell provided some degree of protection against larger predators, but not from the most dangerous creature in the ocean. It had nothing to protect it from that.
Jackson was leading a group of divers from the Midwest along the reef. Some of them were pretty good in the water. He could tell they took their diving seriously and were conscious of their motion and breathing. A couple of the divers in the group weren’t really paying attention, however. Jackson saw them brush against the reef and one had actually sat down on a brain coral as he adjusted his fin. Sometimes there was no getting through to people.
A diver spotted the slow moving conch and descended to the sand to get a closer look. At first, she kept a respectful distance. Then she moved closer. The little mollusk didn’t stand a chance. It attempted to retreat inside its shell, but the diver picked it up to look. Jackson guessed she wanted to see where it had gone. Not seeing anything, the diver simply dropped the shell back on the sand. It landed upside down. She swam away.
To download the rest of Going Down With the Ship section one, follow this link.