April 3, 2011
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The waves were pounding the side of the ship, making it sway from side to side, and not to mention making me quite nauseas. As the thunder cracked in the distance, I thought about my life (if you can even say I have a life). I was the class joke of the 8th grade, I was angry at everyone, and was bored to death. To make matters worse, I absolutely hated this one kid on the cruise with me who is in my grade, Nick Montone. According to my mom and dad, I was on this boat to get control of myself, but Nick wasn’t helping. He seemed to get great pleasure making me feel as low as I could be.

With regard to my parents, they said I needed some “time off”, whatever that means. So they sent me on this ridiculous boat to try and “relax”. Yeah right. Like that was going to work. My dad must’ve known I wasn’t too happy about going because he told me he would be working on one of the islands we were going to pass, as a volunteer firefighter. The island was right off the coast of Florida, where we lived. Anyway, instead of relaxing, or swimming in the pool on the ship, or just sleeping, I spent my time thinking about how sorry I felt for myself.

Meanwhile, I was the only one on the deck of the cruise, being that it was the middle of the night. The only thing going on inside was a prophet who was telling peoples’ futures. There was a slight breeze and some water from the top of the 5 foot waves was splashing into my face, blowing my brown hair off my forehead. This was actually the most relaxed I had been since setting out to sea three days ago.


It was Lauren Slobel something, something, something. I could never remember how to say her name. For some unknown and quite strange reason, she thought I was cute. I completely disagree. She’s always following me around and trying talk to me. I just want to say to her “Shut up and go away!” which I had almost done on multiple occasions. “Yeees, Lauren? What is it this time? What question have I not yet answered?”

“Oh, well excuse me Mr. Grumpy Pants! I was just trying to say hi! But if that’s too much or something…”

“No, that’s not too much. I’m just really busy right now, so if you don’t mind...

“Oh, I see! Really busy standing out here doing nothing!” she spat at me.
“Okay, you got me there.”
“Well, considering you don’t want my company I think I’ll just leave. But don’t think you’ve seen the last of me Mr. Jeff Carmelo!”

And with that quick, short outburst, and before I even knew what happened, she turned on the spot, her jet black hair flying behind her. Jeez! What nerve that girl had! And I thought I was the weirdest, most annoying kid ever. Boy was I wrong.

Seeing that this night couldn’t get any worse, I decided to go give that prophet on the ship a shot. Knowing my future. That could be interesting, not that I believe in stuff like that anymore. There is no way that some stranger can tell you your future. That’s impossible. Anyway, I set off through the ship, walking past corridor after corridor and door after door, each one with an even weirder smell than the last. The walls were chipping and moldy. Some luxurious cruise this is!

After all the babbling I was doing in my head, I finally reached the room with the prophet. There was a sign on the door that read:
Prophet: Mrs. Jane Taylor. Interested?

I didn’t even bother knocking on the door, polite as I was. Jane Taylor looked like she was in her mid fifties with brown hair turning grey, blue eyes, and plenty of wrinkles in her skin, but a kind face nonetheless. The look she gave me when I came in said something like, “I know more about you than you would want me to.”

“Sit,” she said. “Would you care to find out your future Mr. …?”

“Carmelo, ma’am. Jeff Carmelo”

“Well, Mr. Carmelo, you are here to hear a prophecy about yourself?”
I nodded.
“A bit of a creepy one, I might add.”


“I can catch a glimpse of your future just by looking at you, Mr. Carmelo.” She said to my questioning look. “And make no mistake your future holds secrets that will unfold your worst nightmares. I apologize if I’m scaring you a bit, but you are quite interesting.”

“The prophecy, Mrs. Taylor.”

“Oh, yes, yes indeed.” She closed her eyes and I could practically see the wheels in her head moving as fast as a jet on a runway. And then it came. My future. And yes, it was very scary:
You shall fall to the darkest depths in the liquid wall of death
Your former enemy, now your sanity, shall perish from madness
Your object taken from the death place shall be thought of as your savoir
But your new hope will diminish and your first thought shall rise again.

I sat there in stunned silence, positive that Mrs. Taylor could hear the rapid pounding of my heart. She was looking at me with a sort of quizzical look.

“Well?” she said. “What do you think?”

I found my mouth completely dry and just about unable to talk. When she wasn’t looking, I picked up a box of matches and put them in my pocket, just to give myself something to do. Eventually I said, “I think I shouldn’t have come here.”

“That’s what they all say. Everyone is so scared about themselves and they always forget that what I say may not end up being correct.”

“But, if this is your job, aren’t supposed to always be correct?” I regretted how rude it sounded right after the words left my lips.

But she laughed. “Honey, this isn’t what I normally do, and even if it was, nobody is perfect at everything.”

I nodded. “Well, thank you, Mrs. Taylor. I think, um, I think I’ll be going to sleep now.” We said goodbye and I hurried out of the room thinking what anyone would think after hearing their prophecy: It didn’t make any sense! What in God’s name is the liquid wall of death? How can an enemy be your sanity? Who was my enemy? What did I take, or what will I take from the death place? What was the death place? And the one that bothered me the most: my first thought? What the heck was that?

But then I remembered what she said about this not being true. Relax, I kept telling myself. Nothing worked. And when I finally got into bed at 3:30 am, my last thoughts before I fell asleep were relax.

My dreams that night could not have been more creepy, but at the same time, more random. Most of my dreams were about the prophecy, things that could happen to make it come true. The only problem was, when I woke up, I didn’t remember what they were. The dreams I did remember were about home, back home in Chicago, right across from Wrigley Field. And the weirdest dream that night - or if you want to call it random, that’s fine too – I was the champion of the world’s fastest cheeseburger eating contest!
Anyway, I slipped on my clothes for the day, along with some socks and shoes and went to brush my teeth. When I looked in the mirror I didn’t even recognize myself: My hair looked like it had a Mohawk, my skin was pale white, and I had gigantic circles under my eyes. Basically, I had the appearance of being eaten alive and then spat back out. I wonder what Lauren would think if she saw me like this!
I walked into the dining room to get some breakfast, only to be knocked aside by an elbow from the jerk Nick. I proceeded to drop my plate, which shattered, and then was yelled at by someone who was working the breakfast area.
“But,” I said to him. “But I didn’t –
“No buts kid. You drop it, you clean it. The broom is in the closet over there.” He motioned towards a closet in the corner. What an attitude that guy has, I thought.
The closet was so disgusting that I almost didn’t notice the mouse. I would’ve stepped on it had it not been for the terrible squeeeeeeeeeeek that it gave. So far this day was turning out to be the best of my life. If only I knew what lay ahead – really, 3 seconds ahead.
Some woman screamed at the top of her lungs. I will remember that scream forever. “Shut up!” I had started to yell. But then I saw what she was screaming at: I looked out the window and what I saw just about made my heart leave my chest. A huge - and I mean huge – easily 50, 60 foot tall wall of water was approaching the ship.
Time seemed to move in slow motion from there. I remember hearing tons of screams from just about everyone who was in that room, not to mention screams from other parts of the ship. I stood rooted to the ground, unable to move. My mind was telling my body to move, but my body wasn’t responding and at the same time I realized I had no place to run.
The rogue wave was advancing upon the ship, growing bigger and bigger every second. It seemed to have death written all over it. People were running and screaming everywhere. Plates shattered. Nobody would be cleaning those up. The end was just seconds away. In just a few seconds everything I had ever done would come crashing, literally, on top of me.
There seemed to be a clock counting down in my head of how much longer I had to live. Just let it happen, I kept telling myself. Get it over with. Everyone would die. I kept think there was something to do, but there wasn’t.
Then it happened. The wave broke right on top of the cruise ship. The noise it made when it crashed was the loudest thing I had ever heard. And still, I stood rooted to my spot. Windows shattered. Water came pouring in from every direction. Within five seconds, or what seemed that long, I was covered up to my knees and sinking lower every second.
Still, I stood rooted there.
The water was at my waist. People had started to fall under the surface. A pair of hands grabbed my shoulders and started pulling me. Where, I had no clue. Whose hands they were, I had no clue, and I couldn’t care less. The water was just about at my neck now. Within seconds, my world would be gone, into nothingness. Oh, just let it happen. I was still being dragged, but there was no hope. All would be lost. The end was near.
Then I remembered something from the night before.

You shall fall to the darkest depths in the liquid wall of death

This was the liquid wall of death: the wave. The prophecy was coming true right before my own eyes. Did that mean I was going to survive, at least for a little while longer?
But it didn’t matter. For at that second my head went under the water. I forgot to take a breath and water came pouring into my lungs. Then my world was gone into nothing but crushing blackness, black as the sea itself.

I was dead. This was death. My life was over. Boy, I thought, heaven is full of water. But this wasn’t heaven. I rubbed my eyes and looked around, but water was still everywhere. Then I realized what happened, where I was, and the truth pummeled me just like the wave did. I was alive. The only one to survive. Lying here on a piece of wood. But then I realized that wasn’t true. There was someone lying next to me, face down. I rolled the person over, and the eyes of Nick Montone stared up at me. Alive, but only just. His blonde hair was matted against his forehead and his usually tan skin was ghostly white.
I looked around. We were stranded at sea, surrounded by nothingness, except for this one little island off to the right, which appeared to be our only option.
I began to think about what happened and the memories flooded back into my head. The cruise ship had sunk. Apparently everybody had died except for Nick and I. I could scarcely believe it. Even though there was nobody on the ship who I really cared about, I felt like I had lost everything. All my belongings somewhere at the bottom of the sea were the least of my worries. The prophecy really concerned me, almost as much as getting to the island. The first part had been right. That must mean the rest would come true, even though the rest still didn’t make any sense. But there would be other times to think about that.
Right now I had to worry about safety. Somehow, even though it was Nick, the presence of another human relaxed me a little bit. I could scarcely believe that after everything he had done to me, I was about to save his sorry little butt. Our only way to safety appeared to be towards the island. I began paddling my way toward the little green place, along with the help of a rather strong current. Based on the position of the sun, it looked about the late afternoon, early evening.
Although it only took about 20 minutes to get to the island, it felt like hours. We were going to die, I thought. I pulled our little wood raft out of the water, with Nick unconscious on top of it, and took in the surroundings. Our little island was about the size of a school, but it would do. I guess this was as good a place as any to get stranded. It was pretty: basically all palm trees and sand. I would look around later, or tomorrow with more daylight. I heard a spitting and coughing sound. Nick had woken up.
“You!” he said. “You stupid little son of a –
“What?” I yelled. Did he actually think I did this?
“What have you done?! Why are we here? Where’s the cruise? All my stuff was on there! What have you done with it? Tell me, Carmelo! Thanks to you, I am stuck here on a rotten dirty, place of, I don’t know!” He hesitated. “And mostly why am I here?” He finished yelling at me.
Now I was getting angry. “Well for your information, I just saved you from…”
“You saved me? YOU SAVED ME? Does this place look like savior? We’re stuck here with no help! You didn’t save me you little –
“Well,” he began in a quite snotty tone. “Considering we’re stuck here with apparently no help on the way, I suggest you begin looking for food or something.”
“What did you just say to me?”
“You heard me. I said no. N-O if you’re too stupid to spell you stupid bastard.”
His face contorted in anger and he started to get up like he wanted to start a fight, but then thought better of it. “I’ll go look for food when I feel like it,” I said. “As long as I’m stuck here with you I won’t be your slave. Just making that clear.” He didn’t say anything, just looked away.
“So,” I began. “I feel like looking right now for food. Whether you care to join me is up to you. But I would prefer if you didn’t come.”
“I’ll stay.”
So I walked around the island by myself, only thinking of how much of a jerk Nick is and how much I needed food. I hadn’t had anything to eat since the night before and the hunger was biting painfully at my stomach.
The island really was all palm trees and sand. I didn’t even find any bushes or anything from which we could pick berries. All I saw were a whole bunch of salamanders. I returned not only empty handed, but to real grumpy Nick, no different than usual.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do. If we really become desperate, there are salamanders to eat.” But he gave me a nasty look as I said that.
“No,” he spat at me. “If we really become desperate, we’ll eat you.”
“Um, sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
“Oh and why not?”
“Why not?” I laughed (which actually surprised me a little bit). “Can you actually be that stupid?”
“Okay, Jeff, listen to me. I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be stuck with you. But the fact of the matter is, I am, and you are stuck with me, too. So just deal with it.”
For the first time in my life, I actually realized he was right. There is nothing either of us can do, and fighting amongst ourselves wouldn’t do any good. Since we had been stranded on the island, I realized I had been as much a jerk to him as he was to me. But I can honestly say it did feel good to say those nasty comments to him.

“I’m going to sleep,” I said to him. He said he would do the same.

For the next few days, nothing changed. I think both of us started thinking about eating whatever we could get our hands on at about the third day. Nick and I were actually getting along pretty well, considering there was nothing else to do.
“Hey, Jeff,” he said to me one day. “What about the coast guard?”
“That’s a good question. You would think they would send a helicopter over here, wouldn’t you? Unless we really drifted far away from the spot where the ship sank.” The thought had entered my mind, too. I don’t think either of us really felt any hope that we would be saved, unless by some miracle.
Night melted into day, day melted into night. But on day 4, or I think it was (I lost track without any brain food, or water for that matter), everything changed. I think Nick and I really started enjoying each others’ company. We may have gone insane without any human interaction. Anyway, I was taking my daily walk around the island, just trying to find something to entertain myself with. When I came back, the dreaded thought that entered my mind, but I refused to really think about, came true.
“Food!” Nick yelled.
“What? There’s no food. What are you…? NO!” Nick had apparently hallucinated a rock for food and was shoving it into his mouth. I ran over to help just as he started choking.
“No, spit it out, SPIT IT OUT!” I screamed at him, I tried the Heimlich maneuver on him, only to crack a couple of his ribs instead. Oh, no, even if he did survive choking, he would never survive with broken ribs.
His face was turning white, and I watched, knowing there was nothing I could do. I had tried everything, was still trying everything. Nothing worked. He fell to the ground grabbing at his throat, writhing on the ground, gasping for air. Then he became still. I put two fingers to his neck. There was no pulse.
My only company, the only thing keeping me from going insane, was gone. Dead from hallucinating a rock for whatever he thought it was.
I sat there for what seemed like an eternity, watching the corpse of the only thing that kept me from going insane. I was amerced in my own thoughts when it hit me again. The prophecy:
Your former enemy, now your sanity, shall perish from madness
The understanding that sometimes you crave so much, and other times you don’t want it all, had just arrived. My former enemy, Nick, had been the only thing keeping me from going insane. He had been my only human company. Then he had gone mad, and perished from it.
I sat down, leaning against a palm tree, staring up at the now starry night sky. My life was such a mess, so full of bad things and misery, but the night was so peaceful. A couple weeks ago, if something bad had happened to Nick, it wouldn’t really have made a difference to me. Everything was different now. He was my only source of life, and he was gone.
My eyelids began to grow heavy. The hunger bit at my stomach like I wanted to bite into a cheeseburger. Don’t think about that, I thought to myself. I ached all over, head to toe. I hadn’t seen a reflection of myself in over a week, but I probably looked like a wreck.
Within five minutes, the tiredness overpowered me and I fell into sleep. There was only one dream that I remembered:

The sounds of the forest filled me up like music: The chirping of the birds, the hooting of the owls, and the roars of unseen beasts. But it was the unseen beasts I was looking for. They meant food and food meant less pain. I closed my eyes and tried to figure out where the nearest large animal was.
I took a step forward and stepped on a twig. It cracked loud enough for the entire forest to hear. I crept forward some more, looking left and right, knife in hand. There was a clearing up ahead, and I made my way for that.
I was about 10 feet away when I found my path blocked. Before me stood a huge beast, a lion to be exact. There was no way I would be killing that. It would kill me first.
At that exact second, it leapt forward and jumped on top of me. I went sprawling onto the ground, my knife clambering out of my hand. The lion had its huge paws pinned on my chest. I was paralyzed from fear, unable to move anyway without being eaten. Once again, I could feel death just seconds away. The huge animal shifted its front paw onto the pocket of my jeans, making a small box in my pocket press painfully against my leg. But that pain was nothing compared to the fear I was having now.
The lion growled. Saliva dripped from its mouth onto my face. Then it snapped. Sparkling white fangs dug into my flesh and I could feel the fresh flow of blood…

I opened my eyes. It was fake. It was a dream. I was alive. But then why was I bleeding? But I soon realized my fingers were digging into my skin, causing a light flow of blood.
I rolled over onto my side, trying to fall back to sleep (even though the sun was up), but just as in my dream something pressed into my leg. I dug my hand into my pants pocket and pulled out a box. But this was no ordinary box. This was the box of matches I had taken from Jane Taylor’s place!
Matches! I thought. I could start a fire. Wait, I could do more than that. I could start a real fire. Someone would see smoke! There would be a helicopter! I would be saved! This nightmare would be over; I could go home and never leave the house again.
Then a new thought dawned on me. The water. The matches had been in my pocket when the ship sank. They might be too wet to catch. With trembling fingers I wrenched out a match and felt around. It was a little damp, but maybe dry enough to do the job. All I needed was a spark.
I got up and ran over to one of the trees. If anyone was going to see the fire I would need to set ablaze the entire island. I bent down at the bottom of one of the palm trees. There was a tiny little patch of grass that could catch, and then run up the bark, and then who knows what. But first…
I pulled out a match and tried once, but the match broke in my hand. The second time the same thing happened. But the third time I got a little bit of luck: it caught. Heat ran up my hand and I dropped the match on the brush. It caught instantaneously. The grass burned and singed and made a hissing sound as it ran up the bark of the tree. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.
Within one minute the entire tree was on fire. I did the same with most of the other trees and before I knew it, smoke was billowing up into the sky.
Just then the third line of the prophecy made sense. And I knew, with three of the four lines coming true, the fourth would, too.
Your object taken from the death place shall be thought of as your savoir

I had taken the matches from her office, which was on board the death place, the cruise ship. That was the death place. The matches I took from her will save me. Maybe. I was still puzzled on the last few words of the prophecy. Thought of as your savior? Did that mean I was going to die? My first thought? I would probably find out soon enough.

The sound of the helicopter was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard in my life. About two hours after I set fire to the island, the sweet sound of rotors broke the Caribbean silence. It was a Coast Guard helicopter, I could read after it was within about fifty feet. I yelled and screamed even though I already knew they had spotted me. I ran into the water with all the little energy I had left and grabbed the ladder that was being offered to me and pulled myself up.

I was going to live, I thought to myself. I took a nice long look at my saviors. One man appeared about 25 with blonde hair and tan skin, blue eyes, and had an intense appearance. He was the pilot. The other was much older and was looking quite worrisome.

“Hang on son,” the older one said. “We’re gonna get you outta here. Name’s Mike by the way. That’s Cameron.”

I smiled at them, speechless. My mouth couldn’t form any words from the excitement. The ‘copter lifted into the air, followed by a whirl of water. The ground was getting farther away every second, and getting me closer to home and safety.

“So, kid,” Mike questioned me. “What’s happened to you?” So I told both of them the whole story, from the cruise ship all the way up to this point. They just sat there in stunned silence when I finished.

“And where’s this kid Nick’s body?”

“Oh, crud,” I said. “It’s on the island! I forgot it there!”

“Nothing we can do about it now, I’m afraid. But good for you for thinking of him.”

“Yo, Mike,” Cameron said. “What’s going on here?”

“What do you mean?” Mike questioned.

I got up and took a look to where they were pointing, but I saw nothing. I felt it. The helicopter had started spiraling down toward the ground below. I heard the words “Fuel, no, and left” all mixed in somewhere. But my mind was elsewhere.

Our aircraft was dropping like dead weight toward the ground now. I just kept telling myself, ‘no way.’ This was not going to happen. I would not die after coming so close to being saved. But our chances of surviving this were zero to none. Then the last line of the prophecy hit me like the ‘copter was about to hit the ground:

But your new hope will diminish and your first thought shall rise again.

This was it. I would die here. This was the end. My first thought was the thought that crept into my mind when Nick and I first arrived on the island: ‘We would die.’ The hope of surviving was my new hope. After being so close to surviving, so close to…
But my last thought was cut off, for at that moment the helicopter hit the ground hard. Almost immediately flames erupted around the outside of the helicopter. I was thrown out of my seat by the force of the collision and thrown against one of the walls. I could feel the heat from the fire, but somehow the flames remained outside.
I looked around: Mike and Cameron were basically in the same position as I was – thrown against a wall, but looking okay, considering the circumstances. I got up and placed my hand against the wall, which was roasting hot. Smoke had started billowing in from the shattered windows and came crashing into my lungs. Instantaneously I got down to the ground and crawled my way to the door, kicked it open. I turned around and saw Mike and Cameron following me out.
Once I reached the outside I turned around. The copter’ was completely engulfed and I started to get worried that it was going to blow up.
“We should leave,” I coughed to them. They nodded in agreement and together we half walked half crawled our way to safety, even though I had no idea what or where safety was. But I didn’t think we would have too much trouble: we had crashed onto an island, but unlike the island I had been stranded on, this one had roads. That meant help, safety, and loads of other things.
The leaves rustled beneath my feet, the wind blew against my face, and the Caribbean sun burned my skin. This would’ve been a perfect vacation spot, but not now. The stench of the smoke made all the beauty of the island fade away.
“We should stop here,” Cameron said. “We’ll have a better chance of being spotted.”
“By who?” Mike questioned.
“By anyone!”
“Do you see anyone? Do you see anyone or anything that is going to help us? I didn’t think so! And pretty soon this island will be on fire from …”
Sirens. They were blaring and coming from every direction. Within 30 seconds from that moment about 10 fire trucks were near us. I could hardly contain my happiness. Now I knew I was definitely going to be saved. Nothing would prevent me from getting home. About 10 minutes ago I could’ve sworn I wasn’t going to be alive. Now, I was going to be saved. But then I realized the prophecy was wrong, that last line. I sat there pondering what it could mean while the firefighters came running up to me.
Suddenly I realized its meaning. Jane Taylor was right. My new hope had diminished (my hope of being rescued by the helicopters). But my first thought did rise again. My first thought was what I thought when I arrived inside the helicopter: I was going to live. And this was going to come true. That first thought had risen once again.
The firefighters reached me and Mike and Cameron. Hands grabbed. I felt myself being pulled off the ground and I turned to see who it was. And when I looked into the man’s face, I saw the eyes of my father staring back at me.

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