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The sky churned, and I looked across the horizon worriedly. There was nothing but an endless expanse of choppy grey waves as far as the eye could see, stretching until the ocean met the sky. Turbulent clouds gathered overhead ominously, obscuring the sun.
Violet lightening forked across the sea, and great rolls of thunder tumbled across the thrashing water. A wave crashed over the deck, and a true spasm of fear shot through me for the first time in years. Salty spray soaked though my fluttering shirt, drenching my face. The wind whipped my hair back. I could feel the first drops of rain.
“Focus, Jasper, focus,” I muttered to myself, fiercely gripping the wheel. I had been out sailing by myself — so foolish and reckless—and had been swept out much too far. Another peal of thunder crashed across the dark sky. I could hardly hear it over the crashing waves and gathering rain. A huge wave swelled up ahead, forcing my craft to the top, then shoving it violently down the other side. I barely managed to keep my boat upright.
Turbulent grey water smacked against the hull, rocking me violently from side to side. Seawater crashed onboard, sloshing around my knees. I squinted forward through the torrent of rainwater.
Through the slanting rain and howling wind, a sheer wall of water rose like a nightmare, glassy and crowned with foam. This was no ordinary storm. With a growing feeling of dread, I suddenly understood that I might not survive.
The monster wave seized my boat up like a child’s toy, tossing my craft across its back into the roaring valley beyond. I heard a sickening splintering noise as my prow broke off.
Another colossal wave materialized ahead, mightier yet. I looked at its frothing peaks, and recognized my doom.
Hysteria clawed its way up my chest, wrenching a strangled scream from my lips. My voice was almost entirely drowned out by that of the ocean, but I could have sworn that I heard another voice, silvery and pure, singing with me. The storm was growing darker, culminating. Gloriously beautiful and equally terrible, the wave loomed ahead.
I was still screaming when the wave surged over me, splintering my vessel. I instinctively clung to a piece of the debris, barely keeping my head above the surface. Another wave crashed down over me, breaking my grip and thrusting me underwater.
Suddenly, the howling of the storm was silenced. Above, the violent storm continued to whip the sea into a raging fury, but it was quiet down here amidst the buffeting currents. A sinisterly dark, bottomless chasm of black water yawned below me. I was forced down, pushing by a thousand iron hands. Inky seawater pressed from all around, strangling and suffocating. I was too exhausted to fight it. Tiny bubbles rose all around.
Through the darkness engulfing my mind, I vaguely registered a pale face peering into mine. It was a woman’s. Even through the numbness of my dying haze, I realized that she was beautiful. Long dark hair swirled around mesmerizingly vivid cyan eyes. Her face was blurring, warping into fog.
I felt heavy, so heavy. My leaden eyelids slowly closed, gradually shutting out the murky water. I fought desperately to keep them open, grasping at the fraying threads of consciousness. But it was too late. All was lost. I had failed. My panic faded.
A final bubble escaped my lips: silver, achingly exquisite.
Her silken hair swirled.
I slipped into a starless night, soothed by the lullaby of the ocean.