Alone at sea

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The raft rolled gently up and down, the waves lapping its sides as if the two were conversing.

Lying prostrate on top, exposed to the elements, Tom sat up and searched the horizon. “Twenty-one days” he thought to himself.

The last 14, hunger had been his constant companion. By sheer luck, as if sent from the ocean gods, he had crossed the path of schools of flying fish, some of which had landed in his raft.

Every morsel, every flavorful drip was devoured from the bones, as all that could possibly be eaten was eaten.

For a man’s appetite can be such that he can and will eat anything.

That was two days ago. Now, the gnawing pain in his belly had returned. The carnal cravings had resurrected.

There was an inch of rainwater left in the corner on the floor of the raft. Like a dog, Tom lapped it, realizing, it, too, would soon be gone.

Glancing at the noonday sun, he symbolically raised his fist in defiance. The challenge was on! Who would survive? Who would see another day?

Just then, a shadow passed beneath his craft. Some sea creature, no doubt inspecting this intruder of his domain. It surfaced abruptly 10 yards from the raft.

Hideous! What gnarled figures the waters can invent! What devils of the deep!

It submerged and passed underneath again, seemingly closer.

Realizing survival was hanging in the balance, Tom braced himself for the third pass. The hunted became the hunter as he leaped from the raft upon the intruder’s back. The battle was on!

They both surfaced, gasping for air.

The creature screamed in frustration.

From the horizon came a thunderous voice, “Tommy, out of the pool this instant! You’re not to treat your sister that way!”

Victoriously, 10-year-old Tommy sauntered to the pool’s edge, past the frustrating cries of the sea monster.

Rex Alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is