Hi, everyone! I recently stumbled across this story that I wrote when I was like 15, and I thought I'd share it here! I ran through and corrected any spelling/grammar mistakes I could find, but otherwise left it the way it was. Enjoy!
"Aw, aren't they adorable?" I said, gesturing to two brown sea otters flailing playfully in the waters near our boat.
My eighteen year old cousin Jordan came up and stood beside me, watching the creatures with a smile. "Yeah, almost as cute as me."
I rolled my eyes and looked back at the otters. After a few minutes of battering each other with their paws, they looked around warily and dove into the depths. Not feeling like waiting for them to resurface, I turned and leaned my back against the railing, scanning the choppy waves and ice floes of the Alaskan coast. I breathed in the chilly, energizing air.
"When you two are done watching the animals," my uncle Marty, a fisherman, called from the other side of the deck. "Will you come help me with the net over here?"
Sighing, Jordan and I made our way over to see Marty struggling with the tangled net. Together we went to work straightening it out for a while before Jordan peered into the water through the railing and said, "Dad, I haven't seen so much as a fish's tail today. Shouldn't we just go home?"
Marty chuckled quietly, shaking his head. "Jordy, we're not going to leave because we haven't seen any fish in the hour we've been out here. Besides, just because you can't see something doesn't mean it isn't there. Can you see air?"
Before Jordan had time to come up with a sarcastic answer, a loud yelp tore through the air. We all glanced towards the other side of the boat, but it had come from the outside, from the waters. I got to my feet, walked across the deck, and peeked over the edge. One of the otters from earlier was jumping out of the water and scratching at the side of the boat, trying to get in. "Hey, you," I murmured gently. "Where's your buddy?"
My eyes detected movement a little further away, maybe twenty feet from us. A large shadow under the water was slowly moving away from…a cloud of blood. My breath caught in my throat a few times before I could sputter out, "Uncle Marty, come quick!"
He was by my side in an instant, and took it all in swifter than I had. "Get the otter up here," was all he said, studying the silhouette which was now swimming in circles.
I obeyed him, scooping up the otter with my hands. It wriggled free every time I tried, so I finally grabbed its forearms and yanked it upwards, hoping I wouldn't dislocate its shoulders. "That's not a shark, is it?"
"What's not a shark?" Jordan inquired, alarmed, but he was ignored.
Marty only shrugged. "What else would eat an otter out here?"
"He ate him?" Jordan cried.
The surviving otter had clambered out of my grasp, quivering, and was running around the deck, tripping occasionally. I bit my lip as I watched it, then cast my gaze towards the open ocean. My stomach dropped. The shark had disappeared. "Where'd it go?" I whispered.
Marty had heard, and stared hard into the icy waters for a few long moments. "Get away from the sides," he finally ordered, quietly but still harsh.
Still a bit too stunned to get up, I merely pushed myself a few feet away from the railing with my feet. Jordan had abandoned the net to come stand beside us, looking as grim as I had ever seen him. Marty was still focused intently at the waves. The otter had reappeared from below deck and craned its neck around cautiously. And there we stayed frozen for seconds that seemed like they were stretched into lifetimes.
A sudden dull thud sent the boat tilting towards my side. The impact knocked me flat against the ground; it sent Jordan flying since he'd been standing up. Marty had lost his balance, but straightened back up in no time. "Everyone all right?" he called as the boat began to level.
The boat leaned again, creaking. I began to slide toward the edge. "Danny, look out!"
I looked, and I cringed. Rows of razor blade teeth were bared from behind the railing, which wouldn't have saved me. I could easily slip between the bars and into the shark's mouth. I rolled over, trying to get up, but it was too steep. I saw Jordan and Marty clutching the opposite railing for their lives. Then Marty let go and slid on his belly to me, wrapping his legs around his son's ankle and extending a hand to me. I reached for it but was already too far away.
In that split second a plan formulated in my mind. Holding my breath and descending faster towards the shark's gaping jaws, I knew what I was about to do was a hit or miss. It could save us or kill me.
Marty and Jordan screamed my name in unison as my feet collided with the shark. When I didn't continue sliding down its gullet or feel its teeth crushing my body, a spark of triumph lit within me, and I stomped on the shark's nose.
The shark retreated back underwater, and the boat stabilized again, sending me gliding into Marty. At first I thought we were safe, and that I had scared it off. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Jordan was congratulating me on how much of a badass I was when the otter darted from downstairs, yipping, and dove into the water. I didn't take much notice until I heard the same terrified bark that its fallen companion had uttered. I turned my head just in time to see the otter being dragged under by its tail, and another cloud of blood rose to the surface.
"HE ATE THE OTHER ONE!" Jordan roared.
"Jordan, stop yelling or it'll come back," Marty demanded roughly.
"Are we sinking?" I said abruptly, cutting them short of their impending argument.
We sat in silence for a while, until Marty stood and grumbled, "Oh, shit," and headed below deck. He came up a few seconds later, and said solemnly, "Looks like Jaws put a hole in the boat."
I looked at Jordan, and as he gazed back at me I saw my fear reflected in his dark eyes. I glanced back up at my pallid uncle. "So what are we going to do?"
Marty scanned the horizon with his trained eyes. "We're too far from the coast now, the boat'll never make it. God knows we're not swimming that far, in this water." He paused, running through any possible options. "We could try to see if the motor can make it to that iceberg over there."
I followed where he was pointing and saw a large iceberg, protruding high into the air.
"Why not that one? It looks closer." Jordan was pointing in the other direction.
Marty examined his choice of iceberg for a few seconds before discarding it. "No, it looks too small, and it's not as tall."
So after a bit of difficulty, Marty got the engine started, and we headed for the first iceberg. I stood watching for the shark on one side, and Jordan on the other. At least it was nowhere to be seen, for now.
How we were able to get to the iceberg before the boat sank, I still have no idea. I tumbled out of the boat and onto the iceberg, which was flat on one side, before escalading to its tip. As Marty got on, he handed me something and told me to get to the top. Only once I was there did I look at what he'd given me. It was a flare gun.
Marty had joined me at the top of the iceberg as Jordan was still pulling himself clumsily from the boat. "Jordy, do you need help down there?" Marty groaned, exasperated.
Jordan gave him a thumbs up. "No way, cap'n. I got everything under control."
All I heard was a metallic thump as the boat shoved off on its own, sending Jordan plunging waist-deep into the icy waters as he grabbed onto the edge of the iceberg. Marty immediately slid down to help, but Jordan's body jolted as he was yanked into the depths. And then there was blood. I thought I was going to throw up.
"Jordan…" I barely heard Marty murmur. He extended his hand slowly towards the water where his son had disappeared, where his blood still frothed.
I crawled down next to my grieving uncle. Putting my arm around his shoulders, I stared blankly into the bloody waters. Jordan, my cousin, who I thought of as a brother, was now gone. Though I was a year younger than him, I was always looking out for him, and he for me. None of that would happen again.
My lament was interrupted by a loud splash, and I thought I was hearing things when I perceived the sound of Jordan's voice shouting, "Help me out, assholes!" Marty and I whirled around. Jordan was in fact still alive, but dangling from the shark's mouth by his right leg. Blood was running from both their mouths.
"Jordan!" Marty screamed, then spun on me. "Where's your gun?"
I felt my empty pockets before glancing up to the tip of the iceberg. "Forget it!" Marty snarled, whipping a pistol out of his own pocket and aiming it at the shark.
"Don't hit Jordan!" I yowled.
"Do you think I'm an idiot?" Marty snapped back, and pulled the trigger.
The bullet hit the shark in the side, behind its flipper. Surprised and agitated, it dropped my cousin into the icy waters. Before I could stop him, Marty leapt in too, and swam for Jordan. He hadn't left me the pistol, and I knew that I would need a weapon, so I began climbing back to the top of the iceberg to get my flare gun.
When I got it, I inserted one of the three flares and turned. Marty had made it to Jordan, and held him over his shoulder as he swam back to the iceberg. I thought they would make it back with no trouble. But once again, I was wrong. The shark appeared and began bearing down on them, but I couldn't shoot at it, since it only had its dorsal fin out of the water. I clenched my teeth together as it got closer and closer to them, but I could do nothing.
Finally, finally, when it was a simple five feet away from them, its jaw opened, revealing its eyes. I aimed my trembling hand, and fired. The shark rolled to the side, and vanished again.
Marty got to the edge of the iceberg and handed Jordan to me. Somberly, I took him in my arms, a heavy, limp, lifeless weight. His leg, amazingly, was still intact, but hanging loosely at an awkward angle. Looking at it made me feel nauseous, so I turned my gaze to his face. It was pale blue, and still. Seeing that made me feel even worse.
Marty had gotten out of the water and was slouched over, hugging his knees to his body and shivering. He glanced up at me and saw me doing nothing productive, so he mumbled, "Put him on the ground here."
I did, and Marty set to work. He removed one of the shirts under his coat and wrapped it around Jordan's injured leg, then took off his belt and bound it around the shirt tightly as a tourniquet. This made Jordan scream himself out of unconsciousness. I was a bit relieved. At least he was alive.
I looked over at Marty and Jordan. They were both shivering violently. Since they had both plunged into the freezing ocean and I hadn't, I took off my coat and gave it to Marty. "You need it more than me."
"Thanks, Danny," he murmured, smiling, and laid it out across Jordan.
I heard a light splashing and raised my head. The dorsal fin of the shark was speeding for the iceberg. Instinctively, I reached for the flare gun, but I forgot I'd left it at the top of the iceberg again. Crap.
The shark only tapped the iceberg, or maybe tried to ram into it without realizing how big it really was. Anyways, it began to circle us, sometimes poking its head above the surface to rest its ghostly eye on us.
I held my hand out to Marty. "Give me the pistol," I muttered.
It was placed in my hand, and I held it behind my back as I crept towards the edge of the iceberg.
"Danny, what are you doing?" Marty whispered.
I didn't answer him; I was concentrating too hard to even notice he'd said something. If I messed up now, all our hope would be lost. So I waited, balanced on the balls of my feet, for the shark to come back around.
The first and second times it passed me it was submerged, so I couldn't execute my plan. Then, finally, the shark was raised enough out of the water for my opportunity. I sprang.
Someone screamed my name – it could've been the shark for all I knew, my adrenaline was pumping so hard. I grabbed onto the shark's dorsal fin, pulled myself up and saddled it like a horse. I got out the pistol, loaded it and pointed it at the shark's head.
Then the world turned sideways. Then upside-down.
The ice-cold water seemed to bite through my skin as I kicked away from the shark, fighting to get to the surface. I then realized that the pistol was no longer in my grasp. I clasped the idea that I was going to die as my head broke the surface. But I was taking this damn shark with me.
"Danny, watch out!" Jordan yowled from the iceberg, which now seemed much further away from my point of view. I swiveled around to see the shark tearing towards me. When it was right in front of me, I grabbed the nose and forced myself upwards, the shark shooting past underneath me.
I knew I had to find the gun. I knew it would be like finding a needle in a haystack on its own, excluding not knowing how far deep the ocean was here, the chance of getting hypothermia and the fact I would have an angry shark snapping at me. But it was my only chance. I took a long, deep breath, knowing very well that it might've been my last, and dove.
Much as I didn't want to, I pried my eyelids back, the salty water stinging my eyes. Glancing around, I immediately knew finding the gun was hopeless. I couldn't even see our sunken boat, no less a small pistol. As I rethought things, the shark's tail smashed into my side, sending me somersaulting through the water. Then it began circling around me. It knew I was helpless now, and was going to have some fun with me.
It rammed into me again, sending me downwards. I needed air, so I glanced upwards for an escape route. That's when I saw it – the perfect plan B. I couldn't have asked for better luck. Floating halfway between the surface and the bottom was a mine.
It wasn't foolproof: if the shark was too smart it would merely swim around. But there was no plan C popping into my mind, so I decided to chance it. I ripped off my beanie hat and threw it at the shark in hopes of a distraction, then turned and paddled with the remainder of my draining strength to the other side of the mine. I saw the shark gobble down my hat, then steer its way for me. I figured I might as well start swimming away. I would want to either way, if the shark bypassed the mine and chased me down, or if it bit the mine and triggered a huge explosion. So I began propelling myself away from the shark, and I realized that my vision was beginning to fail me as I was losing oxygen. After what seemed like hours, I turned to check on where the shark was. That was the moment that its jaws closed on the mine.
Yes! I thought, and with the force of the explosion working in my favor, I broke the surface once again. I gasped convulsively; my last breath had been over five minutes ago.
Too exhausted to tread water any longer, I grabbed onto a small piece of ice and rested my head. Fifty feet away, I saw the shark's carcass bob to the surface, minus the head. I smiled, and my eyes fluttered shut. "See you in hell, asshole," I murmured quietly.
I was about ready to fall asleep like that, grasping the ice floe, my legs still in the paralyzing cold water, when I heard my name being called continuously from what seemed to be far away. My head shot up. "Mar-" I coughed up water, and threw up a little before shouting back, "Marty!"
"Danny! Where are you?"
"I don't know," I hollered weakly, but began paddling myself towards the direction of my uncle's voice.
We continued calling out to each other until I spotted two figures sitting on an iceberg that had actually been considerably close. I cried out to Marty, and he jumped into the water and raced towards me. Once we got to each other I ditched my ice floe and wrapped my arms around him. I then realized that I was shivering worse than he and Jordan had been when they'd first come out of the water. Marty noticed too, and slinging me over his shoulder like he had with his son, swam for the iceberg.
When we got back on, Jordan smiled weakly and asked if I wanted my jacket back. He wasn't trembling anymore, but he was looking extremely pale, as I saw that blood was spilling out from his leg and into the ocean. I told him to keep it, and then voiced my hope that there were no more bloodthirsty sharks around. Jordan and Marty agreed.
And then we sat in silence, huddled against each other and the peak of the iceberg to keep us warm and block the wind. We were stranded. We would die anyways. I nestled myself closer to my uncle and realized that I would rather die like this, with family, than getting devoured by a shark.
I think we sat there for hours, not wanting to fall asleep at risk of slipping into a coma or missing a rescue boat. Finally, I saw a light in the distance, and pointed it out to Marty.
"It's a boat," he confirmed, relieved.
With a little effort, he stood, held up the flare gun we had finally retrieved and sent a firework into the sky. He stood still, waiting for a few moments, and as I tried to rouse Jordan who had fallen asleep, turned to us and exclaimed, "I think they see us!"
When the boat was a little closer, Marty set off the second flare. Jordan awoke with a moan at the mention of rescue. My heart was pounding somewhere in my throat. After a very long wait, the boat pulled up beside our iceberg, and two men leaned out. I climbed in, grabbed a nearby sheet and collapsed onto the ground. Marty and one of the other men carried Jordan in, and set him in a small, shanty bed. Then we were headed back towards land.
That all happened a year ago. Marty is still a fisherman, and sometimes he seems to forget this occurrence ever happened. Jordan, after physical therapy and about a million surgeries, just started walking again despite the grim prognosis that said he wouldn't have feeling or control past his knee. He has a scar, of course, and walks with a limp now, but that's an improvement on what was thought to become of him. And as for me, well, no one really believes that my seventeen year old self killed an adult great white shark. I don't really expect them to. As long as my family doesn't anticipate me carrying on the family business of fishing, we're all at an understanding.