A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
by Mitchell Herrin
That god awful smell. There it was, filling our nostrils with its aroma and making us gag on its disgusting taste. It was the smell of algae, chlorine, and blood mixed together ever so nicely. It felt like a chef pureed it, and the balance could not be more perfect. There we were, floating on orange inner tubes miraculously still inflated with no way of exiting this pool.
On our backs were heavy sacks filled with our exploring tools that were weighing us down. Water soaked clothes and boots stuck to us like fly paper. That’s when it went off. The air siren alarm letting us know that more waves were coming through. The torso of our friend floats by. I close my eyes and allow the waves to throw my body around.
I’m thinking of Jeff as he made his way towards the stainless steel ladder leading out of this foul wave pool. Jeff was a champion swimmer in high school and won several gold medals, so if anyone could make it to the ladder before the waves started up again, it was him. He shed his pack, allowing it to sink like a stone to the bottom of the pool. Our hearts were racing and our mouths became dryer than a desert. We did our best to curb the anxiety by counting the blood pumping beats of our hearts that also seemed to be interlinked.
We breathe a sigh of relief as our pulse slows down when he reaches the ladder, but it was too soon. The alarm didn’t even go off. The water just rushes up and splits him in half leaving his tubular intestines all over the ladder. The blood just spills into the water as we watch in horror. There was never going to be a way out of here was there? Why did we have to come to this horrible place? Now we know the reason why it was abandoned in the first place.
I open my eyes again and the waves have stopped. She’s fallen asleep. Still hoping it’s just a dream. It’s not, it’s very real and there’s no way out. No hope, no chance. Nothing. I laugh out loud. Nobody can hear me. We were more than 12 miles from anyone who could even possibly hear the faintest sound of my laughter, and even then it’s nothing out of the ordinary for this area. It’s just jarring for me and her, sleeping like a floating piece of furniture from the Titanic.
Heather,my sweet, where have you been all my life? Jeff was a lucky guy, but he really didn’t know what to do with you. You were too beautiful and intelligent for him. The two of you together on our first trip inside the abandoned Six Flags just looked like you didn’t belong together. She fit more at home with me. You’re dead anyway Jeff. What do you care? Hell, if I could, I would find a way to kiss her before we both die here today.
I reach into my pocket to pull out that picture.I keep it with me wherever I go. What might have been? A question that gets asked so very much. It gets asked by me to myself a lot, I can’t help it. My brain wanders into these areas and considering the amount of time I have now, what choice is there?
I grab her arm, but something seems off. I’m shaking her as violently as I can, screaming at the top of my lungs for her to wake up. I smell something metallic and I realize very quickly what has happened. I reach under the water as I near the place where her chest should be. It feels like ground beef. It’s just so squishy. That must be the skin, I can tell by the fatty tissue. I bring my hands back up out of the water and gently caress her hair. It was wet and matted, and here I was adding bits of her own fat into it. Not the going to the club look she might have wanted. Heather, why did you have to drift so close to the wall? What was the matter with you? You were so smart and beautiful, so undeniably perfect, and now it’s all just absolutely ruined.
I drop my pack from my shoulders and it joins its brethren down below. I slink out of thinner tube and decide it’s all or nothing time.I hear the siren as soon as I start. You’re watching me aren’t you? Watch me swim to safety.I’m not the swimmer Jeff was but I’m adequate. What difference does it make now anyway? I’m gonna die either way.Starve to death or die of dehydration or allow the waves to make quick work of me.My hand reaches for the bottom run of the ladder as it seems to move just slightly out of my reach. I kick my legs some more and grasp it with all my might. How much do I have left? Is it enough to get onto the ladder itself?
The water is churning getting ready to split me like a fruit. I pull myself up and out of the water roaring into the sky like a demented caveman. I beat you. I won. I’m the best and I survived. The waves rush behind me. I feel a splash of the water on my skin. Oh no. I realize what just happened before I feel it. I reach around and touch the back of my head and can feel my brain. Lovely. So much for survival…