Swimming with sharks is probably one of the scariest and fondest memories of my life. The disguise worked, and I could track the school of 18 sharks following me from afar, but not approaching. The sound and sent signals I transmitted made them think that I was an orca whale. It was likely that the sharks followed the stronger predator hoping to feed on the leftovers of it’s kill.
Hour and a half into my swim, I was overcome with heat exhaustion and dehydration. My entire body shriveled up like a sack of raisins, and I could hardly feel my fingertips. B3 projected a screen in front of me with a 100 meter radius scan of the ocean. About 600 meters to the shore, the sharks stopped following me, because the beach patrol transmitted sound waves that repelled them. I was about to rip off the packaging plastic around my body and cool off, when I saw something in the left corner of the screen. It was bigger than the white sharks, about twice as big, and I was wondering if that could be my ride (the military boat that was supposed to pick me up, but never showed up). I scanned the object for image recognition, and nearly peed myself right there.
A loner orca who lost it’s pack quickly approached me.
I assessed the possible scenarios of the encounter.
A. This was a young large male. If I transmitted male scent and sound, he would challenge me, and obviously win.
B. Orca was a young female, and if I transmitted female scent and sound, my outcome would be lethal as well.
C. Orca was a male, but I transmit female signals. He’d try to approach and court me. That could be deadly as well, because his passionate swimming may accidentally drown me.
C. Orca was a female, and if I transmitted male signals, I’d probably be fine. She’d just follow me until we reach the protective sound barrier, and she’d be forced to fall behind.
When the whale approached closer, the B3 image recognition finally identified it as a male. I had a lump in my throat that I could not swallow. The waves already became choppier as I approached the shore. I assessed the distance to the protective zone, but could not say exactly as the margin of error was too high. I could try to swim as fast as I could, but orca could approach me faster.
And then it occurred to me. I need to transmit a signal of an old female, a really old one. Not a weak one, because the male would consider me an easy fast food lunch, but a retired mother of the pack.
Then I saw him. Not on the monitor any more, but visually, as a black spot at first, and then, in greater detail.
I rapidly adjusted my transmissions, not knowing if the tactic would work, and kept swimming to the shore, when I felt a huge blow to my side. It made me go under for about 30 seconds, until I finally figured where is the upward direction. I floated up, exhaled, blew the water out of my nose, rapidly drew in a big gulp of air, right in time for the second jolt. The water was swirling around me as if someone popped the stopper it the ocean floor. This time, the blow was much more gentle, and although I went under water, it did not disorient me.
When I emerged above the water again, the creature was calmly floating beside me, and cheerfully chattering.
That’s when it occurred to me that he wanted to play.
For someone who never had any pets, starting with a killer whale was a bit of an overkill.
“I’ll name you Trace,” I whispered when my nerves a bit settled down.
Orca was cuddling besides me when I dared to touch his big smooth body.
“You probably think I’m your grandma”, I whispered again petting my new friend.
“I should be going now, buddy. Take care.” I finally whispered and continued swimming to the shore. Trace, however, had plans of his own. He dove under me and swam up placing me on his back. I instinctively grabbed his fin and plastered myself on the giant slippery body. I was astonished to realize that Trace swam towards the shore, taking me closer to my goal. I looked around and realized that the sun was rolling to the horizon, splashing surreal red and pink hues all over the sky. And I was riding on the back of a killer whale. If that was all to be expected from my escape, it was more then enough. I saw the ocean, I swam with sharks, and I met Trace. Not bad for the first day on Earth.
At some point, Trace stopped, turned sideways to the shore, and gently shrugged me off his back. ‘This is where my ride ends’, I thought, and swam towards the beach, leaving my friend behind.
When I looked back for the last time, I saw Trace leaping in the air against the backdrop of the setting sun, and yodeled a loud “Good Bye!”. My heart filled with unexplainable joy and pain at the same time.
“Good bye, my first Earth friend. I will remember you.”, I whispered, watching the waves swallowing his smooth body as he swam into the ocean.
In about 10 minutes, my journey was over. There I was, a ‘beached whale’, wrapped in plastic, dehydrated and overheated, exhausted from a two hour swim, but with tears of joy in my eyes.
Removing the plastic, I immediately felt chill all over my body. The evening temperature was nice, but overheating threw my senses. Shivering, I walked on the white sand, towards the tree line and the city lights.
This was the end of the day one.
[To be continued]
You were reading the diary of Ensign Ebony River, that predates the events in the “Million Deaths of Lt. Mazula” mini-series. Two years later, in 2587, Ebony would be assigned to the classified mission on the home world of alien species with the designs on the Milky Way galaxy. The mission, authorized by the Earth Nations, was supposed to investigate the intelligence, according to which Unkari were testing powerful weapon in their home galaxy, Sagittarius Dwarf. The mission failed, and the entire Galactica class military vessel was obliterated. The only survivors, Lt. Mazula and En. River, struggle to stay alive, captured by the enemy. This diary reveals the mysteries of Ebony River, a citizen of an outcast human race that secluded themselves to the life of intellectualism through genetic engineering, drugs and radical robotic enhancements.
Copyright (2016) Ellie Maloney