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The Island

Categories Fantasy, Erotica, Group Sex, Male / Female

Author: otu edgar

Published: 23 February 2018

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He flexed his palms against the back of his head and kept staring at the endless blue above him. The smooth, dark gray rock beneath him was becoming too warm. He would have to move into the shade soon. He wished he had some sunscreen, something in SPF 1000 if it existed. He had gotten burnt badly when they first hit the island. Everyone had.

He wondered what Cheryl was doing and thinking, right... now. It was a momentary mind game he played once in a while that was on the verge of being worn out. It was the reason he had probably thought more often about her since reaching the island than he had for any other, what was it? Six weeks? Seven weeks? Than any other seven-week period of their four years marriage, no, actually just the past three years. He must have thought about her fairly often the first year they were married.

He realized sometime after the first week on the island, that he should have told her it was over months ago. He wished with all his heart that he had maybe told her to coincide with his early retirement from teaching. Downsizing had hit academia. The first cutbacks had been in the Art Department. He had twenty-one years of service. The deal wasn't bad, or so he thought at the time. He could retire at 45 and start collecting the retirement annuity immediately, including health insurance. It wasn't a large monthly check, but it was enough to get by, plus he had saved almost every penny he could during those twenty-one years.

He had gotten close to marrying a few times, but Cheryl was his first wife. He was her second husband. She had been widowed. Brian's will had included guardianship over his daughter, Cheryl's stepdaughter, Ann. He used to joke with Cheryl sometimes about how he had a step-stepdaughter, or a stepdaughter once removed. Ann was a very pretty girl, maybe a little wild from what he could tell living in the same house with her the last two years of her high school education. Then it was only Thanksgiving, and the Christmas and summer semester breaks.

He had wondered if she'd attend the university where he and Cheryl taught. She had vehemently said she wasn't going to college in town no matter how big a break it would be on tuition. He was glad she had chosen a different college. He had realized near her high school graduation that she had too hot of a bod for him not to start thinking about her day and night. Over his twenty years of teaching, he had short lived affairs with a handful of his students. He liked sleek youthful bodies, but then again, what man didn't?

Yeah, he should have told Cheryl it was over before this "adventure trip of a lifetime" ever came up. He didn't because he hadn't really cared. He had a lousy marriage and just went with the flow for the most part because he just didn't give a damn, about his marriage and most everything else, including his art. He knew part of the reason, maybe the main reason he had decided to take the early retirement was that he was burnt out as a teacher, and completely dried up as an artist.

His art had been mediocre at best, but he had made a few pieces over the years that he actually thought were good. Works that actually had something worthwhile to say, and at times, he even thought a few of those had also advanced art in general. He only thought the latter at infrequent times though, because in his heart he had known it was all bullshit. There are no glimpses of genius from a mediocre mind and mediocre hand. The rest of the art faculty and all the other artists he personally knew had the same problem of mediocrity. Not being alone in that had never been a source of solace for him.

Right before he retired, what was that? Five months... no six months ago, he had thought retirement might be what their marriage needed. He had envisioned himself thinking about screwing Cheryl every minute of the day because he had guessed he'd be bored as hell. He had known he wasn't going to be setting up a studio at the house right away, if ever. During that last year teaching, he had not drawn a line or made a brush stroke unless it had been a goddamn demo for some course he had been teaching.

Well, that passionate sex had never happened. What did happened was very intense beating off. At the end of the first month twiddling his thumbs he had walked to campus one morning and sat in the library for nearly five hours. A book on his lap in which he hadn't read a word. His eyes had been scanning every coed who walked in through the main entrance. He just sat there looking, didn't talk to any of them, didn't even consider talking with any of them. Just looked and undressed them with his eyes. A few had shot him angry looks. One had smiled at him.

He began doing that three or four times a week. He was eventually on a first name basis with the circulation desk clerk. He would sit in various locations in the library, usually high traffic areas, around the elevators, the reference floor, and the snack room. Once in a while, he'd doodle drawings of pussies in a notebook. Sometimes he'd count the girls he seriously gazed at and would figure out the percentage of those he would definitely have screwed given half a chance. He would usually make his way back to the house with enough time before Cheryl came home to fuck his hand at least once but usually twice. After a couple months that had gotten boring too. There were only three times during those months that he had seriously considered approaching some hot chick and see where things led, but he had always stayed in his library chair.

He had then joined a gym, not a big one, just a small workout place that was associated with an orthopedist's office. He had exercised with free weights beginning in high school and continuing through the two decades of teaching. He thought it was to keep his body in shape for his infrequent sculpting periods and doing what he called the 'construction guy' aspects of making art. It had made him physically feel good too. He liked being slim and having his muscles defined, and to have the strength for those jobs that required some physical strength. He gave it up at the end of the third year of his marriage, when he realized that maybe it had always been nothing more than a vain attempt to hold onto his youth.

He picked it up religiously again, working out six days a week in a futile effort to stop thinking about fucking girls half his age, and to get back into shape for whatever was to come in his retirement. He had also vaguely hoped that maybe as he toned up, he would want to screw Cheryl more. He might have more energy and want to use a fit body more, and somehow that would put some excitement back in the relationship; and after the excitement returned, maybe the sensation of love would follow. Of course, none of that regarding Cheryl ever happened, although the long hours at the gym did get him into good shape within a couple months, his abdomen even had the look of a six pack sometimes, at least before eating a meal. In fact, he was probably in the best shape he had ever been.

Yeah, he should have told her it was over long before her idea of taking this trip. He grinned as he wondered what he might be doing at this very moment if he had told her it was over. Undoubtedly it would be nothing of value. He had guts all his life, but when his art went dry, his intestinal fortitude had also disappeared. He figured now, as he had when Cheryl brought up this tropical adventure, that it was her attempt to get their marriage back on the tracks. He had finally agreed to it because it was going to be his final attempt to do the same.

Thinking back now, it seemed odd that she had even wanted to try. He was sure by then that neither of them loved the other and definitely were not "in love" at all. Maybe she really had been hoping for something to happen within both of them, something that would make love and lust blossom again. He knew and guessed she knew too, that nothing can grow without some solid soil around the roots. Well, that wasn't true either. He had seen more than enough orchids around the island to know that soil wasn't necessary. He shook his head. He was too tired to think up a better metaphor. What did it matter anyway?

Yeah, what was Cheryl doing right... now? Maybe she was sitting on the bed. He wondered what her face would look like if he walked into the room and said hi. Would she shit? Scream? Laugh? Jump for joy? Would she just say she was sorry for insisting they go on this tropical adventure?

And jeezuz, she had insisted. It was going to be the opportunity of a lifetime. It wouldn't cost terribly much, just sharing the cost of the boat lease and supplies. He would just love Barb and Jeff too, her longtime and close friends in Florida. Both of them had sailed all their lives, had taken long voyages, Jeff had been a member of the crew on a boat that had sailed to Europe and back, and he had sailed throughout the Hawaiian Islands during three summers when he was in college.

They would have to be part of the crew but it would be fun. Ann was also invited and could bring a girlfriend if she wanted, and there was another couple who would be crewing too, with their daughter, plus Barb and Jeff's daughter and a few of her friends. The girls would share a large cabin, and each of the married couples would have their own little private cabin during the voyage from Honolulu to Sydney, Australia. Of course, they'd be making stops at various islands along the way. Cheryl wasn't scheduled to teach any courses for the summer. It would be just perfect!

The rock had definitely heated up too much. He got up and moved over to the gnarled tree. He looked at the trunk and around the ground for any centipedes or scorpions before sitting down and leaning his back against it. He wondered again what species it was. He rested his forearms on his knees.

Yeah, Cheryl had been excited and a good saleswoman about the goddamn tropical adventure. He had eventually become interested but mentioned some of his concerns, the first one being that he was a terrible swimmer and could barely do two lengths in a good sized pool. Cheryl had quickly dismissed that, saying salt water was easier to swim in and in heavy weather, he would wear a life vest like those everyone wears riding sea doos.

He told her having a bunch of teenaged girls on a boat might be like they were chaperoning a Girl Scout troop. Cheryl had said they were all college-aged. Ann would be twenty when they left. He asked if there'd be any guys on the trip the same age as the girls. Cheryl was fairly sure it would only be girls, and then asked why he wanted to know. He said he had this image of waiting at some port for the guys to return from balling some local native babes. She told him not to be ridiculous, and then when he returned to the chaperoning a bunch of girls complaint, she had pointed out that Ann and all the other females her age were not girls, but young women.

After some thought during his hours pushing iron, he had finally agreed and had become somewhat excited too. He had hoped the voyage and experiences might be fodder for some future art, huge canvases of saturated bright colors had entered his mind at the time, although no images within those colors. If the trip wasn't good for their marriage, maybe it would be for his art.

They had arrived in Honolulu on June 1, for a week of daily instructional "shakedown" cruises before they started out on the "adventure voyage," June 8.

On June 7, while he and Cheryl were trying to have at least somewhat hot sex the last night in their hotel room, the phone had rung and Cheryl had abruptly halted the project at hand which wasn't anything anyone would call 'hot,' saying that Barb had told her she'd call if any weather problem might delay the start in the morning. It hadn't been Barb on the phone, but Cheryl's sister. Their mother had a heart attack and the doctors said the next few days would be critical, she might pull through, or they had implied, she might die.

He and Cheryl had talked after that. Obviously, Cheryl was going to take the first plane to Florida. She would call Barb, explain the situation, then, pray to God, her mother would improve and when the worst was past, Cheryl would fly back and meet up with the boat at the first island port that was serviced by a regular commercial airline. She said she didn't want to ruin the trip for Ann and him.

He offered to go back with her, but she had said that even though he had no experience sailing, that Jeff and Barb definitely needed him on the boat. In fact, Barb had told her that he was a fast learner on their short "shakedown" day excursions. He had only seen Cheryl's mother a half dozen times. He liked her but he didn't feel any real connection to her, and, it seemed, Ann didn't feel much of a connection to the old woman either. Ann had been an older child by the time Cheryl married her father. Ann had never called Cheryl's mother "grandma" nor had she ever called Cheryl "Mom." He had thought the way the sex had been going with Cheryl for the week they had been in the hotel, it really didn't matter to him that she'd miss part of the voyage.

It was somewhat funny now, but at the time he hadn't given the gaggle of "young women" a thought. He had imagined just going to sleep alone in the little cabin, without any hassle, without any concerns about having any possible sex, or even worse, some discussion with Cheryl about their marriage or their future. He had agreed with her, saying her plan seemed the most logical course, especially after she had also pointed out that they couldn't ask Barb and Jeff for a refund, she just couldn't do that.

It wasn't until the next day after Oahu had sunk below the horizon that Jeff mentioned if Cheryl couldn't make it back within eight days or so, it would be another month before he saw her again. It would take that long to reach another island that had an airport that handled large commercial airliners. Her mother hadn't improved much during those eight days.

It was about three weeks later the storm hit.

When the sky had begun to darken in late afternoon, and the waves had started rising, Jeff had told him that it was going to be something they'd all remember the rest of their lives. Jeff had grinned at him with his eyes afire, apparently with the thought of a true man against the sea competition.

He knew his own face hadn't been anything like that, because Jeff's hand had clapped his back when he said it really wasn't going to be that bad according to the reports they were getting over the radio. It would be exciting enough though to be a great memory and a decent challenge. There really wasn't anything to worry about.

Jeff had then told him a list of things he had better get started on, punctuated by a laugh, adding it was good he already had on his life vest. Jeff told him to get a couple of the girls to help him on deck and to make sure everyone was hooked to a lifeline. Jeff laughed again at whatever his own expression had been. At the time, the boat was cresting and pitching on rolling waves somewhat severely, but at that point, he had only been very concerned, not scared shitless.

When he got below, he discovered two of the eight "young women" vomiting into buckets. A couple of the other girls looked scared if not terrified, and the rest were either busying themselves picking up items that were sliding on shelves and dropping to the floor, or looking excited, some even laughing, talking about how they'd be able to tell so and so that they had been in a storm at sea.

Maybe to hide his own fears he had smiled and then asked for two volunteers to go on deck to ready the boat for the storm. He remembered tossing in a couple recently learned nautical terms in his request, hoping that would make them scared or puking girls less afraid, possibly make them believe there was another guy on the boat who knew what the hell he was doing. Of course, it wouldn't have fooled Barb and Jeff's daughter, Amy, but she was already on deck helping her mother.

Ann and Samantha, "Sam," had volunteered. He had gotten the lifelines from the storage cabinet and clipped a line to each of the girls' vests. When they went above, he had been surprised how much higher the waves had gotten in such a short period of time. Sea water was sloshing onto the deck periodically.

Barb went below to man the radio. He saw Bob and Bob's wife, Deb, in the stern doing something hurriedly back there. Jeff was shouting at them once in a while, just to be heard above the wind and waves. Jeff's daughter and another girl were manning the two sail winches, paying very close attention to Jeff's commands. He, Ann, and Sam clipped onto the lifeline cable and then did the chores Jeff wanted to be done. Most of it was securing things down or storing various things below.

When he was moving the last item below, Jeff had shouted for him to come over. He told him to check with Barb about the weather, and then to relieve the girl who was on the sail winch. He had gone below and was getting the weather information from Barb when they heard an odd sound on deck. Barb had known immediately what it was -- the radio antenna had been blown down. He had hurried along the narrow corridor to the ladder to get above to see what help was needed.

As he opened the hatch sea water had gushed in and pushed him off the ladder slamming him to the floor. For a moment he had been terrified, thinking the boat had somehow capsized. Barb had come running to him to see if he was injured, then as she stepped onto the ladder to close the hatch another wave had washed in and thrown her down on top of him. A couple of the girls below had seen it and started screaming hysterically. Barb had virtually jumped straight up from his body to the handle of the hatch and slammed it shut.

She had asked again if he was injured and he said he was fine. Barb said she would settle the girls down. He wondered if she might have more pressing things to do. He got up and saw that Barb was doing both, trying to calm the growing hysteria, and looking in a storage closet. He was much more careful opening the hatch, got above, snapping his lifeline on the cable immediately after shoving the hatch closed. He made the relatively short distance to Jeff grabbing every handhold he could along the way. He told Jeff what he had probably already known, that the radio wasn't working anymore. Jeff nodded.

He then asked Jeff for "orders." He had actually used that word, not that he was fantasizing he was in some film about the navy but with the wind screaming and waves crashing he hadn't wanted to use a lot of words. Jeff said they had to get the radio working, a temporary antenna needed to be put up. Just then Barb came on deck with a coiled cable. Jeff had shouted at him to help her.

Both on lifelines, he and Barb moved down to the highest mast. They secured the antenna cable to the mast rope and then he started pulling the rope which was looped around a pulley on top of the mast, and started raising the temporary antenna. Barb coiled the rope as he pulled, and made sure the coiled antenna cable didn't get kinked as it went up the mast. The boat angled up to breach another a wave. When the boat crested it was hit by a rogue wave coming in broadside. In an instant, he had almost been washed to the edge of the deck and probably would have been if he hadn't grabbed a handhold. When the water disappeared he turned around to Barb intending to say something like "Holy shit!" He would have, but she wasn't there.

That was the first moment of true terror for him in a sequence of terrors. He stupidly dropped the rope in his hands, grabbed whatever he could as handholds as he made his way to the edge of the deck. He saw Barb's lifeline straining over the rope railing. The lifelines weren't supposed to be able to get past the railing. He had instantly feared his line was also too long. He grabbed Barb's line with one hand and kept his other hand gripping a handhold. He turned towards Jeff at the wheel. He shouted as loud as he could but Jeff didn't see nor hear him.

He started pulling Barb's lifeline. He was amazed at how heavy Barb seemed. He briefly saw her hand try to grab the rope railing. He released the handhold, grabbed the line with that hand too, and moved closer to the railing, again scared to death his lifeline was also long enough for him to topple over the side of the boat. He had been screaming with each step, shouting some quick prayer like, "Please God please!"

At the railing, he saw Barb submerging and partially resurfacing with each roll of the boat. It was why she seemed so incredibly heavy, she was underwater half the time and they had to be doing some fast speed in the wind. She tried to grab onto the rope railings whenever she surfaced. It was nearly impossible for his hands to get any purchase on the lifeline. It was too tight for him to wrap it around his hand even if he had thought it would have been a good idea.

He finally held her lifeline with one hand while he leaned over the railing. When Barb resurfaced he grabbed the waist of her life vest. He was able to keep her out of the water long enough for her to grab onto a rope railing first with one hand then the other. She then tried to pull herself up while he had pulled too. With the rolling of the boat and the pitching up and down he kept losing his footing and had almost toppled over the railing himself. They just couldn't get timed together to get Barb back on deck. He had cursed himself for his lack of knowledge, then cursed Jeff for not explaining everything better back in Honolulu.

Luckily, Barb's daughter, Amy, came to the rescue. She helped pull Barb up and over the railing. Barb was either coughing up or vomiting sea water when she finally got on deck. It was then he remembered the radio antenna. He told Amy about the antenna. She had nodded and then shouted that she'd help after she got her mother below.

He went back to the mast. He couldn't find the rope, couldn't find the radio antenna cable either. He kept searching, crawling back to the port railing, then across to the starboard side railing, then looked at the mast, thinking it might have gotten wrapped around. He was nearly frantic about finding it. Suddenly the deck started angling, much steeper than any other time. He started sliding on his hands and knees. He desperately reached for anything to hold but he missed it. He kept sliding toward the stern. His lifeline caught on something and jerked him to a stop. He had lain flat, closed his eyes and tried to hug the deck. He thought they had it, the damn boat was going to flip over backward.

Then just as quickly as the boat had tipped upward, it angled steeply downward. He slid to the mast and his head rammed it. He saw stars from it. Something that hadn't happened since his last fist fight in high school. He was stunned but not so much as to not have the wit to hug the mast.

A minute or two later, Amy was clapping his back shouting that they had to get the radio antenna cable up. He shouted that he couldn't find it, that it wasn't on the mast and not on the deck. He had gotten off his stomach and grabbed a handhold and watched Amy frantically looking around the mast. She wrapped her arm around his and shouted that it was gone, probably washed or blown overboard. He had asked if there was another one. She shrugged and then shouted she'd go below and ask her mother.

He had watched her move towards the hatch for a moment and then realized he had no clue about what to do in the meantime. He followed behind Amy, holding on anything available with two hands whenever possible along the way. He helped Amy get the hatch open, slamming it shut when her head cleared it. He made his way to Jeff, explained they had lost the antenna and asked what he should do. Jeff told to him to get two girls to replace the ones on the sail winches and then to come back to him ASAP.

Below deck, there was an inch or so of water sloshing around on the floor. When he asked for volunteers to man the winches, Ann, wide-eyed, was the first to raise her hand. He had wondered if she had done it out of fear of staying below. When no one else volunteered, he was about to just pick the largest girl, when Amy angrily shouted she'd go back to the winch. The three of them made it up the ladder and on deck without too much water entering the hatch. He made sure they were all hooked on the lifeline cable.

He made his way to Jeff as Amy and Ann replaced the other two girls at the winches. Jeff shouted in his ear but he missed parts of it, that the something or other sail had to be taken down it because it was ripping. He had shouted back at Jeff to quit fucking using navy terms and just say which fucking sail needed to come down. Jeff had grinned and shouted that the one in the very front of the boat needed to be lowered and secured. Jeff told him to get someone from below to help.

Below he talked to Barb about the antenna. She said she was trying to figure out what to use because there wasn't another replacement. He told her that Jeff told him to get one of the girls to help him lower one of the sails. She told him to do that.

He moved into the main cabin and asked for a volunteer again. No one spoke for a few moments, then Lisa pulled her face away from her vomit bucket and said she'd do it. If she hadn't been tossing her cookies, Lisa would have been the one he would have selected. She was petite, but one of a few of the girls on the boat who had muscles with any sort of definition. She also had one hell of a killer apple ass.

Lisa had looked scared but not terrified, the same expression Ann had on her face before she went on deck. He grinned and told her he'd appreciate the help, then added he just didn't want her puking on him. Lisa and another girl giggled. It was Nan who was soaked. She had been one of the girls on the sail winches. She was the girl he sometimes confused with Lisa. Same height, weight, muscle tone, and from behind they were virtual twins. He knew their brief laughs weren't because he had been funny. His lame comment had given them a chance to release at least a drop of the fear they were dealing with. Lisa told him she hadn't puked but had the pail just in case.

He and Lisa had made their way to the bow of the boat without too much trouble, no rogue waves or near vertical angles of the boat. The sail was split in a few places. There were two large rips, one from the bottom going halfway up, the other from the top going half way down. It was flapping constantly. He told Lisa to winch it down as he tried to gather it. He wasn't going to do anything too fancy as Jeff had taught everyone.

Just as Lisa started working the winch, Bob arrived, grinning like an idiot. Bob had a lot of sailing experience like Jeff and had tried to reassure him, shouting that it seemed worse than it was. He hadn't believed Bob for a moment. Bob helped him gather up the sail as it came down, then tie it down. Lisa had moved from the mast and helped too. When Lisa was next to him, he had surprised himself by grinning, let alone shouting to the young woman that he knew she was one hell of a tough broad the first time he had seen her. She had grinned back at him. When they had it secured, Bob shouted to him that Lisa should walk in the middle on the way back and that he would bring up the rear.

They moved slowly. Water had again begun washing onto the deck in short intervals. He had thought the waves were coming from one direction and the wind from another, but it had been so terrifying at the time, that now he wasn't sure of that.

It was slow going to the stern. At every new handhold, he had turned around to check on Lisa. He could see she was very scared. It had been nearly night at that time. When they were even with the main mast where he had lost the antenna cable, he heard an air horn. He looked to the stern and saw Jeff waving one arm then making a fist in a sign to hold on. Behind him, Bob was shouting to use both hands to hold on. He turned around and saw Lisa desperately trying to reach the second handhold. Her fingers were a few inches shy of it.

It was then he had seen a black wall approaching, darker than the sky. He had grabbed a handhold then grabbed Lisa's wrist, and shouted at her to hold his wrist. The boat started to tip dramatically upward once again, worse than the other time it had scared him to death. As he waited for the boat to actually flip from nose to tail, the deck was deluged with water. Lisa slammed into him. She grabbed onto him with her arms and legs. He grabbed the second handhold and then sucked some water into his lungs. He was on the verge of panic. He thought they were under the wave, inside the wave but he also continued to sense an upward and then upward and side movement to the boat.

The crashing water didn't let up. He had thought he heard a mooing sound. An image of a Holstein had flashed through his mind as he coughed up sea water. The boat began rolling towards its starboard side severely, then a moment later it seemed as if they were flying. The crashing water stopped smothering the deck. The boat then smashed into something. He and Lisa jerked from the force of it and he nearly lost his grip on the handholds.

His first thought was that they had rammed another boat or ship, then he realized they might actually have been airborne and had hit the water. The boat righted itself, then continued leaning more towards the port, their side of the boat. The mooing began again. He happened to look up and saw the main mast seemed to be angling faster than the deck.

For a moment he had been completely disoriented, thinking the deck was somehow bending, then he had realized the mast was falling. He frantically moved towards the stern, still coughing, holding Lisa tight to himself, trying not to lose his footing as he desperately reached out for the next handhold. He grabbed it, then turned around rolling Lisa over himself. He released the handhold and grabbed another, then shouted to Lisa to reach out for a handheld just as the mast slammed onto the deck.

The boat continued leaning to port for a few more seconds, then started to right itself once again. More water washed over the deck, so much so that he and Lisa had been covered up, completely submerged, his legs had left the deck in the onslaught of water. He had prayed it wouldn't last long, he hadn't had a chance to even think about holding his breath and had hoped to God that Lisa's lungs weren't filling with sea water. The deck resurfaced. Lisa was coughing up water.

He turned to shout to Bob in the near blackness but Bob wasn't there anymore. He looked for Bob's lifeline at the railing but in the growing darkness and confusion, he couldn't see it. The boat started angling upward again. He saw the mast moving. He shouted to Lisa to move, that they had to get to the stern. The mast slid towards them but stopped three feet from him when the boat began to level off. He kept shouting at Lisa to head to the stern. He hadn't known what else to do. He hoped Jeff would tell him what to do. He thought he heard screams but with the wind and waves, he wasn't sure.

As they neared the hatch, it opened. Barb came up, quickly clipped onto the lifeline cable, then began pulling something heavy out of the hatch. Another large wave crashed over the deck. Lisa's arm tightened on his own so much that it was painful. The water engulfed them but only for a moment. When it passed he half expected to see that Barb had vanished, but she was there in the light coming up from the open hatch. She was pulling up a cylindrical bundle.

He shouted at Lisa that he needed to help Barb. She had screamed at him not to let go of her. He continued holding her waist and she kept her arm around his, both of them grabbing handholds with one hand, moving from one to the next, finally to the hatch. Barb was pulling something else up. Another wave washed over the deck. Again Lisa held onto him with one arm and both legs. When the water retreated he thanked God again that Barb was still there.

The light at the wheel and what was coming up from the hatch flickered then disappeared. He had definitely heard screams from below then. A few moments later he saw a flashlight beam from the stern. It had to have been Jeff holding it. Barb was shouting into the hatch. He wasn't sure what though. He moved himself and Lisa closer. He shouted to Barb telling her he thought Bob was overboard, then told her that the main mast was down. He had wondered if Bob had taken off his lifeline to get past the loose mast.

Barb nodded at him, leaned down into the hatch and pulled up a large flashlight. They both had looked down the beam of light along the railing for Bob. They didn't see him nor the lifeline, just the mast sliding back and forth still connected to its ragged stump by a bent piece of metal. He shouted again, asking if he should go towards the bow and look for Bob. Barb told him no, that they needed to get the girls out and in the stern of the boat. She told him they were taking on water.

Obviously, they were taking on water, he had let some in through the hatch himself. He asked what he should do. She told him to take the large bundle to the stern. He saw she had clipped it to the lifeline cable. He nodded. He shouted to Lisa that he had to let her go and told her to use two handholds when she moved. She nodded at him and released his arm. He told her to follow him.

He pulled the bundle towards the stern, it was heavy and he wondered what it was. It was then the meaning of "taking on water" hit him. The boat was sinking. They were abandoning ship.

He thought about the life rafts. During the week of instruction, Jeff had opened one up and they had practiced what to do in an emergency for a while. He recalled how dinky it seemed even though it was ten feet in diameter. There were two, Jeff said the other one was stored on the bow side of the main hatch. As he had pulled the bundle, he had wondered how, if the damn big sail boat they were on wasn't able to keep Bob on board, nor Lisa and him from nearly drowning, how could a thing that resembled a kid's inflatable swimming pool do better.

After they reached the stern, most everything was a blur in his memory. He could recall Jeff shouting, everyone shouting in the dark, but he hadn't been able to make out more than a few words of what anyone said. He had helped Barb get the girls up from below. Bob's wife was hysterical, the girls weren't much better. Hell, he probably hadn't been much better either.

It had not just been dark but black dark except for the slight phosphorescence of the sea foam around them, the flashlight beams, and of course the flashes of lightning. The sounds of screaming wind and crashing waves had been nearly deafening. Through that noise, he kept hearing groaning metallic sounds from the barely attached main mast.

Jeff had told him to get the life raft out of the stern compartment and ready it. He recalled seeing the beam of a third flashlight and seeing or sensing Barb readying the second life raft on the other side of the hatch. The waves were flooding the deck nearly constantly. The boat was no longer heading straight into the waves.

In the stern he pressurized the life raft, shouting to the girls to grab it and hold it. When it was nearly inflated, the wind tore off the snap-on roof from the raft. The girls and Deb luckily held onto the raft and to their lifelines. Jeff had shouted it was time to get people in the raft and said to do a headcount. Back in Honolulu Bob had been assigned to be the leader of the raft if it ever came time to use it. But Bob was gone. He had only been able to remember that Ann and Bob's wife was on the list for that life raft. In the dark, he couldn't really see anyone. He shouted for Ann, and he heard her shout back. He cursed himself for not paying closer attention in Honolulu so he could now remember who was assigned to the goddamn raft.

He shouted in the dark to the girls holding the raft that they should all shout their names. He hadn't thought asking them to count off would work. Asking for names had been an even dumber request on his part. He really didn't want to know their names other than Ann. All the girls screamed their names nearly at the same time, and then some repeated it a few more times probably expecting him to shout "check" or something in response. He made out one girl's name, Lisa.

The waves kept coming, flooding the deck for longer and longer periods. He shouted telling them to get into the raft one at a time which even then knew was stupid to say. No one could see anything in the dark. He could barely see Ann right next to him. He now guessed he had more felt her there than had actually seen her. He knew there was someone on the other side of him. When that girl shouted to him that she couldn't see anyone getting in, he had realized it was Lisa.

He shouted telling her to get in, then turned to Ann and told her the same thing. When he felt them disappear he shouted again, asking if anyone wasn't in the raft yet. A few girls yelled everyone was in except him. He shouted telling everyone to make sure they had unhooked their lifelines. He got in, sat with his back against the side, grabbed onto a handhold and unclipped his own lifeline. He then twisted and looked at Jeff. Just as he was about shout to ask why the raft's light wasn't blinking as it was on Barb's raft, and if the large bundle on the deck was for their raft, a huge rogue wave washed over the boat. The girls had screamed, maybe he had screamed too. The next moment the raft was on the open sea.

If it had been a blur getting the raft readied, what followed was even less clear in his mind. He thought the raft had flipped over at least twice, or maybe it had just seemed that the raft had capsized and somehow had righted itself. He knew it had filled with water numerous times, but somehow in all the roller coaster tossing and churning of the waves, it would somehow drain for a few minutes before it filled again.

A few of the girls screamed nearly constantly for the first ten minutes or so. As the screams subsided, he recalled that he had wondered if their fear had exhausted them, or if they were no longer in the raft. It had been nearly impossible to figure out what was up and what was down. It was a roller coaster and water slide within a hell of terror. He had wondered a few times if it had been a blessing that the roof had torn off the raft, or if, because he had lost it, it would be their doom.

He wasn't sure but he now thought that the worst of it had been over in a couple hours. The truly mountainous waves stopped coming. Huge cresting waves still crashed upon them, but not as frequently. He had thought it had been raining hard the entire time because of the lightning flashes, but he had no idea if one drop had actually fallen from the sky. Water was coming from every direction.

With each passing hour, the waves continued decreasing in height and volatility. The swells were very large though. In the brief flashes of lightning, he had gotten the impression that there weren't enough people in the raft but his eyes were barely open and water had been constantly slapping his face.

Eventually, the roller coaster ride became more of an express elevator on the swells. He had been shaking violently through most of it, at least partly because he had been freezing. When the crashing waves and the wind had lessened a little more, he shouted into the dark that Ann was going to shout her name, then the person to her left would shout their name, then the next person all the way around the raft. He leaned towards Ann and told her to begin. He could recall his shock. "Ann!" "Nan!" An interval, then - "Liz!" There had been silence for a few long moments, then Lisa shouted her name.

He had remembered one thing about practicing in Honolulu, there were supposed to be ten people in the raft. He subtracted Cheryl who was safe somewhere and Bob who had been washed away. That left eight. He recalled now how his heart had sunk to depths he thought were impossible when he realized three persons were missing. He knew Deb had been holding the raft. He had called out asking if Deb had been in the raft. A crying feminine voice answered she had been next to her. Lisa said that Beth Ann had been next to her. Another voice said that Carol had been in the raft. All the girls had started crying then if they already hadn't been. He had stayed silent with his initial sense of overwhelming guilt. It wouldn't allow him to utter a sound even if he had wanted to cry.

He thought about shouting their names into the darkness and listening for a response, but there were only one or two useless little paddles in the raft. Three people were gone and it was too late to do anything if he could have done anything at all.

The crying turned into sobbing. It brought him out of silence. He shouted for quiet, then had asked them all to repeat their names, that he wanted to know where they were in the raft. He asked Ann if there was someone to her left. She said it was Nan. He asked Nan if she had someone to her left. She said no. He then heard Liz start sobbing again as she said no one was next to her on either side. Lisa said there wasn't anyone on her right.

He had thought they should level out the weight, so he told them he was moving towards Liz. Ann had protested, and probably Nan had too but the second voice was probably more concerned about the raft somehow tipping if he moved. Maybe Ann had thought the same now that he gave it some consideration. He had thought about the emergency pack in the draft but he they were still rising and falling dramatically on the swells and there were still waves slamming into the raft. He hadn't wanted to chance losing anything from that zippered compartment.

When they were in a trough between swells, he quickly slid on his belly to where he thought the gap was. He stayed down as he frantically grabbed handholds. He waited for the uplift and then the downward motion of the next swell, then quickly moved to a sitting position with his back against the wall of the raft. He was next to Liz. He had reached out to her and gave her arm a reassuring squeeze. Her crying slowed to the touch but she didn't let go of the handholds to touch him back. He moved a couple feet away from her to even out the weight.

Another hour passed before he had moved again, to get the flashlight out of the zippered emergency compartment. The girls were all nervous with him moving around and someone shouted for him to be careful. He switched on the flashlight and pointed it around the raft to get a look at each girl. They were all shaking as much as he was, maybe more. He had hoped it was from cold and not shock.

He made his way between Ann and Lisa again under the protest of Liz. He told Liz he'd be right back but he had to check the emergency transmitter. He hadn't even been sure that was what it was called. He doubted it was working remembering that blinking light on Barb's raft. It was attached to the side of the raft. He just put the flashlight beam on it, looking for a switch even though he recalled Jeff saying it turned on automatically when the raft was pressurized. He wasn't going to do more than look at it for the moment, too worried he'd lose some important part or break the damn thing beyond any repair or somehow drop it in the ocean in the still violent movement of the raft.

He belly-crawled to the other side of the raft to even the weight out and calm Liz, then looked at everyone again, pointing the beam to their chests or necks. He asked each of them how they were doing. They all said they were freezing. He had seen mylar thermal wraps in the emergency locker. He didn't want to lose them either, yet he didn't want any of the girls to become hypothermic.

He slid back to the locker and pulled one out. He used his right hand to grip a handhold and with his left, he shook the thin blanket until it unfurled. He pressed one corner of it to Lisa's hand on the handheld and she grabbed it. He wanted to hug her when her other hand released its handhold and grabbed the other corner. He pushed the edges under her knees and she did the other side.

She had surprised him by chattering out, "Th-tha-thank y-y-you." He then continued with all the girls, once having to grab a second-hand hold as an odd taller swell made the raft rise at a severe angle, a couple of the girls had screamed at it. He finally took one of the blankets for himself and moved near Liz again. He turned off the flashlight. Hollywood movies had taught him it was best to conserve everything in survival situations. No one talked, maybe because their teeth were chattering.

He told everyone to keep tabs on the person next to them, on either side, and to make sure no one fell asleep. He had thought if they were getting hypothermic, someone might doze off from it and fall out of the raft. He wondered if any of them had lifelines on. Someone might have unclipped it from the boat cable, not the vest. He thought the eight-foot cord would get in the way. He asked. No one had their lifelines. He kept checking everyone with the flashlight about every quarter hour. An hour later the clouds broke and he looked up to see a three quarter moon. One of the girls shakily said, "T-Thank G-God." Ten minutes later clouds covered it again, but there was enough ambient light to vaguely see everyone in the raft. He stopped using the flashlight. He figured they had been in the raft at least six hours at that point.

It must have been around 4:00 AM when he first heard more waves crashing. It had tensed him immediately. He couldn't feel his hands anymore. He was stiff and numb all over in fact. Everyone was still shivering. He had wondered if he or any of them would be able to grip the handholds if the storm regained its horrifying strength. He sat up straighter and looked around. The phosphorescence of the whitecapping waves was more noticeable now. The swells had gotten slightly smaller. He was glad for that, but he definitely heard waves cresting. Lisa had then sat up straighter.

She asked him if he heard something. He said yes. Ann sat straighter, then Nan. Liz started crying again. Lisa and he must have had the same thought at the same moment. He had never mentioned it to Cheryl but he had taught at the university in Honolulu for one semester right after grad school. He had been to the north shore a half dozen times and he knew what surf sounded like. He knew how terrifying swells could be when they turned into surf. He had said, "Shit" almost simultaneously with Lisa saying, "That's surf." Nan and Ann excitedly asked if they'd be on land soon.

He had told them all to take off the mylar blankets. Maybe his voice had displayed his own fear because Liz started crying harder. He had then quickly added that he didn't want the blankets in the way if they had to paddle to the shore. He took the blanket from Liz and then moved to Nan and had noticed Lisa was at the emergency locker putting her blanket in and then taking Ann's. He slid to the locker and stuffed the three blankets inside. Lisa returned to her place and held on.

He switched on the flashlight and looked at each girl. Everyone was still shaking. Liz would be best on the second paddle because she had to be at least 5'-9," an inch taller than himself. She'd be able to lean down farther to dig the paddle into the water and not fall in. Ann was the next tallest at about 5'-6" but she was looking nearly as scared as Liz. Nan and Lisa were about the same height about 5'-3".

He asked who wanted to man the second paddle. No one responded for a good half minute, then both Nan and Lisa said they'd paddle. The surf sounds were getting noticeably louder. He was both afraid of hitting it and scared they'd just float past it on some current if in fact, it really was an island and not just a reef. He told Lisa to take the paddle and then told Nan that she should be ready to take over for Lisa if she got tired. He told everyone to turn around and look outward for the surf. It was difficult to see in the darkness, plus the swells would only allow a quick view around at the tops. It was impossible to tell which direction they were moving. It only seemed to be up and down. He put the flashlight in the zippered compartment.

Ann screamed a few minutes later, "I think I see it!"

Everyone had turned towards her and looked in that direction at the top of next swell. They all saw the phosphorescent foam for a moment. It was still too dark to see if there was an island beyond the surf. He told them all to keep looking and try to judge whether they were getting closer to it. They watched at the tops of swells for the next ten minutes. They were moving closer.

He hadn't wanted to make the girls even more scared by displaying his ignorance, but he had to get any information he could. He asked if any of them had ever surfed using a board or been in some sort of boat or sea doo going through the surf to a beach anywhere. He had asked because he hadn't had a clue how to handle it. They all said no. He knew it probably didn't matter that neither he nor they knew anything about it. He had figured two dinky paddles weren't going to give them any control.

He had wondered if trying it in the water in their life vests would be better, maybe body surfing to shore. He thought about the probable coral and hoped to God they all didn't wash up on some beach nothing but hunks of mangled bone and shredded meat. He had prayed there was a beach. If there was an island, that didn't necessarily mean they were headed for a beach.

He then asked if any of them had body surfed. They all said they had. He told them if they were somehow tossed out of the raft, to do that. That comment had made Liz start crying again. He had felt like slapping her face, not from anger, but because he had been afraid that if she was tossed out, she'd just give up and let her own terror kill her. He also didn't want the other girls to start crying.

He then told all of them in a serious, loud, almost angry voice, that whatever happened, they couldn't give up, that they had to save themselves, that they had people who loved them who would be mad as hell at them if they didn't give it their all to get onto that fucking island. He told them they had to depend on each other to get through this and they couldn't do it without the strength and help of everyone. He sternly told Liz that if he got exhausted paddling that she'd take over for him. He told Ann that she was to take over for Liz when she got exhausted or if Nan and Lisa both got exhausted.

He couldn't remember exactly but he thought he came across as very angry. Maybe that was why Liz stopped crying. He had wanted everyone thinking about what they should do, not their fears. After his faux angry "pep talk", all the girls nodded at him. He told them to keep watching and when they got close to the surf, he and Lisa would move to opposite sides of the round raft so they were both facing the surf. He said they all might have to move to get in that position.

He had tried to figure out if weight should be distributed evenly or in the front or back. He doubted it should be the front, and figured the back end would be best to have the weight. He then told Ann, Liz and Nan they would move to the back end wherever that was, but be prepared to move again if the raft started turning around. He said he didn't want to waste time trying to paddle the raft so he and Lisa were always facing forward, they'd just move themselves, not the raft. All the girls nodded at him again. He had wondered at the time if any of them had the slightest confidence in him. He certainly hadn't had any in himself.

At the top of a swell, Nan shouted that she thought she saw a beach. They all looked again from the top of the next swell but he had only seen the phosphorescent surf. He could tell they were moving faster towards the surf a few minutes later. He was surprised that the closer they got, the swells appeared to be getting smaller. The ambient light increased a little but still, no one could see a beach or any land.

The surf sound grew louder. Ten minutes later it was very loud. He had no hope that any paddling would help them. A swell came up raising the raft but the trough didn't quickly follow, it carried them quite a distance. He looked at Lisa and called her name. When she looked at him, he told her to just do what she thought was right with the paddle if she couldn't hear him. He said he thought they should paddle like hell at the beginning of the next swell, and if the swell started to crest, that she should drop the paddle and grab onto two handholds. He told her to try to put the paddle between her body and the wall of the raft so it didn't whip around on its cord. He told her not to worry too much about it, the main thing was to grip two hand holds if they crested.

He had then realized that he and Lisa couldn't move around the raft without unclipping the paddles. He quickly told Lisa that and said they might have to back paddle if the raft didn't face the right way. He said he didn't think they should take the cords off and chance to lose either paddle. She said she'd try her best to paddle the right way if she couldn't hear him. He told the other girls to move to the back end. Again, he had been overwhelmed with worry that what he was telling everyone to do, was the exact opposite of what should be done.

On the next rolling swell he and Lisa paddled with all their strength and speed. He had wondered if they were just erasing a minute or two of their lives, paddling might just be getting them quickly to their deaths. In the trough, he shouted at Lisa to rest. He turned around and looked for the next swell. It was still mostly night but he was able to see the swell was becoming a wave. He saw it begin to crest and then the crest started and it seemed like there was water cantilevered to his left. He shouted to Lisa to paddle like hell. After a dozen strokes, he had changed his mind about paddling, realizing that cantilevered water might be the start of a pipeline.

At that realization, terror had again gripped him. He had shouted as loud as he could to Lisa, telling her to drop her paddle and for everyone to hold on as tight as they could. He had remembered trying to body surf on the north shore of Oahu years ago. He had never seen a pipeline other than on TV, but just the large waves he had experience that day body surfing or much smaller waves at a couple other beaches on the south shore, let alone the past eight hours, had made him well aware that tons of water could do whatever the hell it wanted to a human body. He had remembered the relatively small wave on a south shore beach that had sent him to the bottom curling his body around a couple times before it had slammed his head to into the sand. It could easily have broken his neck.

The last things he remembered with crystal clarity, was grabbing two handholds just before the raft began tipping forward nearly vertically and then the terrifying slamming crush of water driving him down into a blackness that seemed to go on forever. He hadn't struggled against it at all like some instinct within him told him it would be a futile effort. He remembered that he assumed he would be dead in a few moments, and that he had just accepted it. There had been no panic for air, no struggle against the force twisting his body around and shoving him seemingly down hundreds of feet. In fact, he hadn't felt the need to breathe at all. The last thing he could vaguely recall was that he thought his head had exploded.



Now looking back, it actually seemed there was a blank gap, between his head exploding and feeling the excruciating pain. He couldn't recall if he had sensed that blank interval before believing his head was cracked wide open and that his brain was chewed up and hanging out of his skull. All he could see was a blank field of glowing red that darkened slightly to the right. He wasn't really sure he tried to move his arms, but it felt like he was paralyzed. Somewhere off in the distance someone had been calling his name. His tongue moved then, something gritty was in his mouth and throat.

He coughed to get it out and it felt as if it made his skull crack wider and a white-hot poker had stabbed into his brain. The person calling his name came closer. Slowly he became aware of the sound of surf again and wondered why he wasn't being jerked around and pushed down to the bottom again. He heard his name even louder and wondered who it could be. He thought it might be Cheryl.

His tongue moved against the grit again. His body had then abruptly lurched and he vomited so hard he thought his stomach would come out his mouth. He also thought it made his head crack open more. Another wave of nausea instantly followed and he pushed up on his elbows and violently vomited again. He opened his eyes and realized he wasn't blinded. He was on something. He wasn't in the water. He couldn't focus his eyes. He heard his name called again, maybe it was two people calling his name. He slowly realized he was looking at wet sand.

Not knowing why exactly, he desperately tried to stand up but his head had felt twice its normal size and it was throbbing with so much pain he couldn't lift it. His brain had to be hanging outside of his skull. He was sure of that. He lurched with a dry heave. He then lay his profile on the spot where he had just expelled. The voices were closer, no they were right in his ear. He later found out it was both Ann and Nan, crying and pleading with him to try to stay awake, telling him Lisa and Liz were hurt badly.

He couldn't remember how long it took him to understand their words or if he actually did, but he did recall he made another attempt to rise but again the pain in his head was so bad he couldn't think straight, let alone move. He could barely raise his face off the sand. Again he was terrified wondering if his brain was next to his head, not inside his skull. He couldn't remember it but the two girls told him later that he just repeated "Help them" a dozen times. He had passed out after that.

Three hours later his eyes opened again. He heard crying and a whispered mantra,

"Please wake up - please wake up - please wake up...."

He rolled onto his back and was blinded by both pain and sunlight. He shut his eyes and saw the red field again. A hand pressed against his head and the pain from it was so intense he thought he was going to pass out. He had rasped out, "Don't do that."

The hand disappeared. A moment later he sensed the sun had disappeared too. He opened his eyes. He saw one of the girls, a face right above his. It took him a minute to recognize Nan. She was crying. She started talking faster than he could understand. He closed his eyes and had whispered to her to slow down. With a lot of repeating he had finally understood that both Lisa and Liz were hurt badly, that Liz was unconscious, that both Lisa and Liz might have broken bones.

He looked closer at Nan. Her left cheek looked like one big strawberry wound. He had asked her if she was all right. She told him that she and Ann were okay, that Ann was down the beach running between Liz and Lisa. She said they weren't sure if they should be moved.

He had told Nan to help him up. She had to basically carry him for the first ten steps. He had no equilibrium. He told her to stop and he had closed his eyes for a minute and finally felt what was up and what was down. He kept his arm around Nan's shoulders as they continued down the beach to the other girls. It took quite a while. He had to sit down four times. He was nauseous and he used the rests to focus his mind, each rest was at least a few minutes.

They had finally gotten to Liz. She was comatose. There was a large contusion on the side of her head covered by a sock. Nan pulled it off and he saw a two-inch long gash on the side of her head in the center of the swollen area. Her left forearm was scraped up. It was obviously broken but luckily no bones had been poking out of the skin and the break didn't look that bad.

Ann had then run up and he told her to look for some sticks and something they could use for rope or string. Nan said they had their shoelaces. For some reason he thought they needed to do something quickly for Liz's fracture, so he said they should try to set her arm while she was unconscious. Both girls said they didn't know how to do that. He told Ann to find the sticks. He didn't mention he wasn't sure how to set the arm either. When she had run off, he told Nan to get him to Lisa. She had been about forty yards farther down the beach. On the way, Nan said they thought she might have broken her back. When they got to Lisa her jaw was clenched and her eyes were welled with tears but she wasn't crying. Both her legs were scraped up badly. One arm had a pretty bad scrape too.

Nan had helped him kneel down, then he sat back on his legs. He asked Lisa where she hurt. She had said mainly her back but really everywhere. He asked if she had tried to move. She responded that it was extremely painful trying to move at all. He asked her if she could feel her legs and feet. She said she didn't know, then said she could feel all the cuts. He asked if she could move her arms and she said she could but it really hurt her back when she did. He told her to just wiggle her fingers for him. She did that. He asked Nan to help him up.

He moved to Lisa's feet and knelt down again. He told her to close her eyes and for her to tell him when she felt him touch her. He had waited a few moments, then with one fingertip he lightly touched her ankle. She told him she could feel that. He did the same to her other ankle and she responded.

He hadn't known what to do. His brain had barely been able to form words for him to speak. He suddenly thought of the raft. He asked Nan if she had seen it. She told him they had looked up and down the beach all morning but hadn't seen it. He had wondered exactly what medical supplies were in the first aid kit. He noticed Lisa was only five feet away from the waves that were sloshing up along the beach. For some reason he imagined some big wave hitting the shore and washing her out to sea.

He thought they should move her immediately. But, if her back was broken, maybe moving her was the worst thing to do. He thought of a backboard and realized it was a stupid thought. He then thought of the waves again. He had no knowledge of tides and that sort of thing, but the image of some huge wave washing over her kept popping into his mind. His head was screaming with pain. He truly hadn't been able to think straight at all.

Nan knelt down next to him then. She looked at him wide-eyed, and asked if he was all right. He had realized he had been frozen in thought for a long time, he didn't know how long. He looked at Lisa and she was staring at him with fear in her eyes. He couldn't remember telling her to open her eyes. He told her to relax. He cupped his palms behind her ankles wondering if pulling her legs might relieve the pressure on her spine if it was a pinched nerve. He looked at her face. She was staring at him then she smiled slightly probably trying to reassure him that things were going to be all right.

He again wished he knew what the hell to do. He looked at his hands on her ankles and decided pulling her legs would be stupid, might be something that would make things worse, maybe cut her spinal cord. He pulled his hands off her ankles. He asked if her back pain was getting worse. She told him it was the same as before.

Ann had rushed up at that moment, screaming that Liz was sort of awake and vomiting. He asked Ann if she had turned Liz over or her face to the side. She told him no. He told her to run back as fast as she could and turn her head to the side and not to leave her.

Lisa asked how he was feeling. It had almost made him smile when he realized she was the first person to ask and that he had absolutely no idea of how to answer. He stared at her and finally said he had a headache. He told her she was going to be okay and asked if she would be all right alone for a few minutes. She said yes. He told Nan to help him up again. He had to stand still for a few seconds with his arm around her shoulders because he had suddenly felt like vomiting and fainting simultaneously.

When the pain subsided and nausea got under control, they made their way back to Ann and Liz. Liz had passed out again. He looked at the pile of sticks Ann had gathered. He told both Ann and Nan to look for more sticks, slightly thicker ones, try to find a few that were flat if possible. He looked at the trees. Palms were the only thing he could see. He told them to go farther into the forest but not to get lost and to try for fifteen minutes or so.

He had sat there looking at Liz. He tried to think. The pain in his head seemed to get worse as soon as the two girls had run into the trees. He felt like vomiting again but squelched the urge. He had no real idea of what to do for any of them. He realized he was working on bits and pieces of information learned over his lifetime watching TV and movies, some of which, possibly all of which was incorrect or misremembered.

With Lisa, he had done that "examination," that touch test from some TV medical drama. He had recalled it was supposed to be on the soles of bare feet, not ankles but he hadn't wanted to lift her feet to take her sneakers off. He looked at Liz's broken, swollen forearm. It was slightly angled where it shouldn't be angled. He had no idea of how to set it. If they did what he planned, it might just make it worse, maybe create a compound fracture in the process shoving some bone shard out through her skin. He knew tropical islands were perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. If that happened it might go septic. She'd die if they weren't found. That had been the first moment he thought about a rescue.

They would have to make a fire, a big fire. Another movie entered his mind. Tom Hanks' bloody hands from rolling a stick in his palms trying to start a fire, how he had figured out a different technique, rubbing a stick on a flat piece of wood and some fuzzy tinder to get a fire started.

Nan and Ann returned running. Both had gotten nearly armloads of sticks, none were flat. They spread them out and he chose six that looked the best. He told the girls to hold Liz's upper arm and elbow. He held Liz's wrist with both his hands. He had again realized he had no knowledge of what he was doing was the right thing. What if rescue was ten minutes away, some boat or plane, some doctor on board? But, then again, what if they did nothing and made it worse by doing nothing. What if they waited and she woke up and then they did what he was planning to do and she'd feel all the pain. He finally decided that doing something was better than doing nothing.

He told the girls to hold Liz's upper arm as tight as they could and he started pulling her arm at the wrist, increasing the strain with each passing second, scared to death he was doing something stupid. He watched the bulge of her swollen arm. It didn't change. He pulled harder. Liz became semi-conscious. She started screaming.

The girls instantly released her upper arm. He had shouted to them to hold it fucking tight. When he had yelled he thought his head was going to explode again. When they grabbed the upper arm he pulled even harder, Liz twisted her torso and screamed louder. The bulge on her arm started to lessen. He pulled harder. Liz screamed even louder then passed out. The arm looked swollen but more normal. He stopped pulling but kept tension on her arm holding her wrist. He told Nan to hold on tight, and Ann to feel under the arm, to see if any bones were poking out. She did and said nothing was sticking out.

His head had been pounding too much for him to have bothered with any prayer of thanks. He told Nan to keep holding on as she was, and that Ann should take off her and Nan's shoelaces, realizing they should have done that first. He looked at the selected sticks. He told Ann to put them around Liz's forearm, that she should tie the laces around them. Ann couldn't do it by herself. He held Liz's wrist with one hand, shifted on his knees to the opposite side of Liz, and then replaced Nan's hands on Liz's lower biceps with his free hand. Nan moved and tied the laces while Ann held the sticks in place. He released Liz's arm when they finished. Her arm stayed straight. He sat back, closed his eyes and tried to get the pain to lessen in his head.

A few moments passed before his eyes opened again. He told the girls to open Liz's life vest and then gently push their hands under Liz's back, feel along her backbone, see if they felt any swelling or bumps anywhere on her spine or her back. He watched them do it. Both girls said they didn't feel anything odd. He told Ann to stay with Liz, to keep Liz's head turned to the side in case she threw up while she was passed out, and to shout for them if she came to again. He said if she woke up to ask Liz immediately where she hurt, especially if her back or neck hurt at all. He added that Ann should cup water in her hands and try to wash out the gash on the side of Liz's head too.

He told Nan to help him up and get back to Lisa. When they got to her, Lisa had spoken first, asking how Liz was. Nan told her that they had set her arm but she was still passed out. He knelt down and sat back on his legs. He asked her if the back pain was still bad. She said yes. He asked if it was upper or lower. It was mostly lower. He moved to the knee of her left leg and told Nan to get on the other side. He had recalled another way to lessen the pressure on her spine, other than the traction of pulling her legs. It would be much safer too, at least he had thought it would be.

He told Lisa to try to completely relax her entire body. He said they were going to raise her knees a little and she should tell them immediately if the pain got worse. She nodded at him. He told Nan to do what he did. He cupped his palm behind Lisa's knee and slowly raised it a couple inches making her heels drag in the sand. He asked her if her back felt better or worse. She said a tiny bit better. He slowly raised her knee a few more inches and Nan followed suit. Lisa said that made it even better. They raised her knees a few more inches. Better. A few more inches. Better. The soles of Lisa's sneakers were flat on the sand. He told Lisa to stay as relaxed as possible and told Nan to hold Lisa's knees together so she didn't have to tense her legs to do that.

Lisa looked at him and smiled softly and had said, "Thank you, Doctor."

He started to smile then had immediately turned away from them and bent forward planting his palms on the sand. His back arched and he dry heaved violently. He had thought he was going to pass out. Both girls frantically asked if he was all right, and asked what they should do for him.

He fought to stay conscious. He turned around on his hands and knees and then sat back on his legs again. He wiped his mouth and realized the side of his jaw hurt too, not just his head. The backs of his legs started hurting too, not bones, but his skin, a burning sensation. He asked them how bad he was hurt. Nan told him he had a really bad, long gash on his head, and that she and Ann had thought they could see his skull earlier. She said the backs of his legs were badly scraped up. He felt his jaw first. It was swollen. His hand started moving to the top of his head and Nan had almost screamed for him not to touch it. That had told him all he had needed to know.

Lisa then told Nan to rip her tee shirt and somehow bandage his head. Nan said they had used a sock earlier and it must have fallen off. He wasn't sure why he had, but he told Nan not to rip her shirt, that a sock would do. Lisa told her to get something, that her back was fine and she could hold her legs by herself.

He told Nan to wait a second. He moved on hands and knees and replaced Nan's hands on Lisa's knees. Nan got up and ran down the beach. Lisa smiled at him. He now vaguely recalled he had smiled back, but maybe he didn't. He asked her to describe his head wound. She had bitten her lower lip for a few moments, then said it deeply cut about four or five inches long on the right side top of his head. It looked like his scalp had curled under both edges of the gash, it was open about a half of an inch.

He had stared at her pretty face for nearly a minute probably trying desperately to think of some funny retort. He had finally told her that he guessed he wouldn't have to worry about combing a part in his hair anymore. He had hoped she'd at least smile, but he recalled she had bitten her lip again and her eyes had welled with tears. He had forced a smile to his mouth, then told her she had very sexy knees. She had smiled briefly while she rolled her eyes.

Nan came running back, holding a bloody sock and another that wasn't bloody. She ran into the water and wrung both out in the foaming waves at the shore. She came back and asked him if the sea water would infect the wound. He told her he thought salt water would be good for it. She asked how to put it on, how to get it to stay on. He told her to just place it down and try to push the scalp together. He noticed her hands start to tremble.

When she pressed the wet sock down, he had thought he'd pass out. It had felt like she had just stuck her hand inside his brain. He had probably shouted something like, "Enough!" or maybe he had cursed. Nan had jerked her hands back. He moved his right hand and gently placed it on the wet sock, and again he thought he'd pass out. He felt himself swaying to the side.

Nan had nearly screamed, "What should I do?! What should I do?!"

He righted himself, stayed sitting back his legs and told Nan to hold Lisa's knees. No one spoke for a few minutes until they heard Ann's surf muffled voice screaming that Liz was awake. He told Nan to run over there and if Liz could understand to ask her if her back hurt at all, ask her where all her pains were located. He reached for the tops of Lisa's knees with his left hand and palmed them. He noticed he was getting hot, the sun was very bright. He wanted to get his life vest off. He asked Lisa if she was getting hot. She said, "A little." Then as an afterthought, she smiled. He didn't understand the smile at all. He told her he thought they should leave her vest on for a while. That it might be painful to get it off. She said, "Okay."

Nan ran back a minute later and told them that Liz didn't think her back hurt much. Just her head and her arm. He asked her if Liz had vomited again. Nan said she hadn't. At that moment he had become completely mindless again. He didn't know what the hell to do next. He finally thought they could at least move Liz farther away from the water in case some big wave came in.

He looked at Lisa's face, her eyes squinting at him in the sun. The sun. They should all get out of the sun. He told Nan to help him out of his vest. When they got that off he told her to get his tee shirt up to his neck. It was soaked with water and sweat so it took a few moments. He gently held the sock to his wound and felt the pain skyrocket again. He raised one arm, then the other, switching hands on the sock. He told her to work the shirt over his head. He pressed down a little harder on the sock and again he thought he might faint. He raised his hand when Nan told him to. She slipped the shirt over his head and off. He told her to get a handful of the longest sticks they had gathered.

She ran off and returned a minute later. He asked if Liz was still awake. Nan said she was and that she was crying. Ann was trying her best to make her comfortable. He told her to rinse his shirt out then make a canopy with it and the sticks to keep the sun off Lisa's face. He watched her do it, she laid the shirt flat on the sand, then tied the sleeves and then opposite ends of the hem to sticks. He told her to rinse the sand off in the water again. She did and wrung the shirt out. She planted the sticks in the sand making a covering a foot and a half or so above Lisa's face. He then told Nan to put his life vest over Lisa's knees. When she did it, he palmed the vest. He told Nan to see if Liz could move and that if she could, she and Ann should get her in the shade, one of them should sit with her, and the other should look around for a little stream or spring, maybe some fruit tree.

Nan said she had seen coconuts on the ground. He knew those were worthless without something to crack them open. He guessed Nan knew that too. She said she would look deeper into the trees. He told her not to get lost and not to eat any fruit she picked until they looked at it. She said she wouldn't. He again told her Ann should stay with Liz forgetting that he already had. Nan nodded then asked about Lisa and him getting into the shade. He said they shouldn't move Lisa quite yet and that he'd stay with her. Nan said okay and then ran to the other girls.

He had closed his eyes and tried to ignore his throbbing brain. A minute of silence passed and then Lisa broke it. She told him he should go into the shade too, that she would be all right alone. He somewhat recalled telling her to shut up, that he had a headache, and remembered giving her a quick smile. His mouth and throat had been bone dry. It had felt as if his tongue was swelling up. Even more than wanting a drink of water, he wanted to lay down and go to sleep but he sort of remembered that wasn't good to do with a concussion, at least he had thought he shouldn't.

He asked Lisa if he had told Nan to try to keep Liz awake. She said she couldn't remember if he had. He told her to tell that to Nan when she got back if he forgot to. She said she would. She then looked scared and asked him if he thought her back was broken. He had told her he didn't think it was. He said maybe it was possibly a pinched nerve even though he had absolutely no idea how badly she was injured. They hadn't talked much after that. After a half hour or so, he had moved, turned to face the water, and sat on his ass, with his knees up. He rested a forearm on his knee and kept his palm on the life vest shading Lisa's legs. He told her to scream at him if she saw him falling asleep. He asked her if she felt like dozing off and she had told him, yes but she would stay awake.

He wasn't sure if he had passed out or fallen asleep for a while, but if he had, Lisa woke him, saying that Nan had been gone a long time. He had asked how long she thought it was. She said about two hours. He had noticed the shadows from his legs had changed on the sand. He turned to look where Ann and Liz were. He raised his arm and waved for Ann to come over.

She got up and ran to him. He asked if Liz had passed out again, vomited, or fallen asleep at all. She said she had been awake since they moved into the shade and hadn't puked. He told her to go into the forest, not so deep that she couldn't hear the surf and to call for Nan. Call out and then wait to hear an answer, then call out again, like that. Ann looked scared. He told her to help him get over to Liz first. Ann nodded. He asked Lisa if she would be okay alone. She said she'd be fine.

Ann walked him over to Liz. He sat next to her in the shade very glad to be out of the sun. Ann ran off into the forest. He asked Liz how she was feeling. Her eyes were still teary, she said her head and arm hurt horribly. He told her not to go to sleep and to make sure he didn't go to sleep either. She said okay. He vaguely heard Ann calling out for Nan. A half hour later, he saw a figure appear at the end of the beach beyond Lisa. It was Nan. She had something cradled in her shirt. She was walking fast, almost running. She dropped to her knees next to Lisa. He wasn't sure but he thought she was crying.

She stayed there for a few minutes, dropped whatever it was she had cradled in her shirt, and then got up and trotted to him. Her eyes were teary when she came up. She told him she had gotten all turned around and lost. She said she found some round yellow fruits but didn't know what they were. She picked a lot of them, they had gotten scared when she heard some animal running through the brush. She had run away from it as fast as she could and had dropped most of the fruits from her shirt, and then she had gotten so lost and all turned around. She had stopped talking then and started sobbing.

He pulled her close and put his arm around her. When her crying had subsided, he told her she had to walk back into the forest, not far, but to call for Ann. She was calling for her somewhere not very far in. He told her to always be able to hear the surf and not go deeper than that. He had seen she was still scared to death but she got up and jogged into the palms. Ten minutes later she returned running with Ann. They were both breathing heavily when they dropped to their knees. A few moments later, Nan stood up and said she'd check on Lisa and get the fruit she had picked.

He had actually said a silent prayer that the fruit would be edible. He tried to recall the natural island fruits a couple of his students had introduced him to on a few hikes he had taken into the rainforest mountains on Oahu. All he could remember were strawberry guava. Those were basically worthless. They needed something juicy. He couldn't remember any juicy wild fruit. Nan came back a few minutes later, holding the hem of her tee shirt, the fruits bunched against her abdomen.

She dropped to her knees and let the fruits roll onto the sand. He recalled he had grinned widely and felt a little relief wash over him. Nan asked if they could eat them. He looked at the yellow perfectly round and smooth billiard ball-sized spheres. He had said yes, they could eat them, they were passion fruits. He told her and Ann to wash them in the surf, one at a time so they didn't lose any of them. The girls quickly took them down to the water. Liz said she had never been so thirsty. They came back with the nine fruits cradled in their tee shirts.

He asked for one and told Nan to cup her hands under his and catch any juice. He tried to use his thumbs to open it but couldn't. He bit into it. A stab of pain filled his head and he cringed for a few moments, then pulled the fruit from his mouth. He tasted citrus. He split the fruit in two with his thumbs and looked at the slimy orange colored nodules. He bought the smaller piece up to his mouth then licked and poured the contents into his mouth. He ran it around his mouth and felt himself salivate. He chewed and felt the crunch of the seeds between his teeth. It had made his head hurt worse. The fruit was delicious.

Ann asked what the little black things were. He told her they were the best part, grinned, then told her they were seeds and they should chew them. He told them to eat one each. The additional throbbing pain was still in his head from that initial bite. He told Ann to open up the one for Liz, then told Nan to take two, one for herself and one for Lisa and that he'd go over with her to see how she was doing.

He gave her the other half of the one he had opened and told her to eat half slowly. He told the other girls to eat slowly. Nan handed the remaining portion to him and he finished the rest of it.

When they got to Lisa, she had smiled at him and said, "Hi, long time no see."

He smiled at the old fashion greeting and told her Nan had discovered a delicacy. Passionfruit. Lisa said she thought Nan had found a pool hall in the forest when she saw the fruit. He told Nan to open one for Lisa. He wasn't sure what Lisa should do or not do regarding her back and she had said it was painful moving her arms. He really didn't think her injury was extremely bad, but he realized again he didn't know one way or the other. Nan fed her the slimy fruit slowly so she wouldn't choke. Nan then ate one herself, savoring every morsel.

He told Nan to get out of the sun, that he'd stay with Lisa. Nan went back to Ann and Liz but returned fifteen minutes later. She asked him if it would be okay to walk Liz over so they could all be closer together. He said if she wasn't nauseous, or really dizzy when she stood up they should come over but that she and Ann should hold her arms. He added that it was a good idea and then wondered why he hadn't thought of it himself.

He watched the girls slowly walk to the shade of the coconut palms behind him and Lisa. Nan came down to them and said Liz hadn't felt like puking. He said that was good. Lisa had then asked why he was so concerned about that. He told her he thought it was a sign of a really bad concussion. She looked scared for a moment, then pointed out he had been vomiting. He ignored the comment and said he thought Liz would be fine because she hadn't passed out since waking up after they had set her arm. He stared at Lisa and suddenly wondered why he had told Nan to open Liz's vest and feel around her back. It might have been a terribly stupid thing to do.

As dusk approached he started worrying about tides and high waves again. He asked Lisa if she thought she could stand the pain of being pulled by her life vest and slid on the sand to the palm trees. She immediately said she wanted to try it.

He called Ann and Nan over. Told them to take his shirt canopy down and clear the flotsam in a path from Lisa straight to the trees. He moved to Lisa's feet, held her ankles and told her he was going to move her legs back down but if it hurt at all she should tell him right away. She said okay. When he moved her petite feet only an inch, Lisa's body stiffened and trembled. He stopped. He asked Ann to flatten out his vest. He told her to slide it under Lisa's feet up to her butt when he raised her legs. He asked Lisa if she wanted to try that, so her feet could slide on the sand. She agreed. He told her to tell them to stop if it was painful.

He grasped her calves and raised her legs slightly. Lisa's body stiffened again but she didn't say anything. Ann quickly slid the vest into position. He lowered her feet to it. He asked Lisa how she was doing and she said fine. He hadn't thought he could pull her up the sand without falling down, passing out, or vomiting. He got too dizzy and nauseous bending forward.

He looked at Nan and Ann. Nan's body was nearly Lisa's twin. She was petite but had a feminine muscle definition. He told her to grip the shoulders of Lisa's vest and when they were ready she'd pull Lisa, sliding her on the sand. He told her to try to keep going until they reached the trees unless Lisa said to stop. She nodded at him. He had thought starting up would be the worst for Lisa.

He told Ann to hold and slide the vest with Lisa's feet at the same speed as Nan pulling. He said he'd crawl along and hold Lisa's knees together with his palm so she wouldn't tense any muscles and stay as relaxed as possible.

He asked if everyone was ready. They all said yes. He told Nan to pull steady, not jerk Lisa, and not go too fast or too slow. He said, "Ready... set... go." They started moving. Lisa obviously felt some pain but didn't say stop, although they did halt twice before getting to the palms. Nan apologized profusely for stopping each time. Lisa had told her she was doing great each time. Finally, they were all together in one group under the shade of the palms.

It began getting dark and the temperature began dropping but it was very humid and still probably around 80F. As it grew darker he asked Nan if she could remember where the passion fruit tree had been. She said she wasn't sure but thought she could find it again. He told them to each eat another fruit. Nan picked up two. She bit into Lisa's and then her own. She took turns feeding Lisa and herself. Ann helped Liz eat hers. He had sat there listening to their slurping looking out to sea.

It was Lisa who noticed. She asked him why he wasn't eating his. Nan said something like, "Oh god, there wasn't enough." Lisa had insisted he take half of hers but he had said he wasn't thirsty. She had said, "Bullshit," and told Nan to give him half. He had taken one suck of the slimy fruit and then handed it back to Nan, telling Lisa that was all he wanted. He had then played the slimy nodules around in his mouth until they had disappeared.

After the fruit was finished, he said they might as well try to get as comfortable as possible for the night. He said he thought someone should always be awake to hold Lisa's knees together. He said he'd do it first until he was too sleepy, then he'd wake up Ann, and she would then wake up Nan when she got too sleepy, and Nan should wake him up when she got too sleepy. No one had expected Liz to help.

Nan then asked why they couldn't just roll up one of the life vests and stick that under Lisa's knees. He recalled he blinked and almost laughed at his own stupidity. He told Nan it was a much better idea. Nan rolled her vest up and put it under Lisa's knees.

He had asked Liz how bad she was feeling. She said her head was still pounding, and her arm hurt a lot. It was all black and blue. He could see they were all worried about it, he was too, but not as worried as he was about her concussion. He wasn't sure he or Liz should sleep at all but knew it was going to be impossible not to sleep. He had also been terribly worried about Lisa's back.

He looked at Lisa and asked her how she was doing. She said about the same. He wished he or Nan had thought of using the vest earlier. When everyone got comfortable. He moved down to Lisa's feet. The light was fading fast. He had seen her smile at him. He recalled the exact exchanged they had. He started to ask, "Are you getting too hot with..." The rest of the sentence was going to be, "...your vest on?"

She interrupted though, and said, "With you next to me?" She had smiled at him.

He looked at the other girls but they were all talking softly. No one else had heard the exchange. He told Lisa to get to sleep. Her unexpected attempt at humor gave him hope everything was going to be all right somehow. He looked out at the ocean and decided it would be best if didn't sleep. It was obvious he had a very bad concussion.

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