Lunge forward, grabbing for the thing that just brushed against you

You grab, and grab again but come up with nothing. Unable to judge the distance or direction in the dark, your chances of catching whatever brushed you are slim, but you keep at it – at least it gives you something to do. You turn a bit more to the left, and forward a bit, and try again. Threading the water with your legs you use both arms to feel around. Another bit of a turn and your left arm brushes against something again. There it is! Long and sturdy but not too thick and definitely not slimy…a rope! You feel blindly along its length. One end is leading down; there must be some sort of anchorage there. You follow the other end excitedly. Two strokes later your head hits something, hard. Swearing, you rub your forehead, feeling a making of a good-size bump, then set off to investigate the floating object that just gave you a sumovabich of a headache.

Feeling your way around you conclude that you ran into a small wooden structure, low and flat – a raft, perhaps? It’s only six feet long on the side where you are, but it seems that it could hold your weight. Straining your arms you heave yourself up and out of the water. It feels good to be on a solid surface again. You crawl on your hands and knees, feeling around. The raft – it is a raft – is small, and bare of anything besides you. It’ll do for now, you figure as you lay down on your back, feeling your muscles finally relax.

I must look like a mother of all prunes, you chuckle, as your body starts to dry off for the first time in what seems to be forever. You try to think about what's been happening, figure out a way out - but you just seem to be unable to focus. This situation has been so weird, for so long, and you want your life back…yet you keep catching your thoughts drifting to other things, memories and flashback – childhood stuff mostly: you sister on a swing, small legs pumping hard, her golden hair a bouncy hallo around her smiling face - brought forth by memory of Mr. Nugget, maybe?

Floating naked on a small raft in a vast, dark place suddenly makes you feel very small, and exceedingly vulnerable. Out of nowhere springs another memory - of a story you read a long time ago about a guy on a raft, threatened by a horror that had already devoured his friends. You were nine, and the story scared a living daylight out of you. That whole summer you wouldn’t go anywhere near the water, took you two more to gather the courage to come near a raft again. Everyone teased you about that, including your little sister (not that your parents noticed, too busy with their careers and parties and golf). That’s retarded, you think, I was just a kid. It was a stupid story, but a tiny little voice somewhere inside of your head persists "but it ate them, it ATE them, and he was left alone with water all around him just like you now and then it got dark" and you yell "IT WAS JUST A STORY!!!" into the darkness just to make the voice stop.

You sit up, pull your knees up and hug your legs; lean your head down and whisper, "I’m a grown man now. I’m a grown man" and that is when a mighty blow from below rocks the raft.

The End

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