Milo spluttered water as he woke up. His head was throbbing wildly and he soaking wet, laying face down against a bed of pebbles. The tide rushed in again, threatening to shoot straight up his nostrils and so he quickly turned himself over, onto his back and stared into the sky. He felt dizzy and as he turned over the bright sunlight hurt his eyes. He had no idea how long he had been out. For that matter, he couldn't even remember what had happened, how he had got here - wherever here was.
Touching his hand to his head, he felt a painful lump swelling out of his skull and his fingers came back bloody. Whatever had happened it hadn't been pleasant. The tide came in again, washing cold water up his trousers and chilling him even further and so he pulled himself up the pebbled shore, away from the waterline. He couldn't see the other side of the watery expanse and assumed he had probably been washed ashore. Perhaps he had fallen overboard in a storm, though he didn't remember being on a ship or there being a storm and the sky was perfectly clear. Scattered around him were damp, wet sheets of paper. Many were torn to shreds, pulled apart as the water washed them back and forth over the pebbles but some remained intact. Gingerly, Milo lifted one, taking care not to tear it. The paper was covered with strange symbols, the ink having run terribly reducing whatever had been there before to an illegible scrawl. So much for learning anything much from them.
Suddenly, another wave broke upon the shore, washing a book up against his feet. He picked it up, curious. It was damp, but it had survived far better than the individual pages. Across the cover a single word was embossed.
What did it mean? Was that him? Milo wasn't sure, he couldn't remember much of anything. As he sat, drying off under the hot sun, he heard the sound of a horse approach and a voice call from behind him.
* * * * *
"What happened!? What happened to my son? Milo, can I see him? I want to see him!"
"Mr. Manning, calm down. I'm afraid your son is in no condition to be seen right now, it's still touch and go and we don't know how long he was in the water before he was discovered."
"Jesus Christ. How could this happen?"
Robert took Simon's arm and held it against his chest. "Calm down, it's going to be okay. Milo's going to pull through, isn't that right doctor?"
The doctors fiddled awkwardly with his ID card. "We believe he'll survive, yes, but I have to be honest with you. At this stage, it's too early to tell if he'll regain consciousness."
"Your son, Mr. Manning, suffered extreme trauma to the head. Not only did he impact a submerged object but he also received some trauma to the back of his skull as well. He was also without oxygen for some time. If he does wake up, we could be looking at severe brain damage."
Robert choked back tears. "God, Simon. Our little boy."
Simon held Robert closely and then composed himself. "Is the man who saved my son's life still here? I'd... I'd like to thank him."
"He is, I'll fetch him for you."
Simon paced back and forth for a few minutes until an exceptionally tall man appeared, his clothes soaking wet and stained with greasy, black algae.
"You're the man that saved my son?"
The man nodded and extended his hand. "Maxwell Dunwurst. I'm so sorry I didn't get there sooner, Mr. Manning. Is he going to be okay?"
Robert chocked back a sob and Simon let out a deep breath. "You got there just in time, I, we, can't thank you enough. As for Milo, it's too early to tell but they think he might have suffered brain damage."
"Jesus. Wait a second, did you say Milo? Milo Manning?"
"What is it?"
"My daughter, she's friends with your son, she's going to be devastated."
Robert shot him a poisonous look. "She! What about us! You think I give a damn how your daughter feels!"
Maxwell looked shocked, then his face quickly dropped into guilt. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean-"
"It's okay." Simon said, looking at Robert and then back to Maxwell. "We're all a little stressed. Go home, be with your daughter. Maybe she can come see him, who knows, it might help. And thank you, thank you so much if there is any way I can repay you, just name it."
"No need, and thanks. I hope Milo gets well soon."
With that Maxwell well left, leaving Robert and Simon to hold each other and pray.