DIRE STRAITS - Chapter 5A
September 1, 2011
The kayak slipped and slithered in and around huge waves, Derek struggling to keep the small craft from rolling. He was beyond worrying about the direction, of whether he was being blown into gulf or even back to Cuba. This was about survival, a deeply primitive instinct. Beneath all his military training and preparedness crouched the Neanderthal in the storm hoping not to die.
Rain spiked down from the heavens, so thick and hard he could barely see, not that there was much to see. Blackness lit up by the occasional flash of lightning showing a roiling mass of waves.
Derek was not much of a religious man, despite having been raised by missionary physicians. He believed in some sort of God and in some kind of afterlife, but studying disease and being a soldier and being in battle had not convinced him that God was actively involved in the world. A disease like malaria or Yellow fever or African Trypanosomiasis was not evil. It just was, and he was not inclined to think that a human-loving God intended for some innocent child to die from Lassa fever or schistosomiasis.
And from what he had seen of war and terrorism, there were plenty of evil people in the world. You could blame their behavior on the devil or on environment, but mostly he thought they made choices and those choices had evil outcomes. If there was a God, he sometimes thought he or she placed humans on the same value level as black-eyed Susans, Labrador retrievers, and cockroaches.
And thinking of what he had seen in Iraq recently, he wasn’t so sure God would value human beings higher than cockroaches. Sometimes they were indistinguishable.
So it was with some self-awareness that Derek cast a prayer to the heavens to whoever might be listening to save his ass.
A lightning bolt stabbed across the sky, followed almost immediately by a monstrous roll of thunder. In the brief illumination Derek saw a huge wave, thirty or forty feet tall, looming above him.
He had just a second to try and turn the kayak’s bow into the wave.
And the universe exploded in a wet fury around him. The kayak rolled. The paddle was ripped from his fingers.
Derek was torn from the kayak and crushed under a ton of raging water.