He came to the beach to be alone. He didn’t know it would be this deserted. He thought he saw someone move, and then he heard a rustle in the crevice. Somewhere down the rocks. He walked towards the edge and bent over. Although he couldn’t see anything, he heard someone whimper.
Someone’s in trouble, Jack thought. He was a loner. He liked living his life alone. And he would go out and spend time alone along the cracks the ocean made along the cliffs.
“Hello?”, he screamed out.
Another set of suppressed sounds. But they were indistinguishable.
Jack looked at the waves approaching towards the near reaches of the caves at a distance. He glanced around him and saw nobody. It was just him, and whoever it was down there. And the waves were coming in hard. It would be no more than 15 minutes until the caves below, if any, would flood underwater.
He looked for a place to get down, but didn’t see any. Wherever he saw, there were gaps between rocks. When he saw through the gaps, he could see water along the floor. He wondered if there was a way out. If not, they would both be stuck down there.
And he jumped over small crevices, looking for something that could allow them to come out of the cave. The sun was setting fast in the distance. If he wasted more time, it’d be impossible to see inside the cave. He’d already spent five minutes outside, searching for an exit.
But he didn’t waste any more. He came back to where he’d heard someone speak, although not clear. When he saw through the crevice, the floor of the cave was more than five metres. He had to go in. It looked to him he was at a same height wherever he’d looked down before through other crevices.
He carefully looked to get a grip until he could hang down. The floor would be hard and slippery. It would best be to get as close as possible before he jumped.
With a splash on the floor, he almost slipped over. But held out his balance with his palms on the ground as well. Algae had developed over the rocky floor. When he stood up, he slipped his left leg for a jiff. He looked in every direction. The cave wall stood in the distance. The sunlight did not peek through the crevices, but there was enough light inside. He didn’t see anyone anywhere in the cave.
“Hello.”, he said loudly. His voice came back to him like a scream in his ears. He was silent for a few seconds, when he heard the muffled noise again. Jack pressed his hands over his ears before saying, “Please keep talking. I’m inside the cave. I can hear you, only it sounds muted.” He rested his palms back to his sides. He expected the man, or woman, to speak something, but none of it came. Not any more. “Are you there?” The sound came back, deafening him again. He’d forgotten to shut his ears again. When Jack waited for a few seconds, there was still no reply.
He hurried to look at any place which might lead him into any of the neighbouring caves. And found a hole in the cave floor, enough for him to squeeze through. He looked everywhere, but didn’t find any more entry or exit point. And so there was no choice for him but to go through the hole on the floor. Everything was similar. The lower cave was illuminated as well. But he couldn’t see the walls anywhere. The water level here might be up to the waist. There isn’t much time, he thought. He jumped through the hold and went underwater, before coming out of it. His legs touched the cave bottom and stood up. The water was filling up the cave quickly. He started to swim along the surface of the water to look for anything that might lead him to the person. When he swam about a hundred metres, he came up to another hole in the ceiling. The sound of water made it difficult for him to hear the person trapped.
“Here. Here. I’m here.”
Jack could hear it. The sound was much clear this time. It came from somewhere nearby, he thought. He felt like his mind raced ahead of him. Trying to stay above the surface of the water, he looked up. And he saw another gap in the cave ceiling, wide enough for him to pass through. He tried his best to grab the ledge, but slipped every time. He’d have to wait until the level of water rose higher.
A minute passed by. The water level had risen by a full feet. The cave filled up with water quickly. He hoped there would be enough time for both to reach outside.
He jumped again on to the ledge, this time getting a hold of it. He pulled himself on the floor of the cave on a higher level. What he saw shocked him. A man was tied up. His hands were bound with ropes. And he was submerged to his waist. By the looks of it, he was standing.
“Are you alright? Are you hurt?”, Jack asked.
The man looked in my direction. He said, “I’m alright. Please help me. I’m bound in ropes on hands and feet.”
Jack started moving quickly but carefully towards the man.
“Thank you for coming.” the man said when Jack reached next to him.
Jack had to walk and swim through the increasing water level. “Hold on, while I release you from the ropes.”
He went underwater and saw his legs tied in ropes, and the other end was tied over a huge rock at his side. He quickly untied it and came above. He then untied the rope on his hands.
“Thanks.”, he said.
“We need to leave right now.”, Jack said.
The man simply nodded. Jack turned around and started moving towards the crack in the floor he’d come from. He looked up to see small crevices in the ceiling. But they weren’t big enough to allow them to get to safety. When they reached the circular crack on the floor, ocean water was already spilling inside into the cave.
“Can you swim?”, Jack asked.
“About a hundred metres.”
“That’s way too far. I’m going to die.”, the man panicked.
“None of us are going to die. I’m sure there would be air pockets on the ceiling of the cave below. Stay as close to the ceiling of the cave. If we reach over to the next cave, we can get to the outside.” Jack waited a moment before speaking, “Ready?”
The man nodded.
Jack breathed in and went underwater. The man followed him at a close distance. Jack managed to find air gaps in between, and breathed in fresh air before moving ahead. Jack tried to track back his steps. And within minutes they reached the gap in the ceiling where ocean water was spilling out into the first cave he’d been. The force of the water pushed Jack and the man up into the cave. Jack thought they were lucky to get into the previous cave. The water pressure wasn’t strong enough which allowed them to get through.
When they stood on the floor of the cave, Jack saw the open gap, wide enough for them to reach outside.
“How do we reach up there?”, the man asked. He looked back at the increasing water level. He continued, “It’s unreachable.”
“We can allow the water to take care of that.”, said Jack. The water level would get them close to the ledge leading them out.
“I hope so.”
They waited along the surface of the water. Soon they had to swim about to keep above water. The cave was filled half with water. And they kept waiting.
But something was wrong. Something wasn’t right, Jack thought.
“Wait a minute. There’s something wrong here. The water level doesn’t look like it’s rising. There are no bubbles coming out onto the surface.”
“I can’t feel the force of water whipping my feet as well.”, the man said.
“We’ll be stuck if the water level doesn’t increase.”
“Isn’t there anyone out there?”
“There was no one in sight on top before I jumped in.”
“What do we do now?”
“We could try going back inside the cave below and look for another way outside. The force of water will not resist any more.”
Suddenly, the water level started to decrease.
“What’s happening?”, the man asked.
“I don’t know.”, replied Jack, wondering what must have happened.
The water level receded and they landed on the cave floor. The water kept going lower and lower, until within moments, the floor of the lower cave became visible.
“What’s happening?”, the man asked.
“I haven’t got a clue.”
Jack thought what could make something like this happen. The ocean water level receded at such rapid pace. Moments passed by. And then it struck him. He’d read it in the news. Somewhere at a distance, an event had occurred. And it was a bad one. The entire continent was on alert. And he felt his heart beat faster and faster. The man only stared at Jack. All Jack could do was stare into his eyes. He said, “Brace yourself for impact.”
“What are you talking about?”, he asked as if Jack had gone mad.
“It’s the tsunami. And it’s close now.”
Within moments, they heard the sound of water rush into the lower cave. It was muddy and filled with filth everywhere. Their eyes opened wide with horror. And then water gushed in from above them in a splash. For a moment, they saw the black wall of water coming in their direction. And then the gap in the ceiling flushed with muddy water. And they knew. They both saw each other as they were struck by the oncoming horror with terror.
Inspired from Daily Writing Prompt from Writer’s Write:
He came to the beach to be alone. He didn’t know it would be this deserted. He thought he saw someone move, and then he heard…