Decompression - Crenshaw Rivas


Crenshaw Rivas

©2015 Time is Now Productions. All rights reserved. No part of this manuscript may be reproduced or distributed without the author’s permission. This is a work of pure fiction. Any resemblance to any person, place or thing, living or dead, is 100% coincidence and is unintentional.


CHAPTER ONE – Grand Turk Island, 1982


CHAPTER THREE – Summersby Manor

CHAPTER FOUR – Bibi Atabey


CHAPTER SIX – The Black Hole

CHAPTER SEVEN – Flamingo Cove


CHAPTER NINE – North Caicos

CHAPTER TEN – Mangrove Cay




Grand Turk Island, 1982

I check my depth gauge, it reads 127 feet. I look over at Mike, fading into blue gloom. He signals it is time to go up. I take a deep breath of Nitrox, feel the stinging twitch of O2 poisoning begin around the eyelids. Being this deep underwater feels a lot like being drunk. As the nitrogen narcosis massages your delirious neurons, you lose all inhibition. Eventually, right before you pass out, I figure, you experience total brain-orgasm. It’s a good feeling, if you don't get too attached to it.

We are aquanauts flying on a swift current above swirling darkness, the ocean floor seven thousand feet below. I picture the cold barren bottom of Turks Island Channel, inhabited by strange transparent fishes and pale, prehistoric invertebrates never seen before by humans. I want to be there, to know the ocean's deepest secrets, its origins, my origin. The bottom is the final event horizon, the place where space-time collapses, infinite destiny, the end and beginning of everything. The Point.

Suddenly Wittgenstein makes perfect sense: "If you can't talk about it, point to it." I point downward, spit laughter into my regulator. Thousands of bubbles explode out, I watch them rise slowly toward the weak surface light. A huge school of yellowtail jacks fans out overhead, chased by a silver-spiked barracuda.

Up? Down? There is no difference. I look at my air gauge: 1800 pounds. Plenty of air to escape Time. All I have to do is let go. Everything I am is contained in this nanosecond. Mike, suddenly close, takes my hands firmly in his and pulls me into his body. His intense expression burns through thick mask-glass, his greenish hair streams in the ether, blown by gentle water-breezes. Multi-colored spots dance in front of my eyes. I grin at him, lips loosening on the regulator mouthpiece. Mike takes the first kick. Slowly, carefully, we start our ascent.

We grab the decompression line for our safety stop, hang there in the blue, breathing rhythmically, deeply. I gaze off down the reef line, a school of gigantic, lazy tarpon sway together under a reef ledge. Breathe in, breathe out. Blood gases begin to normalize, but there is no feeling, no realization of that. Decompression is performed by rote, to keep excess nitrogen bubbles from forming in joints, the ubiquitous gas dissipating over a predictable time table. I have red-lined the wall so many times, I have a punch-card for the local recompression chamber. Mike glances at his dive computer, lets go, swims upward, toward the dark shadow of the boat overhead. I watch him through crystalline water, brassy sun flecks play around his body, glinting, tiny surface angels.

Raul grabs our tanks off the platform. We peel off our wetsuits, put away our gear. Mike is silent, angry. He climbs up on the flybridge, cranks the boat motor, slams it into gear. I follow him up there, put a hand on his hairy forearm.

"It's beautiful down deep," I say. "So empty and stark, like a blue wasteland..."

Mike does not answer, squints into the cutting sun. I remove my hand. Sigh.

After a while, he says over the boat noise, "You just don't know when to stop, do you." Inflectionless, staring straight ahead, not looking at me.

I jump onto the dock, Raul hands me the first tank, I hoist it up onto the rickety boards. Tuggy is there waiting.

"Celia lookin’ for you," he says. I look up at him, his tall, gawky figure a tattered black hole in the bleached sky.

I push my Ray-Bans back up onto the bridge of my greasy nose, grab another tank. "What for?" I say.

"I donno. She over de bank."

I grunt the last tank over, jump off the dock into knee-deep turquoise gel, slog up onto the beach. I twist my head around to see Mike’s beefy dive boat Atropos moving along the razor-cut horizon, toward the rusty pimple of Salt Cay, Mike stiff at the helm.