Book Excerpt: A DEEP THING by A.K. Smith
Were they still following him? Tim Jackson scanned the canopy of the lush jungle as the damp and musty scent of the wild eased his anxiety. The birds chirped in rhythm with the incessant buzzing melody of the insects creating an organic symphony. He turned his head slightly to the left. No, they weren’t out there yet, but eventually they would be. An acquisition of memories played in his mind as he rubbed a hand over the tightness in his chest.
“Tim, the boat is fixed, you ready?” Adam emerged in the light and held Tim’s gaze. “Everything fine?”
Tim stood, brushing a hand through his hair. “Yes, everything is fine. Is Colton ready to go?”
The chop hit hard, bouncing the thirty-four-foot Boston Whaler on the turquoise water for the first forty five minutes. As the boat entered the reef, it welcomed twenty minutes of a smooth ride and a race with a pod of playful dolphins. Their slick, pointy faces broke through the water with a smile, only to head downward in a rhythmic motion of up and down, daring the boat to follow. Colton and Adam, Tim’s dive buddies on many excursions, cheered the flippers on from the front of the bow. Sheer joy highlighted their facial features. Back in the open water, the chop returned, and the men settled in silence, taking in the vastness of the azure sea. Soon they reached Lighthouse Atoll, home of the Great Blue Hole in Belize.
Seen from above, the Great Blue Hole resembled a pupil, a large deep indigo circle surrounded by a ring of turquoise looking up as if beckoning to come closer. By boat, the almost perfectly circular reef with a diameter of 980 ft. and a depth of over 480 ft. painted a different picture. The sideways viewpoint created a kaleidoscope of luminous variations of blue and green, but it was not the magical glow of water that intensified the moment, it was the overwhelming feeling it created—the energy in the air charged, as if the intensity of the color was a mysterious vortex.
“It never gets old—I’m a pixel on the screen.” Adam said. “Just look at it.” Hundreds of shades of aquamarine color exploded in the vastness as far as you could see. Incredible beauty surrounded them. They were anchored now inside the reef in calm waters. Tim stopped writing in his logbook, captivated as always by this wonder of nature.
“You know, 10,000 years ago it was above ground, a limestone cavern, a cave at the center of a tunnel. The ceiling collapsed, and now it is an undersea mountain.” Tim spoke softly clutching the dive book. He pulled in then slowly released a deep breath, staring at the sea. “It is amazing, in the scheme of it all. We are just a ripple in the water.” He placed the dive book carefully in his bag and picked up his scuba equipment.
Adam and Colton joined him adjusting their gear. Their excitement was contagious. “You ready? Let’s do this!”
The dive in the Blue Hole was the first of three dives for the day, this one ten minutes long at 140 feet. Three divers plopped into the water. Only two would surface.