Stranded | Teen Ink


January 30, 2020
By Anonymous

Ethan threw his bags into the large boat, frustrated with having to go to his mother's house in Hawaii for the summer. The old captain of the boat shook his father’s hand, promising he would make it to Hawaii with Ethan safe and sound and that he’d give him a call the next day on the boats satellite phone, letting him know how the first day went. The Captain and Ethan climbed into the boat, Ethan almost falling over as it rocked. The Captain started the engine and the boat whurred away from the dock, Ethan waved at his father one last time, not knowing how long it’d actually be before he saw him again. 

“Well son, my name is Theodore. Looks as if we are gonna be together for a while so you wouldn’t mind telling me your name would you?” Theodore asked, a large friendly smile painted across his face. 

“Uh... Ethan, Ethan Zimmerman.  Do you know how long this boat ride is going to be?” Ethan asked, not wanting to be around Theodore for much longer. 

“Around fourteen days from what I’ve experienced. There’s a small bedroom if you go through that door for when you sleep and need privacy.” Theodore said as he pointed towards a folding door. Ethan walked towards the small door and opened it, there lay a small bed and a few shelves built into one of the walls in the room. He laid his bags on the shelves and laid on the very uncomfortable bed. Eventually, despite his discomfort, Ethan somehow dozed off.

The violent swaying woke Ethan up, he sat up and looked around the very dark room, the only light coming from the moon peering in through a small bedside window. Ethan got up and groggily walked out into the cockpit and noticed that Theodore seemed clearly shaken. 

“Are you alright?” Ethan questioned. 

“I didn’t anticipate this bad weather and high seas!” He exclaimed, throwing the wheel every which way, struggling to keep control of the boat. 

“Ah, I see. Do you know where the bathroom is?” Ethan asked, he quickly tried changing topics, he was already extremely uncomfortable with riding overseas for fourteen days and the thought of “high seas” didn’t help. 

“Through that door” Theodore said, pointing at the translucent glass door across the room of the cabin. Ethan walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind him. He stood there staring in the mirror, splashing a little bit of cold water on his face to fully wake himself up. The captains voice seemed to be a mumble behind the other side of the door but Ethan could have sworn he heard him say something along the lines of “Dear God.” Ethan opened the bathroom door and peeked his head out of the doorway and looked in the Theodore ’s direction, Ethan froze in fear, not from Theodore, but what lay ahead of him. 

Waves tens of feet tall roared towards the boat, Ethan raced up behind the captain. 

“What the hell are we going to do? Can we even make it through that?” He asked Theodore frantically. 

“We have no other choice son,” Theodore said as he continued steering the wheel. The waves crashed over the boat and for a second everything went dark outside the window. Ethan grasped the doorway for dear life as the cabin began to rock violently, eventually rotating a full 90 degrees. Items slid off shelves and gathered at one of the walls, Theodore struggled to keep hold of the wheel and eventually let go and also slid down to the wall. The boat turned another 90 degrees as Ethan, Theodore, and all the luggage fell onto what used to be the ceiling. As they regained their stability, they both looked at the front window and realized it was underwater. A small crack started to form in the front window and slowly started growing. Theodore grabbed a small canvas duffle bag holding some emergency tools and an inflatable raft. 

“Son, we gotta get the hell outta here, I’m going to open that door and a ton of water is gonna pour in, we are going to have to swim to the surface and inflate that raft,” Theodore instructed, handing the bad and raft to Ethan. He got back on his feet and crouch walked over to the door, Ethan got close behind and waited for Theodore to open it. The click of the handle was accompanied with tons of water rushing in, the strong power of the water pushed Theodore onto his back, he almost immediately was covered in water. The water was already at waist level and rising gradually. 

“Theodore?” Ethan called out, no response. “Theodore?” He called out his name a few more times, eventually the cabin was half full with water and he needed to go. He quickly swam out from under the boat and broke the surface as instructed, quickly setting the canvas bag on the underside of the boat and inflating the raft. He struggled to climb in, eventually he was able to hook a leg over the side of the raft and pulled himself in. He sat up quickly and looked around for Theodore, assuming he had already gotten out since he didn’t respond down in the cabin. Since he didn’t see him anywhere he waited for the captain to break the surface so he could paddle over to him and help him up into the small boat, but he never came. The boat eventually started sinking below the surface and disappeared into the depths, Ethan quickly grabbed the canvas bag off it and sat back down on the raft, realizing that he was alone in the middle of the ocean. There seemed to be no land masses around at all, just the sound of the waves and darkness all around. A small tear ran down his cheek as he lay down on the raft and thought about the events that had just occurred.

He was awoken to the boat hitting a large piece of driftwood sticking out of the shallow waters. Ethan tried sitting up slowly and immediately fell back onto his back, he let out a cry of pain. His arms and face stung and were sensitive to the touch, while he slept the sun had been beating down on him and the raft for hours and now his skin had a heavy red hue. He dipped his hands in the water and splashed cold water on the burns. The canvas bag and a paddle lay by his side, he started paddling to the shore and collapsed on the sand. He crawled to shade and opened the canvas bag. A small medical kit, a swiss army knife, a box of waterproof matches, a compass, a small roll of thin rope, a bottle, a walkie talkie, a sheet of plastic, and all the way at the bottom, a flare gun with 2 shots. Ethan put everything back in the bag and opened the medical kit and grabbed the burn ointment. He ripped open a tear in the package and put a small amount into his hand and rubbed it on his arms, doing the same with his face. He then lay back in the shade, hungry and thirsty, eventually dozing off again.

Water, Ethan woke up to his lips curled above his teeth and tongue shrunk to the back of his mouth. He ran over to the shoreline and started gulping handfuls of water, he didn’t mind the saltiness, he just needed something to quench his thirst. After a few handfuls of water later he sat back, all of a sudden a pain erupted in his gut. He hunched over onto his side and threw up all the water he had just drank. He got up while holding his stomach which was still in pain, he needed to find a source of drinking water and food or he wouldn’t even last a few days. He grabbed the canvas bag and started walking along the line of foliage that went along the sand, eventually coming across a decently sized tree with green and yellowish fruit on it. Immediately, Ethan started picking the largest of them off, once he had around 6 or 7 of the green fruit he sat down in the shade of the tree and began cutting them in half, revealing pink insides. He dove in and ate for what felt like the first time in forever, once he got one down he immediately cut open another. After around 4 or 5 had been eaten and his hands and lips were stained pink, he went over to the shoreline and washed his hands and face. The fruit had helped quench his thirst quite a bit so had a little more time to find or create a drinkable water source. 

The walkie talkie still worked but Ethan didn’t know how to use it all, he twisted knobs and pressed switches and buttons talked into it, but to no avail he didn’t get a response. He grabbed the waterproof matches and gauze as it started to get late out and started to collect pieces of driftwood and sticks to make a fire. He lit a match and got a little flame going with the driftwood and gauze, he laid sticks on the flame and soon enough it was a roaring fire. Ethan laid down in the sand and looked up at the night sky, he knew that thinking about and longing for home would slow him down but he couldn’t help but wish to be in his air conditioned California house again. The cracking of the fire and the sound of waves crashing on the shore lulled Ethan to sleep. The next morning, Ethan went off and tried to make a water still from the small plastic sheet from the canvas bag. Eventually, with great education from a Mythbusters episode, he had a fully operational water still. He left it to collect water while he went further into the foliage and looked for some sort of food other than the green fruit. Around 5 minutes into walking in the foliage he began to hear a strange noise, a man made noise. Ethan ran in the direction of the sound and once he broke out of the line of foliage he could see a helicopter flying above the ocean a bit of ways out in the water. Despite the distance, Ethan knew that he could signal it with the flares he had in the bag. He grabbed the small orange gun and loaded what looked to be a large shotgun shell into the single round chamber. He aimed high and with a small amount of pressure, a bright flame shot into the sky and burned like a small sun.

The helicopter did a wide turn and started heading in the direction of the island, as it got closer it’s orange and red colors stuck out way more, it was a rescue helicopter. The helicopter landed on the sand, the spinning rotor blades throwing it every which way. A man got out of the helicopter and ran over to Ethan. 

“Hey son, were you the one who sent the emergency transmission? Are you alright?” The man questioned, putting his hand on Ethan’s shoulder. The thing Ethan thought was a walkie talkie was actually an emergency radio transmitter and when he was fidgeting with the knobs he actually did something. The man ushered Ethan to the large helicopter and they gave him water and food, they flew back to California and once he got back he was greeted by his well shaken father. Ethan had to explain the events that had played out during and after the crash and told them that the captain was still somewhere out there. A search team was sent to look in the area of where the island was, and around 2 miles off the coast of the land mass they found a decently sized boat overturned in the deep depths. They didn’t tell Ethan whether the captain was down there and the shape he was in. They didn’t need to, Ethan felt he knew that the captain hadn’t made it. He remembered back to when the water pushed him on his back and immediately covered him, he never came up after that, he must’ve hit his head or hurt his back then. Around 2 weeks later Ethan was put on a plane and was flown out to Hawaii despite the events that had played out before, he didn’t dare tell his mom about any of it, he didn’t need to go missing again this summer.

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