Dead Man Floating
I don’t remember how long I’ve been here. The red sea, the Dead Sea, was it? I’ve been floating for what seems to be forever. There seems to be no sign of rescue, no sign of relief from the heat of the sun, the drying of my throat, the shattering of my soul. There’s no one here to save me, no one to tell me the people I love, “I love you”, and no one to be with. It’s probably the saddest way to die; dying alone in a place that no one even knows that you’re there. I’m just going to float in this sea, until my death arrives, welcoming me, and taking me ever slowly to the place where I truly belong.
It’s all a blur to me now, my life that is. I guess that’s what happens when you’re so close to death, or probably it was because of the sun frying my brain inside out. I’ve stared at the great big ball of fire for so long now. It’s still up there in the sky, shining upon the world, shining like a giant spotlight. I felt that I was the center of attention for at least this time. I wonder if there’s anyone out there searching for me. I guess that doesn’t matter anymore. Nothing matters here anymore. There is nothing here, just death, pure death, hell, nothing even lives here. It’s hell on earth and I’m here floating right above it.
I remember a teacher of mine; Professor Bales was his name I think. He was a biology professor back in my college. He had glasses and a semi-bald whitened hair. He was pretty old but since he liked to teach, he stayed. He taught me and my mates a lot of things. Well, when we feel like listening. I guess we can learn a lot of things if we just listen. Anyways, he thought us a lot about Biology. He thought us about mammals, reptiles, flowers, organisms, you know, Biology stuff. Then one day he discussed about the most extreme places here on Earth. One of those places was the Dead Sea. He said that nothing could live in the Dead Sea; nothing can stand the salinity, the temperatures of that certain area/sea. There were so many reasons why normal organisms can’t live in that sea. But he corrected himself when he said that nothing could live there. He said that there are some things, some other organisms that could live in the most extreme situations. Those organisms are called “extremophiles”. They were the only organisms that could live in places where no other organisms could live, like in steaming hot geysers, nuclear wastes or a place called the Dead Sea. Don’t think that these “extremophiles” are creatures, however. The only things that live in the Dead Sea are micro bacterial organisms and specie or two of algae. I don’t know why I remember these things, but it makes me think that, me, a human being, is here living and floating in the middle of the Dead Sea. Doesn’t that make me a “Extremophile?”
We human beings have been through a lot of things and I know that now, as my life slowly fades away. Everyday, we are extremophiles as we live in the harshest of conditions. Everyday, our lives are at risk of death, everytime we cross the street, eat a meal, talk to someone, our lives are at risk. It’s funny, how I start to think of these things as I float and float endlessly in this “Dead Sea.”
There’s land around me, if I could just swim to shore, if I could just reach the low points of this place, I could stand up and walk to the shore. But somehow, I can’t. My body is paralyzed, unable to move, unable to swim to the place I need to go. Probably, I’m already dead and I don’t know about it. What else could be the possible explanation? I am already dead, a dead man floating.
I can see the sun, the spotlight setting through the horizon. What a marvellous sight. The stars started to glow in the night sky, replacing the spotlight with small glitters in the sky. Probably the glitters could light my way. Way to where, exactly? I do not know. Do I really want to go back? What was the reason I was here again? I think that.... I think that I want to be here. I think that I want to stay here. There’s nothing out there for me. I can stay here and just float, just live as long as I can. My throat felt rough, my body cold, my consciousness, slowly fading away. It’s almost time.
There were lights right below the mountains, a city or a village perhaps. Families having their dinner, laughing, talking, in their dining tables about their day or whatever they see in the teli. My family seems so far away. I don’t recall seeing them in the past year nor do I remember their faces. They seem to be a blur to me, just like my whole life right now. I feel cold. Is death slowly taking me?
I thought that this night would be the darkest of all the nights I had in this world. But I was wrong. This night was the brightest of all the nights I had in this world. Brighter than the morning I had, brighter than the spotlight. The stars, the glitters, were all over the night sky, shining, making it look like day, and dear God, it’s so beautiful, and considering that it’s going to be the last thing I’m going to see in this Earth, it makes me think that there is someone out there watching over me, it makes me think that I had a life worth living.
I’m starting to lose consciousness. It’s taking me, I could feel it. I’m ready, more than anything in this world, I never felt so ready in my whole entire life. I just have to close my eyes and sleep. I just have to let it take me, to the place where I truly belong.
The Dead Sea is the place where I will disappear. I don’t remember what I’m doing here, but this is the place where I will disappear. As a human being, as an extremophile.
I open my eyes. I’m still here, the sun slowly rising at the horizon, the stars, the moon, fading away. I’m still here. I feel further from the shore than I was before. The land is now so far away. It’s going to let me suffer more; it’s going to shatter my soul more, before it takes me away. It’s not even a test anymore; it’s just plainly letting me suffer. Death is a cruel son of a bitch.
There’s a sound, a sound of a what? Something flying in the sky is it..... is it a helicopter? It’s coming to my direction. I have to do something, I have to shout. My throat is barred, too dry; it’s too dry for it to do anything. I have to move, I have to raise my hand- I’m sinking. I thought I could not move, but now, I could. The water is taking me however; the sea wants me to stay. I can’t swim. I’m going to drown, I have to fight it, I can’t let it take me, not when I’m this close.
I want to live. That’s why I’m here, I want to live. I have to paddle my way through, the water, the sea, it’s not going to take me, not like this. I’m not just going to disappear. I’m not just going to die like this. I’m so close.
My body is slowly giving up. I’m losing my breath; I can no longer keep this up. But I’m so close, so close to the surface. Everything is worth fighting for, every inch, every meter, and every single thing. I have to make it; I want to live more than anything else. I can’t let it take me.
A hand groped me in my arm. It was firm and hard. It pulled me away from the water and I looked up, my vision blurred by the water in my eyes. It stung, it was so salty, it tasted like death, but death isn’t going to take me today. The Dead Sea is not going to be the place where I die. No, it’s going to be someplace else.
When I reached the helicopter, they gave me a jug filled with water. I drank it as much as I could. It refreshed my throat, but my stomach could not take it so I ended up vomiting the liquid away.
“Slowly.” The man who rescued me said.
I drank for the second time, this time slowly. I chugged in rhythm and this time my stomach took the water gracefully. I paused for a moment. I breathe heavily. And when I felt that I could talk, I asked the first thing that went into my mind.
“How.... How did you know?” It hurt my throat, but I was able to spit the words out.
“Well, uhhhh..” There was a confused look in the rescue team as they look at each other. Then one of them moved right next to me.
“You see...” the man started his voice almost like a whisper. “You see, some professor, came to us telling that there’s something out here in the Dead Sea. It was a whole load of gibberish, but somehow he spoke with authority and we kind of.... believed him. I don’t know why.”
“What was his name?” I asked, but I already knew the answer.
“A professor with a name of... what was it Mike?” he asked his fellow rescuer.
“Uhhh I think it was.... Bales? Yeah, Bales was his name.”
“Right! That was his name, Professor Bales. You do know him, right?”
A smile in my face. “Yeah, I do know a Professor named Bales.” I answered.
But I remember one important thing. Professor Bales died years ago. He had an expedition here, in the Dead Sea, and there was wreckage with only him dead in the crew, the others survived. He told me before I graduated college the answer to my question. It was in class, when we were discussing about extremophiles. I raised my hand and asked, “You said that extremophiles live in the most extreme conditions, so therefore, we humans are extremophiles?” He was quiet for a duration, in fact, he wasn’t able to answer until two years later, during the graduation ceremony. I remember him grabbing my shoulder and I looked into his eyes and he said, “Yes, we humans are extremophiles, more extreme than any other organism that this planet ever had.” Then he left with a smile in his face.
© 2014 Khen Ramos