“Bia, are you up for this?” Javier asked, eyeing her with concern as he stopped the cabin cruiser at the coordinates where they had seen the glowing light. “We spent a lot of time underwater this morning. The vortex jump and deep diving can be tiring. Maybe we should head back to São Caetano and start again tomorrow.”
“I’m fine,” she asserted, not wanting to go back to Pico Island. “It’s still early afternoon, and I’m positive that light will still be there. We need to check it out. It’s important. It will help us find Mama and Papa. I know it.”
“Okay, then,” he said, sighing, as he proceeded to anchor the boat. “Although I’d like to know what we saw, there’s no guarantee that it will lead us to the Espírito. You may be disappointed. Can you handle that?”
“It will help us, I’m sure of it,” Bia replied. “Can you please trust me?”
“I’ll try, pequenino.”
They both suited up and checked their mask messaging. This time, Javier strapped the handheld LIDAR scanner to his belt. And then, once again they both jumped off the side of the boat and into a vortex that would carry them straight down to the bottom of the ocean.
As soon as they touched down onto the muddy silt of the seafloor, Javier switched off the LED array. It took a minute for Bia to get her bearings; then, with her heart thumping, she scanned the distance for the glowing blue light. When she found it, relief flooded her chest and slowed her racing heart. Then a calming certainty washed over her, focusing her mind on reaching the light.
Bia: There, to the west. I see it. Let’s go.
Javier: I still don’t see anything on the MUDAM display.
Bia: It doesn’t matter. I know something’s there. Hurry up.
Javier set the LED array so that it lit the ocean floor several feet ahead of them. He then turned on his propulsion device and Bia did the same. She still found swimming in the blackness of the deep ocean strange and unsettling—like she was floating, sightless, inside a room with a mud floor and no walls. To assure herself that she was moving forward, she made herself concentrate on the blue glow in the distance, imagining it was a beacon from strange, luminescent lighthouse beckoning her to come closer. Its pull was very real and was getting stronger and stronger, as though it was creeping into her thoughts and positioning itself in the forefront of her consciousness with an urgent message to get there quickly. Even so, the static unchanging view seemed distant and unattainable, as though it was a mirage in a dark hallucination. Occasionally she felt a large fish swim into her, a stark reminder that she wasn’t in a dream. Their journey was very real.
They swam toward the light for about two hours. The blue glow in front of Bia and Javier was brighter, its halo reaching higher into the blackness of the seawater. It had been subtly changing—the way the light from a small town comes into view at night when you approach it from an unlit rural road. The glow becomes larger and brighter as you get closer. Then, suddenly, the town is there in front of you.
Now, in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, Bia was certain they would come upon the source of the light very soon. It couldn’t be much farther away now.
Javier: We’re getting close, I think. You tired?
Bia: No. We have to keep going.
Javier: You sure? It’s a long way back to the cabin cruiser. About 30 kilometers from here.
Bia: We can’t turn around now. I know we’re close.
Javier: Okay Bia. Just 15 more kilometers. But if we don’t find it, I’m going back to the boat.
As they continued to swim west, Bia started to feel more energized. Any weariness she had felt was replaced by an urgent desire to get to the light. She was positive it would lead them to the Espírito.
Bia took comfort in knowing her parents were experienced sailors. Still, without working electronics, it would be easy to get lost here and go undetected unless someone was specifically looking for you. This part of the Atlantic Ocean—quite a distance from Pico Island and not on a travel route to any other destination in the Azores archipelago or beyond—was primarily unexplored. If their sailboat was disabled, it could take a long time for someone to find them in the vast expanse of water. Lost in thought over her parents’ whereabouts, Bia was swimming alongside Javier without really concentrating on seafloor when she realized that the path below her had become dark. Javier was no longer next to her.
To be continued
Check out “Lost at Sea.” Bia and Javier search for their parents in the Atlantic Ocean. Will they find their parents? Or encounter something totally unexpected.Tweet
Written by Allorianna Matsourani