by Paul Williams logo

They spun their jet skis round and zipped across the flat silkiness of the calm Ionian Sea. An approaching speedboat caught their attention and they kept an eye on it to make sure they weren’t in its way. As they watched it they sensed that something was not quite right. Jack circled and pulled alongside Jeff to ask him what he thought. There had been a few speedboats and the odd jet ski and none of them had bothered Jeff or Jack, but there was something about this boat that made them a little uneasy. Unlike other boats of its kind, that tended to stick to a fairly straight course for the pure exhilaration of going fast on the water, this one was stopping and starting; bobbing to a standstill before rearing up and accelerating at speed. It was also weaving from side to side and rocking, almost as if it was out of control.

‘What’s he doin’?’ Jack asked.

‘Looks a bit strange to me,’ replied Jeff.

‘Perhaps he’s got trouble with his engine – keeps cutting out or something?’

‘Could be.’

The boys circled in their jet skis to make themselves less conspicuous while surreptitiously keeping an eye on the boat – making sure it remained at a safe distance.

‘D’you see that?’ Jeff asked as the boat got a little nearer and he could make out the figures on board.

‘Yeah, I think so. It looks like they’re fighting.’

‘Yeah, that’s what I thought.’ And just as Jeff finished his sentence one of the figures went flying over the side of the boat, cartwheeling into the cobalt blue water.

‘No way!’ exclaimed Jack.

The two lads watched for a moment longer to see if the speedboat would loop round to pick up the jettisoned man who was floating face down in the water. They breathed a sigh of relief as the boat banked and circled back in the direction of the troubled man.

What happened next they certainly weren’t expecting. The speedboat, instead of dropping its bow and slowing, lifted high on the water as it picked up speed. The man at the wheel had his shoulders hunched like a jockey focusing on the finishing line, and he aimed his speedboat directly at the man in the water. There was a sickening thud and then the boat sped off at full throttle towards the north of the island.

The undulations of the frothing wake gradually settled and the floating body reappeared. Jeff twisted the grip on his throttle and zoomed towards the point he had last seen the man, his eyes fixed, unblinking. Jack instantaneously followed suit. As Jeff got closer he could see the man floating, face down – the back of his head a mass of red and the clear seawater around him clouded with crimson. Jeff jumped in the water and swam to the man, scared of what he might find when he turned the man over.

‘Go to the shore and fetch someone,’ shouted Jeff. Jack revved up his jet ski and headed back to the beach.

Jeff put his hand under the man’s chin and manoeuvred him until his head was resting on Jeff’s shoulder. There was a strangely unpleasant sensation of cool, thin seawater mixing with warm, viscous blood and Jeff tried not to think about it as he pushed against the water with his legs, back to the buoyancy of his bobbing jet ski.

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The Smallest Happy Number
Metaxa and Coke
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