Huge walls of hydraulic energy thundered down on the helpless coastline, Cyclone Joan had done her job well. On the beach the surf contest continued attracting spectators all morning. The wide expanse of sand in front of the surf club resembled Central Station at peak hour. Rubber duckies bounced high in the air as they jumped over the surging white water, then roared with intensity up the beach. While hovering helicopters fought for supremacy with loud speakers narrating the progress of each competitor in piercing tone, the confusion was complete. Out of the activity, a little way up the beach, Gail swam alone all the time wary not to venture beyond the shore break. The destructive power of the thunderous surf made survival for anyone caught in its iron grip impossible.
Where the girl came from Gail didn’t know but there she was a tiny figure alone in a sea of white water, screaming in terror as the surge tried to sweep her out to sea. The human instinct to help rose swiftly inside Gail and fought valiantly with her logical brain that accurately concluded she too would be fighting for her life if she did. The minutes ticked by like hours; scared she would loose sight of the girl if she went for help she desperately tried to attract attention. Gail’s frantic cries for help fell unheard below the roaring Jet engine of the raging surf. Desperation tightened its grip as she watched the girl’s tenuous grasp on life slipping away.
Out of nowhere a surfer appeared from under a monster wave.
“Do you need a hand to get in” he called in an amazingly calm voice. Gail’s compunction to laugh was almost unbearable. Didn’t he realise there was a ferocious beast hell bent on devouring her life and that of the other swimmer?
“I’m Okay, but there’s a girl in trouble out there,” She yelled back to him.
It wasn’t till the girl was safely on her way to shore that Gail realised the rip had taken hold of her and it wasn’t letting go.
Between breakers the ocean became a cauldron, as the sweep took her she was pounded by wall after wall of white water. Screaming until she was hoarse her voice was no match for the malevolent surf. As each new wave approached Gail steeled herself for the pounding she was about to receive, there was only enough time to gasp for air before being dragged down again. Sound no longer came from her open mouth.
A brief glance through the tumult revealed ants on the beach that used to be people.
Having reached the point of hopelessness, death seemed the inevitable next step.
Out of nowhere the surfer appeared beside her again, having taken the other girl to the safety of the beach he then realised Gail was the one in trouble now. Making his way back out through the treacherous conditions, he knew there wasn’t a minute to loose. Though the fog in her brain was thick, Gail felt herself lifted across the board and then blackness.
Gail opened her eyes and an ocean of water ran uncontrollably from her mouth. Coughing and spluttering she tried to sit, encircled by a crowd and totally unaware she was naked, her string bikini no match for the gigantic surf.
Inexplicably, after thanking her saviour Gail began crawling up the beach to where her husband and friend sat watching in oblivion. It was an unexplainable truth but fact is no one offered her a towel or help back to her family. She collapsed on a towel beside them. Feeling the thud as she hit the sand, Darren turned his head and asked in total innocence, “Where have you been?”
With all the strength her battered body could summon, she said in a gravelly whisper,
“You’ve got to be joking!”