The day was glorious, the sun high in the clear blue sky adding the illusion of warmth to these coastal waters. Light filtered down, casting shadows from the coral and the fish swimming by onto the golden sand below. The weight of the scuba equipment was negated by the bouyancy of the water as he swam, it was almost possible to forget it was there. Sam was used to wearing the equipment now, having been on an intensive training course, to get ready for this moment, this hunt for lost treasure. What he was seeking was not treasure in the traditional sense but something that was taken from him.
The current tried to take him towards the shore, a gentle yet insistent pressure. Resisting this tidal pull with a kick from his flippers, he moved lower towards the sea bed. Sam was sure it was close, he had many failed attempts in the past year but this time he was sure, it felt right. Lost in thoughts of the past Sam almost missed a glint out the corner of his eye. Scanning the sand below he saw it again, over to his left, a definite sparkle. A powerful kick of his legs helped him close the distance. Was this it, had he finally found it? Sam used his hand to brush away some sand. Finally it was his again.
It was just like he remembered, a smooth, metallic disc with a picture etched onto its surface. Being submerged had not affected it at all, not one spot of rust marred its beauty. The picture was that of a snake, curled into a spiral, an image he could draw from memory, even though he had not seen the original for seventeen years. He scooped it up and placed it in a bag with some unusual shells he had gathered during his search. Excitement building, he made his way back to the boat he had hired.
Safely aboard, he got out of his scuba gear, towelled off. Having donned jeans and a plain t-shirt he moved to the table and emptied the bag. Shells cascaded across the surface whilst the disk just hit with a solid thump, it landed with the image face up, but he remembered it always had. Seeing it here on the table, so close, took him back to the last time he saw it. He had been twelve years old, his parents had kept it in a safe, on board their yacht, a safe that Sam had known the code to. He had discovered the disc a few months earlier and felt strangely drawn to it. There was something about the spiral that spoke to him, Sam had felt like it belonged with him. He used to take it out to look at when he could, but he never had it for long, always he had been worried about being caught.
Seventeen years ago Sam had been holding the disc when his mother had walked into the room, he was so focused on it, so close to a discovery, every second bringing him closer to understanding, that he never heard her panicked yell for his father. The disk had been ripped from his grasp, his vision swam and all he could see was hazy dots making everything seem spotty. He had staggered after his father, crying out for the disk, desperately trying to explain how close he was to understanding, but unable to form the words in his disorientated state. Finally catching up with his father in time to watch him hurl the disk into the sea. There was no splash, it just entered the waves and sank beneath the surface. His father had reached out and cradled his face, looking him in the eyes, asking over and over if he was okay. The shock of seeing how worried and pale his father was, finally cleared the cloud of confusion that had been fogging up his mind. After that day the disc was never mentioned again, if he tried to bring it up the subject was changed, eventually he stopped asking, but never forgot.
Now, years later he had found it again. Looking down at the table Sam felt a certainty, that he was always meant to find it again, he had the strangest feeling, if he had not found it, then it would have found him. It was a feeling that had the hairs on his arms rise up along with goosebumps. Sam sat down and reached for the disc, but nerves got the better of him and he let his hands fall to his lap. He reached out again and stopped, finally he pulled himself together and took hold of it. The disc felt cold at first but started to warm quickly as his eyes followed the spiral towards the centre, he kept following the curves round and round, the disc was getting hotter and still he had not reached the end.
Time passed and he sat there lost in the spiral, the heat from the disk becoming uncomfortable, his vision focused on the spiral and only the spiral. The day waned into night and he did not notice the luminescence that allowed his journey to continue, feeling close to the end but never quite reaching his goal. The heat intensified, and he struggled to keep hold but could not let go, then the light grew so bright that he cried out in shock before slumping unconscious to the floor.
Sam awoke to the soothing sound of the ocean, lapping against the side of the boat, but something felt wrong, the boat was not moving with the tide any more. He stood slowly, hands rubbing at his temples, trying to massage away the throbbing pain. Sam looked around for the disk but there was no sign, he turned the room upside down but there was nothing. His head was hurting and his mouth was dry, heading to the galley he drank straight from the carton of juice left there. All the while, he racked his brain for an explanation of what had happened but came up short.
His thirst quenched, the pain in his head subsiding, Sam decided to head up to the deck and find out what was up with the boat. Poking his head up through the hatch he quickly realised the problem, the boat was grounded on the beach. If the grounded boat was his only problem he would have been okay, but unfortunately he had no idea where he had run ashore. There was nothing familiar at all, as far as he could make out there was not any obvious signs of habitation. There was a hill close by and he decided to see what a higher view point might yield.
The climb was not overly strenuous but by the time he reached the hilltop his head was throbbing again and he was breathing heavily. The view was spectacular, the island Sam was on was small and he could see all the way around from here, there were other islands nearby and thankfully he recognised one. A giant wave of relief washed over him and he felt the best he had all day. He made his way back to the beach and examining the boat he could not see any signs of damage, his day was getting better, now if only he could get this boat afloat again.
As he considered his options he felt a tingling sensation in the palm of his hands, he turned them up to get a better look and was shock to see the spiral design on each hand. Sam traced it with his fingers and could feel the raised, slightly inflamed flesh. The tingle grew more pronounced and then the heat began, he ran to the waters edge and thrust his hands into the waves, shocked at the hissing as water flash boiled. The tingling stopped, and he pulled his hands from the surf and looked at the now clear image on each palm.
His hands felt fine, and running his fingers over the images there was no evidence of anything unusual, just his normal skin. Sam could not stop looking at the picture, it was identical on each hand and rather than disfiguring it looked like it belonged there. This whole affair was shaping up to be a unique and intense experience. He walked back to the boat, his mind working overtime trying to process everything. All he wanted to do was get aboard and grab a drink, not juice this time. The tide had moved further out and so he had time to kill, he climbed aboard and made his way to the galley.
As he poured a Southern Comfort, he found himself wishing he was afloat again, so he could get home and do some reasearch, he desperately wanted some answers. As he moved to take a seat, a strange tingle in his palms distracted him and then he nearly lost his balance as the boat lurched. Sam rushed up to the deck and stopped dead in his tracks. It could not be, the boat was afloat again and already quite a distance from the shore. Sam looked down at his palms in wonder, could he have done this?.......