SEA OF WAVES
No chop, no boils. The surface is strange and smooth, like the skin of a giant blue beauty queen. My board’s rock steady, clean as a bone. A deep, deep breath, oxygen for the control center. Mission Apollo. Science, magic and luck. Hey, ho… let’s go!
The blue becomes battleship gray. Memories are useless: this monster’s made from an earthquake and winter storm swells. Nothing like it ever. Pressure fronts from the Indian Ocean, the tides, the shape of the cracked plates far below me and the moon: all now joining forces to make this moving mountain of water. I could be consumed. The path to the barrel begins at the peak, but the peak’s fifty yards long. At least. Gut feeling. Go! Paddle like crazy. Shifting; The water’s starting to slope, forming a ramp, a cliff. Power! Paddle harder! Intercept! There! In the rush! The edge! Thirty feet ahead. Mist and wind, my ribs above the foam. The edge: twenty feet. Niagara! I thought 80, maybe 100 feet high-- this is double that. Everest! Everest meets Sandy! No horizon. Far away, dark blue water covered with teeth. Sunrise blue. Thunderclouds near the shore. Lightning. Mist becomes all. Cannot see where the drop starts. Everything focused on getting speed. I must shoot over the the top of the wave. I must.
I leap off.
I am soaring.
My eyes blink. Within that blink, for one millisecond, I am euphoric. Celestial. Weightless. I drop. My eyelids lift and data collection resumes but... THERE IS NO VISUAL DATA. I swivel my head. ZERO DATA! No horizon line. No sky, no ocean below. I can’t gauge my arc. White, everything is white. I'm falling through a cloud. My feet clutch the board. Arms out, hips twisting like a belly dancer on speed; bowlegged and crucified. My senses are screaming: The immensity of this is like nothing else. This is impossible.! I REMEMBER TO COUNT.
One I'm dropping in front of something nine, ten times bigger than Jaws. Waimea’s waves go 20, 24 feet- a 20 second ride. I’m on ten times that. Two minute ride. No leash. Pray no boats or sandbars. Or reefs.
Two Steady. Find a reference point. Something besides the roar, the white bullets, the rivers like pipes. The waterbombs. Who said surfers are just monkeys with sticks and swimwear?
Three Mind and body centered, man. Be a gyroscope, dude, a gyroscope...
Four This monster’s gonna break left… or right? Steady, steady. Steaaaadddyyyy. The trance, the calm. Enter IT. The moment. Steady as a planet. Totally aware, totally relaxed. Give yourself another millisecond of euphoria. You've been falling for days.
Five This morning I woke up on clean white sheets next to the most beautiful woman in the world. Now I'm surfin' a tsunami.
Six This is my last ride.
Seven I AM A WATERMAN! Waterman! Waterworld! Angel Falls! THIS IS FOR YOU, DUBBO ROGERS! THIS MAKES YOUR NORTH SHORE LOOK LIKE A BATHTUB! YOU BETTER BE UP THERE CHECKING THIS OUT! MAN, I WISH YOU WERE HERE!
Eight Survival stance. Water bombs getting bigger. Arms out, flapping. Feet still holding the board. Aerodynamics and gut feelings. Speed. I'm on the nose of a jet in a crossfire hurricane. Zero fatigue. Contact when?
Nine How to calculate when I cannot see? How to prepare for touchdown? What to aim for?
Ten Reality. I’m falling in front of a twenty story train made of tons and tons of water. A speeding wave the size of a city block... My feet clutch my board. No horizon. I see myself dropping into nothing but white foam waiting to hit me.
A self-interview by Stephen Black about Bali Wave Ghost is here.
THIS STORY'S CONCLUSION WILL APPEAR IN BALI WAVE GHOST, A SOON TO BE PUBLISHED NOVEL BY STEPHEN BLACK. DROP AN EMAIL TO bookmerah+ at; gmail.com if you would like to preorder. More information about Bali Wave Ghost.