Zen on Zen

She was about to dive deep into a notorious wreck with a husband she was not fully sure of.

 

Amanda descended to the side of the great Ro-Ro ferry following Robert. She pinched her nostrils closed through her mask and blew, feeling her ears pop. He landed on the ship’s side, turned and gave the OK sign before immediately plunging off and going into free-fall. Forty-two metres to the seabed. Show-off she thought, there was no way she would follow him at that speed. She felt a nervous shudder down her spine. Surely, he wouldn’t try to kill her on this dive, it was just her over-active imagination she decided.  They’d dived the day before and all seemed fine but last night and this morning he’d been unusually quiet. She knew he was jealous of her wealth, his snide remarks after he’d had a drink made that clear enough.

Last night she had tried to seduce him but he couldn’t manage it. ‘Amanda my love, we’re diving the Zenobia early tomorrow and I’m a little anxious, that’s all. Sorry.’

Amanda’s mouth turned down at the corners, her eyes narrowed, and a frown creased her brow, ‘but you’ve dived the Zenobia dozens of times, Robert, surely you can’t be that nervous?’

‘I’m not nervous for me Amanda, I’m nervous for you.  You’ve only just qualified as advanced open water diver, and you’ve been to forty metres only a very few times.’ His dark brown eyes looked serious. The lines etched deeply on his suntanned face giving him an almost haggard look ‘I do worry about you. You place far too much confidence in that stupid Zen meditation stuff you’re into.’ He scowled, wagging a cautionary finger ‘trying to keep calm by thinking OM at forty metres when things go wrong is just not possible.’

Amanda smiled You silly boy, I’ve dived to forty-two metres in Wastwater and in Dorothea quarry, too. If I can do those deep dark dangerous places, then the warm Med with its excellent a visibility shouldn’t phase me. And, my darling, I’ll have you with me. My very own Open Water Scuba Instructor with dozens of dives on the Zenobia.’ She frowned, ‘and, by the way, Zen isn’t stupid, you should try it yourself you’d sleep a lot better.’

He went to protest but she held up her hand, looking forlornly at his flaccid manhood ‘enough, let’s go to the bar, I feel like a drink or is that verboten too?’

She looked obliquely at him as he ordered their drinks, assessing the tenseness in him. She knew men. Oh, boy, did she know men. Something was wrong. Her instinct for these things was something she trusted. She had paid for this holiday because he was having cash flow problems he said. ‘I’m a bit extended at the moment darling’ he’d told her, it’s due to paying large deposits on two London flats plus I’ve had some hefty repair bills to fork out for, too.’

She knew that was a lie he’d been gambling with those Russian so-called friends of his again.

Now, as she sank ever deeper, she wondered had he ever really loved her? Was it all about her money? She hoped she was wrong, but Robert did talk in his sleep even if indistinctly. The name Sophie was repeated several times so was “her money.” Amanda knew Sophie was a pole dancer who’d slept with him before they met.

People assumed Amanda had been born into great wealth simply because the new surname she’d chosen was Getty, her mother’s maiden name. She was in no way related to the famous Getty family and never claimed to be. It didn’t do her any harm, though, to let people assume that she was related whilst she maintained an air of mysterious silence. She had been born on a Wythenshawe council estate in Manchester. She had been a sex worker before running her own chain of successful massage parlours. This was her secret known to very few up North and none in London. Her profits had been invested in property just before the boom. At the age of thirty-four, she’d sold up and moved to London where she re-invested her money shrewdly in property. London prices soared and her rental income with it. She had re-invented herself.

Then she’d met Robert, a well-spoken old Etonian, at a presentation for property investors. He had impressed her with his good looks and boyish charm. Their marriage came after only six weeks of heady parties and wild sex. He had the body of a Greek god and was into scuba diving. She’d learned to dive to please him and then found she loved it.

*****

They’d had the boat to themselves. Mid-week towards the end of the season was always quiet so when Robert said he wanted to hire the whole boat and offered well above the odds, the dive operator had quickly agreed. That morning there was only one other boat about, it was anchored at the wreck’s bow.

She followed Robert through the huge propellers to the seabed. After ten minutes exploring the old trucks that had been on the great Ro-Ro Robert checked his computer and started a gradual ascent towards the bridge. In the distance, two other divers in rebreathers glided silently in their bubble-free gear.

Robert suddenly turned to her and gave the follow me signal. She thought they had been going to explore the bridge, but Robert swam through a hatch into the interior. She switched her torch on. As she swam after Robert a great Moray eel came out of the hatch. She was awestruck as the huge creature glided past her its movements so fluid and graceful that it seemed to be made of the ocean itself. Then Robert turned and signalled again impatiently. She checked her air, 120 bar, roughly half of her fifteen litre tank. She’d be OK to make the bow as long as they progressed gradually upwards. This was not the dive they had planned, she’d never done wreck penetration before, but she was with him, so all should be well. A chill struck her momentarily, had she been right? Was there something amiss? She told herself not to be silly. Murder? He was her loving husband for God’s sake.

Robert slowly led her down a narrow corridor to a door in what was now the floor. He lifted it with some difficulty and pointed into it like there was something of great interest in there.

She swam closer and shone her torch into the yawning gap. Nothing! It was only an empty storeroom. That was when she flipped onto her back and saw him with his hand outstretched, a murderous gleam in his torch-lit eye. He was going to turn her air off. He looked surprised for a second then continued to close on her. He tore the regulator out of her mouth and hugged her to him, reaching around her for her air valve.

A feeling of desperation engulfed her. She grabbed his mask tearing it off his face and letting it fall behind her. He let her go and started thrashing about desperate to retrieve the mask. Without it he was blind.

Amanda kicked out, her large fins slowing her action, but she succeeded in placing her right foot against him pushing herself away far enough to grab her spare regulator and stuff it into her mouth. She urgently drew in great gulps of air as her heart raced. It wasn’t over yet.

Though blind for all practical purposes and the sea water stinging his eyes, Robert could still see her torch light and finned quickly towards it, clawing wildly at her, kicking up clouds of silt until the water around them resembled milky tea. She twisted away as his hand closed on her arm. She felt wild panic start to grip her. No, it couldn’t end like this she had too much to live for.

She reached for his regulator and using both hands managed to drag it out of his mouth. He was forced to let her go and grab his spare giving her precious seconds to swim away. She had to clear her head, she had to think. She switched her torch off. Darkness would hide her.

As she swam away she resisted the urge to fin like crazy although she did change from the frog kicking action they’d used to prevent silt being disturbed and started the normal up and down stroke. This was quicker and would kick up the silt making Roberts chances of catching her even slimmer.

She thudded into the wall in the darkness banging her head then started feeling her way along it. behind her she could see his torch as Robert, too, followed the wall; she must not allow him to catch her.

Air was now her concern, she’s been breathing hard and raggedly during the struggle and fear increased with the darkness, her heart was pounding, her breathing rate far too rapid. She’d never find her way out and to the surface at this rate. She started her Zen meditation chant in her head and deliberately slowed her breathing. She felt her heart rate begin to slow as she became aware of her body from head to toe.

Robert was now desperate. He flashed his torch left and right looking for her though he could only see but a few blurred inches. Vanity had prevented him packing a spare mask, he had not wanted its bulk spoiling the manly leg line of his wetsuit. He finned powerfully now, he had to catch her before the end of the corridor.

Amanda glanced behind her. His torch was closing fast. What should she do? She dumped some air from her jacket and allowed herself to sink to the floor. She lay still as he passed over her. Surely her bubbles would give her away. They did.

Robert felt rather than saw her bubbles hit him in the face. He reached down and grabbed her shoulder. She did her best to fight him off, but he had the strength of a demon. He felt for her mask. With her right hand she held on to it, with her left she dug her thumbnail deep into his eye. He recoiled then came towards her again, this time he grabbed at her regulator. She realised there were no bubbles coming from his. She kicked and struggled and at last, she was free. Above her she saw Roberts struggles weaken, his torch fell away and hung by its lanyard, the regulator slipped from his mouth, then Robert was still.

Amanda made her way more slowly now with measured strokes and breathing, the chant in her head keeping her calm. She resisted the urge to check her air it didn’t matter now, she’d either live or die. Knowing she was about to run out would only cause her to panic and use even more. She continued along the seemingly endless corridor, breathing slowly, calmly her heart rate almost normal. At last, she came to an open space. She was still inside the ship but there was a light above. She ascended now and glanced at her computer, she was at twenty-three metres with twelve bar of air left. She’d need to resist the urge to dash for the surface. Keeping a careful eye on her computer, she began her ascent, the device told her she needed a six-minute decompression stop. No chance of that so she’d need to visit a decompression chamber. It could be worse.

As her head broke the surface her air ran out, there was none to inflate her jacket. Now her problem was to stay on the surface as she bobbed in the gentle swell her mouth at the level of the water. She reached down with both hands and found the toggles and pulled. Her lead weights fell away and she rose in the water. Then she heard the engine as the boatman had realised something was wrong and came to pick her up. She had survived thanks to her use of Zen on the Zen. Little did she know her troubles were only just beginning………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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