It took six days by boat to get to the Aztec Straight, but we made it. The seas were relatively calm, surprising for this time of year. Andy and I had packed for rain, not sun. Although I was glad to have long sleeves and pant protection – it was blazing hot out here.
We prepared our diving gear and our photography equipment, triple checking as we went. I looked over Andy’s setup carefully. Pulling on wires, having him show me his dials and prove to me his air was in working order. And he did the same for me.
The only problem? Andy gets sea-sick. Just as we were ready to go in, he had to rip off his mask, vomit, and sit down for a bit. I sat with my feet in the water, dangling and playing like a child sitting on a swing. Not a cloud in the sky and blue as far as I could see.
“This is the year buddy, I can feel it!” I notioned to Andy.
“I hope so,” he replied “I can’t afford to keep coming out here.”
We were after the elusive Reaper fish. Supposedly there were less than 10 in existence, and we were going to be the first to capture it. The Reaper is a deep-sea fish, and our suits were on loan from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We could sit comfortably at 150 meters. Well, as comfortably as one can in almost pure darkness.
Andy got himself together, and we rolled our cumbersome suits into the deep blue water. Our weights started doing their job immediately as we rapidly descended towards the ocean floor. I looked at all the wonderful creatures around us. Andy was pointing every which way as if to tell me “Look at that!” – “No wait, look at that instead!”
It wasn’t until the water started to change colour that I looked at my gauge. The numbers were racing by. We had to slow down, we needed to acclimate. There was simply too much weight.
I began frantically cutting my foot plates. As I fell deeper and deeper, I wondered how I could get my math so horribly wrong. Andy was trying to do the same. I watched my friend frantically try to cut all his plates. He was panicking. Cutting the lightest, closest to his body first. The inevitable happened. Andy cut into his suit.
Calm blue waters turned black, and blood was filling my mask. We descended far too quickly, and didn’t remove the weights in time. If I didn’t get back to the surface soon, my brain would begin to bleed.
We hit bottom, shy of 162 meters. Too deep for our suits. Not only did we fuck up the math, our dive point was off. This spot was only supposed to have a depth of 80 meters. Sand kicked up all around my mask, as I was desperately looking for Andy.
As the haze cleared, I saw my best friend hanging precariously on the edge of a drop off. We were two small grains of sand, perched on the outer most edge of a mountain. My light could barely reach him. I tried to get up and walk towards him, but my eyes were too filled with tears and blood to make any sort of judgement on distance. Andy was unconscious, and in worse shape than myself. I had no idea if he was even alive.
As I removed my final weight, I saw Andy be brushed by a slight ocean current, and his lifeless body rolled over the cliff, into the unknown abyss of the deep. In a matter of minutes, he would be crushed like a can. I hope to God he was unconscious, and that he would not be awake for such a horrible death.
Moving slowly but surely to the surface, I looked down at the point where Andy had gone over. A grand Reaper fish swam up from the dark side of the cliff, noticed me, and went back down.