The order came, firm and clear; march to the end of the walkway and wait. Wait for what? That important bit of information was not included, nor was what to do while waiting or how long to wait. Follow instructions, no matter how vague, and trust our superiors know better was the only comforting thought as I made my way down the ladder. This service was performed countless times in my duty, but something felt different when I got to the bottom.
The walk across the bridge was always unnerving. Chaotic water was mixed black, green and blue with dancing white caps that threatened to sweep whatever foolish trespasser crossed the tiny bridge. But today the water was calm and only slight ripples penetrated the bottomless expanse. The ocean was a mischievous blue-green hue that would have been considered inviting to the uninitiated, but threatening to a seasoned dockman like me. Unnerved and wary I crossed the bridge, moving slower than normal in case the water changed its course and decided to wash me to into the darkness. Nothing quite as dramatic happened as I made my way to the terminal point, and in that moment I realized that the danger my mind created had distracted me from the task at hand which was now here.
I stood there and waited. And waited. And waited some more. No signs of life, no clear idea of what was to be done other than wait. The blue green ocean laid placid and after a time I wanted the threat to be real so at least that would occupy my mind. I looked back at the ladder, which was barely visible from my vantage point, and had the fleeting thought to abandon the mission and head back. Can’t do that, I’ll lose my post. And being so close to retirement left abandonment an option only a fool would consider. So I stared into the ocean for what seemed like an eternity with no more movement than the slight breeze could stir.
Day turned into night, night turned into day and this exchange of light and darkness came and went in silence until I noticed a slight stirring beneath my feet. A strange movement, a strange light emitted from the water. Very slight, so slight that it could not have been real but it was. It had to be. Staring into the depths, I heard a song, sweet and slow like a lullaby while the light beneath the surface grew warm and inviting. Time soon became irrelevant as my thoughts focused on the serenity the depths now promised.
It was only after the water washed over my head and my body sank downward that the realization I could not breathe came. An afterthought to my actions. Air did not matter now, neither did the fear of abandoning my post or losing my well-earned retirement. All that mattered was reaching the light and that beautiful song, just a little further down, just a little deeper.
As life seeped from my body and oblivion became my residence, it became clear that death was my mission. To join the ocean in willing sacrifice so that mankind could go on, and the timeless blue ocean would not claim all. A fleeting smile crossed my face as I reached the place where cold water, warm light and sweet song met, and knew my mission was complete, cradled in the bosom of my maker, as instructed.