I woke and looked into an old man’s eyes. It was like looking into the deepest part of the ocean at dusk; transparent, yet dark. The thought of the ocean brought back the night before, the storm, the waves crashing over the boat, the broken mast.
“Be calm, my son,” the man said. His accent was strange, one I’d never heard before.
“Where am I?” I asked.
“Safe,” he said.
“How did I get here?”
He stared at me with those ocean-deep eyes. “You were washed up on the beach this morning after the storm.”
“Beach?” I knew my last location and there was not any land for hundreds of miles. Even the strongest storm wouldn’t have pushed me to the land. “What island is this? Is it part of the Azores? They were so far distant, how…?”
“Don’t worry about where you are, just know you are safe. You were lucky you found us. There are few safe harbors when the ill winds blow.”
Lucky I found them? What did the man mean? In my mind I saw towering waves, but a stone needle towering even above the waves, a beacon of hope. For some reason, I knew that the tower of stone watched over the flat harbor where I landed, saw me safely to land.
“Well, thank you for saving me,” I said.
He bowed, but then focused those sea-ancient eyes on me again. “You must sleep. You almost died last night and need to recover.”
I grew very tired and was asleep before I could answer.
I’m not sure how long I slept. When I woke up I looked around the room. It was lit by old brass lamps that gave off a heavy, fragrant smoke.
I heard voices. I got up, though I was naked, and walked close to the door so I could hear better. They were speaking in an unknown language, yet I found that I could understand the gist of it.
“He can never leave again,” the old man said.
“But he doesn’t belong here,” a woman’s voice said. “He belongs out there, out in the world. We need to set him free.”
“But how? It is almost as hard to leave here as it is to arrive.”
“He found his way here, didn’t he? Perhaps he could leave as easily.”
“No, he will hit the Ever Storm again and may not make it this time.”
“Then let me take him,” the woman said. “You know I can find my way both directions. I will ensure he is discovered and then return.”
There was a long pause. I took time to look around my room. It was almost bare, but I saw a small stone and picked it up. Finally, the old man said, “OK, but only if you make sure this stays a dream to him. He can never know the truth.”
“That is reasonable.”
“You must take him right away for his world will soon fade away and we may not see it again in his lifetime.”
I heard the quiet footfalls on the stone as they approached my room. I rushed back to the bed and covered up. I decided to feign sleep, but actually fell asleep as soon as I closed my eyes.
When I next awoke, I was looking into deep ocean eyes again, but these were eyes of the ocean at noon with the sun playing off of gentle swells.
“Ah, you are awake. We must go.” A beautiful woman of indeterminant age was behind the eyes.
“Go where?” I asked.
“I’m going to bring you home, or at least to a place where others can bring you home. We need to leave soon, though. Like now.”
It was as if a cool breeze came through and I was instantly refreshed. When I had been awake before I was naked, but I realized I was back into my normal clothes. I got up.
As I was getting up, I felt something hard. It was the rock. Without the woman noticing, I picked it up and held it tight. Later I slipped it into a pocket.
The woman motioned for me to follow. She led me down one dark corridor after another.
We reached what appeared to be an indoor dock. We entered a small sailboat and she pushed off. Even though there was no wind inside and there couldn’t have been a motor on the boat, it moved on its own until we were outside.
It was foggy, yet I could hear the gentle lapping of the waves on the coast. The boat slid quickly out to sea.
I looked back and for a moment I saw a great ancient city glowing in the setting sun, with a large obelisk guarding the entrance to the port, but then it was swallowed by fog once more.
The farther we got from shore, the choppier the water became. The fog lifted only to be replaced by a storm. The sea grew large, the waves mountainous. Our little boat continued to cut through as if on a mill pond.
I felt the presence and turned. The wave was a monster and washed over the tiny boat. When I came up to the surface again, I swam over to the over turned boat. Something about the keel was very familiar. I grabbed on for dear life.
Within minutes the ocean calmed significantly. I could see a Coast Guard ship in the distance and heard a helicopter. The boat I was clinging to was my own.
Later, dried out and rested, I was sitting, thinking about the strange dream. The captain came over and talked to me about the rescue and how lucky I was. As he was leaving, he stopped.
“Oh, I forgot,” he said. He held out his hand. “Here’s a little souvenir. You had this pebble in your pocket. If it wasn’t a good luck charm, it should be now.”
He dropped the small rock into my hand.
As soon as it touched my palm I remembered everything. I knew it wasn’t a dream.
I closed my eyes and thought about the glimpse I had of the city, the giant obelisk. I know that I am lucky to have looked on Atlantis and seen the next sunrise..