Peter felt the chill of the Pacific Ocean as the six-foot wave swept across his body. He didn’t mind. The brisk feeling quickly faded as his wetsuit did its job to warm the water against his body. Peter hopped onto his board and began to swim rapidly away from shore. Another wave crashed over his body, and he fought the currents to get to the sweet spot where he would be able to catch the sick swells and enjoy the gnarliest rides.
Having managed to get in three waves in the first hour, Peter sat on his board and enjoyed the fresh Pacific air, but he knew work was calling. The gray overcast skies hugging the coastline early in the morning were beginning to burn off and the sun was breaking through. Peter had time for one more wave if the ocean cooperated. Besides, he usually had his best friend Lewis with him. Without anyone to talk to the time between waves seemed to drag longer with each tiring lap back out to his favorite spot. Peter decided he would grab one last wave. He looked over his shoulder and could see a decent swell forming behind him. He allowed his instincts to take over and laid down across his board. His arms began their strokes to get the surfboard up to the momentum necessary to catch the wave.
Peter felt something large bump the bottom of his board. To his right, he watched in horror as a large dorsal fin broke the surface of the water. Peter paddled harder; he had to catch this wave. His board began to rise. Rather than stand on his surfboard, Peter extended his head past the point of the board, wrapped his legs tightly against its edges, and went for it. Much like his younger boogie board days he immediately had the board pointed down as the wall of the wave began to crest. He turned to his left, away from the danger he had just witnessed, and prayed the tide would carry him to the sandy shore.
His board gained speed as it cut left. He smiled as a tube began to form right to left. Just then, the bottom of the board hit a hard surface, and the skag made the board buck against his legs. Peter started to wiggle, and panic shot through his body for a moment. He tightened his core and used his hands and arms to steady the surfboard as it continued to speed up, and the edge of the tube began to catch up to him. Peter focused on adjusting his speed and allowed himself to be pulled into the tunnel of water for several seconds. He shot out of the tube smiling. The beach was close, and it was the gnarliest ride of his life. His body and surfboard lurched when something slammed into his side.
The surfboard lifted off the side of the wave and Peter hung on tight. Something caught his ankle leash and pulled against his foot. Suddenly the pressure was gone, but the board hit the wave parallel to the water below. Peter and his surfboard were quickly carried upward towards the wave’s crest. The board broke free of the tube and Peter hung on tightly as he felt himself begin to turn over in the air. Peter pushed against the board, and its edge bit into the water’s surface. The surfboard hit the water with a loud slap and Peter grunted as his air was knocked out. He took two deep breaths and looked around in a panic. The shark had to be nearby, but what kind? White, Blue, Tiger? He did not intend to wait around to find out.
Twenty yards away was the shore. Behind Peter, another wave had formed, but he did not intend to wait. Peter began smooth, fast strokes with his hands. The surfboard glided across the sea towards safety. He looked over his shoulder, but lying on the board made every reflection in the water look like a fin. The wave was coming, and Peter intended to catch whatever part of it he could to get back to the safety of the shore. Peter began to feel the current pull against his forward momentum; the wave was close. Suddenly, something had hold of his board. He looked back, and between his legs was the unmistakable mouth of a great white shark. It jerked its head once, and the end of the surfboard snapped off into its mouth. The shark disappeared beneath the surface. The whitewater from the crashing wave lifted and surged Peter towards the shore. As he slowed, he hopped off his board and ran out of the remaining two feet of water.
Peter collapsed on the shore. He looked down at his leash. The shark had managed to cut it free with its teeth. His board rolled around near the edge of the beach in the whitewater. Peter forced himself up and walked over to get his surfboard. Everything behind his skag was missing. “Bogus,” exclaimed Peter as he collapsed and let his butt smack the sand. He looked across the water and saw no signs of the shark. He laid back in the sand and covered his eyes. The alarm on his waterproof watch told him it was time to leave for work. Peter sat up and shook his hair free of sand. He grabbed his wounded surfboard and headed for his truck. He was not sure when the board would be replaced, but he was sure he would never surf alone again.
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