Although Jim only had fifteen minutes of oxygen left in his tank, he refused to return to the ship. As his dive lamp shone in the murky darkness of the wreck’s hold he could see something that caught his attention. Something glimmered in the low light; something metallic, something gold.
Money problems have been on his mind. Gold specifically, has been weighing him down and cutting off his options. He was diving his last dive, one last gamble for the gold. Granted it is an especially risky dive in shark infested waters, he thought, as he looked up towards the surface and counted the sharks that were circling in a holding pattern.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five? Is that a fifth shark? Five, definitely five. He longed for the surface.
Fourteen minutes of oxygen left. What to do? Jim thought through his options. On one side of the equation, he could turn back to the ship now, risk the sharks, and leave empty-handed. On the other side, he can stay down a little longer and leave rich.
Two minutes into the hold, two minutes out; ten minutes, hopefully, to the surface. What to do? Decision made, Jim finned gently forward into the hold. Inside the hold, shadows gathered. Jim’s dive lamp was a dim beacon in the dark hold.
Creeping forward, Jim was careful not to stir the thick layer of silt that covered every surface… covering everything except the gold that continued to call him forward. The gold nagged him while he hovered, recalculating his odds.
Ten minutes of oxygen left. Approximately two minutes to the open water. Ten minutes to the surface. Ten minus twelve is negative two. Can he hold his breath that long he wondered? The gold continued to call him forward. And there were the sharks that were continuing to gather; a variable in the equation. As Jim reached the depressingly obvious conclusion he finned forward to touch the gleaming golden statue.
Eight minutes of oxygen left. Not enough time. As Jim stroked the golden beauty’s hand he stared up into her face and heard the sire’s whisper in his head, “Health is the real wealth, not pieces of gold.” The siren snapped her other hand out grabbing Jim’s oxygen hose. She disconnected the hose quickly and returned to her original serene pose. Jim blinked as he jerked back, disturbing the silt and creating a disorienting cloud, his dive lamp illuminating the silt and the steady stream of precious oxygen leaving his tank.
Zero minutes of oxygen left.