hands, so he slammed the butt of the grip into the floor of the kayak. Now the whole kayak jilted forward in rapid movement against the current of the tide and toward the sea. Rich looked up at his rod as he held it; it was bent nearly in half and cracking with strain. He could hear the fluorocarbon whining as it does when it threatens to break, so he loosened the drag. The reel zoomed in response as the unseen beast tore line away, but the rod eased and the kayak slowed in its bolt toward the Gulf. In his moment of rest, Rich waved for the attention of his parents, but they were too far to notice. Again he pushed his feet against the footrests and buried the rod into the floor of the kayak. He had lost too much line, so he tightened the drag of his reel. Again the kayak leapt up in the water, spraying Rich in the face as it split the oncoming waves. The rod tore at his hands, and they began to bleed. Rich’s eyes drew wide when he saw the arched razor of a Great Hammerhead Shark’s dorsal fin rise from the surf and tower over him by several feet. He approximated the distance between the kayak and the shark and measured the gunmetal grey fin with the middle segment of his little finger. Four feet. Rich remembered his mother’s story of Old Hitler, a twenty-twofoot-long legend of a Hammerhead that ate the sailors of ships sunk by U Boats in WWII. He didn’t believe in the legend of the single evil shark, but he did believe the mammoth towing him to sea was over ten feet longer than his kayak. With ease, the creature could swamp his boat and swallow him whole. Indeed thoughts of being eaten or drowned or lost at sea made him think of his parents. He turned his head back to the beach and saw them panicking while the fisherman gawked from their boats. Both groups screamed at him in terror to cut the line. He reached for the knife at his belt, but his hand stopped before it reached the blade. He sat still for a moment, watching the water pass beneath his kayak at great speed. Slowly, his hand came back to the rod. Rich turned his eyes forward to the towering fin, and with euphoric determination in his chest he flexed his arms and held on.
35 / VLR