Part One: A Friend In Deed
For a split-second, he tasted cool air and opened his eyes to look around. Then, he hit the water with a sudden, violent force, and could no longer breathe.
As he sank, the water rushed into him, flooding his lungs, freezing him from the inside as well as the outside. Stunned and numb, he dropped further into the icy reaches, propelled by the momentum of his fall. Down, down he plunged, a senseless, dead weight, stars flashing behind the lids of his eyes, blooming and winking like holiday fireworks.
Then, instinctively, desperately, he flung away the shock, heaved it off like a blanket, and he realized what was happening.
He was drowning! For God's sake, he was drowning!
With renewed awareness, he fought the water, flailed and kicked and twisted wildly. Still sinking, he writhed and pedaled, battered at the frigid envelope, struggling to end his descent. He couldn't let it stop him; there was so much to do.
Though his limbs were numb and his lungs burned, and the fireworks on his eyelids blazed more brilliantly than ever, he surged with strength at the thought of his mission. Thrashing his legs against gravity, he felt himself slowing, felt the speed of his fall diminish. He continued to kick at the water, and finally felt himself stop, and then he opened his eyes and looked up.