Forbidden Water: Episode IV


Alone today, yeah?” Tiago asked.

“The others are too chickenshit to join me. So, yeah, alone today,” Cameron replied, feeling the salty ocean air blow across his face. Hearing the hum of the motor in the background as they moved across the water.

“That is a nice shirt you have. How do you say—uhh…hip.”

Cameron laughed. “Nah…we don’t say hip anymore. Just—just cool. You can say cool.”



“Very cool shirt.”

“Thank you. It’s a sweater though. My mom knitted it for my birthday a long, long time ago.” He pointed to the blue and green bedazzles outlining his nickname ‘Cam Man’ on the front of it. He’d never worn it before until this vacation. And he’d worn it every day since they’d arrived, not because of the weather, but in her memory. This whole trip had been her idea long ago.

Tiago smiled, nodded, then said “Better to suit up now. Be ready for diving soon.”

Cameron took off his sweater, carefully folded it and placed it under a seat on the motorboat. Then, he slipped on the bodysuit, boots, flippers, and the rest of the scuba gear like he’d done a few days ago. That was part of the training. He, Brandon, Angee, and Marlon had practiced putting on the suit and taking it off a dozen times before they’d dived in. So, suiting up was a cinch now.

“Okay. Here is the location.” Tiago stopped the boat, then started to suit up himself.

Cameron had the gear on and was ready but confused. “Here? I thought we were going out farther today. I mean—I can still see the beach from here.”

“Yes. Here.” Tiago said as he slipped his boots on. “This is as far as we go. To go beyond is forbidden.”


“Yes. Any farther and we will be in cursed waters.”

Cameron stood, annoyed, and almost slipped out of the boat. Thank God for the railing he grabbed onto to catch himself. “Look, Tiago. I paid you extra today to take me on a real dive. Not some commercial, tourist thing. I want to be in the open waters. Fuck—I want to feel like I’m lost.” He was kidding about the last part, sort of. Cameron wanted adventure. He’d had to drag his family to the first dive, which was near the shore, no different than what Tiago was trying to do now.

“So, you want to go farther? You want to go in Forbidden Water?” Tiago asked.

“Yes. Take me to the Forbidden Water.” Cameron made a mockery of it, pointing.

Tiago waited, made a face like he didn’t understand what Cameron asked of him, then looked back at the land. “Okay. I take you beyond.”

So, they went. Cameron couldn’t stop his leg from shaking, his body from rocking, his cheeks from rising. This was his moment. They had sailed far enough for them to be out of sight of anything, anyone. Only water now, in all directions, and not a cloud in sight. Yet Cameron looked around like there was much to see. And he grinned like he was a little kid.

Tiago made it a point to say that he’d been in these waters once before, but not during the season. The “Forbidden Season” he’d called it. A one-month period where it was against the law to sail these waters. Tiago couldn’t say why only one month, which only made Cameron more skeptical.

Cameron thought it was a religious or ancestral thing. His ignorant self didn’t care. He’d paid and that was enough, he thought, to override any laws, superstitions, or traditions. “Tell me more about this Forbidden Season,” he requested as they flew across the water. 

“Hundreds of years ago, a pirate ship sailed this area with treasure from lost city of Atlantis. A storm came, washed ship away—pirates and treasure. Legend say that treasure uh-uh dissolve into water, cursing it.”

Cameron scoffed, but listened to the man tell the story. He’s probably trying to scare me.

“Most of the pirates died as ship sank, but the ones survive storm were stuck at sea. But they started to kill each other…and eat each other. They say the water make them do it. That they…how do you say…perceive their friends as monsters, and the others as food.”

Cameron laughed nervously. “What the fuck?”

“They also say time works different down there. That an hour down there is a day up here. Or something like that. I do not know much.”

Seems like you know enough. “And who are they that you keep talking about? Seems like no one survived this storm, right? So, how’d this story get out? How do you know about it?”

Tiago did a mixture of shrugging and eye-rolling. Cameron didn’t know what to make of it, but it made him laugh some more.

“Is that why there are no clouds in the sky? Because of this forbidden area or whatever?”

Tiago smiled. “Correct.” Then, he stopped the boat. “Okay. We stop here. Good enough?”

Cameron looked around, then shrugged. “I guess.” But he couldn’t get this story out of his mind. Surely Tiago would’ve denied bringing him out here if it were true. The man would’ve argued more or even returned payment if all that he just said actually happened. He doesn’t believe this shit. Then, the idea of this outrageous story vacated his mind as he focused on the adventure he’d been itching to get to since completing his first, amateur dive.

“Ready?” Tiago asked, as he stepped on the edge of the boat.

“Mhmm,” Cameron responded.

“Remember, Mr. Cameron. Wait five seconds, then dive.”


Tiago pulled the mask down over his eyes and stuck the regulator in his mouth, then dropped into the ocean.

Cameron stood, then stepped up to the edge. Here we go. He inhaled, exhaled, pulled the mask over his face, stuck the regulator in his mouth, and jumped in.

Fucking cold in here.

Schools of colorful fish swarmed the area immediately below his feet. Big ones, small ones, some as tiny as his pinky. 

See. This is what I’m talking about. Fish. Not those fake fish that come to shore to swim with the humans. These are the real deal. The wild fish.

Where’s Tiago?

The fish scattered as Cameron dropped deeper into the water. But his guide had disappeared. The water animals reacted to his presence, and his presence only, the way they moved out of the way for his descent. He said five seconds. He couldn’t have gone down that far already. Yet he was nowhere to be found. So, Cameron swam deeper into the water.

It was beautiful here, and clear. He could feel the difference from his first dive—the way the water felt, the sense of adventure, danger, exotic animals and violent beasts, all in the same pool. This was his greatest moment. But as he reveled in all the awesomeness, the clear waters switched to dark like a switch. He stopped and looked up. Still darkness.

Huh? He grabbed the flashlight that was attached to his hip and flipped it on. Where the fuck is he?

Cameron loved to do crazy things, no secret. A self-made stuntman back home. But the guy was afraid of the dark. No one knew this, not even his brother, Brandon. So, the excursion immediately changed from fun to creepy. Now he was ready to go.

He shined the light below him, still dark, then above to more blackness. He swam for the surface. His heart raced, his body tingled. Hell, through the billions of gallons of water surrounding him, he felt sweat on his forehead. Nervous sweat. Time to get the hell out of here sweat. Darkness was his mortal enemy.

And he was still swimming.

Five minutes later, still at it.

How is this possible? Where the fuck is the top? Ah! Where is it? Where is it? The thoughts were turning into words. Cameron forgot he was underwater and started blowing bubbles as he screamed his way out of this hell.

The light didn’t help, but he still shined it in every direction, searching for clear waters, hoping for the surface. Where is it? Where—What the fuck? A body swam past the light above him. He stopped his climb and swerved the flashlight to his right, then his left.

It was nothing—no, wait—there was something.



“Aye, boy,” a raspy voice whispered right behind his ear. He swerved around, swung his arms and kicked his feet. But the light only shined into more nothing.

The darkness now took a back seat to something more sinister. Voices in his head, or voices in the water. Either choice would’ve been as crazy as a soup sandwich, but he knew what he heard.

“You the one took me treasure?” again, the voice said. No whisper this time. Super clear, and deep, and dark.

Holy Shit!

Cameron pointed the flashlight down and saw three bodies floating below him. None of them Tiago. None of them in scuba gear. But they were dressed like pirates. That much he knew. Also, they had no skin.

“Kill him,” one of the pirates said.

“No—no, let’s eat him,” another replied.

Fucking Fuck!

Cameron dropped the flashlight and swam for his life. He ditched the tank, ascending faster without the extra weight.

Finally! Clear water. The surface. He could see the sun shining through. Don’t look back. He pushed himself harder and harder. Kicked like he’d never kicked before. Swam like he was going for gold in the summer Olympics.

He broke the surface and looked for the boat, but it was gone.

Snatching his mask off, he pulled the regulator out of his mouth and screamed. “Help! Someone, help!” Not even thinking, he dropped his only way of breathing in a world of water. His only thought now was escaping those three things that were after him. With his energy sapped, he picked a random direction and used what little strength he had left to swim.

Ten minutes later, he spotted it.

A boat. Coming his way.

Not a motorboat, but a bigger one. A green fishing boat with blue streaks. The two occupants, a man and woman, pulled him onto their boat and dried him off.

“Help me. Help me,” Cameron said over and over. Out of energy. Out of strength. Out of his mind. “They’re trying to kill me. They’re after me. Three of them. Save me. Save me.” His breathing sped up, and he started to shake.

“It is okay. You are safe with us. Relax. Relax.” The man held Cameron in his arms and rubbed his shoulders with a towel. “Dear, get him some coffee,” he told the woman.

She hurried to the lower level as the man continued to warm Cameron.

My saviors. Cameron wanted to say something to thank them, but he could barely speak. He could hardly keep his eyes open and soon enough he knew his consciousness would follow. He was safe now. With these two lovely strangers.

He couldn’t see them anymore, but he heard them as they cared for his body, brought his temperature back to normal. Meanwhile, he dreamed of being back home, in the states, never doing any crazy shit like this again. Brandon would like that.

“Boat coming.” The woman’s voice drifted through his consciousness.

The husband removed Cameron from his arms and laid him gently on the boat floor. “Where?” the man asked.

“There. With three people.”

“Like the boy said.”

“What do we do?” the woman asked.

“Quick. Get him below. We will hide him until they pass.”

Wait. Boat? Three?

Then he heard another voice speak out. “Hey! Hey! Can you help us?” It wasn’t the man. It wasn’t the woman. It was…Brandon! Cameron tried to open his eyes, tried to speak, but he blacked out.

The end.

Find this story and more like it in M. Sydnor Jr.'s short story collection, Nothing is Natural.

© 2020 M. Sydnor Jr.

Published by Seven Sydnor

Seven Sydnor – I don’t expect to get rich from my novels and shorts, but I expect to stamp the world with my presence. So, long after I’m gone, my stories will LIVE. Happiness is the key to a long & healthy life, and writing keeps me happy…as long as there’s coffee.

4 thoughts on “Forbidden Water: Episode IV

      1. I followed you on twitter as Sharon in colorado, but I left twitter and now am on Post.News If twitter dies, and you join POST, find me at sharon gaza @walking-my-path

        Liked by 1 person

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