A full amber moon cast ivory beams that floated lightly on the water like a film of thick cream. Here, far from his small Costa Rican village, there were no lights and the stars were bright and danced through the darkness. They shattered into splinters and reflected eerily on an unusually smooth Caribbean sea. The balmy breeze was from the south, ripe with smells of the tropics and so richly damp, that anyone had they been with the old fisherman could have rubbed the thick, moist air between their fingers.
But no one was with him, nor was there any sound save gentle lapping of water against the hull of this fisherman’s ancient boat that rocked lazily in the calm, warm sea. He was alone with a sea so familiar he would have drifted into sleep had it not been for his troubled thoughts.
The villagers just called him Vida, which meant “Life”. The name may have been shortened from one longer, but no one in the village knew. Maybe the name just described his extraordinarily long life. He had always been in the village. But many said there was another meaning. Rumors persisted he was a shaman, directly descended from the indigenous people that had been there so long ago. The rumors said he could give life even to those who had died.
But Vida was not thinking of these rumors now. He was feeling something different. “This is new, heavy and oppressive,”, he thought. “This is a source of unknown pain?”
He was small and bent, with skin brown and thickened from decades of reflected tropical sun. His gnarled fingers were twisted from years of seaborn damp and the labor of hauling heavy nets. The grey in his black hair was spotted just heavy enough to avoid comment about its color for a man his age. But the eyes were distinctly wrong. Maybe it was the eyes that had started the rumors and his nickname for there was incredible life in those eyes. They were the eyes of a young man or maybe even an eagle, two spots, pristine and black as jet. They were clear obsidian disks, that always twinkled when he smiled and he smiled a lot, like a youth not a centenarian. Many swore those eyes had seen at least a hundred years, if not more.
Vida just laughed when confronted with these rumors. “I’m a simple fisherman, senor,” he would reply. Always polite, he called everyone “Senor” or “Senora” and then would say nothing more except “The only life I bring is from the sea. I was even born of the sea.” He would smile and his eyes would twinkle, but he would say no more.
But tonight he was not smiling. Inside, a worry bore at him even the normal calm of an old man who had seen it all could not quell. “The spirits are upset.” He often talked to the wind and the sea. “The Gods are angry. They…” He words were clipped short by an unexpected pull at his nets. “This strain is too heavy,” he spoke again to the wind. “The pull too dead. This does not feel of the fish I have known… And I know them all.” He began to sweat with dread. “Give me comfort, Dios,” he whispered into the breeze. “Lay your blessings upon me. Release me from this tiredness that presses worry into my soul.”
But this request was not to be for beneath him, a tiredness even greater than his own was about to end. Far within the earth’s crust, below the sea, two teutonic plates that had struggled one against the other were fatigued by intense pressure and endless millenniums of strain. They finally gave way. Locked for eons in mortal combat, these rocks reached their end and liquified with a force that would be registered by seismographs around the world.
In just seconds, gigantic blasts of volcanic pressure broke the crumbling rock, melted granite and ripped loose with forces that split the seabed. The plates cracked apart, lava raced up and water roared simultaneously down. They met in a raging explosion of such strength that it pushed an energy wave at hurricane speed toward the surface and the old fisherman’s boat.
The first swell of water hit Vida’s boat and nearly threw him into the sea. He grabbed instinctively at the gunwale and only his fisherman’s instincts, honed from all those years at sea, saved him.
He felt a stronger wave slap the hull and shouted to no one in surprise, “Why is the boat rocking?” HIs thoughts arced. “My nets are out and they are full. This should steady my boat. There is no wind. “Why should the boat rock?” he called out again. The boat suddenly pitched wildly and then again it was calm. His ancient flesh cringed and he silently prayed as he reached out to pull in his nets. “I must return quickly to shore,’ he muttered as he was again overwhelmed with dread. “There was evil here. I feel it in my bones.”
He was bent over the bow when an even larger wave hit and spent its fury on his boat. The impact of mud and steam threw the fisherman and immediately tangled him in his nets as they whipped again and again with each wave of energy and silt that belched from the heaving seabed below. Stunned he hardly registered the wet, the warmth of the sea, or the pain as his mind slowly shut down.
The next wave smashed his head hideously against the boat and his consciousness faded so quickly he barely had time for one last thought before the blackness, that had begun and became all. As his mind closed gently, his last reflection, a remnant of what had been a simple fisherman’s creed, was “Vida”…Life.
Waves boiled, spitting fish and seabed thousands of feet into the air. Huge rollers tossed at the boat and nets and swelled and swept upon Costa Rica’s slumbering coast and the villages asleep in its path.
Giant rifts beneath the sea widened. Rock formations sank. Others rose, suddenly freed, they pushed upwards and thrust rockbed like steam pistons at such force that the entire ocean floor rose 40 feet for a mile or more. Then the ageless fury spent, the energy released, the trembling stopped and the rocks slept once more.
The night became quiet almost as quickly as the rage had begun and the moon now cast its warm glow on a silent sea. But the shore line which received this rich amber froth was new and the coastline a mile further out to sea. The night awaited a dawn that would bear land where water should flow and desolation where a village and life should be.
At sunrise, the shoreline had already begun to rot with despoiled villages and millions of stinking fish. There was also the ancient boat, its old nets wrapped around a body and there was Vida, barely alive and telling a story that almost no one believed. He talked about a dead body in the nets. “Dios spoke to me through this body,” he said. “I must deliver god’s message to a special person who needs to hear this tale.”
“I must deliver it,” he said again and again. “Dios has given me this message to deliver only to the one who knows how to hear.”
Most, upon hearing the old fisherman’s tale, believed shock had destroyed his mind. However, not all took his words in that way. Vida to some meant this man could bring life from death. “Perhaps there is life in his message,” they thought. They questioned Vida. “Tell us about those who know how to hear”, they asked. After his reply they quietly slipped away, inquired, then returned and talked with Vida some more.
He listened to what they had found and gave them a pack. “Deliver this,” he said, “but swear to me, speak of this to no one and do not open this pack for it can bring great evil upon you. Deliver it and then disappear. Do not approach me or come here again.”
They solemnly agreed, slipped quietly once more into the rain forest and were never seen in Vida’s village again.