Dream of: 20 April 1997 "Going Under"

Carolina and I were hiking along the top ridge of a towering mountain, somewhere in South America. From the path, it was difficult for us to view the entire vista of the breath-taking mountain range which stretched out to our left; to see everything, it would be necessary to walk closer to the side of the mountain, something I wasn't quite willing to do. From the safety of the path I was still able to see much of the mountain range, and I was a bit too conservative to walk right up to the edge, even though I realized the view at the edge would be much more splendid.

However as we continued our trek, we reached a grassy area where it looked as if it would be safe for me to venture over to the edge, especially if I knelt down on my hands and knees and cautiously crawled to the rim. Carolina, however, was still not inclined to go to the edge, so I alone knelt down and began slowly moving toward the edge of the mountain. I inched forward so deliberately, there was no danger that I would fall. Proceeding prudently, when I was almost to the edge, I lay down flat on my stomach, and pushed forward, until my eyes broke over the side. Dazzled. Miles and miles of undulating mountains rippled out before me. Spellbound. I only wished Carolina would join me, but she seemed content to stay where she was, and I didn't try to force her to come. Instead I began calling back to her, telling her how beautiful the sight was, and trying to describe what I saw.

Besides the panoramic view of the mountains, I was surprised by something else: when I looked straight down the side of my mountain, down below I could see water, waves breaking against the shore, as if the mountain abutted on the ocean. But I didn't look down long, as it made me feel uncomfortable to be staring straight down from such a height.

Instead, I rolled over onto my back and began looking up, discovering yet another surprise: all along the top of the mountain, just a few feet from us, was a tall building, probably ten stories tall, which looked like a giant hotel or apartment building, with rooms facing the panoramic sight which I had just been viewing. I was almost as awed by this building as I had been by the mountain vista. The building was constructed of heavy white rock, and there must have been a couple of hundred rooms facing the mountains. I wondered if it might be possible for Carolina and I to rent a room in the building. Again I called back to Carolina, trying to describe the magnificence of everything I was seeing.

Still Carolina wasn't inclined to venture out to where I was, and finally I began moving back toward her. When I finally reached her and stood beside her, I saw that several other tourists were now in the area, milling about, trying to get a good view. And no sooner had I reached Carolina than I saw that one of the other tourists, a healthy-looking fellow, had ventured out to the same spot where I had been. I turned to Carolina and told her that the others had realized I had found a good spot and had just been waiting for their chance to take it. I was trying to point out to her that she was missing a good opportunity to see the sight from that spot.

I also noticed a couple younger boys (probably 10-12 years old) had ventured out near to the spot where I had been. The area where they were standing was rather curious because there was a small pool of water there, right on the edge of the mountain. One side of the pool was the mountain itself. The other three sides of the rectangular pool was a little wall, about the thickness of a concrete block, perhaps 20 centimeters across. The little pool was only about eight feet long and perhaps three feet across, and the water itself looked harmless enough. The boys were daringly walking around the edge of the pool, on top of the narrow little wall. Watching them made me uneasy, as I was afraid one might fall. Fortunately I thought that in the area where they were, even if they did fall, it wasn't a long drop, and if they fell into the water, it probably wasn't deep.

I continued to watch the boys, and noticed that one was now looking upward at the tall building which rose behind us. Suddenly I saw that while the boy was looking up, he lost his balance, couldn't seem to regain himself, and toppled over into the water. I turned to Carolina and told her that he had become dizzy when he had looked up. The same type of thing had happened to me when I had looked up at the building earlier.

Turning back to the boy, it suddenly occurred to me that I shouldn't simply be standing there conversing with Carolina, that I should at least go over to see if the boy needed help out of the water. I didn't think he was in any danger, but I should help him anyway. And so I hurried to the edge of the pool, and looked over the side of the mountain rim to where the boy was.

I immediately saw that something was wrong. The boy was in water almost up to his neck, and he looked helpless. He had an uncanny resemblance to the actor who played a boy in the movie Schindler's List, in a scene where the boy was standing in the feculent water of a toilet, looking up helplessly at the top of the toilet. Clearly the boy was in trouble and he wasn't able to get out of the water. I quickly maneuvered myself out onto the narrow wall where the boy had been when he had fallen. But to my shocked amazement, when I reached the spot where I thought I would be able to help the boy, he was gone! I immediately saw that he had sunk beneath the water. Too late I realized the water must be much deeper than I had originally thought, and worse than that, it appeared that the boy didn't know how to swim.

I quickly reached my hand into the water, all the way up to my shoulder, groping for the boy. Now I began to perceive what the problem was: there was a strong current, just under the surface of the water, pulling hard on anything in the water. I braced myself on the wall, letting one of my feet fall into the water, but I didn't go into the water myself. I knew exactly what choice I was making: I could stay on the safety of the wall and try to reach the boy and probably fail; or I could jump into the water and risk drowning myself. I was wearing heavy boots, and I knew if the current grabbed me, I would probably be pulled under. I wasn't willing to do that. I would do what I could from where I was to try to save the boy, but I would not risk my own life to save his. That was my choice.

Continuing to grope, at one point I thought I felt his little hand graze against mine, but I couldn't grab him. Another time I thought I felt him tug at my boot, under the water, but it was only a second and then it was gone. As the seconds ticked by, I began to realize that the current must have pulled the boy into some underground culvert, possibly caring him down to the water I had seen earlier at the bottom of the cliff. It was soon evident that the boy was gone.

By this time the second boy had also come out to where I was, and he was clutching me tightly. It looked as if the two boys were probably brothers. The boy clutching me asked plaintively, "Is he all right?"

Remorsefully I answered, "I don't know. He went under."

The little boy holding onto me moaned, "Oh no!"

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