Cold . . . very cold . . . very cold and wet . . . why would she be wet? Her skin felt sticky, too. Why was she laying out like this? She must get into the shade, get warm. Perhaps she would build a fire. Why couldn't she move? Why did her wrists hurt? What was wrong with her ankles?
She opened her eyes, but had to squint against the bright sun overhead. She tried to shade her eyes, but could not move her hands. They were bound with strong leather cords, secure from the first, but since getting wet they had shrunk, and now bit into her wrists painfully. Her ankles were bound to the small raft in a similar fashion. All around her was wide-open sea. She saw the white shapes of gulls on the water, but she could not hear their cries. She could do nothing to protect herself from the water, the sun, or any other calamity that might befall her. She could not feed herself, and anyway, there was nothing to eat or drink.
They had intended her to die. Of course she must; after all, she was The Curse.
A bold seagull landed on Melanie's chest and jolted her out of her reverie. She wriggled as much as she could, and seagull flew away. Her mouth was dry, so dry! She must have water. She recalled what Lucasta had taught her about Ashtan. He was a kind god, and just. Because he was a spirit, Lucasta said, he could understand thoughts just as clearly as Melanie could understand signs. Lucasta said Ashtan would be faithful to provide for anyone who asked.
Ashtan! Ashtan! Melanie's thoughts exploded in her head. Would he pay any attention to a Curse such as her? Ashtan! Great god! Please, I would like some water! Melanie's head swam, and she began to feel feverish. The sun, formerly overhead, now shone a little behind her head. So I'm heading east, she thought. By tipping her head up as far as she could, Melanie could see a vast stretch of land on the horizon. She wondered what land it was.
Melanie smelled a shift in the wind as she laid her head back down. It blew strong, from the northeast. There had been gulls settled on the water, but they now took to their wings. The atmosphere felt heavy as Melanie breathed it, a sure sign of a storm. Clouds appeared, billowing and blackening, blotting out the sun. Something struck Melanie on the forehead and trickled into her hair. A flash of lightning tore a gash in the clouds, and the sky poured rain! Melanie opened her mouth wide, trying to catch all the rain she could. Perhaps Ashtan was the good god Lucasta described him as, after all. With an unexpected jerk, the raft to which Melanie was bound flipped on its left edge as the storm stirred not only the wind and the rain, but the sea as well. Melanie did not even have the chance to close her mouth before the huge wave crashed over her and flipped the raft upside-down. Now she couldn't breathe. She was going to drown under the raft. There was no way she could escape. Ashtan was a just god, and not a forgiving one. He probably didn't exist, or if he did, he most likely caused the wave, and not the rain. Melanie's lungs burned. She had to get air!
Ashtan! Her thoughts yelled. The waters beneath her heaved, and she was face up in the rain once more. The sea still surged, crashing over her, tossing and spinning the raft to and fro, but never again did it flip over. Then something jerked at her feet. Melanie could only gaze in frozen horror as the biggest wave she had ever seen rose up next to her, curling over her and crashing upon her with tons and tons of water. The sheer weight of it all knocked her completely senseless . . .
A seagull flew over the Atlantic coast. There was a strange rock in the water. The gull landed upon this new, tan-colored rock. It was softer than most rocks, and almost looked like the huge, wingless creatures that flocked to the beach on clear days like this one. The rock jerked beneath the gull's feet, startling the bird. How was this? The gull flew away to find a more stable setting place as Melanie—choking and gasping on the water she'd swallowed—opened her eyes.
She was alive! The morning sun shone on her right, and the land that she had seen approaching yesterday was now behind her. Somehow, she had gone from one side of the huge island to the other, most likely by some waterway of some sort. The sea was calmer now, and Melanie's raft rode a northbound current. The girl wondered what she would see next.
Her skin itched from the dried seawater, and more splashed over her from time to time. As Melanie floated, hunger such as she had never known even on the island she called home wrenched at her frail frame. She gasped at the horrible pain, but there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. She shut her eyes against the agony, hoping sleep would help her forget the void in her middle.
A shadow fell across her face, and Melanie opened her eyes just in time to see the black, sloped underside of the bow on a huge white boat before it slid right over the top of the small raft and its prisoner.
Susan Pevensie stood on the lowest deck of the Florida Day-Cruise ship as it rounded the tip of the state. While her father gave lectures in Orlando, Susan and her mother occupied themselves seeing the sights of such a beautiful place. The day-cruise boat was a large paddle-boat.
Half the size of the Splendor Hyaline, and not quite so nice, Susan sighed as she remembered fondly the happy jaunts she and her siblings would take in Narnia. A small part of her still pined for those days, but knew she needed to put such memories behind her, for they would never happen again.
Still, it was rather jolly to stare into the moving water and allow her mind to return to Narnia and become Queen Susan again. She stared at the ethereal trail of bubbles that floated up from underneath the boat and wondered semi-consciously what sort of creature made those bubbles, if any did.
Susan jolted out of her musings and screamed in shock. Instantly, a deck hand appeared at her side, "What's wrong?"
Susan—speechless with shock—could only point: a body, tied to a crude raft with leather thongs, had floated up from beneath the water. It was a girl, and her face, arms, and legs were red-striped with scratches, most likely from the underside of the hull.