Jessica glanced at her depth gauge. Based on what Todd told her she should see a small cave at this depth. In her left hand she carried an underwater flashlight, but it wasn’t necessary to use yet. The noontime sun, even filtered by one hundred and twenty feet of water, provided plenty of light. Although visibility was great, there was little to no fish and no plant life. The scenery was depressing.
Before searching for the cave, Jessica checked her air supply. She was pleased to note that her main tank remained nearly full. Unlike her husband, she was not an air-hog. Although at this depth she would consume air faster, she could spend twenty minutes searching for the skeleton Todd supposedly found. She shook her head in frustration. Something had to be done with her husband. He was not the same man she married.
A moment later Jessica found the cave, only it wasn’t a ‘cave’ in the traditional sense of the word. This narrow tunnel extended into the east side of Hawaii’s foundation, it was nothing more than a vacant lava tube. Although Kilauea was still an active volcano, Jessica did not fear any lava from the tube. She was concerned about entering the narrow hole. Cave diving was extremely dangerous in shallow dives. It was insanity at this depth without a partner.
She could not imagine what possessed Todd to enter the cave in the first place. She paused before entering. What if all he saw was a hallucination? Todd was not an experienced diver, and should never have dived to this depth. It was likely he suffered from too much nitrogen bubbles in his blood and mistook a natural rock formation as a skeleton.
Todd had argued with her, claiming he saw a bullet hole in the skull and several gold coins littering the ground. Because he already did a deep dive, he could not accompany her without risking serious damage to his vital organs. She left him at the hotel after getting the coordinates. Wouldn’t it be something if he truly stumbled upon a buried treasure? She certainly didn’t need the money, but the thrill of such a find! What if the coins dated back to the 1800’s?
On her way to the boat she tried calling her brother on the phone. Each time the call went to voice mail. She felt a twinge of uneasiness. Something is wrong with Michael, she thought. In fact, she had felt edgy all day. Maybe he was on the boat and shut his phone off? He wasn’t on the boat, but Todd was. “I thought I left you at the hotel to relax.” She said.
Todd was full of nervous energy. “What, and miss a find like this? No way, plus I’d feel better being with you.”
“What about the kids? Are they below the deck?”
“No, Michael stopped by and I asked him to watch them. He was cool with it. I think he took them down to the pool.” Todd explained and went below the deck.
Jessica mentally shrugged and jabbed the power button on the flashlight, pointed the high-powered beam at the opening, and swam inside. Todd told her to swim into the tunnel for about a hundred feet, then it would open into a spacious cavern. He said there were no other adjoining tunnels.
Her breathing was slow and steady, and sounded like the way Darth Vada breathed. After swimming for fifty feet she had to clear her ears. She swallowed repeatedly to clear them. A lot of people pinched their nose and blew lightly, but she always wound up inhaling water so she used clips to keep her nostrils closed. A glance at the depth gauge confirmed that she had descended another ten feet. This was craziness! Her dive now stood at 130 feet. She did a quick calculation, if all went well, she would just make it back. If something delayed her? She was risking decompression.
Jessica suddenly decided that when they arrived back in Florida she would file for a divorce. They made the trip to visit her brother, and to try and salvage their collapsing marriage. Jessica discovered that she could not forgive him for cheating on her, nor could she shrug off his surprise drug addiction. She worried about the kids. A divorce would devastate them.
Jessica was glad her father convinced her to have a prenuptial agreement signed. She and Michael owned equal shares of Olympia Records, a multimillion dollar company they inherited when their father passed away. If she didn’t have that simple form, Todd would be entitled to a small fortune, regardless of his cheating. Sometimes the law wasn’t fair.
A few minutes later Jessica entered the cavern and caught her breath in shock. There was no skeleton in the cave. It was her twin brother floating before her! Michael was dressed in a full wetsuit and diving gear, minus the face mask and regulator. A rope was tied to both ankles and fastened to large lava rocks in order to keep him afloat. A sheet of laminated paper was strapped to his weight belt.
The implications hit her, taking her breath away the same way a punch in the gut did. Todd tricked her into a trap! Jessica spun around and swam back down the tunnel. Ahead she saw the opening of the tunnel. She also saw a pair of human legs. She kicked harder. Small chunks of rock and sand were falling in front of the exit.
Kicking furiously, Jessica sped through the tunnel. Her tank clanging against the roof several times as the tunnel narrowed. Ten feet from the opening a large boulder dropped, sealing off the exit. Jessica was going to fast to stop, she crossed her arms in front of her and screamed in pain as the rough lava rock tore into her hands and arms. The regulator popped out of her mouth and she inhaled the salty water.
Choking, she quickly leaned to the right and saw the regulator. She shoved it into her mouth and purged the water out of her mouth. A few minutes later she regained control. She was bleeding but nothing seemed broken. She dropped the flashlight and pushed against the boulder, but the rock didn’t budge. She wedged herself in the tunnel and pushed the rock in vain. A glance at her air supply caused her heart to pound. She had less than ninety psi left in the main tank.
There had to be a way out! She swore she would get out of this alive, but that would not happen if she didn’t control herself. She closed her eyes and concentrated on slowing down her breathing. If she were to survive, she needed to conserve as much oxygen as possible. Once calm, she curled herself into a ball and began to turn herself around. The air tank scrapped across the tunnel and jammed. Jessica’s eyed widened in fear as she struggled to complete the turn. “Trapped!” Her mind shrieked. “No, I’m not going to die in this hole like a rat. I’m going to escape and make sure Todd suffers for what he did.”
Suddenly the tank was free and she was able to swim back into the cavern. She was down to forty psi by the time she reached Michael. She touched his face, Michael had always been her angel, he possessed everything that was honorable. They were two sides of the same coin. Two hearts beating together at conception, until now. Tears spilled from her eyes as she untied the note from his belt.
She was amazed Todd took the time to type up and letter and have it laminated so she could read it. Obviously he had this planned for a long time.
My dearest Jessica. I am sure you understand the situation you are in. You see, I know you are going to file for a divorce soon, I can see it in your eyes’ every-time you look at me. Unfortunately, I cannot allow that to happen.
I know you don’t have much time, so I will get right to it. Yeah, I guess I also want to gloat. You see, in order for me to collect anything from Olympia Records, both you and Michael needed to die. I was able to trick Michael into entering the cave the same way I tricked you. I will be going to the hotel now and will sneak into our room so I will be there when the kids wake. Then I will call the police and file a missing person’s. As far as everyone is concerned I never left the hotel today. The maid will verify that I was there, and room service will log my snack when I return.
The cops will tell me to relax. Tomorrow morning I will take the kids down for breakfast, then feed them a small sedative. Once asleep I will swim down and remove you and Michael from the cave, fill your vests with air, and let you float to the surface. Then I will sneak back and be there in time for the maid to clean our room. The kids and I will spend all day beside the pool, or in the room with the cops depending on how things play out.
Our children will inherit the record company, but since they are only six years old, I will receive their monthly payments. Do not worry my dear. I do not plan on wasting a single cent on drugs or hookers. I plan on giving the kids a great life while I live like a king.
I really never loved you, Jessica. I only went with you for the money, so yes, I have had this planned since we first met. Sweet dreams bitch. Todd.
She remained calm although inside she was seething with rage. She shoved the note in her vest. Evidence for later, if there was a later.
Twenty psi remained. There was so much she wanted to think about but couldn’t, not if she wanted to survive. Jessica swam the length and height of the cavern but there were no exits. Just as she was about to give up the beam of her light illuminated slice of darkness behind a large rock outcrop.
In an instant she was investigating an opening concealed by the rock. It looked large enough for her to use. Placing her feet on the wall she hugged the rock and push away with her legs. The rock moved! She tried again and the rock moved again.
She was in the middle on inhaling when her air ran out. A few seconds later she had her spare tank on, purged the regulator, and took a breath of air. She went back to work on the boulder. The rock was tearing her skin apart, her hands were bleeding freely and she thanked God there were no sharks around. Minutes later the bolder fell away revealing another tunnel.
Before entering she swam to Michael and touched his face. A single tear rolled down her cheek. She looked at his air gauge and was pleased to see his spare tank contained more than a hundred psi. She took off her used tank on strapped on his. She now had more than two hundred psi.
Would it be enough? She wondered. Not that she had another choice. She entered the tunnel. Within a few dozen feet it widened considerably. She estimated the vacant lava tube was at least ten feet in circumference. Her ears began to ache. Unable to clear them, she backtracked until they cleared. Concerned she looked at the depth gauge and saw that she had traveled thirty feet higher, the cause of the pain.
She was excited that the tunnel moved up, but needed to ascend slowly. If she went too fast, she could suffer the bends, or if she rushed to the surface her lungs would explode as they expanded due to lower pressure. The tunnel suddenly curved and went straight up as far as the flashlight beam could go.
Jessica Held onto the tunnel wall as she added more air to her vest. Her tank ran dry. Holding her breath, she continued to feed air into the vest. She could always release some if too much was added.
With her free hand she switched to Michael’s tank and purged the regulator. She inhaled deeply. The air was sweet. Instantly, her head felt lighter, and her thoughts shattered into fragments. Todd had filled Michael’s tank with sweet air! That was how he was able to kill Michael!
It all seemed so easy! Todd put sweet air into Michael’s tank. Michael probably ran out of air in the cave and switched over. Within seconds he lost consciousness. Brilliant in simplicity.
Jessica shoved herself away from the wall and began to float up the tunnel. She held her breath as she fought off the effects of the gas. She kicked her legs, legs that suddenly felt like lead weights.
“No!” Her mind wailed. But she had no choice, her brain took over and she inhaled the gas and sank into the cold depths of unconsciousness. The flashlight slipped from her lifeless hand and dangled from its safety rope as she slowly floated up the tunnel.