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  • When Nicholas and Justine went on a Bahamian vacation, they didn’t think it would exactly be like this…

    The small sea plane jittered with the turbulence. They had left downtown Miami behind long ago.
    Justine touched the small stone around her neck.
    She wore the necklace everyday without fail since she was a little girl; it was her lucky necklace. She turned to the side to look at Nicholas. He was dozing in the seat next to her.
    She was just as tired but couldn’t rest. The sound of the plane engine seemed quiet to everyone but her. She gazed at Nicholas, he was so handsome. She was glad they had the opportunity to go on vacation together. Nicholas hardly made time for himself so it would be their sole job to relax and enjoy what life had to offer this next weekend.
    Nicholas’ brow twitched in his sleep. He was dreaming about the ocean again.
    Justine and Nicholas were on their way to Bimini, one of the most beautiful islands in the Bahamas. It was also a place where strange things happened. Bimini was near the far corner of the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Legends of dragons swallowing boats and holes appearing in the ocean were commonplace among sailors. Even modern day navigators have their own urban legends associated with the area. If the tales were to be believed the strange activity was due to magical crystals hidden in the seabed around the famed islands.
    Staying on an island- mystical or not naturally meant they would be surrounded by the ocean. Nicholas was hesitant to admit it, but many of the activities, like snorkeling, surfing and diving with dolphins made him a little anxious, but he was determined to conquer the mildly annoying fear he had held.
    Justine jolted awake as the plane hit the tarmac. She had finally fallen asleep just as they had arrived in the Bahamas. Nicholas opened his eyes and smiled at her.
    “Are you ready for some fun?” He winked at her.
    Justine smiled and kissed him. They left the small island airport to their resort, content, ready to explore what Bimini had to offer them.
    They knew that this was going to be a vacation to remember, but they had no idea how memorable it would be.

    Nicholas woke to the sound of high tide in the marina. Seagulls could be heard in the distance and a gentle breeze brought the sweet fresh air into their room. He loved the ocean but secretly he was afraid of it.He didn’t let his fear impede him, making diving one of his hobbies. He grew up by the beach, and usually it wasn’t unless he was in open water that his chest would tighten up and Nicholas would be compelled to swim back to shore as fast as he could.
    Justine’s form lay next to him. The curves of her body made a perfect s formation. The bedsheets crumpled and clung to her beautifully sculpted body as if to make a dress.
    Her bare chest rose and fell softly. He didn’t want to disturb such beauty, but they had a full day planned in paradise and there wasn’t a second to lose. In a few hours time they would take a plane to the North island to swim with the dolphins.
    The small ferry boat bumped with each of the waves that crashed onto the side of the boat. Justine grabbed Nicholas’ hand lest she fell into the ocean. Luckily for Justine, Nicholas had quick reflexes, and they were both wearing lifejackets.
    “Her we ar now at da reef suh.” The boatman announced as they pulled into the dock. His thick Bahamian accent was barely interpretable to their foreign ears but they understood nonetheless.
    Suited up with fins and snorkels- ready to swim with the dolphins.
    They were beautiful creatures swimming through the turquoise water.
    Like jesting dancers. They creaked and cackled to each other and even underwater it was hard not to giggle at their antics.
    Justine ran her hands over one of the dolphin’s backs. Their guide had instructed her to try and take a dolphin for a ride. She remembered what to do and grabbed hold of the dorsal fin of one of the younger dolphins.
    WHOOSH! They took off at a ferocious speed. Nicholas laughed as he watched Justine zip off into the reef, but became concerned at just how far they were going.
    Justine was getting smaller and smaller.
    Nicholas panicked and began swimming as fast as he could to where he had seem Justine disappear. He popped up to the surface to see if he could spot her bobbing around.
    Justine didn’t realize how far she had gone until she opened her eyes. She had been enjoying the ride so much. Her courier giggled in his own way and sped off;
    Justine assumed it was back to the reef where they had been swimming before. She was about to head in that direction when she felt a strange pull draw her eyes to the seabed.
    There about twelve feet beneath her was a coral formation and

    some sort of grotto. She took a deep breath and dove to what appeared to be a cave opening.
    It was barely big enough for her to get through but she managed well enough. The inside of the cave was completely devoid of underwater life. No fish, no coral, not even a sea urchin occupied the space. In the middle of the cave, half covered in sand was a statue of a pair of hands cupping something. It glimmered a bright red in the dull cave light.
    Justine’s chest was burning.
    She squirmed out of the cave to the surface. Gulping air, she quickly dove down again to retrieve the mysterious object. Back in the cave she approached the statue. Suddenly the rock on her necklace floated out from her body as if magnetized. It strained against the gold chain towards the gleaming gem. She reached out and touched the stone and a magnanimous shock rolled through her body. Justine felt as if she had been electrocuted. She gripped the stone tightly and swam for her life back to the surface.
    When she broke through she could see Nicholas in a rescue boat with a worried stare stitched into his brow. Even from far away she saw the relief on his face as she waved down the boat. She clutched the stone in her hand as the boat jettied back to the marina. Nicholas’ arm wouldn’t leave her side.
    They walked hand in hand to a café on the Marina. They had both composed themselves significantly since the afternoon. And the martini’s at lunch were helping.
    Justine and Nicholas stopped to soak up the last rays from the day. The sun setting on the beach created an impressionist swirl of pinks, yellows, red and deep blue all melting into each other.
    Nicholas thought how lucky he was to be with one of the most amazing women he had ever met in the middle of paradise.
    Justine felt a small buzzing coming from her pocket where the stone hid. She hadn’t told Nicholas about what she had found.
    Justine’s face glowed when she turned towards him,
    “Nico, I found something.”
    “Oh?” He replied.
    Justine reached into her pocket and pulled out a stone the size of a macaroon glittering in the evening light. It seemed to emanate its own kind of light and a deep ruby red reflected on the sides of Justine’s hands.
    As soon as her hand touched the stone the quiet beach was filled with the sounds of people talking. It was if she was inside a crowded bar instead of a tranquil beach. She handed the stone to Nicholas and the noise immediately stopped.
    “Phoaar! Justine! What is this?”
    Justine explained how she had come across the small treasure. Nicholas was amazed.
    “Do you think we can keep it? He asked.”
    “I don’t see why not,” Justine replied.
    “But it might be some sort of ancient artifact.”
    “Well, all the more reason to keep it then. She said tickling his sides. But tell me, is there something strange about the stone to you?” She inquired holding her breath at his response.
    “No, it’s very beautiful, but it seems like a normal stone to me.”
    “Hand it to me.”
    Nicolas complied and Justine found herself able to hear a thousand people talking with the stone in her hand.
    Justine hastily returned the stone to the makeshift cave of her pocket.
    “What the hell is going on?” She wondered to herself.
    She curiously slipped one finger into her pocket and touched the stone.
    If I had a girl that looked like that, I would be a happy man.
    Justine whirled around and saw an old man walking down the boardwalk behind them. His eyes were fixated on her breasts. He winked at her as he strolled down the walk.
    Justine just stood transfixed.
    Gathering herself together she turned her gaze to a couple walking with their daughter to the spot where she and Nicholas were standing.
    With her ears she distinctly heard the little girl singing but with her eyes she could see the child’s lips weren’t moving. She looked back at Nicholas with a funny glint in her eye.
    “Nico, come here with me,”Justine said as she briskly walked down the small island town street with one hand in her pocket, leaning in towards perfect strangers as if she were smelling them. He followed her, wondering what exactly what was going on.
    Justine rushed back to him.
    “Oh my god Nico, you’ll never believe this. I think I can hear people’s thoughts!”
    Nicholas didn’t know how to respond. Justine had a good sense of humor but he usually had a good idea of when she was kidding and when she wasn’t. Justine seemed to be perfectly serious. “Shit, he thought to himself, maybe she’s hit her head?”
    Nicholas played along for the moment and suggested they should go back to the resort and rest a little before going out for the night.
    As they walked back to the Big Game Club resort, Justine experimented with the stone’s power again. Like the button of a remote she tuned her ears to the innermost thoughts of the people surrounding her. Some people were real shit talkers, other times it was like having a community radio station. Justine listened to people having future conversations in their heads. She heard them planning out how they would eat their next meal, or anxiously listing off things they had to do in a faraway destination. She heard them flirting, she heard them crying, she heard everyone.
    Justine relayed all of the information she gleaned back to Nicholas. He nodded along and they made a game of picking interesting people out of the crowd and Justine would tell him what they were “thinking.” Nicholas was surprised when Justine would shoot down his suggestions and correct him. They were playing a game after all. Weren’t they?
    Day Three
    Nicholas was amazed. Last night they had won $14,000 playing poker at the resort casino. Justine had won all of it. He was starting to believe that she really did have a special power. With every hand she had known when to bet and when to fold and now this afternoon they found themselves a bit richer.
    They only had time to bet on two hands before Justine went pale white and had to leave. She had complained about it being too loud so they quickly cleared off their winnings from the table and went to get some fresh air.
    They had plans to take a kayaking tour to the Healing Hole, a place renowned for its water that seemed to have magical healing properties. Whether the legends were true or not, Nicholas thought that the warm water would do them both well.
    Justine climbed into the golf cart they had rented and sat next to Nico with a slightly smug look in her eyes. She was looking much better. She was still puzzled as to why she couldn’t hear Nicholas’ thoughts like she could with the other people around her.
    “So are you going to move to Vegas now?” Nicholas inquired.
    Justine giggled, “Maybe I will! I couldn’t live there though, it’s too… barren.”
    “That’s okay you wouldn’t have to live there, you could afford to fly us both in and out every couple of months when you needed to pick up more cash.” Nicolas teased.
    Justine thought to herself, her life seemed limitless and unbounded now. She had the world at her feet, but it was too good to be true. She pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t just in a fantastic dream.
    The mangrove trees caressed Nicholas’ cheek as they kayaked through the amphibious forest. It was beautiful here, but a sulfurous smell filled their noses. The sulfur and calcium deposits in the water is what gives the Healing Hole its magical properties Nicholas reminded himself. Even so, he crinkled his nose as they paddled through the marshland, hoping that the health benefits would outweigh the oppressive smell that had swallowed them.
    He looked back at Justine, she was beginning to look pale again. She had to stop paddling every couple of minutes to take a break. Nicholas was now getting really worried.
    They undressed and swam into the mangrove swamp. The water was like a pleasant bath once you got over the smell. Nicholas was feeling little rejuvenated after all. His eyes peering out like an alligator half submerged in the water, Nicholas watched Justine undress next to him.
    She submerged herself down to his level. Their eyes locking over the murky brown water. They started to play a friendly little game of grab ass. Nicholas was contemplating whether or not it would be a good idea to have sex in the hole when Justine suddenly looked behind her with an ice cold fear in her eyes.
    A choking and rattling voice rang in Justine’s head. She looked to the pocket of her shorts. The small lump that was the stone could be seen. This was the first time the stone’s powers had breached the physical boundaries that held it before. Now it wasn’t necessary for her to be touching the stone to hear what people were thinking. The only problem was, she and Nicholas were the only people in the mangrove.
    “Justine? What’s the matter?”
    “Shhh!! Hold on,” Justine exclaimed.
    Dévuelvelo. Dévuelvelo. Dévuelvelo.
    Has llevado lo que no es tuyo.
    No deves éstar aqui.
    No sabes lo que has hecho.
    Theif. Theif. Theif.
    Give it back.
    You shouldn’t be here.
    You know not what you have done.
    The voice multiplied itself. Justine’s ears rang with the imperceptible sound of a thousand angry phantoms.
    Dashing out from the pool, she got dressed and raced back to the kayak.
    Nicholas had not been privy to what Justine was hearing. To him it was if she had been scared off by something in the water. He followed her out and they paddled back to the south side if the island. “So much for those healing properties,” he thought to himself.
    Nicholas caught up with Justine, she was paddling and crying with such intensity he was unsure of how she was doing both at the same time.
    “Justine?! What’s going on?”
    “It’s the stone,” she sobbed as she recounted what she had heard.
    “You have to get rid of it.” Nicholas paddled in front of her, blocking Justine’s kayak. “Throw it away right now.” Justine choked. She hesitated to throw away something that would be sure to bring her such an advantage in life. She drew the stone out of her pocket, trembling, she lifted up her arm to throw the stone but before it could leave her fingers she paused.
    “I can’t.” She replied. “It’s too important, I can’t just throw it away here.”
    “Why not??” Nicholas exclaimed.
    “I… I don’t know. But I’ll be fine, let’s jut get out of here.”
    Disgruntled, Nicholas paddled away. Justine returned the stone to her pocket. The sound of the mangrove leaves seemed to have a foreboding tune to their rustling.
    That night Justine’s sleep was wrought with fretful dreaming. She dreamed she had lost her lucky necklace. She was searching for it in her dream when the corpses of a hundred Spanish soldiers came out from the mangrove forest and started chasing her. She ran terrified from the sound of their clanking armor and soggy steps. Running, running, always running. She stopped in a small clearing in the forest. She could see a native woman sitting by the side of a pool. A waterfall cascaded down behind her but the pool remained perfectly still. Justine walked towards the woman who was now combing her long black hair. The woman turned and caught sight of Justine and beckoned her to come closer. As Justine approached she felt as if she was looking into a mirror, only her reflection was wearing the clothes of a native islander. The woman took a necklace from her neck, holding it up to the light. It was a bright green jewel, like turquoise or emerald. Looking into the stone was like looking into the ocean itself.
    She smiled as she dropped the stone into the still clear water. The moment it broke the surface the woman disappeared into a cloud of silver mist.
    Justine awoke drenched in sweat. She knew what she needed to do.
    The couple made the Fountain of Youth their first excursion for the day. Justine couldn’t sit two minutes in any crowded place without becoming overwhelmed by the noise. She couldn’t control when to use the stone’s powers or not anymore, and every person’s thoughts was like a scream in her ear. Then there were the other noises that were much worse. They were only a whisper but they shook Justine to the core.
    Dévuelvelo. Dévuelvelo. Dévuelvelo. They whispered. She could almost hear the clanking of rusted metal armor from her dream.
    The fountain was surprisingly desolate for being such a tourist attraction. However, the voices were becoming more and more pronounced in her mind. She looked to the pool, it was the same from her dream, but the native woman was nowhere to be seen.
    Justine walked to the edge of the water, Nicholas by her side. As she took the stone from her pocket the voices roared in her head.
    It was almost too much to handle. The wind was picking up around them. What seemed to be a perfectly calm day had suddenly turned into a raging storm. With the stone in hand Justine threw it into the pool with all her might.
    She heard the stone drop with a resonate -plouf- into the water. A weight seemed to lift off her shoulders.
    The air became calm again.
    She looked at Nicholas with a clear head. “I love you” she heard him say- with lips unmoving.
    Justine was shocked. She thought that somehow throwing the stone would relieve her of her clairvoyance. A small buzzing came from the stone around her neck. But she realized that she now heard what she knew all along.
    “I love you too.” Justine replied.
    She kissed Nicholas’ surprised face.
    The jolt from the plane tires making contact with the tarmac woke Justine up from her nap.
    “Welcome to the Bahamas.” A voice said over the loudspeaker. She looked over at Nicholas; he was rubbing the sleep from his eyes. It was Friday and they had just arrived to South Bimini.
    “Oh Nico, I just had the craziest dream!”
    “Mmm?” Nico replied sleepily, “What was it about?”

    Story by Raelina Krikston
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