Tragedy in Paradise (Part 2) - A New Piece of Original Fiction

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

This story is a work of fiction but is inspired by actual events.


The text of Tragedy in Paradise Part 2 is below, and you can also listen to my performance of the story on Social Musings by Austin podcast on Apple Podcasts or the Social Musings by Austin YouTube Channel.


Links are here, simply click on the hyperlink: APPLE PODCASTS YOUTUBE CHANNEL


If you missed Part 1 of Tragedy in Paradise last week, here is a link to the post on the Social Musings by Austin blog.




November 14, 2021

Aruba Today Headquarters

Oranjestad, Aruba

05:30 AST



Editor-In-Chief Marika Snijders was finishing her coffee as she reviewed the latest news tidbits with her team. Awakened from her slumber, Marika's colleagues had notified her that two tourists had been spotted floating out to sea, and as of yet, they had not been found. Sergeant Oduber had just called her office confirming these facts. He had sounded exhausted.

When this news gets out, it is not going to be good for tourism, Marika thought. But we have to be truthful in telling the story journalistically, she kept reminding herself.


“Ok team, here is what we do. We do not have enough information to run a story yet, but I want all of you following this so we can go to print with it as soon as possible. Got it?”


In the meantime, she posted the following message on social media:




November 14, 2021

On board Dutch Marine Helicopter

Caribbean Sea, Aruba

07:15 AST


Commander van der Beek surveyed the open ocean from the helicopter. They had called off the search at approximately 20.30hrs last night when the darkness made search efforts near impossible.


It was entirely likely that the lost tourists had drifted miles out to sea overnight.


It was also becoming more and more likely that they may not be found alive. He didn’t want to think about that at the moment. Concentrate on the task at hand, he thought.


November 14, 2021

On a Raft in the Caribbean Sea

3.7 miles off the coast of Aruba

07:30 AST



They had drifted all night. Alex knew it had been worst night of his entire life.


The pitch black. The sea’s dull roar. The raft pitching back and forth in the open ocean.


All of this to be endured with no idea if anyone was even searching for them or not.


I wish I had never come on this stupid trip, was all Alex could think.


He glanced over at Andy, who was not holding up well. Neither of them had brought any water, only the empty champagne bottle and glasses, which had been pitched over the side of the raft in the dark of the night.


Alex gazed out on the horizon. At least the sun had come up again, and daylight should help with the rescue efforts, if there indeed were any.


Lord please, help me. Lord please, help me. Lord please, help me.


This was all he could think.


November 14, 2021

On board Dutch Marine Helicopter

Caribbean Sea, Aruba

12:15 AST





The Dutch NH90 helicopter was searching the area five miles west of Aruba. Commander van der Beek remembered that a few years ago an Aruban local had been lost at sea and eventually floated all the way west to Colombia, where he was rescued safely. He was taking a chance that a similar current had taken the tourists farther west of the island than previously thought possible.


It was a typically clear and gorgeous day.


This is why people love Aruba, he pondered. Sun, sand and sea, as they say. Little did they know that the sea can also be a complete bitch.


“Commander, look!” yelled the pilot.


Van der Beek craned his neck to the left, looking over the pilot’s shoulder. About a quarter mile off in the distance, he could make out a bright yellow speck in the blue ocean.


“GO!” screamed the Commander.


November 14, 2021

On a Raft in the Caribbean Sea

5.3 miles off the coast of Aruba

12:15 AST


“Alex, look!” screamed Andy.


Alex knew he had heard some sort of noise, but couldn’t place it. To be honest, he had given up hope.


In a dehydrated and sunburned daze, Alex at that moment was thinking of his parents back at home in Wisconsin.


The last time he had seen them had been six years ago, when he had come home from college and told them he was gay.


His conservative father did not take the news well at all. Alex hoped that it might go better than it did. After that, there was minimal correspondence. His mom sent him a birthday card every year, which Alex appreciated. It was likely she did this without her husband’s permission.


Despite their familial quarrels, Alex was distraught that he may never see his family again.


He had pondered his life over the past few hours, wondering what he could have done differently to live a better life. Work less. Be kinder to others. Especially Andy.


Now, however, there seemed to be hope.


On the horizon, far off, a helicopter came into view.


“We’re saved!!!!!,” screamed Andy at the top of his lungs.


Hallelujah, thought Alex.



November 14, 2021

Highway 1A/B

Malmok, Aruba

12:45 AST


Spectators on the Malmok Boardwalk knew something was up. An ambulance and two police vehicles had screamed by with their sirens blazing.


The Dutch Marine helicopter had landed at all the way at the northern end of the island by the Lighthouse, and Andy and Alex were in dire need of IV fluids and minor sunburn treatment.


They would be taken to the Hospital on Eagle Beach, which ironically was across the street room their $500-a-night hotel room at the Bucuti.



That night, tourists all over the island were reading the good news on the official All Things Aruba Facebook group; the post is below.


Our prayers were answered.


Amen.



NOTE TO READERS:

When I initially saw the Breaking News via Aruba Today on the All Things Aruba Facebook group about the fact that tourists had been swept out to sea, I spent the entire night awake shuddering with terror about what these poor souls must be experiencing at that very moment.


Then, we didn't hear any significant news on the matter for 24 hours until the accidental castaways were rescued. My mom and I were praying for a happy ending to this story, and I know we are all so thankful to the brave women and men in the Aruba search and rescue and first responder teams for keeping us all safe.


However, I couldn't get over my terror, because this seemingly-random, tragic event hit frighteningly close to home. I imagined if this story had happened to me: wrong place, wrong time. Perhaps we should live every moment to its fullest, for you never know when it is your time to go.


Therefore, for catharsis, I also wrote this sadder, alternative ending to the story, which could have transpired just as easily.


ALTERNATIVE ENDING:


November 14, 2021

On board Dutch Marine Helicopter

Caribbean Sea, Aruba

12:15 AST


Commander van der Beek was exasperated.


The Joint Task Force of Aruban and Dutch first responders had searched the entire area surrounding the Aruban coastline. Authorities had been notified in Curaçao, Venezuela and Colombia as well as all cruise ship captains and mariners in the vicinity.


It all had amounted to nothing so far. Some were even having their doubts.


During a meeting with Sergeant Oduber this morning, they had discussed the possibility that the tourists may have safely reached the shore or possibly that the witness had seen something that actually didn't exist.


Now that the search and rescue efforts had played out, and the fact that no bodies or floating devices had been found, they were hoping that this situation was all just a false alarm.


As of yet, no missing persons report had been filed. So really all this effort was based on the word of the eyewitness.


The helicopter pilot veered towards the Savaneta base. The entire island of Aruba would just have to pray that there were no fatalities.



November 14, 2021

On a Raft in the Caribbean Sea

7.7 miles off the coast of Aruba

18:15 AST


The sun had set again in its blaze of orange, red and finally pink. A strong wind was blowing them further and further out into the straits of the Caribbean Sea.


Andy's phone had long since run out of battery, and he helplessly stared over at Alex.


"I guess they aren't going to find us," murmured Andy softly. His stomach was growling, and he had never known thirst like this.


Alex sat silently, soaking wet from the sea. I wish I had lived a better life, he thought. One less focused on work and more on love. Love for family, friends and Andy.


He recited the Lord's prayer in silence. Alex had long since forsake his religion after his father's reaction towards his sexuality. Now, his prayer brought up long lost memories of sitting in church at his grandfather's funeral. He imagined his own funeral would likely be held in that same Wisconsin church, with his family and friends sitting in the front row.


This is the end, thought Alex as he reached over for Andy's hand.


November 17, 2021

Malmok Beach

Malmok, Aruba

17:45 AST


It had been days since the tourists had disappeared.


Finally, the Bucuti Resort had confirmed that two guests were missing when they no-showed their Monday check-out time.


Now on the Wednesday, a large group of both residents and tourists were now gathered on Malmok Beach for a remembrance ceremony.


As the priest finished his prayer, Alex's mother laid the final conch shell on the makeshift grave that had been prepared for the two souls who had been lost at sea.



The island of Aruba will never forget you, Alex and Andy. Rest In Peace.




I hope you enjoyed this new original story from Social Musings by Austin. If you are interested in hearing the original song that goes with this story, you can find it on the Social Musings by Austin YouTube Channel using the link below:



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