Dave pushed away from Terry’s board just as the next set came rushing in, double overhead at least and breaking behind them. Just behind them. Dave paddled furiously, Terry tried but his arms were too weak and he swallowed as the wave picked him up and flipped him over, board flying away from him, leash pulled taut. A last gasp of salt sodden air as he felt the water close over him, push him down and spin him round, his only point of reference the tight tugging on his ankle as the board pulled away. He curled up in a ball, like he had once before, remembering that if he got hit by eight feet of fibreglass he was out of the picture. He span. Lungs bursting. Heart hitting his ribs so hard that the pain overrode the lack of breath. He tried to swim along the leash, figuring that the board would float and he’d make it back to the surface, but all he found was deeper water. He was out of time, his lungs couldn’t hold it in any more. His ears roared, the static was back. His heart thundered. Still he span.
Light. Maybe. In his head? In the sky? Somewhere he felt calm. He opened his mouth and tried to breathe in the salt water. It choked him and he kicked out again, violently, desperately. His head broke the surface and he gasped and choked and clawed for air. He had seconds before the next wave caught him again and spun him under. Mercifully this time he was held down for a few seconds less. He was wrecked exhausted, but still in the drop zone.