"Son, it's not wise to go fishing on Christmas Eve," said old John to Ryan who was about to set sail.
" I do not have time for superstitions, John, I have a family to support. It may be Christmas Eve, but business is business. The weather's perfect for fishing. We hope to get a magnificent haul today," was the young man's reply.
" Okay son, I know I can't convince you. Go, if you have to, but make sure you return before it's dark."
Ryan smiled at him and departed.
The weather was pleasant, as Ryan and his two friends set out to sea in their small trawler. They knew the fish were biting and were glad they had gone ahead with their plan.
Ryan decided to have a drink, as he stood on deck, reminiscing his childhood days. What a beautiful part of the year it was. . .His fondest memories of Christmas Eve were attached to a particular picnic he'd had by the sea-side with the same friends who were accompanying him for the fishing trip. . .and probably a few more. They'd been busy chatting and building sand-castles when one of them had cried out,
"Hey! What's that?"
They saw him pointing towards a peculiar dark object, lying on the sand, probably washed in by the waves. They'd been surprised to discover it was a baby whale, gasping for breath. . .a sight that tugged at Ryan's tiny heart. It had seemed so helpless and endearing, lying like that, especially with that lil white star on its head. His pals were waiting for it to lose its battle with death. They wanted to take it home. . .it would be something they'd boast of having caught at sea. But Ryan was angry, he fought with them and somehow managed to carry the lil creature back to the sea. It was a warm feeling inside, watching it swim away triumphantly. He'd never seen it again, though he would often come to the same place and stare at the sea for hours.
"Damn! The weather's playing tricks!" was a shout that jerked him out of his reverie.
It was Sam, one of his companions. Ryan grimaced as he saw the eastern sky darkening. At once, they started steering their trawler towards the shore. But it was too late, the storm had already closed in on them. The weather had changed, without as much as a warning. Fierce winds were rocking the trawler, as they struggled with the engine. A peculiar cloud of fog was steadily moving towards them and it wasn't long before it had engulfed them completely, reducing visibility to zero.
" That's it. We've lost our sense of direction," Sam cried!
They no longer knew which way to steer, for they feared being taken further into the sea. For hours, they kept drifting, totally helpless at the hands of the storm. Night had approached and it was getting terribly late. They knew they had drifted deeper and deeper into the sea. The water level suddenly seemed higher, and they realized, to their horror, that the boat was sinking .. . A situation that left them with very lil time to say their final prayers.
The ice-cold water bit at Ryan's skin, turning it bluish in color. He was trembling, as he struggled to stay afloat. He could no longer see the heads of his companions, the depths of the sea seemed to have claimed them. The smiling faces of his wife and children came floating in his mind, as Ryan began to lose consciousness. Death would win soon, he knew.
But wait, what was that? Ryan blinked his half-closed eyes. . .he could see a blurred form moving swiftly towards him. . . .Like a huge beast rising from the waves. That was the last thing he could see before he passed out.
When he opened his eyes, he was lying in a boat with unknown people around him. It was a small rescue mission led by some of the local fishermen. They'd been searching for survivors. Ryan noticed, the weather was calm and they'd almost reached the shore. He could hear the distant chime of a churchbell, which meant, it was midnight. . .the time of the Lord's birth.
" How did you find me?" he asked them.
One of them replied." We had just started from the shore when we saw you floating at a small distance from our boat. The truth is, you were brought to us, though we don't really understand how. It's a miracle, brother. We all managed to catch a glimpse of your mysterious savior, just before it vanished into the sea."
" Savior? What are you talking about??" Ryan almost screamed.
"A huge whale, " the guy replied "with a funny white star on its head."