Here’s a taste of what’s to come in Malcolm’s second memoir, Free Fall In February:
There had been no time to put on my flippers and no chance to take a deep breath, but it would be suicide to surface, so I let the weight belt take me down. When I tried to move my leg my hip burned like it had been stabbed with a white hot poker. The darkness was total. I was in a world with no up or down, no left or right. There was just the pain, the surging of the waves, and the certainty that I was out of options.
Then a swell drove me in against the hull. In the next instant, it sucked me back out again, away from the blessed solidness of steel. But I reached out and felt it, and kicking with my one good leg I managed to stay next to the hull as I sank. I followed the curvature down to the keel, then under, and then with lungs screaming to be opened to the seawater I dropped the weight belt and let the buoyant wet suit take me bobbing to the surface on the far side of the tug.
Surely everyone on board must have heard the first breath I took, which was a great, heaving sucking at the air. But I floated there beside the hull, and nobody came. After about a minute when I had my breathing under control, I remembered the handle of the diving knife, the last thing I had seen before hitting the water, sticking out of the guard’s chest. Maybe he had collapsed on deck without sounding an alarm. Maybe the men below decks didn’t realize what had happened. Maybe I would live.
Then I thought about my wound, and blood in the water, and I remembered sharks.