Thursday, October 31st
The Caribbean Sea
(2 miles east of Andros Island, Bahamas)

Lucas Knight was in trouble.

It had been more than an hour since he had sunk into the deep blue water of the Caribbean, and his labored breathing signaled that the single scuba tank he had taken with him was nearly empty. He thought back to his dive training, wondering if the change in pressure as he ascended would give him enough air to make a decompression stop before he reached the surface. He couldn’t remember the name of the law or whether gas and pressure were inversely or directly proportional, but he knew that shallower depths meant longer dives. He also knew that if the move didn’t buy him more time, the steady rise from one hundred and thirty feet would mean risking decompression sickness—a fate that many divers considered to be worse than death.

If he hoped to avoid the excruciating joint pain, unrelenting nausea, blurred vision, seizures, and paralysis of the bends, he didn’t have any more time to waste. The longer he waited, the greater the risks. Unfortunately, the lack of air wasn’t his only concern.

He was also worried about the mammoth tiger shark circling above him.

Knight gently fluttered his feet, using his fins to propel him upward. As he rose, he studied the hulking seventeen-foot shark with laser-like focus. On the land, his own six-and-a-half-foot frame and toned build often gave him an advantage over other athletes. But under the waves, his size seemed puny and inconsequential. He was small and flimsy in comparison to the shark. He thought about pulling the knife from the sheath strapped to his leg, but he decided against it. His camera rig required two hands to maneuver, and if the monstrosity came at him, he preferred a hefty battering ram to a four-inch piece of steel.

As he reached twenty feet, Knight slowed his efforts, allowing himself to simply hang in the water without rising or falling. In response, the shark swam in for a closer look. Knight fought hard to control his heart rate as the curious fish approached. He knew that great whites had the ability to detect the minute electrical impulses of a racing pulse—they could actually sense fear in their targets—and he wondered if his new buddy could do the same.

Knight glanced at his dive computer.

The equipment told him he had less than a minute of air.

The shark stalked Knight cautiously, gliding gently around him in ever-tightening circles. At this shallow depth, its skin glimmered in the sunlight, revealing the striped pattern that gave the shark its name. Though they are not considered man-eaters, tiger sharks welcome almost any available food source. They aren’t picky, having been known to consume everything from live turtles to rotting whales. Simply put: if it can be eaten, a tiger shark will try to eat it.

Knight could only hope that he didn’t look that appetizing.

Intrigued by the intruder’s gear, the shark nudged the waterproof housing that protected Knight’s camera. When there was no reaction, the shark aligned itself with the casing and peered headfirst down the barrel of the lens. The enormous beast froze still in the water and bared its razor-sharp teeth.

On the other end of the camera, Knight could not believe his luck.

The composition was perfect. Face to face with the shark, the creature’s formidable size and emotionless gaze stirred primal instincts of dread. While at the same time, the contrast of the brightly lit water radiating behind the animal’s dark features gave the shark a majestic, almost ethereal aura. Hell, the beast was even smiling for its photo-op.

Knight grinned back at the predator.

He knew it was the kind of picture that photographers dreamt about.

Knight hadn’t always been searching for such indelible moments. Unlike many of his friends who had planned their career trajectories since childhood, Knight had taken a circuitous route to his current profession. In fact, those who knew him best often joked that Knight had never actually worked for a living; he simply got paid to explore new hobbies.

Librarian. Game warden. Pastry chef.

The list went on and on.

It wasn’t his intelligence that kept Knight from holding any one job for very long—he had graduated from college in less than three years—it was his sense of adventure. To him, repetition wasn’t only stifling, it was discomforting. After a few months in the same place with the same routine, Knight could feel the restlessness starting to creep in. He needed to explore, to experience everything that the world had to offer, and wasn’t afraid to simply change directions and move on.

Though he was still a young man, Knight knew he wouldn’t be around forever.

He was determined to live his life to the fullest.

In his excitement, Knight suddenly felt his chest tighten. It wasn’t the thrill of the moment that had caused his reaction; it was his body’s desperate plea for attention. The alarm on his computer told him what he already knew: Knight was completely out of air.

Fortunately, the incessant beeping did not provoke an attack. In fact, it had the exact opposite effect. In response to the blaring noise, the tiger shark jerked away from its investigation and quickly dove into the shadows. One moment it was posing for the camera, the next moment, it was gone.

With nothing to film and nothing to breathe, Knight bolted toward the sunlight. Kicking with all his might, he breached the surface in a flurry of splashing water and flailing arms. He spit the regulator from his mouth and instinctively gulped for fresh air. Rolling over onto his back, his eyes snapped shut to block out the blinding sun as he tried to catch his breath. When he finally stopped panting, he shielded his face with his hand and looked up to find the local diving guide he had hired for this trip staring at him from the swim platform.

“Too long!” the guide scolded in his Bahamian accent as he reached for Knight’s equipment. “You stay under for way too long. Are you okay?”

Knight handed his camera rig out of the water before searching the sea one last time. He guessed that the massive tiger shark was most likely still lurking below, cruising the water for his next meal. Everything he knew about diving told him to climb aboard and rest; still, there was a part of Knight that wanted to strap on another tank of air and race back to the depths.

“Are you okay?” the guide repeated.

Knight lifted his head from the water and smiled.

“I’m fine. But you’re going to need a bigger boat!”