Beyond the Dead Reef
by James Tiptree, Jr
My informant was, of course, spectacularly unreliable.
The only character reference I have for him comes from the intangible nuances of a small restaurant-owner’s remarks, and the only confirmation of his tale lies in the fact that an illiterate fishing-guide appears to believe it. If I were to recount all the reasons why no sane mind should take it seriously, we could never begin. So I will only report the fact that today I found myself shuddering with terror when a perfectly innocent sheet of seaworn plastic came slithering over my snorkeling-reef, as dozens have done for years—and get on with the story.
I met him one evening this December at the Cozumel Buzo, on my first annual supply trip. As usual, the Buzo’s outer rooms were jammed with tourist divers and their retinues and gear. That’s standard. El Buzo means, roughly, The Diving, and the Buzo is their place. Marcial’s big sign in the window reads “DIVVERS UELCOME! BRING YR FISH WE COK WITH CAR. FIRST DRINK FREE!”