Drowning / Being dragged by the ankle
The case had been an easy one.
Shinichi had invited Ran out on a date to a water park where they showed dolphin and orca performances. Best seats of course, and they had gotten fairly wet when one big male orca had splashed the audience, hitting the water with his fluke.
But of course, there had been a case. There was always a case as Ran liked to complain.
This time, a jealous man had stalked his ex and her new date, and when they got too close for his liking, he tried to kill the other man by trying to slip some peanut syrup in his coffee, which he was allergic to. Thankfully, the amount had been small, and the man had been carted off swiftly to the next hospital with 'just' heavy breathing problems.
It all went to hell when the culprit ran for it and Shinichi went after him. It was already getting dark and the park was about to close for the day, so there weren't that many people crowding the paths anymore.
Soon, they reached an area that was off limits for visitors, but the culprit simply jumped over the barricade and sprinted on, Shinichi hot on his heels. They had seen this part of the park during a guided tour, so he knew they were heading to the tanks behind the show stage.
Shinichi was just a bit faster and gained on the man quickly, tackling him to the ground with no other means to stop him. Too bad the other one made up for his lack in speed with strength, and easily shook Shinichi off, who was getting to his feet as fast as he could only to receive a hit to the head that had him seeing stars, and he stumbled back against one of the fake stone walls that separated the tanks from the path.
For a moment, he didn't understand what was happening when he didn't feel the ground beneath his feet anymore and everything around him began to tilt, until he realized that he was being lifted and shoved over the wall.
White hot panic shot up his neck as he remembered which tank was on the other side of the barrier, just as he hit the cold water with a splash, and it closed in over his head.
Orca. The big male one.
Frantically, Shinichi opened his eyes, treading water and trashing around to look for the animal, but was met with mostly dark water. Still dizzy from the hit, he needed a moment to discern which way was up, and then began to swim to the surface.
He was a decent enough swimmer but sharing the water with a big carnivore whale evoked a fear in him he hadn't known so far. If he was lucky, the orca would just observe him without getting near but nonetheless, he wanted to get the heck out of the water. Now!
The surface wasn't that far, and he broke through it, inhaling deeply, reorienting himself to search for the fastest way out.
He turned around and saw Ran climbing onto the barrier with a worried expression, some park staff next to her shouting orders to him to keep as calm as possible and to swim over to them without hectic movements.
Swimming calmly when you knew that there was something somewhere in the water beneath you turned out to be almost impossible, and Shinichi felt the urge to scramble to the edge of the tank building up inside him, pushing against his will to not freak out.
Just before he could reach the outstretched hand of a staff member, the second one called out, "Move! He's-"
The rest of the sentence was lost to Shinichi as a sharp pain shot through his ankle and he felt a pull, dragging him back under relentlessly. He thought he heard Ran screaming even through the water that was again filling his ears, muffling all sounds around him.
Trying to get free of the orca's teeth resulted only in more pain and was a futile action. Even though the animal didn't bite to crush his bones, it's teeth had sunken deep into his skin and every movement hurt like hell.
Deeper and deeper, the whale sank to the bottom of the tank and took Shinichi with it, who already struggled to hold his breath, his lungs screaming for air, because in the moment of surprise, he didn't get the chance to inhale deeply enough to stay under water for any length of time.
Shinichi didn't know what to do, if there even was anything he could do to make the orca let go of him. Between panic and lack of air, he noticed that the animal hadn't made any attempt to hurt him further, but he knew that orcas were curious and liked to play with their food, so he wasn't sure this wasn't just a means to kill some interesting prey – drowning him by keeping him in the depths of the tank.
It didn't matter anyway, because by now his lungs were burning, and he just couldn't hold his breath any longer. Finally giving in to the compressing feeling, air bubbles burst out of his mouth and rose to the surface. He reflexively inhaled against the knowledge that water in his airways was a bad idea and began to gag and choke in a vicious cycle of trying to get the water out and the desperate need to breathe.
Soon, dark spots danced across his vision and he was almost thankful that he couldn't see the enormous whale directly in front of him any longer, that just seemed to wait and watch him dying.
That was what was happening right now, wasn't it?
He was drowning.
He felt how the orca pulled at him again, dragging him through the water and in the process, flinging him from left to right repeatedly, so that his ankle felt as if it would break any moment, if that hadn't happened already anyway.
Suddenly, there was light, air and sound around him. The whale had brought him up again, and though Shinichi couldn't discern the voices or anything at all, he became aware that now, there was someone in the water with him, trying to free him.
He hoarsely screamed in pain when they tugged at him and the whale held onto its prey, setting his ankle on fire.
Then he was back underwater, and everything was just a blur of air bubbles, and the sheer force of the waves the orca caused by tossing him around.
And then he was free, and all movements stilled for a moment – he drifted in the water, not knowing up from down or left from right. He felt hands grip his arms and this time, the pulling sensation didn't frighten him, because though it was urgent, it was still gentle and finally brought him back on solid ground, heaving him over the edge of the tank and out of the water.
His greedy intake of oxygen made him cough and retch. Barely keeping to his hands and knees, he violently got rid of the water blocking his lungs, before he collapsed into an exhausted heap.
The last things he was aware of before he lost consciousness, were how he was being laid out on his side and two warm hands on his face, gently stroking the cold droplets from his cheeks.
Ran needed just a few seconds to run after Shinichi, knowing that she couldn't, shouldn't, let him go off alone.
They were a short distance in front of her, but she was catching up, dashing past a few confused staff members of the park and shouting at them to help, because she knew Shinichi – some way or another he would need it.
Not for the first time, she wished that her foreboding feeling would be false, and was it wrong to maybe wish that the culprit would just get away? Let the police catch him, but please – don't let Shinichi get into a direct confrontation with him.
Left and right, tanks filled with water flew by as she sprinted down the path at top speed, never letting the two men out of her sight, and therefore, she had to watch helplessly how the culprit landed a hard blow at Shinichi's head and then hauled him over the barrier of one of the tanks.
She downright barreled into the culprit and brought him down, knocking him out with one single enraged punch, and was up again to climb over the barrier, just to see that Shinichi had already vanished under the surface.
Ran wasn't aware that she was shouting, until two staff members stopped her from jumping in after Shinichi in the last moment.
"Stop! You can't go in there – that's the orca tank!"
Her body froze up and her yelling stopped in a gasp, eyes wide in panic searching for Shinichi in the dark water.
'Come up, come up, come up'
Something broke through the surface and Ran was calling out in relieve as she saw him, and again, she began to climb up, but this time to be ready to help him out of the water.
"Stay calm and swim over to us – try not to be hectic or splash around too much," instructed the man next to her, and she saw how Shinichi struggled to keep his cool.
He had just a meter or so left, and the other staff member already reached out for him, when a dark shadow appeared directly under him.
"Move! He's coming up!"
But before Shinichi could even register what was happening, he was already being pulled underwater with a startled yelp.
Ran didn't hear the frantic orders shouted by the staff members to get diving gear ready or their call for an ambulance. She stared at the spot where Shinichi had been just seconds before – not really able to process what just had happened, before blind terror overtook her, and her body began to shake.
'No, no, no NO!'
Ten, twenty, thirty – the seconds stretched out endlessly. How long was Shinichi able to hold his breath? Ran didn't know. But she did know that she wanted him out of there. Like – now!
At the bottom of the tank, she could make out the dark shape of the orca, blending in with the darkness down there. Next to her some of the trainers had arrived and one of them put on diving gear while two others began to hit the water with their hands to get the whale's attention.
A female trainer tried to reassure her that this orca wasn't known for aggressive behavior, that it was only intrigued by the sudden visitor in its territory, what didn't make Ran feel any better at all.
Even if the orca didn't mean any harm, Shinichi wasn't trained to deal with this, and he had to be scared out of his mind – so fragile compared to the massive whale.
It took a few agonizing moments, before the shadow in the depth moved, and Ran's eyes stung with hot tears, her throat closing up as she saw how the animal flung its head from side to side while coming up, and now she could see Shinichi's blurred figure helplessly stuck with his leg between the whale's teeth.
They broke the surface and water splashed everywhere, drenching her as well, as the orca continued to drag Shinichi back and forth.
Now, the diver was in the water as well, trying to get him free, what caused Shinichi to scream out, and Ran clasped her hands over her mouth, smothering her terrified sobs.
Then, they all were back underwater, and she couldn't see what was going on, until the diver came up again with Shinichi in his grip, rushing to the edge of the tank and hoisting him up for his colleague to help him out of the water, climbing out himself as well.
Ran didn't have eyes for the orca that now was circling the tank just beneath the surface but ran over to were Shinichi was choking and expelling the water from his lungs, and then all strength seemed to leave his body as his arms and legs gave way and he collapsed.
She fell to her knees next to him, while the trainers checked his vital signs and brought him into the recovery position.
His ankle looked terrible, and she averted her eyes from the torn skin that was already bruising around the bite, to look at his face. She wasn't sure if he was conscious because his eyes were closed, but his brows were drawn together in a pained expression.
Following her need to touch him, to reassure him that she was there, she reached out and gently palmed his face, stroking his wet cheeks with her thumbs.
Slowly, the panic left her bones and she took a shaky breath.
He would be okay.