There is a bright and shining hope. The water shimmers and engulfs the view as glossy red metal subs plunge into the green depths. The mossy things under the waves; shrieking horrors despite the silence of the crushing, impending darkness. Insanity lays siege to the lights. Duty calls every man to sit as the world slips away.
The surface will not miss them but they will long for the time they can leave the pressurized chambers. They feel it behind the walls. The crew know it is there even if they don’t look. If they study their screens, read every syllable of their books, dot every “i” on their formal paperwork or just apply sanitizer to every inch of their bodies, they still know the insanity that lurks just outside. They see it through their closed eyes. The insanity waits outside peering through the hull with their gouged sockets. The feel the men. They taste their fear and bite away at their control.
The things outside are little more than ghosts and much more. Few have hands left. What fingers were left were sacrificed as they started to scratch at the outer hull. They wailed through waterlog and burst lungs. Their uniforms shreds over slick grey disease of flesh. feet fused to the in kelp and mud. They hold the vessel for what little worth there is. The inch along the bolts and chip at the paint.
The captain doesn’t order maneuvers or raise the alert. He doesn’t lower the sciences mini or need to find an explanation. It isn’t that the ghouls outside don’t pose a threat or the thing that captured and posted them there is known. They are dangerous and it is still out there but there is nothing to be done. Only luck and the hope that they were not already marked dead men.
The deep scans are up. Science officer Tole brings up the results. The four lost boats split open like clams. The green glow of power is laced with the seeping streams of oil reaching for the surface.
“We’re so close to the shore still. After losing four, I’d thought it had been further-”
“Quiet.” The commander considered choking the man to silence but went with the quicker and more dangerous option.
The GPS marker echoed through the sub’s otherwise silent hallways.
“The pressure and flood controls panel in the chamber have been deactivated. They say, that is what got the Copernicium. You’ll have to move quickly. The hatches are set to one way.”
The pressure lock flooded. Water filled the space around the deep sea suited men. Metal balloons on tethers with men inside. The thick metal door slowly opened. The men peered out to the gloomy depths. Gloomy is a poor word choice for forty corpses, tethered to various reef and crustaceans, and blindly reaching like looking straight into the sun.
The corpse lined the floor. The reality of their deaths meant nothing to them. The were in the world without life. Souls stuck on the bottom of the ocean in shambling bodies. Without lungs, they screamed. Without eyes, they saw whatever they want. They are in a city park on a bright summer’s day. Their nerves long crushed by pressure, felt the warmth of the sun and a cool breeze just when it might be getting too hot. The grass is so soft that each feels as if they are floating. They feel like their souls are seeping and reaching out of their bodies. There is no meaning outside of what they make. Each is a peaceful shadow to the others. Then, the sun was blocked out. Above them, a silhouette as big as a city block and getting closer to them. They looked up and found it close enough to touch. The creatures each had the idea to move it and found others doing the same. It was hard and moved of its own accord but it was hollow. They presses inside. Anger, excitement, hesitation, and fear smacked them all and pulled them in by their noses. Every presence announced itself and danced.
The ever beating lubbed in each ear until it merged into a solid siren. It had to be turned off. They moved closer. They moved to find and remove the sore that had developed in their world. They grabbed and lunged at every part. They climbed up it and tried to clog it’s grooves, looking for fragile openings. They heard it stir. They heard the quiet determination. drew closer to heavy steps and scraping metal. Roaring water filled and splashed inside. The side gave way to a door. They stayed back. They let it give way and open for them.
They swelled in like a tide. Three hearts pounded, calling out to be stopped. They stood defiantly, beating in hollow metal suits. They fought back. Pulling and trying to fling them back to the ground. Two jumped and slowly floated to the ground but the third, they still had a hold of. It was strong but they were many. The were unable to reach the pulsating. They used the hardest thing available. The picked it up and slammed it against the voiding blackness. Metal bashed against itself clanged with every other heartbeat. Until, metal hit glass. The struggle turned to a wiggle, and they reached in for the heart.
“These things are everywhere.” A desperate whisper came over the faint radio each diver had in their suits.
“Where is Bruce?”
“I don’t think he made it out of the hatch. Do you still have the signal? We can’t fight these things off if they catch us again.”
“I’m worried about how we are going to get back.”
“We’ll hook up the wench and the whole thing will surface.”
“The signal’s gone!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I had a lock and no it is just gone.”
“Team one to bridge, we have lost the signal on the artifact.”
The communications officer signalled that he had locked on to the signal of the lost parcel. He forwarded them to the helmsmen who immediately stopped all engines in confusion and turned from his console and stared at the navigator. The navigator looked at the communication officer.
Growing concerned with the three the captain broke silence and whispered what was the matter. The navigator said, “These coordinates are our current position, sir.”
The communication officer said, “It is no mistake. It is the signal we have been following.” The captain noticed that they were fifty feet from the ocean floor.
“It is here captain. The signal is coming from us.”The captains console lit up with a notification from the cargo hold. The weapon, that had been lost when the French vessel had sunk and failed to be recovered by three other vessels, had been found and secured. The crewmen here too busy preparing the recovery vehicle to notice that their objective had been recovered.
The captain told the bridge mission accomplished. “What does this mean?” The navigator said.
The captain swallowed hard, Maybe, we are too late. It may be too strong to matter, now.
Bodies split and cracked as they held on to the rising boat.