Thursday, April 10, 2014

4/10/14

The Lights Beyond
By Chais Kalz


This was everything she had been preparing for. All the months of research and enticing investors for equipment had led up to this moment. The dive. This one trip would earn her a Nobel for sure. Elise would be set for life. As she stepped through the airlock into the submarine she could feel the blood pounding in her throat. Her hands tingled and she could barely feel her legs.

“Okay, deep breaths now. Remember your training.”

She was alone on her mission for fame. After some scientists theorized the formation on the readings was due to some loose sediment all of her investors had left. Her team of researchers had left with the money. Her crew had stayed, if only to honor her pride. But she knew they would never go on this suicide mission.

Some divers had found what looked like a U.F.O. on their sonar scan. It had sparked a wildfire in the industry. But the depth itself was what kept amateurs like Elise out of the running. Only a few top businesses were left, but she knew they wouldn’t be attempting any dives for a few months. Not until the waters calmed down. But she couldn’t wait. Her heart was screaming in agony not to be down there.

Elise took a few more breaths and locked the hatch behind her.

The sub did most of the work. It was an expensive model from one of her investor’s prized collections. The sub was scheduled to be picked up in the morning and shipped out back to some lot in god-knows-where. Tonight was her only shot. As Elise engaged the autopilot she hoped her sleeping crew would forgive her.

The chill of the freezing waters made the metal cold to touch and sent shivers up Elise’s spine. Her diving suit would keep most of the cold out but it couldn’t keep up with the sudden drops in temperature that greeted her as she descended. Luckily the sub had a few heating protocols and they engaged once they sensed the cold creep in. But Elise knew that if she were to make it to the wreck and back she would have to try to conserve the sub’s energy. She let the heater warm her up for an hour before switching it off. She turned off the ship’s inner lights after two hours.

She drifted like that for miles and miles. Hours passed like years to her as she huddled up in the pilot’s seat trying to conserve what little body heat she had left. The darkness of the void below her was coupled by the silence around her. Only her hushed breaths and the infrequent groans of the ship as it sank served to remind Elise of her surroundings.

Nothing but the frozen water and the odd school of fish were around. The sub bleeped a warning. Elise turned to the sonar display where the craggy rocks of the sea floor appeared. She turned on the blaring lights outside the ship and saw the deadly formations rise slowly toward her. Her hands shook as she gripped the sub’s joystick for manual steering. It would be the hardest thing she had faced yet. Every twitch of her fingers would send the ship a foot too close to the canyon walls and she would need the ship in perfect condition if she expected to return alive.

She steadied her hand and focused on the job ahead. It would be a few more hours before she reached her destination. A crude map she had copied by hand lay at her side and it confirmed her path through the silent depths. She thought back to her crew who would be waking any minute now. She wondered how long it would take for them to realize she had left.

What she didn’t know is that the submarine wasn’t going back to the owner’s private lot. It was being sent back for repairs after the manufacturer had found a fault in the model. Her trip was doomed the moment she decided to step inside.

Hours went by. Elise’s determination had kept her hand and eyes focused on her task. Finally she reached an open cave. The cave was enormous in size and reached farther than her lights could ever hope to see. Her wreck was down here and she was going to find it. She put the ship back on autopilot and relaxed her grip on the controls. Her hand had frozen in its position around the joystick and it took some prying from her to get it to stretch open. She dimmed the sub’s lights and prepared herself for the last drop into darkness.

Elise had long stopped feeling the cold on her skin. As the hours continued to drift by she started to doze off. The sudden thought of hypothermia jolted her awake. She went back to shivering in her seat and staring out the window, stretching her arms and legs every few minutes to keep herself awake.

Elise’s mind was full of ideas about extraterrestrials and lost German warships as she got closer and closer to the bottom of the cave. The sub’s radar came to life. Elise stared in shock as small blips came into existence on the screen. She turned up the sub’s searchlights and was greeted with a flurry of motion and colours. As she stared in awe a school of fish circled around the sub. Every colour she had ever seen in her life flashed in front of her. The reflection of the lights off their scales made lights dance inside the ship. Tears of joy blurred her vision. It was at that moment that the horde of fish began to crush the ship.

It only took a few moments for the pressure to knock Elise out. The water rushed in shortly after. The last thing she would ever see was the display of lights dancing around the room.


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