The Open Sea
By Shelly Robinson
Lindberg sat on the edge of the boat, his flippers hanging over the smooth glass of the open sea.
“Are you worried about sharks? Aliens? Ghosts, perhaps?” Rockwell chuckled at his own cleverness.
Lindberg gazed at the horizon. An ominous tangle of black clouds formed where the sun should have been.
“The weather is no good, Arnold,” he said.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Lindberg. I’ve weathered typhoons in this boat!” Lindberg doubted this very much but said nothing. “Listen, Lindberg, this is my dime. It’s my boat, and I’m telling you we have time. So let’s get on with this.”
Lindberg had found in the past that men who can buy the world develop a false confidence that lends them notions of purchasing even the weather. Arnold Rockwell IV was no exception.
Americans had called claiming to be government spooks; Americans called with money, claiming to be generous benefactors. Arnold Rockwell had sounded the least fatuous over the phone, but merely masked his true personage behind a thin façade of charm. In person, he was glib as any used car salesman, boastful and controlling. But the dive was seven thousand dollars a day, and Lindberg had little choice if he wished to discover the truth.
Lindberg put his mask on and fell back into the water. As he descended, silence enveloped him. He propelled himself into the abyss, towards the anomaly.
It was a large expanse of stone, too well-formed to have been an accident. The media claimed it the product of aliens. In Lindberg’s experience, any wreckage on the sea floor was likely the product of man.
Beneath the surface, Lindberg did not have to weather the irritation of Rockwell. He found the sea hospitable and peaceful, a place of unexplored triumph and discovery. It was here he made his home.
He flippered closer to the anomaly. Rockwell’s voice droned in his ear:
“—fame and fortune the likes of which you can’t conceive, Lindberg! I know you’re a poor fisherman’s son, but this can bring you into the big leagues! Why, I’ll bet you’ve never eaten caviar—”
“I’m nearing the anomaly now, Arnold,” interrupted Lindberg. All lines of communication went dead in its presence.
“Do you think communication failure is due to alien energies radiating through the vents?”
“I believe it is due to being hundreds of feet underwater near a large object,” said Lindberg.
“Don’t discount this alien stuff, Paul,” warned Rockwell. “In fact, regardless of what you find, I want you to—”
Lindberg never found out what Rockwell wanted. His voice abruptly ceased as Lindberg glided over the surface of the anomaly.
Lindberg slipped into the rocks. He found himself in a small stone room, circular, green and murky. He switched on his light.
Approaching the far wall, Lindberg could see carvings etched in stone, much like hieroglyphs: he raised the light, squinting—
a man with a dog’s head, clutching a bar of gold; a kraken, a man with the body of a fish weeping, a bird in the sky
--Lindberg recoiled, nearly losing his mouthpiece. He was alone, his air was low, and something felt wrong within his gut.
“Arnold? Arnold, are you there? I think I’ve found something.” Lindberg forgot he had no communication. Cursing silently, he flippered away from the anomaly as fast as he could.
“Arnold? Can you hear me? I’ve found something within the anomaly, I believe it’s manmade—Arnold?”
Lindberg was well clear of the structure, but the line remained silent and dead.
Lindberg swam faster, breaking the surface with a few fierce strokes. When his head emerged from the sea, he saw nothing.
No boat. No Rockwell. No clouds, either; nothing but sunshine. He removed his mask, squinting.
In the distance, he saw the boat, tipped sideways. Lindberg rubbed the seawater from his eyes.
The only visible part of the boat left was embraced by tentacles that dwarfed the vessel. It was not a small boat. It was, however, rapidly disappearing beneath the surface. With a sucking sound, the boat was gone.
Lindberg let his head fall back. He stared up at the sky. From the horizon approached the sound of helicopter blades.
- - -
Thursday, March 6, 2014
The Open Sea
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