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Something Deep: Chapter Eighteen
Amelia waited in the sterile white lobby of the hospital. An old woman sat across from her. She was playing some game on her phone while her grandson twiddled his thumbs in the seat next to her. They were waiting on news about her husband. Amelia had overheard when the nurse asked their business.
She resisted the urge to pull out her own phone. She knew that it wouldn’t help. It would only agitate her more. She couldn’t glance at the news feeds without seeing headlines about Sea Lab.
The nurse finally came, but it was to tell the old woman that her husband was stable. He’d had a heart attack apparently, but it hadn’t been fatal. With tears in her eyes and a prayer on her lips, the woman followed the nurse down the hall. Her grandson trailed behind, rapidly pressing the buttons on the phone he’d finally gotten his hands on.
Looking through the oval-shaped window, she saw the train rolling along the beach, glistening in the bright, tropical sun. She’d been topside in Hagåtña for almost two weeks, but she was still having trouble adjusting to how bright the sunlight could be.
When the nurse finally called for her, they took her to Alexander’s room.
He was laying in the hospital bed, both of his legs were in casts, as was his torso, but he smiled when he saw her.
Tears came to Amelia’s eyes and she moved to his side.
“Alexander,” she said through the tears. “I’m sorry. I tried to come sooner, but they didn’t allow me until today.”
“It’s okay, Amelia,” he told her. “I’ve been resting. I sleep mostly anyway.”
The nurse left the room, closing the door behind them. Amelia hardly noticed.
“You look good,” she said.
“Yeah?” he asked. “You want to go on a date?”
He started laughing, but then winced in pain and held his side.
“I didn’t mean it like that. Don’t hurt yourself.”
“I know. I was only joking. The doctors said I’ll have to lay here for a few more weeks while my legs heal. And then I’ll have to deal with a year’s worth of physical therapy.”
“Are you staying here for the therapy?”
“For a little while, then I’ll probably return to my home country.” He smiled at Amelia. “To be honest, I’d been wanting to go back and visit. You know I mentioned how I got some bad news from home?”
Amelia nodded. She’d been wondering ever since what the news had been, but it felt wrong to ask. Too prying.
“My dad is sick and he’s not doing so well. He probably won’t be around much longer.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said.
He shook his head. “My father has come to terms with it and so have I. I’m just glad I’ll get the chance to visit and spend some time with him while I recover. Life is fleeting, Amelia. Today, I know that better than anyone.”
Amelia nodded and dried her eyes. She took Alexander’s hand.
“I’m so grateful for what you did for me.”
“I’m grateful for you, for having the courage to do what you did. I shouldn’t have tried to stop you.”
“I almost got you killed! And myself, too.”
“It’s over now.” Alexander looked up at the ceiling. He had a faraway look in his eyes like he was thinking about something deeply.
“What happened to Hawkin?” he said after a moment of silence.
“The squid took him.”
“That’s what they told me, but I didn’t believe it. I don’t believe it.”
“It’s true,” she said. “I wouldn’t lie to you.”
“I know,” he sighed. “I know you’re not lying, but it’s crazy.”
“Life doesn’t always make sense. That’s something I’ve learned over the last few months.”
“What about Dr. Yamamoto?”
Amelia took the seat next to Alexander’s bed. “Sara’s been made head of Project DOR. She’s replaced Hawkin.”
“That’s good. She’ll do a better job, I’m sure.”
“Yes, she will.”
“Are you going back to Sea Lab?”
Amelia sighed. She’d been dreading this question. “I can’t. Not after what happened.”
“I understand.” He didn’t say anything more. He didn’t have to.
“Did they come to question you?”
Alexander nodded. “Two agents came from the UN. They took my testimony. I told them what Hawkin did to you. Guess what?”
“They also found out why my Sea Walkers were having issues, and it wasn’t my code or my extra graphics.”
“I never thought it was,” she said, remembering her time at the bottom of the ocean, stranded in a malfunctioning Sea Walker. Just the thought of it still made her heart race. “What was causing the problem?”
“A secret program installed by the American Commonwealth. They were spying on us the whole time.”
Amelia tried to seem shocked, but after all that she had seen, she couldn’t.
Instead, she laughed.
“So you can keep the flower?”
Alexander laughed too.
She spent an hour with him in his hospital room. They watched a show on the local channels using the screen built-in to the hospital wall. It was a comedy about a family with a goofy father and a daughter who always talked back. Amelia enjoyed it. The daughter reminded her of her sister, Emma.
After the show, Amelia left Alexander, knowing that he needed to rest. He’d had a dozen bones broken, including both his femurs. He was lucky to be alive.
“I’ll come back to visit tomorrow. Same time.”
“Good. May I make a request?”
“Can you bring me something to read?”
“Sure. What do you want?”
She left the hospital thinking of what book to bring Alexander. She pulled out her phone to request a taxi and instead saw that her sister was calling her. She tapped her phone.
“Emma. I was just thinking about you.”
“Oh, yeah?” Were you thinking about how awesome I am?”
Amelia laughed. “No. There was a little girl on the show I was watching that reminded me of you.”
Emma was quiet.
“Emma?” What’s wrong?”
“Mom and dad said something bad happened to you at Sea Lab.”
“I’m okay, Emma.”
“Are you sure?” It was clear her sister was worried.
“I’m perfectly fine, but the thing is, I’m coming home. I can’t work there anymore.”
“Did you mess up, or do something wrong?”
The question stung. She didn’t know how to tell Emma what had happened.
“It’s complicated. I just hope you aren’t disappointed in me.”
“Why would I be disappointed in you?”
“When I left, I promised you I was going away to work on this important project. But things didn’t work out. I only want you to be proud of me, Emma.”
“I’ll always be proud of you, Amelia. I love you. You’re my big sister.”
Amelia knew then it had all been worth it.
“Come home and see us.”
She ended the call with her sister and stole a glance at the setting sun, sinking into the dark, blue waves, into the underworld she had barely escaped.
“I’ll find a new way,” she said. “A new path.”
She used her phone to hail a hovertaxi and straightened up, waiting for the hovercraft by the side of the busy road. Suddenly, she knew what book she would bring Alexander: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Perfect, she thought.
She was smiling when she climbed into the hovercraft.
We saved the world from Hawkin’s madness.
“Where to?” The driver was a local. She could tell from his accent and the style of his thick mustache.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “The future is wide open.”
Thank you so much to everyone who read all the way to the end! We had a wonderful time writing Something Deep, and we hope you enjoyed reading it! There will be more Solar Flow adventures to come. - K.B. Bailey and Harold J. Petty