Something Deep: Part Seventeen
An Ocean Encounter
Amelia came through the airlock of the abandoned lab and saw the pink and yellow lights of Sea Lab flashing in the empty darkness. It meant the lab was still running on emergency power and communications with the surface were offline.
She set the onboard navigation to the fastest route back to Sea Lab and pushed the Walker at full speed. She hadn’t made it thirty meters beyond the abandoned lab when another Walker emerged from the darkness of the seafloor.
Taking evasive action and pushing her piloting skills to the limit, Amelia spun around in time to see the green Walker barreling toward her again. The voice of doctor Hawkin came through the short-range communications link.
“I knew you’d try to come after me, Amelia. We’ll finish this out here, and then I’ll flood the abandoned lab, removing all evidence of any accidents.” He tried to ram Amelia with his Walker, but she proved evasive.
Amelia tried to escape through a rocky outcropping, but Hawkin stuck to her trail like barnacles to a ship. It was all she could do to keep one step ahead of him, zig-zagging through rock formations that led away from Sea Lab.
“You’re going to get us both killed, you moron,” she shouted. She wasn’t sure if he could hear her or not. His only response was laughter and curses.
They danced like crabs on the bottom of the sea, each in their respective shells. Each time Hawkin would get close, Amelia would pull away. But her desperation to save Alexander was testing her patience. She needed to end this game of underwater cat and mouse.
Perhaps the sea had heard her call, or maybe the pair had simply stepped too far outside the territory of the lab, but as she pulled away from the doctor for the umpteenth time, Amelia became aware of a powerful presence in the water above her. A massive shape was hovering over them in the water.
“Now I have you, Amelia. You’ve proved far too capable for a lowly newcomer. I’m going to enjoy this.”
But there was an audible gulp at the end of the doctor’s words as he too became aware of the looming threat in the murky dark.
“What is that?” His words were filled with static as the shadow of the monster grew. Amelia remained motionless in the Walker, watching as the doctor tried to flee across the sea bed. It took about a second for the Walker’s thrusters to move the vehicle around in a complete 180-degree turn, and in that time, the shadow had moved into position above it.
Amelia waited, frozen. The small flood lights on the front of her Walker illuminated the creature as it descended. The pink flesh of the giant squid looked like taffy candy. Its long tentacles wrapped around the doctor’s Walker, pulling it up.
The creature’s large eye was looking at her. The oily black pupil shrank in the light and Amelia saw its beak emerge from beneath its mass of tentacles. Each tentacle must have reached over fifty meters long.
“Move you damned thing,” shouted Hawkin, but his words were lost in static as the giant squid’s beak clamped down on the green Sea Walker. With a thrust of its powerful arms, the squid shot up into the darkness, carrying the Walker, and doctor Hawkin, with it into the abyss.
Amelia was stunned. She sat unmoving for several minutes, unable to believe what had just happened. But the reality of Alexander and the thought of him dying alone in the abandoned lab forced her back to the task at hand.
She told the Walker to resume its course back to Sea Lab, overcome with the feeling of being lost in an alien world. How long before the giant squid came back to gobble her up?
Maybe mankind wasn’t supposed to probe the depths of the deep after all.
As the Walker--which now felt small compared to the oversized squid--sped hurriedly on its course, Amelia expected to be at any moment set upon by something. Either Hawkin would reappear and try to kill her or else the squid would come back to finish the job it had begun. But neither happened. Instead, she found herself piloting the Sea Walker safely into the bay of the lab.
As soon as she gave the Walker the command to dock, she heard the message notification sound. Tapping the control panel, saw the Captain’s face on her display.
“Amelia!” said the Captain. “Are you alright? Where is Doctor Hawkin?”
“Call Sara. Tell her Alexander is dying. He’s been pinned in the abandoned laboratory and is bleeding to death. He needs medical attention and the jaws of life to get him free from the Walker. I think he has multiple bone fractures and is suffering from internal bleeding. Tell her Issac’s body is there, too”
The Captain was speechless, but he found the words to carry out her request. By the time Amelia had reached the surface of the pool and engaged in decompression, the Walkers of the East Wing lab had already been deployed, along with a simple submersible that lacked the capabilities of the Walker unit, but was perfectly suited to the task of ferrying a medical expert to the abandoned lab.
The Captain helped Amelia out of the Walker and into the lab’s office where he repeated his question concerning the whereabouts of Dr. Hawkin.
“He’ll need more than the jaws of life to set him free,” she told him with a grin.
Later, when she was questioned by the UN authorities, she explained how Dr. Hawkin was carried off in the beak of a giant squid. When she was told how improbable such an event was, all she could do was shrug.
It was the truth.
Co-written by Harold J. Petty