Something Deep: Part Sixteen

A devastating confrontation

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Part Sixteen

The elevator came to a rest with a jerk. Amelia struggled to escape the cords tied around her arms and legs, but Dr. Hawkin had made sure the knots were tight. She could just get her fingers around the loop but couldn’t get the angle right to pull it loose. 

Hawkin climbed out of the elevator.

“Wait here,” he told her. As if she could get up and walk away. 

“Hawkin!” she yelled. “You’re a bastard.”

He was searching in the dark for something. Amelia wrestled with the loop. She found that by leaning back against the wall she could get better leverage. The knot slid, just a little. 

“Here it is!” Hawkin began removing boxes from a metal service cart. After clearing its surface, he pushed it over to where Amelia lay.

“This will make moving your body easier.”

“Hawkin,” she screamed again. Her voice was hoarse from the strain of yelling. Her throat was raw and she was still wet from her swim in the flooded corridor. 

“Don’t worry,” said Hawkin. He lined the cart up beside her. “It will all be over soon. Then I can get back to my work at Sea Lab. The work of changing the world, if you haven’t forgotten.” 

He lifted her off the laboratory floor and dropped her on top of the service cart with ease. In a desperate act of defiance, Amelia rolled herself off the cart. She crashed onto the floor with a thud and felt stabbing pain shoot through her face and arm. She tasted blood, too.

“Foolish girl. You’re only making this harder on yourself.”

The airlock alarm blasted, startling the doctor. Amelia moaned and rolled onto her back. She could see the red lights flashing along the railing on the landing platform, and she smiled. Someone else had come to join the party.

“Expecting company?” she said. She could taste the blood in her smile. 

Hawkin frowned but said nothing. He left her lying on the floor and went back into the elevator, slamming the gate shut behind him. The elevator began to rise. 

Amelia felt only half-alive, like she was dreaming. She watched the elevator as it rose up, climbing towards the flashing lights. From her perspective, lying on the floor, it looked like an enormous tower stretching into the darkness of the lab. It reminded her of the space tethers and her first helicopter ride to Sea Lab. It felt like a lifetime ago. Perhaps it had been.

Amelia heard the water draining out of the airlock. When it finished, the hanger door opened. It was the blue Sea Walker, the last of the three. When she saw it climb out of the airlock, she knew it was him.

“Alexander,” she mouthed the words, but no sound came out.

Ignoring the pain in her arm and cheek, she went back to the knot. She tried to pull the loop again, but it wouldn’t budge and she scratched her hand on the rigidity of the cart.

Then it dawned on her. She rubbed the cord back and forth on the leg of the cart. The cord cut into her wrists as she worked, but she felt the cord give just as the elevator reached the landing. She heard Doctor Hawkin shouting. 

“Get out of the Walker.” His voice carried through the lab. 

Amelia worked the ropes back and forth. When she finally felt the cords break, her heart lifted. She bent down and untied her legs. Rubbing her wrists, raw from the ropes, she limped back to the elevator and pressed the call button. 

“Alexander,” she whispered. “I’m coming.”

Looking up, Amelia could see the blue Sea Walker standing in front of the airlock. Doctor Hawkin circled it. 

“Get out,” repeated Hawkin. When the pilot in the blue Walker refused to obey his commands, Hawkin crossed the landing area and stood before the machine, pointing at it like one pointed at a dog who’d pissed the rug. 

“Is that you, Captain? Open the helmet on this thing now! Reveal yourself, or I’ll remove you from the project.”

There was no response. Amelia didn’t believe it was the captain. She was beginning to wonder if there was even anyone in there. Maybe the thing was running on autopilot.

“Everyone is supposed to be in lockdown!” Doctor Hawkin shouted. When the elevator reached the bottom of the lab, Amelia rushed inside and closed the gate. She hesitated for just a moment before pushing the up button.

Amelia’s wrists were bruised and red from the cord, and she limped from the pain in her leg. Using her shirt, she wiped the blood from her mouth and gently inspected her swollen jaw with her fingers. 

The elevator doors opened just in time for Amelia to see Hawkin crawling into the green Walker. She stepped out onto the platform.

“Alexander! Help me!”

 The green Sea Walker stirred and its visor lifted. In the pilot’s chair was Alexander, staring down in disbelief. 

“Amelia! You’re hurt.” 

She saw the green Sea Walker move toward Alexander. She saw its right arm come up, but Alexander didn’t. He was watching her. 

The green Walker’s hydraulic arm plowed into the open visor, driving straight through the pilot’s chair. Alexander was pinned in the cockpit. He screamed as the pincer punctured his flesh.

Amelia fell to her knees. All she had wanted was to be a scientist and contribute something to the world. Why had it all gone so wrong?

 She looked away, horrified. 

The whole platform jerked as Hawkin pulled his Walker back. Its arm was stuck in the hole it had stabbed in its brother’s cockpit. Hawkin had to use the machine’s legs to pry it free. He kicked the now busted Walker and it toppled over the railing, crashing to the floor of the abandoned lab, taking Alexander with it. 

The abandoned lab, thanks to Hawkin, had now claimed two victims. Bright and promising youth, cut short by the madness of a single monster. Amelia felt a rage building inside that she’d never felt before. It was a hatred so pure she felt it shining like a thousand suns within her heaving breast. 

Hawkin marched the green Sea Walker over to the rail and peered over at the wreckage he’d created. He opened the visor and Amelia saw him lean out of the cockpit. He seemed satisfied. Turning to Amelia, he grinned.

“See. You can’t win.” He sat back down in the pilot’s chair. “I’ve thought of a better idea of what to do with you.”

His fingers began to dance across the control panel. The green light of the screen illuminated his sullen face.

“I can trigger a decompression remotely. If the pressure drops far enough, the sea will crush this place. You and Issac can share the same watery grave. You were his replacement in life. You can be his replacement in death as well.”

“You’re a monster,” she croaked. She climbed to her feet using the handrail that led to the elevator. Giving up, she turned her back on the doctor.

“Thank you for your contribution to the project, Amelia.” The doctor closed the visor on Walker and piloted toward the airlock.

Amelia stepped into the elevator and pushed the button. She heard the airlock close behind the doctor as he escaped into the sea, leaving them to die in this frozen, undersea hell. Most of her body was aching with bruises, but she was so numb from the cold she hardly felt it.

When the elevator came to a rest, she limped toward the wreckage that had been the blue Sea Walker. The visor had closed when the machine landed, so she couldn’t see Alexander through the tinted glass. She tapped the control panel on Walker’s mechanical shoulder, but to no avail. There was a flicker of light, but the panel went dark as the batteries gave out. Or maybe the wiring was severed. She didn’t know. 

Digging through the refuse of the crash, Amelia found a metal rod that had broken loose from the Walker’s hydraulic arm. She used it to pry open the visor, but the effort nearly exhausted her. When it finally opened, she fell back and landed on the Walker’s crushed leg. 

She heard a cough from inside the cockpit.

“Alexander?” she asked. “Are you still alive?”

Ignoring her pain, Amelia sat upright and saw Alexander’s bright eyes looking at her. He was smiling, but his teeth were bloody. 

“Amelia. I came for you.”

“Oh, Alexander,” she said. “Look what he’s done to you.”

Alexander was pinned between the control panel and the pilot’s chair, which had collapsed upon impact. It looked like both of his legs were broken, perhaps his lower back as well. And he had most likely suffered some kind of internal bleeding, as indicated by the blood on his teeth, concluded Amelia.

He would die if she didn’t get help fast. Her anger surged again. She didn’t want to leave Alexander here, but it might be the only way to save him.

“Alexander, I’m sorry.”

“Go, Amelia, Stop him.” He coughed again. Bright red blood flowed over his lips. She used her shirt to wipe it away.

“I have to go get help, or you’ll die. It’s the only way to save you.”

“I’m afraid I’ll die anyway,” he said. “But you can stop him. Get out of here.”

“I don’t want to leave you.”

“Just go.” Alexander closed his eyes. His breathing was extremely shallow and choked with blood.

Amelia climbed to her feet, filled with an energy she didn’t know she had. She had to do it for Alexander. She had to make things right.

She heard Alexander coughing as she rode the elevator up to the landing area. She raced across the metal mesh floor and climbed into the red Walker. Before she closed the visor, she shouted over the railing.

“Alexander, I’ll bring help from the main lab. You’re going to make it.”

She steered the Walker into the airlock and triggered the exiting procedure just as her visor sealed her into the cockpit. 

***

Co-written by Harold J. Petty


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