FLYING IN THE DARK
Darkness. Inky black. Ash. No name seemed to fit the death color that surrounded her sub. Nothing should be able to live down here, and yet, her heart still beat with hope mixed with excitement. It had to. Otherwise, it would stop. For who could live without hope?
Sometimes she felt like she was missing something. A piece. It made her feel like a ghost of the real Alice. Something broke in her the day they’d stopped searching for mom, and Alice knew it needed fixed, yet no one knew how to help.
So Alice persisted. She took the internship. She traveled in this sub to the trench.
Now for the first time, she was beginning to feel alive. Her curiosity sparked and her excitement of the unknown urged her on to follow this strange man further into the trench of the Coral sea.
Finally the fuzziness she’d been feeling began to disappear and life began to sharpen into focus, to have purpose. She was beginning to feel alive again. That’s what it was. Having a near death experience really prioritized life. Above the sea before, it was like she was just doing life because that is what you were supposed to do.
She was here. A place where she might begin to understand, to accept, to grieve. This was the hope of purpose she was looking for. A hope to live and have life.
It was time, Alice thought. Time to understand what happened to mom so that she could accept it. Accept it so her heart would be at peace to live again. And maybe that was what Dr. Leland had seen in her, and wanted for her.
Before her, the sea began to lighten. Alice let the sub level out. Before her the ghostly figure continued to propel himself by the power of his trident. He put the head down and the spears whirled pushing him faster, deeper. His waves thundered against her own submarine, and she pushed on the throttle to keep steady through the onslaught. Her legs trembled as she tried to hold her body steady, to hold her hope steady. Her hands trembled. Hopefully the shell shock of earlier would wear off.
Where was this guy going?
In a swirl of bubbling water, he disappeared from the reach of her lights. Fading into the darkness that ate everything. Darkness that devoured hope, devoured dreams. Now, her heart trembled along with her hands as she pressed into that darkness. Hope still lurked on the precipice of her soul. Likely it would be what killed her.
As the water rushed against her sub, Alice realized that it wasn’t the man who was creating the current. Something else had. Something large.
And then, there it was.
It was huge. Such a small word to describe a massive vessel that was so large that even leaning into her dome window, she couldn’t see the sides, top or bottom. They faded into the black depths of the sea.
The mass of it weighed into her soul, her hands stilled, and her breath steadied. Such a curious effect. Realizing one’s own smallness tends to affect one in a myriad of ways. If there were such large things in this world, it felt like her problems were more manageable. Though if she tried to explain what was going on in her body at the moment, she would have no words.
The whirring of massive engines echoed and vibrated the sea around her, glowing a dim blue. She couldn’t figure out how it glowed.
Staring up at it, Alice was unaware of the oncoming mini subs. One moment she was drifting alone and the next she was surrounded by them. They looked for all the world like airplanes with the exception that they were underwater. The one closest to her had a blond man with a military haircut. He pointed at her, then himself, then toward the ship.
He wanted her to follow him.
In the background, the alarm for the air recycler failing went off. What choice did she have, really? She nodded.
They zoomed down toward the underbelly of the massive sea vessel. It took awhile. And she followed him down. They made their way to an opening in the bottom that curved in and then up the metal column inside.
They were going up and up. The metal glowing a faint metallic blue like the outside.
It felt like they would never reach the top, when pop! The surface of the water hit fast.
She popped high on the inside hanger before plopping back into the water. Above her arched a ceiling, and it felt blimp-like in structure. The circle of water splashed against the metal sides. All around her were runways which ran in all directions.
How was such a structure possible? All down the sides of the runways were submarines and…planes? There was no technology to have such a large vessel this deep. Yet, here it was.
What was this place?
A line of uniformed men jogged toward the opening that she and the other mini-subs were floating in. Alice’s eyes narrowed. The Navy? But wait, the emblem was different. It looked like a mix between the Navy and the Air force. Were they making a new program? She knew next to nothing about the government’s defense programs and the members in it, but she was pretty sure these guys shouldn’t exist.
In that moment, her sub shook as something clamped down on it from above. Alice leaned forward looking up. A large crane had latched on. Yep, she was totally about to be boarded or rather deboarded. She sat back into her chair. All the other little airplane-like subs were being hauled out as well.
Alice was already practicing her story. She had just been collecting samples when she’d been attacked by an impossible, mystical creature that should never have existed. Then she followed one of their men to their ships before they brought her aboard.
As they were settling her sub onto a hold, Alice saw a woman approaching. She stopped practicing her story. It was the woman who had told her family that her mother had disappeared at sea.