Sea Siren: Chapter Eleven

Nivens, The Reluctant Deserter

As they walked the towering walkways to the loading dock, the floor rocked underfoot. Nivens muttered something about the gravity assists being offline as he followed.

Alice looked at him, “Gravity assists are for gaining momentum for space flight not for anything under water. What are you talking about?” But he just shook his head.

As they approached the hangar, men were jumping into the sub planes, some were already rolling down the runway that went straight into the water. 

Alice poked Niven’s side saying,“Nivens, which plane is yours.” 

Nivens spazzed at her touch then glared at her rubbing his side,“Ma’am, I am a medic.”

“I see.” Alice began walking to the nearest subplane. Nivens blustered as he realized what she was doing.

“I must protest. You don’t know how to operate a Glyder.” He actually sounded concerned for her.

“Is that what they’re called?” She kept walking and at the Glyder she stepped up on the wing and jumped into the cockpit. There was an extra seat behind her. She settled in, pondered a moment looking at Nivens, and then waved him up.

“No.” Fear evident in his face if not his voice.

“WhooOoooOoo!” A new alarm started. Nivens face paled.

Alice felt a grin tug at the corners of her mouth.”Let me guess, that’s the evacuation alarm.” His silence was a thousand words.

“Well, Nivens, it has been nice knowing you. Hope you find a way off this vessel.” She started pushing buttons to seal the glass like dome around her.

His face paled even more if that was possible. He cursed,”I knew I shouldn’t trust Merna. Stupid Goliath is just like the titanic. Say it’s unsinkable and the universe is against you!” He jumped and crawled up into the seat behind her.

He whispered, “You know what you’re doing, right?”

She finished lowering the shield and revved the engine and with a surge of confidence in her voice she said, “There hasn’t been a machine I couldn’t figure out…after a while.”

He moaned as she turned them to the runway and toward the water. Moments later they were hurtling down the column of water to the outside of the glowing blue vessel. 

Water rushed by bubbling over the glass. Except it couldn’t be glass because at these depths and this thin it would crack. They would implode.

She sure had a lot of questions. Including everything in the box. About her mom and this ancient civilization. Merna talking about cities made more sense now. The people weren’t still alive, right? They would have found them centuries ago. There weren’t any secrets left on Earth that big, right? 

Ahead she saw the dark depths coming closer at the end of the tunnel. Then they were out.

A vast plain that reminded her of a chateau stretched out at length around them. The waving sea of glittering blue plants below gave a glow to the sea besides Goliath above them.

The majestic coral reefs she had seen almost didn’t compare the beauty before her. It mesmerized her – the flow, the vibrant glow.

Fingers entered her view and snapped, startling her. Nivens had leaned forward,”Stare too long and we’ll get nowhere. Get us out of here.”

Below them was great activity. Apparently the men were going to latch Goliath to the Chateau until everything blew past. Far down below men were drilling metal loops into the ground.

“How did they do that?”

“What?”

“How did they get out of their subs, glyders, whatever and they’re wearing underwater gear?”

Nivens smiled. His first real smile. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

She rolled her eyes. “I thought you said we were leaving? Why are they latching Goliath to the Chateau?”

“We are leaving, but we need to secure our drilling site first.”

Their drilling site? She saw the small scattered holes now. Suited men were pouring out of them. That’s where

“Why would they be evacuating Goliath if they’re latching it down?”

He was silent. Then simply said,”They wouldn’t.”

Sea Siren: Chapter Six

BEASTIES

Water dripped on her arms and head from the hatch as Alice climbed out. A surreal golden glow filled the area. Where was the light coming from? She heaved herself up and out, feet searching for a hold. Her foot found the first sawtooth rung embedded in the side of the hull. Under her hands the metal of the submarine was cold to the touch, and the cool air outside the sub woke her.  

This was real. 

The murmuring of the pilots reached her from below around her sub. Then at the clack of Captain Merna’s step approaching they snapped to attention.  Alice would snap to attention too.  

Captain Merna towered over all the men, her muscular frame carrying her with ease through the crowd, hard eyes taking in the battered submarine. Alice noted the new addition of a black patch over her right eye. 

She felt the urge to stay high and keep the advantage, to keep distance between her and reality but it was a false advantage.  

Captain Merna spoke without turning to her second in command. “Get Cretan on these repairs. It looks like one of those mind-speaking Krakens again. Have the men check the border of the trench for it. And I want this sub to be sea worthy, so that we can get it back to the research vessel. Then put out a warning to the coast guard – No civilians are to be in the area.” 

Alice froze from putting her foot down to the next foothold. So they not only knew about the Kraken but had encountered them before. They spoke as if it was common to bring back vehicles in this condition. How did they know it was a Kraken from the damage?  

Alice looked closer at her sub as she went down to the next foothold. Etchings almost like burned, molten marks seared the sides. Her heart went cold. If it had touched her… 

Merna herself traced the marks as she spoke up to Alice, “Looks like you encountered quite the beastie.” Merna met Alice’s gaze after she dropped the last foot to the metal floor. 

 Not one easily surprised, her one eye widened in that moment, “Clara..” she whispered.  

Then Merna spoke to her lieutenant in a softer, yet still brisk tone. “Lieutenant, I’m taking her to my office for questioning. Get Nivens, the medic, for me.” Then she was back to her brusque self and turned about face. 

Saluted by the men, Merna walked away long legs covering ground faster than Alice’s legs ever would. Alice jogged to catch up, her heart racing from the exertion or more likely from hearing her mom’s name on the Captain’s lips. What did Merna know? 

Last year, Captain Merna had visited when Alice was at school. Alice had seen her leaving. No one could forget a person like the Captain. But why had they chosen her to inform their family about the end of the search? That mom was officially left for missing? 

And then…Merna must have known her mom. Being the mirror image of her mom easily confused people. 

How had the two known each other? 

They passed from one hallway into another when the left wall ended. A vision of massive blue coils glowed in the middle of a drop that had to go down for a mile. It also extended to the ceiling with what felt like an infinite height. 

Alice slowed, mouth parting in surprise. “Wha-What is this?” She stepped closer to the railing and let her eyes drop. 

It was like a dream. People milling on other floors could be seen in all levels down to a small point that could barely be seen below. Magical, how it glowed. 

Merna slowed looking back at Alice. A grin took over her solemn face. She stepped to the edge too, and looked down at the glowing blue coils. “Magnificent, isn’t it? We have Clara to thank for this.”  

On all levels everyone seemed to be working relentlessly. There was a gentle hum to the noise of people communicating and operating machinery. 

Alice stood there staring down as Merna continued, “Because of her discovery of ancient artifacts and technology our scientists were able to decipher, reverse engineer and build upon the technology to bring this ship into existence. There was so much more down here that she would have been so excited to be uncovering-” 

Alice interrupted, “Do you think mom is still alive?” Mom wouldn’t have liked her interrupting but she wanted to, no, she needed to know. 

Merna’s face shuttered. She spoke with the care of one choosing words delicately, “Alice, we weren’t able to reveal our findings in the last year due to confidentiality surrounding our current state of affairs but your mom didn’t disappear. She is gone.” 

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Sea Siren: Chapter Five

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. 

But now. 

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. 

Next: Sea Siren: Chapter Six

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Sea Siren: Chapter Four

MAD AS A HATTER

Kalin knew Alice was crazy. But this was bordering along the lines of Kamikaze.

Though the line connection had failed, they had a new shortwave Intel transmitter installed last minute by him that sent small bits of information, just enough that they knew that she had turned off everything in the ship and then began to slowly sink deeper into the sea. That is – that seemed her direction before that signal had been cut as well.

Kalin squatted and stretched on the long deck of the research boat, getting his wetsuit situated. No one took notice of him. Everyone’s focus was on the fact that they had lost contact with Alice.

He pulled on a completely clear helmet made of some type of human material that could withstand the depths below. Little did they know he didn’t need it, but for the sake of staying unnoticed…

Kalin stood hooking on the rest of his gear. He had known by the last bits of info that came through that he’d have to go down for her. She didn’t care to give him the time of day, but now, she wouldn’t have a choice.

A flash out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. There, brewing on the horizon, was one of those rare storms of the centuries.

Just as he jumped off the back of the anchored ship, one of the students called out, “Kalin!”

Clearly not heard, the student turned to a pensive Leland, “See, I told you. There’s a reason his name is Mad Hatter. He really thinks he can bring her back before that storm rolls in.”

Leland grimly turned back to his radio. “Anything that brings her back.” The radio crackled and he began to broadcast their dilemma hoping for anyone that may be able to help.

Kalin drifted down, sensing the ocean farther than any human. He felt her path into the depths so he angled his body and kicked. Already the sea writhed around him in anticipation of the storm. He pulled out a golden rod that extended. He’d had it since he’d been stranded as a young Meridian with the humans. The golden rod grew three prongs at the end before spinning at his feet to propel him faster. He wasn’t afraid of the bends which humans suffered from. The question would be if he’d be able to get Alice back fast enough.

Around him the water shimmered to his eyes. This was home. He understood it and knew that taking Alice deeper may end up being their only solution.

He sighed. If only they had started off on better terms. Maybe she would trust him more.

Ten Minutes or so later…

If he hadn’t had this infernal helmet on, he would have smelled the Kraken before he had been whip lashed by the tentacle. 

The sound reached him milliseconds before his right side was hit by what felt like a bus. He flipped end over end. Somehow he had miraculously kept his grip on his trident (* give it a new name). Darkness edged around sight as he swung the trident around to spin and freeze his rotating momentum. His stomach in his throat as he gained his balance, he narrowed his eyes and focused his hearing, letting his nocturnal side rise. Then he saw it clearly.

Alice in the grip of the Krakatura as his people called it. He whipped his trident up with the triple end pointed at the Krakatura, but as he was about to send it into the guts of the creature. It jerked and writhed in deep pain. Kalin could smell the electric volts from here.

He smiled. Alice, while inexperienced, she sure knew how to make up for it. He could see why Leland put so much faith in her.

Lowering the trident, he swayed watching the Krakatura tumble away and then he saw her sitting there, shell shocked.

By this time the sea above would be too turbulent to take her back. The only option left was to take her down. He only hoped he could use her curiosity against her better judgement. Staying in the shadows, he gestured for her to follow. 

His grin grew when she did.

NEXT: Sea Siren: Chapter Five

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Sea Siren: Chapter Three

Ancient Creatures of the Deep

It didn’t work. 

Alice should have popped to the surface like a cork. She flipped the switch again. Then again and again. Nothing.

Still in the grip of the monstrosity outside, her head numbed by its shrieking, Alice grabbed her controls and yanked. The submarine engine revved and then abruptly jerked to a stop. The screeching stopped.

She was firmly in its grip.

Head pounding, Alice yanked again at the controls. Getting away had just become more important than preserving the submarine and its instruments.

Wait. The instruments. She looked to her right. There lay a board of controls used to gather samples. One of them was an underwater torch. The question was would it turn on with only the battery backup power?

Alice leaned over and slowly turned the dial at the right edge of the panel. The switchboard lights blinkered and flickered. Alice turned the dial the rest of the way and the lights settled. She sighed. It worked.

Alice pressed a sweaty hand to her boiling hot forehead and rubbed a knuckle into the aching sinus, closing her eyes. Now if only her idea would work.

Cracking an eye open, Alice focused on recalling the uses for the hundred or so switches. Her fingertip came to a rest about the middle of the board. Found it. Cla-chink!

Alice heard the wheels and cogs turning, grinding and whining from the edge of the dome. Then she listened with a heavy heart as it squealed to a higher pitch and whine before all activity and sound died. 

Red and yellow lights pulsed failure to her bleary eyed gaze. Alice resisted the urge to pound the control board. “It’s a proven fact, Alice, beating the equipment doesn’t work,” she reminded herself.

Just then the creature cried out, vibrating the air around her. Her hands shot to her head again as lightning pain streaked through her head. Muscles tightened in her neck nausea hovering at the back of her throat. Had her mom gone through a similar experience? Her sub had vanished with no clues as to what happened. Would she simply disappear too? 

As the creature’s shriek subsided, color returned to her vision and her eyes were able to focus. What Alice saw was the depth meter increasing. Not Good. “More like Not Alive and soon,” she muttered.

In her mind’s eye, she imagined Zira and the others shaking their heads knowingly. They thought she wasn’t experienced and knowledgeable enough. Then she thought of Dr. Leland. He has risked trusting her. He’d bet on her. She knew he had.  

Over the month before this trip he’d invested in her life in a way only her mother had. All her grades were salvaged due to his persistence in his pestering. She had needed help, and he’d been there. And now she was failing him. Failing him, like her father had failed her.

She was afraid to be just like him.

And she remembered that day. It was her last visit with her father. She had needed him so badly that day, and yet, as he met her gaze there was no emotion, no comfort.

She was alone, and he’d walked away.

The sludgy gray skin of the creature squelched across the window snapping her eyes to it. Then the creature went silent.

Alice didn’t want to be her dad. Didn’t want to leave people. Didn’t want to fail them. Yet here she was. Her watery eyes gazed dully at the creature’s rubbery body. Then it hit her, and she slapped the dashboard, “Ha!” Then gave a regretful groan as the sound echoed painfully in her head. 

“Just move on,” Alice lurched out of her seat painfully and half jumped to the wall below.

Soon she found what she was looking for, a little hidden panel. Now if she could electrify the hull…

Alice found rubber gloves, cut the correct wires and ripped open the floor giving her direct access to the hull of the ship. She paused. The sub creaked with the sway of the ocean. It was time. Alice rammed the cable down, touching the hull.

The life tearing screeching began, and Alice cried out trying to wrench the cable back as she felt something wasn’t right. But it was no use. 

All at once it was as if their minds were in sync. So many images flashing through her mind. Unrecognizable. She was tasting other worlds, feeling a foreign sea, and talking to alien animals. 

Alice was the creature. 

The creature in a harsh new world and encountering a bright creature with electricity in its veins. Such a strange creature that seemed hollow inside. 

That’s me, Alice thought, right before the submarine was violently thrust away.

The creature moaned and an invisible current pulled at it. Whatever body part was gripping the sub fell from the window. Finally her exterior lights shone to reveal swirling dark water all around the sub. She had been taken to deeper depths, and she saw no end. No bottom.

She’d entered the trench.

She was alone in the glow of light encircling her. Or maybe not. Her gaze caught  movement.

At the edge of her exterior lights, she could see a faint figure off in the distance and holding a glimmering weapon like a staff. It had three points at the top. Kind of like…a trident.

Below him the creature was falling. Like a drunk pot-bellied large man, the sludgy creature rolled away a trail of black ink swirling down with it to the depths below.

The man figure swayed with the ocean, paying no mind to the creature. His focus on her sub.

He watched her for a moment then gestured for her to come before he swam down into the murky black depths. Was what she had just seen a figment of her imagination? Something created from the mental torture she had just endured?

Alice wanted to follow him. Wanted to discover if there was more. More to the sea and more to the mystery around her mom’s interest here. She’d been so secretive about it. Still fear or common sense tried to whisper to her. The man-like figure was swimming in about the same direction, she warned herself, as the creature.

Even now, her hands still trembled, body still felt in sync with the rhythm of the sea, still felt like a fish in the wrong ocean. Would her father have risked it? Would he even care about what mom had been so involved in? But he was a stranger to her now. No doubt he wouldn’t even care that she was at sea. She waved the thought away. 

A strange excitement, child-like in nature, welled within her as she gazed at the man with the softly glowing trident. A type of wonder that she hadn’t known was there, beating quietly below the surface. A wonder that was present in most if they just looked.

Did she follow the man? What was her carefully considered and thought out choice in all of 32 milliseconds?

Alice of course followed the rabbit down the hole.

Next Chapter: Chapter 4

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Sea Siren: Chapter Two

World Upside Down

It wasn’t the cracking that woke Alice, but the first droplet of water hitting her face. She gasped, blinking rapidly as she instantly woke. Somehow she was lying on the back wall of the sub. 

Alice put her hands to her face taking a deep breath and ran her fingers through her hair. Above her was the dome window. Nothing was to be seen outside. Only blackness beyond. She squinted at it but it just blurred before her eyes.  

Around her everything was colored in a bluish haze from the backup lights. Here and there tiny yellow and red lights blinked their small emergencies. 

Quickly she blocked more droplets with her hand as they fell. Then she froze. Where was the water coming from? 

She jerked up, body crying in pain, she groaned. Just bruises, she told herself. 

Once she was steadily on her feet and the swaying had stopped in her own head, she awkwardly stood on the curved back wall of the sub staring at the acrylic window above.  

No visible cracks.  

She waited. 

She lifted her hands and gripped the seat hanging just above her head, knuckles whitening. As she waited the tension was unbearable. She closed her eyes, whispering, “Father God, please don’t let that be a crack. Please, please, please.” 

Looking back up, she noticed the blood trailing down her hand. Slowly, she brought the hand down. No cut. Then lifted her hand to her aching head, grimacing when she found a spot on the right side. Probably just a scratch. 

Then another water droplet fell, and its sound echoed in the silent chamber she was entombed in. Her eyes drawn to the new ceiling and heart thudding, Alice wiped the blood off her hand and pulled herself to the side of the sub. She started climbing. 

How had she even ended up sideways? Submarines were bottom heavy which kept them up right. This had to mean she was probably on land, but then why did she see nothing but darkness outside, and what about the water? 

Life was upside down and made no sense. Front and back were now literally up and down. 

Alice had just hooked a knee up onto the seat after crawling up on the side wall when the sub jerked. Alice flew back into what had once been the ceiling and fell down to the back wall and lay there, all breath gone before sucking it back in coughing. 

For whatever reason the sub was moving and not by its own engines. As she lay there breathing she felt the submarine pick up speed, and it moaned beneath her. A memory slithered its way into her mind. The bright light approaching the sub. No breath, but not from lack of oxygen. The humming noise. And then…she remembered. 

The monstrosity. Trembling Alice slowly shook her head. No, just no. She put a hand to the hull and shoved herself up off the ground, stumbling to stand. Looking up, her mouth flattened. This was her sub. She decided where it went. 

This time she kept each foot hold firmly and made her way towards the control system above. Pulling herself swiftly if not confidently up the side to avoid falling again, Alice made great time. At last, she swung into the seat and buckled herself in.  

Grabbing the controls, she noted a red light blinking to indicate that they were at depths that the submersible wasn’t meant for. A grim smile. Well, she was still alive. And if the water had been a leak, she would have been dead by now. Praise the Lord for the soundness of the submarine. She prayed it would keep. 

Another little yellow light caught her eye. The sub was on battery power. The main electrical engine would need safety checks. Her eyes roved the control board full of blinking lights. All would be fine until she dealt with the current situation. 

Focusing on the dome window, Alice switched on the exterior lights…nothing. But then, the black and gray colors slowly began to shift. 

A rubbery, sludgy sound grew as it slid across the window enveloping and echoing around her.  

Alice’s skin crawled. She reached for a hidden casing below the dash. She had never thought there would be a reason to use it. Again, it seemed she was wrong. Opening it she felt the black switch inside.   

For a moment, her hand hovered. Then a high pitched cry tore through her ears. Pain pierced her, she arched her back and her hands shot up to her head. The sound was in her, part of her, tearing at her. There was no other choice. 

She flipped the switch.


Next: Sea Siren Ch. 3


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Sea Siren: Chapter One

First Encounter

NORTHERN TRENCH OF THE CORAL SEA

Something was out there. The sonar pinged, showing a large object creeping towards the small submarine. Alice spoke into her mic, “Guys, are you getting this?” Nothing. She checked her input and her output then tried again, “Hello?” Static crackled in her headset. Something must have happened to the optic cable that connected her with the research vessel above.

“Strange,” she muttered, taking off her headset and rubbing her warm ear. On the way down she had been listening for anything out of the ordinary, but realized that out here in the Coral sea, she was unlikely to find anything too interesting until deeper depths.

Just below the coral reefs, not much lived at 200 yards down and yet- “Ping!” There it was.

That is, both of them.

Alice put her headset back on. Another smaller object appeared from the opposite direction closer to her submarine than the first and was coming out of the trench. Its speed – 50 knots.

Nothing moved that fast down here.

Alice had stopped breathing. She forcefully exhaled then leaned forward to look out the domed window. Chilled air from it cooled her warm face. Her now steady breathing echoed in the small chamber. She’d see them any minute now.

Outside, sediment was settling from her landing earlier so that there was still a light milky glow in the beams of the external LED lights. Just beyond her landing point was the edge of the Coral Sea’s northern trench, and there the darkness swallowed all light.

She could handle whatever was coming from the trench; this submersible was near indestructible, and Professor Leland had sent her, the undergraduate, saying that she was ready for her first trip down alone. Mom would have been so proud of her. However, the postgraduates thought otherwise and voiced their opposition about letting an undergrad operate the expensive experimental solo submarine. Alice could care less. She didn’t even want to be here.

But whatever Leland required, she would do. Failing was not an option with her scholarship on the line.

Last year, when they had stopped searching for mom, Alice had fallen into a deep depression. Her homework started to fail and friends lingered around, not knowing what to do. Eventually, they all left. Everyone did.

Except Professor Leland. She remembered that day clearly.

“I’m failing you.”

Alice stared down at the paper in front of her. The letter D was inked in red across it. She reached out to pull it towards her, saw her hands trembling and quickly hid them back in her lap. Standing in front of her desk, Professor Leland sighed and sat down next to her.

“Alice, I’ve tried to be understanding, but it’s just not fair to the other-“

“Is it fair that my mom’s dead?” The paper in front of her blurred. “If we’re talking of fairness, I think we should define what that means.” She’d been holding it in too long again. Alice choked it down. She could wait until she made it to the bathroom. She’d be fine.

Right now though,”Listen, what can I do to fix this?” Mom would want her to fix this, so she would fix this.

Professor Leland must have been holding his breath. He let it all out at once and gave a small smile. “Well, I have learned about your history with sea expeditions, and I happen to need one more undergrad for this summer’s expedition.”

Alice’s heart dropped. Of course she had experience. Growing up mom had taken her on all her trips.

Alice felt a wave of grief and longing pour over her as she remembered. Sticky fingers, marshmallows and laughter on their bonfire nights using the lab’s Bunsen burner. Mysterious tales of the cities that lay below. Mom’s love of the sea was infectious. It was why Alice was in this major, maritime archaeology, that had become torture for her now.

Alice rubbed at her chest at the dull ache that had been there the last nine months. She needed to let it out soon. The sobs.

Alice managed to whisper, “You want an undergrad? Such trips are saved for the postgraduates.”

He smiled like he was doing her a huge favor. “I know but due to extraneous circumstances I have an opening, and it would be the perfect thing to help you pass the class. I want to help, Alice, and I know you have a grade expectation to meet for your grant.”

The guilt. The expectations. As her father liked to point out, no one was going to do the work for her. She was on her own. No mom here anymore to confide in, to share crazy things like the fact that she didn’t like the sea anymore. Alice wanted nothing to do with the thing that had taken her mom. And yet…she heard herself say,”I’ll do it, and then I’ll pass, right?”

She had to get passing grades. For mom if nothing else.

“Yes, Alice. You’ll pass.”

Later, after agreeing, she realized that this internship was going to be at the Great Barrier Reef near her mom’s research site. Then Professor Leland surprised the team by announcing they were starting at the Coral Sea before making their way back to the Great Barrier Reef if there was time. Surprised, Alice realized that they were going to the exact spot her mom had been. Being so close to where mom had disappeared whispered ideas of looking for her, looking into what archaeological dig site she had set up and into what she had found.

A small fish dashing past her window brought Alice’s mind back to the moment. She was still in the dark with something out there. Where was it?

Thinking ahead, Alice turned off the exterior lights. Darkness enveloped the submersible. Since she had only the passive sonar on, they shouldn’t know she was here. Better in these depths to be passed over, whatever it was. She switched off her radio, and just as she went to switch off her lights, everything blacked out.

Her mind blanked as well.

She leaned forward and put a hand up to the acrylic window wiping away the condensation of her breath and stared out.

What was going on out there? What could knock out a submarine’s engine? The fact that she didn’t know meant current technology didn’t have an answer, at least the technology that she knew of…

A faint blue glow in the distance appeared along with a faint hum in the metal surrounding her, and her fear grew with it. She leaned back her cold fingers slipping from the window to the now useless systems surrounding her. Logic and rationalization were her only consolation.

Deep sea divers. Had to be with the size she’d seen on sonar and their speed. Her momentary blackout was a coincidence. But…what were the odds of them free diving this close to a protected reef?

And then what about the other, larger object?

Oddly the murky depths in front of her grew dimmer. She could hear whatever it was coming closer though. Raising a hand, Alice rubbed her eyes and leaned back into her chair. She was losing consciousness.

And that humming… “Unbearable!” she tugged the headset off and let it fall. Wisps of golden hair haloed her face. Her blue eyes struggled to focus. She gripped the armrests.

This wasn’t right. There shouldn’t be a lack of oxygen since the life support system had just been knocked out. Alice reached for the oxygen tank on her far right. It was like she was dragging her hand through the ocean. Everything was so heavy. Just as her hand rested on it, she was blinded by light from outside.

Alice shielded her gaze as the light lowered. What she saw next was something so far outside of the imagination, she couldn’t comprehend it. The world is never what anyone assumes, and she was being confronted with a reality that the seas contained more than she thought. In fact, more than all the world thought. This encounter became the last thing she remembered.

Disclaimer: I will be modifying this as I write. So nothing is cannon. Thank you for reading!


Next: Sea Siren Ch. 2

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