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Depth

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August 10th 2013  |  0  |  Category: Fiction , Horror , Other , Suspense , Thriller  |  Author:  |  434 views

In… Out…

The only sound to be heard was the harsh rasping of breath, seeming alien against a background of complete silence. It all seemed rather appropriate now, when I was faced with the world I was to explore.

In… Out…

Looking down, there was nothing but blackness. The beam of the lights shone into the dark ineffectually, making no dent whatsoever in the swirling dark. Looking up, the dim filtered sun was all that remained of the world I used to know. It was strangely symbolic, the light of the safe world above contrasting with the eldritch deep below. Symbolism however, was not going to help where I was going. I had to focus on more practical things.

In… Out…

I was standing on the very edge of the Marianas Trench, a giant underwater canyon, reaching further into the earth’s crust than any human had ever been. And I… Well, I was about to be the first. I had signed up to an organization called FORCE, dedicated to exploring and studying everything and anything the human race had never visited or did not understand. I was snapped up instantly. No dependants, little family to speak of, no trouble. So here I was. It was amazing to think that I could be the first of my race to accomplish this task, just some random person who had been in the right place at the right time.

In…

And Drop…

So now I was falling, but in a way that made it feel like I was not moving at all. The specialised suit made the decent slowly, to prevent the pressure filling my blood with CO2 or bursting my lungs like overfilled balloons. Every now and then I stopped, allowing the systems to do their work. This was an incredibly important part of the journey. If I fucked this up, some other explorer would find a suit with some poor lost soul in it at the very bottom of the world. The thought made me shiver.

In… Out…

A deep breath steadied me, but I was well aware of the fear behind my wall of thought. I had been briefed on how to deal with the multitude of issues that still existed with this equipment, but that just gave me a list of different buzzers and warning lights to watch out for. Any of the forty or so distinct signals could mean some form of horrible death for me. I needed to stop thinking about this.

In… O-Out…

When I signed up, I had never expected to be put on such an experimental squad. Since I was a kid, I had looked up at the stars, at space and wondered what was up there, like many generations before me. Unlike them however, I saw a possibility for my dream to come true. FORCE were the leading lights of a new age, building bases in near earth orbit and sending missions to other planets, even as far as Jupiter and Saturn. When they were recruiting, I saw my chance. I wanted to be one of the heroes we all saw on public news view-screens, bringing back amazing pictures and artefacts, giving hope to the planet. It was also an opportunity to get out of the Hives, and I would have done anything for that. And now I was here, further from the stars than ever, in a place where there was less and less light by the second.

In… Out.

The consuming nothingness made me feel claustrophobic, even though I knew I was in a wide trench. I had been told not to turn on the suit’s non-essential electrical systems until I reached a certain depth, to elongate the battery life. It would be nice to talk to other people again. Checking the old-fashioned depth meter, I saw it was crawling towards 5 Km. Only a few more minutes before I could get started properly.

In. Out…

I could hear the suit’s systems all around me, creaking and crunching as the pressure pushed into it. I knew now that I was well below the depth that could crush me without this outer shell. Screw it. I needed to talk to someone. I operated several switches on the exterior of the suit, and lights flashed across the visor, showing me the depth and many other complex pieces of data, all being collected for research. It also frightened me a great deal. To show other life forms down there, the suit had a program which allowed me to ‘see’ magnetic fields emanating form life down here. What I saw made me gasp.

Out. In…

There were lights everywhere. The darkness was full of strange shapes, things which flitted around and drifted on currants. My gasp provoked a response from the control centre, who could now hear every sound I made. Another voice, that of the creator of the brilliant suit I wore, reassured me, telling me that these fish should not be harmful, and that the suit was built to protect if anything did happen. It also reminded me of my mission.

In… Out…

I was sent to investigate the floor of the trench, but specifically to find the source of a noise which had first been picked up by a vessel recording whales. It was deep, as though created by some gigantic mythological leviathan. It was even deeper than the famous ‘Bloop’ picked up in the 1950s, which was revealed to be the movement of icebergs. Sped up, this note was a perfect B flat, coming from a point at the bottom of the trench. Machines had been sent down and all had suffered some fault when they entered the area, thought to be some effect of the sound, perhaps on a spectrum we did not quite understand yet.

In… Out…

I was actually excited now. The fear was slowly fading as I discussed what I could see with the doctor and the others at control station. The sound was still emanating, I could hear it softly playing through the helmet’s sound system, which was attuned and designed to speed the sound up and amplify it so I could hear. And it was getting louder. I was nearly there.

In. Out.

My feet touched the bottom, almost surprising me. I had been underwater for seven hours now, but it had felt like no time at all. I was walking towards the source of the noise, through a place made of rock, with no life visible at all. Any magnetic fields there were must have been out of range. I was below life. Suddenly-

In Out In Out. In.. Out…

I saw something which made me squeal inside the helmet. A dark thing, revealed by my torch. A massive, dark thing, directly above me. I felt the waves from its tail slam into me, nearly knocking me over. It was a shock to see, even though it had been predicted I might find one. It was a whale. This was a brilliant opportunity, nobody had ever discovered what whales did when they dove to such a depth, or why they dove so far to do whatever it was. That was what the boat that picked this sound up had been trying to discover in the first place.

In. Out.

I felt worried though. For one, the magnetic field sensor was clearly broken as I had not seen the whale. My feelings intensified when I asked the doctor what was going on and no reply came through.

In Out.

I mentally struggled with myself to calm down. I had been told this failure may happen when I was so deep. I was to just continue with the research and wait for more contact. With no voices echoing around my helmet, I heard something which had been below them. It was whale song. I had always loved the sound, so I increased the volume on my helm. This was fantastic research. The song of more than three whales all merged and seemed to harmonise perfectly with the deep sound I was continuing towards. Maybe this voyage was a good thing. The dark did not seem nearly so threatening with such a beautiful tone to it.

In… Out…

Then, it all changed. As I drew near to the source of the noise, there was a spike in its volume and pitch, burning my ears slightly. The whale song changed as well, becoming somehow more threatening, with clashing notes and getting faster. My heart beat fast. I could not explain it, but there was something deep within these sounds which meant bad. Doom. Death.

In-Out, In-Out, In-Out

I again called for command, but I felt another wave from behind, a dark shape loomed over me again, but this time I toppled. And that was one of the worst feelings of my life. I had fallen so far already, but this one tumble was the worst. I could do little to right myself as my vision filled with rocks. The touch visor clinked on the rock as the whale’s chanting continued around me like ice. What was going on? There was a sonata of fear reverberating in my head, and the finale came with one of the forty things I had learned to hate. Alarm number 1. Oxygen failure. As I pushed myself up onto my feet to try and fix it, holding as much breath as I could, Alarm number 30 joined the racket. Electrical fault. It cut soon afterwards as the battery power died. I heard one of many circuit breakers flipping in the backpack of the suit. I was running out of air and I could not get myself up. I needed the boost from the hydraulic legs that were made for just such a situation. Hydraulics were gone. Now, lying there, as my vision faded on the seafloor in the absolute darkness, there was silence. No alarms, no terrifying screaming, no inexplicable roar of the deep. Just the sound of…

Out…

 

 

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