“Deeper still, Henry.” My words were steady and low, and he knew there was no arguing. The submarine blipped his response for him, and bubbles frenzied outside the porthole windows and up towards the surface. We were descending even further into the inky depths of the Pacific.
I squinted into the windows, searched for outlines of ancient monsters in the solid blackness of the sea. There was only possibility in front of my eyes, but that was enough to drive me.
Shining metal machinery, flashing lights, and curved knobs surrounded us, but I knew little of it. Henry was my navigator, and I his captain. I need only make a simple gesture, something that would seem meaningless to an observer, and he’d plunk switches, poke buttons, twist wheels, and we’d be off on another adventure.
“I have an instinct, Henry,” I said to him. “You’ll not bear witness to many of these, so pay attention.”
Henry flattened a button to his left and the bubbles thinned outside of the foggy windows. The engine quieted down and we hovered still in the endless black water. All I could hear was a low hum; it came from everywhere and had no distance. It was the sea, and she purred satisfaction as we floated gently through her.
I took a scrap of paper from the table in front of me, and with a dirty brown pencil scratched a set of numbers onto it. Now, these numbers were a precise set of coordinates; coordinates that would lead us to unknown discovery and endless treasures. I could mention these numbers, but, dear reader, we can agree that they would mean nothing to you as a laymen of the sea, and that it would be pointless. I folded the paper and handed it over to Henry.
“We’ll go here,” I said to him, “and I can’t say what will be waiting for us. Whether victory or death.”
Henry took the slip of paper and scanned the numbers in contemplation.
“Dare not speak, dear Henry,” I added before he could say a word. “Your coward’s soul seeks to betray me, but I know your hand will obey.”
And with that, Henry set about plunking switches, poking buttons, twisting wheels, and we were off. We sat in silence for hours, only the song of the ocean to keep us from insanity.
I thought of my peers back home; they condemned my expedition. They called my theories fairy stories and ghost tales. They forbade my use of the equipment I’d need to embark on this journey of discovery. They loathed my brilliance and feared my success. I could only laugh as our tiny vessel squeezed through the oppressive darkness of Mother Ocean; it was only darkness but it was more than they’d ever see in their lifetimes. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have seen the looks on their faces the day they discovered their precious vessel missing! To see water lazily kicking at the sides of an empty holding tank, and know that we were deep within Mother’s cold embrace. Only Henry and I could truly understand her love, as endless and sickly black as her depths.
I laughed at the thought of this and suddenly clawed at the white plastic bracelet that had been itching my wrist and driving me crazy for days now. I glared down at it, annoyed, and tried in vain to pry it off. I read and re-read my name, stamped across it in sloppy ink, to calm my nerves. There were numbers and words written all over it as well, but I knew little of it. I was not a man of medicine, either. I was just a Captain. Henry was my navigator, and this was my vessel.
As if to reaffirm this for me, Henry suddenly spoke up for the first time in days. “Oxygen levels are below twenty percent. Repeat. Oxygen levels are below twenty percent. Please emerge vessel. Repeat. Please emerge vessel.”
“Be optimistic, dear Henry!” I cheered. “Our adventure has only begun!”
“Oxygen levels are below twenty percent. Repeat. Oxygen levels are below twenty percent. This will be the final computer automated warning. Please comply,” Henry chirped.
I ignored my cowardly navigator and we pushed deeper still.
Andrew Price is a 24-year-old writer and filmmaker from Bakersfield, CA. He’s pursuing a degree in creative writing at Full Sail University, has a sketch comedy group, shoots short films, and does freelance journalism work for his local news station. When he isn’t doing any of that, he’s eternally putting off his personal writing because…Christ, it’s just really hard. You can find some of his work at YouTube.com/Pregnantville and follow him on twitter @robotsNcomedy.