Aquanaut - Much later
Alpanon Mar 15th, 2020 (edited) 437 Never
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- ”It is currently 7:38 AM”
- Art scratched his bearded chin. He hadn’t shaved in weeks and was starting to think he would keep the beard permanently.
- “Prepare coffee”, he ordered, and the computer affirmed the order. While waiting he listened to the hum of the ocean that could be heard through the walls. He used to be scared of sleeping at this depth, but the miles of water above him no longer felt like an issue.
- The coffee was black, hot and foul. As it should be. Art sipped on it while leaving his bedroom and stepping into his living room. Every wall was covered in plants, there were flowerpots and –beds on the floor leaving only small aisles in which to walk, and a single chair and desk in the middle. At this desk were the computers he used to monitor his base. From this room openings led to three corridors, one leading to his workshops, one to the maintenance rooms and one to his aquarium. His daily routine would begin with checks on hull integrity, atmospheric conditions and power supply, followed by the watering of all flora within the base, a task that would take him up to an hour. The aquarium’s habitat was automatically taken care of by the computer so he really only went there to stare at the exotic fish and try to get the eggs to hatch. But today he didn’t really feel like wasting time on a fool’s errand. He had something planned.
- “It is currently 9:16 AM”
- Art stretched his back. He’d finished all the mandatory maintenance work and even filled his stomach with watery fruit. He had no real reason not to go watch his favourite show. He smiled to himself. There were such pretty things in the sea…
- One more check at the computer panel, then he went down to the lowest level of his workshop, which connected to his docking bay. Here was also a ladder leading down to a sub-basement full of spare parts and various odds and ends, things he didn’t really need on a regular basis. Most of the time the lights were kept shut to conserve power. He now turned them on, and walked to a cabinet containing warmer clothing. A pair of comfortable wool pants, wool socks, a wool sweater, a cap, a pair of gloves and a blanket. He put them on over his regular diving suit and walked to yet another ladder, this one leading down a tube that ran along a sheer cliff-face for a good thirty meters. This tube was not heated and had no lights. The sound of his climb echoed all around and the light from above steadily got smaller and smaller as he descended to the cold dark below.
- He reached the bottom. A small room. Flipping the light switch only resulted in dim blue lights embedded into the floor, leading along a corridor that went away from the cliff to the abyss of the open sea for fifteen meters. Around halfway through the metal around him was replaced by heavily reinforced glass, giving him a view of the world outside. If he looked straight up he could see the lights of his base in the distance, weak and wispy, like a ghost ship in the mist. He kept walking until he arrived at his destination, the glass sphere overlooking the void, 360 degrees of unobstructed vision into nothingness, a single chair suspended in the middle with the power of magnetism or something, he didn’t know how it really worked. The temperature in this space was basically the same as of the water around it, just barely above freezing. His breath was visible and the cold air felt refreshing in his lungs. Art sat in his chair and tucked his legs carefully under the blanket. Then he waited and watched. He didn’t need to wait for long.
- Lights appeared. Pale blue, deep green, bright pink, many dots and stripes and swirling patterns mixing and circling around one another. Here, deep beneath the waves, where the light of the stars never reached and no rainbow had ever been seen, here was where the most beautiful lights of all existed, surrounded by a darkness more impermeable than even that of space. What or who were the sources of these lights? Art didn’t know. He’d never dared to go out and greet them. They seemed content to dance for him and then disappear. But they knew he was here, they always appeared when he came to watch. The longer he’d been at this depth, the more time he’d spent looking. He’d stare until he got too cold or hungry to stay. When he’d leave, the lights would disappear. He’d never told anyone that he’d built this observation deck down here. He’d never told anyone what he’d seen. It would only be a couple more days before his shift would end and someone else would take over the deep sea station. He’d be transferred back up to where people were and where all the natives he’d befriended lived. None of the girls he’d met on Mare had ever gone this deep. None of them could tell him anything about what was down here. When his replacement would get to the station and found his unauthorized modification, there would be trouble. And he’d never find out what was out there. No. WHO was out there. Yes, it was a who. On this world so many were. And this someone was just as curious about him as he was of her. Four years on Mare and there was still so much they didn’t know. The possibility of building a ship capable of leaving was getting closer and closer as time passed, but how many of the survivors actually wanted to leave? Most, probably. But there were a few who would prefer to stay. He himself was one. And if he was going to stay…
- This was when he reached his decision. Art got up from his chair and rushed out of the sphere. He dropped his blanket on the way and began to climb quickly up the ladder. He got uncomfortably hot because of his extra clothing and dropped his cap and gloves down. Once back up he threw the rest of his wool clothing all over the place and rushed to his docking bay, specifically number 3. There he put on his reinforced deep-sea diving suit. It was sleek black and grey and had a powerful exoskeleton that enabled you to move with great force. He checked his oxygen tanks and prepared a four hour supply. Without even sparing a single thought to leaving a message to anyone he dropped down into the water.
- Art allowed his suit’s weight drop him all the way down to the pipe of his observation station. From here he walked to the top of the sphere and then jumped off into the nothingness. The colours were there still, they hadn’t disappeared yet. How far? He kicked with the powerful legs of his suit and approached. He didn’t turn on any of his suits’ lights. He could see nothing outside his helmet save the lights and the patterns they formed. How many individuals? He didn’t feel he was getting any closer. He kept kicking. He checked his meters and saw he was deeper than he thought. Turning around he could only barely see the lights of his base, somewhere out there. Far further up than he’d assumed. How had he gotten deeper without noticing? He turned back to the lights. Some of them were stationary now. Others continued to move. Was there a message here?
- A wave of pressure hit him. He knew this sensation, it was reminiscent of what it felt like when a sperm whale on Earth tried to talk to you. Someone was trying to talk to him! He swam ever closer to the lights. A bleep from his suit informed him he had gone so deep he risked contracting the bends upon ascent. When had that happened? He turned back to look at his base. To his surprise he couldn’t see it anymore. Oh no.
- A second wave hit him, this time more gently. And he heard something.
- Hello? Someone was talking to him?
- This time there was no wave. The word simply made itself manifest.
- H-hello? Who is this?
- I AM WHAT YOU SEEK
- What I…
- COME TO US
- I will
- MUCH DEEPER
- I will
- The lights were so close now. He could almost make out the shapes they were attached to. There were tentacles and things. Eyes. Were the lights eyes as well?
- TAKE IT OFF
- YOU WILL BE FINE
- He felt pressure around his waste. Something wrapped around him. He panicked.
- COME TO US
- I will
- He reached for his helmet. Something brushed against his hand, it felt warm and purple and then he opened the helmet and let the water flood in
- YOU’RE ADORABLE
- He didn’t feel pressure or cold or wetness, just a sticky purple and warmth and something that smelled a little like pine sap and everything was just so pretty
- LET ME SING TO YOU
- And the song reverberated throughout his very being and into the depths of his soul and the stars weren’t so far away anymore.
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