DEEP IN TIME AND WATER
By J Lenni Dorner
Hanzel smacks his lips together. Spittle shoots over the stern. With every bite he takes, I become more convinced that shoving him overboard would be the wisest decision.
“How can you eat that?”
“Meh, it’s got protein and vitamins.” He gnaws on another piece as a wave hits us. “Besides, it’s an obligation. Gotta remind them who we are. The top of the food chain is reserved for the most intelligent species.”
“Intelligence has nothing to do with the order of the food chain. Your stomach doesn’t dictate your brain’s capacity to learn. Digestion is unrelated to IQ!” I slam my hand on the rail.
Drool runs down his beard. “You really do think them sons-of-deep-filchers are as smart as we are. Trader to your own species. Oughta drop you in the water. See how long before you’re thankful humans thought up boats. Don’t see none of them inventing ways to get on dry land.”
I plod along the deck, down the steps, and to my cabin. Hanzel and I have been out here too long. I know I’ve thought about knocking him overboard every time he breaks out a bag of that jerky. This is the first time he’s revealed having the same thought toward me.
After securing my equipment, I take a seat on the bed. The smell of the cream the doctor gave me makes me nauseous. It’s worse than the seasickness I had the first month aboard. Yet, this cream is the only way to treat my stump out here. I set my prosthetic leg into its compartment after cleaning it. They warned me that this new material hadn’t been tested against such conditions.
Same folks told me I shouldn’t go through the rip. That I wasn’t fit for exploration.
How could I explain to them how I know what’s out here? Tell anyone that a distress call came directly into the brain, get labeled as crazy. I’m already considered unhinged. Ever since I scored 245 on that IQ test, people have looked at me as if I’m different.
Hanzel was once my best friend. Now he’d throw me overboard, into the depths of this alien world.
“Found something,” he announces as he knocks on my door. “It’s making noise.”
It takes twenty minutes before I’m dive-ready. My suit looks like something from the nineteen-hundreds, despite having the latest technology, half of it invented by myself only weeks ago. Hanzel grunts and complains as he tucks his beard into the helmet.
“We need spears.”
“Exploration does not require weapons.”
“You don’t know what’s down there. Don’t even know where here or there is.”
I haven’t told him that I know where we are, that I’ve known for months. More importantly, I know when we are. It’s going to change science and history, maybe some religions, too.
We dive into the water, toward the source of the sound. A light blinds me as a current whips me aside. There’s a submarine. More lights shine from below.
I don’t know which sight impresses me more: the no-longer-lost city of Atlantis, or the creature destroying it.
This creature is easily ten times the size of the titanosaur skeleton in New York. Glowing, fluorescent green eyes, each the size of a blimp, narrow on us. Three of its arms maintain the attack on the underwater city, another two reach for the escaping submarine, one captures me, and another two reach for Hanzel. His dive suit is compromised. I watch, trapped in the suction cups of the creature, as Hanzel drowns. My best friend, my only companion on this trip, is gone. The creature continues the assault. Killing isn’t enough. I watch it search him.
It brings something toward me. Something tiny in comparison to this creature. Like me holding a flake from a box of mashed potatoes.
The mega-octopus pops my friend into its mouth a moment before a bag of octopus jerky slams against my faceplate
The inspiration for this post comes from my friend “DaQueen Python.” She colored this:
Based on the building shaped like a book, which I’m calling a library, I decided that the city is Atlantis. The one-legged hero of my story and his friend travel through a rip in spacetime, answering a telepathic call for help. Alas, as you read, it doesn’t go so well.
Recommended reading: http://www.upworthy.com/13-of-the-most-frighteningly-smart-things-octopuses-can-do
Thanks for reading!