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L.M. Pierce | Olympia, Washington

lmpiercebooks@gmail.com

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Underwater Safety (horror)

March 12, 2016

 

**CONTENT WARNING - GRAPHIC HORROR**

 

 

You're beginning to stir. There’s blood on your head, it’s a bad cut. Are you dead? I hope not because I would hate to have to drag your body by myself. I've been alone for so long. I am weaker than I once was.

 

“Hello?”

 

You're afraid. It's very dark in here. How long have you lived on the surface? You're probably struggling with the humidity. The water keeps us safe but it has its cost.

 

“Hello? I can hear you.” You voice is a plaintive whine in the dark.

 

Yes, we are here. You're speaking so you must be alive. That's good. Last time one of you made it down here, seven of us died before we could contain it. Even now, some wanted to kill you as soon as you came. But I saved you. Here, I'll turn on the light.

 

“Oh my god, who are you? Where am I?”

 

Tears and sweat glisten on your face. We must look strange to you. I point to the wide glass dome, where a cloud of fish gathers around our waste hatch. They wait there until we open it. The feces, flesh, and remnants of food keeps them coming back for more. It's been a long time since we've had a man amongst us. The last man died during the breach. That was why they let you live. That is why you are alive.

 

“I—I—where’s my ship?”

 

Oh yes, your ship. It's crumpled on the ocean floor. I wonder how best to tell you but it’s been so long since I've spoken. It's been a long time since any of us had anything to say.

 

“Ship is… gone. Head.” I point to your still bleeding wound. You touch it and gasp. Yes, it is quite disturbing. I'm not sure what to do about it. Your exposed section of brain means you'll likely die of infection. Strange, we're all hiding from infection and yet, it will kill you still. The futility of all our struggles.

 

“Oh God. Do you—Do you have a blanket? Some water? Towels? Anything?”

 

I'm sorry to tell you we don't. You look so sad. I wish I could help but there is nothing left but our wasting bodies. Maybe you will still have uses before you die.

 

“How long have you been down here?”

 

I shake my head. We don't talk about the past. There is no past here, 100 meters beneath the sea. There is no future either.

 

You try to stand but you are weak and stumble. Your fingertips flex against the curved glass of the observatory room and they leave red smudges. The rest of our home is very dark. There is one flickering fluorescent light hanging from the ceiling here. The light is barely discernible in the inky darkness of the deep water surrounding us.

 

“How long have you been here? Did you come here because of the infection? Are you alone?”

Your bright blue eyes are so vivid. It reminds me of… of…

 

I nod.

 

“Oh god, I feel sick.” You bend at the waist and vomit onto the floor, spit and blood running together and creating a slick of bright red mucous. The sounds of your groans echo through our home. After a little while, you’re able to stand upright again.

 

“You—You’ve been down here for so long. Look, I was a doctor, am a doctor on the surface. You're so pale. I—It's strange to be the one to tell you, but the infection was contained three years ago. Y—we could leave here together. We can get help, if I get to help they can fix my head and help you. There’s help up there.” You’re pointing toward the glass, gesturing up toward the distant surface cloaked in nighttime darkness.

 

My stomach clenches. Contained? The infection? Impossible. Have you come to lure me to the surface? Are you one of them? Have they become advanced enough to feign lucidity and speech? Maybe that's why you still live. Your exposed brain, and yet you're still alive!

 

“You're shaking. Look, I know this is hard to hear. Scary even. But we have to hurry. I—I won't make it for much longer with this,” you say, pointing to your head.

 

I think you're lying. Why have you come here? Why have you come here to disturb our home? We worked so hard to make this our home. To make it safe. But the children died first.

“Hey, are you the only one here? Are there others living here?”

 

I smile. Of course not. I turn away from you, flicking on the last remaining rechargeable flashlight we have left. The light illuminates the dark tunnel leading into the bowels of our home. The metal is wet and dripping in the cold. I hear you shuffling behind me, following me. Don't worry, I will show you.

 

“It's a miracle you've been able to survive this long,” your voice echoes from behind. “We knew there were enclaves that hid out, dove deep in the sea or barricaded themselves inside cave systems. Most of them were dead when we found them. Ugh…” You stumble against the wall and I hear you gagging again, though you’ve nothing to vomit.

 

I look back at you. You're struggling upright again. The rusted and corroded rivets under your fingertips catch your attention and you peer at them, looking for what I don’t know. I continue forward and soon you follow again, sticking close to the small circle of light I provide. Without it, we would be plunged into darkness. I know that would scare you.

 

We enter the belly of our home. I turn to you. You're very pale and shaking with cold. The blue of your lips matches the bright blue of your eyes.

 

“I will—I show you.” I manage to say. How long since I last spoke?

 

“Please, yes, show me the others. I would like to meet them.”

 

I walk further into the cavernous room. There's a center switch here and I pump it. Yellow light flickers and then illuminates in a hazy glow.

 

“Oh my god, oh my god, shit, shit!” You’re starting to scream.

 

Do you not like my sisters? I mounted them to the wall, one by one and I come here to hear their counsel. I talk with them every day. After all, it's the only way I've managed to stay sane. They smile down at me, only bones now. I had to eat their bodies. But they don't mind. They told me to save you. They told me that I could still use you. We want a baby and you're the only man left. The only man in so long. Delivered to us here. It is a sign, the sign we’ve waited for.

 

“Get the fuck away from me, oh my god. Did you kill them? Wait, did—did they just die?”

 

Some. The rest wasted away. The ones who wouldn't eat died too. But I could eat and I ate them all, piece by piece. But you don't need to know that. You're being very rude you know. They saved you.

 

“Y-You're not going to eat me are you? Look, please, don’t—don’t hurt me. We can still leave, we can—we can go to the surface. I won't tell anyone. You were alone, for so long. Things happen sometimes, I know that, everyone will understand that. We can still leave this place. Get help.”

 

You're crying and shaking so hard I think you’re going to fall down again. Are you afraid? Of me?

 

“Do you have a ship here? Is there a way back up, up to the surface?”

 

I shake my head. The last ship filled with water over five years ago. And yours, well, it is crumpled on the ocean floor. Only the last suit and an extra rebreather allowed me to bring you here. I saved you.

 

You begin to scream again, you sound afraid, maybe angry too. Then you begin to vomit, harder than before, retching until there’s blood running out your mouth too. Your eyes are muddied with the blood from your gaping head wound. There must be a lot of pain. But don't worry.

 

“Oh god I need help. I need—oh god. Do you have medicine? Is there anything here, towels, something? I need to get pressure on my head and I need to lie down. You need to help me find, find what I need. Then we’ll figure, we’ll figure a way out of this. Together.”

 

“You… you help me.”

 

“What? What are you talking about? I need you to help me and then I’ll help you. I’ll do whatever I can to help you get out of here.”

 

“Baby.”

 

“Baby? What? You had a baby? Is it… did the baby die?”

 

You’re not understanding. I feel disappointment.

 

“Baby. Need baby… for us. You help me, give to me… a baby.”

 

You don’t say anything and I think you don’t hear me. Maybe you’re dying. The blood is thickening and dripping in threads from the edges of your skull fracture. Then I hold the flashlight closer to your face and see your wide blue eyes. You know.

 

“Look, what? No, no, are you crazy? A baby, you want a baby, here? It would die! Don't you understand? You're almost dead yourself! You can't have a baby! Maybe at the surface, look at the surface you could have a baby. You could have a family, a life.”

 

You're being unhelpful. Why do you say these things? We brought you here. We saved you. The sign, you arrived here, a sign. Of a new beginning. My sisters, my baby, me. Safe beneath the ocean waves. Safe from infection. I’ll make you understand.

 

“Give to me… baby.”

 

“Look—what’s, what’s your name? Never mind. Look I couldn't give you a baby if I wanted to. They sterilized our entire generation. We still don't know where the disease comes from. They took no chances. Babies, they make the babies in tubes now. Genetic modifying to enhance immunity. I can't give you, look, I can't give you a baby. No, don't cry. The surface has lots of babies, maybe they’ll, well, maybe they’ll have a baby for you too.”

 

You're stretching the truth. It's getting harder for you to lie. Your blue eyes are twitching, spasming as you lie, lie, lie. My hands are shaking. No baby. It's too bad, it was to be a sign of better times. But don't worry, now, don’t you worry. You still have your uses.

 

“No, please, just—just don't come near me right now. Please don't. Stay back, no, stay there!” You move away from me then start to run, disappearing down the black tunnel, back toward the observatory. I’m not sure where you think there is to go.

 

I extinguish the lights. They hurt my eyes. The darkness is familiar to me. My eyes consume the details in shadowy night and I can make out the shapes of our home clearly. I go to the small table where we keep our typewriter. My last most precious possession. A stack of molding pages sit beside it. From when I used to write. I pick up the case. It's very heavy to lift but I manage.

Sisters, I'm sorry. I will eat and then we can talk again. I'll be right back.

 

I make my way down the tunnel, I can hear your gasping sobs quaking from up ahead. I can soon see you, you're plastered against the glass of the dome, resting your forehead against the smudged surface. I wish you wouldn't. It's very hard to keep this place clean.

 

“Please, just please don't hurt me. I will help you, I’ll do anything you want. Just, let’s get to the surface. Please, don’t come any closer!”

 

You’re squinting at me, watching me come closer. I don't know if this will hurt. The heavy steel body of the typewriter will probably burst your cerebellum instantly. It can't hurt more than your head hurts now.

 

“No no no no no oh god, fuck, fuck!”

You've seen me, seen what I carry. No! You've undone the hatch! Before I can reach you, you've slipped inside; you're crouched amongst the fermenting feces and entrails of fish and sea creatures that I won't eat.

 

Well, if you insist. You try to shut the hatch against me but my boot is already wedged in the opening. The airlock won’t engage. I push with my shoulder and you’re too weak to resist. I step inside, lifting the case high. You cover your head, wailing with fear, your voice a deafening boom in the small confines of the airlock. Your blue eyes float in bloodshot oceans of fear.      

 

The steel drops, blood sprays against the glass, turning the faint ocean light red. There is much more blood than I thought. It gushes in arterial foam, brain and bone mingling with the gush of warm life force. I crouch down beside you. My stomach growls at the sight of your fresh meat. I begin to eat, gazing deep into your wide, staring blue eyes. Your eyes… they remind me of sunshine. Of blue sky. I stare out into the black of the ocean that surrounds us.

 

Yes, your eyes remind me of home.

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