My eyes stung with the salty mist spraying off the top of the water. The engine of our boat purred quietly, as we cruised along the Atlantic Ocean.
“Alright, we’re getting close. Put on your gear,” The captain said in a low voice as he turned away from the helm.
I started pulling off my sweatshirt, shuddering when the icy wind bit at my skin. As I put on my wetsuit I glanced over at the questionable coordinates that the company had sent us. A lesser known marine life research company that hadn’t specified their company name, had sent me and the captain out to the middle of the Atlantic to go searching for… something. The directions that the company had given us were unusually vague, just some coordinates and the message, “Swim to the bottom.” It was an odd request, but they were paying us a large sum of money, and I wasn’t going to pass up an offer that good.
Our vessel slowed, and rumbled to a stop. The captain started reeling out the anchor to secure our boat’s position. The depth meter next to the captain's wheel said 0000 meters. Weird. I looked over the edge and saw dark blue water that seemed to go down forever. It was definitely not 0 meters. Whatever, that thing was probably just broken.
I gave a curt nod goodbye to the captain, and he grunted in response. I sat on the cold metal siding of our boat, and took a deep breath out of my tank before falling backwards into the crystal clear abyss.
The water was cold, but not terribly so. I searched for the anchor chain, and spotted it to my left. I kicked over to it and started my descent. I stayed close to the chain so that I wouldn't get lost in the depths. It’s actually pretty easy to get turned around down here, especially when everything looks the same. Glancing around, I saw nothing but water. The sea floor was nowhere in sight, even though I had been swimming for at least two minutes.
Down, down, down. I kicked further and further, straying so far from the surface, that I could barely see from the lack of light. I took the opportunity to look at the small depth meter attached to my wrist before I couldn't see at all. The screen said 0000 meters. I rolled my eyes. This one was as broken as the one on the boat. On I went, the pressure in my ears was growing steadily. When I tried pressurizing, it didn't work.
Push through the pain, I told myself. I was getting that money, no matter how hard I had to push. My vision started to become blurry, and tinted with red. The pain that used to only be in my ears was spreading through my head and down my neck. Keep going, it can't be much further, my brain says. My kicking became frantic, and my breathing turned into gasping.
Then, something strange happened. The water around me seemed to grow lighter. The anchor chain to my left became visible again. It was almost like there was light coming from below me. Am I dying? That was the only logical explanation. Except, as I progressed downward, the pressure of the water started easing off. And the water around me became brighter still. As I went deeper I saw… No. This isn't possible.
I saw the surface.
Below me, or, I guess, above me was the surface of the water.
I must have gotten turned around… No, I couldn't have. I had been following the anchor chain the whole time. I saw the chain leaded to a boat. But it definitely wasn't the vessel I had come in. I guess I shouldn't call it a boat, it was more of a ship. It was massive.
As I swam closer, I could make out barnacles the size of my hand, scattered like constellations on the underside of the ship. Looking at the water around me, I saw something that I hadn’t seen my whole dive; fish. Well, if you could call them that. They were large creatures with had long fins, and bright pink scales.
I could hear the faint sound of laughing and music from above me. I worked up the courage to swim up to the surface and check out the passengers on the vessel.
My legs felt like lead as I dragged myself up to the ship. I hadn't realized how long I had been swimming, but now that I thought about it, I had to have been down there for at least an hour. All thoughts about my weariness left my mind as I pulled myself up to the side of the ship. When I flopped myself over the side, all of the music stopped.
I heard simultaneous gasp from the passengers, and a gruff, almost inhuman voice ask a question.