Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chapter 15: Heatstroke

I leaned my chin on the palm of my hand and watched out of the giant window. The light of the full moon shone down on the water, which was shallower at this time of night. I inhaled deeply and frowned. The sea was unusually quiet tonight…

I spun around in my wheely-chair and stood up. I began wandering around my lair, slowly making my way towards my new pets. The angelfish were all in a large tank that protruded from the wall. The tank was filled with sea water and had bits of real coral in it, as well as some sand and seaweed. I was trying to get the fish accustomed with what the sea was really like before they swam off into the real thing.

I bent over in order to peer into the tank better. The angelfish were swimming around slowly, looking a little sleepy. I glanced down at the coral and noticed a shrimp peek out once before he hid again. “Hm…” I murmured to myself. “He must have come in with the coral…” I contemplated pulling the shrimp out, but decided he would be fine in there until tomorrow. That’s when I planned on releasing the fish.

I turned around and walked back over to the window, fanning myself with my hand as I walked. It seemed to be a bit warm in this large cavern… I decided it was time for a swim. I opened a drawer on the long desk beneath the window and pulled out my wetsuit, mask and flippers. My oxygen tank was sitting right below the desk, making it very convenient to collect everything. I quickly squirmed into my diving gear and walked over to the door to my lair. I opened the door and entered into a long tunnel. The tunnel was rounded along the walls and ceiling, giving the illusion of a circle. The walls were metal, as was the door behind me and the door in front of me. All in all, the tunnel was no more than twelve feet long.

I closed the door behind me and pushed a button on the tunnel wall. I heard the door behind me seal and a green light came on above the button I had pushed. I walked forward quickly and came to the other door. I pushed another button and the door in front of me opened slowly, letting water in. I hastily put on my flippers and adjusted my goggles before placing the mouthpiece of the oxygen tank in my mouth. By the time I had my mouthpiece in, the water was up to my waist. Within moments the door was completely open and the tunnel was filled with the water that rushed in. I flinched as the water poured over my head, but I quickly opened my eyes and swam out of the tunnel. Once I was out, I pushed a button on the outside of the tunnel, closing the door. The water would remain in the tunnel until I decided to go back inside.

I turned around to look at the dark, watery world around me. I unclipped a small waterproof flashlight from my oxygen tank and turned it on. The light was distorted by the movement of the water, but it still allowed me to see a bit more.

The water felt cold through my wetsuit, and it was very refreshing. I had no idea why, but my lair was a little too hot this evening… I began swimming around the coral reef, trying to see if there were any changes that would affect my cavern. I swung my flashlight here and there, hoping I didn’t wake up any fish. None popped out at me, though, so I assumed that they were nestled far enough into the reef that they didn’t notice the light.

Just then, as I was nearing the center of the reef, a large green fish swam out directly in front of me. Only, as it continued to pass me, I realized that it was not a green fish; it was much too large to be a fish. In fact, I guessed that it was about my size.

The green object darted up until it was floating above me, looking down with large, round eyes. It looked like something out of an old scary movie… It had no fins except for a dorsal fin on its back. It had arms and legs, but its fingers had webs in between them like a frog, and its feet were nothing more than large flippers. The body of the creature was scaly, but it appeared to have very thick armor on around its abdomen and legs. This appearance of armor led me to believe that the whole thing was nothing more than a costume. An incredibly detailed and intricate costume, but a costume nonetheless.

We swam around in circles, with the creature above me, eyeing me carefully. It looked like it had a helmet on that made its head appear a bit too large. It had large lips, no nose, and enormous eyes. The face really did resemble a fish, except for the fact that it was shaped more like a helmet.

What are you? I wondered to myself as I stopped circling. I wondered if I could get close to it by simply letting it come to me. The creature stopped and stared at me, making sure it was a few feet away. I wondered if there was a human underneath the helmet and armor, or if it actually was some strange new species… If it was human, then there was no indication of its gender. Its armor was too thick around its torso and legs, making it nearly impossible to guess whether it was male or female.

I slowly held out my hand, wondering if I could coax it towards me. It glanced down at my hand then looked back up at my face. There was no expression in its large eyes, so I couldn’t tell if it was angry, confused, or amused by my show of friendship. It seemed to study me for a moment. I could have sworn that its eyes narrowed. However, just when I thought it might attack me, it turned and swam off, going faster than I’ve ever seen anything travel in my life. I stared after it, stunned. I had no idea what that thing was, but I wanted to find out. Perhaps when I let the angelfish out tomorrow it would come back…

I swam back to the entrance of my lair and pushed the button to open the door. The door opened slowly and I swam into the tunnel, which was still full of water. I closed the door to the tunnel and the siphons turned on automatically, sucking the water out of the tunnel. I waited for a moment as the water drained out around me before I took the mouthpiece out of my mouth. Once all of the water was out of the tunnel, I took off my flippers and goggles and opened up the inner door, making sure I released the seal before I opened it. I entered into my cavern and changed out of my wetsuit quickly.

I noticed again how hot it was in my lair. I quickly checked the water in the angelfish’s tank to make sure it wasn’t getting too warm. I wiped my brow and sighed, walking over to the large window. I decided to close it for the night, even though it wasn’t that late… I had a feeling that the heat had something to do with that creature, and I wasn’t about to leave the window open so that it could come and spy on me in the middle of the night…

Something about that creature just seemed off, and I was going to find out what it was.

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