Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chapter 20: Clues

I was sitting in front of the computer screen, staring at it intensely. I scrolled past a plethora of pictures but didn’t find what I was looking for. I sighed and leaned back, wiping my forehead with my hand. It was well over eighty degrees Fahrenheit in this cavern, and I had no idea why. I had been looking up instructions on how to fix thermostats, but nothing seemed to be what I was looking for. Through the course of my research, my mind had drifted to the strange creature I had seen the last time I was out in the water. I had begun looking for pictures of the creature online, but I had found nothing that even vaguely resembled it.

It was then that an idea hit me. I’d go out once more to see if the monster would appear again. I quickly donned my diving gear and made my way to the metal tunnel, waving goodbye to my angelfish as I went. I was outside my cavern in a matter of minutes, drifting quietly in the water.

I swam around for a few minutes, keeping my eyes peeled for the strange beast. A bit of coral caught my eye and I peered down at it, thinking it was damaged. It looked as though someone had broken part of it off…

Just then, a shadow loomed over me. I spun around in the water, just to see the creature’s large eyes staring down at me. I opened my mouth in shock and blew out bubbles. We stayed there for a moment, staring at each other, before the creature darted past me, floating a few feet away. I swam upwards a bit and stared at it, a little afraid of what it would do next. I swallowed hard and waved.

Hello, I said softly. The creature stared at me, not blinking. I…I don’t want to hurt you. I continued, trying to make myself sound fearless. Again, the monster just stared. I sighed as much as one can sigh while breathing through an oxygen tank, wishing it would communicate with me.

Suddenly, the creature darted towards me, ramming me in the stomach with its hard head. I shot backwards with it, letting out a bubbled “oof” as I went. I managed to swim up above the beast and I looked down at it. I could see no expression in its eyes or on its face, but it was obviously mad. The creature shot upwards at me and I narrowly escaped a collision with it. I didn’t want to fight this thing, but it looked like I wasn’t going to have a choice. So, I took a fighting stance and got ready to dodge or punch anything that came near me.

The monster flashed forward, swimming faster than most things I had seen in the water. I shot up towards the surface of the water and the creature missed me again. We carried on like this for a few minutes and I realized I was growing more and more tired, while the beast didn’t seem to loose any energy at all. I was sure that with all of the heavy breathing I was doing my oxygen tank would run out at any minute…

Just then, I got an idea. All I had to do was get back into my lair and the creature would go away. I glanced down towards the entrance of the cavern and realized it was directly beneath the creature. Apparently my plan was more easily said than done… I had to try, though. I didn’t know how much oxygen was left in my tank, and once it was gone, I was gone, too.

I scowled at the creature and shot forward through the water, angling myself downwards a little. I swam as fast as I could, but the monster was faster. He bolted downwards and grabbed my shoulders just as I went past him. I kicked and chopped with my arms, but the creature didn’t let go. Just then, I felt a weight lift off of my back. The mouthpiece to my oxygen tank slipped out of my mouth. My eyes went wide as I glanced down and saw the tank floating to the bottom of the sea. It wasn’t far down; I could still get to it. But the creature was holding me tightly, refusing to let go. I held my breath, but I didn’t even have a lungful of air in my body. I had become very good at holding my breath for extended periods of time, but that meant, at most, two minutes with a deep breath of air. I didn’t have a deep breath; I didn’t have two minutes.

I kicked, but with my flippers it didn’t do much. I tried to punch, or just move my arms, but the creature was holding them tight to my sides. It was as if this thing wanted me to die… But why? What was it and why was it after me? Was it just a nighttime predator? Was it just its instinct to kill?

I pondered these questions and so many more as my vision began to go black. I saw spots and knew that as soon as I opened my mouth I would swallow water and die. However, even with this knowledge, I could not fight against what my body wanted. I opened my mouth and sucked in water, wishing it was air. I felt the water rush through my body, and I gulped in more. I knew that in a matter of moments my life would be gone… There was so much I had yet to do, so many things I had wanted to accomplish! I gasped when I realized that I would never be able to get the blanket octopus out of that zoo… I would never see her in her natural habitat again…

Just then, I realized I wasn’t dead. I looked around and found that I was, indeed, still under the water. My brow creased in confusion. I realized at that moment that I had gasped just a few seconds before. How had that not killed me? Humans can’t inhale water…

Suddenly, a light bulb went on in my head. I took a deep breath through my nose and was stung by the salt water, but I felt like I had just taken a deep breath of air. I began taking in water through my mouth and realized that it, too, felt like deep breaths of air. I smiled as I realized the most amazing thing I had ever discovered.

I could breathe under water.

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