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Akira zipped up her wet suit and sat backwards on the side of the boat, waiting for her father to join her. Their diving boat, Umi no Hana, floated above the Mariana Trench, the deepest trench in the world. They had been traveling for days and were exited to finally reach their destination. “Are you ready?” her father asked her. “As ready as I’ll ever be.” Akira responded nervously, securing her long, black hair into the hood of her wetsuit. Ever since her father had told her about the trip she had been nervous. She refused to tell him of her fears of the water.
It wasn’t so much a fear of the water as a fear of what was in it. As Akira knew, the waters of The Mariana Trench were filled with frightening fish of all sizes from the Amberjack to the Steelhead. But what made her most reluctant to go into the water was the Megalodon, the legendary giant shark. It has been said that she lived in the Challenger Deep.
Megalodon, or Meg for short, is rumored to live at the bottom of Challenger Deep, the lowest point on the Earth’s surface. She is a rare sort of prehistoric shark known as the Sleeper Shark. The modern day Sleeper Shark however only weighs about 900-1500 lbs. compared to the massive 2000-5000 lbs. prehistoric Sleeper Shark. But with thousands of pounds of pressure one prehistoric shark could have been preserved…
Her father secured his mask and said, “Three, two, one!” The two of them flipped backwards off the boat and into the dark, unforgiving waters. At first Akira was terrified. Even though the sun was shining on the surface, when she looked down, all she could see was black. Despite the temperature-proof wet suits, the cold water pulled on her legs.
Instead of looking down and frightening herself further, she looked over to her father. He was pointing at something behind her, smiling. Akira, kicking with her too tight flippers, spun around just in time to see a large school of shimmering Scorpion fish dart past her, leaving a trail of bubbles in their wake. Several meters behind them swam a green Globefish, leisurely following the school like a fat little caboose, who’s big, black eyes would have made Akira giggle, had she not been wearing her scuba equipment.
Akira and her father swam deeper and deeper until Akira got a headache from the pounds of pressure. The water this far down felt below freezing and Akira was glad that her wetsuit spared her the ridiculous temperatures that existed below the surface. Rising upwards, she almost sighed at the sight of the surface, shimmering in the pattern of the waves.
Akira’s fears temporarily dissipated. Her father tapped her shoulder. She looked over at him. He signed to her in the way that they had been practicing the months prior to the trip. He signed, ‘Challenger Deep is a few kilometers south. Let’s get in the boat and go there.’ Akira agreed and made her way to the surface. What she didn’t tell her father was that it troubled her to go even farther away from the Japanese coast she called home.
Challenger Deep is the deepest point of the Mariana Trench. It is named after the British Challenger II that was the first submarine to explore its mysterious depths. Scientists were hoping to prove that it wasn’t a ‘dead zone’ – void of life. People said that the pressure of the water that far down wouldn’t allow life, but when the challenger resurfaced it had samples of micro-life in the sand.
When Akira resurfaced she was surprised to see that dark clouds had rolled in and the sky had darkened. She fought to stay above the water. The waves were much more violent than when she had first submerged.
Akira removed her breathing gear from her mouth. She scanned the water for the Umi no Hana and, finding it, she kicked her way towards it. She tried to climb the ladder but the waves, which had grown stronger, threw her backwards, away from the boat. She tried to grasp onto the ladder. When she grabbed hold she heaved her left leg upwards only to cut it on the bottom step.
Akira let out a gasp of pain and clenched the ladder railing. When she pulled herself into the boat she sat down to examine her leg. There was a cut about three centimeters long running across her kneecap, but the sturdy wetsuit had protected her from the worst of it. It was then that Akira realized that her father wasn’t on the boat.
“Dad!” Akira yelled frantically. Then she spotted him, swimming a few meters away from the boat, getting closer. When he reached the ladder she helped pull him in. It wasn’t until they were below deck, Akira cleaning her cut, her father resting, that the rain began to pour and lightning ripped through the sky.