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As I walked the wet, stony paths of Maine, my mind wandered. All I could think about was my new discovery, a rare and magnificent species known as the tripedalipt. It had three stubby flippers fixed to the end of a long, scaly tail, three gigantic eyes, like those of a squid, and deep gills. From what I had observed, they mainly lived in caverns in the Indian Ocean.
I was a marine biologist, and a very good one at that. My job was to explore the oceans in search of new species. If I found a new species, which didn’t happen often, I would capture it and take it back to the lab for further studies.
“What time is it, Harold?” asked Charles, interrupting my thoughts. Charles was my closest friend and most trusted co-worker. He was very intelligent and had an excellent sense of direction. The gray tips of his wiry beard shined in the dim light.
“Oh yes, the time,” I said, glancing down at my old, leather watch, “it’s a quarter to midnight. We’ve still got time.” Charles breathed a sigh of relief and we quickened our pace.
The foamy waves of the Atlantic ocean slammed against the rocky shore. A beam of light from a distant lighthouse cascaded across ocean. A lonely foghorn boomed through the air, as if it were calling out for someone. The moon lit the way on our dark journey as the dim stars buried themselves in the gray clouds. A soft mist formed in the air, then a sprinkle of rain began to dampen the earth, followed by a heavy down-pour. I shivered in my light weight jacket.
With few minutes to spare, we arrived at the laboratory. We rushed through the glass, French doors, and into the warm, spacious lab.
“Right on time,” croaked a gravely, old voice. A tall, withered figure emerged from the darkness. It was our boss, Dr. Loveland.
Dr. Loveland was a very cold, serious man. He wasn’t exactly the type you’d want to be friends with...or even be acquainted with. He had wild, gray hair and sea-green eyes, one of which, was lazy. The only thing he ever wore were his gray slacks and black polo.
“Thank you for coming on such short notice,” he said, “I have an urgent assignment for you two. This assignment is like nothing either of you have ever attempted. It’s going to be very dangerous, which is why I’ve trusted you two, my best scientists, to take this mission.”
“How dangerous is this going to be, exactly?” asked Charles.
“Extremely,” said Dr. Loveland, his voice lowering, “you see, a new species has been spotted by one of our scientists. She wants you two to try and gather some DNA samples to try and identify exactly what it is.”
“What’s so dangerous about that?” I asked.
“This creature is so incredibly large, it exceeds the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, at least. There is nothing friendly about it. This monster almost killed a few of our scientists, who tried to get a better look at it. We will properly equip you with everything you’ll need to stay alive, so you won’t have to worry about getting hurt.”
“How do you know it won’t try to kill us?” I asked, stunned by what I was hearing.
“We will properly equip you with everything you’ll need to carry through the mission safely, so you won’t have to worry,” he rasped, expressionless as usual. There was a twinkle of doubt hidden beneath his glazed eyes.
Charles and I looked at each other. Over the years, we had gotten to know each other so well, it was almost as if we could see through each other’s thoughts. I could see in his eyes that he had the courage to take the assignment, and so did I. We nodded in agreement.
“We’ll take the mission,” said Charles, boldly.
A smile spread across Dr. Loveland’s face, which was a rare occurrence for him.
We spent the next half hour planning the mission, which would happen the following evening.
As Charles and I walked back into the rainy night, toward the shore, I swear I heard Dr. Loveland laughing from within the shadows of the laboratory. I could almost see his lazy eye whirling around in the socket, like he was a madman.
The next morning came all too quickly. It was another cloudy day, as it usually was, but the clouds were so thick and so dark that the sun couldn’t be seen from any point. I had never been scared about an adventure in the ocean before. The pre-mission adrenaline rush always got me so excited to find something new, but that day, my stomach was doing uncomfortable twists.
What had Dr. Loveland said about the beast? It was larger than a T-Rex and had tried to kill a few scientists. What creature, other than a whale, could be larger than that? A shiver ran down my spine as I tried to envision it; razor sharp claws, jagged teeth, and piercing eyes. I was beginning to think that the mission wasn’t even worth it. But I couldn’t let Dr. Loveland down.
Evening came and I made my way slowly to the dock where I would meet Charles at the submarine.
By that time, the clouds had cleared up completely and the sun was setting behind the horizon. Magenta, creamy orange, and soft shades of pink colored the sky and a few stars had become visible. I enjoyed the magnificent sunset as best as I could because they were extremely rare in Maine.
When I got to the dock, Charles’s face was twisted into an uncertain, nervous squint. I was sure that was the face I had on as well.
We took one last look at the sunset and boarded the steel submarine. The beast lived so far under the water, there would be absolutely no light and the pressure would be extreme. The submarine was especially built to handle the conditions we were about to endure.
“Are you ready, Harold?” asked Charles, as if he were about to vomit.
“I think I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be,” I choked.
The submarine closed above us and we began our long descent beneath the murky waves. We dove deeper and deeper beneath the surface and came to an enormous chasm, about 100 feet long and 500 feet wide. It went so deep, the bottom could not be seen.
I wanted so desperately to turn around and go back. Charles and I looked at each other nervously.
“This is it,” squeaked Charles. Charles’s voice never faltered like that, unless he was extremely nervous.
“This is it,” I agreed, half-heartedly. The submarine plunged directly into the chasm.
The further we went, the less light there was to be seen. One hundred feet, two hundred feet, three hundred feet. It never ended. Soon enough, there was no light to be seen whatsoever. I clicked on the light above our heads, and then the headlights of the submarine. We looked out the window and there was nothing to be seen.
“The beast should be around here somewhere,” said Charles.”
“We’ll find him,” I whispered. It was so quiet, it hurt my ears. Or was that the pressure from being so deep? I couldn’t decide.
After a few minutes of aimlessly wandering, the floor of the submarine began to shake, and it took me a second to realize that it wasn’t because of a tsunami...it was shrieking. Something terrible was coming our way...the beast.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up, my throat closed up, and I was frozen, unable to move a single muscle. I couldn’t even turn my head.
The lights of the submarine flickered off and my heart nearly stopped. I couldn’t speak. I remembered the spare flashlight I had packed and I rummaged through the drawers as best as I could in the dark. My clammy hands shook violently and it was hard to get a grip on any handles.
The shriek came again, this time much closer. I collapsed to the floor, shaking. My throat became sore and I realized it was because I was screaming, screaming at the top of my lungs.
It was so dark, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Surely, I had to be dying. The shriek came yet again, this time so close, it hurt my ears. I cupped my hands on my ears, trying to keep out the blood-curdling, gut-wrenching cry.
I nearly vomited as the beast suddenly grabbed hold of the submarine and began throwing it around like a volleyball. I found Charles’s arm and grabbed on, as if he were my lifeline. The blood drained from my face and hands and became ice-cold.
The side of the submarine was being scraped, and it sounded like metal on metal. At this point, I was sure I was nearly deaf.
Right then, I felt a claw penetrate straight through the side of the wall and tear at my face. Cold blood poured down the side of my face, into my mouth, down my neck.
Freezing water gushed into the submarine and into my face. The last thing I remembered was looking into the gigantic, glowing eye of the beast, and hearing the faint laughter of Dr. Loveland.